Opinion Comment

Thursday 22 March 2018

Robert Fisk: An unreal calm as Syria waits, wonders ... and dears to hope that the end of its nightmare might be close

A building burns after shelling. Photo: Reuters
A building burns after shelling. Photo: Reuters

Robert Fisk

A SYRIAN friend calls me early. "Just to let you know we're going back – things are OK now in the Mezzeh area." I wonder. Then a Lebanese colleague tells me that three Syrian friends of hers have just called to say goodbye, they're going back to Damascus with their families now that the fighting has died down.

Then the same woman calls to tell me that she spoke to a friend in Aleppo on Tuesday night to check on his welfare. "He was in a packed restaurant in the centre of the city – it was difficult to hear what he was saying over the noise." The lines of posh Syrian cars outside Beirut restaurants last weekend – belonging to supporters of the regime taking a brief "holiday" from Syria – have suddenly vanished from the streets.

A body blow to the Baath party last week, of course. But could Bashar now be winning – however briefly – against all the odds? Of the rebellion's capacity to survive, there is no doubt; the BBC's extraordinary and brave report from the fighting in Aleppo proves that. But calls to Damascus tell the same story. No gunfire in many areas last night.

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