|Elevation||680 m (2,230 ft)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||+3 (UTC)|
Ariha (Arabic: أريحا, also called Rīḥā, Arabic: ريحا) is a town in northern Syria, administratively part of the Idlib Governorate, located south of Idlib. Nearby localities include Urum al-Jawz to the southwest, Sarjah to the south, Kafr Latah to the southeast, Maar Bilit to the east, al-Nayrab to the northeast, Nahlaya and al-Mastumah to the north, Kurin to the northwest and Maataram to the west. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics, Ariha had a population of 39,501 in the 2004 census. The town is also the administrative center of the Ariha District, and the Ariha nahiyah (subdistrict) which consists of 24 localities with a combined population of 83,487 in 2004.
Syrian civil war
Ariha was the scene of fighting between government and rebel forces. FSA repelled a number of deliberate military assaults between March and June 2012, despite the Army’s ability to execute combined arms operations involving armored vehicles, artillery and helicopter gunships. The city was retaken by the Army on 11 August 2012.
By late July 2013, rebels controlled parts of Ariha, while government forces manned three checkpoints inside the town. On 24 August, rebels captured Ariha. The M4 passes through Ariha before connecting with the M5 in Saraqib. Controlling the section of the M4 in Ariha allows opposition forces to cut off regime ground supply leaving Latakia destined for Idlib or Aleppo cities. However, after 10 days of bombardment, government forces recaptured the town on 3 September.
On May 25, 2014, JN and Suqour al-Sham launched a two-pronged assault on the southern Ariha hills with the objective of seizing two military installations. The Fanar Restaurant Checkpoint and the Shami Military Installation sit atop two peaks in the area south of the town and control access to the southern neighborhoods of Ariha via two access roads. At 6 in the morning, JN with support from Suquor al-Sham detonated four SVBIEDs against regime infrastructure targets. All four SVBIEDs exploded in the Jabal al-Arbaeen area on the southern outskirts of Ariha. The first SVBIED, driven by Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, a 22-year-old American man from Florida, approached the Fanar Restaurant Checkpoint from the southwest along a dirt road. The 16 ton armored truck completely destroyed the checkpoint and caused it to crumble on itself, leaving only few survivors to defend it. Over the course of the battle, two more SVBIEDs exploded to the west of Fanar, targeting the Shami Military Complex. The first two SVBIEDs targeted the Commander’s building and Shami Checkpoint. One final VBIED targeted the Aram building, however the driver of the VBIED was able to park his vehicle and escape uninjured. The four explosions were followed by a barrage of artillery and gunfire. By the end of the day JN and Suquor al-Sham had seized both the Fanar and Shami Checkpoints in one of the largest coordinated SVBIED attacks since the beginning of 2014. However, on 13 October 2014, it was reported that rebels destroyed a regime troops carrier at al-Fanar checkpoint.
On 8-26-2014, rebels attacked the regime-controlled Qiyasat checkpoint next to Ariha, destroying a regime tank in their attempt to disrupt the regime’s supply line from Idlib to Latakia. “The rebels are trying to capture Ariha so they can move closer to [Idlib],” Ines Qadur, an independent journalist in the south of Idlib, told Syria Direct, “where they will be able to make Idlib city the next battle front.”
- General Census of Population and Housing 2004. Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Idlib Governorate. (Arabic)
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- Army Retakes Strategic Town in Northwest Syria
- Assad forces capture strategic Syria northern town
- Nate Petrocine (July 2014). "Rebel Operations in Idlib Province during the Spring of 2014". Institute for the Study of War.
- "Daily Report: Monday 13 October 2014". RFS media office. 13 October 2014.