Note: In March, following the end of the January 2017 reporting period, al-Waer surrendered to Syrian government forces in the face of an unprecedented military offensive, in order to avoid a complete humanitarian disaster. Russia negotiated the surrender deal, which included the forced transfer of approximately 20,000 people - primarily civilians - out of the neighborhood to Idlib and Jarablus over a two month period from March-May 2017, although more civilians eventually opted to leave than originally planned. Al-Waer was downgraded from besieged to "Watchlist" following the end of the forced population transfers. Siege Watch will continue to monitor al-Waer on the "Watchlist" for the foreseeable future due to continuing reports of civilian abuses and decreased visibility.
Dates: Besieged November 2013 - May 2017
Siege classification: Watchlist (Formerly Tier 1)
Formerly Besieged by: Syrian govt.
UN recognized siege?: Yes, UN finally recognized the multi-year siege of Al-Waer in late May 2016.
Population: 17,500 (as of 7/31/17)
Civil control: Pro-government forces
Military control:Pro-government forces
Siege-related deaths: Yes. During the November 2016-January 2017 reporting period three elderly people died due to lack of medication for heart disease and blood pressure. The Syrian government refused requests for medical evacuation.
Active conflict: The al-Waer district of Homs experienced extreme violence in the weeks leading up to its surrender, as government forces carried out a scorched earth strategy to force the neighborhood to the brink of collapse. Intensive attacks, often with incendiary and cluster munitions, were briefly paused for periods of negotiation. Notably, a major two-week long assault began on 15 November 2016, pummeling the neighborhood with barrel bombs, incendiary munitions, elephant missiles, mortars, and shelling. Both of the neighborhood's hospitals were damaged and people remained stuck underground for days in unsanitary conditions, leading to the spread of disease and pests. Five charity centers serving as civilian shelters were targeted during this onslaught: an orphanage, a kindergarten, a religious center, a charity, and a home for the deaf and mute.
Additional Details: The extreme conditions facing al-Waer at the height of the pro-government forces successfully pushed the local negotiating committee to abandon its long-held terms calling for the release of political prisoners. The Syrian government and its allies had previously agreed to these terms during earlier negotiation rounds but ultimately reneged.