Syria; key historical events

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Page last modified 19 August 2023


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Syria Civil War map 1 here

Syria Civil War map 2 here

Demography of Syria


11 January 2019, The USA began to pull its forces out of Syria. Russia, ally of Syrian President Assad, welcomed the news, as Assad appeared to have won the Syrian Civil War. There were concerns that the US move could allow ISIS to regroup, or expose the Kurds to attacks from Turkey.

7 April 2018, A poison gas attack (chlorine or sarin) on Syrian civilians in the rebel-held area of Douma was reported. Russia, who was backing Syrian President Assad, along with Iran, alleged that the attack was a fabrication. The US and Israel replied with airstrikes on Syrian air force facilities.

7 September 2017, Four Israeli jets fired missiles at a Syrian facility believed to be a site of chemicals weapons production, killing two Syrians.

6 April 2017, US President Trump ordered the firing of 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat Airbase, Syria, in response to the gas attack of 2 April 2017. 4 were killed. Russia, an ally of Assad, was angry and said the incident had nearly started a war between Russia and the US. Trump said he might fire more missiles into Syria.

4 April 2017, 58 were killed by poison gas in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun. Government forces under Assad were blamed.

28 February 2017, Syria�s close ally Russia, also China, vetoed a UN Security Council resolution authorising sanctions against the Syrian government for use of chemical weapons.

13 December 2016, Aleppo was completely taken by Syrian Government forces, after rebel fighters were defeated, with Russian assistance. However the Syrian civil war, which had begun in 2011, continued, and fighting was still reported in the Aleppo area.

24 August 2016, The United Nations determined that the Syrian government twice used helicopters to deploy chlorine gas against its opponents, in civilian areas in the northern Idlib province. A later report held the government responsible for a third attack. The attacks occurred in 2014 and 2015. The panel also found that ISIS had used mustard gas.

31 May 2016, 25 people died in airstrikes in Idlib, Syria.

24/11/2015, Turkey shot down a Russian jet fighter that was taking part in Russia�s pro-Assad campaign in Syria, against both ISIS and non-ISIS rebels. Turkey said the aircraft had transgressed into Turkish airspace, and was warned several times. Russia denied the warnings, and it appeared the jet had at most been in Turkish airspace for 2 or 3 seconds as it (might have) crossed a finger of Turkish territory jutting into Syria.

12/11/2015, Jihadi John� was killed by a US drone strike in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqah, northern Syria.

30 September 2015, Russia began airstrikes in Syria, against anti-Assad rebels.

7 August 2015, The U.N. Security Council authorised investigators to probe reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, as reports circulated of repeated chlorine gas attacks by government forces against civilians in opposition-held areas. Chlorine gas, though not as toxic as nerve agents, can be classified as a chemical weapon depending on its use.

1 April 2015, ISIS forces took Palmyra.

29 October 2014, 150 Kurdish fighters set off from Erbil (Kurdish Iraq) to travel throughTurkish territory to reinforce Kurdish fighters across the Turkish-Syria border battling ISIS in the Syrian border town of Kobani. ISIS began to lose ground there, as Syrian Kurds were reinforced by US arms drops and US air strikes against ISIS. The fight for Kobani assumed increased importance as the global TV media focussed on the battle from just across the border in Turkey. The issue of Turkey allowing Kurdish reinforcements across its territory was sensitive because Turkey has its own Kurdish minority region in the south-east.

22 September 2014, A US-led coalition began air strikes against ISIS in Syria.

23 June 2014, The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it had removed the last of the Syrian government's chemical weapons. Syrian opposition officials maintained that the government's stocks were not fully accounted for, and that it retained supplies.

14 January 2014, ISIS forces took Raqqa, Syria.

3 January 2014, Anti-Assad groups in northern Syria united against ISIS.

14 October 2013, Syria became a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, prohibiting it from producing, stockpiling or using chemical weapons.

27 September 2013, The UN Security Council ordered Syria to account for and destroy its stocks of chemical weapons, following a surprise agreement between the USA and Russia, so averting US airstrikes. Use of force was threatened by the UN if Syria did not comply.

31 August 2013, US President Obama desired to carry out punitive airstrikes against the Syrian government, but Congress did not support the idea.

21 August 2013, Hundreds of people suffocated in rebel-held suburbs of the Syrian capital, with many suffering from convulsions, pinpoint pupils, and foaming at the mouth. U.N. investigators visited the sites and determined that ground-to-ground missiles loaded with sarin were fired on civilian areas while residents slept. The U.S. and others blamed the Syrian government, the only party to the conflict known to have sarin gas.

5 June 2013, In the Syrian civil war, the town of Qusayr was recaptured by pro-Assad forces.

7 April 2013, The Syrian government launched an air raid on rebels in Aleppo, killing 15 people.

19 March 2013, 26 Syrians, including a dozen Government soldiers, were killed in a gas attack on the town of Khan-al-Assal, northern Syria. A UN investigation found that sarin nerve gas had been used, but could not identify the source.

20 August 2012, US President Obama strongly cautioned the Syrian Government against any use of chemical weapons.

19 July 2012, Groups opposed to the regime of Syria�s leader, Bashar al Assad, attacked the city of Aleppo. Aleppo became divided into a pro-regime west and a pro-rebel east.

18 August 2011, US President Obama called on Syrian President Assad to resign, and froze Syrian assets in the US.

31 July 2011, In Syria, an army raid on the town of Hama killed over 120. So far the Syrian civil war had claimed 3,000 lives.

12 June 2011, Thousands of Syrians fled into Turkey to escape the civil war.

1 April 2011, Large protests by Syrian civilians against their Government after Friday prayers.

18 March 2011, Further protests in Deraa over the detention by security forces of a group of boys accused of painting anti-govermnment graffiti on the walls of their school. Earlier, on 15 March 2011, protests against the boys� detention had taken place in Damascus. On 18 March 2011 Syrian government forces opened fire in Deraa, killing four people. These are regarded as the first deaths in the Syrian civil war.

6 March 2011, Unrest in Deraa, Syria.

2006, The Danish Embassy in Damascus was attacked over cartoons in a Danish newspaper satrirising the prophet Mohammed.

13 April 2003, US President Bush accused Syria of holding chemical weapons. There were fears of a US attack on Syria, but later on Bush moderated his tone.

6 May 2001, In Syria, Pope John Paul II visited the Great Umayyad Mosque and prayed there, the first time a Pontiff had ever visited and prayed in a Muslim mosque.

10 June 2000, Hafez al Assad, President of Syria, died. His son, Bashar Assad, succeeded him.

27 December 1989, Egypt and Syria resumed full diplomatic relations.

16 March 1980, Martial law was proclaimed in Aleppo as political violence swept Syria.

1973, A new Syrian Constitution entrenched Ba�ath Party dominance.

1970, Hafez al Assad seized power again.

23 February 1966, A military junta seized power in Syria, ousting Hafez al Assad.

1963, Ba�athist military junta seized power, with Major General Amin al Hafez as leader.

29 September 1961, Syria seceded from the United Arab Republic after anti-Egyptian uprisings.

25 December 1959, The USSR agreed to supply financial and technical aid to Syria.

6/1936, Syria and France negotiated a Treaty of Independence, to take effect in 1939; Hashim al-Atassi was elected to be the first President of the newly independent country. However the French legislature never ratified the Treaty, and in 1940 France fell to the Nazis and the Vichy French Government took over. At this point British and Free French forces took over Syria, consolidating their control over the country in July 1941. After World War Two, Syrian Nationalists forced the French to leave the country and a Republican Government took over the running of Syria.

1925, Druze revolt in Damascus against French occupation. French High Commissioner General Sarrail ordered the bombardment of this area of the city.

11 March 1920, The National Congress in Syria proclaimed Feisal, 3rd son of King Hussein of the Hejaz, King of an independent Syria.

1918, Arab troops led by Emir Faisal captured Damascus from the Ottoman Turks, ending 400 years of Ottoman rule.

25 October 1918, Arab forces loyal to Prince Faisal captured Aleppo.

For Napoleonic campaigns in Syria, 1790s, see France-Germany

See also Greece-Turkey for history of Ottoman Empire

1516, Ottoman Turkey conquered Syria.

11 November 1400, Battle of Aleppo. During a Tatar invasion of Syria, Tamerland defeated the Turks and Syrians.


For events in the Syria region during Roman and Byzantine times see Roman Empire

For events in the Syria regionin pre-Roman times see Jewish history


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