Tell al-Hara

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Tell al-Hara
Harith al-Jawlan, Jabal Harith
Tel Al-Hara-Syria.jpg
Tell al-Hara from the west, 2014
Highest point
Elevation1,127 m (3,698 ft)
Coordinates33°3′46″N 35°59′31″E / 33.06278°N 35.99194°E / 33.06278; 35.99194Coordinates: 33°3′46″N 35°59′31″E / 33.06278°N 35.99194°E / 33.06278; 35.99194
Geography
Tell al-Hara is located in Syria
Tell al-Hara
Tell al-Hara
Location of Tell al-Hara in Syria
LocationAl-Sanamayn District, Daraa Governorate, Syria
Geology
Mountain typeConical hill

Tell al-Ḥāra, formerly known as Ḥārith al-Jawlān or Jabal Ḥārith, is the highest point in the Daraa Governorate. During the Arab–Israeli conflict and the Syrian Civil War, it has served as a highly strategic military position because it overlooks wide areas of the Golan Heights and Hauran regions. The closest population center is the town of al-Hara, located at the hill's southeastern foot.

Description[edit]

Tell al-Hara is a conical-shaped tell (mound or hill) with an elevation of 1,127 meters (3,698 ft) above sea level.[1] Like the neighboring hills, Tell al-Hara belongs to the range of extinct volcanoes of the Jaydur region and a wide crater opens at its summit.[2] It is the highest point in the Daraa Governorate,[3] and overlooks the Hauran plain.[1] At the southeastern foot of Tell al-Hara is the town of al-Hara.[4] Damascus is 50 kilometers north of Tell al-Hara, the governorate capital Daraa is 55 kilometers to the south, the district capital al-Sanamayn is 18 kilometers to the east and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights is 12 kilometers to the west.[5][6]

Name[edit]

Tell al-Hara was known as "Jabal Ḥārith" in the late Byzantine era.[7] It was named after the Ghassanid king al-Harith and was referred to as "Ḥārith al-Jawlān" by the contemporary Arab poets al-Nabigha and Hassan ibn Thabit.[7] The modern name of the tell and the town at its foot, "al-Ḥāra", is a "mutilated" version of its Ghassanid name "al-Ḥārith", according to historian Irfan Shahîd.[7] The tomb of the Ghassanid king al-Nu'man ibn al-Harith was said to be located at the summit of Tell al-Hara by al-Nabigha, though the scholarly consensus places al-Nu'man's tomb in the village of al-Hara.[4]

History[edit]

In the 1890s, the German archaeologist Gottlieb Schumacher noted that the tomb of a certain Muslim saint, Umar al-Shahid, "crowned" Tell al-Hara.[2] He also noted that at the hill's western foot were the ruins of an Arab monastery known as Deir al-Saj, which he suspected was of Ghassanid origin.[2]

Following Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967, Tell al-Hara served as a strategic Syrian reconnaissance point overlooking the Golan Heights.[8] It was captured by Syrian rebel forces fighting under the banners of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Jabhat al-Nusra from the 7th Armored Division,[5] one of the largest armored brigades of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in southern Syria,[6] on 5 October 2015, partially as a result of the apparent defection of SAA general Mahmoud Abu Araj.[5] Tell al-Hara's capture paved the way for the rebels' capture of much of the western Daraa Governorate and the southern Quneitra Governorate.[3] They held Tell al-Hara for about four years until Syrian government forces retook control of the hill on 7 July 2018 after a two-day battle.[3] Rebels apparently recaptured it before surrendering the hill to government forces in a reconciliation agreement on 16 July.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Shahid 2002, p. 224, n. 23.
  2. ^ a b c Schumacher 1897, p. 192.
  3. ^ a b c Aboufadel, Leith (18 July 2018). "Syrian Army raises flag over highest point in Daraa". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  4. ^ a b Ma'oz 2008, p. 9.
  5. ^ a b c Sands, Phil; Maayeh, Suha (17 March 2015). "Exclusive: The spy who fooled the Assad regime". The National. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Xia, Li (16 July 2018). "Syrian army captures strategic hill in Daraa". Xinhua. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Shahid 2002, p. 80
  8. ^ "Syria claims to capture key hilltop position overlooking Golan Heights". Times of Israel. 16 July 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.

Bibliography[edit]