Idlib Calling | 18 februari 2020 | 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.
Every day, people get killed in air strikes and shelling by the Syrian and Russian armies. Children die covered in dust and debris. The war in Idlib is primarily a war against civilians.
A couple of times a month 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 monsters are coming

February 18

Everything is falling apart. More and more people are fleeing from the Syrian army — 900,000 people have taken flight, but as the army keeps advancing, the space to flee gets smaller every day. The army is taking over more villages and towns, and refugees are everywhere. On the street, in tent camps or in school buildings. Ahmed is lucky, if you can call it luck. After he and his family hastily left Saraqeb, they wandered for a number of days, but have now found a room in Azaz. It’s in the north, under Turkish “protection” but with the Syrian army just 10 kilometres away.

“Hi Ahmed, do you have time to talk?”

“Of course. How are you?”

“I’m fine, thanks, but  how are you?”

“Good. We found a room in Azaz. I got a good price and I’ve committed to renting it for six months. We have a kitchen and a shower. And the whole family is together, thank God. I just went outside with the girls.”

“Besides missiles that a Kurdish militia has been firing at Azaz, and the sound of fighter jets and a car bomb, it’s quiet here. As it had been in Saraqeb before this latest offensive.”

“But you need to realize, we didn’t flee to get away from the bombs – we fled to get away from the monsters. By that I mean the Syrian army and its militias. We’re afraid of what they’ll do to us. Everyone is scared, and that’s why everyone left the villages before the army came in. Those villages are completely deserted now. People are fleeing because they’re afraid of the army and its militias.”

“There are horrible stories about what they’ve done to those who stay behind.”

“My brother and I were threatened on a Syrian army Facebook page. They called us terrorists and traitors. They make fun of us, saying that we live like stray dogs and that no one will remember us and that we’ll never return.”

“The monsters are settling scores with us, but even more with our ideals of freedom and dignity. And the world just lets them.”

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