Deir al-Zor
Civilians search for casualties under the rubble of a collapsed building in Deir al-Zor, October 14, 2013. Photo by Reuters
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Due to conditions brought about by the ongoing Syrian crisis, Islamist clerics in the nation's ravaged capital have issued a religious decree permitting the consumption of dogs, cats and donkeys, media sources in the Arab world reported on Tuesday.

The animals are considered unfit for human consumption by Islam, but the exemption has been made to fend off starvation in the besieged areas of south Damascus and the hard-hit areas around it.

Local clerics have been following the fatwa with appeals for international assistance, the Dubai-based Al Arabiya reported.

“How does the world sleep with full stomachs while there are hungry people, and not far from [Damascus], just few meters way,” a leading south Damascus imam said in a broadcast statement, according to Al Arabiya .

“Haven’t you heard the fatwas that have filled our streets and mosques by permitting people to eat cats, dogs and other animals that have already been killed by the bomb attacks?"

"You have forgotten that you have brothers and sisters in southern Damascus who are hungry,” he continued, addressing Muslims pilgrims attending the annual hajj pilgrimage.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which began in March 2011 with anti-government protests, according to the United Nations.