NOTE: The government-controlled neighborhoods of al-Jorah, Qusoor, and Harabesh were listed as Tier 2 besieged areas until September 2017, when pro-government forces broke the siege by ISIS. Pro-government media proclaimed the siege broken on 5 September when Assad Coalition forces reached government troops in the outlying Brigade 137 military base, but it was actually several more days before pro-government forces (led by an elite Russian military unit) broke through into the besieged neighborhoods of the city. While supplies began to enter the neighborhoods immediately, initial reports indicated that these supplies were taken by government forces and militias and not reaching the civilian population except for a small amount for sale in markets at very high prices. By the second week, as more humanitarian aid convoys reached Deir Ezzor - including shipments from UN agencies - significant quantities of aid finally began to reach civilians as intended, leading to an improvement in humanitarian conditions. As a result, Siege Watch reclassified Deir Ezzor from besieged to "Watchlist" in mid-September 2017.
Dates: Besieged from January 5, 2015 - September 2017
Siege classification: Watchlist (Formerly Tier 2)
Besieged by: Formerly double siege: ISIS on the outside and Syrian govt. restricting aid and movement from the inside.
UN recognized siege?: Formerly yes (only by ISIS, UN does not acknowledge internal restrictions by govt.)
Population: 72,000 (as of 06/31/17); pre-war population was 325,000
Civil control: Syrian govt. and affiliated militias
Military control: Syrian govt. and affiliated militias
Siege-related deaths: Yes. Intermittent reports of civilian deaths throughout the period of siege, primarily a result of the shortage of medical supplies and personnel.
Aid: Yes, starting April 2016 there were several aid airdrops by the WFP each week. Each airdrop contained an average of 26 pallets of supplies, which generally include basic food aid such as rice, salt, lentils, and nutritional supplements. Medical supplies were still desperately needed. There were abnormalities reported with aid being taken by government forces and government-affiliated traders profiting by selling WFP supplies in market instead of the humanitarian supplies directly reaching civilians. In September 2017 the airdrop were halted and convoys were sent, once Deir Ezzor became accessible via land.
Active conflict: Yes, ISIS still attacks the area with mortars and bombs several times a week.
Additional Details: During the 2.5 years under siege, many locals in Deir Ezzor considered themselves besieged by both ISIS – which surrounded the neighborhoods – and the Syrian government – which controlled supplies and humanitarian aid distribution, and restricted civilians from fleeing the neighborhoods. The main access point to the area was the Deir Ezzor airport, which remained under government control. Civilians could at times leave government-controlled access points through bribery (around 100,000 SYP for overland travel and 300,000 SYP for airport), but towards the latter portion of the siege these options were not available. The Syrian military conducted aggressive conscription tactics, which prevent may young men from leaving their homes for fear of being sent to the front lines with little training.
A fourth neighborhood, al-Bughaliyeh, was originally under siege but was captured by ISIS on January 16, 2016.