IDLIB, Syria/DAMASCUS (Reuters) – As peace talks are set to get under way in Geneva next week, residents in Syria from nurses to street vendors voice little optimism over the United Nations-backed negotiations’ chance of success.
The Geneva talks will coincide with the fifth anniversary of a conflict that began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad before descending into a multi-sided war that has drawn in foreign governments and allowed the growth of Islamic State.
Fighting has slowed considerably since a fragile “cessation of hostilities agreement” brokered by the United States and Russia came into force almost two weeks ago. The agreement, accepted by the government and most of its enemies, is the first truce of its kind in a war that has killed more than 250,000 people and driven millions of Syrians from their homes.
“The truce has not changed anything in my life. The war planes are still hovering above us,” says Abdul Razzaq Khashan, 40, an aid worker in rebel-held Idlib province. “I do not expect anything from the Geneva talks.”