March 2011 – Violence flares in Daraa after a group of teens and children are arrested for writing political graffiti. Dozens of people are killed when security forces crack down on demonstrations.
March 24, 2011 – In response to continuing protests, the Syrian government announces several plans to appease citizens. State employees will receive an immediate salary increase. The government also plans to study lifting Syria’s long standing emergency law and the licensing of new political parties.
March 30, 2011 – Al-Assad addresses the nation in a 45-minute televised speech. He acknowledges that the government has not met the people’s needs but he does not offer any concrete changes. The state of emergency remains in effect.
April 21, 2011 – Al-Assad lifts the country’s 48-year-old state of emergency. He also abolishes the Higher State Security Court and issues a decree “regulating the right to peaceful protest, as one of the basic human rights guaranteed by the Syrian Constitution.”
May 18, 2011 – The US imposes sanctions against al-Assad and six other senior Syrian officials. The Treasury Department details the sanctions by saying, “As a result of this action, any property in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons in which the individuals listed in the Annex have an interest is blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.”
August 18, 2011 – The US imposes new economic sanctions on Syria, freezing Syrian government assets in the US, barring Americans from making new investments in the country and prohibiting any US transactions relating to Syrian petroleum products, among other things.
September 2, 2011 – The European Union bans the import of Syrian oil.
September 23, 2011 – The European Union imposes additional sanctions against Syria, due to “the continuing brutal campaign” by the government against its own people.
October 2, 2011 – A new alignment of Syrian opposition groups establishes the Syrian National Council, a framework through which to end al-Assad’s government and establish a democratic system.
November 12, 2011 – The Arab League suspends Syria’s membership, effective November 16, 2011.
November 27, 2011 – Foreign ministers from 19 Arab League countries vote to impose economic sanctions against the Syrian regime for its part in a bloody crackdown on civilian demonstrators.
November 30, 2011 – Turkey announces a series of measures, including financial sanctions, against Syria.
December 19, 2011 – Syria signs an Arab League proposal aimed at ending violence between government forces and protesters.
January 28, 2012 – The Arab League suspends its mission in Syria as violence there continues.
February 2, 2012 – A UN Security Council meeting ends with no agreement on a draft resolution intended to pressure Syria to end its months-long crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.
February 4, 2012 – A UN Security Council resolution condemning action against Syria is not adopted after Russia and China vote against it.
February 6, 2012 – The US closes its embassy in Damascus and recalls its diplomats.
February 7, 2012 – The Gulf Cooperation Council announces its member states are pulling their ambassadors from Damascus and expelling the Syrian ambassadors in their countries.
February 16, 2012 – The United Nations General Assembly passes a nonbinding resolution endorsing the Arab League plan for al-Assad to step down. The vote was 137 in favor and 12 against, with 17 abstentions.
March 15, 2012 – The Gulf Cooperation Council announces that the six member countries will close their Syrian embassies and calls on the international community “to stop what is going on in Syria.”
March 27, 2012 – The Syrian government accepts Annan’s plan to end violence. The proposal seeks to stop the violence, give access to humanitarian agencies, release detainees and start a political dialogue to address the concerns of the Syrian people.
April 1, 2012 – At a conference in Istanbul, the international group Friends of the Syrian People formally recognizes the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
June 10, 2012 – Abdul Basit Sieda, a Syrian native living in Sweden, is now Syria’s National Council leader.
July 23, 2012 – The Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, threatens to use chemical and biological weapons against outside forces: “No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used…unless Syria is exposed to external aggression.”
July 30, 2012 – The Syrian Charge d’Affaires in London, Khaled al-Ayoubi, resigns, stating he is “no longer willing to represent a regime that has committed such violent and oppressive acts against its own people.”
August 6, 2012 – Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab’s resignation from office and defection from Assad’s regime is read on Al Jazeera by his spokesman Muhammad el-Etri. Hijab and his family are said to have left Syria overnight, arriving in Jordan. Hijab is the highest-profile official to defect.
August 9, 2012 – Syrian television reports that al-Assad has appointed Health Minister Wael al-Halki as the new prime minister.
October 3, 2012 – Five people are killed by Syrian shelling in the Turkish border town of Akcakale. In response, Turkey fires on Syrian targets and its parliament authorizes a resolution giving the government permission to deploy its soldiers to foreign countries.
November 11, 2012 – Syrian opposition factions formally agree to unite as the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.
November 13, 2012 – Sheikh Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib is elected leader of the Syrian opposition collective, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.
January 6, 2013 – Assad announces he will not step down and that his vision of Syria’s future includes a new constitution and an end to support for the opposition, which he calls terrorists. The opposition refuses to work with Assad’s government.
February 12, 2013 – The UN Security Council estimates that the number of civilians killed in the two-year civil war in Syria is approaching 70,000.
March 19, 2013 – The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces elects American-educated Ghassan Hitto as its prime minister. Though born in Damascus, Hitto has spent much of his life in the United States, and holds dual US and Syrian citizenship.
May 27, 2013 – European Union nations end the arms embargo against the Syrian rebels.
July 6, 2013 – Ahmad Assi Jarba is elected the new leader of the Syrian National Coalition.
August 2, 2013 – The UN calls for an investigation into an incident in July in Khan al-Assal in northern Syria. Videos on the Internet purport to show Syrian rebels executing as many as 30 people, most of them government soldiers.
August 24, 2013 – Medical charity Doctors Without Borders announces that three hospitals near Damascus treated more than 3,000 patients suffering “neurotoxic symptoms” on August 21. Reportedly, 355 of the patients died.
August 29, 2013 – The UK’s Parliament votes against any military action in Syria.
September 27, 2013 – The UN Security Council passes a resolution requiring Syria to eliminate its arsenal of chemical weapons. Al-Assad says he will abide by the resolution.
October 31, 2013 – The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announces that Syria has destroyed all its declared chemical weapons production facilities.
November 25, 2013 – The UN announces that starting January 22 in Geneva, Switzerland, the Syrian government and an unknown number of opposition groups will meet at a “Geneva II” conference meant to broker an end to the Syrian civil war.
December 2, 2013 – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says that a UN fact-finding team has found “massive evidence” that the highest levels of the Syrian government are responsible for war crimes.
June 3, 2014 – Al-Assad is re-elected, reportedly receiving 88.7% of the vote in the country’s first election since civil war broke out in 2011.
July 7, 2017 – President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin reach an agreement on curbing violence in southwest Syria during their meeting at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany. The ceasefire will take effect in the de-escalation zone beginning at noon Damascus time on July 9.