Idlib Calling: Where’s the line?

August 26, 2019

Friday 23 August 2019

The Syrian army is poised to take control of the town of Khan Shaykhun, if it hasn’t already. The army is advancing from the south to north in its campaign to take control of the province of Idlib. The question is, how far will they advance? In Saraqeb, 50 km north of Khan Shaykhun, Ahmed thinks he’s still safe. But he’s not entirely sure.

“Hi, Ahmed”

“Hi … I’m glad I can talk to you now and again — it helps me get things off my chest and get my thoughts in order. I told you last time that the last few weeks have been hell. You know, the idea that there really isn’t a future, that all hope is gone… when I look at my daughters… I don’t know anymore. For them, I still pretend everything will be fine, I comfort them, try to protect them. But it takes so much energy that I have nothing left. Actually, I should have gone to the market today to buy food, but to be honest, I just don’t have the energy. I told the kids I’m sick, so we’ll have to make do with what we’ve still got in the house.”

“The truth no longer exists. We know in our hearts that the rebels don’t stand a chance against the Russians and the regime. They’re alone and powerless against tanks and fighter jets. Everyone thinks this, but nobody dares to say it for fear of being accused of treason to the cause, or of defeatism. Apart from that, when I look around now at what is happening, I wonder what’s left of our ideals and dreams.”

“We see that the Syrian army is advancing but we know the outcome has already been determined by Turkey and Russia. They must have drawn a line somewhere across Idlib and agreed that the regime can go there and not further. That’s how things have gone throughout the war, so that’s probably how it will go this time as well.”

“The big question for everyone here is: where’s the line? Is my city on the safe side? Do I have to get ready to flee, or can I stay a little longer?”

“It’s clear that the rest of the world isn’t going to help us. But the least they could do is to tell us what’s been agreed. At least tell us where the line is and take away this unbearable uncertainty.”


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