Syrian de-escalation deal revives Idlib Ramadan markets

Syrian de-escalation deal revives Idlib Ramadan markets
A man arranges sweets to be sold ahead of Ramadan in the rebel-held besieged city of Douma, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Syria May 26, 2017.
IDLIB's market was bustling with shoppers stocking up on meat, fruit and desserts ahead of their Ramadan iftar meals, when observant Muslims break their day's fast.

The northern Syrian city, which previously witnessed brutal clashes between government forces and rebel groups, is now part a tentative de-escalation deal, brokered by Syria's ally Russia.

The deal, which received backing from Iran and opposition supporter Turkey, took effect at the beginning of May.
The largest of the four de-escalation zones is in northern Syria and includes the Idlib province.

The relative calm has allowed residents to resume some kind of normal life, heading to markets and stocking up on Ramadan treats.

"After the de-escalation, there became a sense of security. This led to people going back to work, sending their children out, (people) working, shopping, even women going to the market. This all did not exist before the de-escalation, because of the constant and brutal airstrikes," said resident Abu Hamzah.

"Ramadan this year is better than all the previous years, thank God. There are no planes, and the de-escalation has allowed people to breathe a sigh of relief," added another resident, Iyad Alaswad.

But some residents say they are also suffering from inflated prices, with closer regulation of sellers needed.

"The markets are a wonderful sight. But there is one problem - the prices, price hikes. Vendors take advantage wherever you are. We hope that there will be some supervision of this issue. Whether its with the chicken, meat, bread, all the basic necessities. There is no supervision on this issue here at all," said resident Maher Issa.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in May there had been a reduction in fighting across Syria since the deal came into force, but warned it was too early to say whether it would last.

The Britain-based war monitor also said in March that at least 465,000 people had been killed and missing in Syria's civil war.