Dates: Besieged in stages starting in 2012, with siege becoming nearly complete by early 2014
Siege classification: Tier 3
Besieged by: Syrian govt.
UN recognizes siege?: No
Active Truce?: No
Current population: 115,000 people in Ar-Rastan and surrounding countryside, which includes Qunitarat, Abu Humamah, Esileh, Ezzedin, Zafaraneh, Grnatah, and a few additional small villages (as of 10/31/16).
Civil control: Al-Rastan Local Council
Military control: FSA-affiliated groups, but they are active mainly at periphery.
Siege-related deaths: Yes, but there are no accurate statistics available.
Aid: Al-Rastan received on UN interagency aid delivery on 22 November 2016. The convoy brought 51 trucks of food aid, sanitation supplies, and some medical and education materials, but it was missing baby milk, which remained among the hardest items to get in all of rural northern Homs. Government forces also removed over 16,000 medical treatments from the convoy. It was the first aid convoy to reach al-Rastan since July 2016, as intermediary attempts were blocked by Russian airstrikes. Delivery of another UN aid convoy was attempted January 2017, but was blocked and ultimately aborted. The November aid delivery was the only UN aid convoy to reach any of the besieged pockets of northern Homs during the November 2016-January 2017 reporting period.
Active conflict: Yes. Throughout the November 2016-January 2017 reporting period, al-Rastan continued to be intermittently targeted with airstrikes by Syrian and Russian aircraft, in addition to shelling and sniping by pro-government militia forces. The December 2016 nationwide ceasefire slowed attacks in northern Homs, but violence increased again in January 2017. A wave of attacks on 22 January 2017 hit all major urban areas in the northern Homs besieged enclaves including al-Rastan. An unknown number of civilians were killed and wounded. Hospitals were flooded with victims.
Additional Details: Due to a reduction in support from international aid organizations, the al-Rastan local council struggled to purchase fuel to keep water-pumping stations running, resulting in a severe water crisis that worsened throughout the reporting period. This winter there was less wood available to burn, as many of the trees had been cut down in previous years, and civilians suffered from the harsh winter conditions. As in other besieged communities, residents in northern Homs have relied heavily on wood for both cooking and heating since the beginning of the siege.