Exercise Cougar 12

France and Britain will be participating later this Summer in war games codenamed Exercise Cougar 12 [2012]. The games will be conducted in the Eastern Mediterranean as part of a Franco-British  “Response Force Task Group” involving  Britain’s HMS Bulwark and France’s Charles De Gaulle carrier battle group. The focus of these naval exercises will be on amphibious operations involving the (planned simulated) landing ashore of troops on “enemy territory”.

A decisive battle being over Aleppo

Map picture

The escalating conflict in Syria, which is spiralling border tensions with Turkey, has reached a decisive stage with government forces and the armed opposition locked in a high intensity battle over control of the city of Aleppo, the country’s largest.

It is the “mother of all battles” has commenced in Aleppo, Syria’s commercial capital, not far from the border with Turkey, which is an active supporter of the anti-regime Free Syrian Army (FSA). The daily, citing a western diplomat, claims that Syrian security forces are battling around 12,000 militants, originating mainly from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Afghanistan. Given the opacity of the conflict, the figure could not be independently confirmed. The opposition fighters were using “advanced European and Turkish arms” to gain military advantage, in anticipation of establishing Aleppo as a “secure area” to which the Syrian refugees that had crossed the border into Turkey could return. Fighting over Aleppo is acquiring a particularly sharp edge after government troops flushed out most of the fighters from Damascus, which was rocked to the core last week when a devastating bomb blast wiped out the top layer of security establishment.

Ba’ath takeover


Following another military coup led by Abd al-Karim al-Nahlawi September 28, 1961 Syria secedes, re-establishing itself as the Syrian Arab Republic

Several other overthrows and end in a coup on March 8, 1963 engineered by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, just a month after the party’s Iraq version took reins in Baghdad

Members of the Ba’ath Party, which has been active in Syria and other Arab countries since the late 1940s, dominate new Cabinet


A group of army officers on February 23 carry out a successful intra-Ba’ath overthrow, jails President Amin Hafiz and abrogate a provisional constitution

Coup creates a rift between a pan-Arab Ba’ath and a regionalist one; group installs a civilian Ba’ath government on March 1

Conflict over the cultivation of disputed lands sparks into aerial clashes between Israel and Syria in April


Syria joins war as Israel launches strikes on Egypt

Syria loses control of the entire Golan Heights at the end of the six-day war


On November 13, Minister of Defence Hafez al-Assad effects a bloodless coup following a rift in Ba’ath leadership and thus begins the near-complete Ba’ath domination of the country’s affairs till date


Hafez al-Assad consolidates power through Ba’ath-nominated legislature

National referendum” in March 1972 confirms him as President for a seven-year term

n March 1973, a new Syrian constitution goes into effect, defining Syria as a secular socialist state with Islam as the majority religion

In October 6, 1973, Syria and Egypt begin the Yom Kippur War, only to taste defeat once again and allowing Israel into Syrian territory beyond the 1967 boundary

Golan Heights is still under Israeli occupation

Invasion of Lebanon



Syria invades Lebanon amidst and gets involved in the bloody civil war and begins the thirty-year military occupation.


Hafez al-Assad government crushes uprising led by Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Sunnis in Hama, leaving between 10,000 and 25,000 people either dead or wounded. Sunnis object to rule by the “heretical” Alawite sect, to which the al-Assad family belongs


Lebanese civil war ends in 1990, after the Syrian-sponsored Taif Agreement

Syrias backing of the U.S. coalition in Gulf War I marks a watershed in its ties with the West

Hafez al-Assad dies


Hafez al-Assad dies on June 10, after 30 years in power

Parliament amends Constitution, reducing the minimum age of the President from 40 to 34, allowing Hafez al-Assad’s son Bashar to take over

Bashar al-Assad becomes President after a referendum in which he ran unopposed, garnering 97.29% of the vote

Damascus Spring


Bashar al-Assad’s takeover inspires hopes for reform; an intense political and social debate dubbed “Damascus Spring” took place from July 2000 to August 2001

“Damascus Spring” ends in August 2001 with the arrest and imprisonment of leading activists who had called for democratic elections


Syria withdraws forces in April as the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was blamed on Damascus

Syrian uprising


Hasan Ali Akleh, inspired Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi’s suicide protest, set himself on fire January 26, effectively triggering the events now collectively called as Syrian uprising. in the same way had in Tunis on 17 December 2010.

On February 3, activists, through Facebook and Twitter, call for a “Day of Rage” from February 4-5; Hundreds march in Hasan Ali Akleh’s hometown Al-Hasakah, but Syrian security forces disperse the protest and arrest dozens

On March 15, simultaneous demonstrations take place in major cities; Daraa becomes focal point of the uprising

On March 25, at least 20 protesters were reported killed in Daraa as over 100,000 take part in a protest

Protests spread to other cities, including Homs, Hama, Baniyas, Jassem, Aleppo, Damascus and Latakia; toll crosses 70

On March 27, government announces release of 200 political prisoners

Uprising intensifies in April; scores of protesters get killed at the hands of security forces; rift in the ranks of security forces surface; U.S. imposes sanctions against Syria

On April 22, sharpshooters kill 112 demonstrators during anti-government protests across the country, activists say, calling it the Good Friday Massacre. The day is the bloodiest since the protests began.

In May, Syrian army enters Baniyas, Hama, Homs, Talkalakh, Latakia, the Al-Midan and Douma districts of Damascus, and several other towns

Forces continue the siege of Daraa throughout June

On June 6, 120 security force members are killed in the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour, according to government, which attributes the deaths to extremists. Opposition activists in exile claim the soldiers were shot by government loyalist troops for refusing to open fire on civilians.

On June 20, Bashar al-Assad promises reforms, new parliamentary elections greater freedoms

On June 30, large protests erupt in Syria’s second largest city Aleppo

In mid-July, pro-government protesters attack U.S. and French embassies in Damascus

On July 31, security forces kill at least 136 in Hama

Arab League and several Gulf Cooperation Council member states led by Saudi Arabia condemn the Syrian government in August; Syrian Navy joins offensive and killings continue; on August 30, thousands demonstrate in Homs, Daraa and Damascus, security forces kill nine people marring the , Eid ul-Fitr celebrations

Gunmen assassinate Kurdish rights activist Mishaal al-Tammo in October; activists blame Syrian government

On November 3, government accepts an Arab League peace plan, but continues crackdown

On December 19, security forces kill up to 70 army defectors as they were deserting military posts near the Turkish border

On December 23, suicide bombs hit security facilities in Damascus, killing at least 40; regime blames it on al-Qaeda


On January 11, a mortar attack on a pro-regime rally in Homs kills a French journalist and seven others

On February 1, Free Syrian army claims “50 per cent of Syrian territory is no longer under the control of the regime”

On February 4, Syrian forces unleash a barrage of mortars and artillery in Homs killing more than 200 people

On February 10, powerful bombings in Syria’s most populous city Aleppo expand conflict

On February 22, at least 57 die across the country, most of them in Homs; Two western journalists are killed in a shelling attack | Veteran reporter Marie Colvin killed

On March 17, three bomb attacks on government buildings in Damascus claim more than 30 lives; Assad regime blames “terrorists.”

On April 12, the Syrian government and the Free Syrian Army enter a U.N.-mediated ceasefire period; By April 15, reports of ceasefire violations emerge

On April 21, U.N. Security Council adopts resolution 2043 as basis for the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) for an initial 90-day period

On April 23, at least 60 killed in a single day as violence continues unabated

On April 25, more than 100 people are reported by opposition activists to have been killed across the country; in Hama city alone, 71 deaths are counted after a rocket strikes after dark

On May 1, U.N. blames both sides for ceasefire violation

On May 10, between 55 and 70 die in a bomb attack in front of a military intelligence building in Damascus; government says the blast is the work of two suicide bombers

On May 25, more than 100 die as two opposition-controlled villages in the Houla region of Syria come under attack; regime denies role in Houla massacre

On May 30, Free Syrian Army sets a 48-hour deadline for Bashar al-Assad to abide by an international peace plan to end violence, marking the end of the ceasefire; 57 soldiers die in Syria, the largest number of casualties the military has suffered in a single day since the start of the uprising

On June 6, 78 civilians die in al-Qubair after government shelling; U.N. observers rush to probe the al-Qubair massacre, but retreat as they face roadblock and small arms fire

On June 22, Syria shoots down a Turkish fighter jet was shot down by Syrian government forces; Turkey vows retaliation and NATO condemns act

On June 27, Syrian opposition fighters attack a high-profile military facility and a pro-regime TV station near Damascus; Bashar al-Assad announces that his country is at war

On June 30, accepts international envoy Kofi Annan’s plan that calls for the creation of a transitional government; both the regime and the opposition reject the plan

On July 3, Human Rights Watch in a report says Syria has made torture a state policy against civilians

On July 6, Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, a member of the elite Republican Guards and a son of a former defence minister, abandons Bashar al-Assad’s regime; Friends of Syria conference in Paris

On July 12, Syria fires defected Ambassador to Iraq

On July 13, 200 massacred in Hama, claim Syrian activists

On July 18, suicide bomber kills Defence Minister, his deputy, and seriously injured several other top security officials including the Interior Minister and the intelligence chief

On July 19, Russia and China veto a new U.N. Security Council resolution that would have slapped new sanctions against President Bashar Assad’s regime; India and 10 other countries vote in favour

On July 20, Rebels launch all-out assault for control of Aleppo

On July 23, Syria warns of chemical weapons against “foreign aggression” | Arab League calls upon Bashar al-Assad to step down


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