Syria Timeline 2011–2016


  • March: Inspired by demonstrations across the region, protestors begin demanding democratic reforms. Security forces retaliate by opening fire and violently dispersing the protests.
  • May 10-18: The United States imposes sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad and senior Syrian government officials.
  • August 18: President Obama: “For the sake of the Syrian people the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”
  • October 4: The U.N. Security Council considers a U.S.-supported resolution condemning Assad’s government and threatening sanctions. Russia and China veto it.


  • January 23: Jabhat al-Nusra announces its formation as Syria’s official al-Qaeda affiliate.
  • February 4: Russia and China veto a U.S.-backed U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the violence and calling for a political transition.
  • February 6: The United States closes its embassy in Damascus, citing security concerns.
  • February 19: U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham advocate for indirectly arming the Syrian opposition, saying “people that are being massacred deserve to have the ability to defend themselves.”
  • February 24: At the Friends of Syrian People meeting in Tunis, Secretary Clinton states: “We view the Syrian National Council as a leading legitimate representative of Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change.”
  • May 7: Parliamentary elections are held but boycotted by the opposition.
  • August 20: President Obama: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”
  • September 28: The United States says it will supply Syrian opposition rebels with non-lethal aid.


Published on April 22, 2016


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