The History of Syria goes back thousands of years to the ancient kingdoms that rose in the Cradle of Civilization. Syria has been held by the Babylonians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Ottomans, Europeans, and finally back to the Syrian Arabs of today. Every group that owned this part of Mesopotamia made their mark. From Roman ruins, to some of the earliest Christian churches and Islamic Mosques. Even today ruins from these cultures still stand today. However these invaluable heritage sites are threatened and are being destroyed by ISIS.
The Syrian Arab Republic of today began during the French Mandate during the 1920's. In 1925 Sultan Al-Atrash led a revolt against the French. While the revolt was initially successful in spreading, by 1927 the French regrouped and began to retake territory. Sultan Al-Atrash was sentenced to death, but he managed to flee to Transjordan. 10 years later in 1937 the Sultan was granted a pardon and returned to Syria. In 1936 the Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence was negotiated and the first president was elected. With the breakout of the Second World War France refused to ratify the treaty, and it wasn't until 1946 that France pulled all of it's troops out leaving the Syrians in charge.
Independence did not mean peace for Syria. In 1948, alongside several other Arab states, Syria began an invasion of Palestine in an effort to destroy the new state of Israel. The invasion ended with Israel victorious and the rest of the Arab world embarrassed and beaten. The instability following their defeat led to multiple military coups. These coups progressively took more control of the country and in some instances removed parliamentary bodies and other functions of government. (of which were later restored). Stability began to return after signing a pact with the Soviet Union which gave Syria arms and weaponry in exchange for a communist presence in the country.
In 1958 President Shukri al-Quwatli negotiated with Egypt to create the United Arab Republic. However this alarmed quite a few Syrian political parties as much of their power and influence was diminished in favor of Egypt being the leader of the union. Predictably this lead to another coup in 1961 wherein Syria reasserted it's independence. in 1963 yet another coup took place which finally placed the political party of Syria today, the Ba'athist party. The Ba'athist's are an Arab political movement that seek to have a single united Arab country. In 1966 The Syrian Ba'athist party staged a coup that separated the Syrian Ba'athist party of today, and the Iraqi Ba'athist party.
In the years that follow Syria had an incredibly contentious relationship with Israel. Alongside Egypt the Arab world began to close in on the Jewish state. Israel clearly saw the threat and preemptively struck Egypt in what was know as the six-day war. Once Israel attacked, Syria jumped right to Egypt's aid, but even the strength of the Arab countries combined was not enough. Israel pushed the Egyptians back, and in the final days of the war they managed to not only beat the Syrians, but they did so in less than 48 hours. This was yet another crippling defeat that left the government indecisive. This was the opportunity Hafez al-Assad took to throw bloodless coup in 1970 that left him as the dominant political figure in Syria. In 1973 Syria and Egypt led yet another invasion of Israel called the Yom Kippur war. Yet again the Arab forces were defeated by Israel. Over the next 30 years Syria would oppose Israel wherever it could including occupying parts of Lebanon to prevent Israel from exerting influence.
In the 1990's Syria began to turn around in it's stance with the West. Even involving itself in the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein. With the death of Hafez al-Assad, and the election of his son Bashar al-Assad in 2000, Syria was seen as finally coming around and pressures for reforms began in earnest. These hopes were doused by 2001 as the authorities suppressed the dissidents with only minor market reforms taking place. With the Arab Spring of 2011 the people once again demanded reforms, but Bashar al-Assad would not budge and soon protests became insurgencies. What follows is the conflict in Syria that is still ongoing.