June 2000 After serving as president for 30 years, President Hafiz al-Assad dies. His death spurs parliament to amend the constitution, reducing the mandatory minimum age of the president to 34. This makes al-Assad's son eligible for presidential nomination.
July 2000 Hafiz al-Assad's 34-year-old son, Bashar, runs unopposed and is elected president by referendum for a seven-year term.
July 2000 Encouraged by the election of Bashar al-Assad, human rights activists, civil society advocates, and some politicians speak out about the need for political reform during a period referred to as "Damascus Spring".
August 2001 President Al-Assad cracks down on "Damascus Spring" activities and the civil society movement, arresting 10 opposition leaders for their participation in a meeting on democracy hosted at a parliamentarian's house. Two independent members of parliament, Ma'mun al-Humsy and Riad Seif are tried and sentenced to five years in prison on the charges of "attempting to illegally change the constitution."
September 2001 The 2001 Publications Law is passed, heavily restricting freedom of expression and criminalizing publication of materials that harm or threaten the state and national unity.
March 2004 Eight days of clashes erupts between Arabs and the Kurdish minority following a soccer match. At least 30 people are killed and 2,000 are arrested.
February 2005 Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 19 others are assassinated in Beirut by a car bomb. A UN report implicates Syrian and pro-Syria Lebanese officials in the killings. Damascus denies any involvement.
April 2005 Syria pulls its forces out of Lebanon under international pressure after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syrian troops had been stationed in Lebanon since 1976.
A new local administration law is approved to implement free elections for all local councils (including governorate, district, and sub-district councils).
June 2005 Following the Ba'ath Party Conference, the government considers legislation to allow the forming of new political parties and the legalization of previously-banned parties. The conference also recommends the establishment of anti-corruption mechanisms.
October 2005 Three different factions of the political opposition (Kurds, Islamists and secular liberals) come together in agreement of the need to integrate broader democratic principles in government. Calling for current leaders to step down, they sign the Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change.
May 2006 Exiled opposition leaders including former vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam announce the creation of the National Salvation Front (NSF) to bring about regime change.
Syrian and Lebanese dissidents align to sign the Beruit-Demascus declaration, calling for the democratic reform, normalization of Syrian-Lebanese relations, democratization of the border and an end to political killings in Leganon.
April 2007 According to the International Foudation for Electoral Systems, Syria's governing Baath Party officially won the April 22 parliamentary election. The opposition parties boycotted the election and the US government condemned the vote accusing the Baath Party of using abusive measures to win the election. The parliament has only nominal powers and two-thirds of the seats are reserved for the Baath Party.
May 2007 President Al-Assad is reaffirmed by referendum for a second 7-year term.
August 2007 The government blocks YouTube. A block on Facebook follows in November.
September 2007 Israel strikes a partly-constructed Syrian nuclear reactor in an air attack. The reactor appeared to be modeled after a North Korean reactor.
May 2008 Turkey mediates indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel. U.S.-mediated peace talks had stalled in January 2000 over disputed, Israeli-occupied territory in the Golan Heights.
May 2008 Blogger Tariq Biassi is sentenced to three years in prison for criticizing the government.
July 2008 At least 25 inmates are killed at Sednaya prison, which houses political prisoners, as authorities attempt to quell a riot.
August 2008 Two Kurdish leaders, Talal Mohammed of the Turkey's Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) and Mashaal Tammo of the opposition Kurdish Future Movement, are arrested. Tammo is charged with arming Syrians to start a civil war.
September 2008 The government bans the sale of Al-Hayat, a Saudi-owned, pan-Arab daily newspaper, indefinitely.
October 2008 In response to French and Saudi engagement with Syria, Damascus recognizes Lebanon's sovereignty, and the two countries agree to exchange ambassadors.
Twelve members of the Damascus Declaration National Council are sentenced to two and a half years in prison for spreading information to weaken the state.
March 2010 Syrian police open fire on a group of Kurds celebrating their new year, killing at least one person. Authorities asked the group to replace their Kurdish flags with Syrian flags and images of the president. Security forces opened fire after the crowd refused to comply and began throwing stones.