Shahba region

This article is about the Shahba de facto autonomous region. One of the four regions of the self-declared Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava. For the northern part of Aleppo province, see Aleppo Governorate.
Not to be confused with Shahba District and Shahba.
Shahba region
Şehba herêmê, إقليم شهبا
One of four de facto autonomous cantons or regions of the Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava in Syria

The four regions or cantons of Rojava: Afrin Canton (orange), Kobanî Canton (red), Jazira Canton (green) and the Shahba Region (pink)
Country  Syria
Governorate Aleppo
Council of Shahba created March 22, 2016 (2016-03-22)
Administrative center Manbij (eastern part) and Tel Rifaat (western part)
  Co-president of the Council of Shahba Ismail Musa [1]
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Area code +963 21

The Shahba region (Kurdish: Herêma Şehba, Arabic: إقليم شهبا) or Shahba Canton[2] (Kurdish: Kantona Şehba) is a de facto autonomous region in the Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava.[3] The self-governing autonomous administrative region was established to administer the areas captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant between Kobani Canton and Afrin Canton.[1][4][5]

The Shahba autonomous region was founded during the first and second conference of the Shahba region in Afrin on 28 January 2016 and 2–4 February 2016. The conferences set up the Shahba Regional Assembly with its own council and senate and an de facto autonomous Administration, created on 22 March 2016.[1][6][7] The borders of the zone are not clearly specified yet and subject to change on a daily basis.


The de facto autonomous administrative region of Shahba denotes the parts of Northern Aleppo Governorate of Syria that are under the administrative control of Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava between Afrin Canton and Kobanî Canton, mostly consisting of parts of Azaz District and Manbij District.

The autonomous administrative region of Shahba is split in two parts as a result of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) occupying Al Bab city and the surrounding area. The western part of Shahba Region is situated around the city of Tel Rifaat, the eastern part around the city of Manbij and Tishrin town. The western (Tel Rifaat) element of Shahba region borders Afrin Canton to the west and clockwise areas controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, by ISIL and by the Syrian government. The eastern (Manbij) element of Shahba region borders Kobanî Canton to the east and clockwise areas controlled by ISIL and by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.

At latitude approximately 36 and a half degrees north, the landscape consists of plains and low hills, rivers being Dhahab and Sajur. Part of the Fertile Crescent, its climate is "warm mediterranean" on the Köppen climate classification, as opposed to the colder, semi-arid regions to the south.[8]


The ethnically highly diverse[9] population of Shahba region consists of Arab Syrians and partially Arabized Kurdish population both found throughout the region, as well as a considerable Circassian population in the city of Manbij and a considerable Syrian Turkmen population toward the north of the region. A smaller minority are Armenians.

Manbij and Tell Rifaat are the largest cities administered by de facto autonomous civil administrations operating under the umbrella of the Federation of Northern Syria - Rojava. According to the 2004 Syrian census Manbij had 99,497 [10] inhabitants and Tell Rifaat 20,514[11]


Historical background

The 'Shahba region' area has seen human settlement since the early neolithic.[12][13] In Classical Antiquity, the region was part of Chalybonitis (with its center at Chalybon or Aleppo), Chalcidice (with its center at Qinnasrīn العيس), and Cyrrhestica (with its center at Cyrrhus النبي حوري). This area was one of the most fertile and populated of the region. Under the Romans the region was made in 193 CE part of the province of Coele Syria or Magna Syria, which was ruled from Antioch. The province of Euphratensis was established in the 4th century CE in the east, its center was Hierapolis Bambyce (Manbij) which is still the main city of the region.

Under the Rashidun and Umayyad Muslim dynasties, the region was part of the Jund Qinnasrīn. In the Abbasid period the region was under the independent rule of the Hamdanids. The Mamluks and later the Ottomans governed the area until 1918. During the Ottoman Empire (1299–1922), the region was part of the Vilayet of Aleppo, large Kurdish-speaking tribal groups both settled in and were deported to areas of northern Syria from Anatolia. The largest of these tribal groups was the Reshwan confederation, which was initially based in Adıyaman Province but eventually also settled throughout Anatolia. The Milli confederation, mentioned in 1518 onward, was the most powerful group and dominated the entire northern Syrian steppe in the second half of the 18th century. The Kurdish dynasty of Janbulads ruled the region of Aleppo as Ottoman governors in 1591–1607.[14] At the beginning of the 17th century, districts of Jarabulus and Seruj on the left bank of the Euphrates had been settled by Kurds.[15]

During the French Mandate the region was part of the brief State of Aleppo. In modern post-independence Syria, the Kurdish society of the region was subject to heavy-handed Arabization policies by the Damascus government.[16]

During the Syrian Civil War and Rojava conflict

See also: Rojava conflict

The second half of 2012, most of the region was captured from the Syrian government by opposition groups, including the People's Protection Units (YPG).[17] In January 2014 the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who had been infiltrating the region over the course of the previous year,[18] launched a massive assault, which eventually captured almost the entire Shahba region including Manbij, Jarabulus and Al-Bab, up to Dabiq.

On the western side, some territory in Azaz district stayed under control of non-ISIL forces, villages and towns occasionally contested and changing hands between Afrin Canton based YPG and allies (all since October 2015 under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF) and diverse rebel militias, until finally a February 2016 offensive by SDF forces, inter alia capturing Tel Rifaat and Menagh Airbase, created today's borderline between them.[19][20]

On the eastern side, in December 2015 the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched an offensive from the East across the Euphrates river and captured the strategic Tishrin Dam and surrounding villages, forming a small salient on the western bank of the river. In the following months an offensive to capture Manbij city from ISIS was planned, but was delayed because of opposition and demands from the Turkish government.[21] In May 2016 the SDF launched an offensive towards Manbij city along 3 axes: from the north and south along the banks of the Euphrates river, and on the southern outskirts of Manbij city aiming to block the Raqqa-Manbij road.[22] From 30 May to 12 June 2016, the Manbij offensive captured more than 100 villages from ISIL.[23] On 14 August 2016, after securing Manbij, the SDF established the Al-Bab Military Council with the goal of securing the city of al-Bab and its surrounding countryside.[24] On 19 August 2016, the SDF component Manbij Military Council announced that it took over the security of Manbij city center and surrounding villages.[25][26]

From late August 2016, Turkey assembled some Syrian rebel groups who with Turkish military support captured a strip of territory along the Turkish border from ISIL including the town of Jarabulus. This included some combat with Jarabulus Military Council SDF forces, which eventually settled for an armistice line along the Sajur River. To the south, SDF forces started offensives against ISIL west of Al-Bab in September 2016 and again in October 2016, capturing several villages in the process.

Politics and administration

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

Since it's foundation the Shahba region has a Shahba Regional Assembly with its own council and senate.[1][7]

Shahba Regional Assembly has a direct representative inside the Democratic Syria Assembly (MSD) and Cîhan Xedro is also formally elected to represent the Al-Shahba region inside the MSD.[5]

Further information: Rojava § Canton_government

Shahba autonomous region is governed following the Constitution of Rojava. It is noted for its explicit affirmation of minority rights, gender equality and a form of direct democracy known as Democratic Confederalism. [27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34][35]

Article 8 of the 2014 of the Rojavan constitution stipulates that "all Cantons in the Autonomous Regions are founded upon the principle of local self-government. They may freely elect their representatives and representative bodies, and may pursue their rights insofar as it does not contravene the articles of the Charter."[36]

Further information: Constitution of Rojava

The governing party of Shahba region is the Syrian National Democratic Alliance (Arabic: التحالف الوطني الديمقراطي السوري, TWDS). It is a left-wing multi-ethnic political party established in 2014 in northern Syria.[37]

Executive officers

The prime ministers were elected[1] and the remaining Executive Council appointed as follows:

Name Party Office Elected Notes
Ismail Musa [38] TWDS Acting Prime Minister 2016
Ayman al-Hafez TWDS Acting Deputy Prime Minister 2016
Mohammed Ahmed Khaddro [39] TWDS Acting Deputy Prime Minister 2016
? Minister of Foreign Affairs 2016
? Minister of Internal Affairs 2016
? Minister of Finance 2016
? Minister of Education 2016
? Minister of Health 2016
? Minister of Martyrs’ Families 2016
? Minister of Youth and Sport 2016
? Minister of Religious Affairs
and Reconciliation
? Minister of Women
and Family Affairs
? Minister of Information
and Communication


Like in all Rojava cantons, security in Shahba region primiarily is an affair for the cantonal Asayish police force. International media have reported high interest in Shahba region population to join these forces, the female component of which has drawn particular attention.[40][41]


In the eastern Manbij part of the region, public schooling has regained secular normalcy after the ISIL episode.[42][43]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Delegation from the Democratic administration of Self-participate of self-participate in the first and second conference of the Shaba region". 4 February 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  3. Giancarlo Elia Valori (19 September 2016). "The ceasefire in force in Syria as from September 12, 2016". Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  4. "Ciwanên Şehbayê 3 çeteyên DAIŞ'ê kuştin". Hawar News Agency (ANHA). 2015-05-24. Retrieved 2016-06-06.
  5. 1 2 "Executive Board of Democratic Syria Assembly elected". ANF Naws Desk. ANF News. ANF. 13 December 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  6. "Interview with Ahmad Araj Member of the Executive Committee of the Syrian Democratic Council". WKI. WKI. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  7. 1 2 "Notables and tribal areas Shahba Council issued the final statement of its founding congress". ANHA. 2 February 2016.
  8. "Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification". European Geosciences Union.
  9. "Syria: Ethnic Composition". Gulf/2000 Project. Columbia University. 1997–2016. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  10. General Census of Population and Housing 2004. Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Aleppo Governorate.(Arabic)
  11. General Census of Population and Housing 2004. Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Aleppo Governorate.(Arabic)
  12. Besançon, J.; Sanlaville, P. (1981), "Aperçu géomorpholoqique sur la vallée de l' Euphrate syrien", Paléorient (in French), 7 (2): 5–18 (14), doi:10.3406/paleo.1981.4295
  13. Muhesen, Sultan (2002), "The Earliest Paleolithic Occupation in Syria", in Akazawa, Takeru; Aoki, Kenichi; Bar-Yosef, Ofer, Neandertals and Modern Humans in Western Asia, New York: Kluwer, pp. 95–105 (102), doi:10.1007/0-306-47153-1_7, ISBN 0-306-47153-1
  14. Salibi, Kamal S. (1990). A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered. University of California Press. p. 154. ISBN 9780520071964.
  15. Tejel, Jordi (2008). Syria's Kurds: History, Politics and Society. Routledge. p. 10. ISBN 9781134096435.
  16. "SYRIA: The Silenced Kurds; Vol. 8, No. 4(E)". Human Rights Watch. 1996.
  17. "The Campaign in Northern Syria, November 2012". ISW. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  18. Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (18 July 2013). "The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham Expands Into Rural Northern Syria". Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  19. "Azaz: the border town that is ground zero in Syria's civil war". The Guardian. 21 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  20. "Kurdish Expansion is Changing Ankara's Priorities". News Deeply. 24 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  21. "Ignoring Turkey, U.S. backs Kurds in drive against ISIS in Syria". The Washington Post. 1 June 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  22. "Exclusive: U.S.-backed Syria forces launch offensive for Manbij pocket - U.S. officials". 1 June 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2016 via Reuters.
  23. "The Syria Democratic Forces reach 16 kilometers in the western countryside of Manbij and control about 100 villages.". SOHR. 11 June 2016.
  24. "Syrian Democratic Forces aim to capture al-Bab, call for coalition support". ARA News. 15 August 2016.
  25. "SDF withdraws from Manbij after liberation, handing city over to local council". aranews. 19 April 2016.
  26. "Manbij Military Council takes over the security of Manbij". ANF. 19 August 2016.
  27. "A Dream of Secular Utopia in ISIS' Backyard". New York Times. 2015-11-24. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  28. "Power to the people: a Syrian experiment in democracy". Financial Times. 2015-10-23. Retrieved 2016-06-06.
  29. "The Kurds' Democratic Experiment". New York Times. 2015-09-30. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  30. "Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?". The Guardian. 2014-10-08. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  31. "Regaining hope in Rojava". Slate. 2016-06-06. Retrieved 2016-06-09.
  32. "American Leftists Need to Pay More Attention to Rojava". Slate. 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  33. "The Revolution in Rojava". Dissent. 2015-04-22. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  34. "The Rojava revolution". OpenDemocracy. 2015-03-15. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  35. "Statement from the Academic Delegation to Rojava". New Compass. 2015-01-15. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  36. "2014 Charter of the Social Contract of Rojava". Peace in Kurdistan. 2014-01-29. Retrieved 2016-06-18.
  37. "من نحن؟" [Who are We?] (in Arabic). Syrian National Democratic Alliance. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  40. "Syrian women liberated from Isis are joining the police to protect their city". The Independent. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  41. "Liberated from ISIS suppression, women of Manbij join security forces (includes Video)". ARA News. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  42. "Syrian kids relish return to school in ex-IS bastion". ReliefWeb (AFP). 28 September 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  43. "Manbij: students back to school after ISIS explosives dismantled". ARA News. 10 October 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-15.

External links

Coordinates: 36°31′41″N 37°57′14″E / 36.5280°N 37.9540°E / 36.5280; 37.9540

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