Local ceasefires agreed between the Syrian army and rebels in several Damascus suburbs has given rise to hopes that similar deals could be struck elsewhere in the country. The ceasefires have brought relief to the besieged people. The government has agreed to an amnesty for Syrian rebels but they must give up their heavy weapons. This amnesty does not extend to foreign mercenaries backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US and Israel.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 11:17 EST
Local truce between the Syrian army and rebels in the Damascus suburb of Babbila Monday has given rise to hopes that similar truces may be worked out elsewhere in the country.
The Babbila truce is the latest in a series of local ceasefires in several areas near the Syrian capital.
Qudsaya, Moadamiyet al-Sham, Barzeh, Beit Sahem, Yalda and Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp have all seen local truces whereby food deliveries have been allowed in and most civilians evacuated.
Most accords have been negotiated by public personalities from disputed areas, including businessmen and former ministers. Under the deal, a ceasefire comes into effect in return for government forces lifting the siege to allow food to rebel-held areas.
On their part, the rebels have agreed to hand over heavy weapons and allow the civilians to leave. The army is now hoisting the Syrian flag in those areas, reflecting that it is under government control.
A journalist from the French news agency, Agence France Press (AFP), who visited Babbila on Monday witnessed dozens of residents chanting “One, one, one! The Syrian people are one!”
Civilians are tired of the fighting and they want the foreign mercenaries to leave the country. They also want local rebels to agree to a ceasefire.
Negotiations are underway for similar ceasefires in Harasta, northeast of Damascus, and Daraya southwest of the capital where the rebels are holed up.
Under the terms of the deal, the rebels are giving up their heavy weapons but can keep small arms. The government has announced amnesty for the Syrian rebels but not foreign mercenaries backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US and Israel.
The Syrian army is lifting the siege and allowing food deliveries to people trapped in the badly ruined suburbs.
There are also reports that in some areas, such as Qudsaya, the Syrian army and rebels have set up joint checkpoints. This has given rise to hopes that fighting may be dying down in some areas after three years of bloodletting.
A local activist in Damascus confirmed that ceasefires have strong backing of people who lost their homes. He further confirmed that people are forced to pay exorbitant prices for basic daily needs. Food deliveries will now relieve this pressure.
It appears both sides have realized that neither can deliver a knockout punch. If similar ceasefires can be worked out for other areas of the country especially Homs and Aleppo, they would certainly reduce the misery of ordinary people.