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Syrian people urge diplomats to find an end to the war

A brilliant storm-lit rainbow greets us as we make our way into a suburb of eastern of Damascus.

The rain streaks our windscreen as we weave our way through the rubble of dozens of collapsed buildings.

This neighbourhood has been occupied by rebels and then ravaged by the counter offensive of government troops.

Now, the war-weary residents are resigned to this conflict dragging on for many more months.

A rainbow appears in the sky above the ruins of Damascus. Credit: ITV News

The few people we talked to here were only dimly aware of the latest diplomatic push for peace in Austria.

They’ve heard it all before - the Arab peace summit, the Annan initiative, Geneva I, Geneva II, a UN Security Council agreement to find a “political solution” - and now this latest, largely Russian-brokered attempt.

The central problem remains: President Assad.

Devastation in Damascus Credit: ITV News
War-wearing residents in Syria are resigned to the conflict continuing Credit: ITV News

Some countries, like Iran and Russia, think he should stay, and argue he is the only viable leader, or that his “re-election” gives him a mandate.

Meanwhile those backing the myriad of rebel groups think he’s the problem.

The Saudis used to say transition could only happen after he steps down, but now concede he must go within “ a specific timeframe”.

The Americans agree he can be part of a transition that must end with him stepping down, while other rebel backers like Qatar see his departure as a precondition to ending the fighting.

Many civilians caught in the middle of this mosaic of conflicts just want the war to end as quickly as possible.

A double rainbow forms over the ruins of peoples' homes Credit: ITV News

We meet Amal Soleiman, a 44-year-old mother of four girls. One of them, 22-year-old Ala’a, was killed by a mortar two years ago and Amal has struggled to hold it together.

Her house has been destroyed, she’s been forced to take out loans to keep feeding her family - and as the debts have mounted, the mortars have rained down.

Now, the area is quiet. Most of the shelling comes in the afternoon when the sun obscures the rebel firing positions.

The fighting has become normal here, if anything as obscene as random death can ever become routine.

I watch children playing on the mounds of rubbish and rubble, some perhaps 5 or 6 years old. They’ve known nothing but war; a generation growing up in chaos, under constant threat of attack.

Even if somehow Vienna delivers the peace these kids so desperately deserve, the effects of this crisis will last decades.

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