A mountain range (up to 920 m) lying west of Al-Hasakah and running for c.50 km east–west. The southern slopes are gentle, but the northern slopes are a very steep, linear scarp with frequent cliffs. Numerous small wadis drain the slopes. The steppe vegetation includes Pistacia, Prunus and Rhamnus scrub, with extensive shrubs of Artemisia, Atriplex, Helianthemum and Teucrium. There is an extensive and ongoing afforestation project, planting Pistacia, Pinus brutia and P. halepensis
See box for key species. As well as species listed below, Pterocles alchata is a common resident.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: Canis lupus (V), Gazella subgutturosa (rare); Equus hemionus hemippus (V) survived in this area until the 1930s. Flora: many endemics are confined to the isolated mountains in the Syrian Desert.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
As a preliminary to a program for preventing soil erosion, a decree has been issued prohibiting the grazing and agricultural development by which the area is threatened, and there is an afforestation scheme underway (see above). However, illegal cutting of trees and other vegetation still occurs despite the efforts of the authorities. There is overgrazing by livestock and feral donkeys, and a threat from conversion of land to cereal cultivation and consequent wind-erosion. Hunting of Alectoris chukar and Gazella is prohibited.
Data-sheet compiled by Dr Ibrahim Hanna and Dr Amer Majid Agha (translated by S. Zaiane).