THE psychological toll of violent attacks, sex crimes and siege tactics on ordinary Syrians is laid bare in a harrowing new report.

The Mercy Corps paper Wages of War tells how Syrians have learned to adapt to the grim reality of life in a conflict that is now entering its seventh year. More than 90 per cent of civilians fear for their families on a daily basis and two in three households have lost their main source of income since the trouble began.

The prices of goods have risen tenfold while spending power has shrunk by one third, two in three households don’t know where their next meal is coming from and men told researchers of their depression at not being able to provide for their families.

One family revealed how they suffered from poisoning after eating animal fodder, others have sent children to work to raise money, while a few have joined armed groups and forced young daughters into marriage.

Summing up the “chronic exposure and direct experience” of violence, the report states: “Architects of the conflict have relentlessly targeted civilians through air and ground attacks, physical and sexual assault, restriction of basic necessities and use of siege tactics.

“Violent incidents – those severe enough to cause property destruction, injuries and death – have occurred twice a week on average across the region during the year prior to the study. South-Central Syria – which contains the majority of hard-to-reach and besieged areas in the country – continues to sustain the highest volume of conflict events, with an average of three violent incidents per week.

“Each community surveyed in South-Central Syria has seen an average of 65 civilians killed, 25 homes destroyed, and more than five community structures such as schools, clinics, town halls and mosques razed in the past year.”

The report comes in the wake of images from rebel enclave Eastern Ghouta, where around 300 people have been killed since Sunday in air strikes carried out by government forces, with Russian backing.

Yesterday Ian Blackford MP pressed Theresa May to call an international summit to end the horrors, commenting: “Doctors on the ground are treating pregnant women and babies who have lost limbs.

“The bombing is relentless and children are dying by the hour.”

May said she was “appalled by the escalation of air strikes” and reports of deliberate targeting of civilians. She said: “We, as the United Kingdom Government, certainly call on the regime and its backers to cease this campaign of violence. They should respect international humanitarian law, protect civilians, and allow rapid and unfettered humanitarian access.

“There is concern that something like 700 people who need medical evacuation are being refused that evacuation by the regime.”

She went on: “It is about the backers of the Syrian Government as well. We call on all their backers, including Russia, to ensure that the violence stops.”

A UK aid package announced today will provide up to £15 million for the delivery of clean water for 575,000 people in the Idlib region.

Attacking the “callous” Asad regime for using food as a weapon of war, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said: “All parties must stop the bloody violence, protect civilians, respect international law and allow immediate and unhindered access for much needed aid convoys to get to those in need.”