Despite some serious disagreements and singular violations, all parties involved in the conflict respect the truce. The main question for the coming week is how responsibly all of the parties will implement this fragile agreement.
The correspondent’s first observation after arriving at Hmeymim airbase was the unusual silence. For the first six months there were nonstop sorties at the air base and now there was no roar of the aircraft engines. All aircraft have been sheathed and are stationary.
February 27 was the first day off for the Russian pilots and technicians in months. The Defense Ministry stressed that Moscow is carrying out its obligations under the ceasefire completely, in spite of attempts by some parties to convince the world of the contrary.
As the correspondent noted, the Russians at the airbase are responding to such allegations with humor.
“As you can see for yourself, we have reached a diplomatic pause,” one of the officers said. “The silence weighs on the ears and getting used to it is much more difficult than to fall asleep to the roar of planes taking off.”
The correspondent was shown the Russian Su-35 fighter jets that were delivered to Syria just last month. The engines of the jets were completely cold as no one had flown them in a long time.
“Not far from the fighter jets a group of soldiers was sitting at a small table. Their faces expressed light-hearted fun — a rare scene in Syria today. The soldiers were playing a game of dominoes but broke off at my approach. When they learned that I was a journalist from Moscow, they were not surprised, but asked not to make hasty conclusions about what is happening,” the correspondent narrated.
Even before the cessation of hostilities came into force, a center for reconciliation of the warring parties was established. According to the correspondent the phone number of this center is broadcasted daily to all public television channels.
It is also distributed by the government forces in the areas where the ceasefire is not yet valid. In addition, all residents of the country receive regular messages calling for dialogue.
In just a few days of its work the center employees have received nearly 70 applications. As the Ministry of Defense reported earlier, at this moment the representatives of almost fifty settlements in the provinces of Hama, Homs, Deraa and Damascus have declared their readiness to sign documents of the truce.
The Syrian opposition is committed to protecting the territory under its control from terrorist threats. After appealing to the center, the representatives of the opposition factions or groups are able to organize negotiations with the authorities. As a rule, negotiations take place in several rounds.
These meetings end with success, and in some cases — as it was in the province of Aleppo — the opposition not only agrees to reconciliation, but also fights radicals side by side with the government forces.
As the correspondent noted, the residents of Syria optimistically notice the beginning of the long-awaited reconciliation of the authorities and armed opposition groups.
Nonetheless, the militants, who are not covered by the ceasefire, must not relax as their actions are constantly monitored by the Russian Air Force. One way of doing that is with the help of drones, whose numbers are around 70 at the moment.
Yet, despite this, the thirst for peace in the country, which has already been in a state of civil war for more than five years, is felt at every step. “Urban districts, until recently considered to be hazardous due to constant shelling, have come to life right before our eyes.” Kids safely walk the streets without adult supervision. Numerous shops and stalls have reopened, reminding civilians of the return of a safe life, the correspondent noted.