Timeline Syria thru 2010
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Sunni Muslims comprised two thirds of Syria’s
people. The Alawites, a religious group that broke away from Shiite
Islam in the 9th century, comprised about 6% of Syria’s population.
Pres. Hafez Assad was a member of the sect.
(SSFC, 5/4/03, p.A11)(Econ, 3/26/11, p.53)(Econ,
Country Reports: http://www.countryreports.org/country/Syria.htm
Travel Docs: http://www.traveldocs.com/sy/index.htm
stalked giant camels in the Syrian desert about this time. Bones of
the “Syrian Camel,” as tall as some modern-day elephants, were
discovered 150 miles north of Damascus in 2005.
9000BC In 2007 French archaeologists discovered an
11,000-year-old wall painting underground in northern Syria which
they believe is the oldest in the world. The 2 square-meter
painting, in red, black and white, was found at the Neolithic
settlement of Djade al-Mughara on the Euphrates, northeast of the
city of Aleppo.
3600BC-1000BC The Mesopotamian settlement of Nagar
(in northeastern Syria) grew to become one of the first large cities
of the Middle East. It began before 6,000BC and continued to about
(MT, summer 2003, p.11)
3000BC-2000BC Ebla was a commercial capital of
this era. In 1975 tens of thousands of cuneiform tablets were found
that supported Ebla's role.
(WSJ, 9/30/99, p.A26)
2400BC The Mesopotamian city of Nagar (in
northeastern Syria) became the powerful state of Nagar about this
(MT, summer 2003, p.11)
2300BC Akkadian armies conquered Nagar about this
(MT, summer 2003, p.13)
2291BC-2254BC Naram-Sin ruled Akkad. He defeated a
rebel coalition in Sumer and re-established Akkadian power. He
re-conquered Syria, Lebanon, and the Taurus mountains, destroying
Aleppo and Mari in the process. During his reign the Gutians
sacked the city of Agade and eventually destroyed all of Sumer
(southern Iraq). During his reign Naram-Sin campaigned against the
region of Magan (Oman).
2100BCE Amorites came from the Arabian peninsula
and were the first important Semitic settlers in the area of
Damascus. They established many small states.
(SFEC, 11/21/99, p.A26)
c2000BCE A palace was built at Qatanah, 12 miles
south of Damascus, that was discovered in 1999.
(SFEC, 11/21/99, p.A6)
1500-1200BCE The Amorites in the time of Moses
came from northeast Syria.
(MT, Spg. ‘97, p.11)
1468BCE In Egypt Hatshepsut died and Tuthmosis
III, in his early thirties, declared war on the Prince of the Syrian
city of Kadesh, who had organized a confederacy in Palestine and
Syria. Tuthmosis defeated the Syrians following an 8 month siege of
(ON, 3/01, p.11)
1294BC-1279BC Sethi I (Seti I), son of Rammeses I
and the father of Rammeses II, ruled during Egypt’s 19th Dynasty. He
restored the ancient gods of Egypt, such as Amun-Re, Ptah, Seth, and
Osiris. At Abydos he built a splendid temple to Osiris. Sethi claims
to have inflicted a victory against the Hittite king, Mursillis II,
the successor to Suppililiumas, at the towns of Yenoam and
Bethshael. Seti overran Palestine, made peace with the Hittites in
Syria, opened mines and quarries, and enlarged the Temple of Amun-Re
at Karnak. His tomb was discovered in 1817.
(NG, 9/98, p.17,19)(AM, 7/01,
c1182BC Ramessu III beat back a formidable attack
by northern countries. An inscription describing this war was
engraved on the second pylon of the temple of Medinet Habu. The
inscription describes how the northerners were disturbed, and
proceeded to move eastward and southward, swamping in turn the land
of the Hittites, Carchemish, Arvad, Cyprus, Syria, and other places
of the same region. The Hittites and North Syrians had been so
crippled by them that Ramessu took the opportunity to extend the
frontier of Egyptian territory northward... the twofold ravaging of
Syria left it weakened and opened the door for the colonization of
its coast-lands by the beaten remnant of the invading army.
738BC Mittinti, king of
Ashkelon revolted, trusting to the support of Rezon of Syria. But
the death of Rezon so terrified the king that he fell sick and died.
His son Rukipti, who reigned in his stead, hastened to make
734BC Rezon of Syria, and Pekah
of Samaria were in league, whereas Ahaz of Jerusalem had become a
vassal of the king of Assyria. The Philistines had attached
themselves to the Syrian league, so that Tiglath-Pileser came up
with the special purpose of sacking Gaza. Hanunu, the king of Gaza,
fled to Sebako, king of Egypt; but he afterwards returned and,
having made submission, was received with favor.
732BC Tiglath-pileser III, an
Assyrian, took Damascus and killed Rezin. He then captured many
cities of northern Israel and took the people to Assyria. The
Egyptian troops had at one time joined forces with Damascus, Israel
and some other states to resist Shalmaneser III at Qarqar.
300BC Dura-Europos, a Greek
colony was built on the Euphrates in eastern Syria.
(SSFC, 6/28/09, p.A8)
300-64BCE Antioch served as the capital of the
kingdom of Syria.
(WUD, 1994 p.66)
175-164BCE King Antiochus IV, Seleucid tyrant,
(MH, 12/96)(SFC, 12/6/04, p.B2)
170BCE The rebel Maccabees were able to gain
victory in Jerusalem occupied by Antiochus IV During the
re-dedication of the temple they stretched a days worth of oil out
to 8 days for which the holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated.
(SFC, 11/27/96, zz1 p.F1)
168BCE Syria’s Seleucid king Antiochus IV
Epiphanes ruled over Israel and tried to outlaw Judaism. He tried to
Hellenize the Jews by erecting idols. The Jews resisted and began
the Maccabean revolt. The Maccabees were successful until internal
dissension tore them apart.
(eawc, p.15)(PC, 1992 ed, p.27)
167BCE Antiochus IV, the Hellenistic tyrant of
what later became called the Middle East, began to increase
religious persecution against the Jews in Palestine and outlawed
observance of the Torah. This included the circumcision of males,
dietary restrictions and observance of the Sabbath. He installed a
cult of Zeus in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Jewish priest
Mattathias of Modin defied Antiochus, escaped outside Lydda with his
5 sons and began a revolt.
(WSJ, 12/11/98, p.W15)(PC, 1992 ed, p.27)
165BCE Jerusalem and sacred temple of Judah were
recaptured by the Maccabees. They used guerrilla tactics and
elephants as tanks to throw off the tyranny of the Greco-Syrian
oppressors. During the cleanup they found one container of the
sacred oil used to light the temple's candelabra known as a menorah.
They gathered to light the oil which was expected to last only a
day, but lasted eight nights. The event was memorialized in the
celebration of Hanukkah (rededication), the Feast of Lights. [see
(SFC,12/10/97, Z1 p.4)(SFC,12/23/97, p.A13)(WSJ,
6-4BCE Publius Quinctilius Varus served as Roman
governor of Syria.
4BCE Publius Sulpicius Quirinus
served as Roman governor of Cilicia, which was annexed to Syria.
6CE Sulpicius Quirinius
(Cyrenius), Roman governor of Syria, ordered a 2nd census of Judea.
9CE Sep 15, Publius Quinctilius
Varus, Roman viceroy of Syria, died of suicide at 59.
19CE Oct 10, Germanicus, the
best loved of Roman princes, died of poisoning. On his deathbed he
accused Piso, the governor of Syria, of poisoning him.
c40CE Saul of Tarsus, while on the road to
Damascus, experienced a profound conversion to Christianity. He
became known as St. Paul. In 1997 A.N. Wilson wrote "Paul: The Mind
of the Apostle." Wilson argued that Paul was the real founder of the
Church of Jesus. Paul was a student of the Jewish scholar Raban
(CU, 6/87)(SFC, 3/28/97, p.C11)(Internet)
44CE In Syria the funeral Tower
of Ketout was built in Palmyra. It became famed for vivid scenes
etched into its walls. In 2015 it was one of three funeral towers
blown up by Islamic State militants.
83CE In Syria the funeral Tower
of Jambalik was built in Palmyra. In 2015 it was one of three
funeral towers blown up by Islamic State militants. and.
103 In Syria the four-storey
funeral tower of Elahbel was built in Palmyra. In 2015 it was one of
three funeral towers blown up by Islamic State militants.
117 Aug 11, The Roman army of
Syria hailed its legate, Hadrian, as emperor, which made the
senate's formal acceptance an almost meaningless event. One of his
first acts was to withdraw Rome’s army from Mesopotamia (modern
222 Mar 11, Varius A. Bassianus
(18), Syrian emperor of Rome (218-22), was murdered.
235 Mar 18, Marcus Aurelius
Alexander, Syrian emperor of Rome (222-235), was murdered.
266CE King Odenathus of
Palmyra, ruler of the Roman province of Syria, was murdered. Zenobia
Septimia, his wife, took control in the name of her teenage son,
(ON, 7/00, p.1)
270 Zenobia of Syria proclaimed
herself “Queen of the East” and attacked Roman colonies adjoining
her and conquered Egypt.
(ON, 7/00, p.1)
272 Roman emperor Aurelian sent
an army to attack Zenobia’s troops in Egypt and was repulsed.
(ON, 7/00, p.1)
272CE Queen Zenobia led a
failed uprising against the Romans, which left the city of Palmyra
partly destroyed. Forces of Emperor Aurelian laid siege on Palmyra,
from which Zenobia and a few retainers escaped. They were soon
captured by Roman scouts. In 1967 Agnes Carr Vaughn authored
“Zenobia of Palmyra.” In 1994 Richard Stoneman authored “Palmyra and
Its Empire: Zenobia’s Revolt Against Rome.”
(AMNHDT, 11/99)(ON, 7/00, p.3)
359CE Christians allegedly
established a camp in Skythopolis, Syria, to torture and execute
pagans from around Europe. This can only be a reference to the Arian
Bishop of Scythopolis, Patrophilus, who cruelly abused Christian
bishops exiled to his see under Constantius. These included Eusebius
of Vercelli. It was not a death-camp, nor did it last 30 years, nor
were pagans the victims.
362CE Jun 17, Emperor Julian
issued an edict banning Christians from teaching in Syria.
410 St. Maroun, founder of the
Maronite Christians, died in Cyrrhus region of Syria. The Maronite
movement reached Lebanon when St Maroun's first disciple Abraham of
Cyrrhus, who was called the Apostle of Lebanon, realized that
paganism was thriving in Lebanon, so he set out to convert the
pagans to Christians by introducing them to the way of St Maroun.
526 May 20, An earthquake
killed 250,000 in Antioch, Turkey. This was the capital of Syria
from 300-64BCE. [see May 29]
526 May 29, A devastating
earthquake destroyed the city of Antioch. [see May 20]
(AM, 11/00, p.69)
540-560 In Syria the monastery of St. Moses the
Abyssinian (Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi) was built in the middle of the
sixth century, and belonged to the Syrian Antiochian Rite. The site
was abandoned after several hundred years, but was revived in the
late 1980s by Italian Jesuit Paolo Dall’Oglio.
(http://tinyurl.com/kudtzxa)(Econ, 8/10/13, p.42)
600-700CE Calinicus, an engineer from Heliopolis,
Syria, is thought to have brought “Greek fire,” (flammable
petrochemicals) to Constantinople.
(AM, Mar/Apr 97 p.57)
628 Apr 3, In Persia, Kavadh
sued for peace with the Byzantines. He handed back Armenia,
Byzantine Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt.
632-661 The Rashidun Caliphate, also known as the
Rightly Guided Caliphate, comprising the first four caliphs in
Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death. At its height,
the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant,
Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and
Central Asia in the east. It was the one of the largest empires in
history up until that time.
636 Aug 15, At the Battle at
Yarmuk, east of the Sea of Galilee, Islamic forces beat a Byzantine
army and gained control of Syria.
(PC, 1992, p.61)
661 The Umayyad regime was
founded by Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan (602-680, long-time governor of
Syria, after the end of the First Muslim Civil War.
661 Muawija became caliph. He
moved the capital from Medina to Damascus. His followers were called
the Umayyads. Muawija was one of the soldiers who helped capture
Damascus and for 25 years he had served as governor of Syria.
Muawija began the practice of appointing his own son as the next
caliph, and so the Umayyads ruled for the next 90 years. Muslim
forces expanded into North Africa and completely conquered Persia.
The Islamic Empire continued to expand into Afghanistan and
Pakistan. After the Omayyad Caliphs conquered Damascus, they build
the palace at Qasr Al-Kharaneh (in Jordan) as a recreational lodge.
(ATC, p.67,78)(SFEC, 4/11/99, p.9)
686 Aug 2, John V, 1st
Greek-Syrian Pope (685-86), died.
697 The first Arab Islamic
currency was struck in Damascus by the Umayyad ruler Abd al-Malik
ibn Marwan (697-698 A.D.)
701 Sep 8, Sergius I, Syrian
and Italian Pope (687-701), died.
c800-900 The Alawi faith was founded by a 9th
century Muslim, who declared himself the “gateway” to the divine
truth and abandoned Islam.
(WSJ, 6/12/00, p.A30)
1058 Al-Ma’arri (b.973), a
blind Syrian philosopher, poet and writer, died. He attacked the
dogmas of religion and rejected the claim that Islam or any other
religion possessed the truths they claimed.
(Econ, 7/13/13, SR
1098 Dec 12, The 1st Crusaders
captured and plundered Mara, Syria.
1099 Jan 13, Crusaders set fire
to Mara, Syria.
1110 Dec 4, Syria harbor city
of Saida (Sidon) surrendered to the Crusaders.
1124 May 6, Balak, Emir of
Aleppo (Syria), was murdered.
1126 Nov 26, Al-Borsoki, emir
of Aleppo-Mosoel (Syria), was assassinated.
1133-1193 Rashid Al-Din Sinan, also known as "The
Old Man of the Mountain," was a leader of the Assassins. He used the
Syrian Masyaf castle as a base for spreading the beliefs of the
Nizari Ismaili sect of Islam to which he and his followers belonged.
1144 In Syria the Knights
Hospitallers began expanding a fortress 90 miles northwest of
Damascus. It became known as The Crac des Chevaliers. The Mamelukes
captured it in 1271 and converted the chapel into a mosque.
(WSJ, 1/31/09, p.W12)
1148 Jul 24, Crusaders, led by
Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, attacked Damascus. It
was a dismal failure and effectively ended the 2nd Crusade.
1174 Nureddin, the ruler of
Syria died. Saladin, the vizier of Egypt, married Nureddin’s widow
and assumed control of both state. The Ayyubids under Saladin spent
the next decade launching conquests throughout the region and by
1183, the territories under their control included Egypt, Syria,
northern Mesopotamia, Hejaz, Yemen, and the North African coast up
to the borders of modern-day Tunisia.
1176 May 22, There was a murder
attempt by "Assassins" (hashish-smoking mountain killers) on Saladin
1187 Jul 4, In the Battle of
Hittin (Tiberias) Saladin defeated Reynaud of Chatillon. Salah al
Din, who ruled from his imperial seat in ancient Syria, defeated
Christian armies of the Crusaders and forced their retreat from the
Holy Land. The battle was depicted in a mosaic that was found and
restored for the palace of Pres, Hafez Assad of Syria. Saladin
personally executed Crusader Reynaud of Chatillon (b.1124/5).
Reynaud of Chatillon, Lord of Kerak, Jordan, had violated twice
violated a tenuous truce and earlier this year attacked a caravan of
pilgrims returning from Mecca.
p.A1)(Econ, 5/30/09, p.24)
1193 Mar 3, Saladin [Salah
ed-Din]) Yusuf ibn Ayyub (52), sultan of Egypt and Syria
(WUD, 1994 p.1261)(SC, 3/3/02)
1201 Jul 5, An earthquake in
Syria and upper Egypt killed some 1.1 million people.
1218 Aug 31, Al-Malik ab-Adil,
Saphadin, Saif al-Din, brother of Saladin, died.
1260 Mar 1, Hulagu Khan,
grandson of Genghis, conquered Damascus.
1271 The Mamelukes under Sultan
Baibars captured The Crac des Chevaliers in Syria and converted the
chapel into a mosque. It had been held by the Knights Hospitallers
(WSJ, 1/31/09, p.W12)(SSFC, 11/1/09, p.M5)
1328 Sep 26, Taqi ad-Din Ahmad
ibn Taymiyyah (b.1263), a Sunni Islamic scholar born in Harran,
located in what is now Turkey, died. He lived in Damascus during the
troubled times of the Mongol invasions. As a member of the school
founded by Ibn Hanbal, he sought the return of Islam to its sources:
the Qur'an and the Sunnah. He had adopted the notion of takfir,
denouncing as apostates Muslims whom he deemed wayward, a crime
punishable by death.
p.30)(Econ, 7/25/15, p.69) (http://tinyurl.com/pfxhrq3)
c1400-1500 A Damascus cookbook titled “Kitab
al-Tibakha” included a recipe that said “brown noodles in the oven
and cook them with rice.” The SF treat Rice-A-Roni began using the
same basic recipe in 1958.
(SFC, 11/25/98, Z1 p.5)
1492 Jews began arriving in
Morocco, Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world after their expulsion
(SFEC, 7/25/99, p.T11)(SSFC, 6/28/09, p.A8)
1496 Mar 12, Jews were expelled
1497 Jan 6, Jews were expelled
from Graz, Syria. [see Mar 12, 1496]
1516 Aug 24, At the Battle of
Marj Dabik, north of Aleppo, the Turks beat Syria. Suliman I (Selim
the Grim), the Ottoman Sultan, routed the Mamelukes (Egypt) with the
support of artillery capturing Aleppo and Damascus. This opened the
way to 400 years of Ottoman Turkish rule over most of the Arab
(PC, 1992, p.169)(Econ, 11/14/09, p.101)
1799 Feb 10, Napoleon Bonaparte
left Cairo, Egypt, for Syria, at the head of 13,000 men.
1837 Jan 22, An earthquake in
southern Syria killed thousands.
1840 Feb 5, In Damascus, Syria,
Father Thomas, originally from Sardinia, and the superior of a
Franciscan convent at Damascus, disappeared with his servant. 13
prominent Jews were falsely accused of the ritual murder of the
Franciscan monk and his servant. The “Damascus Affair” inspired
international protests. In 2004 Ronald Florence authored “Blood
Libel: The Damascus Affair of 1840.”
1860 Jul, Fighting in Lebanon
spilled over into Damascus. With the connivance of the military
authorities and Turkish soldiers, Muslim fanatics organized pogroms
which lasted three days (July 9-11). 25,000 Christians were killed
including the American and Dutch consuls. Churches and missionary
schools were set on fire. Many Christians were saved through the
intervention of the Muslim Algerian exile Abd al-Qadir and his
1860 France sent 5,000 troops
to Syria to stop the massacre of Maronite Christians at the hands of
the Druze, which the Ottoman authorities were neither willing nor
able to stop.
(SFC, 9/7/08, Books p.5)
1876 Aug 19, George Smith
(b.1840), British Assyriologist, died of dysentery in Syria. He was
on his way home from a 3rd trip to Mesopotamia. Smith had completed
the translation of the complete Epic of Gilgamesh in 1874.
1883 May 20, Faisal ibn Husayn
(d.1933), the 3rd son of the grand sherif of Mecca, was born in
Mecca. He later became 1st king of Syria (1920) and Iraq (1921).
1915 Aug 29, Syriac Catholic
bishop Flavien Michel Melki (b.1858) and his Chaldean counterpart,
Monsignor Philippe-Jacques Abraham, were murdered in Cizre by
Ottoman forces for refusing to renounce Christianity. In 2015 Melki
was officially recognized as a "martyr" of the Catholic church and
beatified by Pope Francis.
1916 May 19, The
Sykes-Picot Agreement was a secret understanding between the
governments of Britain and France defining their respective spheres
of post-World War I influence and control in the Middle East. The
boundaries of this agreement still remains in much of the common
border between Syria and Iraq. Britain and France carved up the
Levant into an assortment of monarchies, mandates and emirates. The
agreement enshrined Anglo-French imperialist ambitions at the end of
WW II. Syria and Lebanon were put into the French orbit, while
Britain claimed Jordan, Iraq, the Gulf states and the Palestinian
Mandate. Sir Mark Sykes (d.1919 at age 39) and Francois Picot made
1918 Oct 1, Damascus (Syria)
fell to Arab forces as Turkish Ottoman officials surrendered the
(ON, 10/05, p.9)(AP, 10/1/08)
1918 Arab Prince Faisal
(1885-1933), aka Feisal, took control of Syria.
(ON, 10/05, p.9)(Econ, 2/8/14, p.79)
1920 Mar, Faisal I ibn Hussein
ibn Ali became the 1st king Syria.
1920 Jul 23, King Faisal's Arab
Army was defeated at Maysaloun and Syria fell effectively under
1920 The French carved Lebanon
out of Syria to create a predominantly Christian country. A
constitution was drawn up that required the president to be a
Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the
speaker of parliament a Shiite.
(SFC, 9/28/98, p.A10)
1920-1946 Syria was a French-mandated territory.
(SFC, 7/18/98, p.A11)
1921 Mar 12, The Cairo
Conference, called by Winston Churchill, convened to establish a
unified British policy in the Middle East. Britain and France carved
up Arabia and created Jordan under Emir Abdullah; his brother Faisal
became King of Iraq. France was given influence over Syria and
Jewish immigration was allowed into Palestine. Faisal I died
one year after independence and his son, Ghazi I succeeded him.
Colonial Sec. Winston Churchill wanted to keep an air corridor to
Iraq, where the Royal Air Force was dropping poison gas on
rebellious Arab tribes.
10/14/01, p.D3)(Econ, 7/13/13, SR p.5)
1923 Jul 24, The Treaty of
Lausanne, which settled the boundaries of modern Greece and Turkey,
was concluded in Switzerland. It replaced the Treaty of Sevres and
divided the lands inhabited by the Kurds between Turkey, Iraq and
Syria. Article 39 allowed Turkish nationals to use any language they
wished in commerce, public and private meetings, and publications.
The treaty specifically protected the rights of the Armenian, Greek
and Jewish communities. The former provinces of Baghdad, Basra and
Mosul were lumped together to form Iraq. Both countries agreed to a
massive exchange of religious minorities. Christians were deported
from Turkey to Greece and Muslims from Greece to Turkey. A Muslim
community of at least 100,000 was allowed in northern Greece. In
2006 Bruce Clark authored “Twice a Stranger: The Mass Expulsions
that Forged Modern Greece and Turkey.”
(WSJ, 3/20/97, p.A17)(AP, 7/24/97)(SSFC,
12/22/02, p.A14)(Econ, 3/19/05, Survey p.9)(Econ, 10/14/06,
p.50)(Econ, 12/9/06, p.92)(Econ, 10/16/10, p.72)
1924 Mar 3, Kemal Ataturk
forced the abolition of the Muslim caliphate through the protesting
assembly and banned all Kurdish schools, publications and
associations. This ended the Ottoman Empire and created the modern
Middle East, though Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia were still
colonies of Britain and France.
(WSJ, 2/11/99, p.A24)(SSFC, 10/14/01, p.A3)
1925 The Great Syrian Revolt,
aka the Great Druze Revolt, was aimed against the French occupation
in place since 1918. It was put down by the French by 1927.
1926 May 19, French air force
bombed Damascus, Syria. The French launched a major military
campaign in Syria to suppress a revolt by the Druze, which began in
1925 under the leadership of Sultan al-Atrash. A large French force
sent against them was defeated and the revolt spread into the Druze
portions of Lebanon. When the insurgents gained a foothold in
Damascus, the French bombarded the city.
(HNQ, 5/25/99)(MC, 5/19/02)
1930 Oct 6, Hafez Assad,
president from 1970-2000, was born. This was the official date but
research indicated that he was born several years earlier. The
family’s official name had been changed from Wahsh (wild beast or
monster) to Assad (lion).
(WSJ, 6/12/00, p.A30)
1930 Ali Ahmed Said, poet later
known as Adonis, was born in Syria. He became a naturalized Lebanese
citizen in 1960. His work included the 1970’s poem “The Funeral of
New York,” and the book “Transformations of the Lover” (1984).
(SSFC, 9/30/01, DB p.63)
1937 The Alawite state, created
under a French mandate, was incorporated into modern-day Syria.
Under the French mandate, the Alawites had been granted an
autonomous territory stretching in a band along the coast from the
Lebanese border to the Turkish border.
1941 Nov 26, Free French
General Georges Catroux was placed in control of Syria and Lebanon.
Shortly after taking up this post, Catroux recognized the
independence of Syria and Lebanon in the name of the Free French
1943 Aug 18, Shukri Kouatly was
elected president of Syria.
1945 Feb 26, Syria declared war
on Germany and Japan. [see Mar 26]
1945 Mar 26, Syria declared war
on Germany. [see Feb 26]
1945 Oct 20, Egypt, Syria, Iraq
and Lebanon formed the Arab League to present a unified front
against the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
1946 Apr 12, Syria gained
independence from France.
1946 Apr 17, The last French
troops left Syria.
1946 The Muslim Brotherhood,
founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna (d.1949), opened a branch
in Syria. Branches soon began spreading across the globe.
(WSJ, 12/8/95, p.A-8)(WSJ, 9/21/01, p.A16)(WSJ,
9/7/04, p.A20)(Econ, 6/4/05, p.44)
1947 Dec 2, A Syrian mob burned
a synagogue where the Aleppo Codex was hidden. This followed a UN
resolution calling for the creation of Arab and Jewish states in
Palestine Nearly two-thirds of the pages were retrieved by
congregant, Mourad Faham. But 196 pages vanished, including books of
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations,
Esther, Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as pages from other
(AP, 9/27/08)(SSFC, 6/28/09, p.A8)
1947 The Syrian Baath Party was
created and Hafez Assad became a member.
(WSJ, 6/12/00, p.A30)
1948 May 15, Hours after
declaring its independence, the new state of Israel was attacked by
Transjordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
1948 May 20, Israel made the
1st use of its Air Force and claimed its 1st war victory with the
defeat of the Syrian army.
1949 Mar, In Syria a group of
army officers staged a coup against elected Pres. Shukri Kouatly.
(Econ, 7/13/13, SR p.5)
1949 Jul 20, Israel's 19 month
war of independence ended with a ceasefire agreement with Syria.
1949 Aug 5, A bomb exploded at
a synagogue in Damascus, Syria, killing 12 people.
(SSFC, 6/28/09, p.A8)(http://tinyurl.com/loxc6n)
1954 A French military court
sentenced Alois Brunner to death in absentia for war crimes. He had
sent 23,000 French Jews to death camps. Brunner fled from Germany to
(SFC, 3/3/01, p.A10)
1955 Dec 11, Israel launched an
attack on Syrian positions along the Sea of Galilee.
(EWH, 1968, p.1241)(HN, 12/11/98)
1957 In Syria the Yarmouk
Palestinian camp was created. It became the larges of 9 and evolved
into a densely populated residential district just five miles (eight
km) from the center of Damascus.
1958 Feb 1, Syria and Egypt
formed the United Arab Republic. Most Syrians resented the merger,
which was led by the radical Baath (Arab Socialist Resurrection)
party. The union of Syria and Egypt was dissolved in 1961 following
a coup in Syria. Egypt kept the name United Arab Republic until
(WUD, 1994, p.1555)(HNQ, 6/5/98)(AP, 2/1/08)
1958 Feb 5, Gamel Abdel Nasser
was formally nominated to become the first president of the new
United Arab Republic. Egypt used the UAR name from 1961-1971.
(AP, 2/5/97)(WUD, 1994, p.1555)
1958 Feb 21, Egypt-Syria as UAR
elected Gamel Nasser president with a 99.9% vote.
1961 Syria withdrew from the
UAR following a coup.
(WUD, 1994, p.1555)(HNQ, 6/5/98)
1961 Syria revoked the
citizenship of its native Kurds.
(Econ, 4/23/05, p.46)(http://tinyurl.com/7zamn)
1962 Jun 23, The Syrian
government conducted a special population census only for the
province of Jazira which was predominantly Kurdish. As a result,
around 120,000 Kurds in Jazira were arbitrarily categorized as
1963 Mar, In Syria the pan-Arab
Baath party staged a coup. Hafez Assad played an important role.
Amin Hafez 1920-2009) was brought to power by the military coup only
to be overthrown three years later.
(WSJ, 6/12/00, p.A30)(SSFC, 5/4/03, p.A11)(AP,
1963 The Muslim Brotherhood was
banned in Syria following the Baath party coup.
(Econ, 2/18/12, p.50)
1964 Dec 31, Syrian-based
al-Fatah guerrillas of Yasser Arafat launched their 1st raid on
Israel with the aim of provoking a retaliation and sparking an Arab
war against Israel. Fatah, a Palestinian movement for independence,
made the first terror attack on Israel and initiated the armed
struggle for a state.
(WSJ, 1/22/98, p.A1)(SFEC, 1/2/00, p.A24)(WSJ,
1965 May 18, Eli Cohen, who
arrived in Syria in 1962, was hanged in a public square in Damascus
for spying for Israel until his capture. As businessman Kamal Amin
Thabit he worked his way into the upper echelons of Syrian
government and society, feeding Israel with valuable political and
1965 Hafez al-Assad became
Syria's defense minister. He was a member of the Alawite clan, an
offshoot of Shiite Islam. Nearly 80% of Syrians are Sunnis.
(WSJ, 1/9/96, p.A-1)
1965 The Syrian Arab News
Agency (SANA), a state media organization linked to the Ministry of
Information, was established.
1966 Feb, The Alawis took power
and presented themselves as standard Muslims. Hafez Assad, a member
of the Alawite clan, was rewarded for his role and appointment as
Defense Minister. Nearly 80% of Syrians are Sunnis.
(WSJ, 1/9/96, p.A-1)(WSJ, 6/12/00, p.A30)
1966 Mar 1, The Baath-party
took power in Syria. Among the fighters who had a part in toppling
Amin Hafez was Hafez Assad, who became president four years later
and ruled Syria with an iron fist for three decades.
(SC, 3/1/02)(AP, 12/18/09)
1967 Apr 7, A, Israeli-Syrian
minor border incident escalated into a full-scale aerial battle over
the Golan Heights, resulting in the loss of six Syrian MiG-21s to
Israeli Air Force (IAF) Dassault Mirage IIIs, and the latter's
flight over Damascus.
1967 Jun 5, The Six Day War
erupted in the Middle East as Israel, convinced an Arab attack was
imminent, raided Egyptian military targets. Syria, Jordan and Iraq
entered the conflict. Jordan lost the West Bank, an area of 2,270
sq. miles. War broke out as Israel reacted to the removal of UN
peace-keeping troops, Arab troop movements and the barring of
Israeli ships in the Gulf of Aqaba.
(AP, 6/5/97)(HN, 6/5/98)(NG, 5/93, p.58)(HNQ,
1967 Jun 5-1967 Jun 10, Israel
fought the Six-Day War against Syria and captured the Golan Heights,
the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Allegations that
Israeli soldiers killed hundreds of Egyptian prisoners with the
knowledge of national leaders were made by Israeli historians in
1995. Israel occupied Syrian territory. The Gaza Strip and the West
Bank were captured by Israel. Israel annexed the largely Arab East
Jerusalem, which included the Old City, and has since ringed it with
(WSJ, 8/17/95, p.A-1)(WSJ,11/24/95, p.A-1)(WSJ,
5/6/96, p.A-13)(SFC, 6/25/96, p.A10)(SFC, 1/22/98, p.B12)(SFC,
1967 Jun 10, Israel completed
its final offensive in the Golan Heights in the 6-Day Middle East
War. The next day Israel and Syria agreed to observe a United
Nations-mediated cease-fire. Israel took Gaza and the Sinai from
Egypt, Old Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan
Heights from Syria. In 2002 Michael B. Oren authored "Six Days of
War: June 1967 and the making of the Modern Middle East." Israeli
military historian Arieh Yitzhaki later said that his research
showed Israeli troops killed 300 Egyptian prisoners of war. Israel
said soldiers on both sides committed atrocities. In 2007 Tom Segev
authored “1967: Israel, the War and the Year that Transformed the
(AP, 6/10/97)(WSJ, 6/5/02, p.D7)(AP,
3/6/07)(Econ, 5/26/07, p.97)
1967 Jun 11, Israel and Syria
accepted a UN cease-fire. The UN brokered a cease-fire between
Israel and the defeated Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, ending the Six-Day
War with Israel occupying the Sinai, West Bank, East Jerusalem and
the Golan Heights. Israel annexed the largely Arab East Jerusalem,
which included the Old City, and has since ringed it with Jewish
(HN, 6/11/98)(AP, 6/11/03)(SFC, 6/25/96, p.A10)
1968 Hafez Assad was appointed
as Field Marshal.
(WSJ, 6/12/00, p.A30)
1969 Feb, Gen. Hafez al-Assad
became head of Syria.
1970 Nov 12, Hafez al-Assad
(1930-2000), Syrian defense minister, had his opponents arrested and
took full control of Syria.
1970 Nov 27, Syria joined the
pact linking Libya, Egypt and Sudan.
1971 Jul 13-1971 Jul 19,
Jordanian troops proceeded to wipe out Palestinian guerrillas; some
1,500 prisoners were brought to Amman; Iraq and Syria soon broke off
relations with Jordan.
(WUD, 1994, p.
1971 Aug 12, Syrian Pres Assad
dropped diplomatic relations with Jordan.
1971 Syria allowed Russia to
establish its only naval facility in the Mediterranean.
(Econ., 4/18/15, p.42)
1973 Sep 13, Israel shot down
12 Syrian aircraft to1 Israeli loss when IAF jets were attacked
during a reconnaissance mission over Syrian territory.
1973 Oct 6, The fourth
Arab-Israeli war in 25 years was fought. Israel was taken by
surprise when Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Jordan attacked on the Jewish
holy day of Yom Kippur, beginning the Yom Kippur War. Syria tried to
regain the Golan Heights with a massive attack with 1,500 tanks. The
assault, empowered by Russian equipment, was repulsed by air power.
(WSJ, 5/6/96, p.A-13)(TMC, 1994, p.1973)(AP,
10/6/97)(HN, 10/6/98)(Econ, 3/16/13, p.54)
1973 Oct 16, OPEC, the Arab
oil-producing nations, announced they would begin cutting back on
oil exports to Western nations and Japan. The next day, the five
Arab members of the OPEC committee were joined in Kuwait by the oil
ministers of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, and Syria. The result
was a total embargo that lasted until March 1974 and caused oil
prices to quadruple.
10/17/97)(WSJ, 7/28/03, p.A8)
1973 Oct 22, Israeli troops
reconquered Mount Hermon from Syria. The UN Security Council
Resolution 338 called for a cease fire to the Yom Kippur War. The UN
Security Council issued Resolution 338 calling for a ceasefire and
the start of negotiations aimed at implementation of Resolution 242.
1973 Oct 23, In the Yom Kippur
War Syria announced it had accepted a UN sanctioned cease-fire, and
the Iraqi government ordered its forces home.
1973 Oct 24, The UNSC passed
Resolution 339, serving as a renewed call for all parties to adhere
to the cease fire terms established in Resolution 338. Organized
fighting on all fronts ended by October 26.
1973 Dec 21, Israel, Egypt,
Syria, Jordan, US and USSR leaders met in Geneva. The Geneva
Conference of 1973 was an attempt to negotiate a solution to the
Arab-Israeli conflict as called for in UN Security Council
Resolution 338 which was passed after the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.
1973 Syria acquired chemical
weapons from Egypt just before war with Israel.
(SSFC, 5/4/03, p.A11)
1973 Canadian Judy Feld Carr
established a network to help Syrian Jews, barred from traveling, to
leave the country clandestinely. Over the next 28 years she helped
over 3,000 Jews leave Syria.
(SSFC, 6/28/09, p.A8)
1974 May 31, Israel and Syria
signed an agreement on the Golan Heights.
1974 Quneitra, a city in the
Golan Heights destroyed by Israel, was returned to Syria. It was
preserved by Syria as an example of Israeli brutality.
(SSFC, 5/6/01, p.A14)
1974 Haitham Naal, a communist
dissident, was convicted for his affiliation with the Arab Communist
Organization. 5 members were sentenced to death and executed. Naal
was freed in 2002 due to deteriorating health.
(SFC, 8/12/02, p.A8)
1976 Aug 12, Syrian backed
Christian militias completed their siege of the Tell al-Za'tar
Palestinian camp in Lebanon leaving some 2000 people killed.
1976 Nov 15, A Syrian peace
force took control of Beirut, Lebanon. The Arab League gave Syria a
(HN, 11/15/98)(SFC, 4/27/05, p.A8)
1976 Nov 21, Syrian army
completed its final phase of occupation of Lebanon.
1976 The film “The Message” by
Syrian-American producer Moustapha Akkad (d.2005) told the story the
Prophet Mohammad and the emergence of Islam.
(SFC, 11/24/05, p.E2)
1977 Mar 16, In Lebanon Kamal
Jumblatt (60) was killed. He was the leader of Lebanon’s Druze
community, a member of the Lebanese Parliament and a
Socialist-nationalist supporter of Palestinians. Jumblatt was
assassinated by the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, which he had
legalized as interior minister some years earlier.
1977 Nov 19, The Libyan flag
was adopted, after Libya left the Federation of Arabs Republic,
which consisted of Libya, Egypt and Syria.
1978 Oct 2, Syrian troops
pounded Christian districts of Beirut with heavy artillery and
rocket fire early today, and right-wing officials said Lebanese
militias were fighting back with every weapon they had.
1979 Jun 16, In Aleppo, Syria,
Captain Ibrahim el-Yousuf, the officer on duty (in charge of moral
and political steering and head of Ba’ath Party Unit) at the
Military Artillery school, committed a massacre, killing 32 cadets
and wounding 54 others. The culprits targeted cadets from the
Alawite sect, however the then minister of information Mr. Ahmad
Iskander Ahmad stated that they included Christians and Sunni
Muslims. Immediately after the massacre, a country-wide campaign was
started to uproot the Muslim Brotherhood organization.
1980 Feb 4, Syria withdrew its
peacekeeping force in Beirut.
1980 Jun 26, In Syria there was
an assassination attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood on Pres. Assad.
Syrian security forces retaliated by killing hundreds of Islamist
inmates at the Tadmur prison. The Syrian public did not find out
about this until January 1981.
(http://tinyurl.com/5u5jw7)(Econ, 5/30/15, p.82)
1980 Aug, Iraq and Syria broke
diplomatic ties after Damascus sided with Iran just before the
(SFC, 2/28/00, p.C2)
1980 Abdullah Ocalan (b.1948),
leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) crossed the border to
Syria just before the September 12 Turkish military coup.
(WSJ, 3/7/97, p.A10)(SFC, 1/6/99, p.A7)
1980 In Syria membership in the
Muslim Brotherhood became punishable by death.
(Econ, 2/18/12, p.50)
1980 In Syria a rebellion
against President Hafez al-Assad in Jisr al-Shughour, a town of
50,000, was crushed with scores of deaths.
1981 Apr 2, Heavy battle took
place between Christian militia and Syrian army in East Lebanon.
Casualties and injuries were in the hundreds.
1981 The film “Lion in the
Desert” by Syrian-American producer Moustapha Akkad (d.2005) told
the story of Omar Mukhtar, hero of the Libyan resistance to Italian
colonization during the Mussolini era.
(SFC, 11/24/05, p.E2)
1982 Feb 2, Pres. Hafez Assad
ordered the Syrian army under his brother, Rifaat Assad, to crush a
fundamentalist Muslim revolt in Hama. At least 10,000 residents were
massacred. The Muslim Brotherhood played a role in the crushed
p.33)(Econ, 2/18/12, p.50)
1982 Jun 9, Israel wiped out
Syrian SAM missiles in Bekaa Valley.
1983 Nov 25, Syria and Saudi
Arabia announced a cease-fire in PLO civil war in Tripoli.
1983 Nov, Hafez Assad,
president of Syria, suffered a heart attack and his brother Rifat
(b.1937) tried to take power by moving tanks against other Alawite
chieftains. Hafez Assad recovered and stripped Rifat of power.
1983 Dec 4, US jet fighters
struck Syrian anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon in retaliation for
Syrian-backed attacks on the US peacekeeping force. The Syrian
anti-air defense shut down two American airplanes and a pilot was
captured. The positions of the Marines at the Beirut International
Airport were bombarded. Eight Marines were killed.
(http://tinyurl.com/35ek6z)(SFC, 4/27/05, p.A8)
1984 Mar, Hafez Assad,
president of Syria, appointed his brother Rifaat as one of Syria's
three Vice-presidents (a relatively powerless position) and issued a
decree transferring his command of the Defense Companies to another
1984 May, Hafez Assad,
president of Syria, sent his brother Rifaat on a working visit to
the USSR and ousted Rifaat’s associates at home. Rifaat moved to
Geneva and began conspiring against the regime, reportedly meeting
with Yasser Arafat, his brother's arch enemy at the time. Rifaat
spent most of his time in France, Switzerland and Spain, though he
retained the nominal position of vice-president until February 1998.
He returned to Syria in 1992 following the death of his mother and
stayed there off and on until 1998, when he again went into exile.
1984 Syria began the production
of nerve gas.
(SSFC, 5/4/03, p.A11)
1985 Aug, Syrian Sedki al-Maket
was arrested for resisting the Israeli occupation of the Golan
Heights. He served a 27 year prison sentence and in 2012 returned to
his home town.
1985 Dec 28, A Syrian sponsored
peace agreement was signed in Damascus between warring Lebanese
Moslem and Christian leaders.
1985 Syria began manufacturing
chemical warheads for missiles.
(SSFC, 5/4/03, p.A11)
1987 Syria sent troops into
West Beirut to enforce a cease-fire.
(SFC, 4/27/05, p.A8)
1988 Patrick Seale (d.2014),
British journalist and writer on Middle Eastern affairs authored a
biography of Syrian President Hafez Assad, "Assad of Syria: The
Struggle for the Middle East" (1988).
1989 Nov, Turkey’s Pres. Turgut
Ozal (1927-1993) alarmed Syria and Iraq when he announced that the
flow of the Euphrates River would be held back for a month to fill
the Ataturk dam. Flow was increased for 2 months before the cutback
to offset the loss.
(NG, 5/93, p.49)(http://tinyurl.com/2mmycb)
1989 Rafik Hariri financed a
gathering of Lebanese politicians at the Saudi city of Taif to
hammer out a deal to disband militias and distribute power more
equitably. The Taif Agreement maintained sectarian divisions in
government and led to the end of the civil war. It stipulated that
Syria withdraw its troops to the border and leave within 2 years.
(SFC, 9/28/98, p.A10)(SFC, 4/4/02, p.A13)(Econ,
1989 In Lebanon PM Michel Aoun
waged a “war of liberation” against Syrian forces. Pro-Syrian
legislator Elias Hrawi was elected president.
(SFC, 4/27/05, p.A8)
1990 Oct 13, In Lebanon, rebel
Christian General Michel Aoun ended his mutiny against the
government. Syrian forces defeated the army under Aoun. Jihad
Georges Eid (20) a soldier in the Lebanese army, was taken from
Lebanon by Syrian troops on the day of the last battle in the civil
war. For the next 20 plus years, more than 600 families, Lebanese
and Palestinian, Muslim and Christian, demanded authorities reveal
the fate of thousands of political prisoners believed to have
disappeared at the hands of Syrian troops.
(AP, 10/13/00)(SFC, 4/27/05, p.A8)(AFP, 10/13/11)
1991 May 12, Syrian President
Hafez Assad, meeting with US Secretary of State James A. Baker the
Third, refused to yield on key demands for joining a Middle East
1991 Jul 20, Lebanon joined
Syria in agreeing to participate in Mideast peace talks with Israel.
1991 Nov 3, Syria opened its
first one-on-one meeting with Israel in 43 years.
1991 In Lebanon Pres. Hrawi
signed the “Treaty of Brotherhood, Cooperation and Coordination”
with Syrian Pres. Hafez Assad. It formalized the intervention of
(SFC, 6/2/00, p.A16)(SFC, 4/27/05, p.A8)
1991 The government passed
legislation known as Law No. 10 to facilitate private investment.
(WSJ, 6/19/00, p.A25)
1991 Akram Ojjeh, Syrian-born
financier and art collector, died at age 68. He made his fortune as
an arms dealer and investments in oil, hotels, and real estate.
(WSJ, 9/3/99, p.W10)
1992 Syria’s Pres. Assad
allowed many Syrian Jews to travel abroad freely after nearly 45
years of official prohibition from leaving the country.
(SSFC, 6/28/09, p.A8)
1993 The president's son,
Basel, died in a car crash.
(WSJ, 1/9/96, p.A-1)
1994 Jan 16, President Clinton
held marathon talks in Geneva with Syrian President Hafez Assad, who
offered Israel "normal, peaceful relations" in exchange for land.
1994 Jan 21, Basil Assad
(b.1961), the son of Syria’s Pres. Hafez Assad, was killed in a car
1994 Oct 27, In the first trip
to Syria by an American president in 20 years, Pres. Clinton met
with Syrian President Hafez Assad before heading to Jerusalem to
meet with Israeli officials.
1996 May 27, The latest of a
series of explosions left a small crater outside the walls of the
Old City of Damascus.
(SFC, 6/10/96, C3)
1996 Dec 31, A New Year’s Eve
bomb on a bus killed 9 and injured 44.
(SFC, 1/3/97, p.A17)
1996 Dec 31, the number of
political prisoners rose to 2,800, a hundred more than the previous
(SFC, 2/26/97, p.A8)
1996 The Zeyzoun Dam was built
to collect water from the Orontes River. It burst in 2002.
(SFC, 6/8/02, p.A26)
1996 Syria acquired new
chemical weapons technology from Russia.
(SSFC, 5/4/03, p.A11)
1997 May 6, It was reported
that Syrian missiles were tipped with VX, a lethal chemical that
kills on contact with the skin. The Syrian chemical weapons program
was assisted by Anatoly Kuntsevich, former head of the Russian
Army’s Chemical Troops. The existing stockpile of Sarin, the nerve
gas used by the terrorists in Tokyo, was hoped to be upgraded to VX.
(WSJ, 5/6/97, p.A22)
1997 May 15, Saadallah Wannous,
playwright, died at 56 in Damascus. His plays included “A Night
Party for July 5,” “Rituals of Signs and Changes,” “The King Is the
King,” and “The Rape,” an adoption of a Spanish play that was
(SFC, 5/19/97, p.A24)
1998 Jan 25, The population was
reported to have reached 16 million with half under the age of 16.
(SFEC, 1/25/98, p.A18)
1998 Mar 30, A Syrian-Iraqi
Health week started. Health Minister Iyad Shatti arrived in Iraq
from Syria with 12 trucks of food and medicine.
(SFC, 3/30/98, p.A9)
1998 Jun 24, The Clinton
administration claimed that Syria has an active chemical weapons
program and has armed missiles with the nerve gas sarin.
(SFC, 6/25/98, p.A9)
1998 Oct 6, Syria anointed army
chief Emile Lahoud, a Maronite Christian, as Lebanon’s president.
(WSJ, 10/7/98, p.A1)(SFC, 10/16/98, p.D2)
1998 Oct 21, Turkey and Syria
signed an accord whereby Syria agreed to brand the Kurdish Workers
Party (PKK) as a terrorist group.
(SFC, 10/22/98, p.C5)
1999 Feb 10, Pres. Hafez Assad
(68) was elected to a 5th 7-year term.
(SFC, 2/11/99, p.C2)
1999 Nov 29, A bus collided
with a train in northern Syria and 11 people were killed.
(SFC, 11/30/99, p.A17)
1999 Nov, In Damascus Pres.
Assad's son, Maher, shot Assef Chawkat, a son-in-law of Pres. Assad
and the head of military intelligence. Chawkat was treated in Paris.
(SFC, 12/1/99, p.C3)
1999 Dec 8, Israel and Syria
agreed to resume peace negotiations following a visit by Madeleine
Albright to Damascus.
(SFC, 12/9/99, p.A1)
1999 Dec 15, With President
Clinton’s close mediation, Syria reopened peace talks with Israel in
1999 Dec 16, Israel and Syria
ended a first round of peace talks and scheduled a resumption for
(SFC, 12/17/99, p.A12)
2000 Jan 17, The Clinton
administration announced that talks between Israel and Syria had
been postponed indefinitely.
(SFC, 1/18/00, p.A1)
2000 Feb 28, It was reported
that Iraq and Syria had established diplomatic ties that were cut in
Aug 1980 when Damascus sided with Iran just before the Iran-Iraq
(SFC, 2/28/00, p.C2)
2000 Mar 26, Pres. Clinton met
with Pres. Assad of Syria in Geneva but failed to get an agreement
to revive peace talks with Israel.
(WSJ, 3/27/00, p.A1)
2000 Mar, Prime Minister
Mahmoud el-Zoubi resigned after serving 13 years.
(SFC, 6/15/00, p.A16)
2000 Mar, A new prime minister
and several other ministers were appointed. The new government cut
taxes on new joint stock companies from 56% to 25%.
(WSJ, 6/19/00, p.A25)
2000 May 21, Syria’s former PM
Mahmoud el-Zoubi (al-Zubi) committed suicide rather than answer
questions on corruption.
(SFC, 6/15/00, p.A16)(Econ, 10/15/05, p.50)
2000 Jun 10, In Syria Pres.
Hafez Assad (69), the “Lion of Damascus,” died. His son Bashar Assad
(34) was expected to be named his successor. Assad had given
Alawites powerful positions in the army and Baath party while the
Sunnis were given a free rein in trade and industry.
(SFEC, 6/11/00, p.A1)(SFC, 6/15/00, p.A16)
2000 Jun 11, A day after the
death of Syrian President Hafez Assad, his son, Bashar, was
unanimously nominated by Syria’s ruling Baath Party to succeed his
2000 Jun 12, Rifaat Assad, the
brother of Hafez Assad, claimed himself the rightful heir of power
in Syria. Syrian security forces were ordered to arrest Rifaat if he
entered the country.
(SFC, 6/13/00, p.A10)
2000 Jun 18, Bashar Assad was
elected as sec. gen. of the ruling Baath Party.
(SFC, 6/19/00, p.A9)
2000 Jun, Gen. Hikmat
Al-Shihabi, chief of staff for 20 years until 1998, fled to the US.
He was alleged to have illegally earned millions from arms deals.
(SFC, 6/15/00, p.A16)
2000 Jul 17, Bashar Assad, son
of Hafez Assad, began a seven-year term as Syria’s 16th head of
2000 Sep 27, 99 intellectuals
published a demand for more democracy and freedom of expression.
(SFC, 9/29/00, p.D5)
2000 Nov 16, Pres. Bashar Assad
announced an amnesty for some 600 political prisoners.
(SFC, 11/17/00, p.A20)
2000 Nov 21, Pres. Assad
ordered the Mezze political prison to be turned into a hospital.
(WSJ, 11/22/00, p.A1)
2000 Nov, In southern Syria at
least 17 people were killed in clashes between urban residents and
nomadic shepherds over grazing rights.
(WSJ, 11/13/00, p.A1)
2000 Nov, Syria opened a
pipeline to Iraq’s oil that generated at least $2 per day for Saddam
(SFC, 1/23/01, p.A11)
2000 Dec 11, Syria freed some
50 Lebanese political prisoners to placate an anti-Syria movement in
(SFC, 12/12/00, p.B2)
2000 Syrian writer authored
“Banquet for Seaweed.” Publication in Egypt caused protests for what
students claimed as insults to Islam.
(SFC, 5/9/00, p.A14)
2000 Syria began the 1st of 5
redeployments in Lebanon.
(SFC, 4/27/05, p.A8)
2001 Jan 21, Syria approved
private banking and ended artificial exchange rates.
(WSJ, 1/22/01, p.A1)
2001 Apr 16, Israeli warplanes
struck deep in Lebanon and attacked a Syrian radar site. 3 Syrians
(SFC, 4/16/01, p.A9)(WSJ, 4/16/01, p.A1)
2001 May 5, Pres. Bashar Assad
greeted Pope John Paul II with a speech against Israel.
(SSFC, 5/6/01, p.A14)
2001 May 6, In Syria Pope John
Paul II prayed in the Great Umayyad Mosque, the 1st time a pontiff
ever visited and prayed in a Muslim house of worship.
(SFC, 5/7/01, p.A1)
2001 May 15, Fidel Castro
arrived in Syria from Qatar for a 2-day visit.
(SFC, 5/16/01, p.D14)
2001 Jun 19, Syria completed a
pullout of its forces from Beirut.
(WSJ, 6/20/01, p.A1)
2001 Sep 9, Najwa bin laden
left her husband, Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan and returned to
her native Syria, taking with her a son and her two youngest
daughters. Eman, Omar's sister, was left behind with her father and
siblings. Omar bin Laden (20) had left the family and Afghanistan
earlier in the year.
2001 Sep 18, The US asked
Lebanon and Syria to extradite Palestinian and Lebanese Shiites
suspected of terrorism in the past 20 years.
(WSJ, 9/19/01, p.A12)
2001 Oct 2, Farouk al-Sharaa,
the foreign minister, said Syria is determined to help the int’l.
effort to combat terrorism. He added that to achieve that goal,
terrorism’s roots and causes would have to be addressed.
(WSJ, 10/3/01, p.A17)
2001 Oct 8, Syria won a seat on
the UN Security Council and was opposed only by Israel.
(SFC, 10/9/01, p.B1)
2001 Nov 19, Egypt and Syria
confirmed the extradition of Rifai Ahmed Taha, a former aide to
Osama bin Laden, from Syria to Egypt.
(SFC, 11/20/01, p.A12)
2001 Syria’s first satirical
newspaper was founded by cartoonist Ali Farzat. It was shut down by
the regime in 2003 after 104 issues.
(Econ, 12/22/12, p.131)
2001-2003 Canadian citizens Abdullah Almalki,
Muayyed Nureddin and Ahmad El Maati were labeled as terrorists and
arrested on separate visits to Syria where they were imprisoned and
tortured and then released without charge. In 2008 a federal inquiry
said Canadian officials indirectly contributed to their torture by
wrongly sharing intelligence information with Syria. The men later
sued the Canadian government demanding apologies, compensation and
the removal of their names from any watch lists.
(SFC, 10/22/08, p.A2)
2002 Mar 3, Syria’s Pres. Assad
officially visited Lebanon for the 1st time in 27 years and met with
Lebanon’s Pres. Emile Lahoud.
(SFC, 3/4/02, p.A5)
2002 Apr 3, Israeli tanks
entered the Wet Bank cities of Jenin, Salfeet and Nablus. At least 1
Israeli soldier and 12 Palestinians were killed. Gunners from
Lebanon’s Hezbollah exchanged artillery and mortar fire with Israeli
troops. Scores of Palestinian gunmen were holed up in the Church of
the Nativity in Bethlehem. The Egyptian government announced a
cutoff of official contacts with Israel. Syria shifted 20,000 troops
in Lebanon toward the Lebanese-Syrian border reportedly in accord
with the 1989 Taif agreement.
(SFC, 4/3/02, p.A1)(SFC, 4/4/02, p.A1,13)(WSJ,
2002 Jun 4, In Syria the
Zayzoun Dam (b.1996) near Idlib burst and at least 20 people were
killed. A 24 square-mile area was flooded and 3 villages submerged.
(SFC, 6/7/02, p.A13)
2002 Sep 14, In Syria 2 buses
collided in the northeast, killing 13 people and injuring four
2002 Sep 26, US immigration
officials seized Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, after his name
popped up on a watch list at JFK. US officials refused to allow
legal council or a phone call. The CIA questioned him and then
handed him over to Syrian intelligence where he was held and
tortured for 10 months before being released. The case came to be
called an instance of "torture by proxy." In 2006 a Canadian
government report said the US "very likely" sent the software
engineer to Syria, where he was tortured, based on the false
accusation by Canadian authorities that he was suspected of links to
(SSFC, 1/4/04, p.D1)(AP, 9/19/06)
2002 Oct 2, In northern Syria
mountain homes collapsed after caves beneath them gave way in the
Sawad Hill district. 31 people were killed and 22 injured.
(AP, 10/2/02)(SFC, 10/3/02, p.A9)
2003 Feb 16, A Syrian
military truck carrying diesel fuel overturned and caught fire at a
Lebanese-Syrian border crossing, killing at least 17 people.
2003 Mar 2, Syria
reportedly finished pulling 4,000 troops out of Lebanon in an effort
to reduce tensions and keep radical Sunni groups from attacking
(SSFC, 3/2/03, A6)
2003 Mar 23, A US bomb struck a
bus at a service area in al-Rutba, Iraq, enroute from Baghdad to
Syria. 5 people were killed.
(SFC, 3/25/03, p.W7)
2003 cApr 15, US forces cut off
oil flow from Iraq to Syria. Oil flow had reached 130,000 barrels a
day providing both countries over $10 million a month in profits.
(SFC, 4/11/03, p.A18)
2003 Apr 17, Rafiq Jwaijatti
(81), a former Syrian ambassador to the US and a renowned Syrian
literary figure, died in Paris.
2003 Jul 15, Officials reported
that Syrian troops had begun dismantling bases in Lebanon.
(SFC, 7/16/03, p.A3)
2003 Sep 18, Syria's new prime
minister formed a 31-member Cabinet, touted as a new effort to carry
out economic and bureaucratic reforms.
2003 Oct 5, Israeli warplanes
bombed the Ein Saheb base northwest of Damascus, Syria, in
retaliation for a suicide bombing at a Haifa restaurant. Israeli
military called it an Islamic Jihad training base. Residents later
told the Associated Press the camp was abandoned years ago.
(AP, 10/5/03)(AP, 10/6/03)
2003 Oct 20, Bush
administration officials said some $3 billion of Saddam Hussein's
former government was being held in Syria and Lebanon.
2003 Nov 30, Syria handed over
22 suspects to Turkey in connection with the Nov 16 suicide bombings
(SFC, 12/1/03, p.A16)
2003 Nov, In Syria NewBoy
Design Studio introduced the Fulla doll, a modest looking doll in
Arab dress designed to reflect Arab values. The doll was
manufactured at the same factory in Hong Kong that makes the Barbie
2003 Dec 3, It was reported
that Syria's president had agreed to a proposal to halt violence
along Israel's northern border if Israel promises to end flights
over Lebanon and not attack its territory.
2003 Dec 5, Syria continued to
reject US pressure to hand over an estimated $250 million that
Saddam Hussein's regime had deposited there.
(WSJ, 12/5/03, p.A1)
2003 Dec 12, Pres. Bush signed
legislation calling for economic penalties against Syria for not
doing enough to fight terrorism.
(SFC, 12/13/03, p.A3)
2004 Jan 6, President Bashar
Assad began the first-ever visit to Turkey by a Syrian head of
state, hoping to further improve ties forge a joint position on
growing Kurdish autonomy.
(AP, 1/6/04)(WSJ, 1/7/04, p.A1)
2004 Mar 8, Syrian authorities
broke up a rare protest by human rights activists demanding
political and civil reforms on the 41st anniversary of the ruling
party's accession to power.
2004 Mar 12, In Qamishli,
Syria, spectators inside the stadium were crushed in a stampede to
escape an attack by rival fans and at least 5 people were killed. A
riot broke out the next day during funeral services for 3 of the
dead. The soccer riots spread to 3 other towns over the next few
days and left 25 people dead and more than 100 injured in Kurdish
areas of northern Syria.
(AP, 3/13/04)(AP, 3/19/04)
2004 Apr 11, Syrian Kurdish
parties issued a statement saying the Assad regime had arrested
hundreds and tortured some to death following the unrest in March.
(WSJ, 4/12/04, p.A1)
2004 Apr 27, In Damascus 4
gunmen detonated a bomb placed under a car before firing bullets and
grenades at Syrian security forces. Hours later police found weapons
including rocket propelled grenades and guns during the raid in the
nearby town of Khan al-Sheih.
2004 May 11, The Bush
administration ordered economic sanctions against Syria for
supporting terrorism. Food and medicine were excepted.
(SFC, 5/12/04, p.A3)
2004 Sep 15, The Egyptian and
Syrian presidents linked calls by the UN and fellow Arab leaders for
Syrian troops to leave Lebanon to past UN resolutions demanding that
Israeli pull out of the West Bank and Golan Heights.
2004 Sep 21, Hundreds of Syrian
soldiers stationed in the hills near Lebanon's capital began
dismantling their bases in an effort to appease a U.N. Security
Council demand that all 20,000 Syrian troops leave the country.
2004 Sep 26, Ezzedin Sheikh
Khalil, a senior Hamas operative, was killed in a car bombing
outside his house in Damascus, the first such killing of a leader of
the Islamic militant group in Syria. The hit was claimed by Israeli
(AP, 9/27/04)(Econ, 10/2/04, p.47)
2004 Oct 4, Syrian President
Bashar Assad replaced about one-third of his Cabinet, bringing new
faces to the key interior and information ministries.
2004 Dec 22, Turkey and Syria
signed a free-trade accord.
(WSJ, 12/23/04, p.A1)
2004 Dec, Syrian-born Mustafa
Setmarian Nasar (b.1958), a.k.a. Abu Musab, Nouradin, Blond Blond,
Abu al-Abed, Omar Abdelhakin, Abu Musab al Siri, Umar Abd
al-Hakim, authored "The International Islamic Resistance
Call." His book named enemies as "Jews, Americans, British, Russian
and any and all of the NATO countries, as well as any country that
takes the position of oppressing Islam and Muslims."
2004 Israel rejected a Syrian
attempt to create a channel of communications. In response Alon
Liel, a former Israeli ambassador, began talks with Ibrahim
Suleiman, a Syrian in Washington with close ties to Pres. Assad,
under the mediation of a Swiss diplomat.
(Econ, 1/20/07, p.55)
2004 Israel’s PM Sharon agreed
to allow Druze apple growers in the Golan Heights to trade with
Syria. In 2009 the authorized consignment rose to 8,000 tons.
(Econ, 2/21/09, p.49)
2005 Jan 8, Former Democratic
presidential candidate John Kerry met with Syria's president and
said he was hopeful that strained U.S.-Syrian relations could be
2005 Jan 13, Israel's foreign
minister said the planned sale of advanced Russian missiles to Syria
will disrupt regional stability and Moscow should call off the deal.
2005 Feb 3, Iran and Syria
rejected President Bush's charges that they sponsored terrorism. An
Iranian official called the claims groundless. The Syrian
information minister said the democracy America seeks for the Middle
East could not come through force.
2005 Feb 12, Syrian authorities
released 55 members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood who had spent
up to 20 years in jail.
2005 Feb 16, Syria and Iran
announced a united front amid perceived US threats.
(WSJ, 2/17/05, p.A1)
2005 Feb 21, The Arab League
chief said that Syria will "soon" take steps to withdraw its army
from Lebanese areas in accordance with a 1989 agreement. Tens of
thousands of opposition supporters shouted insults at Syria and
demanded the resignation of their pro-Syrian government in a Beirut
2005 Feb 23, Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak said that he expects further Syrian troop
redeployments in Lebanon, and he dispatched his intelligence chief
to Damascus to meet with President Bashar Assad to discuss
increasing American and European pressure on Syria.
2005 Feb 24, Lebanon's defense
minister said Syria will withdraw troops from mountain and coastal
areas in Lebanon in line with a 1989 agreement.
2005 Feb 27, Iraqi security
forces reported the capture of Saddam Hussein's half-brother and
former adviser. Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, the 6 of diamonds, was No.
36 on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis. Syria captured al-Hassan
and 29 other fugitives and handed them over to Iraqi security. 2
American soldiers were killed in an ambush in the capital.
(AP, 2/27/05)(SFC, 2/28/05, p.A1)
2005 Mar 2, In a new book
entitled "Mari, the Metropolis of the Euphrates," Jean-Claude
Margueron said the third millennium BC city, in modern day Syria,
was "one of the first modern cities of humanity.
2005 Mar 2, President Bush
demanded in blunt terms that Syria get out of Lebanon.
2005 Mar 3, An Arab League
meeting opened in Cairo. An Arab diplomat said Syria has told Arab
countries it needs to keep 3,000 troops and early-warning stations
inside Lebanon to maintain its security despite international
pressure for a full withdrawal. Saudi Arabia told Syria to withdraw
(AP, 3/3/05)(SFC, 3/4/05, p.A3)
2005 Mar 5, Syria’s Pres. Assad
outlined a two-step pullback: 1st to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, nearer
to the Syrian border; 2nd, a redeployment from there all the way to
the Syrian frontier. He failed to address broad international
demands that he completely withdraw Syria's 15,000 troops after
nearly 30 years in Lebanon.
2005 Mar 7, The presidents of
Syria and Lebanon announced that Syrian forces will pull back to
Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley by March 31, but a complete troop
withdrawal will be deferred until after later negotiations.
2005 Mar 9, Syrian soldiers
flashed victory signs and waved automatic rifles as they drove east
through Lebanon's mountains in the first phase of a pullback.
Government lawmakers advised the president to bring back his
pro-Damascus prime minister who was forced by opposition protests to
2005 Mar 11, The last Syrian
troops left northern Lebanon but left behind intelligence officers
in nine offices. The UN Mideast envoy said Syria needs to produce a
timetable for a full withdrawal from the rest of Lebanon. Since 1976
some 15,000 Syrian troops were killed in the Lebanese civil war.
Lebanese protests following the Feb 14 assassination of Rafik
Hariri, later dubbed the “cedar revolution,” forced Pres. Assad to
withdraw his army after a 30-year stay.
(AP, 3/11/05)(Econ, 4/2/05, p.41)(Econ, 7/25/09,
2005 Mar 29, Syria promised the
UN that it will withdraw all troops from Lebanon before
parliamentary elections but didn't mention a pullout of its
intelligence operatives as demanded by the Security Council.
2005 Apr 23, It was noted that
Rami Makhlouf, a younger first cousin of Pres. Bashar Assad, is
arguably the most powerful economic figure in Syria.
2005 Apr 24, Syrian troops
burned documents and dismantled military posts in their final hours
in Lebanon, before deploying toward the border and effectively
ending 29 years of military presence in the country.
2005 Apr 26, Syria ended its
29-year military domination of Lebanon as soldiers flashing victory
signs completed a withdrawal.
2005 May 8, In Syria a
prominent Kurdish Islamic scholar was murdered in Damascus.
(WSJ, 6/6/05, p.A1)
2005 May 20, Syrian Ambassador
Imad Moustapha said Syria has cut off military and intelligence
cooperation with the US over the last 10 days amid strains in
relations between the two countries over the insurgency in Iraq.
2005 May 26, Syria's UN
ambassador said Syria has arrested more than 1,200 people trying to
cross the border into Iraq in recent weeks and sent many back to
their home countries because of suspicions they were trying to join
2005 May 27, According to
Israeli sources Syria test fired 3 Scud missiles, one of which broke
up over two Turkish villages causing no injuries, in an act of
defiance to the US and the UN. Syria denied the charges.
(AFP, 6/3/05)(AP, 6/4/05)
2005 May, US forces fired
across the Iraqi frontier and killed a Syrian soldier during an
American military operation. The event was reported by a Syrian
general 5 months later.
2005 Jun 9, Syria's ruling
Baath Party endorsed reforms that include allowing some independent
political parties, relaxing a state of emergency and granting more
2005 Jun 9, Syrian forces
raided a suspected terrorist hideout near the capital, killing 2
men, arresting a third and foiling alleged bombing plots that
targeted the nation's Justice Palace.
2005 Jun 21, In Lebanon a bomb
killed a politician who was a harsh critic of Syria's power, the
second slaying of an anti-Syrian figure this month.
2005 Aug 1, Trucks loaded with
produce and other merchandise began crossing into Syria from Lebanon
on their way to Gulf countries after Syria eased restrictions that
left them stranded for nearly four weeks in the border area.
2005 Sep 2, Syrian troops
clashed with members of the Jund al-Sham Islamic militant
organization in the northern city of Hama. Five militants were
2005 Sep 8, In northeastern
Syria security forces clashed with Islamic militants, killing one
and arresting three others in the country's latest move against a
group accused of planning bomb attacks.
2005 Sep 10, Syrian President
Bashar Assad met with leaders of 10 militant Palestinian groups
based in Syria, defying U.S. pressure to crack down on these groups.
Syria's official news agency SANA reported Assad urged the radical
Palestinian leaders, including Khaled Mashaal, the political leader
of the militant Hamas group, to close ranks and continue the
struggle in order to achieve their goal of an independent
2005 Sep 12, Syria consented to
a UN investigator's request to question top officials about the
assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a
probe that increases the pressure on an increasingly isolated
2005 Oct 4, A new Syrian TV
series began broadcasting around the Middle East. It tells the story
of Arabs living in residential compounds in Saudi Arabia and the
militant Islamists who want to blow them up so they can collect
their rewards in heaven, 72 beautiful virgins.
2005 Oct 12, Ghazi Kanaan,
Syria's interior minister, died. He was one of several top officials
caught up in the UN investigation into the slaying of Lebanon's
former prime minister. The country's official news agency said he
committed suicide in his office.
(AP, 10/12/05)(Econ, 10/15/05, p.50)
2005 Oct 16, In Syria a
pro-democracy group issued the Damascus Declaration for Democratic
National Change. The group came to be called the Damascus
2005 Oct 20, A UN report
implicated the brother-in-law of Syria's president in the Feb 14
assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri, and Lebanese
intelligence officials helped organize it. The UN inquiry officially
linked Damascus to the slaying for the first time. Syria rejected
the report. The names of top Syrians were edited out in the final
version of the report.
2005 Oct 28, A top military
officer said Syria has increased military posts and patrols along
its border with Iraq and stopped thousands of infiltrators from
entering into the war-torn country.
2005 Oct 28, Egyptian Pres.
Hosni Mubarak held unexpected talks with his beleaguered Syrian
counterpart Bashar Assad to discuss Damascus' crisis with the West
over the killing of a former Lebanese leader.
2005 Oct 28, The US joined with
the UN, Russia and the EU in demanding Syria immediately close the
offices of Islamic Jihad in Damascus and prevent use of its
territory for terror actions.
2005 Oct 29, Syrian President
Bashar Assad issued an order for a special committee to investigate
any Syrian involvement in the assassination of former PM Hariri in
2005 Oct 31, A UN resolution
sponsored by the US, France and Britain demanded that Syria assist
fully with a probe into the February killing of former Lebanese
leader Hariri. The P-5 ambassadors (the five permanent council
nations) from the US, Russia, China, Britain and France, conducted
intense negotiations to try to reach agreement on the resolution.
(WSJ, 11/1/05, p.A1)(AP, 11/3/05)
2005 Nov 2, Syrian President
Bashar Assad gave amnesty to 190 political prisoners to mark the
Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr.
2005 Nov 17, It was reported
that Syria had detained 4 Australian-Iraqi women at the Damascus
airport for allegedly trying to take gun parts hidden in a child's
toy onto a plane bound for Australia.
2005 Dec 3, Troops exhumed the
remains of 25 bodies from a mass grave near a former Syrian military
base in eastern Lebanon. About 17,000 Lebanese who disappeared
during 1975-90 civil war are still missing, including 61 Lebanese
2005 Dec 4, Syrian security
forces clashed with militants planning to launch terror attacks in
the northern city of Aleppo. Five people were wounded, including two
2005 Dec 8, In northern Syria 8
Muslim militants died in a battle with security forces at a
2005 Dec 17, The chief UN
investigator into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime
Minister Rafik Hariri said in published remarks that he believed
Syrian authorities were behind the killing.
2005 Dec 19, Lebanon closed a
military route that crossed its border into Syria, ending nearly 3
decades of unmonitored flow of high-ranking officials and goods
between the two countries.
2005 Dec 27, Official Syrian
news reported that Syria has signed a $2.7 billion memorandum of
understanding with a Russian company for construction of a refinery
and petrochemical plant in northeast Syria.
2005 Dec 27, Abdel-Qadar Abdel
Qader, a Syrian, was arrested in Lebanon on suspicion of involvement
in the assassination of Gibran Tueni, the anti-Syrian general
manager and columnist of Lebanon's leading newspaper.
2005 Dec 29, Syria’s former
Vice President Abdul-Halim Khaddam said in a television interview
from Paris that Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened former
Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri months before Hariri was
assassinated in a truck bombing.
2005 Dec 31, Syria's ruling
Baath Party stripped former Vice President Abdul-Halim Khaddam of
membership and joined parliament in demanding his trial on a charge
of high treason. The French Foreign Ministry confirmed Khaddam has
been in France for several months but declined to give any details
on his whereabouts.
2005 Flynt Leverett authored
“Inheriting Syria: Bashar’s Trial by Fire.”
(Econ, 4/23/05, p.79)
2005 Syria’s population at this
time was about 18 million with 90.3% Arabs.
(Econ, 10/1/05, p.41)
2006 Jan 18, Syrian authorities
released five pro-democracy activists, including two prominent
former legislators, after they had served nearly four years of their
five-year prison sentences.
2006 Jan 18, Pres. Bush ordered
assets of Asef Shawkat, head of Syria’s military intelligence, to be
frozen and barred trade with him because of violent meddling in
2006 Jan 19, Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began a visit to Syria to consolidate an old
alliance made increasingly crucial as both countries face mounting
US pressure and the threat of international sanctions.
2006 Jan 19, Syria asserted
that Iran had a right to atomic technology and said Western
objections to Tehran's nuclear ambitions were not persuasive.
2006 Feb 4, Rage against
caricatures of Islam's revered prophet poured out across the Muslim
world. Aggrieved believers in Syria called for executions, stormed,
European buildings and torched the Danish and Norwegian embassies in
Damascus. In Gaza Palestinians marched through the streets, storming
European buildings and burning German and Danish flags.
(AP, 2/4/06)(AP, 2/4/07)
2006 Feb 10, In Turkey a Syrian
was charged with masterminding suicide bombings that killed 58
people in Istanbul, and Turkish prosecutors claimed that Osama bin
Laden personally ordered him to carry out terror attacks in this
pro-Western country. Loa'i Mohammad Haj Bakr al-Saqa (32) was
accused of serving as a point man between al-Qaida and homegrown
militants behind the series of suicide bombings in Istanbul in 2003,
said the indictment. It said al-Saqa gave the Turkish militants
about $170,000. He was captured in Turkey in August after an alleged
failed plot to attack Israeli cruise ships in the Mediterranean.
2006 Feb 14, The UN asked
Lebanon to explain reports of arms shipments crossing the Syrian
border destined for the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.
2006 Feb 24, French legal
authorities refused to extradite to Lebanon Zouheir Mohammad
Assediq, an ex-Syrian intelligence officer, to answer questions
about the murder of former Lebanese PM Rafiq el-Hariri.
2006 Mar 17, Exiled Syrian
opposition figures in Belgium formed a united front, calling for a
transitional government to prepare for the overthrow of President
Bashar Assad's regime.
2006 Apr 3, Mohammed al-Maghout
(72), a Syrian poet and playwright known for his satirical
depictions of authoritarian Arab regimes, died of a stroke at his
home in Damascus.
2006 May 14, Syria detained
Michel Kilo (66), a prominent writer and democracy campaigner, who
has long been one of the government's most outspoken critics.
2006 Jun 2, Clashes between
Syrian security forces and Islamic militants in an area of Damascus
filled with government buildings left five dead and four wounded.
2006 Jun 5, Key Syrian
opposition figures urged Syrians to work to oust President Bashar
Assad by using acts of civil disobedience reminiscent to the
upheaval that freed nations behind the Iron Curtain.
2006 Jun 7, In Syria Mohammad
Ghanem, a journalist who edits a Web site and advocates greater
rights for Kurds in Syria, was sentenced to a year in prison, but
the military court commuted his sentence to six months. Ghanem was
convicted on charges of "insulting the Syrian president,
discrediting the Syrian government and fomenting sectarian unrest."
2006 Jun 26, Syrian President
Bashar Assad said in a published interview that Lebanon is becoming
a shelter for al-Qaida-linked militants fleeing across the Syrian
border after a crackdown by authorities there.
2006 Jul 23, Syria, one of
Hezbollah's main backers, said it will press for a cease-fire to end
the fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group but only
in the framework of a broader Middle East peace initiative.
2006 Aug 23, Syria opposed
deployment of an international force along its border to prevent
arms shipments to Hezbollah, and Israel called the situation in
Lebanon "explosive." In southern Lebanon 3 Lebanese soldiers were
killed while they dismantled an unexploded missile. An Israeli
soldier was killed and three others wounded in southern Lebanon when
their tank drove over a land mine.
(AP, 8/23/06)(AP, 8/24/06)
2006 Aug 30, Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez said in Damascus that he and Syrian President
Bashar Assad shared a "decisive and firm" stance against American
"imperialism" and "domination."
2006 Sep 1, UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that Syria had pledged to step up
border patrols and work with the Lebanese army to stop the flow of
weapons to Hezbollah.
2006 Sep 7, Cyprus impounded a
Panama-flagged vessel on arms smuggling suspicion. It carried 18
North Korean mobile radar units and 3 command vehicles due for
delivery to Syria.
(WSJ, 9/8/06, p.A1)(Reuters, 9/11/06)
2006 Sep 9, Italy's PM Romano
Prodi said Syria has agreed "in principle" to a European Union
presence on its border to help stem the flow of weapons into
2006 Sep 12, In Syria armed
Islamic militants attempted to storm the US Embassy in Damascus.
Four people were killed, including three of the assailants. One of
Syria's anti-terrorism forces was killed and 11 other people were
wounded. The only Islamic militant arrested in the attack died from
his wounds, and authorities were unable to question him.
(AP, 9/12/06)(AP, 9/13/06)
2006 Sep 23, The TV series “The
Renegades,” directed by Najdat Anzour of Syria, began showing in
Lebanon and the rest of the Arab world. It fictionalized the
devastating effects of terrorism on Muslim families.
(SFC, 10/4/06, p.A7)
2006 Oct 19, Syrian authorities
ordered prominent writer and pro-democracy activist Michel Kilo
released on bail after more than four months in detention.
2006 Nov 6, Syria's foreign
minister said his country was ready to resume peace talks with
Israel and he urged the Jewish state's government to heed calls from
within the country for renewed negotiations.
2006 Nov 20, Iran invited Iraq
and Syria to talks in Tehran aimed at curbing violence in Iraq.
(SFC, 11/21/06, p.A1)
2006 Nov 21, Iraq restored
diplomatic relations with Syria as part of a wider regional effort
to clamp off violence in Iraq. Iraqi and US forces raided Baghdad's
Sadr City and detained seven militia members, including one believed
to have information about an American soldier kidnapped last month.
A young boy and two other people were killed in the early morning
2006 Nov 25, Israel and the
Palestinians agreed to a cease-fire to end a five-month Israeli
military offensive in the Gaza Strip and the firing of rockets by
Palestinian militants into the Jewish state. Hamas' leader,
Damascus-based supreme leader Khaled Mashaal, said his group was
willing to give peace negotiations with Israel six months to reach
an agreement for a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, but
threatened a new uprising if the talks fail.
(AP, 11/25/06) (AP, 11/25/07)
2006 Nov 28, A Syrian leader of
an Islamic militant group blew himself up at a border post with
Lebanon after a gunbattle with Syrian security forces.
2006 Dec 7, Ali Reza Asgari, a
retired general who served in Iran's Revolutionary Guard, arrived in
Turkey on a private visit from Damascus, Syria. He had become
involved in the olive business after retirement. Iranian officials
later said that he disappeared on Dec 9. In March, 2009, a former
German Defense Ministry official said Asgari had defected and was
providing information to the West on Iran's nuclear program. Asgari
allegedly told the West that Iran was financing North Korean steps
to transform Syria into a nuclear weapons power, leading to an
Israeli airstrike that targeted a site in Syria on Sept. 6, 2007. In
November Iranian news Web sites reported that Asgari had been
abducted by Israeli agents and is now being held in Israel.
2006 Dec 13, Syria said it has
admitted more than 800,000 Iraqis who have fled the violence in
2006 Dec 18, Syria’s official
SUNA news agency said Syria and Iraq had signed on to a plan to
cooperate in combating terrorism and crime.
2006 Dec 19, Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad said he was ready for dialogue with the United
States but warned Washington against giving Damascus orders.
2007 Feb 5, Syria’s President
Bashar Assad said cooperation, and negotiations, between Syria and
the US could be the "last chance" to avoid full-scale civil war in
2007 Feb 11, A Syrian court
sentenced Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a man believed to have known the
Sept. 11 hijackers, to 12 years in prison for membership in the
banned Muslim Brotherhood organization.
2007 Feb 17, Syrian President
Bashar Assad arrived in Iran to discuss Iraq and other Middle East
issues with President Mahmoud Ahmadinajed.
2007 Feb 22, The Israeli daily
Haaretz reported that Syria has embarked on an "unprecedented"
effort to bolster its armed forces with Iranian and Russian help.
2007 Feb 28, Syria said it
would participate in a Baghdad-organized conference of Iraq's
neighbors that the US plans to attend. Iran said it was considering
whether to take part.
2007 Mar 8, Syria’s Pres.
Bashar Assad inaugurated the first stage of a joint Syrian-Iranian
auto factory, test-driving one of the new cars and declaring that
the project will boost cooperation between the allies.
2007 Apr 1, In Syria US House
members meeting with President Bashar Assad said they believed there
was an opportunity for dialogue.
2007 Apr 4, In Damascus US
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held talks with Syria's leader despite
White House objections, saying she pressed President Bashar Assad
over his country's support for militant groups and passed him a
peace message from Israel.
2007 Apr 4, Iran’s President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad freed the 15 detained British sailors and
marines as an Easter holiday "gift" to the British people. Syria
said it played a key role in resolving the standoff over the 15
British sailors and marines held by Iran. Turkey brokered the
release of the British sailors.
(AP, 4/4/07)(Econ, 8/21/10, p.42)
2007 Apr 12, A Syrian-American
businessman with ties to the Damascus government made an
unprecedented appearance before an Israeli parliamentary panel,
telling lawmakers that Syrian President Bashar Assad is ready to
make peace with the Jewish state.
2007 Apr 14, Syria distanced
itself from comments by a Syrian-American businessman who recently
told Israeli lawmakers that President Bashar Assad was ready to make
peace with the Jewish state.
2007 Apr 18, The UN Security
Council expressed "serious concern" at mounting reports of weapons
being smuggled from Syria to Lebanon and authorized an independent
mission to evaluate monitoring of the border between the two
2007 Apr 23, Syrians voted for
a second day in a tightly controlled election to pick a new
legislature, a vote President Bashar Assad hopes can consolidate his
rule, soften his regime's authoritarian image and ease its
2007 Apr 24, A Syrian court
convicted prominent human rights activist Anwar al-Bunni of
disseminating hostile information and sentenced him to five years in
2007 Apr 26, Syria’s government
said that the ruling coalition took an overwhelming majority of
seats in parliamentary elections that were boycotted by the
opposition as a farce.
2007 May 3, In Egypt a
conference of nearly 50 nations opened at Sharm el-Sheik to rally
international support, particularly from Arab nations, for an
ambitious plan to stabilize Iraq. US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice met Syria's foreign minister in the first high-level talks
between the two countries in years. Hours after the chief military
spokesman in Iraq said Syria had moved to reduce "the flow of
foreign fighters" across its border.
2007 May 8, A newspaper owned
by Saudi Arabia's royal family said one of seven recently exposed
Saudi terrorist cells used Syria as a base for coordinating with
al-Qaida in Iraq and held training camps in the desert of
2007 May 9, In northern Syria 7
people were killed and 7 were wounded when a 5-story building
2007 May 10, Kamal Labwani, a
Syrian dissident who was arrested after meeting with White House
officials two years ago, was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in
prison for contacting a foreign country and inciting attack against
his country. His sentencing follows another in recent days against
Anwar al-Bunni, a human rights lawyer, who received a five-year
prison sentence, signaling a continuing of a crackdown by
authorities against dissent.
2007 May 13, A Syrian court
sentenced four pro-democracy campaigners, including one of Syria's
most respected writers, to prison terms as part of President's
Bashar Assad's latest crack down on dissent.
2007 May 23, In northern Syria
14 people were killed and 20 injured when an Iraqi bus overturned on
the Raqqa-Aleppo highway about 250 miles north of Damascus.
2007 May 24, Hundreds of
thousands of Syrians thronged Damascus to support a second
seven-year term for President Bashar Assad.
2007 May 26, In Washington, DC,
some 100 supporters of Syria’s largest exile opposition group, the
National Salvation Front, gathered outside the Damascus embassy to
protest against the government of Pres. Assad.
(WSJ, 1/25/07, p.A1)
2007 May 27, Syrian President
Bashar Assad cast his vote at a polling station as part of a one-day
public referendum to endorse him for a second term and bolster his
autocratic rule. Assad won another seven years in office, getting
97% of the vote in a nationwide referendum in which he was the only
(AP, 5/27/07)(AP, 5/29/07)
2007 Jun 17, A Syrian court
found 7 pro-Democracy advocates guilty of endangering the state and
sentenced them 5 to 7 years in prison.
(SFC, 6/19/07, p.A7)
2007 Jun, The World Monuments
Fund added the Jordan River Valley to its list of 100 most
endangered sites. Israel, Jordan and Syria diverted over 90% of the
Jordan River water annually for drinking and irrigation, reducing
flow to the Dead Sea.
(SSFC, 8/12/07, p.A15)
2007 Jul 17, Syria’s Pres.
Bashar Assad was sworn in for a 2nd, seven-year term in office.
2007 Jul 21, In northern Syria
2 buses collided head-on, killing 20 people and wounding 50.
2007 Jul 26, In northern Syria
an explosion at an ordnance depot that was blamed on summer heat
killed at least 15 soldiers and wounded 50 others.
2007 Aug 20, Iraq's embattled
PM Nouri al-Maliki came to Syria on his first visit here as prime
minister amid efforts to garner neighbors' support for curbing
violence at home. Syria said Iraq should set a timetable for the
withdrawal of foreign troops. A roadside bomb killed Mohammed Ali
al-Hassani (52), the governor of the predominantly Shiite Muthanna
province, along with his driver and guard. Two bombings struck the
Shiite district of Sadr City and a busy market district elsewhere in
Baghdad, killing at least 7 people and wounding more than 20.
Thousands rallied against the US in Sadr City, waving Iraqi flags
and shouting "No, no to America."
2007 Aug 27, Israel’s Haaretz
newspaper reported that security officials fear Hamas' exiled
leadership in Syria is working to renew suicide attacks against
Israel in an effort to derail peace efforts by Israel and
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli intelligence assessed
that Islamic Hamas militants have smuggled 40 tons of weapons into
the Gaza Strip since the group wrested control of the territory in
2007 Sep 6, Israeli troops
backed by tanks and bulldozers crossed into southern Gaza to strike
at Palestinian militants and 10 militants were killed. Palestinian
militants said fighters in a pickup truck and jeep crashed through a
fence on the Gaza-Israel border and attacked an Israeli army post.
An Israeli airstrike hit in Syria where it was believed weapons,
being sent from Iran to the militant Islamic group in Lebanon, were
stored. It was later reported that the airstrike was aimed at a
partly constructed nuclear reactor.
(AP, 9/6/07)(AP, 9/12/07)(SSFC, 10/14/07, p.A19)
2007 Sep 11, Syria complained
to the UN about Israeli "aggression and violation of sovereignty"
after what a US official said was Sep 6 airstrike deep in Syria.
(AP, 9/11/07)(AP, 9/12/07)
2007 Sep 21, North Korea and
Syria held high-level talks in Pyongyang, amid suspicions that the
two countries might be cooperating on a nuclear weapons program.
2007 Sep 22, North Korea's No.
2 leader met with a Syrian delegation in Pyongyang, amid suspicions
of a secret nuclear connection between the two countries.
2007 Oct 1, Syria began
requiring visas for Iraqis entering the country, hoping to stem the
flow of refugees fleeing violence in their homeland.
2007 Oct 4, Iranian state
television reported that Iran and Syria have signed an agreement for
Tehran to export a billion dollars worth of gas every year to its
chief regional ally.
2007 Oct 17,
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, on a visit to Turkey, said
that Damascus would back a possible Turkish incursion into northern
Iraq to crack down "against terrorist activities" there.
2007 Oct 18, The UN said action
would be taken against the interpreter responsible for an erroneous
report that Syria has a nuclear facility and expressed regret at the
2007 Oct 21, In Syria a
high-level North Korean official held talks with PM Naji Otari on
ways to improve cooperation between the two countries.
2007 Oct 25,
In northern Syria authorities hanged five men for murders they
committed during attempted robberies.
2007 Dec 18, A human rights
group said that Syrian authorities have arrested two activists,
raising to at least seven the number detained following a recent
meeting of opposition groups in Damascus. The two had attended the
National Council of the Damascus Declaration for Democratic Change,
a Dec. 1 gathering of numerous opposition groups and activists
calling for democratic reforms in Syria.
2007 Dec 30, President Nicolas
Sarkozy said France will have no more contact with Syria until
Damascus shows its willingness to let Lebanon end its current crisis
and appoint a new president.
2007 Dec 31, Syria’s state-run
media called on the US to begin a direct dialogue, a day after an
influential US senator said Washington could "bridge the gap"
between Israel and Syria.
2007 Syria’s oil exports were
expected to almost cease by this time.
(SFEC, 1/25/98, p.A18)
2007 Syria’s population
numbered about 19 million.
(Econ, 11/17/07, p.55)
2008 Jan 5, Syria joined other
Arab nations in endorsing the head of Lebanon's army as that
country's next president, putting pressure on the Lebanese
opposition to drop demands that have blocked a compromise over the
2008 Jan 9, The US imposed
sanctions on Mishan Jaburi, owner of Al Zawra television in Syria,
and Brig. Gen. Ahmed Foruzandeh, leader of the Iranian Quds Force,
for broadcasting attacks on American troops and calls to violence.
Jaburi, a former parliamentarian in Iraq, had fled to Syria in 2006
amid charges that he had embezzled millions from Iraq’s treasury.
The BBC said the station was last seen July 27.
(SFC, 1/10/08, p.A13)
2008 Feb 12, In Syria Imad
Mughniyeh (45), the suspected mastermind of dramatic attacks on the
US Embassy and US Marine barracks that killed hundreds of Americans
in Lebanon in the 1980s, died in a car bombing. Hezbollah and its
Iranian backers blamed Israel for the killing. Israel denied
involvement and said it was looking into the death. Mughniyeh, a
Lebanese Shia, was recruited by Ali Hassan Salameh (d.1979), the
chief of operations officer of Black September. In 2015 the
Washington Post reported that the CIA and Israel's spy agency Mossad
were behind the plot.
(AP, 2/13/08)(Econ, 6/7/14, p.88)(AFP, 1/31/15)
2008 Feb 14, The chief of
Hezbollah vowed to retaliate against Israeli targets anywhere in the
world after accusing the Jewish state of killing the militant Imad
Mughniyeh in Syria.
2008 Mar 3, Tens of thousands
of Syrians filled the central square of the capital to protest an
Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip that has left scores of
2008 Mar 8, North Korea’s
official news agency reported that leader Kim Jong Il hopes for
stronger friendship with Syria, amid lingering suspicions of a
secret nuclear connection between the two countries.
2008 Mar 11, At least 42 people
were killed across Iraq. A roadside bomb hit a bus traveling in
southern Iraq, killing at least 16 civilians, while gunmen opened
fire on another bus in the capital, leaving one person dead. The
Pentagon said up to 90% of the foreign fighters in Iraq cross from
(AFP, 3/11/08)(AP, 3/12/08)(WSJ, 3/12/08, p.A1)
2008 Mar 14, In northern Syria
a bus carrying high school students rammed into a house and flipped
over, killing at least 24 people and injuring 34.
2008 Mar 24, Saudi Arabia said
its king would send a lower level diplomat to the March 29 Arab
League summit in Syria, which hoped to help solve the stalemate in
(WSJ, 3/25/08, p.A1)
2008 Mar 25, It was reported
that Syria is cracking down more on Internet use, imposing tighter
monitoring of citizens who link to the Web, as well as jailing
bloggers who criticize the government and blocking YouTube and other
Web sites deemed harmful to state security.
2008 Mar 28, Jordan, Iraq and
Yemen announced at the last minute that their top leaders will not
attend this weekend's Arab summit in Damascus.
2008 Mar 29, An Arab League
summit in Damascus, where Syrian President Bashar Assad questioned
how long Arab nations can keep offering Israel a land-for-peace
proposal. Islamic and Arab leaders denounced a Dutch film that
portrays Islam as a ticking time bomb aimed at the West, demanding
international laws to prevent insults to religions.
(AP, 3/29/08)(AP, 3/30/08)
2008 Mar 30, In Syria Iraq
refused to endorse the final declaration of the Arab summit because
it did not condemn terrorism in the country, a divisive end to a
gathering marred by disputes and boycotts.
2008 Apr 18,
Former US Pres. Jimmy Carter arrived in Syria where he met
Pres. Bashar Assad, the political leader of the militant Palestinian
Hamas group and Syrian businessmen.
2008 Apr 19, In Syria defying
US and Israeli warnings, former President Jimmy Carter met again on
with Khaled Mashaal, the exiled leader of the militant Hamas group,
and his deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk.
2008 Apr 23, Syria handed over
a trove of some 700 looted artifacts to Iraq after seizing the items
from traffickers since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam
2008 Apr 24, Syria dismissed US
accusations that North Korea was helping it build a nuclear reactor
that could produce plutonium. Israeli warplanes bombed a site in
Syria on Sept. 6, 2007, that private analysts said appeared to have
been the site of a reactor, based on commercial satellite imagery
taken after the raid. Syria later razed the site.
2008 Apr 26, Turkey's PM
Erdogan was in Syria in a bid to restart peace negotiations between
Damascus and its Mideast foe, Israel.
2008 May 21, Israel and Syria
said they were holding indirect peace talks through Turkish
mediators on a dispute that centers on the Golan Heights.
2008 Jun 2, The chief of the
International Atomic Energy Agency says Syria has agreed to let
inspectors into the country this month to probe allegations of
illegal nuclear activity.
2008 Jun 5, Diplomats said
Syria has told a 35-nation meeting that it will limit what UN
nuclear inspectors can see when they go to check on allegations that
Damascus is hiding atomic facilities.
2008 Jun 15, Israeli officials
said that indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria have
resumed, with Turkish mediation.
2008 Jun 16, Officials said 2
days of peace talks in Turkey involving Israel and Syria had
concluded and more talks were planned.
2008 Jun 23, UN experts began
probing allegations that Syria has a hidden nuclear program, as
Damascus imposed strict secrecy on the visit, warning the UN not to
drag it into a drawn-out investigation like the standoff with Iran.
2008 Jun 25, A senior UN atomic
inspector said an initial probe of US allegations that a Syrian site
hit by Israeli warplanes was a secretly built nuclear reactor is
inconclusive and further checks are necessary.
2008 Jul 5, In Syria military
police officers killed at least 9 inmates during a riot at the
Saydnaya Prison. The prisoners took 9 officials and guards hostage.
(SSFC, 7/6/08, p.A7)
2008 Jul 12, French President
Nicolas Sarkozy met his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak, kicking
off a round of diplomacy with Middle East leaders ahead of an
EU-Mediterranean summit. Sarkozy said that Syria and Lebanon will
open embassies in each other's countries for the first time. Syria's
leader cautioned there was still work to be done before that could
(AP, 7/12/08)(AP, 7/13/08)
2008 Aug 1, A sniper
assassinated Brig. Gen. Mohammed Suleiman, a senior Syrian general
close to President Bashar Assad, at a beach resort in the northern
port city of Tartous.
2008 Aug 9, Syria said it would
bar UN nuclear investigators from revisiting a site bombed by
Israeli jets on suspicion it was a secretly built atomic reactor.
2008 Aug 14, Syria agreed to a
longtime Lebanese demand to negotiate the demarcation of their
border a day after the countries said they would establish full
diplomatic relations for the first time.
2008 Sep 3, French President
Nicolas Sarkozy encouraged Syria to pursue face-to-face peace talks
with Israel during his first trip to the Arab nation, a visit also
aimed at undercutting Iranian influence in Damascus.
2008 Sep 4, Syrian President
Bashar Assad announced that his country has handed over proposals
for peace with Israel to Turkish mediators and would wait for
Israel's response before holding any face-to-face negotiations.
2008 Sep 12, Russia’s Itar-Tass
news reported that Syria’s Tartous port is being renovated to
provide a permanent facility for the Russian navy.
(SFC, 10/3/08, p.A14)
2008 Sep 27, In Damascus,
Syria, a car packed with explosives detonated on a crowded
residential street, killing 17 people and wounding more than a dozen
2008 Oct 9, Two American
journalists, Holli Chmela (27) and Taylor Luck (23), who went
missing during a vacation in Lebanon eight days ago were released in
Syria and returned to Jordan. The next day they said they had been
"kidnapped" by their taxi driver and taken into Syria, where they
were held in custody for a week before being released.
(AP, 10/9/08)(AP, 10/10/08)
2008 Oct 14, Syria established
diplomatic relations with Lebanon, ending six decades of
non-recognition of its neighbor's sovereignty in an apparent bid to
curry favor with the West as it pursues indirect peace talks with
2008 Oct 15, The foreign
ministers of Syria and Lebanon signed an agreement formalizing
diplomatic ties between the two countries for the first time in
their turbulent history.
2008 Oct 26, Four US military
helicopters attacked a civilian building under construction shortly
before sundown in Sukkariyeh about five miles inside the Syrian
border. A government statement said eight people were killed,
including a man and his four children and a woman. An Associated
Press journalist at the funerals in the village's cemetery saw the
bodies of seven men, none of them minors. The area targeted is near
the Iraqi border city of Qaim, which had been a major crossing point
for fighters, weapons and money coming into Iraq.
2008 Oct 28, The Syrian
government ordered that an American school and a US cultural center
in Damascus be closed in response to a deadly raid by US helicopters
near the Syrian border with Iraq.
2008 Oct 29, A Syrian criminal
court convicted 12 dissidents of fomenting sectarian strife and
sentenced them to two and a half years in prison. The defendants,
members of a pro-democracy group known as the Damascus Declaration,
were arrested last December. The Damascus Declaration, formed in
2005, is the broadest coalition of opposition figures in Syria.
2008 Oct 30, Scientists
reported that 1 in 17 men living on the coasts of North Africa and
southern Europe may have a Phoenician direct male line ancestor.
Evidence was based on Y-chromosomes collected in Cyprus, Malta,
Morocco, the West Bank, Syria and Tunisia.
(SFC, 10/31/08, p.A14)
2008 Dec 14, In Syria former US
President Jimmy Carter met with Khaled Mashaal, the exiled leader of
the Palestinian militant group Hamas, for the second time this year.
2008 Syrian authorities blocked
225 internet sites this year, up from 159 in 2007.
(Econ, 7/25/09, SR p.13)
2009 Jan 11, An estimated 2,500
Lebanese and Palestinians protested peacefully in downtown Beirut
against Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, as hundreds of
demonstrators in neighboring Syria shouted insults at the both the
Jewish state and Arab leaders.
2009 Feb 19, The International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said samples taken from a Syrian site
suspected of being a secretly built reactor have revealed new traces
of processed uranium.
2009 Feb 24, Syria's nuclear
chief told the UN's nuclear agency that his nation has built a new
missile facility on the site of what the US says was a nearly
finished nuclear reactor bombed by Israel in Sep 2007.
2009 Mar 10, Syria opened its
first stock exchange, closed since the 1960s, as it shifted from
socialist policies toward a more market oriented system.
(SFC, 3/11/09, p.A2)(Econ, 11/28/09, p.50)
2009 Mar 11, Saudi Arabia
hosted the leaders of Egypt and Syria in an effort to persuade
Damascus to move away from Iran and join with US-allied Arab
countries in working to blunt Tehran's influence.
2009 Mar 16, Lebanon opened its
first-ever embassy in Syria in another sign of improving ties
between the long-feuding neighbors.
2009 Mar 31, The US Government
Accountability Office released a report saying 4 countries
designated a terrorism sponsors received $55 million from a US
supported program promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy under
the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation program. Between 1997 and 2007 Iran
received over $15 million, $14 million went to Syria, while Sudan
and Cuba received over $11 million each.
(WSJ, 3/31/09, p.A3)
2009 Apr 17, Mohammed Zuhair
Siddiq, purported Syrian intelligence officer and one of the
suspects in the 2005 assassination of a former Lebanese prime
minister, was arrested in Dubai. He was arrested in France in
October 2005 as a suspect in the murder, but disappeared from house
arrest in France in March, 2008.
2009 Apr 26, Chinese Foreign
Minister Yang Jiechi wrapped up a regional Middle East visit in
Damascus saying Israel should return the Golan Heights to Syria.
2009 May 1, In northern Iraq
Ammar Afif Hamada (19), a would-be Syrian suicide bomber linked to
al-Qaida in Iraq, was tackled by guards on the doorstep of a mosque
2009 May 5, The leaders of Iran
and Syria reaffirmed their support for Palestinian resistance, a
defiant message to the US and its Mideast allies who are uneasy over
Washington's efforts to forge closer ties with the hard-line
government in Tehran.
2009 May 10, Syria rejected the
Obama administration's decision to renew economic and diplomatic
sanctions against Damascus and urged Washington to abandon "foolish
2009 May 17, Israel's President
Shimon Peres urged Syria to open direct peace talks and said
indirect negotiations mediated by Turkey had not resumed.
2009 Jul 2, The BBC reported
that Syria’s Pres. Assad has issued a presidential decree ordering
honor killers to face at least 2 years in prison.
2009 Aug 7, Portugal said it
has agreed to take two Syrian detainees from Guantanamo prison.
2009 Aug 19, Syrian President
Bashar Assad opened talks with Iranian officials in a visit expected
to include an appeal to free a French academic accused of plotting
to overthrow the Islamic regime.
2009 Aug 25, Iraq recalled its
ambassador from Syria and demanded that Damascus hand over two
suspected Saddam Hussein loyalists it has linked to the Aug 19
2009 Aug 29, Portugal’s
government said 2 Syrians previously held at Guantanamo Bay have
arrived in Portugal as free men.
2009 Sep 3, A water rights
battle over the historic Tigris and Euphrates rivers simmered, as
Iraq and Syria appealed for increased water flows to cope with
severe drought but Turkey said it was already too overstretched.
2009 Sep 15, In Turkey security
talks failed over Syria's refusal to extradite some suspects accused
of deadly bombings in Baghdad. Senior Iraqi and Syrian diplomats
attended the talks.
2009 Sep 16, Syrian President
Bashar Assad met with Turkey's PM Erdogan in Istanbul to discuss
ways to revive the stalled peace process between Syria and Israel, a
day after security talks with Iraq collapsed.
2009 Sep 27, It was reported
that some 300,000 Syrian farmers, herders and their families have
been forced by drought to abandon their homes for makeshift urban
(SSFC, 9/27/09, p.A18)
2009 Oct 6, Syria held its
first ever fashion design competition, meant to encourage young
Syrian talents and local products.
2009 Oct 7, Saudi Arabia's King
Abdullah made his first visit to Syria since becoming monarch, the
strongest indication yet of thawing relations between the two rival
nations following years of tension. The 2-day talks between Abdullah
and Assad focused on the need for Arab solidarity in view of the
numerous challenges facing the Arab world.
(AP, 10/7/09)(AP, 10/9/09)
2009 Oct 12, Syria's Pres.
Bashar Assad issued a decree banning smoking in public places,
joining an anti-smoking trend already under way in other Arab
countries. The decree will go into effect in six months and ban
smoking in restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theaters, schools, official
functions and on public transport. Offenders will be fined 2,000
Syrian pounds, about $45.
2009 Oct 15, The Syrian-based
leadership of the militant Palestinian Hamas said it has rejected an
Egyptian-mediated proposal to reconcile with the rival Fatah group.
Hamas and seven other Damascus-based Palestinian factions issued a
joint statement saying the reconciliation plan must be revised to
include a reference to the Palestinian right to resist Israeli
2009 Oct, Turkish ministers
traveled to Baghdad and Damascus to sign a package of 48
co-operation deals with Iraq and 40 with Syria, covering everything
from tourism to counter-terrorism and joint military exercises.
(Econ, 10/31/09, p.57)
2009 Dec 17, Former Syrian
President Amin Hafez (b.1920) died. He was brought to power by a
military coup only to be overthrown three years later. Hafez became
president in a 1963 coup, but Baath Party radicals drove him from
power three years later.
2009 Dec 19, Lebanon's PM Saad
Hariri, who has blamed neighboring Syria for the assassination of
his father, visited Damascus for the first time since the 2005
killing, a trip that a close associate said was extremely difficult
for him to make.
2009 Dec 27, Syrian security
agents detained Tal al-Mallohi (19), a high school student blogger,
after summoning her for questioning. Authorities have not allowed
al-Mallohi's family to communicate with her since she was picked up.
On Sep 20, 2010, The New York-based Human Rights Watch called for
her immediate release. On Feb 14, 2011, she was sentenced to 5 years
in prison on charges of spying for a foreign country.
(AP, 9/20/10)(SFC, 2/15/11, p.A2)
2009 Syria’s population
numbered about 22 million people, including about 1.5 million Kurds.
(Econ, 11/28/09, p.50)
2009 Russia began to modernize
the Syrian port of Tartus, its only military base outside the former
(Econ, 1/14/12, p.47)
2010 Feb 25, Syria and Iran
defended their strong ties and dismissed US efforts to break up the
30-year-alliance, saying America should not dictate relationships in
the Middle East.
2010 Mar 4, A Syrian
archaeologist said more than 250 silver coins dating back to the
time of Alexander the Great have been unearthed. The coins were
discovered two weeks ago in a bronze box in northern Syria when a
local man was digging the foundations of his new home.
2010 Mar 21, Syrian police
opened fire at a group of Kurds celebrating the new year, killing at
least one person despite signs that tensions were easing between the
government and its restive Kurdish minority.
2010 Mar 26, Tens of thousands
of Syrians and Palestinians gathered in a Damascus square in a
government-orchestrated "march of anger" against Israeli settlements
in east Jerusalem.
2010 Apr 21, In Syria a smoking
ban that few are expected to abide by went into effect. The law,
which also forbids the sale of cigarettes to minors, was approved
six months ago by President Bashar Assad, a British-trained eye
doctor. A 1996 decree issued by Assad's late father, President Hafez
Assad, had banned smoking in government offices, hospitals and the
airport. A 2004 law banned smoking in internet cafes and another law
in 2006 made buses, railway stations, movie theaters, parks and
cultural centers smoke-free, with violators facing a fine of about
$10 and three months in jail. But the bans were often flouted and
not strictly enforced.
2010 Apr 29, Iraq's election
commission said recounting all the ballots from the key Baghdad
province will take around 2 to 3 weeks, further delaying the
formation of a long awaited new government. 8 people were killed and
20 injured in car bomb outside a Baghdad liquor store. Iraq's banned
Baath party, booted out of power in the 2003 US-led invasion, held
its first public meeting in the Syrian capital.
(AP, 4/29/10)(AFP, 4/30/10)
2010 May 3, The US renewed
sanctions against Damascus, saying Syria has made some progress
containing terror networks that use the country to infiltrate Iraq
but that Damascus continues to support terrorists and pursue weapons
of mass destruction.
2010 May 11, Israeli Foreign
Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused nuclear power North Korea of
supplying Syria with weapons of mass destruction.
2010 May 11, Russia's Pres.
Medvedev said that Israeli-Arab tensions threaten to draw the Middle
East into a new catastrophe, as he added Moscow's weight to a
diplomatic push to ease antagonism between Israel and Syria. While
in Syria, Medvedev unnerved Israel by paying a visit to Khaled
Meshaal, the exiled leader of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
(AP, 5/11/10)(AP, 5/14/10)
2010 May 14, Russia’s Itar-Tass
news agency quoted a senior Russian arms trader as saying Russia has
signed deals with Syria under which it will sell it warplanes,
anti-tank weapons and air defense systems. Federal Service for
Military-Technical Cooperation chief Mikhail Dmitriyev said Russia
will sell MiG-29 fighter jets, Pantsyr short-range air defense
systems and armored vehicles. He didn't give any numbers or provide
any further details.
(Reuters, 5/14/10)(AP, 5/15/10)
2010 Jun 22, In Syria a severe
4-year drought was reported to be devastating rural communities,
forcing them to abandon the country's traditional breadbasket in the
northeast for cities in search of employment.
2010 Jun 23, In Syria a court
in Damascus convicted Muhannad al-Hassani (44), a leading Syrian
lawyer and rights activist, of spreading false information and
sentenced him to three years in prison. He was also charged with
"weakening national sentiments," a term often used in Syria against
those who challenge the regime.
2010 Jun 26, Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and
called on Latin America and the Arab world to fight what he called
America's imperialist and capitalist interests abroad.
2010 Jun 28, In Cuba President
Bashar Assad of Syria sat down with Raul Castro as part of his first
tour of Latin America, a trip that is taking him to meetings with
many of the region's left-leaning governments.
2010 Jul 3, In Syria Mohammed
Oudeh (b.1937), the key planner of the 1972 Munich Olympics attack
that killed 11 Israeli athletes, died.
(AP, 7/3/10)(SSFC, 7/4/10, p.C9)
2010 Jul 18, Syria announced a
ban on the niqab, the face-covering Islamic veil, from the country's
2010 Jul 30, The leaders of
Syria and Saudi Arabia, once bitter rivals, made an unprecedented
show of cooperation, traveling together to Lebanon in hopes of
preventing any violence if members of a militant group are indicted
in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri. Saudi
Arabia, which was close to the slain premier, holds sway with
Lebanon's ruling alliance led by his son Saad, while Syria and Iran
support a rival camp led by Hezbollah.
2010 Sep 25, In Syria leaders
of the two rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas held
reconciliation talks in Damascus and said they wanted the
discussions to continue.
2010 Oct 2, Visiting Iran
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad assured Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
that their ties were solid, a view unlikely to please Washington
which is working to isolate the Islamic state.
2010 Oct 4, An official said
Syria has accused a 19-year-old blogger who is in prison of being a
spy in the first comment from authorities on a case that sparked
calls by a leading rights group for the young woman's release. Tal
al-Mallohi was taken into custody in December. Her blog, known for
poetry and social commentary, focused mostly on the suffering of
2010 Oct 4, It was reported
that Syria has ordered the arrest of 33 people over false testimony
given in the UN-backed probe into the assassination of Lebanese
ex-premier Rafiq Hariri. Observers said the warrants carried no
legal weight in Lebanon as the crime in question took place on
Lebanese soil and the complainant as well as most of the defendants
2010 Oct 13, Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad told visiting Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki that
better ties between the two nations will be strengthened by the
formation of a new Iraqi government.
2010 Oct 21, In Syria
Venezuelan Pres. Chavez met with his Pres. Bashar Assad on the
Mideast leg of an international tour partly intended to counter what
he calls US "imperialism."
2010 Nov 9, Representatives of
Hamas and the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas
started a meeting in Damascus for reconciliation talks.
2010 Nov 9, A UN report
suggesting North Korea may have supplied Syria, Iran and Myanmar
with banned nuclear technology headed to the Security Council. The
latest report by the so-called Panel of Experts on Pyongyang's
compliance with UN sanctions was delivered to the Security Council's
North Korea sanctions committee in May, but did not move for nearly
six months due to Chinese objections.
2010 Dec 29, President Barack
Obama bypassed Congress to name the first US ambassador to Syria in
nearly six years. Obama took the controversial step of forcing
through the appointments of Ambassador Robert Ford and five other
officials while the Senate, which normally needs to confirm
nominations, was out of session.
Go to Syria
Subject = Syria
End of file