Typical olive field in one of the valleys surrounding Idlib.
|Control||Syrian Salvation Government (Tahrir al-Sham)|
|• Governor||Atef Ghanem al-Naddaf|
|Elevation||500 m (1,600 ft)|
|Demonym(s)||Arabic: إدلبي, romanized: Idlibi|
Idlib (Arabic: إدلب, also spelt Edlib or Idleb) is a city in northwestern Syria, that operates as the capital of the Idlib Governorate and stands 59 kilometers (37 mi) southwest of Aleppo. It has an elevation of nearly 500 meters (1,600 ft) above sea level. Since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, the city was taken over by rebel militias and by 2017 became the seat of the Syrian Salvation Government, de-facto controlling the Idlib Governorate together with Tahrir al-Sham.
In the 2004 census by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Idlib had a population of 98,791 and in 2010 the population was around 165,000. Before the Syrian Civil War started in 2011, the inhabitants had mostly been Sunni Muslims, although there was a significant Christian minority. Idlib is divided into six main districts: Ashrafiyeh (the most populous), Hittin, Hejaz, Downtown, Hurriya, and al-Qusur.
A major agricultural center of Syria, the Idlib area is also historically significant, containing many "dead cities" and man-made tells. Idlib contains the ancient city of Ebla, once the capital of a powerful kingdom. The ancient kingdoms of Nuhašše and Luhuti flourished in the territory of the present-day Governorate during the Bronze and Iron ages.
Idlib, alongside all of Syria were conquered by the Armenian king Tigranes the Great, and incorporated in the Armenian Empire, only to be later conquered by the Roman Pompey the Great around 64 BC. The city was never of much significance, belonging to the province of Roman Syria under the Roman Empire, and later to the Eastern Roman province of Syria Secunda before being conquered by the Arabs around the middle 7th century. Not much remains from Roman and Byzantine rule in the city, except in its museum. Also north of the city are the Dead Cities, a collection of important archaeological sites from the Byzantine era.
During Ottoman rule in Syria, between the 16th and 19th centuries, Idlib served as the capital of a kada ("subdistrict capital") bearing its name, part of the larger Vilayet of Aleppo ("Province of Aleppo.") The city was a center of olive production, which in turn gave way to a prosperous olive-based soap industry. Although the major markets for Idlib's soap were at Aleppo, Antioch, and Hama, the product was exported as far as the Ottoman capital of Istanbul. Idlib was also a major producer of cotton fabrics. Western traveler Josias Leslie Porter noted that Idlib was "encompassed in olive groves, rare in this bleak region." He further remarked that its olives groves were larger than those of Damascus, Beirut, and Gaza. In the mid-19th-century, the town had an estimated population of 8,000, including 500 Christians. In the late 19th century, Idlib was "flourishing" and contained a number of Christian families, according to German orientalist Albert Socin.
Syrian Civil War
During the uprising since 2011, Idlib was the focus of protests and fighting in the early phase of the Syrian war. As the uprising descended into armed conflict, Idlib became the focus of a rebel campaign, which temporarily captured the city and the governorate, prior to a government offensive in April 2012. After this, government forces retook the city and the rebel-controlled province after a month of fighting, prior to the attempted enforcement of the ceasefire proposed by Kofi Annan. After the 2015 Idlib offensive in March, the rebel alliance Army of Conquest, led by the al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, succeeded in Second Battle of Idlib and captured the city, as well as besieging the Shi'a-majority towns of Al-Fu'ah and Kafriya to the north of Idlib city. In April 2015, the interim seat of the Syrian opposition's Syrian Interim Government was proposed to be Idlib, in Idlib Governorate. On 23 July 2017, Tahrir al-Sham, successor of the al-Nusra Front, expelled the remaining forces of Ahrar al-Sham from Idlib, capturing the entire city. The U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Defense Michael Mulroy stated that “Idlib is essentially the largest collection of al Qaeda affiliates in the world right now,” in June 2019.
There are around 20,000-30,000 fighters in Idlib, General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained in July 2019. This was followed by the Deputy Secretary for the Middle East Michael P. Mulroy who explained that “Idlib is essentially the largest collection of al-Qaeda affiliates in the world.”  Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group linked to al-Qaeda, currently has the upper hand among those fight for control of Idlib. The Institute for the Study of War also warns that Idlib is the focus of a strategy by the ISIS to reconstitute and that Idlib may well be the incubator for the next iteration of IS and al-Qaeda.
On October 26, 2019 U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted a raid into the Idlib province of Syria on the border with Turkey that resulted in the death of Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai also known as Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi.  The raid was launched based on a CIA intelligence effort that located the leader of ISIS. This complex operations was conducted during the withdrawal of U.S. forces northeast Syria, adding to the complexity.  The Syrian Democratic Forces and the Iraqi military also supported the operation. Turkey stated that they coordinated with the US prior to the mission.
The highest record temperatures was 44 °C (111 °F) on June 16, 2012.
|Climate data for Idlib|
|Record high °C (°F)||20
|Average high °C (°F)||9.9
|Daily mean °C (°F)||6.2
|Average low °C (°F)||2.5
|Record low °C (°F)||−5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||97
|Source #1: Climate-Data.org (altitude: 432m)|
|Source #2: Voodoo Skies for record temperatures|
Idlib is a major production center for olives, cotton, wheat and fruits, particularly cherries. Other principal crops include almonds, sesame seeds, figs, grapes and tomatoes. In 1995 there were roughly 300 hectares planted with various citrus crop. Olive oil pressing and textiles are some of the city's local industries. The nearby city of Aleppo has an important economic presence in Idlib.
The Idlib Regional Museum in the city contains over 17,000 of the Ebla tablets and serves as Idlib's main tourist attraction, excluding the nearby ancient site of Ebla itself. Under the Technical and Financial Cooperation Agreement between the governments of Italy and Syria, the museum was to undergo a restoration and renovation project starting in 2010.
Omayya Idlib, founded in 1972, is the most popular football team in the city. The club played in the Syrian Premier League for the 2011-2012 season. Idlib Municipal Stadium is the main football venue in the city. Coordinates:
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News and events
- eIdleb The first complete website for Idleb news and services
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