*** Harasta was reclassified from a Tier 1 siege to the Siege Watch 'Watchlist' on 24 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: Harasta was the first enclave in Eastern Ghouta to reach a surrender agreement with the Syrian government and its allies after months of unprecedented bombardment and attack. Between 22-24 March more than 5,000 opposition fighters and civilians from Harasta were forcibly transferred to northern Syria as part of the deal. There are no good estimates of the remaining population due to the massive displacement during the final offensive, and lack of access since. As of May 2018, international access to the heavily damaged community remained severely limited, civilians were still being denied freedom of movement, and communication was heavily monitored. As a result Harasta 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, Harasta'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 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: 23,500 people (as of 7/31/2017)
Civil control: Harasta Local Council
Military control: Primarily the armed group Ahrar al-Sham
Siege-related deaths: Yes, particularly infants.
Aid: The last UN/SARC aid convoy reached Harasta on 23 September 2017.
Active conflict: Yes. Harasta has been under increasing attack by pro-government forces in October and November 2017, in part as to renewed military activity from Ahrar al-Sham. Airstrikes from Syrian government aircraft have dropped cluster munitions and napalm-like incendiary materials. In November 2017 the Harasta medical center was targeted and destroyed in an airstrike.
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.