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LocationUpper Euphrates river basin
(mainly Deir ez-Zor Governorate)
LanguageArabic, Mesopotamian Arabic
ReligionSunni Islam

Al-Shaitat (Arabic: الشعيطات‎; transcription: aš-šuʿayṭāt), in Standard Arabic al-Shuʿaytāt, is a Sunni Arab tribe located in Deir ez-Zor Governorate in eastern Syria. It is numbered between 70,000–90,000 and is led by Sheikh Rafaa Aakla al Raju.[1][2] In the local Arab dialect the "u" is not pronounced and since the ʿayn sound often is not transcribed, the name is written Shaitat, Shaytat, Sheitat, Sheitaat and the like. The last vowel is long, therefore sometimes it is written with a double "a". Henry Field identified the Shaitat as a minor tribe of the Aqaidat[3]

Conflict with the Islamic State[edit]

Al-Shaitat is located in Syria
Abu Hamam
Abu Hamam
Locations of mass killings

Since July 2014, the Shaitat tribe has been in conflict with the Islamic State. The tribe battled to retain control of their area against encroachments by the Islamic State in 2014 but was defeated. Later they were able to push out the Islamic State again but eventually they lost the battle.

In August 2014, Islamic State fighters committed a massacre by shooting, beheading, and crucifying some 700-900+[4] members of the Shaitat tribe over a period of three days. It became the bloodiest single atrocity committed by the Islamic State in Syria. The Abu Hamam area, between Mayadin and Hajin, where important parts of the tribe lived, has been abandoned with many bodies that remain uncollected.[5][6]

In mid December 2014, it was reported that a mass grave with some 230 Shaitat tribesmen in Deir ez-Zor Governorate was found by their relatives. This brought the number of Shaitat tribal members killed by the Islamic State since summer 2014 to more than 900.[7] Islamic State propaganda in 2015 boasted about the return of some Shaitat civilians but still focused on ongoing tribal opposition.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Toddler 'Pulled From Bomb Rubble In Syria',
  2. ^ a b Massacre And Media: ISIS And The Case Of The Sunni Arab Shaitat Tribe, Alberto M. Fernández, MEMRI, June 23, 2015
  3. ^ Field, Henry (1940). The Anthropology of Iraq. The Upper Euphrates. Chicago Field Museum. p. 225.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Syria tribal revolt against Islamic State ignored, fueling resentment". Washington Post. 20 October 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  6. ^ SYRIA DIRECT: NEWS UPDATE 8-19-2014,
  7. ^ "Mass grave of 230 tribespeople found in Syria's Deir Ezzor: monitoring group". Archived from the original on 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2014-12-18.