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The French Mandate (1920-1945)

The French Mandate (1920-1945)

Palestine, where Zionism had favoured Jewish colonization, was detached from Syria. Most of the desert was assigned to new States: Transjordan and Iraq (which, like Palestine, were under English mandate), while the name Syria designated only a much reduced territory over which the conference of San Remo in April 1920 granted France a mandate after the eviction of Emir Fecal who had tried to set up an independent Arab Kingdom in Damascus (1918-1920)

France immediately detached Lebanon from Syria, and divided the latter into four States: the State of Alaouites, the State of Aleppo, the State of Damascus (subsequently Aleppo and Damascus were merged), and the State of Jebal Druze. The Sandjak of Alexandretta was given a special regime until its annexation by Turkey in 1938. There were numerous insurrections against the French occupation forces.

The Constitution of 1930 endowed the country with republican institutions, and the Treaty of Paris in 1936 recognized the independence of Syria and Lebanon.

In 1941, British and Free French troops entered Syria and Lebanon after having chased out the Vichy French forces

General Charles de Gaulle then proclaimed the independence of Syria and Lebanon in 1942, and announced that French troops would be withdrawn as soon as the war ended.


Until the end of the Second World War, Syria remained occupied by Allied Armed Forces under a Franco-British Condominium. The arrival of French reinforcements caused an uprising in Damascus, which was repressed by bombarding the town in 1945. But the national struggle obliged the occupier to evacuate his forces, and Syria, having acceded to independence, became a founder member of the Arab League and later of U.N.O.

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