The rise of the Syrian National Football Team, which narrowly missed qualifying for the World Cup this year, crystallized hopes for many inside and outside Syria of a return to normal life and national unity. The football drama was typical of daily life in Damascus and other areas relatively unscathed by seven years of war, where civilians continue to study, work and seek out entertainment, despite high prices, food and energy shortages, and occasional outbreaks of violence.
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In the meantime, a recently formed civil council has divided the city into 16 neighbourhoods in order to coordinate the clean-up with the help of different organizations. While it relies mostly on civil associations and residents, the question of who will pay for it and who will be in charge of the actual reconstruction still remains unanswered.
The losses under Russian bombardment have added to HTS’ recent woes, which include a string of assassinations and defections of key figures in Idlib. In addition, it is unlikely that the Syrian government and its allies will allow the densely populated and strategically located province to remain outside its control. The ouster of HTS and implementation of the de-escalation agreement might minimize the number of civilian casualties, but the end result in either case is almost certainly a return of regime control in Idlib.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the alleged Israeli air strike on 7 September 2017 killed or injured at least seven Syrian military personnel. However, such strikes have raised fears of escalating tensions between the two nations or a new war between Israel and its long-time enemy Hezbollah.
In some cases, parents with unregistered marriages, aware of the likely future issues for their children if their births are not legally registered, have resorted to fraud. For instance, some women in Lebanon told the NRC that they had borrowed relatives’ identification documents when giving birth at a hospital in order to make sure the child’s birth could be registered.
More than an experiment, these local councils and their different models of governance could be pivotal in the post-war reconstruction process. Additionally, Russia’s increasing recognition of the value of local councils could help promote a dialogue between all the parties involved in the conflict.
The agreement drew swift opposition and skepticism from Syrian rebels, who now control the four areas designated as safe zones. The rebels vowed never to accept any plan sponsored by Iran, a key ally of President Bashar Assad. The rebels further questioned why a truce would take effect only in the four zones instead of throughout all of war-ravaged Syria.