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Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French administered the area as Syria until granting it independence in 1946. The new country lacked political stability and experienced a series of military coups. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. In September 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights region to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional, albeit unsuccessful, peace talks over its return. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the socialist Ba’ath Party and the minority Alawi sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. Following the death of President Hafiz al-ASAD, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum in July 2000. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005. During the July-August 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Syria placed its military forces on alert but did not intervene directly on behalf of its ally Hizballah. In May 2007, Bashar al-ASAD’s second term as president was approved by popular referendum.Influenced by major uprisings that began elsewhere in the region, and compounded by additional social and economic factors, antigovernment protests broke out first in the southern province of Dar’a in March 2011 with protesters calling for the repeal of the restrictive Emergency Law allowing arrests without charge, the legalization of political parties, and the removal of corrupt local officials. Demonstrations and violent unrest spread across Syria with the size and intensity of protests fluctuating. The government responded to unrest with a mix of concessions - including the repeal of the Emergency Law, new laws permitting new political parties, and liberalizing local and national elections - and with military force and detentions. The government’s efforts to quell unrest and armed opposition activity led to extended clashes and eventually civil war between government forces, their allies, and oppositionists.International pressure on the ASAD regime intensified after late 2011, as the Arab League, the EU, Turkey, and the US expanded economic sanctions against the regime and those entities that support it. In December 2012, the Syrian National Coalition, was recognized by more than 130 countries as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. In September 2015, Russia launched a military intervention on behalf of the ASAD regime, and domestic and foreign government-aligned forces recaptured swaths of territory from opposition forces, and eventually the country’s second largest city, Aleppo, in December 2016, shifting the conflict in the regime’s favor. With this foreign support, the regime also recaptured opposition strongholds in the Damascus suburbs and the southern province of Dar’a in 2018. The regime continued to periodically regain opposition held territory until early 2020 when Turkish firepower halted a regime advance and forced a stalemate between regime and opposition forces that has prevented any subsequent advances. The government lacks territorial control over much of the northeastern part of the country, which is dominated by the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and a smaller area dominated by Turkey. The SDF expanded its territorial hold beyond its traditional homelands, subsuming much of the northeast since 2014 as it battled the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Since 2016, Turkey has been engaged in northern Syria and has conducted three large-scale military operations to capture territory along Syria’s northern border in the provinces of Aleppo, Ar Raqqah, and Al Hasakah. Some opposition forces organized under the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army and Turkish forces have maintained control of northwestern Syria along the Turkish border with the Afrin area of Aleppo Province since 2018. In 2019, Turkey and its opposition allies occupied formerly SDF-controlled territory between the cities of Tall Abyad to Ra’s Al ‘Ayn along Syria’s northern border. The extremist organization Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Nusrah Front) in 2017 emerged as the predominate opposition force in Idlib Province, and still dominates an area also hosting additional Turkish forces. Negotiations between the government and opposition delegations at UN-sponsored Geneva conferences since 2014 and separately held discussions between Iran, Russia, and Turkey since early 2017 have failed to produce a resolution to the conflict. According to a September 2021 UN estimate, the death toll resulting from the past 10 years of civil war is more than 350,000, although the UN acknowledges that this is the minimum number of verifiable deaths and is an undercount. According to a June 2022 UN estimate, the death toll resulting from the past 10 plus years of civil war is more than 306,000. As of early 2022, approximately 6.66 million Syrians were internally displaced and 14.6 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance across the country. An additional 5.6 million Syrians were registered refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and North Africa. The conflict in Syria remains one of the two largest displacement crises worldwide (the other is the invasion of Ukraine).