Ras al-Ayn, al-Hasakah Governorate

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For places with a similar name, see Ras al-Ayn.
"Sikan" redirects here. For the villages in Iran, see Sikan, Iran.
Ra's al-'Ayn
رأس العين
Serê Kanîyê
Ra's al-'Ayn Main Roundabout
Ra's al-'Ayn Main Roundabout
Ra's al-'Ayn is located in Syria
Ra's al-'Ayn
Ra's al-'Ayn
Location in Syria
Coordinates: 36°51′N 40°04′E / 36.850°N 40.067°E / 36.850; 40.067Coordinates: 36°51′N 40°04′E / 36.850°N 40.067°E / 36.850; 40.067
Country  Syria
Governorate Al-Hasakah Governorate
District Ra's al-'Ayn District
Elevation 360 m (1,180 ft)
Population (2004 census)
 • Total 29,347

Ra's al-'Ayn (Arabic: رأس العينRa's al 'Ayn, Kurdish: Serê Kanîyê, Classical Syriac: ܪܝܫ ܥܝܢܐ Rēš 'Aynā, ) is a Syrian city administratively belonging to Al-Hasakah Governorate. Ra's al-'Ayn has an altitude of 360 m (1,180 ft). It has a population of 55,247, a heterogeneous mix of Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians/Syriacs, Armenians, and Chechens. It forms a divided city with Ceylanpınar in Turkey and there is a border crossing.


The ancient Neo-Assyrian city of Sikan is on the southern edge of the mound at Ras el 'Ayn. Its location is near the modern-day Tell el Fakhariya, where the famous Tell el Fakhariya Bilingual Inscription was found. In antiquity it was known as "Resaina", "Ayn Warda", and "Theodosiopolis" being named after the Byzantine emperor Theodosius I who granted the settlement city rights. The latter name was also shared with the Armenian city of Karin (modern Erzurum) making it difficult to distinguish between them.[1] The Sasanians destroyed the city twice in 578 and 580 before rebuilding it and constructing one of the three Sasanian academies in it (the other two being Gundishapur and Ctesiphon) in it. The city fell to the Arabs in 640 who confiscated parts of the city which were abandoned by their inhabitants.[1] The Byzantines raided the city in 942 and took many prisoners and Crusader Joscelin I managed to hold the city briefly in 1129 killing many of its Arab inhabitants.[2] Ras al-Ayn became contested between the Zengids, Ayyubids, and the Khwarazmians between the 12th and 13th centuries. It was sacked by Tamerlane at the end of the 14th century ending its role as a major city in al-Jazira.[2]

At its height the city had a West Syrian bishopric and many monasteries. The city also contained two mosques and an East Syrian church and numerous schools, baths, and gardens.[2]

Also nearby is the Tell Halaf, former site of an Aramean city.

During the Armenian Genocide which began in 1915, Ras al-Ayn was where approximately 80,000 Armenian women and children were massacred. At the time, Syria was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, which forced its indigenous Armenians into the Syrian desert to die in a variety of locations. Also see Ra's al-'Ayn Camps

Ras al-Ayn has been engulfed in the Syrian Civil War (2011- ) It has been fought over between Islamic fundamentalist rebels and Kurdish rebels. On 21 July 2013, Kurdish forces took over the city after a night of heavy fighting.

The city is the birthplace of the influential singer Omar Souleyman.

Ra's al-'Ayn springs[edit]

Ras al-Ayn hot springs

Ra's al-'Ayn has more than 100 natural springs. The most famous spring is Nab'a al-Kebreet, a hot spring with a very high mineral content, containing everything from simple calcium to lithium, and even radium.


  1. ^ a b Gibb 1995, p. 433
  2. ^ a b c Gibb 1995, p. 434