, Levantine Arabic
, also Darʿā
; means "fortress
", compare Dura-Europos
) is a city in southwestern Syria
, located about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) north of the border
. 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
to the southeast, Al-Naimah
to the east, Ataman
to the north, al-Yadudah
to the northwest and Ramtha, Jordan
to the southwest.
Location of Daraa city in the namesake district and governorate.
Daraa became known as the "cradle of the revolution"
after protests at the arrest of 15 boys from prominent families for painting graffiti with anti-government slogans
sparked the beginning of Syrian Uprising of 2011
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),
the capital of Bashan
, site of a battle where the Israelites
defeated the city's king, Og
According to Jewish tradition, Eldad and Medad
were buried in Edrei.
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),
the name used on its coinage.
It was incorporated into the province of Arabia Petraea
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.
The area east of Adraa was a centre of the Ebionites
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
No longer a residential bishopric, Adraa is today listed by the Catholic Church
as a titular see
It was also a centre of monastic and missionary activity in the Syrian Desert
. In 614, the Sasanian Persians
sacked Adraa during the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628
, but spared the inhabitants.
Some of the Jewish tribes that Muhammad
expelled from Medina settled in Adraa, which in Arabic
was called Adra'at.
According to Ibn Hisham
, 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.
Situated between the major Jewish centres of Palestine
, 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.
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
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
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."
rule, the city served as the capital of the al-Bathaniyya subdistrict, part of the larger Jund Dimashq
("military district of Damascus.")
In 906, the population was massacred in a raid by the rebellious Qarmatians
The late 10th-century Arab
noted that during the Abbasid
period, Adhri'at was a major administrative center on the edge of the desert.
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
Throughout the Middle Ages, it served as a strategic station on the hajj
caravan route between Damascus
and as the gate to central Syria. The Crusaders
briefly conquered Adhri'at, then known as Adratum
during the reign of Baldwin II of Jerusalem
According to Yaqut al-Hamawi
, in the early 13th-century during Ayyubid
was "celebrated for the many learned men who were natives of the place."
Later, under the Mamluks
and the Ottomans
, the city maintained its importance.
In 1596 Daraa appeared in the Ottoman
tax registers as Madinat Idra'a
and was part of the nahiya
of Butayna in the Qada
. It had an entirely Muslim
population consisting of 120 households and 45 bachelors. A 40% tax−rate was levied on wheat
, summer crops, goats and/or beehives; a total of 26,500 akçe
In 1838, Eli Smith
as a Muslim, Catholic and Greek Orthodox village in the Nukrah region, south of Eshmiskin
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, 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
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.
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.
Syrian Civil War
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.
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 protesters.
The operation lasted until 5 May 2011. In June 2011, United Nations
investigators found that over 240 civilians had been killed.
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 resumed and the FSA
provided 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. 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.
In early June 2017, much of the city of Daraa was reported to have been destroyed by protracted fighting.
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.
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Last edited on 31 March 2021, at 02:25
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