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SYRIA. Origins and Independence. In 1958, Egypt and Syria formed the United Arab Republic Syria became independent on Sept. 29, 1961 following a revolution. . Loss of Golan Heights. In the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, Israel quickly vanquished the Syrian army.

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Origins and independence
Origins and Independence

  • In 1958, Egypt and Syria formed the United Arab Republic

  • Syria became independent on Sept. 29, 1961 following a revolution.


Loss of golan heights
Loss of Golan Heights

  • In the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, Israel quickly vanquished the Syrian army.

  • Before acceding to the UN cease-fire, the Israeli forces took control of the fortified Golan Heights.


Lebanese civil war
Lebanese Civil War

  • In the mid-1970s Syria sent some 20,000 troops to support Muslim Lebanese in their armed conflict with Christian militants supported by Israel during the civil war in Lebanon.

  • Syrian troops frequently clashed with Israeli troops during Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon and remained thereafter as occupiers of large portions of Lebanon.


Assad family rule
Assad family rule

  • In 1990, President Assad ruled out any possibility of legalizing opposition political parties. In Dec. 1991 voters approved a fourth term for Assad, giving him 99.98% of the vote.

  • On June 10, 2000, President Hafez al-Assad died. He had ruled with an iron fist since taking power in a military coup in 1970. His son, Bashar al-Assad, an ophthalmologist by training, succeeded him. He has emulated his father's autocratic rule.


Withdraw
Withdraw?

  • In the summer of 2001, Syria withdrew nearly all of its 25,000 troops from Beirut. Syrian soldiers, however, remained in the Lebanese countryside.


Un wants syria out
UN wants Syria out

  • The U.S. imposed economic sanctions on the country in May, accusing it of continuing to support terrorism.

  • In Sept. 2004, a UN Security Council resolution asked Syria to withdraw its 15,000 remaining troops from Lebanon. Syria responded by moving about 3,000 troops from the vicinity of Beirut to eastern Lebanon, a gesture viewed by many as merely cosmetic.


Assassination
Assassination

  • On Feb. 14, 2004, Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated. Many implicated Syria in the death of the popular and independent leader, who staunchly opposed Syrian involvement in Lebanon.

  • Huge Lebanese protests called for Syria's withdrawal from the country, a demand backed by the U.S., EU, and UN.

  • In addition to the anti-Syrian demonstrations, however, there were a number of massive pro-Syrian rallies in Lebanon sponsored by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

  • By the end of April, Syria had withdrawn all its troops, ending a 29-year occupation. In October, the UN released a damning report on Hariri's death, concluding that the assassination was carefully organized by Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officials


2006 lebanese war
2006 Lebanese War

  • In July 2006, during the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict in Lebanon, Syria was strongly suspected of aiding Hezbollah.


Meeting with israel
Meeting with Israel

  • For the first time in eight years, Syria and Israel returned to the bargaining table in May 2008.

  • Syria wants to regain control over the Golan Heights, which was taken by Israel in 1967, and Israel hopes an agreement will distance Iran from Syria and diminish some sway Iran holds over the Middle East.


Us attack
US attack

  • In October, American Special Operations Forces launched an air attack into Syria, killing a leader of al-Qaeda, Abu Ghadiya

  • He was accused of smuggled weapons, money, and fighters into Iraq from Syria.

  • The Syrian government accused the Americans of committing a war crime, saying that eight civilians, including a woman and three children, had been killed in the attack.


Dara a protest
Dara’a Protest

  • Anti-government protest movement that swept through the Middle East in early 2011 also engulfed Syria.

  • The arrest of about a dozen school-age children for painting anti-government graffiti in the southeast town of Dara'a sparked outrage, prompting citizens to take to the streets in protest.

  • Residents found out their boys were being beaten and tortured in prison.

  • The families of the boys approached authorities and asked for their sons' release. Activists and observers say authorities shunned and insulted the people. One official reportedly said: "Forget your children. If you really want your children, you should make more children. If you don't know how to make more children, we'll show you how to do it."


Crackdown
Crackdown

  • Demonstrations broke out throughout the country,

  • On March 25, the government reneged on a promise not to use force against the protesters, opening fire on demonstrators in the south.

  • As many as 60 people were killed.

  • Massive protests and the crackdown by police continued, and by April 18 as many as 200 protestors had been killed.

  • As the opposition movement gained strength, President Assad tried to balance suppression and compromise, offering some reform and lifting the emergence law while forbidding protests "under any banner whatsoever."


Worsening
Worsening

  • Assad continued to brutally crack down on protesters.

  • By late May about 850 protesters had been killed by forces.

  • The continued suppression led the Obama administration to impose sanctions on Assad and six other high-ranking officials.

  • Assad intensified the attacks on protesters in early August, unleashing tanks, armored vehicles, and snipers.

  • By the end of the siege, casualties reached about 1,700.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDfiKJJAUPw


Sanctions
Sanctions

  • In mid-August, Obama issued a statement demanding that Assad resign and increased sanctions against Syria, freezing all Syrian assets held under U.S. jurisdiction and banning U.S. citizens and companies from doing business with the Syrian government.

  • In addition, the UN released a report accusing Syria of crimes against humanity.


Organization
Organization

  • October formed the Syrian National Council, a diverse group of dissidents and opposition leaders who had the shared goal of ousting Assad. Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, endorsed the council and allowed members of the Free Syrian Army, a militia of army deserters, to set up camp within its borders


Arab league
Arab League

  • In November the Arab League suspended Syria's membership and later imposed sanctions on Syria.

  • Freezing of Syrian government assets in other Arab nations

  • Halting all commercial transactions with the Syrian government and central bank. It was the first time the group has taken such action against a member.


Spiraling out of control
Spiraling out of control

  • The UN warned in December that Syria was on the brink of a civil war.

  • "The Syrian authorities' continual ruthless repression, if not stopped now, can drive the country into a full-fledged civil war"

  • Arab League observers entered Syria in January to try to persuade Assad to stop attacking civilians, withdraw tanks from towns, and begin talks with the opposition.


Syria
Veto

  • In early February, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that called for an end to the violence, for Assad to hand power to his vice president, and the creation of a unity government.

  • Days later, however, the UN General Assembly voted 137-12, in favor of a resolution that condemned Assad and urged him to step down. The resolution was non-binding

  • http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/66/253


Syria
Homs

  • Syrian forces unleashed a vicious assault on Homs, killing hundreds.

  • The assault on Homs continued throughout the month, and after a vicious 27-day bombardment, the insurgents withdrew from Homs.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyQIv5wyYGE


Horror
Horror

  • In late February, a UN panel accused the government of ordering "gross human rights violations" against civilians.

  • It also found that members of the Free Syrian Army were also guilty of using excessive violence, but their acts were "not comparable in scale and organization to those carried out by the state."

  • By the end of March, the UN estimated that about 9,000 people had been killed in the fighting.


End in sight
End in sight?

  • On March 21, the UN Security Council issued a statement backing a plan that largely mirrored the proposal by the Arab League, which called on the government to stop killing civilians, engage in talks with the opposition, withdraw forces from the streets, and "begin a transition to a democratic, political system.”

  • Russia and China, which had previously vetoed resolutions condemning Assad, endorsed the document. Assad accepted the statement and agreed to a cease-fire. He later said he would withdraw troops from cities by April 10.


Houla
Houla

  • In May 110 people, including 49 children and 34 women were killed in the village of Houla.

  • UN observers blamed many of the deaths on government tanks and artillery and said many of the victims were executed in their homes.

  • Assad, however, claimed terrorists carried out the attack. In response, 11 nations, including the U.S., expelled Syrian diplomats, and the UN Security Council unanimously criticized the "outrageous use of force" against residents and the government's role in the attack.


Summer of despair
Summer of despair

  • In June, UN monitors abandoned their fact-finding mission after being attacked, and a UN official declared that Syria is in a state of civil war.

  • Assad's regime suffered a blow on July 18, when a bomb went off at a meeting of senior ministers and security officials at the country's national security headquarters in Damascus

  • Later in July, rebels and government troops battled for control of Damascus and Aleppo, Syria's largest city.

  • Fighting was particularly brutal in Aleppo, as the government troops surrounded the city with tanks and fired on rebels from fighter jets and helicopters. As many as 200,000 people fled the embattled city. The government showed signs of strain as it attempted to fight the rebels in two major cities.


Al qaeda
Al Qaeda

  • Muslim jihadists and members of Al Qaeda began to join the fight in the summer, backing the rebels with weapons and financing. The development prompted concern that the opposition would become dominated by extremists


Hopeless
Hopeless

  • Kofi Annan said "without serious, purposeful and united international pressure, including from the powers of the region, it is impossible for me, or anyone, to compel the Syrian government in the first place, and also the opposition, to take the steps necessary to begin a political process."


Staggering numbers
Staggering numbers

  • By the end of the summer, the violence in Syria had claimed about 30,000 people, mostly civilians, about 250,000 people had fled the country, and some 1.2 million were internally displaced.

  • The rebels controlled wide swaths of the countryside, while the government maintained its grip on the country's biggest cities.

  • President Barack Obama has resisted calls for U.S. intervention, saying he will not take military action unless Assad unleashes biological or chemical weapons.

  • Relations between Syria and Turkey, former allies, deteriorated in October after a cross-border mortar attack from Syria killed five Turkish civilians. Turkey launched retaliatory attacks on targets in Syria.

    .


Who can we trust
Who can we trust?

  • Weapons sent to Syrian rebels from Saudi Arabia and Qatar had fallen into the hands of radical Islamic militants rather than the secular opposition, the intended recipients.

  • The opposition began to lose support within Syria and in the international community as its attacks grew increasingly brutal and the emergence of the jihadists frightened many Western supporters.


New organization
New organization

  • In November 2012, Syria's opposition groups agreed to form a new governing body that will unify the many rebel groups under one umbrella.

  • The 50-person body, the Syrian National Coalition, will replace the Syrian National Council.

  • It will also oversee the opposition's military and will manage the distribution of weapons and funds.

  • The group's leader, Sheikh Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, a Sunni preacher has said he is willing to negotiate with Assad.


Red line
Red Line

  • While most nations have refrained from sending troops to back the opposition, several, including the U.S. have sent financial and humanitarian aid.

  • The U.S. has resisted direct involvement in the war to avoid giving Iran a reason to intervene.

  • In December, amid growing concern that Assad was preparing to unleash chemical weapons on the opposition, President Barack Obama said such a move would cross a "red line" and would merit a response.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxxwfaIAl_Q


Syria
Aid

  • By the end of February 2013, about 70,000 people, mostly civilians, had been killed in the war, 700,000 people fled the country, and some 2 million people declared themselves internally displaced by the war.

  • John Kerry traveled to Syria and announced an additional $60 million in aid to the opposition Free Syrian Army. The assistance will not come in the form of weapons but will include food aid, medical supplies, and materials to help beef up security and infrastructure.


Red line crossed
Red line crossed?

  • In April 2013, Israel said they had evidence that Assad had used chemical weapons, specifically sarin

  • That followed the assertion by France and England that Assad unleashed chemical weapons on rebel-held areas in Damascus, Aleppo, and Homs in March.

  • The U.S. initially distanced itself from Israel's conclusion, but on April 25, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the intelligence community thinks with “varying degrees of confidence” that Assad had used chemical weapons.

  • He said the U.S. would need confirmation before considering action against Assad.

  • In June, the U.S. determined that Assad had used chemical agents “on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year” and said it would begin supplying arms and ammunition to the rebels. The Obama administration, however, said it would not give them anti-aircraft weapons, which the rebels have requested.


Hezbollah
Hezbollah

  • Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, declared at the end of May that the militant group was throwing its full support behind Assad and would send troops into Syria to fight alongside Syrian troops.


Rebels losing
Rebels losing

  • After months of holding the logistically important city of Al-Qusayr, which lies between Homs and the Lebanese border, the rebels fled the city in early June after being overrun by the Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters. Many rebels and citizens expressed outrage that Hezbollah turned its guns on fellow Muslims, citing Syria's support of Lebanon during its war with Israel.

  • As the opposition showed signs of fracturing; Sunni versus Shiite violence intensified; and Assad's forces held on to Damascus, most of central Syria, and cities in the north with the help of Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, the U.S. acknowledged in July 2013 that the president would likely remain in power and control parts of Syria indefinitely.


Chemical weapons
Chemical Weapons

  • On Aug. 21, 2013, opposition groups accused the government of attacking rebel areas in Zamalka, EinTerma, and Erbeen, suburbs east of Damascus, with chemical weapons.

  • Gruesome, graphic images in the media showed victims foaming at the mouth and twitching and lines of covered corpses. The opposition said as many as 1,000 people died in the attack.

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the attack a "moral obscenity" and an "indiscriminate slaughter of civilians." The alleged attack coincided with the arrival of UN inspectors to Syria to investigate earlier allegations of government use of chemical weapons.

  • Inspectors were cleared to investigate the site, and their convoy was fired on by snipers en route..


Current status
Current Status

  • Because Russia and China vowed to veto any UN Security Council resolution authorizing retaliation on Assad, the U.S. and allies hoped to form a coalition to support an attack

  • President Obama said on Aug. 27 that he was considering a limited strike on the military bases and the artillery that he believes were responsible for the chemical attack

  • However, on Aug. 29, the British parliament voted down Cameron's request for authorization to attack Syria—a stunning setback to Cameron

  • Obama surprised many on September 1, when he announced that he would seek Congressional approval for a military action.

  • On Sept. 4, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted, 10 to 7, to authorize the action..

  • A diplomatic solution was back on the table on Sept. 9, after U.S. secretary of state John Kerry suggested half-heartedly that a strike could be averted if Assad agreed to hand over all chemical weapons.

  • Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said, " We call on the Syrian leadership to not only agree to setting the chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also to their subsequent destruction."

  • Syrian foreign minister - "We are ready to reveal the locations of the chemical weapon sites and to stop producing chemical weapons and make these sites available for inspection by representatives of Russia, other countries and the United Nations".

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbIrm42zYTU

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJkvwIBrrAI