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Last update: November 2021

[Main COI reference: Security 2021, 2.13]

General information

The governorate of Quneitra is located in southern Syria, bordering the governorates of Dar’a and Rural Damascus, as well as Lebanon, Jordan and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. The city of Quneitra remained abandoned after it was destroyed by Israel in 1974. The governorate is divided into two districts: Quneitra and Al-Fiq. In a March 2021 report, UNOCHA estimated the population of Quneitra governorate to be of 105 124 inhabitants.

Background of the conflict

In summer 2013, hostilities intensified in the governorate of Quneitra, with anti-government armed groups progressively seizing strategic points in the area and GoS forces continuing aerial bombardments, including on densely populated areas. In May 2017, parts of Quneitra which were controlled by anti-government armed groups were included in the ‘four zones of de-escalation’, as agreed between Russia, Iran and Turkey. The US, Russia and Jordan brokered a ceasefire, which was followed by a brief decrease of violence in the second half of 2017. In 2018, the conflict escalated again, as the GoS forces, backed by a Russian air campaign, started pushing into Quneitra after a month-long offensive. Under a deal agreed between anti-government armed groups and pro-government forces in July 2018, rebels, their families, and other civilians were evacuated from Quneitra to Idlib governorate.

By mid-August 2018, the GoS had recaptured the parts of the governorate formerly held by rebels and ISIL. The governorate of Quneitra remained under the control of the GoS, however, the security situation is still considered ‘fragile’ and it is reported that the lack of respect for the reconciliation agreements is a significant factor of current fear and tension among the population.

Actors: control and presence

As of March 2021, Quneitra was under GoS control. There were reports of a growing presence of pro-Iranian forces in Quneitra governorate, but the exact extent is disputed. Israeli forces’ airstrikes on military and Iranian-backed positions in Quneitra reportedly continued into 2021. It has been reported that Russia maintains military police units in the governorate. There is also information about ’sleeper cells’ of anti-government armed groups and sporadic attacks.

Nature of violence and examples of incidents

In 2020, reported security incidents in Quneitra governorate included small arms fire attacks as well as IED and VBIED explosions against GoS forces. These attacks were sometimes claimed by ISIL, while others were attributed to former opposition fighters. During the reporting period, security checkpoints in Quneitra and GoS military and police personnel were attacked without any group claiming responsibility. Other security related incidents during the reporting period included Israeli Air Force airstrikes and targeted killings, in particular of former rebel faction members who had joined the GoS forces in a reconciliation process.

According to the UNOCHA Humanitarian Needs Overview for 2021, Quneitra is one of the governorates with areas contaminated with explosive ordnance.

Incidents: data

ACLED recorded 56 security incidents (average of 1 security incidents per week) in Quneitra governorate in the period from 1 January 2020 to 31 March 2021. Of the reported incidents, 35 were coded as ‘explosions/remote violence’, 19 as ‘battles’, and 2 as incidents of ‘violence against civilians’.

Geographical scope

Security incidents were recorded in both Quneitra governorate districts during the reporting period, with the highest number of overall incidents being recorded in Quneitra.

Civilian fatalities: data

VDC recorded 3 civilian fatalities in 2020 and 2 civilian fatalities in the first three months of 2021. SNHR recorded 3 civilian fatalities in 2020 and 2 civilian fatalities in the first three months of 2021. For the full reporting period, this represented 5 civilian fatalities in total or approximately 4 civilian fatalities per 100 000 inhabitants according to VDC data; and 5 civilian fatalities in total or approximately 4 civilian fatalities per 100 000 inhabitants according to SNHR.


From 2011 to 2018, the governorate of Quneitra experienced the second largest (after Idlib) proportionate influx of people, increasing its population density by 34 %. UNOCHA did not record any internal displacement movements in the governorate of Quneitra in 2020 and the first three months of 2021.

Further impact on civilians

In 2020, it was assessed that in Quneitra governorate, 19 % of the population was living in damaged buildings. The Syrian Civil Defence had reportedly been engaged in clearing unexploded submunitions for the past two years.


Looking at the indicators, it can be concluded that indiscriminate violence is taking place in the governorate of Quneitra, however not at a high level. Accordingly, a higher level of individual elements is required in order to show substantial grounds for believing that a civilian, returned to the territory, would face a real risk of serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD.