IDLIB, Syria 

Millions of civilians fleeing attacks from the Bashar Assad regime and its supporters have taken shelter in camps in Idlib, northern Syria, as they mark another Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha under difficult conditions, far from their homes.

Mustafa Emin had to flee from the southern countryside of Idlib two years ago and told Anadolu Agency he missed the old holidays in which he celebrated with his relatives.

“We used to sacrifice animals every year for Eid-al-Adha before fleeing,” the 37-year-old said, adding now he is waiting for donated meat “in a tent at the top of a mountain.”

He said the last time he ate meat was during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, thanks to the charity.

Eid-al Adha commemorates the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son at God’s command before the last-minute divine substitute of a ram.

Another civilian, Imad Davut, who was displaced by the regime’s attacks said the holidays are not like the holidays in the village and families are scattered as some are settled in different camps.

“There is neither happiness nor joy,” he said. He noted that his family can only eat meat when benefactors distribute sacrificial meat and everything is very expensive.

The holiday passed like a normal day, he said. “There is sadness and pain in every house and everyone lost a relative in regime attacks,” he added.

Abdulkerim Said dreams of returning home where he left two years ago.

“We used to visit the graves of our deceased relatives. We miss our village. We want to return as soon as possible,” he said.

Some 4.3 million people are living in Idlib, many of them in tents.

In May 2017, Turkey, Russia, and Iran announced that they had reached an agreement to establish a de-escalation zone in Idlib, as part of the Astana meetings related to the Syrian crisis.

However, it was only after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, agreed on March 5, 2020, to a new truce in Idlib to end hostilities and attacks on civilians that an effective de-escalation took place, except for sporadic shelling by regime forces.

Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011 when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million remain displaced, according to UN estimates.

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