Civilians in Idlib fear ceasefire won’t last - NPR

The struggles of a family in Idlib reflect the hardships of living in the war-torn Syrian city and their fears that the recent ceasefire will not hold, said NPR on Tuesday. 

NPR reporter Jane Arraf spoke to Itab Hadithi, a single mother with a 10-year-old son and an eldest son in 11th grade, who lives in a middle class neighbourhood of the northwest Syrian city. 

Hadithi’s building is full of Syrians displaced from all over the country. There is usually no electricity or running water. They heat water for washing in the stove using charcoal. 

They live with the constant fear that they could be killed in the fighting or that strangers could break into the apartment. “It is a very, very sad thing when your son said to you, ‘mom, I don't want to die’. It is not an easy thing. It's not an easy thing for a mom,” said Hadithi.

The building next door to them was hit by a missile two years ago and 35 people were killed.

“Every time we hear a missile, we don't know where to hide. We run to our rooms and convince ourselves that we can be safe, but we know it's a lie. The missile doesn't destroy one room. It destroys everything,” said one of Hadithi’s sons.

An intensifying offensive by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad this year to retake the last rebel-held province of Idlib has created the biggest humanitarian crisis yet of the nine-year war. 

Turkey responded with its own counter-offensive to try to push the Syrian government forces back after more than 30 Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike in late February. A ceasefire in Idlib was signed by Turkey and Syria's ally Russia on March 5.

Hadithi said that while everyone was happy that the ceasefire was signed, no one trusts it to last.