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Location Syria, Ar Raqqah
Central coordinates 39o 20.00' East  36o 25.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, B1i, B2
Area 30,000 ha
Altitude 300 m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Syrian Society for the Conservation of Wildlife (Affiliate)

Site description An extensive area of steppe to the west of Jabal Abdul Aziz and to the east and south-east of Skiro village (36°25'N 39°05'E), bounded by the Balikh valley to the west. In the 1960s there were seasonally inundated fresh and saline marshes in the Balikh valley, e.g. at Ali Bajiliyah, c.100 km north of Al-Raqqah. In the 1970s, there were extensive reedbeds and some open water at Skiro, and about 10 km north along the road from Skiro on the western side was Al-Sharkrak pond (c.1 ha). In the early 1980s there was an area of small permanent lakes (c.50 ha) called Waz Gol (36°31'N 39°01'E), fed by springs at Ayn al-Arus. Vegetation here, and probably elsewhere in the valley, consisted of Salix trees/bushes and stands of Phragmites, Lythrum, Carex and Luzula. However by 1992 (and perhaps as early as 1984) the lakes, springs, and river itself were all dry due to major and unsustainable water abstraction from the Balikh river for irrigation in Turkey and Syria. The continued existence of other wetland areas in the valley, of which the above are only representative examples, is thus in doubt. The majority of the steppe is cultivated with cereals and cotton and otherwise very heavily grazed by livestock; crop failures are common during droughts.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. The site is ornithologically little-known. Possible breeding species in the Balikh valley in the 1970s included Glareola pratincola, Sterna albifrons, Merops superciliosus and Cercotrichas galactotes. Wintering species in the 1970s and early 1980s included an excellent diversity of waterfowl, including Anser albifrons and Grus grus. Ducks were reported to occur at Ali Bajiliyah in summer and 'large numbers' were present in winter (Savage 1968). Passage migrants in autumn in the 1980s included Tachybaptus ruficollis (200), Netta rufina, Circus aeruginosus (5) and Vanellus leucurus.

Non-bird biodiversity: No information.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris passage  1982  20 individuals  poor  A4i  Vulnerable 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca passage  1982  20 individuals  poor  B1i, B2  Near Threatened 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala passage  1982  1 individuals  poor  A1  Endangered 
Great Bustard Otis tarda winter  1976  16-22 individuals  poor  A1  Vulnerable 
Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius passage  1982  4 individuals  poor  A1  Critically Endangered 

IBA Monitoring

2014 medium not assessed low

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - nomadic grazing likely in short term (within 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - unintentional effects (species is not the target) likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Some of site covered (10-49%)  No management plan exists but the management planning process has begun  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   major
Grassland   minor
Wetlands (inland)   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture major
Notes: Agric/cultiv/Rangeland: Primarily rangeland
hunting major
Notes: Hunting
rangeland/pastureland minor

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Prof. Dr S. Bottema; translation of article by G. Keijl.

References Bottema (1985), Macfarlane (1978), Savage (1968).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Tual al-'Abba. Downloaded from on 08/02/2016

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