Since July 2015, the town was reported to be besieged by a combination of Syrian forces loyal to the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the allied sectarian Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah. The United Nations had last provided humanitarian aid to Madaya in late October 2015.
Madaya is a small mountainous town in Syria, located at an altitude of 1,400 metres (4,600 ft). It is a well known holiday resort. It is located about 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of Damascus in the Rif Dimashq Governorate and is home to Lake Barada. Madaya often is snow-top during the winter months especially on January and February. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Madaya had a population of 9,371 in the 2004 census. Its inhabitants are predominantly Sunni Muslims.
It is famous for its pure natural spring water, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy climate. Dry and cool in the summer, Madaya until recently had attracted wealthy Syrians many of which have summer mansions in the town. It also has a large market (souq) known for its European-made goods, such as sportswear and electronics, which makes visiting it quite an appealing experience for tourists.
In early January 2016, the town became an object of a global campaign by the Syrian opposition to bring to light the siege of the town. The Assad government in agreement with the joint statement on 7 January 2016 by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Syria and the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, called for aid to reenter the besieged town. On 11 January 2016, the humanitarian aid convoy entered the town in a UN-brokered deal that saw another convoy simultaneously enter two northwestern settlements, Al-Fu’ah and Kafriya, besieged by anti-government rebels.