Daraa (Arabic: درعا‎, Levantine Arabic: [ˈdarʕa], also Darʿā, Dara’a, Deraa, Dera'a, Dera, Derʿā and Edrei; means "fortress", compare Dura-Europos) is a city in southwestern Syria, located about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) north of the border with Jordan.[3] It is the capital of Daraa Governorate, historically part of the ancient Hauran region. The city is located about 90 kilometres (56 mi) south of Damascus on the Damascus–Amman highway, and is used as a stopping station for travelers. Nearby localities include Umm al-Mayazen and Nasib to the southeast, al-Naimeh to the east, Ataman to the north, al-Yadudah to the northwest and Ramtha, Jordan to the southwest.

According to the Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics, Daraa had a population of 97,969 in the 2004 census. It is the administrative center of a nahiyah ("sub-district") which contains eight localities with a collective population of 146,481 in 2004.[2] Its inhabitants are predominantly Sunni Muslims.[4]

Daraa became known as the "cradle of the revolution"[5] after protests at the arrest of 15 boys from prominent families for painting graffiti with anti-government slogans[6] sparked the beginning of Syrian Uprising of 2011.[7]


Daraa is located in Syria
Coordinates: 32°37′N 36°6′E / 32.617°N 36.100°E
Country Syria
GovernorateDaraa Governorate
DistrictDaraa District
 • GovernorMohammad Khaled al-Hannus[1]
435 m (1,427 ft)
(2004 census)[2]
 • City97,969
 • Metro
Demonym(s)Arabic: درعاوي‎, translit. Darʿāwi
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Area code(s)15
Daraa District Map
Location of Daraa city in the namesake district and governorate.


Ancient history

Daraa is an ancient city dating back to the Canaanites. It was mentioned in Egyptian hieroglyphic tablets at the time of the Pharaoh Thutmose III between 1490 and 1436 BC. It was known in those days as the city of Atharaa. It was later referred to in the Hebrew Bible as "Edrei" or "Edre'i" (אֶדְרֶעִי),[8] the capital of Bashan, site of a battle where the Israelites defeated the city's king, Og.[9] According to Jewish tradition, Eldad and Medad were buried in Edrei.[10]

Classical era

In the Greek Seleucid Empire, of which it was part, and in the Roman Empire into which it was incorporated by Trajan in 106, the city was known as Adraa (Ἀδράα),[11] the name used on its coinage.[12][13] It was incorporated into the province of Arabia Petraea.[14] By the 3rd-century, it gained the status of a polis (self-governed city). Roman historian Eusebius called Adraa a famous city (polis) of Arabia.[9][15] The area east of Adraa was a centre of the Ebionites.[16][17] Adraa itself was a Christian bishopric. Arabio, the first bishop of Adraa whose name is now known, participated in the Council of Seleucia of 359. Uranius was at the First Council of Constantinople in 381; Proclus at the anti-Eutyches synod of Constantinople in 448 and the Council of Chalcedon in 451; and Dorimenius at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553.[18][19] No longer a residential bishopric, Adraa is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[20] It was also a centre of monastic and missionary activity in the Syrian Desert. In 614, a Sassanid Persian army sacked Adraa, but spared the inhabitants.[14]

Islamic era

Some of the Jewish tribes that Muhammad expelled from Medina settled in Adraa, which in Arabic was called Adra'at.[21] According to Ibn Hisham and al-Waqidi, 9th-century biographers of the Muhammad, the Banu Nadir and Banu Qaynuqa tribes immigrated to Adhri'at following their expulsion from Medina. Historian Moshe Sharon dismisses that assertion however, citing the absence of their claims in any Jewish sources and the earlier Muslim reports.[14] Situated between the major Jewish centres of Palestine and Babylonia, Adhri'at nonetheless had a large Jewish population by the early 7th century and served as a place of Jewish learning. Its residents lit an annual bonfire on Rosh Hashannah in a signal to Babylonia's Jewish communities that the religious new year began.[14]

Early Muslim historian Ahmad al-Baladuri lists Adhri'at as one of the towns that surrendered to the Muslim army following the Battle of Tabuk in 630, while Muhammad was alive. Consequently, the inhabitants paid jizya tax.[22] However, Baladhuri's account was believed to have been a mistake. Instead, contemporary sources maintain that Adhri'at was conquered by the Rashidun army during the caliphate of Abu Bakr in 634.[23] Adhri'at's residents reportedly celebrated the arrival of the second caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab when he visited the city, "dancing with swords and sweet basil."[22] Throughout Rashidun and Umayyad rule, the city served as the capital of the al-Bathaniyya subdistrict, part of the larger Jund Dimashq ("military district of Damascus.")[24]

In 906 the population was massacred in a raid by the rebellious Qarmatians.[22] The late 10th-century Arab geographer al-Muqaddasi noted that during the Abbasid period, Adhri'at was a major administrative center on the edge of the desert.[25] He claimed the city was part of the Jund al-Urdunn district and that its territory was "full of villages" and included the region of Jerash to the south of the Yarmouk River.[25][26]

Throughout the Middle Ages, it served as a strategic station on the hajj caravan route between Damascus and Medina and as the gate to central Syria. The Crusaders briefly conquered Adhri'at, then known as Adratum in the early 12th-century.[27] According to Yaqut al-Hamawi, in the early 13th-century during Ayyubid rule, Adhri'ah was "celebrated for the many learned men who were natives of the place."[25]

Later, under the Mamluks and the Ottomans, the city maintained its importance.[27] In 1596 Daraa appeared in the Ottoman tax registers as Madinat Idra'a and was part of the nahiya of Butayna in the Qada of Hauran. It had an entirely Muslim population consisting of 120 households and 45 bachelors. Taxes were paid on wheat, barley, summer crops, goats and/or beehives.[28]

Modern era

By the 20th-century Adhri'at gained its modern name "Daraa." Following the Ottomans' construction of the Hejaz Railway, it became a chief junction of the railroad. In both his book Seven Pillars and a 1919 letter to a military colleague,[29] T. E. Lawrence describes an episode on 20 November 1917 while reconnoitering Deraa in disguise when he was captured by the Ottoman military, heavily beaten, and sexually abused by the local Bey and his guardsmen.

Daraa is the southernmost city of Syria on the border with Jordan and a major midpoint between Damascus and Amman[27]

After the Ba'ath Party gained power following the 1963 coup, the new interior minister Amin al-Hafiz appointed Abd al-Rahman al-Khlayfawi as governor of Daraa until 1965.[30] Daraa had recently, before the Syrian Civil War, suffered from reduced water supply in the region, and been straining under the influx of internal refugees who were forced to leave their northeastern lands, due to a drought exacerbated by the government's lack of provision.[31]

Thousands of people protested in the city as part of the 2011 Syrian protests.[32]

Syrian Civil War

درعا البلد إحدى المظاهرات في بداية الإحتجاجات 2013-10-11 16-41.jpeg
Protests in 2013

The city of Daraa played an important role by the start of the 2011 uprising against the government led by President Bashar al-Assad as part of the Arab Spring protests. The uprising was sparked on the 6th of March 2011, when 15 youths were arrested for scrawling graffiti on their school wall denouncing the Assad regime. The family and friends of the detained youths and many of their supporters marched on the streets on the 15th of March, demanding their release. According to activists, this protest was faced with Syrian security forces opening fire on the protesters killing three people.[33] Protests continued daily. During this time the local courthouse, the Ba'ath party headquarters in the city, and the Syriatel building owned by Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of President Assad, were set on fire. What followed was a government assault on the city as violence continued and intensified all across Syria. On 25 April 2011, the Syrian military launched a large operation in Daraa in a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.[34] The operation lasted until 5 May 2011. In June 2011, United Nations investigators found that over 240 civilians had been killed.[35]

On 16 February 2012, the Syrian Army reportedly attacked Daraa, shelling the city heavily. This was apparently because, "Daraa has been regaining its role in the uprising. Demonstrations have resumed and FSA has been providing security for protests in some parts of the city." The attack was part of a security force push "to regain control of areas they lost in recent weeks", indicating that the FSA in Daraa had taken control of parts of the city. Security forces attacked at least three districts, but FSA fighters fought back, firing at Syrian Army roadblocks and buildings housing security police and militiamen.[36] On 14 March 2012, the FSA controlled at least one main district in the city of Daraa (Al-Balad district) which made the Syrian army attack it by firing anti-aircraft guns into buildings of the FSA-controlled district.[37]

In early June 2017, much of the city of Daraa was reported to have been destroyed by protracted fighting.[38]

On 12 July 2018, the battle for Daraa ended after several days of intense clashes between the Syrian Army and rebel forces, some of which agreed to terms of reconciliation. The Syrian Army retook the city fully.[39]



Daraa has a cold semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk).


  1. ^ "Syria protest town 'has new governor'". France 24. 4 April 2011. Archived from the original on 3 May 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
  2. ^ a b General Census of Population and Housing 2004 Archived 2012-02-07 at WebCite. Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Daraa Governorate. (in Arabic)
  3. ^ Source: Google Maps, accessed 24 February 2016
  4. ^ Sterling, Joe. Daraa: The spark that lit the Syrian flame. CNN. 2012-03-01.
  5. ^ "Three years later, south Syria's Daraa province locked in stalemate". Syria Direct. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  6. ^ "Syria: How it all began". GlobalPost. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  7. ^ "Syria: Crimes Against Humanity in Daraa". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  8. ^ Numbers 21:33 and Deuteronomy 3:1
  9. ^ a b Negev, p. 150.
  10. ^ Burial Places of the Fathers, published by Yehuda Levi Nahum in book: Ṣohar la-ḥasifat ginzei teiman (Heb. צהר לחשיפת גנזי תימן), Tel-Aviv 1986, p. 253
  11. ^ William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1864): Adraa
  12. ^ "Catalogue of the Greek coins in The British Museum". google.com.
  13. ^ "Ancient coins of Arabia". snible.org.
  14. ^ a b c d Sharon, 2007, p. 68
  15. ^ Fergus Millar, The Roman Near East, 31 B.C.-A.D. 337 (Harvard University Press 1993 ISBN 978-0-67477886-3), p. 419
  16. ^ Adolf Harnack, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, Book 4, Chapter 3, section 1
  17. ^ Albertus Frederik Johannes Klijn, G. J. Reinink, Patristic Evidence for Jewish-Christian Sects (Brill Archive 1973 ISBN 978-9-00403763-2), p. 29
  18. ^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 859-860
  19. ^ Siméon Vailhé, v. Adraa, in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. I, Paris 1909, coll. 592-593
  20. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 838
  21. ^ "EDREI - JewishEncyclopedia.com". jewishencyclopedia.com.
  22. ^ a b c Sharon, 2007, p. 69
  23. ^ Houtma, 1993, p. 135
  24. ^ le Strange, 1890, p. 34
  25. ^ a b c le Strange, 1890, p. 383
  26. ^ le Strange, 1890, p. 40
  27. ^ a b c Sharon, 2007, p. 70
  28. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 214.
  29. ^ Letter to W.F. Stirling, Deputy Chief Political Officer, Cairo, 28 June 1919, in Brown, 1988.
  30. ^ Moubayed, 2006, p. 275
  31. ^ Michael Gunning (26 August 2011). "Background to a Revolution". n+1.
  32. ^ "Syria to free child prisoners". Al Jazeera. 20 Mar 2011. Retrieved 20 Mar 2011.
  33. ^ "Middle East unrest: Three killed at protest in Syria". BBC News. 18 March 2011.
  34. ^ ""We've Never Seen Such Horror" | Human Rights Watch". Hrw.org. 1 June 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  35. ^ "Killings continue in Syria as UN reaches "massacre" village". Euronews. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  36. ^ "Syria live blog Thu, 16 Feb 2012, 06:32". Blogs.aljazeera.net. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  37. ^ "Syria - Mar 14, 2012 - 11:43 | Al Jazeera Blogs". Blogs.aljazeera.net. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  38. ^ Syrian regime jets pound Daraa after rebel attacks TheNewArab, 5 June 2017.
  39. ^ "Breaking: Battle for Daraa city ends in decisive victory for Syrian Army". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 12 July 2018.


Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 32°37′31″N 36°6′22″E / 32.62528°N 36.10611°E

2013 Daraa offensive

The 2013 Daraa offensive was a campaign during the Syrian Civil War launched by the FSA in the Daraa Governorate to capture the strategic border area. The offensive began in early March 2013. During the campaign, rebel forces captured several bases and towns. The offensive was eventually halted following an Army counter-offensive in mid-April, which resulted in the recapture of a few towns and villages. After that, the rebels continued their advance by launching a counter-offensive of their own.

2018 Southern Syria offensive

The 2018 Southern Syria offensive, code-named Operation Basalt (Arabic: عملية البازلت‎), was a military operation launched by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies against the rebels and ISIL in Southern Syria. The fighting started with a surprise attack on rebel-held areas in the eastern part of the Daraa Governorate in an attempt to fracture rebel-held lines and weaken morale, ahead of their offensive in the greater Southern Syria region.

Al-Shajara, Syria

Al-Shajara (Arabic: الشجرة‎, also spelled ash-Shajarah) is a town in southern Syria, administratively part of the Daraa Governorate, located west of Daraa, in between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Jordan. Nearby localities include Saham al-Jawlan to the east, Nafia to the north, Jamla to the northwest and Bayt Ara to the southwest.

Battle of Al-Shaykh Maskin (2014)

The Battle of Al-Shaykh Maskin started with a Syrian Arab Army attempt, during the Syrian civil war in Daraa Governorate, to capture Al-Shaykh Maskin and thus secure the Daraa–Damascus highway. Two days later, the rebels launched their offensive, code-named "Edkholo Alayhem al-Bab" and "Hadm al-Jedar" (Demolition Of The Wall), to take control of Al-Shaykh Maskin and the nearby town of Nawa.


Bosra (Arabic: بصرى‎, translit. Buṣrā), also spelled Bostra, Busrana, Bozrah, Bozra and officially known Busra al-Sham (Arabic: بصرى الشام‎, translit. Buṣrā al-Shām, Turkish: Busra el-Şam) is a town in southern Syria, administratively belonging to the Daraa District of the Daraa Governorate and geographically being part of the Hauran region.

According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Bosra had a population of 19,683 in the 2004 census. It is the administrative center of the nahiyah ("subdistrict") of Bosra which consisted of nine localities with a collective population of 33,839 in 2004. Bosra's inhabitants are predominantly Sunni Muslims, although the town has a small Shia Muslim community.Bosra has an ancient history and during the Roman era it was a prosperous provincial capital and Metropolitan Archbishopric, under the jurisdiction of Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. It continued to be administratively important during the Islamic era, but became gradually less prominent during the Ottoman era. It also became a Latin Catholic titular see and the episcopal see of a Melkite Catholic Archeparchy. Today, it is a major archaeological site and has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Daraa Governorate

Dara`a Governorate (Arabic: مُحافظة درعا‎ / ALA-LC: Muḥāfaẓat Dar‘ā ) is one of the fourteen governorates (provinces) of Syria. It is situated in the south-west of the country and covers an area of 3,730 km². It is bordered by Jordan to the south, Quneitra Governorate to the west, Rif Dimashq Governorate to the north and Al-Suwayda Governorate to the east. The governorate has a population of 998,000 (2010 census office estimate). The capital is the city of Daraa.

Several clashes have occurred within the governorate throughout the Syrian civil war.

Daraa Governorate clashes (2011–13)

The 2011–2012 Daraa Governorate clashes are a series of military confrontations between the Syrian Army and the Free Syrian Army in Daraa Governorate, Syria, which began in November 2011, after widescale protests and crackdown on protesters in Daraa had lasted since April 2011. The clashes had been ongoing as part of the Syrian Civil War, until the U.N. brokered cease fire came into effect on 14 April 2012. Sporadic clashes have continued since then, however.

Although there were some civilian protests, Arab League observers have been posted in the area, and one of them claimed to see snipers in the city. "We saw snipers in the town, we saw them with our own eyes," the observer told residents in a conversation filmed and posted online. "We're going to ask the government to remove them immediately. We'll be in touch with the Arab League back in Cairo. If the snipers are not gone in 24 hours, then there will be other measures taken." Civilian protesters have died.On 16 February 2012, the army reportedly attacked Daraa, shelling the city heavily. This was apparently because, "Deraa has been regaining its role in the uprising. Demonstrations have resumed and the Free Syrian Army has been providing security for protests in some parts of the city." The attack was part of a security force push "to regain control of areas they lost in recent weeks", indicating FSA in Daraa had taken control of parts of the city. Security forces attacked at least three districts, but FSA fighters fought back, firing at army roadblocks and buildings housing security police and militiamen. An activist said that there had been a military build-up near Daraa for the previous two weeks. Images taken by residents appears to have shown military tanks in Daraa, and at least three security force members were initially killed in the fighting.On 14 March 2012, fighters from the Free Syrian Army controlled at least 1 main district in the city of Daraa (Al-Balad district) which made the Syrian army attack it by firing anti-aircraft guns into buildings of the FSA-controlled district.

Daraa and As-Suwayda offensive (June 2015)

The Daraa and As-Suwayda offensive (June 2015) (titled "The battle of the crushing of the tyrants" by the Southern Front) was launched in eastern Daraa Governorate during the Syrian Civil War, by the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army and allied Islamic Front rebel group against government positions in and around the 52nd Mechanized Brigade base (Liwa 52), which housed an infantry unit, an artillery battalion and a T-72 tank battalion. The offensive moved directly onto nearby al-Thula airbase in western As-Suwayda Governorate after the swift capture of Brigade 52. However, after initially managing to capture parts of the airbase, the rebels were forced to withdraw.

Daraa offensive (February–June 2017)

The Daraa offensive (February–June 2017), code named as the battle of "Death Rather than Humiliation" (Arabic: الموت ولا المذلة‎) by the rebels, was a military operation launched by Syrian rebels against positions of the Syrian Arab Army in the Manshiyah District of Daraa city, in southern Syria, during the Syrian Civil War.

Daraa offensive (February–May 2014)

For the 2013 Daraa offensive, see 2013 Daraa offensive.

The 2014 Daraa offensive (also known as the Battle of Geneva Houran) was a campaign during the Syrian Civil War launched by rebel forces, including the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front and Al-Nusra Front, to push back government forces in the Daraa Governorate, Quneitra Governorate, and As-Suwayda Governorate, in southwestern Syria, and thus opening the road to Damascus.The offensive was launched on 3 February 2014 and declared after a meeting between FSA battalions and Islamic factions, which established a joint operations room. It was also reported that the FSA operations rooms in Daraa, Damascus and Quneitra were incorporated in this joint operations room as well. Local rebel commanders stated that thousands of rebels who had western military training would be involved in the Daraa offensive. The Persian Gulf states had promised to send rebels in Daraa large amounts of weaponry, including anti tank weapons and air missiles.

Daraa offensive (January 2015)

The Daraa offensive (January 2015), was a rebel offensive launched in Daraa Governorate during the Syrian civil war, in an attempt to capture the remaining Army positions in Shaykh Maskin, and thus secure the Daraa–Damascus highway, and other positions in Daraa province.

Daraa offensive (June 2017)

The Daraa offensive (June 2017) was a military operation launched by the Syrian Arab Army and allies against rebel positions in the southern half of Daraa city. Rebels and government forces fought for control of the city's Palestinian refugee camp, a built-up residential area of the city.

Daraa offensive (June–July 2015)

The Daraa offensive ("Operation Southern Storm" or "Aasefat al-Janoub") was a rebel operation in the Daraa Governorate, during the Syrian Civil War. It was led by the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army and also included the Army of Conquest "southern sector", of which the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham are part of, against Syrian government forces defending Daraa city and the surrounding towns.

Daraa offensive (March–April 2016)

The Daraa offensive (March–April 2016) was a military operation of two Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-affiliated groups, the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade and the Islamic Muthanna Movement, against Syrian opposition forces in the Daraa Governorate.

Daraa offensive (October 2014)

The October Daraa offensive, code-named "wa al-Fajr wa Layali Asher" ("By the Dawn and ten nights"), was a military operation launched by Syrian rebels during the Syrian civil war in Daraa Governorate, in an attempt to take control of Al-Harra and Al-Sanamayn. This operation came after the successful rebel offensive in Quneitra province, which resulted in the rebels seizing the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan and the capture of a number of towns, villages and hills in Quneitra and Daraa provinces.

Death of Hamza Ali Al-Khateeb

Hamza Ali Al-Khateeb (Arabic: حمزة علي الخطيب‎) (October 24, 1997 – May 25, 2011) was a 13-year-old Syrian boy who died while in the custody of the Syrian government in Daraa. On April 29, 2011, he was detained during a protest. On May 25, 2011, his body was delivered to his family, having been badly bruised, along with burn marks, three gunshot wounds, and

severed genitals. Hamza's family distributed photos and video of his body to journalists and activists. Shocked by what was depicted, thousands of people showed their support for Hamza online and in street protests.

Siege of Daraa

The Siege of Daraa occurred within the context of Arab Spring protests in Syria, beginning on 15 March 2011, with Daraa as the center of uproar. The Syrian Army on 25 April started an eleven-day siege of the city. This harsh reaction would prove to be another step in the escalation of the Syrian conflict, that would eventually escalate into civil war.

The siege involved tanks, helicopters and around 6,000 troops. Up to 244 people were killed, many of them children; also 81 soldiers were killed, and 1,000 people were arrested.


Souss-Massa-Drâa (Arabic: سوس ماسة درعة‎) was formerly one of the sixteen regions of Morocco from 1997 to 2015. It covered an area of 70,880 km² and had a population of 3,601,917 (2014 census). The capital is Agadir. One of the major languages spoken in this region of Morocco is Tashelhit.

In 2005, Rachid Filali of the prominent Filali family of Tafilalt became the Wali of Souss-Massa-Drâa.

Southwestern Daraa offensive (February 2017)

The Southwestern Daraa offensive (February 2017) was launched by an ISIL affiliate, the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, in the southwest of Syria near the Golan Heights and on the border with Israel and Jordan.

Climate data for Dara'a
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 13.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 8.3
Average low °C (°F) 3.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 60.9
Average precipitation days 10 11 7 4 1 0 0 0 0 2 5 8 48
Source: World Meteorological Organization
Governorate centres
District centres
Sub-district centres

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