Syria's official news agency and activists say that aid convoys meant to relieve besieged cities in northern Syria and near the Lebanese border are on their way.

SANA says the humanitarian aid was moving Monday toward the adjacent Shiite villages of Foua and Kfarya in Idlib province, under siege by rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Assad, as well as toward Madaya, blockaded by government troops and their allies.

The operation to deliver much needed food and medicine to counter major shortages in the areas was agreed on last week. Activists have reported several deaths from starvation over the past weeks in the affected areas.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the aid was expected to reach the towns in the coming hours.