News / Middle East

Months of Unrest Led to US Call for Assad to Resign

An image taken from a video uploaded on YouTube shows Syrian anti-government demonstrators marching in the coastal city of Latakia on August 12, 2011 (AFP cannot independently verify the content of this video.)
An image taken from a video uploaded on YouTube shows Syrian anti-government demonstrators marching in the coastal city of Latakia on August 12, 2011 (AFP cannot independently verify the content of this video.)

Tensions in Syria began to build early in the year with the rise of the Arab Spring protests in Tunisia, Egypt, and other north African and Middle Eastern countries. Syrian government forces have tried to quell the protests in the country with deadly force. Rights groups and activists say at least 1,800 civilians have been killed since the start of the government's crackdown in March. It is hard to verify the accounts of the violence because the government has barred most foreign media from reporting and traveling freely in the country. The Obama administration on Thursday called on the Syrian president to step down.  

Timeline of major developments

March 16: Syrian security forces in Damascus break up an opposition protest calling for the release of political prisoners. Some demonstrators are detained.

March 24: The Syrian government announces a series of reforms, including the first suggestion that emergency laws, in place since 1963, might be lifted. Proposed reforms include measures to raise salaries for public employees and fight unemployment.

March 29: The Syrian government resigns, but President Bashar al-Assad remains in power. Rallies in support of the president take place in several cities, including the capital, Damascus.

April 14: President Assad announces a new 31-member government. He orders the release of detainees arrested in the wave of protests, except those convicted of "criminal acts."

April 19: The Syrian government approves an end to emergency laws that ban public demonstrations and restrict the media. President Assad ratifies the decision two days later. But the government threatens harsh reprisals if unrest continues.

April 29: The U.S. imposes new sanctions on Syria, targeting its intelligence agency and two relatives of the president. U.S. officials warn the penalties could be expanded to include President Assad.

May 23: European foreign ministers announce sanctions against President Assad and nine members of his government.

June 20: President Assad blames the uprising on "saboteurs" outside the country. He pledges to hold parliamentary elections, work to create new political parties, and amend the constitution. But he says he will not implement change amid chaos.

June 29: The U.S. Treasury Department imposes sanctions on Syrian security forces in connection with the lethal crackdown on protesters. It accuses agents of Syria's political security unit of opening fire and killing demonstrators in  incidents in March and April.

July 7-8: U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and French Ambassador Eric Chevallier visit the city of Hama to show support for thousands of protesters there.

July 10: Syrian opposition members boycott talks with the government to protest the crackdown on demonstrators.

July 15: A Human Rights Watch official says that some 17,000 people have been detained since March and detention centers are extremely overcrowded. He says his group has documented torture and brutal beatings.

August 7-9: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain withdraw their ambassadors from Syria. Arab League Secretary General Nabil al Arabi urges Syria to "stop all acts of violence." Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu meets with President Assad in Syria to call for an end to the violence.

August 17: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks by telephone with President Assad, saying he is alarmed at reports of excessive use of force by the government and widespread human rights violations. Ban also calls for an independent investigation of the violence.

August 18: The United States calls for Assad's resignation. U.S. President Barack Obama calls for the Syrian president to step aside and announces new sanctions on Syria. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the transition to democracy in Syria has begun and calls on Assad to "get out of the way."

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More