*** Kafr Batna was reclassified from a Tier 1 siege to the Siege Watch 'Watchlist' on 31 March 2018, when most of Eastern Ghouta reverted entirely to government control following a final scorched earth offensive, surrender deal, and forced population transfers to northern Syria.***
Post-siege Note: Kafr Batna was captured by pro-government forces on 19 March 2018 during an unprecedented and devastating final scorched earth campaign by the Syrian government and its allies. Many of the original residents of Kafr Batna were displaced during the siege and final offensive, but unlike many nearby communities, the town was not entirely depopulated when pro-government forces entered. This was due to the existence of a contingent of government supporters inside of Kafr Batna who rose up to help them drive out opposition forces. There are no good estimates of the remaining population due to the continued lack of international access and restrictions on movement and communications. Nearly a quarter of the infrastructure in the town had been destroyed even before the start of the final offensive. Kafr Batna received preferential treatment immediately after the siege, and government will likely repopulate the area before others, allowing some original residents to return and confiscating some property to use for its own purposes. Kafr Batna will therefore remain on the Siege Watch 'Watchlist' pending information on future developments.
*** In mid-November 2017, for the first time since the start of the Siege Watch project in late 2015, Kafr Batna'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 the beginning of 2013 along with the rest of Eastern Ghouta
Siege classification: Tier 1
Besieged by: Syrian government.
UN recognizes siege?: Yes. Listed as besieged for the first time in the 11 November 2015 UNSG report (S/2015/862)
Active Truce?: No
Current population: 33,000 (as of 07/31/17), pre-war population was around 29,000
Civil control: Kafr Batna Local Council
Military control: Data unavailable
Siege-related deaths: Yes, more than 15 children, details unavailable
Aid: Kafr Batna was one of two towns to receive a UN aid shipment on 30 October 2017. This was the first such aid in well over a year.
Active conflict: Yes, Kafr Batna is often the target of intensive bombardments by pro-government forces leading to civilian casualties. Notably, on 16 October 2017 a school was directly targeted by shelling and a student was killed.
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.
Kafr Batna is one of the communities in Eastern Ghouta that receives displaced people uprooted from other communities. The displacements are ongoing and population continues to fluctuate. (Note: Kafr Batna is also the name of the larger subdistrict.)