On April 13, US President Donald Trump said he had ordered precision attack against Syria’s chemical weapon programs in the wake of a suspected gas attack in Syria’s opposition-held town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus.
Since the Syria civil war began in 2011, an estimated 400,000 people have been killed, according to the UN Envoy for Syria. By February 2018, the United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that at least 5.5 million Syrians have fled the country and 6.1 million people have been displaced internally.
The following is the timeline of how the conflict developed in Syria, and the chemical weapon attacks, over the past seven years.
Anti-government protests erupt in the city of Daraa, Syria. Government security forces open fire on demonstrators, killing four people.
Assad’s forces crack down on protests in Syria’s third largest city, Homs.
US imposes sanctions for alleged human rights abuses, freezing the US assets of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and six other high-ranking Syrian officials.
President Barack Obama calls on Assad to resign, and freezes the Syrian government’s US assets.
Demonstrations and protests spread to Aleppo – the largest city in Syria.
US closes its embassy in Damascus and pulls out diplomats.
Various Syrian opposition forces unite, calling themselves the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.
UNHCR reports that over 1.5 million Syrians have fled the country to escape the fighting.
Hundreds of civilian suffocate and exhibit the symptoms of nerve agent poisoning. United Nations investigators conclude victims were exposed to sarin gas. US President Obama seeks military action, however lacks support from lawmakers.
UN Security Council orders Syria to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, following an agreement reached between the US and Russia.
Syria signs the Chemical Weapons Convention, prohibiting it from creating or using chemical weapons.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says the chemical weapons possessed by the Syrian government have been removed, however the Syrian opposition maintains the government’s stock was not fully accounted for.
A US-led coalition launches 14 airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria.
UN Security Council authorizes probe into reports of chemical weapon use in Syria, as government forces reportedly use chlorine gas in opposition-held areas.
The UN and OPCW conclude Syrian military helicopters dropped chlorine gas on rebel-held territories in Syria. The join panel also concludes ISIL used mustard gas against a town north of Aleppo.
Russia and China veto UNSC resolution to sanction the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons. China’s ambassador called the draft resolution an example of “Western hypocrisy”.
April 6, 2017
Trump orders a Tomahawk cruise missile attack on Syria’s Shayrat Air Base in response to the chemical weapon attack on civilians. Syria denies using chemical weapons.
June 18, 2017
The US downs Syrian fighter jet close to Raqqa after alleging it targeted the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces with bombs.
July 7, 2017
US President Trump and Russian President Putin reach an agreement on curbing violence in southwest Syria during their meeting at the G20 in Hamburg, Germany. The ceasefire took effect in the de-escalation zone from 12 p.m. Damascus time on July 9.
Russian President Putin visits Syria, says Russian forces have completed their mission in the country against ISIL.
Feb. 24, 2018
UNSC adopts resolution demanding 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow for humanitarian aid to reach those trapped in eastern Ghouta by heavy fighting between the Syrian government and rebel forces.
April 7, 2018
Syrian activists, rescuers and medics say a poison gas attack on the rebel-held town of Douma has killed dozens of people. The Syrian government and Russia reject the allegations, saying the purported evidence of a chemical weapons attack was fabricated.
April 9, 2018
Trump says he will decide on a US response to the Douma attack within 48 hours
April 10, 2018
Syria says it has invited the OPCW to send a fact-finding mission into the country, as government forces across Syria go on high alert in anticipation of a possible US strike.
April 13, 2018
US President Donald Trump orders precision strikes on Syria in response to the alleged gas attack six days ago. The action involves countries including the UK and France.