Key facts

► Qaboun has been one of the first parts of Damascus to be occupied by rebel forces and is today a contested battleground between different sides. The siege of the area and the evacuation of its population has left it heavily damaged and abandoned.

► In principle, irregular areas in Damascus must be organized with the support of Law 46 of 2004. They must be integrated into the urban fabric of the city with the same quality of living conditions. The organization in the project area must accommodate the growing population with higher density.In conjunction with residential improvement, better public facilities must be provided to serve residents of the area and neighboring areas as well. The project should contribute to improving the living conditions of the entire area of Qaboun.

People per square km

The study area is located in the north-east of Damascus. The area is to the south of 6th of October Street and to the north is the old town of Qaboun. The area of the area is 59.38 ha and has been divided into a planned area of 28.41 ha and Zones B with an area of 30.97 ha. Land use in the region consists of 54.85 ha or 92.4% of the land owned by the private sector and roads occupy 4.53 ha or 7.63% . The road area is as small as in most irregular areas. Within the area of the construction contracts, agricultural and freehold land occupies 16.46 hectares or about 30%. According to the initial environmental test conducted in the project area, there are 2,500 families in the area with a family size of 5.22 and a total population of 13,050. The population density is 219.8 people / ha, which is relatively low for the area of irregularities and reflects the large vacant areas. Most buildings in the western part of the project area and closest to the city center are made of concrete and steel. Its condition is generally good and the number of buildings destroyed is very small (rare. Buildings in the eastern part are made of blocks and many of them need to be repaired either large or small. Most buildings in the area consist of one or two floors.

More than 1,500 rebels and their family members left the devastated district of Qaboun on the edge of Damascus on Sunday, as the Syrian army and its allies continue to advance in areas in and around the capital, rebels and state media said. Hundreds of rebels and their families were evacuated this week from the adjacent Barzeh district after rebels there decided to lay down their arms and leave to rebel-held Idlib province. Syrian state media said evacuations had almost been completed and the district was now securely in army hands. The evacuation will see rebels and civilians move to Idlib, an opposition stronghold in northwestern Syria.

The loss of Qaboun so soon after Barzeh is another blow to rebels as they battle to keep a foothold in the capital and face government troops who are supported by Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated that government forces have taken back most of the neighbourhood, leaving around 20 percent still under the control of rebel groups Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam and the Rahman Corps. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has promoted the use of such evacuations, along with what his government calls “reconciliation” deals for rebel-held areas that surrender to the government, as a way of reducing bloodshed in the six-year-old civil war.

Text from: Rebels leave Qaboun as army advances in Damascus Al Jazeera 14th May 2017

However, the United Nations has criticised both the use of siege tactics, which precede such deals, and the evacuations themselves as amounting to forcible displacement. The Syrian army has been steadily defeating pockets of rebellion near the capital, with the help of Russian air power and Iranian-backed armed groups. The army offensive entered a higher gear in recent months in Barzeh and Qaboun, ending a local truce that had been in place with rebels there since 2014 and shutting access to a network of underground tunnels which supplied besieged eastern Ghouta, causing supplies to dwindle and prices to rocket. Similar evacuation deals in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, also situated in southern Damascus, have fallen through time and again. The Syrian conflict started as an uprising against Assad in March 2011, but quickly morphed into a full-scale civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.