THE COUNT­DOWN

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS -

2011:

March: Civil­ian protests break out dur­ing “Arab Spring” fol­low­ing four decades of re­pres­sive rule by the As­sad dy­nasty. Es­ca­lates to civil war. Many sol­diers de­fect to the rebel side.

July: A de­fect­ing army colonel sets up the Turkey-based rebel Free Syr­ian Army. 2012 March: Regime forces re­cap­ture third city Homs, which had fallen into the hands of the rebels. It car­ries out other bloody op­er­a­tions, no­tably in the cen­tral city of Hama.

July: FSA fight­ers launch a bat­tle for Da­m­as­cus but the gov­ern­ment holds firm. 2013: Regime he­li­copters and planes un­leash crude bar­rel bombs on rebel zones. Le­banese Shi­ite mil­i­tant group Hezbol­lah and Iran join As­sad.

Au­gust: US ac­cuses the regime of killing more than 1400 peo­ple with chem­i­cal weapons in rebel-held dis­tricts near Da­m­as­cus.

Septem­ber: The US and As­sad ally Rus­sia come to an agree­ment on a plan to elim­i­nate Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons, avert­ing puni­tive US strikes against the regime for cross­ing a “red line”. 2014

Jan­uary: Hos­til­i­ties be­tween ji­hadists of ISIS and rebel groups turn into open war in the north. ISIS takes Raqqa from rebel

forces, al­low­ing Da­m­as­cus to jus­tify its fight as a bat­tle against “ter­ror­ism”.

Septem­ber: A US-led coali­tion launches air strikes against ISIS. 2015 Septem­ber: Rus­sia launches air strikes in sup­port of As­sad’s troops, turn­ing the ta­bles for the regime. 2016

De­cem­ber: As­sad forces re­take Aleppo, con­sid­ered to be Syria’s second city. 2017

April: A sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun kills more than 80 peo­ple, prompt­ing the US to bomb a Syr­ian air base at Shayrat. 2018

Jan­uary: Turkey, which is wary of Kur­dish as­pi­ra­tions for au­ton­omy, launches op­er­a­tion against Kur­dish Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units.

Fe­bru­ary: Syr­ian regime launches as­sault on rebel en­clave of East­ern Ghouta, killing 1700 civil­ians in seven weeks.

April: Syria launches what is widely sus­pected to be a chem­i­cal attack in East­ern Ghouta’s main town of Douma. The Syr­ian Gov­ern­ment and Rus­sia re­ject the claims, how­ever the US pledges a force­ful re­sponse.

April 14: The US, Bri­tain and France carry out a wave of puni­tive strikes in re­sponse to al­leged chem­i­cal weapons at­tacks.

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