Siege of Daraa

Siege of Daraa
Part of the Civil uprising phase of the Syrian Civil War
Date25 April – 5 May 2011
(1 week and 3 days)
LocationDaraa, Syria
Result Protests suppressed

Syrian opposition

  • Opposition protesters
  • Defecting soldiers

Syrian Arab Republic

Commanders and leaders
Unknown Gen. Maher al-Assad
Gen. Suheil Hassan
Gen. Mohsin Makhlouf
Gen. Ahmed Yousef Jarad
Gen. Ramadan Ramadan[1]
Unknown 4th Division (42nd brigade)
5th Division (12th, 15th, 112th, 132nd brig, 175th reg)
Special forces (35th, 41st regiment)[1]
Casualties and losses
50[2]–220[3] protesters killed and 600[4]–1,000[5] arrested, 81 defected soldiers killed[6] 25 killed, 177 wounded[7]

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;[6] also 81 soldiers were killed,[6] and 1,000 people were arrested.[5]


On 15 March 2011, hundreds protested for democracy in Damascus and Aleppo, the largest cities of Syria. This started off a cavalcade of ever-larger and angrier demonstrations all around Syria.

On Friday 18 March, demonstrations erupted in four cities, the largest protest was in Daraa where thousands of protesters demanded an end to government corruption. These Daraa protests were repressed by security forces shooting at demonstrators.[8] Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators were killed.[9] The city of Daraa remained a focal point for the Syrian protests.

On 20 March, thousands took to the streets of Daraa for the third straight day, shouting slogans against the country's emergency law. Fifteen persons were killed and scores injured as security forces opened fire on protesters. The courthouse, the Ba'ath party headquarters in the city, and the Syriatel building owned by Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of President Assad, were then all set on fire.

On 23 March, security forces stormed on thousand demonstrators near the central Omari mosque in Daraa, killing at least 37 people.[10][11]

On 8 April, heavy clashes erupted in Daraa between protestors and security forces, in which 27 protestors and 19 soldiers were killed.[12] In the protests on the all-Syrian “Great Friday” 22 April, in Daraa 100 demonstrators were killed, according to Al Jazeera.


Between 25 April and 5 May 2011, the fourth armoured division[13] of the Syrian Army, led by Maher al-Assad (brother of Bashar), besieged Daraa, a city of 75,000[14] or 300,000[15] inhabitants.

Dozens were killed in the predawn raid.[17] Bodies were lying in the streets and couldn’t be reached without risking being shot at, a resident said over satellite phone; “they want to teach Syria a lesson by teaching Daraa a lesson”, he said.[14] Another resident of Daraa said over the phone, according to Arizona Daily Star: "Let Obama come and take Syria. Let Israel come and take Syria. Let the Jews come. Anything is better than Bashar Assad."[18] According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and another opposition source, the second-in-command of the acting army brigade refused orders to storm the city and was arrested himself.[17]
Today, people in Daraa could still not leave their homes because snipers shot everything that moved, sources said to Al Jazeera.[20] Between 25 and 28 April, 42 to 50 people were killed in Daraa by security forces, Al Jazeera and Los Angeles Times estimated.[20][21] A Daraa resident said, according to the Los Angeles Times, that an entire army division or brigade had broken off and was hiding among the people; the claim could not be verified, due to foreign journalists not being granted access in Syria.[21]
Daraa was now completely surrounded by tanks and armed troops, with snipers still on roofs and even hiding in minarets of mosques, an eyewitness said to Al Jazeera over the phone.[22] Morgues contained today 83 corpses, according to prominent lawyer in Daraa Tamer al-Jahamani.[22] Dead bodies still lay rotting in the streets, because collecting them was risking being shot, the eyewitness said to Al Jazeera.[22]
The government claimed it was battling “extremist and terrorist groups” in Daraa and that today two soldiers were killed.[22]
A witness told Al Jazeera that 300 soldiers had defected and joined the protesters, and that “there’s no food, no medicine, no electricity, we are collecting rain water to drink”.[23]
Daraa inhabitants were still confined to their homes, communications still down;[25] the town since 25 April still without water, fuel or electricity.[26] Unable to leave their homes, residents chanted “God is Great!” to each other from their windows in the evenings, infuriating security forces.[26]
A source in Daraa told Al Jazeera that security forces were intensifying their house to house searches, and that hundreds of people had been arrested.[25] The government confirmed that 149 people had been arrested in Daraa.[25]
Syria's state run news agency and military officials announced that the military had "carried out" and completed "its mission in detaining terrorists" and restoring calm to Daraa[2][29] and that army units had begun a “gradual withdrawal” from Daraa.[5] An AFP correspondent saw 350 soldiers, 20 armoured personnel carriers and 20 lorries driving out of the city,[30] while witnesses saw a column of around 30 tanks on armoured carriers heading north out of Daraa. Army units remained deployed at entrances to the city.[29]
Trucks carrying drinking water, food and first aid material and experts from the Syrian Red Crescent and the International Red Cross delivered their first emergency relief supplies to Daraa.[30] 150 students at the Daraa University held a brief sit-in.[31]

International reactions

U.S. President Barack Obama, in reaction to the military operation 25 April in Daraa, said the U.S. prepared to freeze Syrian officials' American assets.[37] E.U. countries, including permanent Security Council members France and the U.K., asked the U.N. Security Council 25 April to condemn the Syrian government's use of violence, but it was unclear whether permanent council members Russia and China would support that idea.[38]



  1. 1 2 ""By All Means Necessary!" - Human Rights Watch". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 Syrian troops start withdrawal from Daraa,, 5 May 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  3. 1 2 "'Civilian killings in Syrian demonstrations rises to 800'". Jerusalem Post. 7 May 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  4. "Five dead in 'Day of Defiance'". Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Syria: Raid in Damascus suburb as crackdown defied". BBC News. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 "Syria protests: Rights group warns of 'Deraa massacre'". BBC News. 5 May 2011. Archived from the original on 6 May 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  7. Syria troops crack down again
  8. (YouTube) زماني راح (2011-03-26), بداية الضرب بالرصاص في مظاهرات درعا 2011, retrieved 2016-02-17
  9. "Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests". Arutz Sheva. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  10. "شام - درعا 11- سنكشف الحقيقة 23-3-2011". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  11. Al Jazeera Arabic قناة الجزيرة (2011-03-23), اقتحام الأمن السوري المسجد العمري في مدينة درعا, retrieved 2016-02-17
  12. "Syria: Security Forces Barring Protesters from Medical Care". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  13. Daragahi, Borzou (30 April 2011). "Thousands protest in Damascus after Syrian crackdown". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 Shadid, Anthony (25 April 2011). "Syria Escalates Crackdown as Tanks Go to Restive City". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  15. "Das syrische Regime lässt auf Demonstranten feuern". Zeit Online. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
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  17. 1 2 Carter, Chelsea (26 April 2011). "Deadly attack on protesters raises questions about Syria's stability". CNN. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  18. Syria crackdown on dissent harsher with troops, tanks, Arizona Daily Star, Tuesday, 26 April 2011
  19. Al Jazeera’s correspondent Rula Amin, Damascus, in video clip at 12:59 pm, 28Apr2011, in:"Syria Live Blog – 28 April". Al Jazeera English. 28 April 2011. Archived from the original on 28 April 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  20. 1 2 "Syria Live Blog – 28 April". Al Jazeera English. 28 April 2011. Archived from the original on 28 April 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  21. 1 2 "Syria Party members quit; military defections reported". Los Angeles Times. 29 April 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
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  23. 1 2 3 "Fresh Violence Hits Syrian Town". Al Jazeera English. 30 April 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  24. "Syrian forces kill 62 as America tightens sanctions". Gulf News. 30 April 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  25. 1 2 3 4 "Syrian protesters stay defiant amid crackdown". Al Jazeera English. 1 May 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  26. 1 2 3 "Syria Forces Shell Restive Daraa". Newser. 1 May 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
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  35. We (Wikipedia) have not yet found independent information about organisation Sawasiah. Their own website is to be found at: Syrian Human Rights Organization (Sawasiah) (Retrieved 2 February 2014.)
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  38. Charbonneau, Louis (25 April 2011). "EU powers push U.N. council to condemn Syria". Reuters. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  39. 1 2 "Syrian forces use soccer stadiums as prisons, human rights groups say". CNN. 9 May 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  40. "Syrian protests, expected to wane, grow stronger". Los Angeles Times. 13 May 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
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  42. "Syria 'tightens security grip' in border area". Al Jazeera English. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
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Coordinates: 32°37′00″N 36°07′00″E / 32.6167°N 36.1167°E / 32.6167; 36.1167

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