Idlib Calling | 4 oktober 2018 | by Evert-Jan Grit

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Meet Ahmed, theater producer from Saraqeb, and friend and partner of PAX. His life is no bed of roses. Saraqeb is in the Syrian province of Idlib, in the northwest of the country. Idlib's future is, to say the least, uncertain.
After a period of daily bombings, it is now much calmer. But no one knows what's in store for the area. Residents are doing their best to carry on with their daily lives. Russia and Turkey have imposed a demilitarized zone in order to separate the Syrian Army and armed militias.
A couple of times a week we speak with Ahmed to hear how he and his family are getting on. He says its important for people in Idlib that we here in the Netherlands hear about what's happening. It makes them feel like they haven't been forgotten.

Idlib calling: It’s like we’re living under the regime again

Friday 28 September

In Idlib the situation is quiet again since the Syrian Army and Russian Air Force ceased their attacks. But the repression and acts of violence by the jihadi’s from HTS (formerly known as al-Nusra) are on the rise. In Saraqeb they’ve banned all demonstrations and have threatened to detain people who take to the streets.

“Hi Ahmed, sorry I couldn’t call yesterday, but I had some urgent problems to solve.”

“Doesn’t matter, we all have problems now and then that can’t wait.”

“How are you?”

“Good and bad. The good news is that we can breathe again and that the fear of having to leave our houses is gone for now. I told you about it. The fact that you might have to leave your house at any moment is horrible, and it’s such a relief that this fear is gone.”

“You know that we demonstrate almost every week, just as we did in 2011. But today we can´t, at least not in Saraqeb. The people from HTS banned all demonstrations here. Like we’re living under the regime again! Really, sometimes I can’t see the difference between them and the regime.”

“Last week they detained an activist from Kafranbel. He is a respected man who speaks out and stands up for his principles. That they dare to arrest such a person. Yes, when I think about it, this also scares me now and then.”

“Thank God they aren´t as strong everywhere as they are here. In Ariha, a town nearby, there will be demonstrations today. Maybe we´ll go there, with a friend from Raqqa, who´s visiting us right now. I´ve known him for 7 years. He´s from Raqqa. Next time I´ll tell you how we met.”

“Will you call me again on Monday?”

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