*** Zamalka 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: Zamalka 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 Zamalka, and many of the remaining civilians, were sent to northern Syria as part of the forced population transfers. Some civilians remained in the Zamalka following the surrender deal, but there are no good estimates of the population due to the massive displacement caused by the final offensive. The community was heavily damaged, with more than half of its infrastructure damaged or destroyed and most of its original population already displaced even before the final offensive began (February 2018). As of June 2018, international access remained severely limited, civilians were still being denied freedom of movement, and communication was heavily monitored. As a result Zamalka 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, Zamalka'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 since April 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: 14,850 (as of 07/31/17)
Civil control: Zamalka Local Council
Military control: Some FSA groups active around perimeter
Siege-related deaths: No
Aid: Zamalka did not receive any humantarian during the August-October 2016 period. The only assistance the town received since since coming under siege was on 29 June 2016, when Zamalka and Arbin 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 is frequently subjected to aerial bombardments from Syrian and Russian aircraft, in addition to shelling and missile strikes from artillery units located on Mt. Qasioun and the Scientific Research facility in Jamraya. Notably, on 2 July 2017 fighters on the front lines near Zamalka were targeted with a series of three suspected chemical attacks. The toxins were dispersed by pro-government forces in grenades. Ten fighters were treated with symptoms consistent with exposure to a choking agency and described a chlorine-like smell.
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.
Zamalka continues to receive displaced people uprooted from the southern and eastern parts of Eastern Ghouta. As a result the population figures continue to fluctuate.