Tell Rifaat (Arabic: تل رفعت, romanizedTall Rifʿat, also spelled Tel Rifaat, Tel Rif'at or Tal Rifaat) is a city in northern Aleppo Governorate, northwestern Syria. Located roughly 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of Aleppo, the town is the administrative center of Nahiya Tell Rifaat. Nearby localities include Azaz to the north, Mare' to the east, Kafr Naya to the south, Deir Jmal and Oqayba to the southwest and Ibbin Samaan to the west. In the 2004 census, Tell Rifaat had a population of 20,514.[1]

Tell Rifaat
تل رفعت
Tell Rifaat.png
Tell Rifaat is located in Syria
Tell Rifaat
Tell Rifaat
Location of Tell Rifaat in Syria
Coordinates: 36°28′24″N 37°05′50″E / 36.4733°N 37.0972°E / 36.4733; 37.0972Coordinates: 36°28′24″N 37°05′50″E / 36.4733°N 37.0972°E / 36.4733; 37.0972
Country Syria
SubdistrictTell Rifaat
ControlAutonomous Administration of North and East Syria Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria
457 m (1,499 ft)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)

During the Syrian Civil War, Tell Rifaat was captured by the Free Syrian Army in 2012, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in 2014, and the Islamic Front in 2015. During this time, the town was bombed several times by the Syrian government and its allies. Tell Rifaat was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces on 16 February 2016 after heavy Russian air strikes which destroyed all three health facilities in the town.[2]


Tell Rifaat has been inhabited since the Iron Age when it was known as "Arpad."[3] It became the capital of the north Syrian Aramaean state of Bit Agusi established by Gus of Yahan in the 9th-century BCE.[3] Bit Agusi stretched from the A'zaz area in the north to Hamath in the south.[4]

Arpad later became a major vassal city of the Kingdom of Urartu. In 743 BCE, during the Urartu-Assyria War, the Neo-Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser II laid siege to Arpad following the defeat of the Urartuan army of Sarduri II at Samsat. The siege ended with the Assyrian capture of the city in 743 BCE.[5] Afterward Arpad served a provincial capital.[6] The remains of Arpad's walls are still preserved in Tell Rifaat to the height of 8 meters.[7]

A settlement existed on the modern-day site of Tell Rifaat during the Seleucid period (301 BCE-63 BCE). A hoard of coins from this period was discovered in 1967.[8] After the nearby Tell Aran, Tell Rifaat is the largest tell in the Jabal Semʻān region.[9]

Syrian Civil WarEdit

For a period during the Syrian Civil War which began in March 2011, Tell Rifaat came under siege by Syrian security forces. During the siege, residents were unable to receive food supplies, including bread, from Aleppo.[10]

In the early summer of 2012, Syrian government authorities withdrew from Tell Rifaat following fighting with the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Following this, government authorities in the town were replaced by a council made up of local Islamic scholars, judges and former Syrian Army officers, ruling in the basis of Sharia.[11] Since its capture by the FSA, opposition rebels have been transporting flour for bread from Turkey to Tell Rifaat.[10]

On 8 August 2012, Tell Rifaat was bombed by the Syrian Air Force, resulting in the deaths of 6 people, all members of the Blaw family.[12] Opposition activists based in Aleppo claimed that Syrian Army forces were attempting to cut off the FSA's transport route between Tell Rifaat and Aleppo.[13]

By November 2013, the town was under control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[14] In January 2014, ISIL forces withdrew from the northern Aleppo area, and rebel fighters, mainly members of the Islamic Front, defeated ISIL militants in the town. The Conquest Brigade of the Islamic Front came into control of the town.[15]

By January 2015, Tell Rifaat was under the control of the Conquest Brigade of the Islamic Front.[15]

On 15 February 2016, the town was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Army of Revolutionaries.[16] Russian airstrikes, which preceded the SDF assault, forced the majority of the population to escape.[17] Since the SDF capture of Tell Rifaat, the town became the headquarters of the Army of Revolutionaries.[18] After the Turkish Armed Forces and allied groups captured Afrin during Operation Olive Branch, displaced residents of Tel Rifaat rallied in Azaz to demand the expulsion of the SDF from the town.[19] At the end of March 2018, the Syrian Republican Guard and the Russian Armed Forces entered the town.[20]

On December 2, 2019 a Russian air raid allegedly killed 8 children, all under 15 years old, on their walk to school.[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "2004 Census Data for Nahiya Tell Rifaat" (in Arabic). Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics. Also available in English: UN OCHA. "2004 Census Data". Humanitarian Data Exchange.
  2. ^ "Syrian and Russian forces targeting hospitals as a strategy of war". Amnesty International. 2016-06-03. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  3. ^ a b Lipinsky, 2000, p. 195.
  4. ^ Lipinsky, 2000, p. 99.
  5. ^ Healy, 1992, p. 25.
  6. ^ Kipfer, p. 626.
  7. ^ Lipinsky, 2000, p. 529.
  8. ^ Grainger, 1997, p. 787.
  9. ^ Lipinsky, 2000, p. 208.
  10. ^ a b "Tel Rifaat residents hail rebels for control of town". Hurriyet Daily News. 2012-08-07. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  11. ^ Zalewski, Piotr. Syria’s Rebel Judges Promise Sharia Justice With Mercy. TIME. 2012-08-10.
  12. ^ Syrian Troops Push Into Aleppo To Oust Rebels. National Public Radio, originally published by Associated Press. 2012-08-09.
  13. ^ Clashes rage in Syria's rebel bastions. Sydney Morning Herald, originally published by Associated Press. 2012-08-09.
  14. ^ Al Qaeda-linked group strengthens hold in northern Syria CNN.
  15. ^ a b "Special Report: Northern Storm and the Situation in Azaz (Syria)". MERIA Journal. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  16. ^ Nick Paton Walsh. "Syria war near Aleppo: Huge impact on Sunni moderates". CNN.
  17. ^ "The Syrian Refugees Trapped Between an Angry Turkey and a Vengeful Assad". Time magazine. 18 February 2016. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  18. ^ "Jaysh al-Thuwar: Regime and opposition claims are baseless". Hawar News Agency. 12 February 2017.
  19. ^ "Residents of Syria's Tel Rifaat demand Turkey to free their town like Afrin". TRT. 2018-03-24. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  20. ^ "Video confirmation: Tal Riffat under control of Syrian Army Republican Guard and Russian Army". Al Masdar News. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  21. ^ "Eight children reportedly killed in attacks on Tal Rifaat in rural Aleppo in the north of Syria". UNICEF. Retrieved 15 December 2020.