Fighting in Idlib Forces its University to Delay Examinations, and Impacts the Lives of Civilians

Translated by: Sailer Perkins


The University of Idlib announced the postponement of exams from Friday, July 21 to an unspecified future date. According to the university’s official website, this decision was made to protect the students amid the unstable security conditions the Idlib province is currently witnessing.

In a similar decision, the university also postponed exams on Wednesday, July 19 due to fighting that recently erupted between Tahrir As-Sham and Ahrar As-Sham and spread into the villages and towns of the province.

The university began exams the week of July 10, after an initial postponement due to a heat wave throughout the Middle East. The effects of the heat wave were multiplied in the opposition areas of Syria, including Idlib, as they suffer from an electricity crisis among other humanitarian issues.

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Photo of an examination hall at the University of Idlib, 16 July 2017.

The generally unstable security situation in the Idlib province has obstructed “education procedures” in many places and on several occasions. For example, on February 2 of this year two air strikes from Syrian regime planes caused the destruction of a group of Idlib University’s laboratories.

Mohammad al-Saleh, a student in Idlib University’s Institute of Nursing, said to “The Syrian Voice” that “the Student Affairs official notified them of the postponement of exams in order to keep students safe from the current fighting.” He noted that the discontinuance of exams was in students’ interests, although he considers it to “have a negative effect on the students” as well.

For his part, Samir Mawas, a psychology major at the university, expressed his dissatisfaction that “the last exam session was postponed with only a day’s notice.” This has caused Mawas to lose interest in and enthusiasm for the exams because he simply does not know when they will be held.

The University of Idlib was opened in early 2015 by a group of Syrian academics after the Liberation Army gained control of the city. The university was a haven for hundreds of students whose higher education had been interrupted by the eruption of the Syrian Revolution in the spring of 2011.

Expectedly, the effects of the security situation’s decline have not been limited to the interruption of exams. The current fighting between Tahrir As-Sham and Ahrar As-Sham ignited overnight on Tuesday, July 18 with an attack by the former on the town of Hazazin. It has since expanded to reach several cities and towns in the countryside of Idlib province.

The fighting, as well as the expansion of both parties’ security presences, has impeded the movement of citizens between the cities and towns of the region. Even areas not yet reached by the violence are waiting to “erupt” at any moment, according to comments by Marwan Al-Ahmad, a citizen from the southern Idlib province, to “The Syrian Voice.”

Al-Ahmad stated that “there are elements of both Ahrar As-Sham and Tahrir As-Sham in every village of the province, and we do not know when the spark of fighting will ignite between them.”

Al-Ahmad has personally felt the effects of this fighting, as it has impacted his animal feed business. His clients from the northern regions and from the city of Ma’aram al-Nu’man have been unable to visit his mill, and because of this he has postponed some of his production until “security stabilizes.”


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