November 20, 2014
Last week, the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Darayya marked two years of ongoing war with the Assad regime. An estimated 66,000 people still live in the town, formerly home to 300,000, which remains encircled by regime forces and was hit by mortar rounds as recently as Tuesday, reports the Local Council of Darayya.
The Syrian government and rebel fighters associated with the Free Syrian Army had conducted a 72-hour ceasefire in early September as a prelude to further negotiations, reported pro-opposition Smart News agency.
The regime sent the Mufti of Outer Damascus to negotiate with rebels, Aya Diranieh, the alias of an activist with the Syrian Revolution Coordinators, tells Syria Direct’s Osama Abu Zeid.
Nothing happened after that meeting, says Diranieh, originally from Darayya but now living in Damascus.
“We received news that there were disagreements within regime ranks between those who want a truce and those who refused.”
Q: There’s been talk of a truce in Darayya—what’s happening?
It stopped; it failed completely.
The rebels put forth their demands. The regime didn’t respond—either yes or no.
This happened about three months ago.
Schoolchildren examine pictures of dead family and friends in Darayya. Photo courtesy of Daraya LCC.
Q: What were their demands?
The most important was that the regime immediately release roughly 180 women and children.
[They also demanded] reconciliation for the young men and permission for them to leave [Darayya]. And they demanded allowing [remaining rebels] to keep light and medium weapons in the city.
Q: Who initiated the truce, the regime or rebels?
The regime sent the Mufti of Outer Damascus. But we received news that there were disagreements within regime ranks between those who want a truce and those who refused.
Q: After two years of siege, what is the education situation like for children in Darayya?
Education is virtually nonexistent. Most schools are destroyed, with a limited number functioning.
There is a lack of teachers and school materials, like notebooks and pens.
Q: Darayya has been completely encircled and endured regime attacks since November 2012. How long has it been since [humanitarian] aid entered?
Interntional aid never entered Darayya. Most of the aid is produced internally, hand-made.
Q: How many people are left in Darayya?
Approximately 66,000, down from an original population of roughly 300,000.
Q: Where did the other residents go?
Most fled to the countryside, because Damascus is expensive in every respect.
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