‘Until today, our Second Tour of Peace had not been exposed to any semblance of military combat. We hadn’t heard a single rifle shot or the thud of any bombs or artillery shells. We hadn’t seen any armoured vehicles or warplanes in action in any of the liberated areas we travelled in Syria.

In fact, in the government-held areas, you really wouldn’t notice there was a war going on (except for the endless checkpoints). The security situation in Syria, according to our hosts, had improved immensely since the agreement for a partial cessation of hostilities was signed in Geneva about five weeks ago.’

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