A shocking image has emerged online that appears to show Syrian rebels in a Damascus suburb butchering a zoo lion for its meat.
The men reportedly took the emaciated lion from the Al-Qarya al-Shama Zoo, in East Ghouta, after the Syrian Army's siege of the eastern Ghouta districts has lasted for more than six months, leading to severe food shortages, reports The Times (warning: Graphic image).
According to the Metro, hunger and desperation is spreading right across Damascus, the capital of Syria, particularly in rebel-held blockaded regions where food is particularly scarce.
The exact circumstances surrounding the animal's death are not known. Some reports suggest the animal was already dead, and some suggest the men were skinning the animal to use its coat for warmth as winter sets in.
The Independent reports that, last month, a group of Syrian clerics issued a fatwa allowing people living in besieged suburbs to eat meat normally forbidden under Islamic law, including cats, dogs, and donkeys, in a bid to reduce widespread hunger in Ghouta.
Zoo visitors witness zoo lions maul lioness to death