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السويداء / as-Suwaidā
as-Suwaida (Syria)
Coordinates 32 ° 42 ′  N , 36 ° 34 ′  E Coordinates: 32 ° 42 ′  N , 36 ° 34 ′  E
Basic data
Country Syria


height 1080 m
Residents 64,730 (2009)
Roman Odeion
Roman Odeion

As-Suwaida or Suweida ( Arabic السويداء, DMG as-Suwaidāʾ ) is the capital of the as-Suwaida governorate in the Hauran region in southwest Syria . It is the settlement center of the Syrian Druze .


As-Suwaida is located at an altitude of about 1080 meters in the Hauran region, which is characterized by volcanic effusions, on the western edge of the Jebel ad-Duruz (Druze Mountains). In the surrounding area, black basalt lumps alternate with fertile red arable soils. The city is located in the center of the largest growing area in the country for grapes, which thrive on large fields in the lowlands as well as on small, hilly plots between stone walls .

The distance from Damascus is about 100 kilometers. In the vicinity are the localities of Shahba (15 kilometers, the ancient Philippopolis) and the Roman foundation Schaqqa (25 kilometers) to the north . Bosra is around 30 kilometers south.


As-Suwaida was founded by the Arab Nabataeans in the 1st century BC. Founded as a trading post in Suada and owned a temple of the god Dushara (built between 30 BC and 30 AD) and a monumental tomb. This to about 85 BC. The tomb of Hamrath , which was dated back to the 1860s and was still in ruins in the 1860s, had a roof in the form of a step pyramid and Doric half-columns on the entrance facade.

In the 2nd century, in Roman times, the place called Dionysias received city ​​rights under Emperor Hadrian or, at the latest, under Emperor Commodus (reigned 180-192). The city owes the name of the wine god Dionysus , who was equated with the Nabatean Dushara, and its economic prosperity to the viticulture already practiced at this time. Only small remains of the important Roman buildings have survived. In the early Byzantine period in the 4th and 5th centuries, the city was the seat of a bishopric. The basilica, built in the 5th century, was presumably dedicated to Saint Sergius , who enjoyed great veneration in Resafa after his martyrdom around 312 .

The residence of a governor is one of the few sights of the city that has survived from the Ottoman period. Since the end of the 17th century, the Druze migrated from Lebanon to the mountainous region named after them. Especially in the 19th century, the Druze from Lebanon, Palestine and the region around Aleppo settled in a second wave of immigration . As-Suwaida and the other cities in the region were newly founded at this time. Many Druze were involved as farm workers in a feudal order headed by the Hamdan family clan. In 1868 he had to give up his traditional leadership role to the al-Atrasch family. A peasant revolt around 1890 forced some concessions from the large landowners, so that since then the majority of the Druze have been farming their own land on small or medium-sized areas.

During the French mandate , as-Suwaida was the capital of the Druze state . Here, however, the Syrian national resistance in the 1920s came mainly from the Druze areas around as-Suwaida. Even in the Ottoman period, these were never completely under government control and now resisted the interference of the French in their internal affairs. A well-known Druze leader of the revolt from 1925 to 1927 was Sultan al-Atrash from the village of al-Qrayya 20 kilometers south of al-Suwaida. Under his leadership, the Druze attacked the small town of Salchad on July 20, 1925 (capital of the district of the same name 28 kilometers southeast of as-Suwaida), on August 2, they defeated the French troops in as-Suwaida. The capture of the city sparked further uprisings in Damascus and other parts of the country. By 1926, the French military power had gradually restored order.

On July 25, 2018, Suwaida was the target of several coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamist terrorist organization Daesch (IS) . At least 56 Daesh rebels entered the city and began a series of shootings and suicide bombings . So they managed to kill 246 people - almost exclusively civilians. 56 attackers also died, so that a total of at least 302 people including the murderers died. 42 Druze , aged 7 to 60, were kidnapped as hostages by Daesch . Since the relatives could not or did not want to raise the ransom money demanded, the rebels murdered a prisoner and filmed the execution. The Syrian Arab Army had succeeded in driving rebel groups from the region in the previous weeks. A Daesh faction still controlled areas on Yarmuk near the Israeli- occupied Golan Heights , where the Israeli air force had shot down a Syrian fighter plane a few days earlier. Syrian media accused Israel of supporting terrorism in Syria.

Cityscape and population

Restored street arch from Roman times

The vast majority of the 64,730 inhabitants calculated for 2009 are Druze, which are characterized by a strong social cohesion. The Syrian Orthodox Christians form a minority .

With modern urban development, almost all ancient monuments disappeared. In 1998 a Roman arch of the former city gate was restored using old basalt stones. It is located one kilometer southeast of the central market area on the arterial road to Dar'a . The rows of seats were restored from a small Roman odeion . Another attraction is the location, in an eastern suburb, opened in 1991, the provincial museum, the floor mosaics and contains basalt sculptures from Roman times. Furthermore, ceramics from the Stone Age and folk art can be seen on the first floor.

The city is known as the birthplace of the singer Farid el Atrache (1915–1974), who is revered throughout the Arab world . He belonged to the Druze princely family el Atrache, whose Hauran-style palace made of black basalt can be seen in the city. The singer and Farid's sister Asmahan (1918–1944) also lived in the residence of this family, whose lands stretched to the Jordanian border .


In addition to grapes, apple trees, almond and olive trees and, since the 19th century, grain are planted and marketed. There is a food processing industry that also includes the production of wine and arak . Carpets, shoes and plastics are also produced.

sons and daughters of the town

  • Sultan al-Atrasch (* 1891 in al-Qurayya; † 1982), Arab-Druze leader, Syrian nationalist and general commander of the Syrian Revolution (1925–1927)
  • Farid el Atrache (1915–1974), Syrian-Egyptian singer
  • Asmahan (1917–1944), Syrian-Egyptian singer and actress
  • Shibli al-Aysami (* 1925), former Syrian Vice President
  • Ahmed al-Chatib (1933–1982), former Syrian President


  • Frank Rainer Scheck, Johannes Odenthal: Syria. High cultures between the Mediterranean and the Arabian desert. DuMont, Cologne 1998, p. 413 f.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Murray Steuben Butler: Hellenistic Architecture in Syria. Princeton University, Princeton 1917, pp. 8-14, online at
  2. Nikolaos Van Dam: Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribalism in Politics, 1961-78. Croom Helm, London 1979, p. 24.
  3. ^ Sarah el-Deeb: IS Attack Devastates Community in Southern Syria. U.S. News, July 26, 2018.
  4. Shimoneyr: Islamic State in Syria executes hostage from Sweida attack. Eyewitness News, August 5, 2018.
  5. More than 220 dead after IS attacks. Der Tagesspiegel , July 25, 2018.
  6. Sherifa Zuhur: Asmahan's Secrets: Woman, War, and Song. University of Texas Press, Austin 2001, p. 66.