Tafas (Arabic: طفس‎, also spelled Tafs or Tuffas) is a town in southern Syria, administratively part of the Daraa Governorate, located north of Daraa. Nearby localities include al-Shaykh Saad and Nawa to the north, Da'el, Abtaa and al-Shaykh Maskin to the northeast, Saham al-Jawlan and Adwan to the northwest and Muzayrib to the southwest. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics, Tafas had a population of 32,236 in the 2004 census.[1]


Tafas is located in Syria
Coordinates: 32°44′16″N 36°4′7.5″E / 32.73778°N 36.068750°E / 32.73778; 36.068750
Grid position250/238
Country Syria
GovernorateDaraa Governorate
DistrictDaraa District
 (2004 census)[1]
 • Total32,236
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)


Before the Hellenistic era, the goddess Isis Lactans was worshipped in Tafas, as evidenced by the discovery of statuette of her in the town.[2] During the Roman era in Syria, a Jewish community existed in Tafas.[3] Several funerary stelae, the earliest dating to 64 BCE, were found in Tafas.[4] A bronze patera from the Roman era was also found, but it was later stolen from the Mohammedan Museum of Damascus.[5]

Ottoman eraEdit

In 1596, Tafas appeared in Ottoman tax registers as being in the nahiya of Bani Malik al-Asraf in the Qada Hawran. It had a population of 73 households and 40 bachelors, all Muslim. The villagers paid a fixed tax rate of 40% on wheat (22,500 akçe), barley (2,700 akçe), summer crops (2,000 akçe), goats and beehives (400 akçe), in addition to occasional revenues (400 akçe).[6]

In 1810, Tafas was "ruined" by Wahhabi tribesmen, according to Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.[7] The first elementary school in the village was built in 1865.[8] In the 1880s, Tafas was described as a moderate-sized village of around 100 stone-built houses inhabited by around 250 Muslims. Some of the houses were in ruins and not inhabited. There was an active Friday mosque.[9] A decade later, it was described as having 90 houses and 400 inhabitants.[10]

In 1918, the town was the site of the infamous Tafas massacre perpetrated by the retreating Ottoman Army during World War I.[11] According to T. E. Lawrence, on 27 September retreating Turkish troops had slaughtered many of the town's inhabitants, including women and children.[11] In retaliation for the massacre, Lawrence's troops attacked the retreating Turkish columns and ordered all captured prisoners, around 250, including German and Austrian soldiers, to be executed.[11]


During the ongoing Syrian Civil War, inhabitants of Tafas joined the demonstrations burning a police station and the local Ba'ath Party headquarters, three people were killed by security forces.[12] In May 2011, the Syrian Army besieged the town, and arrested at least 250 people there.[13] The town was under occupation by rebel forces from 2012 until 2018, when it surrendered to the government during the 2018 Southern Syria offensive. Clashes between the government and insurgents occurred in January 2021.


There was a square tower, known as a medany, with an elevation of 50 feet and a width of 10 feet with a square-shaped base. It consisted of two floors, each having a window. The tower was attached to a Friday mosque measuring 46 feet by 41 feet. On its western side were terrace-like steps leading to the mosque's roof, which was supported by three rows of columns, each row consisting of four columns, the shafts of which had a height of 5 feet. The entire column stood at 9 feet 5 inches. In each row, the two center columns stood out independently while the first and last columns were built into the wall. Together with the arches the total height of the mosque's interior space was nearly 16 feet. The mosque was largely constructed sometime during the Islamic era, although there were some architectural elements dating to the Roman or Byzantine era.[14]


  1. ^ a b General Census of Population and Housing 2004. Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Daraa Governorate. (in Arabic)
  2. ^ Vermaseren, 1979, p. 192
  3. ^ Sartre, 2005, p. 324
  4. ^ Cohen, 2006, p. 247
  5. ^ Cook, 2010, p. 1096
  6. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 213.
  7. ^ Burckhardt, 1822, p. 657
  8. ^ Diab, Henry; Wåhlin, Lars (1983). "The Geography of Education in Syria in 1882. With a Translation of "Education in Syria" by Shahin Makarius, 1883". Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography. 65 (2): 105–128. doi:10.2307/490939. JSTOR 490939. Accessed 3 September 2012.
  9. ^ Schumacher, Oliphant and le Strange, 1889, p. 210.
  10. ^ Schumacher, 1897, p. 167
  11. ^ a b c Murphy, 2011, p. 44
  12. ^ "Syrian protesters target Baath Party offices". Al Jazeera. 26 March 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Syria tightens control over more urban areas". Al Jazeera English. 26 March 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Schumacher, Oliphant and le Strange, 1889, pp. 210-212.


External linksEdit