Middle East

Syrians enjoy rare moment of calm as truce holds

Syrian children play with a bike Image copyright SMART NEWS
Image caption Children were able to play on the streets in Aleppo's rebel-held Qadi Askar district

With a cessation of hostilities taking effect across Syria, people across the war-torn country have been sharing photos and videos of themselves enjoying a rare moment of relative calm.

Posts from the divided northern city of Aleppo have for months been almost exclusively about bombings, destruction and the suffering of civilians, even before government forces renewed their siege of rebel-held eastern districts where some 250,000 people live.

But less than 24 hours after the truce began, Aleppo residents were suggesting that life was slowly returning to normal - or at least as normal as could be expected under the circumstances.

Social media backed up reports that the cessation of hostilities was broadly holding.

Many users initially provided frequent updates on whether government and rebel forces were abiding by the agreement announced on Saturday by Russia and US, who back opposing sides.

Image copyright Aleppo Media Centre
Image caption People were able to shop at markets in Aleppo that have been bombed in the past five years
Image copyright Aleppo Media Centre
Image caption Sweets were on sale despite the siege of rebel-held areas of the city by government forces

As the truce entered its second day, they had switched to sharing photos of celebrations for the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, which also happened to start on Monday.

There was a sense of relief and cautious optimism after several very difficult months.

Some photos showed people shopping at markets in rebel-held areas in the northern provinces of Aleppo or Idlib - an activity that was fraught with danger only a few days ago.

Image copyright Aleppo Media Centre
Image caption Children celebrated Eid al-Adha on swings set up across Aleppo for the Islamic festival

Children were pictured laughing and playing in devastated streets and attending parties at which they could enjoy colouring and playing with balloons.

Several boys were even seen playing on an unexploded bomb in one Aleppo district.

In Jarablus, a northern border town where militants from so-called Islamic State were recently ousted by Turkish-backed rebel forces, residents were seen celebrating Eid on the streets.

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Media captionMark Lowen reports from the Syrian border town of Jarablus

Pictures of smiling children and dancing fighters in the town centre were widely circulated.

However, not all the material shared on social media was so positive.

Some Twitter users reported violations of the truce, describing clashes in Aleppo, Idlib and parts of Damascus province. Others were cautious about the long-term prospects of the initiative.

It is too early to tell whether the truce will hold and the calm last, but after five years of war Syrians are clinging to this moment of hope.

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