French rule is broken by the capitulation of France to the Nazis. The British and Free French forces defeat the Vichy forces in Syria, but necessity forces them to allow the Syrians to largely take over their own government. [5]


September - Despite French opposition, the US and Soviets recognize Syria as a sovereign state. British recognition follows a year later. France refuses to withdraw its troops without Syria granting it privileges. [5]


January - The Syrian government forms its own army and declares war on the Axis powers. [5]

March - Syria joins the UN. [5]

April - Syria joins the League of Arab States. [5]

May - In response to demonstrations in Damascus and Aleppo against the continued French presence, the French bomb and machine-gun Damascus. There is also fighting in Homs and Hamah. A British threat to intervene forces the French to order a ceasefire. [5]


February - A UN resolution calls on the French to leave Syria. [5]

April - The last French troops leave Syria. [5]


November - The UN declaration calling for partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states provokes a general strike in Damascus and major rioting throughout Syria. Armed bands of irregulars from Syria's fledgling armed forces begin to raid Jewish settlements near the Syrian border. [5]


May - Syrian troops join the fight against Israel. Syrian forces consist of 8,000 troops, a battalion of French built tanks and a small air force. They attack Israel near Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) from the Golan Heights. [5]

June - The UN imposes a truce with Israel. The Arab forces had proved incompetent and the Syrians had been driven back across their border in all but two locations. [5]

October - Following Syria's defeat, the war along Israel's northern border ends. [5]


March - The British, French and US back a successful coup by Brigadier General Husni al Zaim. One of the first acts of the new regime is to approve the building of a US owned oil pipeline, which the previous government had not approved. [3] [5] [19] [21]

July - The last sporadic fighting along the Israeli border ceases with the signing of a Syrian-Israeli armistice agreement. About 100,000 Palestinians fled to Syria from Israel during and after the war. [5]

August - Coup led by Brigadier General Sami al Hinnawi. Both Zaim and Prime Minister Muhsin al Barazi are executed. [5]

November - Elections in which women are allowed to vote for the first time. [5]


November - Military coup by Adib Shishakli. [5]


April - Shishakli bans all political parties except his own. [5]


July - Syria is made a presidential republic with Shishakli as president. [5]


February - Shishakli is overthrown in another military coup. A civilian government is restored. [5]

Syria starts to build relations with the Soviet Union. [5]


December - Israeli forces kill 50 Syrian troops in a cross border attack. [5]


October - A US instigated coup by Michail Bey Ilyan is called off when Israel invades Egypt. The UK was also involved in planning this coup. [1] [2] [3]

November - The US embassy in Syria has false reports placed in the US and British press stating that Russian arms are pouring into Syria, including "not more than 123 Migs". There were none. [2]


February - The Soviet Union calls for a declaration by the US, USSR, UK and France that they will all renounce the use of force and interference in the internal affairs of Middle Eastern countries. They also call for an embargo on arms shipments to the region, the withdrawal of all foreign troops, the liquidation of all foreign bases and a conference to reach a general Middle East settlement. The US, UK and France all refuse. [2]

April - The Soviet Union renews its call for a declaration by the four powers. [2]

August - Another CIA organised coup attempt is foiled when Syrian army officers bribed by the CIA tell Syria's head of intelligence about it; handing him their bribe money as they do so. The CIA officers concerned are expelled from the country. [1] [2]

September - The US sends its Sixth Fleet to the Mediterranean and sends arms and other military equipment to Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The US also has Turkey move 50,000 troops to its border with Syria. The US is apparently trying to goad Syria into a use of force in order to justify a military intervention. In response the Soviet Union ships arms to Syria, Egypt and Yemen. However, Syria did not rise to the bait and other Arab states refused to back up the US rhetoric that Syria was a threat and Soviet satellite. [2]

British government documents show how the CIA and MI6 planned to use fake border incidents as an excuse for invasion by Syria's pro- western neighbours and then assassinate three key government figures. [20]

The Soviet Union again renews its call for a declaration by the four powers. [2]


January - Syria and Egypt anounce their plans to unite, forming the United Arab Republic. Syria was partly motivated to propose this plan for fear of further US moves against her. As part of the arrangement the Communist Party in Syria is dissolved. [2]

May - An armed rebellion begins in Lebanon after growing discontent with the pro-US government earlier elected with the help of the CIA. Syria supplies the rebels with some arms, men and money, as does Egypt. [2]


February - Israel conducts a raid into Syrian territory. [5]


July - Various industries are nationalised. [5]

September - After increasing dissatisfaction with a Egypt's dominance of the UAR, a military coup is staged and Syria secedes from the UAR. [5]

December - General elections. [5]


January - Many previously nationalised industries are returned to private ownership. [5]

February - Land reforms are reversed to favour landlords. [5]

March - After these unpopular changes another military coup ousts the government. [5]

April - After protests in several cities against the coup president Qudsi is returned to power by the military leaders, but unrest continues. [5]

US president, John F. Kennedy, meets the British Prime Minister, Macmillan, in London and they agree to "Penetration and cultivation of disruptive elements in the Syrian armed forces, particularly in the Syrian army, so that Syria can be guided by the West." [2]


January - Another coup is attempted, but fails. [5]

March - Another military coup. Salah al Din al Bitar becomes prime minister. [5]

July - Another attempted coup fails after intense fighting in Damascus. [5]

November - Bitar resigns and Hafiz becomes prime minister. [5]


April - Urban unrest becomes violent. [5]

May - Hafiz resigns and Bitar becomes prime minister again. [5]


February - Another coup makes Nureddin Atassi president and Yusuf Zuayyin prime minister. Salah al Jadid, the coup leader, became head of the armed forces. [5]

September - A countercoup fails. [5]


June - Israel attacks Syria, Egypt and Jordan in the Six Day War. Syria makes no major move of its ground forces. From Syria Israel seizes the Golan Heights. They also destroy most of the Syrian air force. An estimated 2,500 Syrian troops are killed and about 100,000 civilians driven from their homes in the Golan. This defeat causes a power shift within the government. Syria goes on to support a Palestinian guerilla force, As Saiqa, but does not allow it to launch attacks against Israel from Syrian soil for fear of reprisals by Israel. At the same time Syria is critical of Jordan and Lebanon for seeking to control the Palestinian groups in their territories. [5]


September - Syria sends some 200 tanks to support the Palestinian guerillas in Jordan against the Jordanian government, who have launched an offensive against the guerillas who are challenging the government's authority. The US sends its Sixth Fleet to the Eastern Mediterranean, threatening to intervene on Jordan's behalf. Israel also made known its wilingness to intervene. Against such opposition and also lacking support from its own air force due to political division, Syria is forced to withdraw. [5]

November - Jadid, who had wanted to support the Palestinian guerillas in Jordan, is removed from his position by units of Assad's army and detained under guard. Assad becomes prime minister and minister of defense. Ahmad al Khatib is made acting president. [5]


Fighting in Jordan between the PLO and Jordanian forces continues throughout this year, but most of the PLO fighters move to Syria. But the Syrian government places severe restrictions on them and most move to Lebanon. [5]

March - Assad is elected president. [5]

April - Syria, Egypt and Libya form the Federation of Arab Republics. [5]


May - Diplomatic relations with Britain are restored. [5]

October - Syria and Egypt attack Israel to try and regain territory previously lost to Israel. Syria deploys 45,000 men against Israel's 4,500 stationed in the Golan Heights on 6th October, the holy day of Yom Kippur in the Israeli calendar. Initially they gain much ground, but Israel then receives huge influxes of weapons from the US and counter attacks, driving them back. Israeli forces then advance into Syria destroying missile systems, oil installations, power plants, bridges and port facilities. A UN ceasefire is accepted on 24th October, but sporadic fighting continues until the disengagement in March 1974. An estimated 7,000 Syrian troops are killed and 21,000 wounded, in addition 600 tanks, 165 aircraft and 7 naval vessels are lost or destroyed. An additional 845 square kilometers of territory are taken by Israel. [5] [6]


March - As part of the disengagement agreement with Israel, Israel withdraws from newly captured territory and also from a narrow strip of the Golan Heights territory held since 1967. This strip forms part of a demilitarized zone in which a UN observer force (UNDOF) is deployed. [5]


A dispute over rights to the waters of the Euphrates River, a waterway essential to both countries, takes Syria and Iraq to the verge of war. Syria limited the water flowing out of its newly completed Euphrates (Tabaqah) Dam, thereby slowing the flow into Iraq. For two months both countries hurl invective at each other, and Syrian troops mass along the Iraqi border. Only Saudi Arabian mediation induces Syria to release more water from its Tabaqah reservoir "as a gesture of goodwill." [5]

August - Syria and Jordan form a military alliance against Israel. [5]


Syria provides troops to the Lebanese government in their civil war against the Palestinian guerillas. This is unpopular domestically and with other Arab countries although sanctioned by the Arab League. Syrian troops remain in eastern Lebanon after the war is over. [5]

Late 1970's:

There are a number of violent attacks directed at Assad's regime. The government blames these on Iraq and disaffected Palestinians and responds with public hangings in September 1976 and June 1977. [5]


February - Assad is elected president for another 7 year term. [5]


The Muslim Brotherhood claims credit for a series of attacks. The most serious occurs in June when 50 Alawi cadets at the military academy in Aleppo are killed by gunmen. [5]


Intellectual and professional groups form an alliance demanding political reforms such as freedom of the press, freedom of political action, promulgation of civil law, an end to the state of emergency and free parliamentary elections. [5]

June - Militants attempt to assassinate Assad. [5]

August - The Iran-Iraq war begins. Syria aligns itself with Iran. [5]

October - A Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation is signed with the Soviet Union. [5]


March-April - Government security forces try to root out the Muslim Brotherhood from Hamah and Aleppo. 200 to 300 people are killed are parts of the cities destroyed. [5]

December - Israel formally annexes the Golan Heights. [5]


February - The Muslim Brotherhood ambushes government forces in Hamah. The military crushes the insurgents in two weeks of fighting. 10,000 to 25,000 people are killed, including about 1,000 soldiers and large sections of the city are destroyed. Subsequently an opposition alliance is formed called the National Alliance for the Liberation of Syria, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Front, the pro-Iraqi wing of the Baath party and others. [5]

Syria starts to receive oil from Iran as repayment for its support and compensation for the closure of the Iraqi oil pipeline running through Syria. [5]

June - Israel invades Lebanon in order to crush the Palestinian and Shia groups there. They destroy Syrian surface-to-air missiles deployed in the Biqa Valley, as well as about 79 Syrian MiG-21 and MiG-23 aircraft. The US equipped Israeli's suffer only minor aircraft losses. Syrian armoured divisions prevent the Israeli's reaching the Damascus-Beirut highway, but Israeli forces move into West Beirut, attacking from land and sea, and laying seige to the Palestinian fighters there. [5]

July - Under a US mediated agreement, PLO fighters are evacuated to various Arab countries and Syrian troops withdraw to the Biqa Valley in east Lebanon. [5]

September - Israeli forces again enter West Beirut. They enter the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila and massacre civilians there. Israeli forces remain in Beirut for another year. [5]


Syria supports a Palestinian rebellion against Yasir Arafat's leadership of the PLO in Damascus and eastern Lebanon. In June Arafat is expelled from Damascus. [5]


November - Israel shoots down two Syrian MiG-23s in Syrian airspace. The Syrian aircraft had scrambled when Israeli aircraft flew over eastern Lebanon. Subsequently Syria deploys mobile SAM sites in eastern Lebanon and SAMs on its border with Lebanon. [5]


February - Assad sends troops into Lebanon again to enforce a ceasefire in Beirut. [22]


Syria is one of the many countries to accept US bribes to not oppose a war against Iraq. [2]


June - Assad dies and is succeeded by his son, Bashar. [22]


June - Syrian troops evacuate Beirut and redeploy in other parts of Lebanon, following pressure from Lebanese critics of Syria's presence. [22]


The UK supplies Syria, amongst many other countries, with Toxic Chemical Precursors (TCPs) capable of being used in making chemical weapons. [4]


The US makes plans for possible nuclear strikes against Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria. [13]

October - There is an Israeli air strike against an alleged Palestinian militant camp near Damascus. Syria says the action is "military aggression". [22]


January - President Assad visits Turkey, the first Syrian leader to do so. The trip marks the end of decades of frosty relations. [22]

May - The US imposes economic sanctions on Syria over what it calls its support for terrorism and failure to stop militants entering Iraq. [22]


February-March - Tensions with the US escalate after the killing of former Lebanese PM Hariri in Beirut. Washington cites Syrian influence in Lebanon. Damascus is urged to withdraw its forces from Lebanon. [22]

April - Syria withdraws the last of its military forces from Lebanon. [22]


February - The US allocates $5 million to finance the Syrian opposition. [7] [8]

June - Iran and Syria sign a defence agreement. [15]

July - Thousands of people flee into Syria to escape Israel's bombardment of Lebanon. [22]

September - Attack on the US embassy in Damascus. Four gunmen open fire and throw grenades but fail to detonate a car bomb. Three of them are killed, one is captured. [22]

November - Iraq and Syria restore diplomatic relations after nearly a quarter century. [22]

December - Aid agencies say they are struggling to cope with the growing numbers of Iraqis fleeing into Syria. [22]


May - US blocks peace talks between Syria and Israel. [9]

Syria jails opposition leader after visiting the US. [10]

September - Israel bombs a site in Syria. No explanation is made by anyone. [11] [12] [14]


February - The US imposes new sanctions on Syria. [16]

Imad Mughniyeh, a Hezbollah leader, is killed in Damascus, probably by Mossad, the Israeli secret service. [17]

March - Tens of thousands of Syrians protest against the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. [18]