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Syrias modern history

Qamishli While the current civil war in Syria is horrific, violence among the countrys many ethnic and religious groups is not new.

Aleppo Med. Sea Idlib Kfar Zeita Hama


100 miles 100 km

Syrias threatened people

Syria is majority Sunni Muslim, and the civil war appears to be polarizing the country along ethnic and religious lines Total population Main minority groups In millions Alawites Kurds Christians Iraqis Druze Palestinians Ismailis Armenians




r ive


Arab Sunni Muslim

22 million

2.1 2.0 1.9 1.5 0.6 0.4 0.4 0.2

NOTE: Population data is pre-civil war


Damascus Golan Heights Others 26


Syrian President Bashar Assad (an Alawite)

Rise of modern Syria

1920 After 400 years of Ottoman rule, Syria
comes under French mandate following Turkish defeat in World War I War II; British, French troops invade independence

Hafez Assad, 1970-2000

1970 Defense Minister Hafez Assad seizes
power in a bloodless coup the Golan

Bashar Assad, 20002000 Assad dies;

his son Bashar becomes president alleged support for terrorists

1973 Syria and Egypt fight Israel but fail to retake 1976 Islamist Sunni Muslim Brotherhood begins
insurgency; Syria intervenes in the Lebanese civil war

1941 Syria falls to the Germans during World 1946 French troops leave; Syria gains 1947 Arab Socialist Baath Party formed 1958 Syria, Egypt form the United Arab Republic
(dissolved 1961) in Six Day War

2004 U.S. imposes sanctions over Syrias 2005 Syrian troops leave Lebanon 2008 Syria establishes diplomatic relations
with Lebanon

1980 Muslim Brotherhood tries to kill Assad;

Syria backs Iran from start of 10-year war with Iraq uprising; thousands are killed

2011 Government begins crackdown

on protesters, leading to civil war

1967 Israel seizes Golan Heights

1982 Military crushes Muslim Brotherhood 1990 Syria joins U.S.-led coalition against Iraq,

2013 World nations, led by U.S., consider punitive

attack following reported use of chemical weapons; to date, war has left more than 100,000 dead and nearly 2 million refugees

leading to better relations with Israel, U.S.

Source: CIA World Factbook, Eurostat, UNHCR Graphic: Pat Carr

2013 MCT