de-facto - Tahrir al-Sham Emirate
|Elevation||350 m (1,150 ft)|
Khan Shaykhun (Arabic: خان شيخون), sometimes spelled Khan Sheikhoun or Khan Shikhoun, is a town in, and sub-district of, the Maarrat al-Nu'man District, within the southern Idlib Governorate of northwestern Syria.
Khan Shaykhun has an altitude of 350 meters. It is located on the main highway between Aleppo and Damascus. The local economy is primarily agricultural, focusing on the growing of cotton and cereals. The town was formerly known for producing embroidery. Nearby localities include Hbit to the west, Kafr Zita to southwest, Murak to the south and Al-Tamanah to the east.
Khan Shaykhun takes its name from a 14th-century khan or caravanserai built by the Mamluk emir Sayf al-Din Shaykhu al-'Umari. The town grew up around the khan and is situated below a prominent tell, where excavations carried out in 1930 under the French Comte du Mesnil du Buisson revealed evidence of habitation dating back to the 20th century BC. The tell, which measures about 200–250 m long by 18–24 m high, was levelled off in the Bronze and Iron Ages to provide a platform for a series of walled towns built successively on top of each other. The second of these, dating to about 700 BC, has been identified as the Assyrian town of Ashkhani. The site was abandoned around 300 BC.
In more recent times, Khan Shaykhun was noted for its beehive houses, an architectural style found across the Levant and probably exported from there to North Africa. It was described in 1902 by the traveller Henry James Ross as "a miserable looking village" and remained small until relatively recently. In 1966 it was recorded as having only around 3,000 inhabitants.
Syrian Civil War
During the Syrian Civil War, the town initially fell under control of the Syrian opposition; Idlib province, which includes the town, is "mostly controlled" by the Tahrir al-Sham alliance, "which is dominated by the Fateh al-Sham Front, formerly known as the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front."
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