Locals in Homs aim for permanent peace & reconciliation amid shaky Syria truce

The Syrian government is doing its best to engage in dialogue with both residents and armed groups in once rebel-controlled city of Homs, with locals hoping that the internationally-brokered ceasefire will cement a truce and long-lasting peace.

Residents of the ancient city of Homs, which has been living in relative calm since the United Nations brokered a local ceasefire deal in December, told an RT Arabic crew on the ground that government forces and local armed groups have ceased hostilities, as they welcomed the wider nationwide ceasefire deal.

“We had one hope left. For five years we have lived in conditions of conspiracy and struggle in our country, which was once free, prosperous, and friendly. Where people lived together in harmony. We did not want others to spoil our lives. This truce, God willing, will lead to a better [life]. There are great powers, those who make the decisions – Russia, America, and others. I think everyone agrees that there should be a ceasefire, and we must put an end to the suffering of the people,” one local resident told RT.

A temporary ceasefire deal reached at the end of last year is holding to this day, allowing people trapped in one neighborhood of Homs to get out – be they civilians, or opposition fighters.

During the first step of the deal about 800 people, fighters and their families were bused out of the Al-Waer neighborhood, once the rebels surrendered their heavy weapons.

The free movement of people continues to this day, as the local ceasefire deal has entered its second phase.

“Residents of Al-Waer, unless wanted, are free to move any time, regardless of whether or not they agree with the truce. If they are on the list, than the guards let them pass,” through a government controlled checkpoint, Dr. Muhammad Haddur, head of the Public Relations Committee in Homs told RT.

Locals meanwhile noted the courteous treatment of locals by the soldiers.

“The relationship is really good. The soldiers treat us well...we thank them,” engineer and local resident, Abdurrahman Bakr, told RT.

Pleased to see the government forces maintain security, the local administration officials continue to work with the public and are trying to convince the people to return to their routine and reapply to work in government posts.

“In the north of the province via contacts with reputable citizens and dialogue with them, we try to explain the situation in the best way possible, especially considering the timely introduction of the ceasefire,” Haddur said. “People who have left public service and work should think about returning.”

The permanent ceasefire in Syria last month was brokered by leading world powers, including the US and Russia, and is meant to pave the way to reconciliation between the Syrian government and moderate rebel forces, which will together agree on a peaceful transition in the country. Some of the stronger forces in Syria, including the terrorist groups Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front, are not subject to the ceasefire.