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Brutality of Syria war casts doubt on peace talks

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"I never imagined that this could happen to my country," said Ibrahim, a 41-year-old former teacher whose brother died in an air raid on the northern town of al-Bab last year. He said his brother — two years his elder — had gone over to a friend’s house to play backgammon when the bomb struck without warning, killing 12 people.

"He has two children and his wife doesn’t speak from the shock," Ibrahim said in a Skype interview, declining to give his full name for fear reprisals.

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Ibrahim fled al-Bab after militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took it over, terrorizing civilians. He is now staying with relatives in Syria until he can leave the country. "There’s no future here anymore," he said.

Experts say justice and accountability are crucial if the hatred is not to be transmitted to future generations.

In neighboring Lebanon, for example, wounds have still not healed from the 15-year civil war that ended in 1990 with more than 150,000 killed.

The Taif agreement which ended the Lebanese war — brokered partly by Lakhdar Brahimi, the same diplomat who will sit down with the Syrian warring sides in Switzerland — did not mention justice.

"There was a blanket amnesty, which meant that all the warlords and war criminals became respectable ministers, and they just split the pie of the state," Houry said. "We are still paying the price more than 20 years later."


AP correspondent Gregory Katz in London contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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