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29/11/2013 09:02 GMT | Updated 29/01/2014 05:59 GMT

Syrians 'Butcher And Eat Lion From Damascus Zoo' (GRAPHIC IMAGE)

A shocking image has emerged appearing to show Syrian rebels cutting up a lion from a local zoo to eat.

In what could be a further sign of how desperate hungry residents have become, the grisly image seems to show a group of men butchering the clearly emaciated animal thought to be from Al-Qarya al-Shama Zoo.

WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGE BELOW:

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Residents of Ghouta - a suburb of Damascus - are believed to have been behind the slaughter.

The photograph, which has been widely shared on social media but can not be independently verified, highlights how hunger is apparently spreading across Damascus, the capital of Syria, particularly in rebel-held blockaded regions where food is scarce.

Last month, during the Eid al-Adha holiday, clerics issued a fatwa that allowed beseiged Syrians to eat cats and dogs as food supplies ran low.

The United Nations delivered food to 3.3 million people in Syria in October, up from 2.7 million the previous month, but said on Friday civilians were going hungry in besieged areas that remain inaccessible.

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The situation continues to deteriorate for civilians on the ground