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Monday, May 6, 2013

Proxy War Feared as Israel Bombs Arms Factory Near Damascus


Syria Lebanon

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TAG:  For many Sunnis throughout the Middle East, the old fear of a "Shia Crescent" may be too close for comfort.



-the "Shia Crescent" is a geographical term for the crescent or arc-shaped string of nations which have strong Shia minorities, Shia majorities or Shia governments. It stretches from Iran in the east, through the Shia of eastern Saudi Arabia, Shia-ruled Iraq, Shia-Alawite ruled Syria and the Shia militia and political party Hezbollah which represents the Shia who form half the population of Lebanon. The term was coined by Sunni Muslims who for years have feared the threat of a Shia takeover of the Middle East.

-16th century:-Iran became Shia while Shia Iraq was annexed by the Sunni Ottomans.
-after years under constitutional monarchy Iran became a Shia theocacy in 1979.
- the Assad dynasty of Shia Alawites has ruled Syria snce1963.
-1980 to present- Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia militia backed by Iran was born during the Lebanese Civil War and  grew to participate as a power-broker in Lebanese government and politics.
FIND BELOW: 'In History'- my book review of 'The Shia Revivial'
-followed by relevant dates in history concerning a possible proxy war involving Iran, Syria and Lebanon.


The Shia Revival
By Vali Nasr.
Norton and Company, New York, 2006

Review by Hugh Graham for Books in Canada;Mar2007, Vol. 36 Issue 2.
          In Iraq now, a gesture is rarely made that doesn’t echo with hundreds of years of cataclysm, particularly between Sunni and Shia Muslims. After Baghdad fell to U.S. forces, Saddam Hussein pointed out that it was Ibn Al Alqami, Shia vizier to Baghdad’s last Abassid Caliph, who betrayed the city to Mongol conquest in 1258. And now, in 2003, the treacherous Shia had done it again by staying neutral. And then the now-late Sunni leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, referred to Iraq’s Shia as “sons of Al Alqami.” Meanwhile, for the Shia, Saddam was “Yazid”, the 7th-century Sunni conqueror who had crushed them.
            These echoes are taking on new significance with the Middle East poised between a revival of the feud between Sunni and Shia and the more familiar struggle of Islam against Israel and the West. The Iranian-born scholar, Vali Nasr, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian studies (and, more importantly, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations) sees the Sunni-Shia struggle as the decisive conflict.
                In Nasr’s view, America’s invasion of Iraq is only a chapter in the more ominous struggle in which the U.S. will remain the natural ally of the Shia. He points out, for example, that in Tehran and in Karachi, in the wake of 9/11, the Shia alone expressed sympathy for America. Subsequently, when Washington liberated Shia Iraq from Sunni tyranny, it set in motion a region-wide empowerment of the Shia and a confrontation with the Sunni-a clash which Nasr believes will put the Shia on the frontier of change.
With considerable patience, the Shia have borne persecution by Sunni rulers since Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law, the Caliph Ali, was defeated in 7th-century Iraq during a struggle for succession to the Caliphate. The victors were the followers of Abu Bakr, the prophet’s companion. The followers of Ali became the Shia, and those of Abu Bakr, the Sunnis. Ever since then, the defeated Shia have tended to bridle at all forms of what they see as illegitimate authority.
               For the Sunnis, the caliphate was purely a means of practical rule. The Shia, by contrast, believe that their own imams are endowed with divine power. The Shia have an ecclesiastical hierarchy, the Sunnis have none. The Shia interpret the Koran much more than the Sunnis do. They also put more emphasis on saints, on ritual, on passion. The Sunnis, though more austere, believe that goodness is rewarded with worldly success. The religious differences are in many ways similar to those that exist between Catholics and Protestants.
             Throughout much of the 19th century and most of the 20th, there was peace between Sunnis and Shia as they closed ranks to oppose the creeping forces of colonialism and secularism. The Shia, practised at resisting oppression, were often at the forefront. In 1892, they forced the Shah of Iran to return the tobacco trade to the people after the British tried to suborn it. In 1920, they took the lead in a rebellion against the British in Iraq, only to be crushed by British forces, who consequently put the Sunnis in power. Still, Sunni and Shia Islamists remained side by side as they opposed Arab nationalist modernisers like Egypt’s Nasser and the Baath party in Syria and Iraq. Eventually, however, the persistence of Sunni dominance revealed that Arab secular nationalism had only been Sunni chauvinism in disguise.
                The Shia revival began when Lebanon’s Shia cleric, Musa al Sadr, realised that his people had gained nothing from helping the secular and Sunni PLO. That made him break with Arab nationalism and turn his party, Amal, toward Shia empowerment in Lebanon. As a result, Syria contrived to have Al Musa abducted and murdered. The battle lines were being drawn.
             Already, the Shia were brilliant at employing clerical structures for political organisation. From the 1950s to the 1970s, poverty had driven thousands of Shia into urban slums like those of Beirut and Baghdad. This was still the secular age and most Communist militants happened to be poor Shia. It was from them that the Shia clergy learned revolutionary ideas and organisation.
                   As the Shia amassed power in the streets, many Sunnis realised that the decline and corruption of secular Arab nationalism meant a decline in Sunni power. That is why in 1969, Saudi Arabia’s King Feisal began to fund the madrassas, which became incubators for Sunni radicalism throughout the Middle East.
Initially, many Shia were sympathetic to Feisal’s Sunni revival, for it was not yet explicitly anti-Shia. But then came the Shia revolution in Iran. When the Ayatollah Khomeini refused to protest after Syria’s Alawite Shia president, Assad, liquidated the Sunni town of Hama, sectarian tensions rumbled. Khomeini had hoped to be a leader of all of Islam against the West, but his callousness regarding Hama, his rivalry with Sunni Saudi Arabia, and the Iran-Iraq war had begun to divert attention and energy away from the Islamic conflict with the West to that between Sunni and Shia.
Sunni militants were prepared. They already had the vision of a simple, pan-Arab Caliphate, which, they believed, had been overlaid with Shia superstition, heresy, and ritual. They backed up their vision with the Saudi-funded madrassas, the teachings of the medieval anti-Shia polemicist, Ibn Taymiya, and the 18th-century anti-Shia reformer, Wahhab, whose brand of intolerant, puritanical Islam had become entrenched in Saudi Arabia.
                    In the end, the successive failures of colonialism and Arab nationalism and secularism had disclosed the last thing that remained: two ancient but gestating visions of the Islamic world. Saudi Arabia, aware of Iran’s empowerment of Shia across the region, funded a bulwark of Sunni madrassas in Pakistan. It also colonised Afghanistan with anti-Shia Wahhabi militants in the fight against the Soviets. In the 1980s and 1990s, the frequency of Sunni-Shia fighting in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon increased with bombings and other atrocities. After 9/11, the Shia prospered through U.S. interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. If the Shia had once rejected nationalism in favour of sectarian identity, a new Shia nationalism, starting with democratic struggles in Iraq and Lebanon, will, in Nasr’s view, help complete the “Shia crescent”, from India to Lebanon, that is so feared by Sunni governments.
              Meanwhile, as the Saudi dynasty begins to weaken, Iran is gaining power. From the earliest days of the Sunni caliphate, Iran’s Persian Savafid dynasty had offered refuge to the Shia, with the Savafids themselves converting to Shiism at the end of the Middle Ages. Iranian Shiism also drew political strength from doctrine. The Shia believe that in 939, their twelfth imam, the ‘Mahdi’, disappeared into a heavenly realm. Since then, the clergy has eschewed political power because it holds the Mahdi’s mandate to rule only in trust until his return on judgement day.
              But Khomeini’s 1979 revolution effected a major transformation. Khomeini made the clergy, indeed himself, absolute ruler on behalf of the Mahdi. Meanwhile, his theocratic innovation was adamantly rejected by the more traditional clergy of Iraq. A remarkably successful exemplar of Iraqi Shiism is the Ayatollah Sistani.
Following traditional Shiism, Sistani has stymied U.S. attempts to pull the strings behind Iraqi elections while cleaving to the traditional principle of political neutrality. He did it by promoting Shia democracy while refraining from backing any politician. Most impressively, he has stopped his people from taking vengeance for repeated attacks by Sunnis. But in one of Nasr’s frequent circumventions around the increasingly sinister truth about the Shia, he writes as if they were still following Sistani’s quietism. In truth, they are not; murmurs of Shia atrocities amid growing civil war had begun while Nasr was still writing.
               And so Nasr begins to show his cards. While vocal about Sunni atrocities against Iraqi Shia, he is practically silent about the terror visited by Shia-controlled police on the Sunnis. He also seems confident that Shia Islamic democracy will remain democratic. Apparently a secular Iranian nationalist, he says that the maverick Iraqi nationalist cleric, Moqtada al Sadr, is “unstable”, having been exploited in multiple alliances with Iran, the Sunnis and others. In fact, al Sadr has cleverly exploited them to his own nationalist ends, using Iranian money while rejecting Iranian influence. Nasr was, no doubt, dismayed by Al Sadr’s rebellions against the U.S. occupation. Dangerous Al Sadr may be, but he is not unstable; after all he managed to get his party elected to parliament.
               We get a sense of where all this has been leading when Nasr concludes with a paean to Iran. He has faith that the Iranian clergy will become weak in time, but this seems overly optimistic. His celebration of Iran’s cultural and scientific achievements and its potential to lead the Middle East has a tone of cultural chauvinism. As well, his insistence that Iran will stay out of Shia Iraq, together with his approval of Iran’s massive covert influence there, consists of arguments that are incoherent.
Finally, if Nasr’s conviction that the U.S. will always back a continuing Shia revolution seems naive, his contention that it will all be worked out in a Sunni-Shia conflict comes across as apocalyptic. In the end, what begins as an enlightening work of history and politics, ends as a piece of advocacy-indeed, a policy paper for the Bush government where Nasr has been an advisor.
Hugh Graham (Books in Canada)
-- Books in Canada


Iran and Iraq
1501-1524- Shah Ismail founds the Iranian Safavid dynasty and establishes Shiism as the relgion of Persia.
1533- Ottomans take Iraq- Iraq a frontier zone under pressure from Persian Shiite Safavids. Bedouins convert to Shiism to escape Ottoman control.
1979- April- after several attempts at a Monarchist coup are made, Iran is proclaimed an Islamic republic under the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini.   

Lebanon- Hezbollah
-In 1982, with the expulsion of the Secular, Sunni PLO from Lebanon by Israel, the Shiite militia Hezbollah essentially replaces the PLO in Lebanon as the main armed force dedicated to the destruction of Iarael. Hezbollh is supported and funded by Iran.
 -in the mid to late 80s, Hezbollah expands its campaign against Israel to an assault on all western interests in Lebanon, through bombings and kidnappings.

1970 November - Hafez al-Assad overthrows president Nur al-Din al-Atasi and imprisons Salah Jadid. Assad founds what will be a Shia Alawite Dynasty.

Syria and Israel
1967 June - Israeli forces seize the Golan Heights from Syria and destroy much of Syria's air force in the Six day War with Egypt, Jordan and Syria. 
1973 6 October - Syria and Egypt go to war with Israel but fail to retake the Golan Heights seized during the 1967 war. Syria and Egypt are quickly beaten by Israel.
1973- Lebanon stays neutral in the Yom Kippur war.
1974 May - Syria and Israel sign a disengagement agreement.

Hezbollah and Syria.
-1980s, 1990s- President Hafez Assad of Syria, himself a Shia Alawite is nevertheless strongly secular, has no use for Hezollah's goal of a Shia theocracy, but sees them a possiblle ally against Israel.
-Hezbollah gets strong military support from Iran. 
-when Syria occupies Lebanon in the wake of the Israeli invasion, Hezbollah allies itself with Syria against Christian Lebanese leader, Michel Aaoun whose own militia is attempting Syria's explusion.
Hezbollah refuses the Taif Peace Accords.
 -1989 the conflict ends with the Taif Acccords which are rejected by Hezbollah for giving no cope to Islamic government and the increasing numbers in Lebanon's Shia population.
-Hezbollah loudly voices its objection to the continued presence of Isralei troops in southern Lebanon.
-as other militia disarm throughout Lebanon, Hezbollah further militarizes and stores its weapons and launches attacks against Israeli troops in the south.
-2000- Bashar al Assad becomes president of Syria.
-by 2000, Hezbollah has forced Israel out of Lebanon.

2003- March- the US invades Iraq. Though mistrustful of the US at first, Iraq’s two largest Shia parties, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and Al Dawa, both backed by Iran, come to represent the Shia of Iraq.
              2003: The Shia move into power vacuum.
-in the week after the fall of baghdad- 3 million Shia pilgrims -in response to request by exiled SCIRI in iran- marched to the Imam Hussein shrine in karbala to comemorate the arabi'a- the 40 day point after the martyrdom.
-about 400 Baathist buildings and offices throughout Baghdad taken over by Shiites and converted into mosques, religious schools, Islamic social service agencies, clinics. In otherwords a dense Baathist network has been replaced by a dense Shiite netwoek.
             The Shia Uprisings of Moqtada al Sadr against the US Occupation.
April-August- The Mahdi militia of Moqtada al Sadr stages two uprisings against US forces in the Shia south of Iraq.
-June, 2004- US Administrator Bremer formally hands over the reins of the Iraqi government to Interim Prime Minister Iyyad Allawi, inaugurating a pro-forma independence for Iraq.
-the Ayatollah Sistani, by uneashing immense Shia demonstrations, faces down US administrator Paul Bremer, demanding one-person-one-vote democracy and an Iraqi constitution written and approved by Iraqis alone.
2005 -15 December- Iraqis vote for their first formal, democratically elected government and parliament.
Hezbollah and the Assassination of Sunni Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harriri.
-2005- with Syria strongly suspected in the assassination of Lebanese Sunni Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri,  Hezbollah opposes Sunni demonstrations with its own.

    2006: Parliamentary Government by the Shia United Iraqi Alliance.
2006- January- when the counting is done, the large Shia coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, emerges as the governing party.
             2006-Beginning of the Sunni-Shia Civil Conflict.
February- Islamist Sunni commandos blow up the Sacred Shia Al Askariya Shrine in Samarra. Retribution against Sunnis by Shia death squads and militias like the Mahdi Army and the Bard Corps ignite a growing sectarian war.

             2006- Shia government under Nuri Maliki
April- Under US pressure, the indecisive Ibrahim Jafari resigns as prime minister in favour of a new Shia choice, Nuri Al Maliki.

Summer War with Israel.
-2006- after  Hezbollah provokes Israel's disastrous summer invasion and essentially 'wins' by surviving, the leadership demands that is new popularity in Lebanon be rflected in stringer representation.
-Hezbollah boycotts participation in a government that it says refuses to recognize its true strength.
2009- the Saad Hariri government defeats Hezbollah in parliamentary elections.
2010- -the US threatens sanctions against Syria for arming Hezbollah.

Hezbollah and the UN Tribunal set up to investigate te Hariri Assssination.
2010- as the UN Tribunal gets under way to investigate the Hariri assassination, Hezbollah refuses cooperation and condemns the tribunal a stooge for western interests.
2011- the Lebanese government collapases as Hezbollah walks out in protest against the Hariri UN Tribunal.

Hezbollah and Syria's expanding civil war.
2012- Fighting from Syria's civil war waged against the Assad regime spills over into Lebanese border regions causing Sunni-Shia conflicts in Lebanon's frontier regions.  Hezboollah moves to defends Shia villages on  both sides of the border.

SUMMARY OF SYRIAN HISTORY: Perhaps more than any other region in the Middle East, Syria-Lebanon, like Janus, the god of past and future, has had its gaze fixed in two directions, west and east and forward and backward in time. The region's place on the Mediterranean has opened it to western conquest, trade and cultural influence for over two thousand years: from Macedon, through Rome, Byzantine Christianity and finally Europe. At the same time its hinterlands have constituted a deep link to Asia and the ancient world of the Akkadian and Assyrian Empires, of Persia and the Parthians and the tremendous force of Islam in the earliest Caliphates of Damascus and Baghdad and an Ottoman Empire stretching as far east as Persia.
                 This is the heritage of the Syria of Arab nationalism and Islamic radicalism. Both are deeply conservative, both represent Syria's inner and backward gaze, both are nevertheless opposed and threaten to tear the country to pieces in the present conflict. Yet it is also this frontier between east and west that brought Muslim and Christian minorities closer than they have been anywhere else in the Middle East. Syria-Lebanon was forced into contact with the west through the Crusades and Europe's drive to wrest away the Holy Lands in the name of Christianity. In 17th century, France won protection of Syria-Lebanon's Christian minorities from an overburdened Ottoman empire. Napoleon's expedition to Egypt and Syria  revived and sustained European interests and rivalries in the region, over trade and the protection of  holy places and religious minorities who often resorted to sectarian war, especially in coastal, Europeanized Lebanon.
                  In 1918, at the end of the First World War, the Ottoman Empire collapsed leaving the victors, France and Britain, to carve up the Middle East. France got Syria-Lebanon. Each area proved ungovernable and France cut coastal Lebanon away from Syria and gave them both independence.Underneath, ancient sectarian rivalries among Christian and Muslim religious groups continued to simmer. The creation of Israel in 1948 was conceived as yet another western inroad. Lebanon leaned toward the west, Syria toward the east and the Soviet Union and confrontation with Israel. Even Lebanon multi-sectarian, was torn between east and west and it exploded in a Civil war which lasted from 1973 to 1990. The powerful and dissenting presence of Shia Islam in western-oriented Lebanon and the arrival of militant Islam after the 9/11 attacks promised to keep sectarian tensions live in Lebanon and Syria alike. When ordinary Syrians followed the Arab Spring of 2010-2011 into rebellion against  President Assad's decades of misrule, corruption and economic mismanagement, the ensuing civil war began, sadly, to take on a sectarian cast, reflecting the polyglot community that had thrived in the region ever since the seventh century confrontation between  Christian Byzantium and the Muslim conquest.

SYRIA-LEBANON: 1989-2010. 
SYRIA-LEBANON: 1945-1989
SYRIA-LEBANON: 1850-1945
SYRIA-LEBANON: 1500-1850.


LOCATION OF NOTE: ALEPPO:  Founded as early as 5,000 BC, Aleppo is said to be the oldest continually inhabited place on earth. In the second millennium BC, it was ruled by the Hittities. From the 9th to the 7th century BC, it became wealthy as a terminus on the Syria-Baghdad caravan trade. From 600 to 200 BC it was a Persian and then a Greek Seleucid city. When its main competition, Palmyra, fell in 272 BC, Aleppo increased in power and importance. In 300s AD, Aleppo was a Christian city in the Byzantine Christian Empire  before falling to conquest by Islam in 638 and and its great mosque was built in 715. Around 1100, Aleppo was captured by the Seljuk Turks and its great citadel was completed in 12th century as it was beseived by Crusaders before it was captured by Saladin. It fell to the Mongols in 1260 and and to Tamerlane in 1401. But Aleppo achieved its greatest commercial hrights after 1517 when it was absorbed by the Ottoman Empire. It was briefly taken in the mid-19th century by the upstart Egyptian modernizer, Muhammad Ali.  Aleppo then lost economic power with te expansion of Damascus and the completion of the Suez Canal. It prospered under French rule and again after Syrian independence.


                                     The Uprising  is Neither Regional Nor Sectarian.

2011. Encouraged, perhaps, by the success of revolutions in Libya and Egypt, citizens of Daraa, in southwestern  Syria embarks upon a January "Day of Rage", demanding the release of political prisoners. Further protests are met with gunfire and deaths at the hands of the Security forces. President Assad  makes token promises of reform while hinting that the public anger has been in cited by Israel. Beneath this upsurge of violence lies a simple, sinister fact. Assad's liberalizing of the economy over the previous decades, instead of enriching the nation, has concentrated wealth in the hands of the Aalawite elite, his co-religionists and cronies, but also among the Sunni business business class which has remained loyal to the regime. The so-called economic reforms have enriched the Alawites and business class and caused  serious impoverishment of the highly populated rural areas  as poor people of all religious sects crowded into the slums that ring the cities of the economic western corridor- a belt that runs from Aleppo in the north, though Idlib, Hama and Homs down to Damascus in the south. Instead of recognizing his country for the economic tinderbox that it is, Assad blames Israel and sectarian elements for causing trouble. In the impoverished north, there has already been at least one self-immolation like the one in Tunisia which set off the entire Arab Spring.

 In Lebanon, meanwhile, Shia Hezbollah gains a majority of seats in cabinet, making it next to impossible for the UN Tribunal on the 2005 murder of  Sunni Prime Minister Rafik Hariri to commit Hezbollah suspects for trial.

                     The International Community Puts Pressure on Syria.

In Syria, throughout April and May the protests, which are neither tribal nor regional nor sectarian, but entirely a response to economic hopelessness and political repression, begin to spread acrossthe country. The Assad government, perhaps  mindful of the the other Arab revolutions and the amorphous and intractable state into which it has allowed the country to fall, insists that Sunni radials or"Salafists" are behind the trouble and meets the protests with military force, killing more peaceful demonstrators every day. Provoking further rage, Assad has set off on a path of no return.

 In summer, 2011, As the US and the European union tighten sanctions on Syria, Assad decides to  make a few gestures toward reform, calling it a "national dialogue." Meanwhile a nominal Syrian Opposition begins to emerge, holding its first significant meeting in Istanbul. The goal is to put forward a national opposition leadership and gain international recognition.  Protests spread amid signs that the conflict is overflowing Syria's borders and threatening to draw in the region as Sunni-Alawite clashes explode in Lebanon.

As the summer progresses,   the US and other Western and Arab nations use sanctions to pressure Assad to step down as the UN reports floods of refugees leaving Syria for neighbouring countries.  In the fall, just as the Arab League expels Syria from membership, Russia and China, block a UN resolution condemning government atrocities.

In winter, 2011-2012, Syria allows Arab League observers to monitor the conflict as giant suicide bombs explode near military installations in Damascus. The Opposition denies responsibility and suggests the government is trying to start a sectarian war. Both sides will point to each other as instigators of the sectarian war that everyone fears.
                             Russia and China Block Intervention in Syria in the UN.

Russia and China block another UN resolution on Syria amid increasing government violence as it retakes Homs in March killing scores including children in reprisal. Immense terrorist bombings begin to point to Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, Arab observers, immobilized by the violence, begin to arrange support for the opposition. The government continues it attacks on peaceful demonstrations at "protest hubs" in cities like Idlib, Hama, Homs and Deraa, that string the western corridor.

In March and April 2012, UN envoy Kofi Annan proposes a ceasefire that might allow the beginnings of dialogue. Russia and China support the plan but only after weakening its stipulations. But violence continues as the government steps up its offenses and the opposition responds as the deadline approaches. Annan's ceasefire deadline comes and goes in early April leaving the ceasefire in tatters. The government forges ahead using heavy weaponry and perpetrates another massacre at Hula.

The Red Cross has already declared the Syrian conflict a civil war. Violence spills over into Lebanon in mid-May as anti-Assad Sunnis in Tripoli and Kobbe lash with local supporters of the Syrian regime while a Lebanese critic of the Assad regime was arrested, setting of more clashes and hinting that Hezbollah government authorities might be putting their weight behind their longt-time Syrian ally.

 The war internationalizes with the onset of summer, 2012, as a Turkish jet in Syrian airspace is shot down by Syria and Western diplomats pull their ambassadors from embassies in Damascus. Turkey meanwhile sharpens its rules of engagement, threatening to attack any Syrian incursion on its border. Syria is increasingly beleaguered as high level defections from the Assad regime combine with President Obama's warning of  serious measures of Syria uses its alleged stores of chemical weapons. As UN observers pull out of Syria citing the increasing violence, Lakdar Brahimi becomes the new UN peace envoy.

                      The rebel Syrian Free Army Begins to Make Progress around Aleppo

At summer's end, the free Syrian army and other rebel groups make headway in fighting in Damascus and Aleppo, both cities being key to the regime's survival. Meanwhile border tensions arise again between Syria and Turkey with both countries banning each other from using their airports after Turkey discovers Russian weaponry on a Syrian aircraft stopping over in Istanbul.

 Instability further threatens Lebanon in October with the assassination of security chief General Wissam al-Hassan, who had supplied logistical support for the Syrian rebels, setting off clashes between Sunnis and Lebanese supporters of the Assad regime-most probably the Shia Hezbollah party.

                      Syrian Opposition Groups Unite to get Western Support.

In November,2012,  just as the press reports summary executions of prisoners by the Free Syrians Army, Syrian opposition groups meeting in Qatar declare themselves united and form the Syr­i­an Na­tion­al Co­ali­tion for Op­pos­i­tion and Re­volu­tion­ary Forces, making themselves more eligible for funding and weapons from outside Syria. Ominously, sectarian militia groups like the Al Qaeda backed Al Nusra refuse membership.

Upsurges of Violence continue in Lebanon as alignments in the Syrian civil war begin to be taken up in multi ethnic Lebanon. Sunni militants clash with the huge Shia militia, Hezbollah,and Syria planes kill volunteers attempting to cross the border from Lebanon into Syria. But Lebanese soldiers also clash with
Syrian rebels in the border area.

                        Syria Discovered to have Chemical Weapons.

In December, the US warns Syria about its apparent possession of chemical weapons and hints at direct intervention is Syria uses them. As fighting continues to spread to rebel positions along the Turkish border, Turkey warns Syria to stay clear and gets a commitment from NATO to place patriot missiles along its frontier with Turkey.  Fighting between pro and anti Syria factions on the Lebanese border threaten once again to bring Lebanon into the conflict

As US intelligence detects the actual presence of chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, internatiomal pressure is placed on Russia and China to prevent Syria from using them. As rebels continue to fight for Aleppo, Russian envoy Serge Lavrov, UN envoy Lakdar Barahimi and the Syrian Foreign Minister all report that Assad had no intentions of stepping down. Indeed, Assad accuses Islamist sectarian fighters of destroying he company. On this sole point of agreement, perhaps, the US declares Al Qaeda's Syrian Al Nusra Front a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, Washington joins an increasing number of countries recognizing the official Syrian Oppositiion.  

On Jan. 6, 2013,  In a theatre, President Assad addresses Syrian faithful, or perhaps a captive audience, rallying supporter to the cause, attributing the war to Islamist extremists and refusing to stop fighting until victory is achieved. Meanwhile, US and Russia officials hold talks on building a transitional givernment but the talks are not substantive.

In mid-January, the international dimensions of the conflict are once again prominent with the Syria Opposition meeting in Istanbul to consider a prime minister for a transitional government while the US and Russia hold their own talks on shape a new government might take place. And all of this in the shadow of massive Russian naval exercises off the coast of Syria which some suggest have the joint purpose of giving moral support to President Assad, evacuating Russian personnel from Syria and projecting Russian power into the region over fears of the collapse of its greatest middle eastern client.

EVENTS IN SYRIA- 1989-2010
With the Taif Accords of 1989, the Lebanese civil war, which had been raging since 1973, ended. Throughout the 1990s, Sunni-Christian domination of the government was confirmed but with reduced participation of Christians. Both Syria and Israel, who had repeatedly occupied Lebanon during the civil war, ceased hostilities. While Syria continued its occupation, Israel finally withdrew. The nationalist Sunni Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, rebuilt much of the war-torn country but after he refused any extension of pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud's constitutional time limit, Syria delivered a veiled threat. On February 14, 2005. Hariri was assassinated, much of the evidence pointing to Syria. International pressure then forced Syria's final and full withdrawal from Lebanon. Periodic violence accompanied efforts by the UN and the international community to set up a tribunal to bring pro-Syrian Lebanese suspects to justice. After the election of a pro-western Sunni-Christian government headed by Prime Minister Siniora (a Sunni), Lebanon began once again to fall into pro-Syria and anti-Syria factions, 'anti- Syria' Siniora sharing power with the 'pro-Syria (albeit Christian) President Lahoud. In 2005-2007, anti-Syria politicians were frequently assassinated. The hand of Syria was widely suspected. After Hezbollah fought Israel's summer, 2006 invasion of Lebanon to a stand-off, the Shia Party's prestige increased vastly. In the fall, Lebanon's leaders ignored Hezbollah's demonstrations for a greater share in government and its demands for the governemnt to resign in favour of elections which would reflect Hezbollah'a increased power. The Shia party also insisted on two-thirds of the seats in cabinet as well as the power of veto. In support of Hezbollah's demands, Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian who once led the fight to drive Syria from Lebanon, led his party into a pro-Syrian alliance with Hezbollah. Hezbollah opposed all criticism of Syria and in December, 2006, pulled its strong representation from Siniora's cabinet, protesting his refusal to give them the veto. Recent acts of terrorism and street clashes raised fears that Syria was trying to provoke a civil war in order to reestablish control over Lebanon.

French president Chirac, due to personal and poltiical ties to the late Sunni Prime Minister Hariri, had given partisan support to the anti-Syria March 14th Coalition led by Hariri's son, Saad. Charic's support of Hariri's legacys was pleasing to Washington. But after President Sarkozy succeeded Chirac, Washington was guarded about Sarkozy's non-partisan decision, in the spring of 2007, to hold all-party peace talks at St. Cloud. In Washington's view Sarkozy was playing into the hands of the Lebanese anti-Syria opposition's demands for a "unity government." In a June, 2007 meeting at the Elysee Palace Sarkozy met with Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Although Siniora had accepted French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner's offer to host all-party peace talks on Lebanon, Siniora was fully satisfied that France's new government would not be neutral but would fully back his beleaguered government against the pro Syrian alliance of which the militant Shia party, Hezbollah, is a part.

In August, 2007, Aoun's anti-Syria party made further inroads against the government in by-elections. With pro-and anti-Syrian factions in parliament unable to agree on a way of choosing a president to replace outgoing President Lahoud, presidential elections were postponed until October 23, 2008. Meanwhile Hezbollah boycotted the legislature along with its existing cabinet posts. October 23 came and went as Lebanon descended into a political morass, without a president. In December, the army's celebrated neutrality was threatened when Francois Al Hajj, a candidate for commander-in-chief was killed by a car bomb. A Damascus Arab League summit in March tried but failed to break the stalemate in Lebanon. In spring, 2008, the new army chief and presidential hopeful Michel Suleiman threatened to resign if the party didn't agree on a president by summer. The tensions, which have mounted since the murder of anti-Syrian president Rafiq Hariri in February, 2005, broke when the government attempted to close down Hezbollah's telecommunications network. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nazrallah called it a declaration of war. However, the fighting ended when the government agreed to leave Hezbollah's telecommunications intact. On May 25, 2008,Parliament finally elected former army chief Michel Suleiman as president. Three days later, Fouad Seniora was re-appointed prime minister by Suleiman. On July 11 Seniora formed a unity government and the following day, France's President Sarkozy brokered an agreement by which Syria and Lebanon would restore diplomatic relations.

Prospects for reconciliation received a setback in March 2009, when the International CriminalTribunal, having tried tried the four Lebanese generals suspected in the 2005 Hariri Assassination, acquitted them for lack of evidence. Moreover, in May, US Vice President Biden's visit to Lebanon before elections in June was seen by Hezbollah as political interference. The elections, the following month, produced a victory for Prime-Minister designate Saad Hariri's March 14 Party, an alliance formed around his his father's assassination, implicitly opposing  the defeated pro-Syrian Hezbollah party and its backer, Syria.

Al Qaeda, which has an interest in continuing instability in Lebanon had infiltrated fighters in the south before ten were arrested by the Lebanese army. Instability continued as Saad Hariri failed to achieve agreement in the allocation of cabinet posts as he attempted to form a government.

Meanwhile, Iraq and Syria cut off diplomatic relations after Iraq linked Syria with a string of bombings in Baghdad. By September, Prirme Minister Saad Hariri had still not been able to form a government through ethnic allocation of cabinet posts. Border unrest flared the following month with south Lebanese militants exchanging rocket and artillery barrages with Israel on October 27. In early November the border tension gained a maritime aspect when Israeli commandos intercepted a ship carrying 600 tons of arms from Egypt to Hezbollah (according to Israel) in South Lebanon.

Finally, on November 7, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announces the formation of a unity government five months after the victory of his March 14 Party. A period of conciliation  follows, the new cabinet ruling that Hezbollah could remain armed with its considerable arsenal and Hariri traveling to Damascus for what he described as productive talks with Syria. Relations seem warmer yet as Washington restores its ambassador to Damascus in February, 2010 after a five year chill when relations were broken because of presumed Syrian implication in the assassination of Saad Hariri's father, President Hariri.

2010- Tensions resume, however, as an Israeli cabinet minister remarks in February 2010 that another war with Lebanon remains likely before Prime Minister Netenyahu distances himself from the comments. The rough patch continues as the US reprimands Syria upon hearing that Damascus supplied weapons to Hezbollah with Prime Minister Hariri moving, perhaps surpsingly, to Syria's defence. Implying that its suspicions are confirmed, the US hits Syria with sanctions in April accusing it of seeking weapons of mass destruction and arming terror groups in violation of UN resolutions.

In July Lebanon's revered Shia cleric Hussein Fadlallah dies. Syria and Iran, meanwhile deny US accsusations that Iran has supplied Syria with radar that can interfere with Israeli capabiliy of overflight in the event of a mission to destroy Iranian reactors. In August a skirmish between south Lebanese militants and Israelis on Lebanon's southern border leaves a few dead on each side and in September, Syria and Iraq restore diplomatic relations broken a year before.

2010: Syria and Iraq retires diplomatic relations in September after a one year standoff., restoring what some have called "the Shiite Crescent" of Shia nations or Shia governments from Iran to Syria. But elsewhere Syria's prestige is threatened as it fails to arrest witnesses in the Hariri case for perjury in October. The UN tribunal decides Syria has no legal authority over witnesses who are Lebanese and on Lebanese soil.

An October visit to Lebanon by Iranian Preident Ahmedinijad reinforces regional Shia solidarity as Shia Hezbollah leader Nasralla stages a mass rally against the UN Tribunal investigating the Hariri assassination and claims that the tribunal is backed by Israel. Meanwhile reports of  Hezbollah's immense arsenal of rockets and other weapon raised fer of all-out war between Syria, Israel and Iran.

The year closed as President Obama ended a diplomatic standoff by appointing a US ambassador to Syria.

EVENTS IN SYRIA LEBANON, 1945-1989  Since 1945, France has maintained interests in Lebanon and and tried with the UN, the US and Britain  With the simultaneous creation of the state of Israel, Lebanon took in thousands of Palestinian refugees. The presence of radicalized Palestinians, Egyptian President Nasser's pan Arabism and the prospect of a union of Egypt and Syria, galvanized Lebanese Arabs, while upper class Sunnis and Christians looked toward Europe for support. Throughout, the government tried to steer a middle course. The further radicalization of the Palestinian refugees and the entry of PLO units into Lebanon as a result of Israel's 1967 war only raised tensions. Soon the PLO was using Lebanon as a base from which to launch attacks into Israel. By the early 1970s, the battle lines were drawn: clannish Maronite Christians and the Sunni upper class who together controlled the government, were opposed by anti-government Shia and Druze Muslim militants supported by units of the PLO. By 1975, full scale civil war had broken out with Shia muslims fighting Christian minority rule. In 1979-1982, Israel invaded twice to prop up the Christian government and to drive out the PLO. In the second invasion, in 1982, Israel made way for its allies, the Christian Falangists, to massacre Palestinians in the Shabra and Shatila refugee camps in West Beirut. Syria intervened throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, ostensibly to restore order but with ulterior motives of drawing Lebanon back under Syrian control and what Damascus saw as the restoration of a historical Greater Syria. The war began to end in 1989, with the Taif Accords which reduced the share of the dominant Christians in the government. LATER to act as a peace broker during Lebanon's civil war. Like other western powers, France kept its eye on the welfare of Christians in the region during the turublent years of the 1970s and 1980s. In 1983, a French military force was withdrawn from Lebanon after its barracks were bombed by Hezbollah. With the election of French president Sarkozy, Washington became nervous that France's traditional support of the pro western government and Prime Minister  Harir'si March 14 Coalition might weaken and that Sarkozy's attempt at peacemaking might not be as non-partisan as it appears

EVENTS IN LEBANON SYRIA, 1850-1945  By the mid-19th century a Druze-Maronite civil war had ingited, not to end until 1860. The war concluded with an international agreement making Lebanon an autonomous region and providing it with a multi-ethnic adminstrative council or Majlis. In 1861,France helped pressure the Ottoman sultan to create a Sanjak or Christian-governed autonomous region in Lebanon and form a Majlis or multi-ethnic administrative council which included Maronites, Sunnis, Druzes and Shia. By the Berlin Treaty in 1878, however, French interests in Lebanon were confirmed and protection of the Maronites became the means by which France furthered its influence. Until World War I, ethnic strife continued and many Lebanese Christians moved to Europe; but by retaining ties in Lebanon, they only strengthened the European presence there. Otherwise, an uneasy peace was maintained until Wolrd War I. In 1919, in the post World War I settlement, Washington's King-Crane Commission decided that close Maronite ties with France were inevitable while the Muslim majority wanted Lebanon to remain part of Syria. As a result, King-Crane recommended maintaining the compromise of an autonomous Lebanese province within a larger Syrian State. But with the treaty of Sevres in 1919,  Lebanon-Syria fell under French mandate and in 1926. At the same time, Greater Syria, which included Lebanon fell under French mandate. The European powers promised that territorial divisions which for example, separated Lebanon from Syria, would only be temporary. The French, however, increased the size of Lebanon so that it ended up containing more Muslims.  After Muslims rebelled in 1925-26, demanding more power, France adopted the "Communal System" of ethnic representation copied from its own Republic, determining that the Prime Minister would be a Sunni, the President a Maronite and the speaker a Shia. It also fixed the proportion of Christians to Muslims in the assembly at 6 to 5. This formula, balancing power toward the Christians, would remain more or less in place until the present day and remains a source of dissatisfaction with Shia Muslims who may now be in the majority.
             Western relations with the region were not helped when France brutally suppressed several rebellions in Syria during the 1930s. At the same time, imported French Fascist ideas took root among Maronite Christians like Phalange militia leader Pierre Gemayyel. European promises never to divide up Syria permanently were broken. Syria, meanwhile, tried to form its own secular democratic government against the French mandate but French repression only radicalized Islamist groups, giving then power. . During Wolrd War II, Vichy France provided a Fascist influence, chiefly among Lebanese Maronites. In 1945, France granted Lebanon its independence leaving many Maronites feeling they were really a European enclave facing what would soon become a tide of Pan Arab nationalism. Syria gained its independence the following year.

EVENTS IN SYRIA LEBANON: 1500- 1850- Though the Crusades ha ended in failure, they brought the Levantine coast to the attention of Europe and trade developed first with Venice and Genoa and then with France. As the Levant and Middle East fell under Ottoman rule, Europe retained a concern with protecting the holy places of Palestine along with Christian minorities, chiefly in Lebanon. In 1580, Pope Gregory XIII founded a seminary in Rome to train Lebanese Maronite Christians for the clergy. France gained its foothold in Lebanon through trade and through the education and protection of the Maronite Christian minority. Over the next three centuries, Lebanese Maronites encouraged French Catholic missionaries to develop French, Christian western-style educational institutions in Lebanon. In 1649, the Ottoman Sultan accepted France's Louis XIV as protector of Christians in Lebanon and thenceforward, French education and culture influenced Lebanese political institutions.In the eighteenth century, rivalry in Lebanon grew between Britain and France, both of whom made trade agreements with the Ottoman Sultan- but the extensive reach of Jesuit and other Catholic religious and educational institutions inside Lebanon guaranteed a strong French infleunce. Throughout the 18th century, France pursued its political, commercial and religious interests in Lebanon. The coastal region of Beirut and Tyre became the most Europeanized area of the Middle East. Soon the western powers each had a religious group to protect. France protected the Maronites, Russia the Armenian and Greek Orthodox, Britain the Druzes and the Jews. Sectarian divisions deepened as the respective powers maintained diplomatic relations with each group.By the 19th century, the consequent empowerment of Lebanese Christians began to chafe on the Druze Muslims of the interior. In 1831, the Sultan's viceroy of Egypt, Muhammed Ali, rebelled against Constantinople, invaded Palestine and took Syria. He and his son, Ibrahim proceeded to bring Europeanizing reforms to Syria and Lebanon, facilitating the entry of European missions and increasing support and tolerance for the Christians, angering Lebanon's Muslims. The British soon threw the Egyptians out of Syria but ethnic strife had already begun. As Druze bridled against French-backed Maronite power, they obtained the backing of the British  

11/21/06- Pierre Gemayyel Assassinated. (see entry for Nov. 17 and scroll down)
2/6/07- Murmurs of a Renewed Lebanese Civil War. (see entry for Nov. 17 and scroll down)
5/20/07- Tripoli Sunni Group Battles Lebanese Government.
6/ 1/ 07- Hezbollah decries UN tribunal.
6/27/07- France's Sarkozy offers all-party talks.
8/6/07- Government hangs on in parliamentary elections.
9/20/07- Christian Falange MP assassinated.
5/09/08-Sunni-Shia fighting in Beiruit after Government bid to ban Hezbollah communications.


Ancient Syria

2500 BC- Syria-Lebanon is part of the Akkadian Empire.
1850 BC- the Kingdom of Egypt rules the Lebanese coastal region.
1600 BC- Lebanon-Syria occupied by the Hurrians.

1300 BC- the Amorites. Lebanon is on a trade route stretching fromm Ur in southern Iraq to Assur in norhtern Iraq, to Aleppo in north Syria and down through Lebanon toward Egypt.
-1200 BC- Prompted by the Dorian invasions from the north of Greece and into Anatolia, the Luvians of Anatola occupy Syria-Lebanon.
-1000 -670 BC Phoenician civilization developes along the coast.
670 BC- Lebanon is ruled by the kingdom of Tyre as the Assyrian Empire dominates the region.
560 BC- Lebanon-Syria is ruled by Babylon.
500-334 BC- the region is part of the Persian Empire.

Alexander and the Seleucids

334-323 BC- Alexander the Great of Macedon takes the Lebanese coastal area on his march to Egypt.
323-301 BC- the region is ruled by Alexander's successor, Antigonus.
305 BC-64BC -Syria-Lebanon is rulled by the Macedonian Seleucid kings.
220 BC- the coastal region is ruled by Ptolemaic Egypt.

192 BC- Lebanon-Syria is back under Seleucid rule.

74 BC- the region falls briefly under the rule of Armenia.
Rome and Byzantium
44 BC- the region has been taken by Rome, with Syria to become a Roman province. The Lebanon region was called Phoenice.
AD 325- 644- Syria-Lebanon is part of the Oriens region of the Eastern Roman Empire.
-6th century- Monothelite Christians, persecuted in Antioch, find refuge in Lebanon.
644- Syria- Lebanon is penetrated by Islam.
-Lebanon is Islamized by migration of Kurds, Turkomans, Persians and Arabs, many of whom had been accused of the Shia heresy in their land of origin.
-Abu Dharral Ghifari, a companion of Mohammed and partisan of Ali, the first Shia Caliph, is exiled to Rubzah in Syria.
-Late 7th century- the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate rules from Damascus.
-Christian Monothelites in the mountains become known as Maronites.
-11th century- Arab Muslim sectarians name themselves Druzes.
-1000 AD (circa) the Shia Alawite sect begins to appear in Syria's northwest coastal province of Latakia.
-11th century- Arab Muslim sectarians name themselves Druzes.
The Crusades.
-11th to 13th centuries- the Crusaders invade Syria.
-1187- Lebanon is held by the Crusaders, while the the Ayubids who oppose them rule from Syria.
Mongols and Mamelukes.
-1258- the Mongols briefly take Damascus.
-1400 (circa) The Syrian military elite, the Mamelukes repel invasion from the east by the Samarkand conqueror, Tamerlane.
-1517-1566- the region is taken by the Ottoman sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent.
-1536- Francis I of France and the sultan, Suleiman I, sign a treaty of capitulations concerning permanent French trading settlements in the Levant and Turks trading in France; free trade and freedom of religion in one another's countries. Right to be tried in court by one's own consul or nationals. The agreement is renewable upon expiry.
-1585-1635- Fakhr al Din, Druze leader in Lebanon conducts his own foreign policy and invites Christian missionaries.
-1600-1900- Lebanese tribal chiefs encourage French Catholic missionaries to develop education in the country. Rome-educated Maronite priests return to Lebanon and spread western ideas.
1649- Ottoman Sultan issues a decree allowing France's Louis XIV to protect the Maronites. French clergy and French-educated Maronite priests begin to influence political institutions.
-17th-18th centuries- stable feudual structures provide peace between Druzes and Maronites.
France and Russia.
-18th century. The French form close trade relations with Ottoman Syria.
-1736- with Ottoman approval, France becomes protector of the Maronite Christians. The Church of Rome grants the Maronites recognition.
-1740- trade agreements between France and the Ottomans confirmed in perpetuity. The coastal area around Beirut and Tyre becomes the most Europeanized part of the Muslim world.
-1757- contrary to the agreement with the French, the the Ottomans agree to Russia being the protector of Christians in the Levant.
-1774- the Ottomans and Russia reaffirm Russia as the protector of Christians in the Levant.

-prompted by French protection of the Maronites, Lebanon's Ottoman rulers incite the Druzes to move against the Maronites.

-1831- Muhammed Ali, Egyptian viceroy to the Ottomans, deals with rebellions against the Ottomans in Saudi Arabia and in Greece. The Ottoman Sultan, Mahmoud, having promised him Syria and Palestine as a reward, renegs. Ali rebels, takes Syria and from Syria occupies Palestine. He and his son open the area to European influence.

1831-40- Egyptian occupation of Syria and Palestine. Because Ali is a protege of France, France refuses to help the Sultan. Ali wins Cilicia, Palestine and Syria.

-Mohammed Ali invites the French Jesuits to set up in Lebanon where the Jesuits become protectors of the Maronite Christians.

-Ibrahim, son of Mohammed Ali administers Syria for Egypt, centralizing the government and improving the economy. Hailed for resisting the sultan's modernizing reforms, he soon brings in even more radical reforms- facilitating the entry of foreign missions and ruinous competition from foreign imports. Muslims protest his attempt to remove restrictions on Christians and Jews. He even arms Christians in Lebanon and uses them to suppress sectarian Muslim rebellions.

-Britain, meanwhile, allies itself with Druze chieftains in southern Lebanon.
The Civil War of 1840-1861.
-Maronites were considered to be dhimmi, like Jews and Christians- 2nd class citizens. Prompted by French potection of the Maronites, Lebanon's Ottoman rulers incite the Druzes to move against the Maronites.
-1840- the Maronite-Druze feudal system falls apart. A civil war begins which will last until 1860
-1854- under threat of war, Napoleon III forces the Ottoman Sultan to recognize France as protector of the Christians in the Levant. In this he had British support against the ambitions of Russia in the Middle East.

-The Sultan begins, however, to give in to Russian pressure to restore Russia as the guarantor of Christianity and the Holy Places of the Middle East. In the end, the Sultan sides with Engand and France. In response, Russia occupies neightbouring Ottoman provinces of Wallachia and Moldovia under the prestext of protecting Russian Orthodoxy. The Russian action sparks the Cromean war.
-1860- in Ottoman Lebanon, Druze Muslims massacre Maronite Christians.
End of Civil war. Special Status for the Province of Lebanon.
-1861- France intervenes and forces the Ottoman sultan to appoint a Christian governor for Lebanon. As a result the Maronite Christians are awarded a special enclave.
1864-1914- the Ottoman province of Mount Lebanon retains semi-autonomous status.
World War I. Treaty of Sevres.
1914- post-Ottoman Turkey retains the ‘sanjak’ of Lebanon.
1918 October - Arab troops led by Emir Feisal, and supported by British forces, capture Damascus, ending 400 years of Ottoman rule.

-despite a military administration an Arab National Government wields power in “the Arab Zone” central Syria.
-gov’t is secular and made up of an urbaln elite. All trained in British Egypt or Ottoman administrations.
-district governors are locals.
-lower bureaucracy mostly Syrian Ottoman-trained. 

1919 - Emir Feisal backs Arab self-rule at the Versailles peace conference, following the defeat of Germany and the Ottoman Empire in World War I

Sept.- the British make way for a French mandate in Syria. Feisal, according to a deal with Clemenceau allows for French administration despite popular Syrian demands for sovereignty.

The Arab National Congress.

1920 8 March - The National Congress proclaims Emir Feisal king of Syria "in its natural boundaries" from the Taurus mountains in Turkey to the Sinai desert in Egypt. 
-1920- as part of the Sevres settlement between the allies and the Ottomoan empire at the end of World War I, Syria comes under French mandate.
1920 June - San Remo conference splits up Feisal's newly-created Arab kingdom by placing Syria-Lebanon under a French mandate, and Palestine under British control.

1920 July - French forces occupy Damascus, forcing Feisal to flee abroad.

-National Arab Gov’t realizes that relgious discrimination will be a obstacle to independence and will serve allied powers.
-Christias and Muslims hold high positions. Feisal stresses unity of Christians, Muslims and Jews.
“As it penetrated the masses, however, Syrian or Arab nationalism became Sunni Muslim nationalism and sometimes fanaticism.”
 1920 August - France proclaims a new state of Greater Lebanon.
 -the French exploit sectarian tensions.

-Arab National Government makes huge strides in modernization: education, public health, agricultiure, and the Arabizing of European science and technology.
-Arab national Gov’t hampered by being cut off from the Mediterranean by the new Lebanon. Still dependent on Britain, which reduced its authority.
-ANC forms Syrian National Congress.
-as French intentions become clear, the new Sunni nationalism intensifies.

-the Turkish ‘sanjak’ of Lebanon is enlarged by the French into ‘Greater Lebanon’.
 -the Lebanese Maronite Christian enclave is expanded to form modern Lebanon, governed separately from Syria but still under French mandate. It includes coastal Muslim regions despite Muslim protest.
- Lebanon, on becoming a League of nations Mandate, increases in size, bringing its Muslim population almost to parity with the Maronite Christian establishment.
French Divide and rule.
1922 - Syria is divided into three autonomous regions by the French, with separate areas for the Alawites on the coast and the Druze in the south.
The Communal Constitution.
1925-26- uprising by the Druze Muslims. They are a Shia sect who still revered as an incarnation of God the 11th century Shia Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim who is said to have been taken up to heaven.
1926- Lebanon’s new Communal Constitution, modeled on that of the French Third Republic, representation in the assembly favours Maronites to Muslims, 6 to 5. This majority was to become permanent despite changes in the population. The President was to be a maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni and the Speaker a Shia Muslim.
-Lebanon is run by an agreement between Maronite and Orthodox Christians, Druzes, Shia and Sunni Muslims that required self-discipline and rejected radicalism. The Maronites and the Sunnis are the dominant groups but this ruling entente was run by the Higher Muslim Council which represented all the sects.
-the Lebanese inherit the political system of France's fifth republic which allocates parliamentary positions according to relgion: the President has to be a Christian, the prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the speaker a Muslim; half the parliament must be Muslim.
1928 - Elections held for a constituent assembly, which drafts a constitution for Syria. French High Commissioner rejects the proposals, sparking nationalist protests.
1930-1939- the French put down several rebellions in Syria while trying to establish their mandate and alienate much of the population.
1936 - France agrees to Syrian independence in principle but signs an agreement maintaining French military and economic dominance
1936- Pierre Jumayyil, educated in France, brings the idea of a Fascist militia to Lebanon, which he names the Phalanges Libanaises, founded to oppose Pan Arabism.
World War II.
1940 - World War II: Syria comes under the control of the Axis powers after France falls to German forces. 
1941- Britain and the Free French liberate Lebanon from Vichy France.
1943- the National Pact settles differences between Muslims and Christians.
1943- The French and the British send a joint expedition to Syria to keep it out of Nazi control.
1945 - Protests over the slow pace of French withdrawal.
1946 - Last French troops leave Syria.
 Lebanon and Syria become Independent
1945- Jan 1- Lebanon becomes independent. But the Muslms tend to want to be part of Syria and the Christians regard themselves as part of Europe, having no real connection with the Arab World. They called themselves Phoenicianists, considering themselves a Mediterranean, not an Arab civilization.
1945- after World War II, the influence of the Maronites declines with the withdrawal of the French and the British.
1946- Syria attains independence from France.

The Cold War and Arab Nationalism- Founding of Baath party.

1947 - Michel Aflaq and Salah-al-Din al-Bitar found the Arab Socialist Baath Party. 
-Communist Syria becomes the site of cold-war rivalry between the United States and the Societ Union.
1948- as a member of the Arab League, Lebanon declares war on Israel.
1949 - SYRIA- Army officer Adib al-Shishakhli seizes power in the third military coup in the space of a year.
1949- Lebanon is made to receive 300,000 Palestinian refugees. 100,000 are in 15 major camps, five of which ring the capital, controlling entry and exits from Beirut.
1952 - SYRIA- Al-Shishakli dissolves all political parties.
1952 -Kemal Jumblatt ans Camille Chamoun leads the 'Rose Water' Revolution, a bloodless coup fueled by the need for social and political reform of Lebanon's government which is till run by an inward-turned feudal elite.
1952 -Maronite Camille Chamoun becomes President, favouring the West against the leftist, pan-Arab Nasserite movement.
1954 - SYRIA- Army officers lead a coup against Al-Shishakli, but return a civilian government to power. 
1955 - SYRIA Veteran nationalist Shukri al-Quwatli is elected president. Syria seeks closer ties with Egypt.
1956- many Lebanese begin to follow Nasser. Muslims believed they had lost the prestige they had had under the Ottomans before 1920 when the French separated Lebanon from Syria.
-until 1958- Lebanese governments tried to steer a middle course, reaching out both to the west and the Arab world.
United Arab Republic
1958 February - Syria and Egypt join the United Arab Republic (UAR). Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser heads the new state. He orders the dissolution of Syrian political parties, to the dismay of the Baath party, which had campaigned for union.
The 1958 Civil War.
1958- Unrest during the Suez Crisis. Chamoun’s acceptance of US aid and his opposition to a union of Syria and Egypt causes fighting between Christians and Pan Arab Nasserites who have Syrian and Egyptian support.
-General Fouad Chebab, a Muslim, becomes president of Lebanon. US troops are withdrawn. Chebab restores Muslim parity with Christians in the assembly. Lebanon begins to lean toward the Arab states.
Decline of the Arab Nationalist Movement.
1961- SYRIA- September - Discontent with Egyptian domination of the UAR-The United Arab Republic dissolves due to a Baathist coup in Syria.
1961- Syria’s withdrawal from a Pan Arab union with Egypt aggravates a rift between pro Arb and pro Western forces in Lebanon.
1962- Syria incites a coup to draw Lebanon into a Greater Syria but the plot is crushed.

1963 March - SYRIA Army officers seize power. A Baathist cabinet is appointed and Amin al-Hafez becomes president.

1966 February - SYRIA Salah Jadid leads an internal coup against the civilian Baath leadership, overthrowing Amin al-Hafez and arresting Salah al-Din al-Bitar and Michel Aflaq. Hafez al-Assad becomes defence minister.  
The Arrival of the PLO
-the late 60s- Palestinian Resistance units begin to infiltrate south Lebanon . Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt encourages their entry into Lebanon in order to weaken the Maronites.
1967 June - Israeli forces seize the Golan Heights from Syria and destroy much of Syria's air force in the Six day War with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
1967- Lebanon gives lip service to the Arab cause in the Six Day War but tries to steer a middle course..
-1968- Dec. 28- Israel raids Beruit in reprisal for a Lebanon-based attack by Palestinian militants on an Iasraeli air plane in Athens.
1969- after attempting to limit the PLO’s activities, the Lebanese army engages against PLO units.
Hafez al Assad
1970 November - Hafez al-Assad overthrows president Nur al-Din al-Atasi and imprisons Salah Jadid. 
1970- Bashir and Amin Jamayyel begint to take over leadership of the Maronite Phalange from their father Pierre. Their ascendance begins the eclipse of Chamoun.
Prelude to Civil War.
1970s- first shots of the civil war fired out when Shia and Druze Muslims rebel against Maronite Christians and Sunni rule.
-the war complicates as the PLO, driven out by the Israelis, sets up around Beirut. The PLO sides with the Drize and Shia in the civil war.
1971 March - SYRIA- Assad is elected president for a seven-year term in a plebiscite. 
1973- a brief upsurge of sectarian fighting. The Lebanese army engages Palestinian groups.

1973 - SYRIA- Rioting breaks out after Assad drops the constitutional requirement that the president must be a Muslim. He is accused of heading an atheist regime. The riots are suppressed by the army.

1973 6 October - SYRIA- Syria and Egypt go to war with Israel but fail to retake the Golan Heights seized during
1973- Lebanon stays neutral in the Yom Kippur war.
1974 May - Syria and Israel sign a disengagement agreement.
1974- Palestianian groups launch attacks from Lebanon against Israel.
the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. 

1975 February - SYRIA- Assad says he's prepared to make peace with Israel in return for an Israeli withdrawal from "all occupied Arab land".
Stage 1- The Reformist Alliance.

1975- April 13- In response to the assassination of one of their leaders, Christian Maronite Phalagists launch an attack on Palestinians, inaugurating a full civil war.
1975- Left wing Shia and Druze Muslims supported by Syria revolt against Arab Maronite Christian (Eastern Chrisitians in communion with Rome) and Sunni control of the government. The Maronites are supported by Israel. The Druzes are led by Kamal Jumblatt, the Shia by Moussa Sadr.
-Shia leader Moussa Sadr undermines the Higher Muslim Council by calling for a Higher Shia Council.
-the war complicates as the PLO, driven out of Palestine by the Israelis and from Syria by the Syrians sets up around Beirut, using Lebanon as a new base for sorties against Israel.
1975- with Egypt having signed a peace accord with Israel, Syria’s Alawite regime decides to take over leadership of the Arab cause from Egypt by backing the PLO rebellion in Lebanon.
-the Shia form an alliance with the left of the PLO.
-The PLO sides with Druze and Shia Muslims and the LNM militia in the growing civil war. Government order dissolves into anarchy.
Stage 2- Syrian Intervention and Occupation.
1976- Sakris becomes president.
1976 June - Syrian army intervenes in the Lebanese civil war to ensure that the status quo is maintained, and the Maronites remain in power. 
1976- Syria forms the Arab Deterrent Force (ADF) and invades Lebanon at the request of Suleiman Franjieh, supporting the Maronites to prevent the Palestinians from gaining control. Syrian intervention is opposed by Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt.
-Oct- a ceasefire fails to last.
1976- the PLO shifts to southern Lebanon, out of reach of Syria’s ADF, but giving Arafat more direct control over them.
-West Beirut is riven by competing militias.
-East and North Beirut is the objective of Christian militias backed by Israel.
-fighting continues despite the presence of Multinational Peace Troops.
1977- Druze leader, Kamal Jumblatt is assassinated and succeeded by his son Walid as head of the Progressive Socialist Party.
Stage Three: First Invasion by Israel.
1978 - SYRIA- In response to the Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, Assad sets out to gain strategic parity with Israel.
1978- March- June – seeing that there is no longer any central authority in Lebanon to deal with the PLO, Israel invades in an attempt to crush the PLO in southern Lebanon and forms a security zone north of the Israeli border.
-Imad Mughaniyah, as a member of Arafat's elite 'Force 17' works as a sniper, on the Green Line, separating Muslim from Christian Beirut.
-the UN sends in an ineffective UNIFIL force of 6,000.
-the Soviet Union provides arms for Syria and the PLO.
Stage Four: Unification of the Christian cause.
1979- 1980- In internal clashes, rhe Christian Falangists defeat the National Liberal party for control of the Maronite cause.
Muslim Uprisings in Syria.
1980 - SYRIA- After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Muslim groups instigate uprisings and riots in Aleppo, Homs and Hama. Assad begins to stress Syria's adherence to Islam.
1980 - SYRIA Muslim Brotherhood member tries to assassinate Assad.
1980 September - SYRIA- Start of Iran-Iraq war. Syria backs Iran, in keeping with the traditional rivalry between Baathist leaderships in Iraq and Syria.
1981 December - SYRIA- Israel annexes the Golan Heights.
Syria's Assad Crushes Hama Uprising.
1982 February - SYRIA-Muslim Brotherhood uprising in the city of Hama. The revolt is suppressed by the military, whom rights organizations accuse of killing tens of thousands of civilians. 
 1981- peace agreement between Israel, Syria and the PLO.

1980s- Syria sends its army in to restore order and occupies Lebanon. Syria and the PLO hold separate parts of the country.
-the Soviet Union provides arms for Syria and the PLO.
Stage Five- Second Invasion by Israel.
1982- Israel invades, wiping out PLO strongholds in Tyre and Sidon, attacks Beirut by land, air and sea. Israeli troops encircle and bomb East Beirut, home of the PLO HQ. Israel drives out Syria and the PLO- sending the PLO to resettle in various Arab countries under the eye of international peace keepers.
-PLO Force 17 member, Imad Mughaniyah stays behind, fighting in Beirut.
Aug. Maronite Bashir Gemael is elected President.
-the expulsion of the PLO from Lebanon results in the creation of Hezbollah as the new resistance to Israeli occupation, dedicated also to the annihilation of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian theocracy. After falling out with the PLO, Imad Mughinyah joins the newly formed Hezbollah and becomes its security chief. His is also prominent in Islamic Jihad.
-Sept.- When president Bashir Gemayel of Lebanon is assassinated in a bombing of the Christian Falangist headquarters,, Israel, fearing further instability, occupies Beirut. In the process it allows a proxy force of Christian Maronite militias to massacre Palestinian refugees in the Shabra and Shatila refugee camps- the Christians probably doing do in retaliation for the death of Gemayel.
-French, US and Italian troops are dispatched to restore order.
-Bashir’s brother Amin Gemayel is elected president.
-the US pressures Israel for a settlement.
1982 -Israeli troops occupy southern Lebanon to stop sorties against Israel by the PLO and the Shia militia, Hezbollah.
1983- April 18- a bomb destroys the US embassy in Beruit, killing 50.
- May- in a treaty brokered by the US, President Amin Gemayal, though a Maronite must ask Israel, as well as Syria, to withdraw, if he is to retain national support. Even if it exposes him to Druze and Muslim militias. Nevertheless he successfully negotiates Israeli withdrawal. The Syrians, however, refuse to withdraw.
-when Israel finally withdraws, the Christian militias clash with Syrian backed Druze militias.
Oct. 23- -Multinational Peace Troops suffer simultaneous bomb attacks, killing 230 US marines in a marine barracks and 58 French partroopers. Hezbollah militant Imad Mughaniyah is suspected in the blast that killed the 230 marines.
-fighting continues despite the 1982 ceasefire.
1983 - SYRIA- Assad suffers a heart attack, according to reports denied by authorities. Assad's brother Rifaat apparently prepares to take power
1984 SYRIA- Rifaat is promoted to the post of vice-president. 
Stage Six: Syria Reasserts Control.
-1984- Israeli troops are forced to withdraw to their south Lebanon security zone.
-the Christian, South Lebanese Army, with the aid of Israeli troops, occupies south Lebanon.
-1985- TWA airliner hijacked by Hezbollah on flight from Beirut to Algeirs. Hezbollah demands the release of Hezbollah prisoners detained by Israel. US citizen killed. US indicts Imad Mughaniyah for hijacking.
-Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley is kidnapped and murdered. Imad Mughaniyeh is suspected.
-mid 1980s- various militias begin taking westerners hostage. Islamic Jihad kidnaps western academics and journalists in an attempt to free 17 Hezbollah members imprisoned in Kuwait. When attempts to force the release of the 17 failed, Imad Mughaniyah apparently arranged the kidnapping of British Anglican peace envoy, Terry Anderson.
-Mughaniyeh is allegedly involved in the Iran-Contra, arms for hostage deal between Washington and Iran. Working for Islamic Jihad, he releases hostages in return for which Iran buys arms from the US, the proceeds going to fund the Nicaraguan Contras
-Shia women begin wearing the black Chador as a gesture of traditionalist solidarity.
-in the absence of Israel, Lebanese factions turn on one another as the civil war fragments.
-President Amin Jemayyel is forced to recognize Syrian influence.
-PLO units filter back into Lebanon.
1987 February - Assad sends troops into Lebanon for a second time to enforce a ceasefire in Beirut. 
Stage Seven: Syria Stretched to the Limit.
-1988- Syrian troops enter Lebanon to restore order. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt reluctantly accepts Syrian intervention.
-Sept. President Amin Gamayel’s term ends. Due to the impossibility of elections, he brings in military government by Maronite Michal Aoun whose mandate is to expel Syria.
Stage Eight- Aoun's War of Liberation against Syria.
-Syrian troops are attacked by the Lebanese army, led by General Michel Aoun.
-the Arab league brokers a truce between Muslims and Christians but makes no mention of Syrian occupation.
-Mughaniyah hijacks a Kuwat Airways jet to Cyprus and then to Algeria.
Srage Nine- the Taif Accord.
-1989 the Arab League proposes the Ta’if Accord, signed by the last members of the assembly standing before the civil war in 1975; the accord reduces the representation of Maronite Christians in the Lebanese government. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt accepts it reluctantly.
1989-1990- revolts against Syrian occupation by Gen. Michel Aoun are put down by Syria and Aoun is forced to leave the country.
-President Gemayel refuses to reduce the the permanent Maronite majority in the Taif Accord.assembly.
1990 -SYRIA-  Iraq invades Kuwait; Syria joins the US-led coalition against Iraq. This leads to improved relations with Egypt and the US. 
1990s- Hezbollah drives Israeli troops from southern Lebanon.
1990- President Muawad assassinated. President Hrawi succeds him.
-internecine fighting among Christian groups.
- Syria quietly re-occuppies Lebanon and enforces the Ta’if Accord.
-early 1990s- the militias begin releasing western hostages.
- Nov. -rival Shia groups make peace among themselves.
1991 October - Syria participates in the Middle East peace conference in Madrid and holds talks with Israel. 
-1991- a government of national unity is established. A timetable for disarmament of the militias is established.
-the Lebanese army prepares to re-take control of the south.
-Hezbolllah releases hostage Terry Anderson.
-Aug- peace talks with Israel, Syria and a joint Palestinian-Jordanian delegation continue through 1992.
1992- fighting continues between various groups; and the Syrian military and the PLO are still in Lebanon.
-Israeli helicopter strike killes Hezbollah Secretary General Sheikh Abbas Mussawi in southern Lebanon.
-a general election in Lebanon is boycotted by many Maronite Christian parties. Amal and Hezbollah gain the most seats and Rafiq Hariri becomes Prime Minister. The constitution dictates that the president must be a maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the 108 member parliament divided equally between Christians and Muslms.
-Israel indicts Lebanese Hezbollah security chief Imad Mughaniyah in the 1992 bombing of the Jewish embassy in Argentina and in the bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewsih centre which killed 95.
1994 - SYRIA- Assad's son Basil, who was likely to succeed his father, is killed in a car accident.
1998 - SYRIA Assad's brother Rifaat is "relieved of his post" as vice-president.
1999 December - SYRIA Talks with Israel over the Golan Heights begin in the US. 
2000 January - Syrian-Israeli talks are indefinitely postponed.
Bashar Al Assad.
2000 June - Assad dies and is succeeded by his son, Bashar.
2000 November - Bashar orders the release of 600 political prisoners.
2001 April - Outlawed Muslim Brotherhood says it will resume political activity, 20 years after its leaders were forced to flee.
 2001- Syria withdraws 25,000 troops from Beruit but leaves 20,000 in the surrounding area.
2001 September - SYRIA Detention of MPs and other pro-reform activists, crushing hopes of a break with the authoritarian past of Hafez al-Assad.
2001 November - SYRIA- British PM Tony Blair visits to try shore up support for the campaign against terror. He and President Assad fail to agree on a definition of terrorism.
2001 November - SYRIA- More than 100 dissidents amnestied. Campaigners say hundreds of political prisoners remain in jail.
2002 May - Senior US official includes Syria in a list of states that make-up an "axis of evil", first listed by President Bush in January. Undersecretary for State John Bolton says Damascus is acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
2003 April - US threatens sanctions if Damascus fails to take what Washington calls the "right decisions". Syria denies US allegations that it is developing chemical weapons and helping fugitive Iraqis.
2003 September - President Assad appoints Mohammed Naji al-Otari as PM.
2003 October - Israeli air strike against Palestinian militant camp near Damascus. Syria says action is "military aggression".
2004 January - President Assad visits Turkey, the first Syrian leader to do so. The trip marks the end of decades of frosty relations.
2004 March - At least 25 killed in clashes between members of the Kurdish minority, police and Arabs in the north-east.
2004 May - US imposes economic sanctions on Syria over what it calls its support for terrorism and failure to stop militants entering Iraq.

Tention between Christian President Lahoud and Sunni Prime Minister Hariri.
2004- Aug. Under Syrian pressure, its own man in Lebanon, President Lahoud, remains in office beyond the constitutional six year time limit.
2004 September - UN Security Council resolution calls for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon.
2004 December - SYRIA Authorities say they have amnestied 112 political prisoners.
2004- Syrian President Bashir Assad, in a private meeting with Lebanon's western-oriented Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, allegedly delivers a veiled threat of death should Hariri refuse to accept an extension of Syrian-backed President Lahoud's mandate to rule Lebanon.
2005- Hariri, who has almost rebuilt Lebanon in the wake of the war, resigns rather than confirm an extension of the mandate of Syria's proconsul, President Lahoud.
Assassination of Rafiq Hariri.
2005- February 14- Hariri is assassinated. Syria is strongly suspected. A national outpouring of support for Hariri, combined with international censure, forces Syria out of Lebanon.
2005 April - Syria says it has withdrawn all of its military forces from Lebanon. 
-the new, pro-West, independence government of Prime Minister Sinioria is faced with heavy representation of the the Syria-supported Hezbollah Party in parliament and Cabinet.
2005 October - Interior minister and Syria's former head of intelligence in Lebanon, Ghazi Kanaan, commits suicide, officials say. UN inquiry into assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri implicates senior Syrian officials.
2005 December - Exiled former vice-president, Abdul Halim Khaddam, alleges that Syrian leaders threatened former Lebanese PM Hariri before his assassination.
2006 February -SYRIA-  Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus are set on fire during a demonstration against cartoons in a Danish newspaper portraying the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.  

Hezbollah and the Summer 2006 Israeli Invasion.
2006- July- Hezbollah kidnaps Israel soldiers in the border area with Israel. In response, Israel invades Lebanon in order to destroy Hezbollah and cut off all support for hezbollah by Syria and Iran.
2006 July - Thousands of people flee into Syria to escape the Israeli-Lebanese War.
2006 September - SYRIA 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. 
2006- November- the UN investigation of the murder of Rafiq Hariri implicates four Lebanese generals suspected of carrying out the attack on Syrian orders. Syria's president Bashir Assad's inner cicrcle is named as the instigator of the plot. Amal and Hezbollah members resign in protest.
-Lebanon's finance minister, Pierre Gemayel is assassinated. Syria, once again is suspected. In light of UN disclosure of Syria's implication in the Hariri assassination, Syria is suspected of attempting to derail any further inquiries.

Hezbollah Agitates for More power.
-Hezbollah holds mass demonstrations for the resignation of the Sinioria government and new elections that will more acurately show, in Hezbollah's view, the strength of the Shia vote.
-Hezbollah security chief Imad Mughaniyah is reported meeting Iranian President Ahmadinejad in Syria.
2006 November - Iraq and Syria restore diplomatic relations after nearly a quarter century.
2006 December - The Iraq Study Group report making recommendations to the US government says neighbours should form a support group to reinforce security and national reconciliation in Iraq. Syria welcomes the chance to participate.

 Aoun Joins Hezbollah.
Dec. 1- Michel Aoun joins Hezbollah in its protest against the Siniora government's refusal to recognize Hezbollah's cabinet strength with a right of veto.
2007 March - European Union reopens dialogue with Syria.
2007 April - US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets President Assad in Damascus. She is the highest-placed US politician to visit Syria in recent years.
2007 May - SYRIA US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, the first contact at this level between the two countries in two years.
2007 May - SYRIA Leading dissident Kamal Labwani and prominent political writer Michel Kilo are sentenced to a long jail terms, only weeks after human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni is jailed.
 Al-Assad endorsed as president for a second seven-year term.
2007- June 27- France's Sarkozy offers to broker all-party talks in Lebanon.

2007- August- In parliamentary by-elections, Government candidate Mohammed Amin Itani is easily elected to replace assassinated Sunni government deputy Walid Eito. More dramatically, however, Camille Khoury of the opposition (Michel Aoun's) Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian opposition party, edges out Amin Gemayyel, leader of the Government'sChristian Falange Party.

Sept.- Lebanese MP Antione Ghanem is assassinated during the run-up to the Presidential elections.
2007 September - Israel carries out an aerial strike against a site in northern Syria that it said was a nuclear facility under construction.
2007 October - Syria imposes tough visa restrictions on Iraqis, saying it can't cope with the influx of refugees.

Standoff over Vacant post of President.

-parliament delays election of a new president until October 23- as the Hezbollah-pro-Syrian bloc boycotts al proceedings. October 23 deadline passes without a decision.

-December- Francois al-Hajj, touted as next army chief, is killed by a car bomb.

2008- January- SYRIA car bomb kills four during attempt on US diplomatic vehicle.
2008 January - Diplomatic row between Damascus and Paris over Lebanon's quest for a consensus president. 

February 12- Hezbollah militant Imad Mughaniyeh killed by Israeli car bomb in Damascus.

March- Damascus: Arab League summit fails to break impasse on election of a new Lebanese prime minister.
2008 March - Syria hosts Arab League summit. Many pro-Western states send lower-level delegations in protest at Syria's stance on Lebanon.
April- army chief and presidential candidate Michel Suleiman warns he will resign if parties don't agree on a president by the summer.
2008 April - The US accuses North Korea of having helped Syria to build a secret nuclear reactor at the site bombed by Israel in 200
2008 May - President Assad announces a 25% pay rise for public sector workers to offset effects of rising food and heating oil prices. 

Hezbollah Occupies West Beirut.

May- government attempts close to down Hezbollah'a telecommunications system throws south Beirut into factional fighting between pro-Syria, anti-government forces represented by Hezbollah and anti-Syrian, pro government Sunnis.

May 25- Parliament finally elects former army chief Michel Suleiman as president.

May 28- Fouad Seniora is re-appointed prime minister by Suleiman.

July 11- Seniora finally forms a unity overnment.

Syria and Lebanon Restore Relations.

July 12- France's President Sarkozy brokers an agreement by which Syria and Lebanon will restore diplomatic relations.
2008 July - President Assad meets French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris. The visit signals the end of the diplomatic isolation by the West that followed the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in 2005.
While in Paris, President Assad also meets the recently-elected Lebanese president, Michel Suleiman. The two men agree to work towards the establishing of full diplomatic relations between their countries.
2008 September - Damascus hosts four-way summit between Syria, France, Turkey and Qatar, in a bid to boost efforts towards Middle East peace.
-Explosion kills 17 on the outskirts of Damascus, the most deadly attack in Syria in several years. Government blames Islamist militants.
Diplomatic thaw continues 2008 October - Syria establishes diplomatic relations with Lebanon for first time since both countries established independence in 1940s.
October- Syria and Lebanon restore full diplomatic relations for the first time since the 1940s.

2009- March- International Criminal Tribunal to try the suspected killers of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri, assassinated in 2005. Lebanon is to hand over the 4 pro-Syrian generals suspected in the assassination.
2009 March - Jeffrey Feltman, acting assistant US secretary of state for the Near East, visits Damascus with White House national security aide Daniel Shapiro in first high-level US diplomatic mission for nearly four years. Met Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.
-Trading launches on Syria's stock exchange in sign of gradual liberalisation of state-controlled economy.
2009 April - A key suspect in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was arrested in Dubai. Mohammed Zuhair al-Siddiq, a former Syrian intelligence officer, was a witness to Hariri's killing.
April- General Mohammed Zuhair al Saddiq, a former Lebanese intelligence officer is handed over to the tribunal trying the murder of Hariri.

Suspects in Hariri murder released for lack of evidence.

-Four Lebanese Generals, suspected in the murder of Prime Minister Hariri, are released after the international tribunal finds there is not enough evidence.
2009 May - Syrian writer and pro-democracy campaigner Michel Kilo is released from prison after serving three-year sentence. 

-May- US Vice President Joe Biden visits Lebanon; Hezboollah accuses him of attempting to intefere in upcoming June elections.

-Lebanese army colonel arrested by Lebanon on suspicion of spying for Israel.

Hariri's Pro-Western Alliance Party Defeats Hezbollah in Eelections.

June- Saad Hariri's pro-western March 14 Alliance Party wins election, defeating Hezbollah's March 8 Alliance Party.

2009 June - The UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, says traces of undeclared man-made uranium have been found at second site in Syria - a reactor in Damascus. The IAEA was investigating US claims that the site destroyed in the 2007 Israeli raid was a nuclear reactor.
2009 July - US special envoy George Mitchell visits for talks with President Assad on Middle East peac
July- Lebanese army arrests 10 suspected Al Qaeda operatives believed to be planning attacks on UN peacekeepers in the south of Lebanon.

2009 August - Iraq and Syria recall their envoys in a deepening rift over charges of responsibility for a string of deadly bomb attacks in Baghdad.

Septmber- Prime Minister Saad Hariri fails to establish a full unity government but continues to attempt to find a balance in allocation of cabinet seats.

Oct 27-  South Lebanese militants fire rockets into northern Israel hitting the border town, Kirya Shamona. Israel responds with a cross-border artillery barrage.

Nov 4- Lebanon bound ship carrying 60 tons of weaponry intercepted by Israeli commandos who say it was destined for Hezbolla and had been loaded in Damietta, Egypt.

Hariri forms National Unity Government, visits Syria for Talks.

2009- Nov 7- Saad Hariri succeeds in forming government of national unity, five months after his bloc won majority of seats in parliament.

2009 December - Lebanon's cabinet endorsed Hezbollah's right to keep its arsenal of weapons.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri visits Damascus for talks with President Bashar Assad, describing the talks as friendly, open and positive,

US sends mixed messages to Syria and warnings about Hezbollah and Iran.

2010 February - US posts first ambassador to Syria after a five-year break. 

2010 February - PM Sa'ad Hariri expresses concern about Israel "threats" after comments by Israeli minister suggesting a new war with Lebanon was likely. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu distances himself from the comments.

2010 April - US warns of serious repercussions for Syria if reports that it supplied Hezbollah with Scud missiles were true. PM Sa'ad Hariri earlier dismisses the accusations against Syria.

2010 May - US renews sanctions against Syria, saying that Damascus supports terrorist groups, seeks weapons of mass destruction and has provided Lebanon's Hezbollah with Scud missiles in violation of UN resolutions,

2010 June - Eminent defence lawyer Mohannad al-Hassani, head of the Syrian Organisation for Human Rights, is jailed for three years for "spreading false information and weakening national morale" nearly a year after his arrest.

2010 July - Lebanon's most eminent Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, dies.

2010 July - Syria and Iran deny US media reports that Iran has given Syria an advanced radar system that could hamper Israel's ability to overfly Syria and hit Iran's nuclear facilities.
Full face veils banned from universities.

2010 July - Syria and Iran deny US media reports that Iran has given Syria an advanced radar system that could hamper Israel's ability to overfly Syria and hit Iran's nuclear facilities.

-Full face veils banned from Syrian universities. 

2010 August - Lebanese and Israeli troops exchange fire along border; two Lebanese soldiers, a senior Israeli officer and a journalist are killed.

Rapprochement between Syria and Iraq.

2010 September - Syria and Iraq restore diplomatic ties a year after breaking them off.

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 are Lebanese.

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.

Nasrallah Condemns UN Hariri Tribunal, gets backing from Iran.

October - Amid signs of heightened sectarian tension, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pays controversial visit to Lebanon that culminates in rally held at Hezbollah stronghold near Israeli border.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah calls on Lebanese to boycott UN tribunal into 2005 killing of former PM Rafik Hariri, saying the tribunal is in league with Israel.

Oct 28, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, called on all Lebanese to boycott the UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of a former prime minister, saying all information gathered by the team was being sent to Israel. He spoke a day after a crowd of women attacked two UN investigators and a Lebanese interpreter as they gathered evidence at a private gynecology clinic in Beirut. He confirmed that the wives and relatives of Hezbollah commanders and officials were among the clinic's patients.

Nov 23, Lebanese PM Saad Hariri dismissed a media report that implicated Hezbollah and possibly Lebanon's head of police intelligence, Colonel Wissam Hassan, in the 2005 murder of his father, ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

Nov 27, Lebanese PM Saad Hariri expressed concerns for stability in the Middle East as he began a visit to Tehran to rally Iran's support for his efforts to keep Lebanon stable amid tensions over a U.N. probe into the assassination of his father, Rafik Hariri.

 Dec 7, The New York Times reported that US officials believe the militant group Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, has acquired an arsenal of some 50,000 rockets and missiles, raising fears of an enlarged conflict with Israel. Iran and Syria were named as the sources.

US appoints envoy to Syria.
 2010 December - US appoints envoy to Syria after six-year break

 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.

Jan 12, 2011- Lebanese government falls as Hesbollah ministers walk out over Hariri Tribunal.


The Deraa Massacre.

2011 March - "Day of Dignity" protest held in Damascus demanding release of political prisoners. Some 35 people are arrested. At a "Day of Rage" rally in the southern city of Deraa, security forces shoot a number of people dead, triggering days of violent unrest and more civilian deaths.

-The government announces some conciliatory measures and releases dozens of political prisoners in an attempt to damp down the unrest. President Assad dismisses government, accuses protesters of being Israeli agents. 

2011 April - State of emergency - in force since 1963 - is lifted.

April 18- Damascus vows to crush what it calls an "armed revolt" by "Salafists."

Spread of protests and violence.

April 18-20- - 18-27: Crackdowns in Damascus, Banias and Daraa, cradle of the uprising where 100 are reportedly killed on the 23rd. Deadly violence also in Latakia.

April  25-26- Protests spread and strengthen, with calls for the regime's fall.

2011 May - Army tanks enter Deraa, Banyas, Homs and suburbs of Damascus in an effort to crush anti-regime protests.

Syria- US tightens sanctions in response to bloody crackdown on protests. European Union follows suit days later. President Assad announces amnesty for political prisoners.

2011 June - The government says that 120 members of the security forces have been killed by "armed gangs" in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour. Troops besiege the town and more than 10,000 people flee to Turkey.

President Assad pledges to start a "national dialogue" on reform.

Lebanon: 2011 June - Najib Mikati forms cabinet dominated by Hezbollah. The UN's Special Tribunal for Lebanon issues four arrest warrants over the murder of Rafik Hariri. The accused are members of Hezbollah, which says it won't allow their arrest.

2011 June - The IAEA nuclear watchdog decides to report Syria to the UN Security Council over its alleged covert nuclear reactor programme. The structure housing the alleged reactor was destroyed in an Israeli air raid in 2007.

Opposition organises 2011 July - President Assad sacks the governor of the northern province of Hama after mass demonstration there, eventually sending in troops to restore order at the cost of scores of lives.

Syrian opposition activists meet in Istanbul. 
-Dozens of opposition activists meet in Istanbul to form a unified opposition.

July 15- More than one million protest, notably in Hama and Deir Ezzor.

Syria- July 31- the army kills 100 in Hama.

US, EU and Arab nations begins to pressure Assad.

2011 August 18 - US President Barack Obama and allies call on President Assad to step down. Western and Arab states later impose sanctions on his regime.

August-September- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain withdraw ambassadors. U.S. imposes economic sanctions, EU bans Syrian oil imports.

The Syrian National Council forges common opposition front.

2011 October - Newly formed Syrian National Council says it has forged a common front of internal and exiled opposition activists.  Russia and China veto UN resolution condemning Syria.

2011 November - Arab League votes to suspend Syria, accusing it of failing to implement an Arab peace plan. Weeks later the League votes to impose sanctions.

Rebel attacks and suicide bombs in Damascus.

Nov. 16- Army defectors target a military base near Damascus in the Free Syrian Army's most high-profile attack since protests began.

Government supporters attack foreign embassies.

2011 December - Death toll in uprising exceeds 5,000, says UN.
Syria agrees to an Arab League initiative allowing Arab observers into the country.

Twin suicide bombs outside security buildings in Damascus kill 44. Opposition suspects government of attacks.

Thousand of protesters gather in Homs to greet Arab League monitors.
State TV says more than 700 detainees freed.

2012 January - Suicide bomber kills 26 in Damascus. Government vows ''iron fist'' response.
Arab League suspends its monitoring mission because of worsening violence.

- Government releases 5,000 prisoners. Death toll soars past 7,000.

Russia and China block UN resolution on Syria.
2012 February - Russia and China block a UN Security Council draft resolution on Syria, and the government steps up the bombardment of Homs and other cities.

The UN says that more than 7,500 people have died since the security crackdown began.

Feb 4- China and Russia veto a UN Security Council resolution on Syria for the second time in four months. 
Feb 10- Twin car bombs in Aleppo kill 28.

Feb 12- The Arab League says it will begin contacts with the opposition, offering political and financial support. In January it offers a power transfer plan.

Feb 22- An American and a French journalist killed in Homs, after another French journalist was killed there in January.

Massacre by government forces in Homs. Rebels lose Idlib.

2012 March- Syria forces recapture of Homs district of Baba Amr from rebels and carry out massacres. Refugees flee to Lebanon.

March 14- Government Forces seize Idlib city after a four-day assault.

March 17: Two bombs in Damascus kill 27.

Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan holds talks in Syria. U.N. says death toll exceeds 9,000. Syria agrees to U.N.-backed peace plan.

Kofi Annan's Peace Plan Compromised. Syria defies UN  April 10 ceasefire deadline.

March 21-UN Security Council endorses non-binding peace plan drafted by UN envoy Kofi Annan. China and Russia agree to support the plan after an earlier, tougher draft is modified. The UN statement falls short of a formal resolution.

April 5- The Security Council formally backs an April 10 deadline Annan agreed with Damascus to end its attacks on protest hubs and on the opposition to do the same at the latest 48 hours later.

April 8- Damascus says it will not withdraw forces without "written guarantees" the opposition will also lay down arms.

April 9- Surge in violence kills at least 105 people. Shots fired across the border wound six in Turkey and kill a cameraman in Lebanon.

April 10- 52 killed. Annan says he has received reports of troops moving into other parts of the country and tells the UN Syria has not sent a "signal of peace." The UN Security Council calls on Damascus to keep a Thursday 0300 GMT deadline for a complete ceasefire.

April 11- The regime presses its assaults on protest hubs, more than a day after the peace plan was scheduled to enter into effect. It says that it will cease military operations against rebel fighters from Thursday, but will retaliate against any attack by the armed terrorist groups.

Violence surges with Houla massacre as Government defies Ceasefire

 April 12: Annan-brokered ceasefire comes into effect at 6:00am (0300 GMT).

Syria says it will abide by a cease-fire but violence continues. U.N. observers arrive.

 2012 May - UN Security Council strongly condemns the government's use of heavy weaponry and the militia killing of more than a hundred civilians in Houla, near Homs. France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada and Australia expel senior Syrian diplomats in protest.

Syria violence begins to spill over into Lebanon.

Lebanon: May 12, In Lebanon an army officer was killed by sniper fire after clashes broke out between the army and a group of young Islamists, who were demonstrating in Tripoli for the release of a terrorism suspect. A resident of the largely Sunni district of Kobbe was killed in clashes between factions supporting and opposed to the revolt in neighboring Syria. Five people were left injured.

May 14, Clashes in Lebanon continued for a third day, with gunmen firing assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades as sectarian tensions spilled across the border from Syria.

May 20, In north Lebanon army troops shot dead a Sunni cleric when his convoy failed to stop at a checkpoint, the scene of deadly clashes linked to the uprising in Syria. Another religious figure in the car of cleric Ahmad Abdel Wahed, known for his support of the anti-regime uprising in neighboring Syria, was also killed.

-Shadi Mawlawi, an outspoken Lebanese critic of Syrian President Bashar Assad, was arrested and set off several days of clashes in northern Lebanon. Mawlawi was released on May 22.

Syria holds parliamentary elections, violence continues, U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan appeals to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the violence.

Syria shoots down Turkish jet fighter. Turkey gives severe warning to Syria.

2012 Summer - Syrian conflict spills over into Lebanon in deadly clashes between Sunni Muslims and Alawites in Tripoli and Beirut.

2012 June - President Assad tells his reshuffled government that they face "real war", indicating the authorities' conviction that the conflict will be long-lasting and require the sidelining of all other priorities.

Turkey changes rules of engagement after Syria shoots down a Turkish plane that strayed into its territory, declaring that if Syrian troops approach Turkey's borders they will be seen as a military threat.

2012  Jul 20, The UN refugee agency said up to 30,000 Syrians have fled into Lebanon over the past 48 hours. The UN Security Council added a "final" 30 days to the mandate of the UN Supervision Mission, tasked with overseeing a ceasefire that was supposed to have taken effect in April but which has been violated daily.

Western nations expel Syrian diplomats, Annan urges increased pressure on Syria.

Free Syrian Army Makes Decisive Inroads in Damascus and Aleppo.

2012 July - Free Syria Army blows up three security chiefs in Damascus and seizes Aleppo in the north. A government offensive to recapture the city makes only limited headway.

Red Cross expands areas of Syria it says are in civil war. Violence increases across the country.

Jul 7, Syria's military began large-scale exercises simulating defense against outside "aggression." Activists struggling to topple the regime reported fierce government offensives to try to retake rebellious areas outside of Aleppo and near Damascus. Shells fired from inside Syria killed 2 Lebanese civilians and injured 10 others. 77 people were killed across Syria, among them 39 civilians, 25 soldiers and 13 rebels

Red Cross Declares Syria in a state of Civil War.  High level officials defect from regime.

July 15- Red Cross declares conflict a civil war

July 17- Syrian defence minister, Dawoud Rajha, killed in suicide bombing  that struck at the heart of the country's security establishment.

2012 August - The government suffers further blows. A UN General Assembly resolution demands that President Assad resign, high-level defections gather pace - most notably Prime Minister Riad Hijab - and US President Obama warns that use of chemical weapons would tilt the US towards intervention.
UN appoints veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi as new UN-Arab League envoy for Syria after resignation of Kofi Annan.

UN peace monitors pull out of Syria.

-A day after Syrian warplanes attacked the rebel-controlled northern town of Azaz and a bombing near the U.N. observer headquarters in Damascus, the United Nations Security Council decided to end the U.N. monitoring mission in Syria when its mandate expires on August 19.

2012 September - The Free Syrian Army claims responsibility for two explosions at the military headquarters in Damascus. The government says four guards were killed in the "suicide attacks".

- Fighting intensifies in Aleppo and continues across the country.  New U.N.-Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, is expected to visit the country and meet with Assad.

Border tensions increase between Syria and Turkey.

2012 October - Syria-Turkish tension rises when Syrian mortar fire on a Turkish border town kills five civilians. Turkey returns fire and intercepts a Syrian plane allegedly carrying arms from Russia. Both countries ban each other's planes from their air space.

Fire in Aleppo destroys much of the historic market as fighting and bomb attacks continue in various cities.
UN-brokered ceasefire during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha breaks down as government continues attacks.

Lebanon security chief killed by car bomb. Violence between Government supporters and opposition.

Lebanon: Oct. 19- A car bomb killed the chief of Lebanon's police intelligence department, Brigadier-General Wissam al-Hassan, in a Christian neighbourhood in the capital, Beirut.

Oct. 21- violent clashes occurred throughout the country which were triggered by the assassination. Two young girls and a man were killed during clashes between Bab Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen
The following night, pro-Hariri gunmen clashed with rivals in the Tariq al-Jadeedah neighbourhood of Beirut. Two Sunnis and an Alevi were killed in Tripoli and 15 people were wounded on 22 October. In total, clashes from 19 to 23 October left 10 dead and 65 wounded.
Oct 22- Violence subsides in Beirut, but opposition steps up campaign to oust prime minister after assassination of security chief

Oct. 24- Future Movement protesters clashed with the Lebanese army.

Oct 25-  The Syr­i­an mil­it­ary says its forces will ob­serve a tem­por­ary hol­i­day cease-fire co­in­cid­ing with the Muslim hol­i­day of Eid al-Adha. The truce is vi­ol­ated with­in hours, with both sides blam­ing each oth­er. 

November 2- A United Na­tions hu­man rights of­fi­cial says the ap­par­ent sum­mary ex­e­cu­tion of at least eight Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment sol­diers by Syr­i­an rebels doc­u­mented on am­a­teur video “looks very like a war crime.”

Rebel forces and opposition groups forge union in Qatar.

Nov. 11- The deeply di­vided Syr­i­an op­pos­i­tion takes a step to­ward re­newed unity, form­ing a new co­ali­tion de­signed to build stronger in­ter­na­tion­al sup­port for its goal of oust­ing the gov­ern­ment of Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad. After more than a week of some­times con­ten­tious dis­cus­sions in the Qatari cap­it­al, Doha, Syr­i­an dis­sid­ents form the Syr­i­an Na­tion­al Co­ali­tion for Op­pos­i­tion and Re­volu­tion­ary Forces.

Several major opposition forces unite as National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces at meeting in Qatar, including the Syrian National Council. Arab League stops short of full recognition, and France is the only country to recognize the Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Islamist militias in Aleppo, including the Al-Nusra and Al-Tawhid groups, refuse to join the Coalition, denouncing it as a "conspiracy".

Syrian Arab Red Crescent estimates 2.5 million people have been displaced within Syria, double the previous estimate. UN dubs latest figure "conservative".
-Israeli military fire on Syrian artillery units after several months of occasional shelling from Syrian positions across the Golan Heights, the first such return of fire since the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

Fighting between Sunni Salafist and Shia groups in Lebanon coincide with Syrian attack on Lebanese Islamists.

Lebanon- November 11, three people were killed and four others wounded after supporters of Salafi cleric Ahmad al-Assir clashed with supporters of Hezbollah in the southern city of Sidon. Assir stated "We have a blood score to settle with Hizbullah that can only be settled with blood", and that he considered forming an armed resistance group.

Lebanon- November 30, between 14 and 20 Islamists from North Lebanon, as well a Palestinian, were killed in an ambush in Tall Kalakh near the Lebanese border. They had gone to Syria to fight alongside the Syrian rebels.

On December 2, Lebanese soldiers clashed with Syrian rebels near the Syrian border. There were no casualties

US and UN warn Syria against use of chemical weapons.

2012- Dec. 3- The United States bluntly warns Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad against us­ing chem­ic­al weapons as his forces lose ground to rebel fight­ers, re­flect­ing U.S. con­cerns over new in­tel­li­gence in­dic­at­ing that Syr­ia might be pre­par­ing to un­leash some of its chem­ic­al agent stock­piles. The United Na­tions says it is pulling non­es­sen­tial for­eign staff from Syr­ia be­cause of de­teri­or­at­ing se­cur­ity.

Syrian warplanes bombed a security building that had been taken over by rebels along the Turkish border, wounding at least 11 people and sending dozens of civilians fleeing across the frontier, a Turkish official said. A day earlier, Lebanese soldiers exchanged fire with Syrian rebels across their border, media reports said, fueling concerns that the Arab Spring's longest and deadliest revolt could draw in neighbouring countries and spark a regional war.

Dec 4- NATO foreign ministers are expected to approve Turkey's request for Patriot anti-missile systems to bolster its defence against strikes from neighbouring Syria.

Lebanon: Dec 4-6- At least 11 people were killed and 73 injured in Tripoli between 4 and 6 of December, as Awalites and Sunnis were involved in heavy clashes, which were sparked by the Tall Kalakh incident.

-American officials said on 8 December that American satellites and other tools have detected increased activity at several chemical weapons depots in Syria. They believe that atleast one military base has been ordered to begin combining components of Sarin nerve gas to make it ready to use. William Hague, the British Secretary, confirmed their awareness of the evidence.

Dec. 6- Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is calling on China and Russia to lean on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad as reports emerge he could unleash chemical weapons on his own people.

The US joins Britain, France, Turkey and Gulf states in Recognizing Syrian Opposition.

-The US joins Britain, France, Turkey and Gulf states in formally recognizing Syria's opposition National Coalition as "the legitimate representative" of the Syrian people. President Obama says the Coalition is now inclusive, reflective and representative enough for this "big step".

Dec. Dec. 10, 2012:   Syrian rebels capture parts of another large army base in the country's north, just west of the city of Aleppo, tightening the opposition's grip on areas close to the Turkish border, activists say. CTV

Dec. 11, 2012: The Obama administration has declared a Syrian rebel group with alleged ties to al-Qaida as a terrorist organization.

Assad shows no signs of stepping down.

Dec. 24, 2012: The international envoy given the task of pushing to end Syria's civil  says he's worried after discussing the crisis with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the capital Damascus. Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says he and Assad exchanged views on the conflict and discussed possible steps forward, which the envoy did not disclose. The two met hours after a government strike on a bakery in a rebel-held town in central Syria killed more than 60 people.

Dec. 29, 2012: Russia's foreign minister says Syria's president has no intention of stepping down and can't be persuaded to do so. Sergei Lavrov's comments came after a meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.'s envoy for the Syrian crisis. Lavrov said the opposition is endangering many lives by insisting on Assad's resignation as a precondition for talks.

On 3 January 2013,in Lebanon,  one person was killed and three hurt during clashes between the Popular Nasserite Organization and the Hezbollah-affiliated Resistance Brigades. The following day, the body of a Palestinian man was found in Sidon by the army.

Jan. 6, 2013: Assad called on Syrians to defend their country against Islamic extremists seeking to destroy the nation, dismissing any prospect of dialogue with the "murderous criminals" he says are behind the uprising. In a one hour speech to the nation in which he appeared confident and relaxed, Assad struck a defiant tone, ignoring international demands for him to step down.

Jan. 7, 2013: Government troops repulsed a rebel attack on a police school in Aleppo, one day after President Bashar Assad called on Syrians to fight an opposition that he characterized as religious extremists.

Violence increases as US and Russia search for a peace plan.

Jan. 9, 2013: Syrian rebels freed 48 Iranians held captive since August in exchange for the release of more than 2,000 detainees in the first major prisoner swap of the country's civil war, officials said.

Jan. 14, 2013:
A Syrian government airstrike hits a house in a rebellious suburb of Damascus killing at least 13 people, including eight children, and trapping others under the rubble, activists said.

Jan 16- Talks between U.S. and Russian officials on the Syrian crisis have been focused on the “sequence of events,” meaning that the discussions have focused on which steps should be taken first on the way to forming a transitional government. However, the talks are still not at the stage of offering possible candidates for the transitional government

Jan 2o-  Syria's opposition umbrella group, which most Western and Arab powers opposed to the Damascus regime have recognised, is meeting in Istanbul in a bid to name a prime minister-in-exile, one of its leaders says. Experts suggested the exercises will serve to project Russia’s naval power to a highly explosive region and render moral support for the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Jan 20- The Russian Navy has begun its biggest war games in the high seas in decades that will include manoeuvres off the shores of Syria.  It is the largest naval manoeuvres since the collapse of the Soviet Union, officials said. Experts suggested the exercises will serve to project Russia’s naval power to a highly explosive region and render moral support for the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“This part of the world ocean has key geopolitical interest for Russia, considering that the Russian Navy has a maintenance and supply facility in Syria,” the Russian Navy General Staff said last month.

2013 March - Syrian warplanes bomb the northern city of Raqqa hours after reports say rebels had overrun it. US and Britain pledge non-military aid to rebels.

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