Khan Arnabeh is a locality located in Quneitra province on the border with the occupied Syrian Golan. During the Syrian civil war the locality remained under the control of the Syrian government and its inhabitants played an important role in preventing the insurgents from taking over all of Quneitra province.
To discuss the history of Khan Arnabeh and the current situation there further, I conducted an interview on 13 May 2019 with the municipal council of Khan Arnabeh. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Q: Can you talk a little about the locality of Khan Arnabeh in a general sense? The number of inhabitants currently, the biggest families in it etc. And how many martyrs has the locality offered in defence of the Syrian homeland against terrorism?
A: The Khan Arnabeh municipal council is affiliated administratively with Quneitra province and was established in 1968. The Khan Arnabeh municipal council is composed of a council elected in accordance with the Local Administration Law no. 107 in 2011. The locality of Khan Arnabeh is considered the principal centre in Quneitra province as it is located in the middle of Quneitra province and is considered the launching point towards Damascus and the rest of the neighbouring villages.
The number of current resident inhabitants is 25,000: IDPs, around 15,000. The inhabitants rely on agriculture and rearing livestock of sheep and cows. And among them are those who work in business as the locality includes around 500 shops and different occupations.
The families: the locality includes around 25 families, the biggest of which is the al-Khalid family, then the Jarida family, then the al-Sayyid family, Haymoud, al-Dumani, Zayton, al-Samiya, al-Sa'id, Yunis, Mansour, al-Atrash, al-Lahibi, Zahra, al-Sa'idiya, al-Dabak and small families.
The political and security situation: the locality of Khan Arnabeh has offered 192 civilian and military martyrs: among them 32 martyrs of the regular army and around 60 of the auxiliary forces. Khan Arnabeh has been considered the first line of defence of the capital Damascus from the side of Quneitra as the locality was exposed to a number of assault attempts by the insurgents, all of which failed by virtue of the steadfastness of its people and cooperation with the forces of the Syrian Arab Army.
Education situation: there are in the locality of Khan Arnabeh six schools: foundational education, 3 thanawiyas [secondary/high schools], an agricultural institute and an arts college.
Health situation: there are an aid centre, a clinic, and a physiotherapy centre. The nearest hospital is the Martyr Memduh Ibadha hospital, only 2 km away.
There is in Khan Arnabeh an antique structure called antique Khan Arnabeh that goes back to Mamluk era as it was considered a hotel or resting place for the business caravans.
Q: What is the services situation in the locality?
A: The services situation: the Khan Arnabeh municipal council offers the following services:
- Undertaking sewage projects such that the locality is serviced at a rate of 95%.
- The roads are serviced at a rate of 90%.
- Lighting is very good and the rate of lighting is 80%.
- Removing garbage on a daily basis through the available vehicles: a compressor and two tractors.
Note that the Khan Arnabeh municipal council serves the locality of Khan Arnabeh, the village of Ain Aisha and the village of al-Samdaniya al-Sharqiya.
Q: What are the greatest accomplishments and projects of the council recently?
A: Projects implemented for 2019:
- Implementing sewage lines at a cost of 25 million [Syrian pounds]: separate budget.
- Roads: 25 million [Syrian pounds], separate budget.
- Lighting: 3 million [Syrian pounds].
- Maintaining the municipal slaughterhouse: 1,900,000 Syrian pounds.
Q: Does national grid electricity come to the locality? And is regular water available in the locality [i.e. water that does not need to be purchased from saharij tanks]?
A: Electricity is very good, continuing without interruption for 24 hours, as the Syrian government has kindly given priority to Quneitra province for its border situation. Water continues without interruption for 24 hours. In the locality there are 7 wells and 6 pumping reservoirs.
Q: Do you work with any international organizations currently?
A: Cooperation with organizations: the UNDOF forces are renovating the 8th March garden at a cost of around 4 million [Syrian pounds]
Q: Has the gasoline and gas crisis impacted life in the locality?
A: The locality of Khan Arnabeh has not been impacted by the gas crisis as each family is granted a gas canister every 15 days through an established cycle registered with the municipal council.
Q: In sum has life improved in the area since the reconciliations and the return of the Syrian state to the entire south?
A: After the carrying out of the reconciliations the security situation has improved a lot and the inhabitants have returned to their normal life as the locality had thousands of IDPs from the neighbouring villages and nearby provinces, and the farmers have returned to invest in their lands and the shops are engaging in their activity normally.
Q: With regards to the IDPs in Khan Arnabeh from which areas are they originally?
A: Most of the IDPs are from the villages of the province: Jubatha al-Khashab, Taranjah, Umm Batina and Mumtina. From Damascus countryside: al-Hajar al-Aswad, al-Qadam, al-Mo'adhamiya, al-Ghouta. And Deraa province.