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Tell Rifaat (Arabic: تل رفعت, also spelled Tel Rifaat, Tel Rif'at or Tal Rifaat) is a small city in northern Syria, administratively part of the Aleppo Governorate, located roughly 40 kilometers north of Aleppo. Nearby localities include A'zaz to the north, Mare' to the east, Kafr Naya to the south, Deir Jamal and Aqiba to the southwest and Ibbin to the west. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Tell Rifaat had a population of 20,514 in the 2004 census.
Tell Rifaat has been inhabited since the Iron Age when it was known as "Arpad." It became the capital of the north Syrian Aramaean state of Bet-Gus established by Gus of Yahan in the 9th-century BCE. Bet-Gus stretched from the A'zaz area in the north to Hamath in the south.
Arpad later became a major vassal city of the Kingdom of Urartu. In 743 BCE, during the Urartu-Assyria War, the Neo-Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser II laid siege to Arpad following the defeat of the Urartuan army of Sarduri II at Samsat. The siege ended with the Assyrian capture of the city in 743 BCE. Afterward Arpad served a provincial capital. The remains of Arpad's walls are still preserved in Tell Rifaat to the height of 8 meters.
A settlement existed on the modern-day site of Tell Rifaat during the Seleucid period (301 BCE-63 BCE). A hoard of coins from this period was discovered in 1967. After the nearby Tell Aran, Tell Rifaat is the largest tell in the Mount Simeon region.
Syrian Civil War
For a period during the ongoing Syrian uprising which began in mid-2011, Tell Rifaat came under siege by Syrian security forces. Until the FSA gained control of the city, residents were unable to receive food supplies, including bread, from Aleppo.
In the early summer of 2012, Syrian government authorities withdrew from Tell Rifaat and were replaced by a council made up of local Islamic scholars, judges and former Syrian Army officers, ruling in the basis of sharia. The city was under the authority of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Since its capture by the FSA, opposition rebels have been transporting flour for bread from Turkey to Tell Rifaat. Currently the town is under full control by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
On 8 August 2012 Tell Rifaat was bombed by the Syrian Air Force, resulting in the deaths of six people, all members of the Blaw family. Opposition activists based in Aleppo claimed that Syrian Army forces were attempting to cut off the FSA's transport route between Tell Rifaat and Aleppo.
- General Census of Population and Housing 2004. Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Aleppo Governorate. Archived at . (Arabic)
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