Note: This timeline highlights key events of the war in Syria. It is meant as an overview rather than a comprehensive summary. For a timeline of Preemptive Love’s humanitarian work in Syria, go here.
- Anti-government protests swell in Daraa and other cities across Syria. A number of protestors are killed in clashes with security forces.
- Several Syrian military officials defect to form the Free Syrian Army, effectively the first opposition militia in Syria.
- Major fighting begins between government and opposition forces.
- The first ceasefire is declared—by early summer, it collapses in failure.
- The conflict in Syria is officially designated a civil war. The battle for Aleppo begins. Government forces withdraw from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for local Kurdish parties to establish a de facto autonomous zone.
- Opposition forces gain territory in Idlib, Aleppo, and Deir ez-Zour provinces.
- Opposition forces seize Raqqa in eastern Syria and shell the Syrian capital Damascus.
- A chemical attack near Damascus reportedly kills hundreds of civilians.
- ISIS captures its first territory in Syria.
- ISIS, having made significant gains in Syria and neighboring Iraq, declares itself a caliphate.
- ISIS begins a three-year siege of the city of Deir ez-Zour in eastern Syria.
- A US-led coalition begins launching airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria.
- Islamist militias, led by the Al-Nusra Front, seize control of much of Idlib province.
- ISIS captures Palmyra and destroys many of the city’s ancient cultural landmarks.
- Russia begins airstrikes in Syria in support of government forces, targeting both opposition and ISIS-held territory.
- Government forces recapture territory in Daraa province, marking a turning point in Damascus’ favor.
- The UN declares another ceasefire in Syria—like the first one, it collapses by summer.
- Kurdish led forces begin capturing ISIS-held territory in northeast Syria. Turkey invades northern Syria for the first time, clashing with both ISIS and Kurdish militias.
- The final phase of the battle for Aleppo begins, as much of the city comes under heavy bombardment and civilians flee. Preemptive Love provides its first emergency relief in Syria, feeding thousands of displaced families in the Aleppo countryside.
- The battle for Aleppo ends, with the city coming back under government control.
- Another chemical attack prompts a US military response against Syrian government targets.
- A number of deescalation zones are established in Syria, including in Idlib province.
- The battle for Raqqa, capital of the self-declared ISIS caliphate, begins.
- ISIS is defeated in Raqqa. One month later, the militant group’s siege of Deir ez-Zour is finally broken.
- Government forces launch an offensive to capture Eastern Ghouta, a strategic region near the capital Damascus. The offensive is believed to be one of the deadliest of the war.
- A chemical attack in Douma, a city in Eastern Ghouta, prompts US retaliation. Within days, Syrian government forces complete their offensive, bringing all of Eastern Ghouta under their control.
- Government forces advance on opposition territory in southern Syria. The offensive ends with a deal allowing the last opposition forces to leave for Idlib province in the northwest.
- Turkey and Russia declare a buffer zone around Idlib, the last remaining opposition territory (not including the de facto autonomous region in northeast Syria).
- Kurdish-led, US-backed forces capture the last ISIS-held territory in Syria.
- Fighting continues in Idlib, with territory changing hands between government and opposition forces.
- After the US announces its withdrawal from northeast Syria, Turkey launches a major offensive, displacing thousands and seizing a large stretch of territory along the Syria-Turkey border, which Turkish authorities claim they need as a “buffer zone.”
- Syrian government forces and their Russian allies launch an offensive to recapture Idlib province in northwest Syria.
- Turkey and Russia announce a ceasefire in Idlib. Despite sporadic fighting over the next year, the lines of control change little between government- and opposition-held territory.
- The US implements the Caesar sanctions. Syria’s currency collapses, triggering a massive economic crisis. Within months, a majority of Syria’s population is at risk of hunger.
- Military forces announce the opening of a humanitarian corridor in Idlib, possibly signaling that a renewed offensive is imminent. As of March, no civilians have used the corridor to flee Idlib.
Preemptive Love has served on the ground in Syria since 2016. Today, we’re continuing to show up with lifesaving food and medicine. Rebuilding businesses and revitalizing farms. Stabilizing whole communities.
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