Idlib Calling | 30 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: the highways near Idlib

Tuesday 23 October

In addition to the establishment of a ‘weapons free zone’ around the province of Idlib, two main highways, the M4 and the M5, from Hama to Aleppo and from Lattakia to Aleppo, were re-opened for traffic and goods. Some see this as a victory for the regime in its effort to regain control over Idlib. Because Saraqeb is at the crossroads of the two highways I am curious to hear how Ahmed sees it.

“Good morning Ahmad, how is life?”

“Still going well, but now it’s my turn to be sick. I’m suffering from a terrible flu — everything hurts, I have a stuffed-up nose and a terrible headache, so today I won´t be at our puppet theatre show in Saraqeb.”

“It´s getting to be a repetitive story, but today there was another bomb attack. Two men on a motorcycle threw a grenade at someone’s house. Thank god nobody was hurt, but once again we haven´t a clue about who did it or why.”

“But you asked me about the highways… well, we heard that as of October 15th, the Turks are going to take over control of the highways. That would be good because now armed groups and criminals are calling the shots on the roads.”

“They are collecting a toll from people who use the highways, or worse, they steal cars and goods. Especially during the nights the roads aren´t safe. There are stories about child soldiers manning roadblocks, but this is a sensitive issue here.”

“As a result prices at the market have doubled or even tripled. This is very hard for us. If just this could be stopped, that would be quite some progress.”

“Ahmad, you just said that the roads would be open on the 15th?”

“What date is it today? The 23rd? Ah, that’s how it goes all the time.. we hear things, we read things that are being decided, but we never are sure what’s actually going to happen, or when.”

“Anyway, we just have to deal with it. Talk to you later.”

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