Deir ez-Zor

Deir ez Zor, also spelled Dayr az-Zawr, Deir al-Zur and other variants (دير الزور; Armenian: Տէր Զօր or Der Zor), is a city in northeastern Syria on the Euphrates River and capital of the Deir ez-Zor Governorate, 450 km from the capital, Damascus. It has a population of 230.000 (2002 estimate).

The city and its rural surrounding is a fertile and prosperous farming area, with livestock-breeding (for special awassi sheep), cereals and cotton crops. Many agribusiness institutions are working there as well. Since the discovery of light crude oil in the Syrian desert it has become a centre for the country's oil extraction industry. It is also a minor centre for tourism with many touristic facilities as traditional riverbank restaurants up to 5-star hotels, a hub for trans-desert travel and has an airport (IATA code: DEZ) in Al-Jafra suburb. Also there are salt rock mines nearby.

Deir ez-Zor is situated 85 km to the northwest of the archaeological remains of Dura-Europos and 120 km northwest of the remains of the ancient city of Mari. During Roman times it was an important trading post between the Roman Empire and India. Conquered by Zenobia, it became part of the kingdom of Palmyra. After a successive wave of conquests, it was finally destroyed by the Mongols as they swept across the Middle East.

The modern town was built by the Ottoman Empire in 1867. In 1915, the city became a major destination and extermination point in the Armenian Genocide; a memorial commemorating this tragedy is located in the city. France occupied Deir ez-Zor in 1921 and made it the seat of a large garrison. In 1941 British-led forces defeated the French during the Syria-Lebanon campaign, which included a battle over Deir, and they handed administration of the region to the Free French. In 1946 it became part of independent Syria.

Deir ez-Zor is also famous for its suspension bridge (الجسر المعلق) that spans the Euphrates and was built by the French in 1930.

It has a regional-level museum and big Cultural Center. The newly established Al-Furat University has its center in Deir ez Zor. Of this University, faculties of Agriculture, Science, Arts and Humanities, Education, Law, Petrochemical Engineering and Medicine are located in the city, while other faculties spread in neighbouring districts. Many other vocational schools and professional institutes also provide post-secondary education. The local daily newspaper Al Furat is published there.

Most recently, Dei ez-Zor is known as the place where Israel, on September 6, 2007 executed Operation Orchard. Israel bombed a northern Syrian complex near Dayr az-Zawr which was suspected of holding nuclear materials from North Korea.


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