Last update: February 2023
The governorate of Quneitra, located in southern Syria, borders Lebanon, Jordan and Israel and is divided into two districts: Quneitra and Al-Fiq. The city of Quneitra is part of the demilitarised buffer zone between Syria and Israel under the supervision of UN Disengagement Observer Forces. The provincial administrative centre is Baath city. As of February 2022, UNOCHA estimated the population of Quneitra governorate to be of 113 165 inhabitants.
Background of the conflict
GoS control has been contested in Quneitra between 2013 and 2018 by different armed GoS opposition forces including the FSA and Jabhat al-Nusra. By mid-August 2018, the GoS had recaptured the parts of the governorate formerly held by rebels and ISIL through intense fighting and a withdrawal agreement negotiated with the armed opposition forces.
Actors: control and presence
In December 2021, the entire Syrian-controlled part of Quneitra governorate was under GoS control. There were reports of a growing presence of pro-Iranian forces in Quneitra governorate, while other sources did not confirm this information. According to several sources, Russia was still operating in Quneitra, but its presence was difficult to measure. Air strikes by Israeli forces, especially against (pro-)Iranian forces and Hezbollah, continued. There is also information about ISIL cells claiming sporadic attacks in the governorate.
Nature of violence and examples of incidents
Continuing security threats, such as targeted killings, IED attacks, exchanges of fire and clashes were reported, involving GoS forces and pro-GoS militia groups, former members of armed opposition groups, ISIL fighters and other unidentified actors. There are reports of civilian casualties related to attacks by an unidentified armed group on a GoS-affiliated security checkpoint, which in turn have led to counter-shelling. Other fatalities, even including children, were reported in connection with attacks and assassination attempts on individuals, particularly GoS-affiliates and Hezbollah members. In addition, airstrikes by the Israeli Air Force on targets linked to the GoS and Iranian-backed forces, as well as attacks with tanks and snipers in an attempt to contain Hezbollah forces near its borders, were reported.
Attacks with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), targeted killings, kidnappings and limited clashes were reported in August - September 2022.
ACLED recorded 58 security incidents (average of 0.8 security incidents per week) in Quneitra governorate in the period from 1 April 2021 to 31 July 2022. Of the reported incidents, 39 were coded as ‘explosions/remote violence’, 14 as ‘battles’, and five as incidents of ‘violence against civilians’. In the period 1 August – 31 October 2022, nine security incidents were recorded in Quneitra representing an average of 0.7 security incident per week.
All security incidents were recorded in the district of Quneitra.
Civilian fatalities: data
The SNHR recorded eight civilian fatalities in Quneitra in the nine months between April and December 2021. In January – October 2022, the SNHR recorded one civilian fatality. This represented one civilian fatality per 100 000 inhabitants for the first ten months of 2022.
As of January 2022, the number of IDPs in Quneitra governorate was stated to be 3 752.
UNOCHA did not record any IDP movements to or from Quneitra governorate in 2021. UNOCHA recorded 68 IDP movements within the governorate. In 2022, UNOCHA registered 4 IDP movements within the governorate.
In the first six months of 2022, 67 IDP return movements were recorded to Quneitra governorate, all within the governorate.
Further impact on civilians
In 2021, it was assessed that in Quneitra governorate, 15.07 % of the population was living in damaged buildings. Although Quneitra has been spared major combat operations compared to other areas of Syria, military operations have reportedly resulted in areas contaminated with explosive remnants that still pose a threat to civilians.
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.