*** Arbin was reclassified from a Tier 1 siege to the Siege Watch 'Watchlist'on 31 March 2018, when it reverted entirely to government control following a final scorched earth offensive, surrender deal, and forced population transfers to northern Syria.***
Post Siege Note: Arbin was one of the communities covered under the surrender deal reached for the "central sector" of Eastern Ghouta in late March 2018, following an unprecedented and devastating final scorched earth campaign by the Syrian government and its allies. Opposition fighters in Arbin, and many of the remaining civilians, were sent to northern Syria as part of the forced population transfers. The area reverted entirely to government control by 31 March 2018. Civilians remained in the heavily damaged community following the surrender to pro-government forces, but there are no good estimates of the population due to the massive displacement caused by the final offensive. International access has been limited and civilians are still being denied freedom of movement and communication. As a result Arbin will remain on the Siege Watch "Watchlist."
*** In mid-November 2017, for the first time since the start of the Siege Watch project in late 2015, Arbin's siege designation was elevated from Tier 2 to Tier 1 long with the rest of Eastern Ghouta. With the onset of winter the entire besieged enclave is facing a humanitarian catastrophe. ***
Dates: Besieged in stages since October 2012, worsened in mid-2013 along with the rest of Eastern Ghouta
Siege classification: Tier 1
Besieged by: Syrian govt.
UN recognizes siege?: Yes
Active Truce?: No
Current population: 60,250 (as of 7/31/17); pre-war population was around 80,000
Civil control: Arbin Local Council
Military control: FSA-related groups
Siege-related deaths: No
Aid: Arbin did not receive any humanitarian aid during the November 2016 - January 2017 period. The only UN assistance the town received since since coming under siege was on 29 June 2016, when Zamalka and Arbin both received an interagency UN aid shipment for the first time in four years. This aid was reportedly aimed at supporting 20,000 beneficiaries for a month, less than half of the population of these two areas. Most medical supplies including desperately needed surgical kits were removed from the convoy.
Active conflict: Yes, the area continues to be attacked by government and Russian aerial bombardments and shelling by pro-government forces, often resulting in civilian casualties.
Additional Details: Prices in Eastern Ghouta started to increase notably in July 2017 when the Syrian government ended the monopoly of the trader al-Manfoush at al-Wafideen checkpoint, placed further restrictions on basic goods like flour, and intermittently cut all commercial access. According to international agencies, access was finally cut in September or early October 2017. The halt in entry of limited commercial supplies via al-Wafideen is so damaging because it was one of the few remaining ways that people could get supplies. Smuggling tunnels from Eastern Ghouta to Barzeh and Qaboun were captured by pro-government forces earlier in 2017, and much of the rural southern agricultural sector of Eastern Ghouta was captured by government forces in mid-2016.
Arbin continues to receive displaced people uprooted from other parts of Eastern Ghouta. As a result the population figures continue to fluctuate.