Important dates and events during the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. More than 16,000 people have died since March 2011 leading up to the Damascus bombing on July 18, 2012.
Day of Dignity protest organized through Facebook for mid-March. Dozens chant slogans against President Assad’s Baath Party, in power since 1963. A week later, 100 people killed during violence in Damascus, Banias, Latakia and Daraa. Assad attempts to quell violence by releasing some political prisoners and lifting a 48-year-old “state of emergency.”
Assad vows to crush “Salafist armed revolt” and sends tanks into Daraa, Banias, Homs and suburbs of Damascus, but protests continue to spread. US and European Union sanctions increase despite Assad giving political prisoners amnesty.
Damascus claims 120 security forces killed by “armed gangs” in Jisr al-Shughour. Army responds and 10,000 refugees flee into Turkey. Assad says he will host a national dialog on reform.
Hundreds of thousands protest near Hama and Deir Ezzor, and scores die. Assad fires the Hama governor and the army kills 100 there on July 31. It’s a bloody month in Hama, Damascus, Aleppo, Idlib, Homs and Deraa. Activists meet in Istanbul in an attempt to form an opposition. Death toll at 1,500.
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Violence rages as President Barack Obama and Western leaders call for Assad to quit. In Hama, 200 die the first week of the month and hundreds more in Deir Ezzor.
About 30 killed in Homs and Rastan as death toll reaches 2,200 with another 10,000 imprisoned. Rallies call for security forces to defect. A new Syrian National Council presents front against foreign and domestic opposition. Russia and China veto a UN resolution condemning Syria.
Tanks kill seven in Homs and the Free Syrian Army responds with its first significant action by attacking a Damascus military base. The Arab League imposes sanctions and suspends Syria after it fails to implement a peace plan and withdraw troops from residential areas. Syrian embassies around the world see protests.
Thousands of protesters greet Arab League observers in Homs, but the mission only lasts a short time because of the violence. Two suicide bombings kill 44 in Damascus, attacks the opposition says were government sponsored. Assad appears on American TV, telling ABC only a “crazy” leader would kill his own people. “We don’t kill our people ... No government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person.”
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A car bomb in Damascus kills 26, and a few days later a mortar attack kills French journalist Gilles Jacquier in Homs. UNICEF says as many as 384 children have died in the conflict.
Russia and China veto a UN resolution that supported the Arab League’s call for Assad to quit after hundreds in Homs died. Russia said the resolution was a biased attempt at “regime change.” The Arab League still offers opposition forces political and financial support. Two Western journalists, Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik, killed in Homs.
Rebels flee and Assad’s forces seize Baba Amr in Homs after more than three weeks of bombardment that killed hundreds. Two more bombings in Damascus kill 27. On March 15, the one-year anniversary, pro-government rallies happen across Syria and regime forces later takes Idlib. Syria “agrees” to UN Security Council demands that it implement Kofi Annan’s peace plan. China and Russia endorse the non-binding plan after modifications.
More than 100 killed on April 9 while six people in Turkey are wounded and Lebanese cameraman is killed after shots are fired across borders. The UN-sponsored ceasefire comes into effect April 12, and monitors begin four days later.
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The Security Council condemns government use of heavy weaponry and the militia killing of civilians in Houla. At least 108 people die, including many children, in attacks in the region of Houla on May 25. France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada and Australia expel senior Syrian diplomats.
In rare address to parliament, Assad tells a reshuffled government they face “real war.” Syria shoots down a Turkish jet, threatening Turkey to stay away. Nato says it supports Turkey. UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous says Syria is embroiled in a full-scale civil war. UN observers suspend operations.
Suicide bomb kills Syrian defense minister Dawoud Rajha on July 17. “Friends of Syria” agree to increase rebel aid at a meeting in Paris. Brigadier-General Manaf Tlas, who headed a unit of Syria’s Republican Guard and a long-time Assad ally, defects. Nawaf al-Fares, Syria’s ambassador to Iraq, defects and joins the opposition on July 11. Army and militias kill as many as 220 on July 12 in Tremseh. Opposition says entire families are wiped out, while the UN suggests defectors and activists are targets. On July 17, Damascus sees some of its heaviest fighting as armored vehicles clash with rebels.
Syria's Prime Minister Riyad Hijab reportedly fled to Jordan with his family. Conflicting reports coming out of Syria said he was fired prior to fleeing the country. "I announce today my defection from the killing and terrorist regime and I announce that I have joined the ranks of the freedom and dignity revolution," Hijab said in a statement read in his name on Al Jazeera television.
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