Return to Homs

PBS Premiere: July 20, 2015Check the broadcast schedule »


Return to Homs Timeline

January-March 2011

  • Pro-democracy protests spread across the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Uprisings.

March 15, 2011

  • A "Day of Dignity" is held when protesters call for the release of political prisoners. On the same day, a "Day of Rage" rally is held in the city of Daraa. Violence erupts in Daraa after a group of teenagers are arrested for writing political graffiti. Dozens of protesters are killed by security forces in Daraa.

May 2011

  • President Bashar al-Assad abolishes martial law and subsequently introduces a new "counterterrorism" law. Syrian military troops are deployed in civilian areas.
  • The United States imposes sanctions on Syria.

August 2011

  • The Syrian National Council is formed.
  • President Barack Obama calls upon Assad to step down.

November 2011

  • The Arab League imposes sanctions on Syria.

January 2012

  • Al-Qaeda establishes its presence in Syria through the rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra.

February 2012

  • The U.N. General Assembly passes a nonbinding resolution endorsing the Arab League's plan for Assad to step down. When the resolution reaches the U.N. Security Council, it is vetoed by Russia and China.
  • Syria holds a referendum on a new constitution, but rebel forces dismiss it as a sham.

March 2012

  • Syrian troops take control of the Bab Amr neighborhood in Homs after killing hundreds of civilians in a siege.
  • The United Nations estimates 8,000 Syrians have died over the course of the conflict.

April 2012

  • The Syrian government promises to comply with a U.N. ceasefire on the condition that it can continue to defend itself against forces it perceives to be terrorists. The ceasefire ultimately fails.

May 2012

  • An attack on Homs kills more than 100 civilians, more than half of whom are children.

June 2012

  • The United Nations suspends peacekeeper patrols due to escalating violence.

July 2012

  • The Syrian government threatens to use chemical weapons if foreign powers intercede in the conflict.

August 2012

  • Obama refers to chemical weapons as a "red line," explaining that if Syria crosses the line and uses chemical weapons against rebel forces, the United States will intervene.

November 2012

  • The Syrian National Council becomes the Syrian National Coalition to form a more cohesive front against government forces.

February 2013

  • The U.N. Security Council estimates that the number of civilians killed is approaching 70,000.
  • There is an influx of weapons from outside forces to support the Syrian National Coalition.

April 2013

  • The jihadist militant group, ISIS (also known as ISIL) expands into Syria. ISIS grew out of al-Qaeda (the groups later split) and is one of the main jihadist government-opposition groups in Syria and Iraq. ISIS operates independently of other jihadist and rebel groups, with its own set of objectives.

June 2013

  • Obama authorizes sending weapons to Syrian rebel forces in response to reported use of chemical weapons by Assad's government.
  • The United Nations estimates 93,000 Syrians have been killed.

August 2013

  • Assad is accused of using chemical weapons on civilians, including children. The Syrian government denies this and blames the chemical attacks on rebel forces.
  • Obama seeks Congressional approval to intervene with force in Syria.

September 2013

  • Obama decides not to intervene in Syria.
  • The United States and Russia agree to a plan to dismantle chemical weapons in Syria.

October 2013

  • Chemical weapons factories in Syria are officially out of operation.

December 2013

  • A U.N. fact-finding team determines that people at the highest levels of the Syrian government are responsible for war crimes.

January 2014

  • The United Nations stops counti¬¬ng Syrian deaths due to unreliable data as a result of the chaotic conditions of war.
  • The first round of international peace talks regarding the Syrian Civil War begins in Geneva.

February 2014

  • A second round of peace talks is held in Geneva. All parties fail to reach an agreement.

May 2014

  • The Syrian military regains control of Homs.

June 2014

  • Presidential elections are held in Syria. For the first time since Hafez al-Assad took power, more than one candidate is allowed on the ballot. Bashar al-Assad wins the election.
  • ISIS declares an Islamic state over its controlled territories in Syria and Iraq.

July 2014

  • The United Nations unanimously approves a plan to allow aid into Syria without the approval of the Syrian government.

August 2014

  • The United Nations releases its first death count since its announcement in January that it would stop counting due to unreliable data: it estimates that more than 191,000 people have been killed over the course of the war.


BBC News. "Syria Iraq: The Islamic State Militant Group." August 2, 2014.

Chivers, C.J and Eric Schmitt. "Saudis Step Up Help for Rebels in Syria With Croatian Arms". The New York Times. February 25. 2013.

CNN. "Syria Civil War Fast Facts."

Laub, Zachary and Jonathan Masters. "The Islamic State." Council on Foreign Relations. May 18, 2015.

Sanchez, Ray. "ISIS, ISIL or the Islamic State?" CNN. January 23, 2015.

The New York Times. "Video Feature: The Story of ISIS." December 16, 2014.

The New York Times. "Events in Syria: A Chronology." September 1, 2011.