NOTE: Khan al-Sheih was on the Siege Watch "Watchlist" and under consideration for transfer to the besieged list after access was fully cut in early October 2016. Then in late November 2016 the town surrendered in the face of intense attacks, After the forcible transfer of a portion of the population to Idlib, conditions began to normalize, but progress has been slow. Reports of access restrictions and serious human rights abuses have persisted, although information is more difficult to get than before the surrender as locals fear retaliation from security forces if they talk about conditions. Accordingly, Khan al-Sheih will be kept on the "Watchlist" for the foreseeable future.
Dates: Access restrictions started in March 2013 and increased in February 2014. Only one entrance to the town is currently operational and it is controlled by the regime, generally only women and old men are allowed through.
Siege classification: "Watchlist"
Besieged by: Syrian govt.
UN recognized siege?: The UN officially recognized Khan al-Sheih as besieged on 1 November shortly before the town surrendered.
Active Truce?: Yes, in late November 2016 the town finally conceded to government surrender terms after weeks of intense attacks. Population transfers to Idlib started on 29 November for several thousand people.
Current population: 10,000 (as of 10/31/16); pre-war population was around 22,000
Civil control: Syrian gov.
Military control: Syrian gov.
Siege-related deaths: No
Active conflict: Yes until late November. The increase of violence against the camp that began in May intensified throughout the current reporting period and conditions in Khan al-Sheih deteriorated significantly over the August-October reporting period as a result of intensified Russian and Syrian airstrikes, barrel bombs, shelling, and sniping by pro-government forces. On 28 September an UNRWA girls’ school was directly hit with mortar shells. On 01 October, pro-government forces launched an offensive aimed at taking control of the Khan al-Sheih camp and its surrounding areas. The attacks were some of the most intense the area had experienced since the start of the conflict. On 9 October, Russian airstrikes hit the camp with incendiary munitions that caused large fires to break out in a civilian residential area. On 25 October, Russian airstrikes hit residential buildings with what appeared to be bunker buster munitions.
Additional Details: Like Yarmouk, Khan al-Sheih is a Palestinian refugee “camp.” By the beginning of October, access to Khan al-Sheih became exceedingly perilous. Although some attempts at smuggling and escape on the Zakiya Road continue, the camp was for all practical purposes, cut off. On 11 October, residents held a sit-in protest outside of the UNRWA headquarters health services building calling on UNRWA to reopen schools and services. UNRWA halted support to schools in the camp during the August-October period as a result of the intensified violence.