Tual al-'Abba

Country/territory: Syria

IBA criteria met: A1, A4i, B1i, B2 (1994)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 30,000 ha

The Syrian Society for the Conservation of Wildlife
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2014 not assessed medium low
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Site description (1994 baseline)
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.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Tual al-'Abba. Downloaded from on 29/09/2023.