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Dayr az Zawr 3520'N 04009'E

Dayr az Zawr [Deir Ez Zor, Deir Zzor, Deir ez Zoar, Dayr al-Zor, Deir ez Zor, Deir Ezzor, Dayr az Zur, Deir ez-Zor, Dayr az Zawr, Deir ez-Zur, etc etc ] in eastern Syria is on the banks of the River Euphrates [Al Furat]. Deir Ez-Zor means "monastery of the grove". It was anciently called Azaura. It is 320 km from Aleppo, and 450 km from Damascus. It is located on the road between Aleppo and the Iraqi border and between Damascus and the North-West of Syria. The city has 190,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate), with a population of 1,056,000 in both the city and the county (mouhafaza) according to a 1999 official estimate.

The Euphrates river divides Deir Ez-Zor into two halves, with five bridges connecting the two river banks. Of these bridges, a certain suspended bridge that was built in 1924-1925 is most renown and the main city landmark. The river strand close to this suspended bridge is called Al Jordaque, and has become a major tourist attraction. Deir Ez-Zor has benefited from the oil industry in Northeastern Syria, with many companies making it their regional headquarters, and has also become a main recreation center for employees of these companies. Most of Deir Ez-Zor houses are stone built and surrounded by their own house gardens. Its museum contains artifacts from neighboring excavations such as Ashara and Tal Birak.

The Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD) was established in Damascus, Syria in 1968. ACSAD is a specialized Arab organization working within the framework of the League of Arab States with the objective of unifying the Arab efforts which aim to develop the scientific agricultural research in the arid and semi-arid areas, help in the exchange of information and experiences and make use of the scientific progress and the modern agricultural techniques in order to increase the agricultural production. ACSAD carries out its research, studies and trials at its research stations in Syria and at the research centers in the Arab countries and it links between the results of research and studies and the large-scale application of these results. Activities at the ACSAD research station at Deir Ezzor, Syria include a 15 day long Training course on afforestation in the arid and semi-arid areas. Objectives are to increase the efficiency of the Arab technical cadres in the following fields: - Identification of the multi-purpose forest tree species and their role in combating desertification and the establishment of green belts together with their different uses in the arid and semi-arid areas. - Propagation of forest trees species and production of seedlings and seeds to meet the afforestation projects' needs. - The role of these species in achieving the agricultural and forest integration.

The vast desert areas are technically considered steppe because they contain some vegetation and animal life. Poorly-planned development projects and resource exploitation activities have taken their toll on biodiversity in this region, historically one of the most biologically diverse of Syria and home to many endemic species.

Traditionally, it has been a trade center for several transport routes crossing the desert, involving economic exchanges between the Syrian cities Aleppo and Damascus, and Mosul in Iraq. The town on the right bank of the Euphrates River is a business center of eastern Syria. The suspension bridge across the Euphrates River, was built in 1924.

This city is the capital of Deir ez-Zawr province. Deir ez-Zawr was founded by the Ottomans 1867, with the purpose of controlling the nomads of the region. French-British rivalry in the Middle East continued after the two countries had divided the area into spheres of influence at San Remo in April 1920, which partitioned the Arab world into mandates as prearranged by the earlier Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 16, 1916. The inhabitatants of Deir ez-Zor governate include some of the same Sunni Arab tribes who inhabit Iraq. Under Sykes-Picot, both were to have been included into a single Arab state under French influence. When the "autonomous republic" of Syria was proclaimed in 1934, it consisted of three vilayets [districts] that formed the Republic: Aleppo, Damascus and Deir es Zor.

The section of the Euphrates (60 km) located between Hanuqa/Halabiya and Deir ez-Zor remains unknown from an archaeological point of view. No archaeological survey had been made in the zone prior to 2004. In fact, according to all the available maps there were no identified archaeological deposits in this region. Though a city that has a rich historic background, the city is obscure for most people, except Armenians. Deir Ez Zor was along one of the main deportation routes in the 1915 expulsion of the Armenians from Turkey. During World War II, the battle of Deir ez Zor June 30-July 3, 1941 was fought when the Indian 10th Division under Major-General William J. Slim moved up the Euphrates River from Iraq to Aleppo in Syria, threatening the position of the Vichy French forces at Beirut. With a few ancient sites and archaeological remains, it receives a steady flow of tourists from across the globe. While not full of magnificent tourist attractions, it is also not full of tourists. There is little to see and do in Deir ez-Zor itself - but the major archaeological sites of Doura Europos and Mari are 93 km and 124 km to the south.

Signs that the regime of Colonel Adib Shishakli would collapse appeared at the end of 1953 with student strikes and the circulation of unusually virulent pamphlets urging sedition. The major political parties, meeting at Homs in September, agreed to resist and overthrow Shishakli. Because of its isolated position, by the early 1950s Deir-ez- Zor had become something of a place of exile for Army officers, including a disproportionate number of Druze. Trouble developed among the Druzes, and Shishakli declared martial law. The army, infiltrated by Shishakli's opponents, staged Syria's fourth coup on February 25, 1954.

Deir ez-Zor had long been considered a backwater of Syria, but with irrigation and oil it became a booming city. In 1975 Syria began to allow foreign oil companies to prospect for oil within its borders. In 1984 Pecten discovered commercial volumes of light crude in the Euphrates basin near Deir Ez Zor, and many oilfields developed in the area. The Al Furat Petroleum Co. (AFPC), operating the richest among Deir Ez Zor's blocks, is Syria's biggest oil producer. Independent sources estimate Syria's proven oil reserves, recoverable at costs not exceeding $5/barrel, at less than 2.5 bn barrels. The Desgas project utilising associated gas production from eastern Syria's Deir Ez Zor region reached full operational capacity in 2002. The Deir Ez Zor gas project was awarded on a 50/50 basis to TotalFinaElf and Conoco (the lead operator) in early 1999 by Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and the Syrian Petroleum Company (SPC). Representing an overall investment of approximately $400 million, Desgas comprises two elements: the collection, treatment and export of associated gas from Deir-Ez-Zor region to the national gas transmission network, and secondly the production of condensate from the Tabiyeh field (operated by TotalFinaElf) through gas reinjection.

After years of discussions with Russian and Chinese companies, the Ministry of Petroleum & Mineral Resources on Dec. 27, 2005, announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Russian company to build an oil refinery and petrochemicals complex in the oil-rich Deir ez-Zor region. Also in December 2005 it was announced that the facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) had granted a CAD 280 million loan for the construction of the Deir-ez-Zor power plant in Syria. This loan is for the construction of a 750 Mega Watt natural gas-fired combined cycle power plant located near the town of Deir-ez-Zor on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria. The project will be implemented and managed by the Electricity Generation and Transmission Company (PEEGT). This project supports Syria's energy policy goal to shift from oil-based to gas-based electricity generation.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:29:00 ZULU