Timeline of Key Events in Lebanon

by David Johnson and Beth Rowen
1920 1940s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s Most Recent Entry


France, granted the mandate for Lebanon and Syria by the League of Nations, forms the State of Greater Lebanon.


Lebanon proclaims its independence from France on Nov. 26, 1941.


The French relinquish their remaining control over Lebanon on Nov. 22. That day is celebrated as Lebanon's independence day.


Lebanon becomes truly dependent on Jan. 1, 1944.


Israel declared a state. Palestinian refugees begin arriving in Lebanon.


Palestinians operating from Lebanon attack Israel, provoking periodic retaliation.

1969, 1972

Fighting breaks out between Palestinian commandos and Lebanese army over Lebanese threats to curb Palestinian activities in Lebanon.


Lebanon erupts in civil war between Christians, Muslims, and Palestinians.


Syrian troops enter Lebanon to stop the civil war.


First Israeli invasion in response to attacks from PLO and other groups operating within Lebanon.


Second Israeli invasion. Multinational peacekeeping force including U.S. troops arrives in Beirut.


241 U.S. Marines and 60 French soldiers killed when a truck filled with military explosives was driven into their compound.


Israel withdraws from most of Lebanon, and establishes a buffer zone in the south.


The civil war is declared over on Oct. 13. With Syrian help the Lebanese government reestablishes control over much of the country.

May 2000

With the occupation increasingly controversial at home, Israel withdraws from the buffer zone. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan wants to increase the number of U.N. peacekeeping troops in Lebanon.


In the summer, Syria withdraws nearly all of its 25,000 troops from Beirut and surrounding areas. But 20,000 troops, remain in the countryside.

Aug. 2004

In a stark reminder of Syria's continuing iron grip in Lebanon, Syria insists that President Lahoud, whom it had selected for the country, remain in office beyond the constitutional limit of one six-year term. Despite general Lebanese outrage, the Lebanese parliament did Syria's bidding, permiting Lahoud to serve for three more years.

Sept. 2004

A Security Council resolution asks Syria to remove the troops it has stationed in Lebanon for the past 28 years. Syria responded by moving about 3,000 troops from the vicinity of Beirut to eastern Lebanon, a gesture that was viewed by many as merely cosmetic.

Oct. 2004

As a result of September's constitutional crisis and Lebanon's accession to Syrian demands, Prime Minister Rafik Hariri resigns.

Feb. 2005

Former prime minister Rafik Hariri—a nationalist who had called for Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon—is assassinated on Feb. 14.

Two weeks of protests ensue, calling for Syria's withdrawal.

On Feb. 28, pro-Syrian prime minister Omar Karami resigns.

March 2005

On March 8, the militant group Hezbollah sponsored a massive pro-Syrian demonstration that greatly outnumbered previous anti-Syrian protests. Hundreds of thousands gathered to thank Syria for its involvement in Lebanon.

On March 9, buoyed by the pro-Syrian demonstrations, President Lahoud reappoints Omar Karami as prime minister.

On the one-month anniversary of Hariri's death, March 14, anti-Syrian protestors stage the largest rally yet, with about 1 million protesting.

On March 17, Syria withdraws 4,000 troops, and redeploys the remaining 10,000 to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, which borders Syria. In April, Syria says it will set a date for the full withdrawal.

April 2005

Omar Karami resigns a second time after failing to form a government.

Lebanon's new prime minister, Najib Mikati, a compromise candidate between the pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian groups, announces that new elections will be held in May.

On April 26, after 29 years of occupation, Syria withdrew all of its troops.

May and June 2005

Syria holds four rounds of parliamentary elections. An anti-Syrian alliance led by Saad al-Hariri, the 35-year-old son of assassinated former prime minister leader Rafik Hariri, won 72 out of 128 seats. Former finance minister Fouad Siniora, who was closely associated with Hariri, eventually becomes prime minister.

Sept. 2005

On Sept. 1, four are charged in the murder of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. The commander of Lebanon's Republican Guard, the former head of general security, the former chief of Lebanon's police, and the former military intelligence officer are indicted for the February assassination.

Oct. 2005

On Oct. 20, the UN releases a report on Hariri's slaying, concluding that the assassination was carefully organized by Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officials, including Syria's military intelligence chief, Asef Shawkat, who is the brother-in-law of Syrian president Bashar Assad.

July 2006

Hezbollah, under the leadership of Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, enters Israel and captures two Israeli soldiers on July 12. In response, Israel launches a major military attack, bombing the Lebanese airport and parts of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah retaliates by launching hundreds of rockets and missles—believed to have been supplied by Syria and Iran—into Israel.

On July 18, an Israeli general indicates that Israel's offensive in Lebanon would last several more weeks, until Hezbollah is routed. About 25 Israelis and 230 Lebanese have been killed in the fighting.

August 2006

On August 14, a UN-negotiated cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon goes into effect. About 1,150 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 150 Israelis, mostly soldiers, have died in the 34 days of fighting. Although much of the international community had been demanding a cease-fire since the beginning of the conflict, the United States supported Israel's plan to continue its offensive in the hopes of draining Hezbollah of its military power, and did little to expedite the cease-fire negotiations. Hezbollah, thought to have at least 12,000 rockets and missiles, most supplied by Iran, proved a more formidable foe than anticipated.

November 2006

On Nov. 21, Pierre Gemayel, minister of industry and member of a well-known Maronite Christian political dynasty, is assassinated, the fifth anti-Syrian leader to be killed since the death of Rafik Hariri in Feb. 2005. Pro-government protestors blame Syria and its Lebanese allies for the assassination, and stage large demonstrations.

December 2006

November's pro-government demonstrations are followed by even larger and more sustained anti-government, pro-Hezbollah demonstrations beginning Dec. 1. Tens of thousands of protestors, led by the Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, occupy the center of Beirut and call for the resignation of the pro-Western coalition government.

April 2007

A commission that investigated 2006's war between Israel and Lebanon releases a scathing report, saying Israeli prime minister Olmert was responsible for "a severe failure in exercising judgment, responsibility, and prudence." It also said that Olmert rushed to war without an adequate plan.

June 2007

Anti-Syrian member of Parliament Walid Eido is killed in a bombing in Beirut.

Sept. 2007

Another anti-Syrian lawmaker, Antoine Ghanem of the Christian Phalange Party, which is part of the governing coalition, is assassinated. Hezbollah legislators boycott the session of Parliament at which lawmakers were to vote on a new president. The Hezbollah faction, which is pro-Syria, wants the anti-Syrian governing coalition to put forward a compromise candidate. Parliament adjourns the session and reschedules elections.

Nov. 2007

A caretaker government, led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniroa, assumes power after President Émile Lahoud's term expires and Parliament for the fourth time postpones a vote on his successor.

Jan. 2008

The Winograd Commission releases its final report on Israel's 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. It calls the operation a "large and serious" failure and criticizes the country's leadership for failing to have an exit strategy in place before the invasion began. Prime Minister Olmert is spared somewhat, as the commission said that in ordering the invasion, he was acting in "the interest of the state of Israel."

May 2008

Parliament elects Suleiman as president, filling the position that had been vacant since November 2007.

Oct. 2008

Lebanon and Syria establish full diplomatic relations for the first time since both countries gained independence from France in 1943.

March 2009

An international court at The Hague is set up to investigate the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. In May the court freed four pro-Syrian generals who had been linked to the murder, claiming it lacked evidence to convict them.

June 2009

In parliamentary elections, the March 14 coalition, led by Saad Hariri, retains its majority in Parliament by taking 71 of 128 seats. The Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition wins 57 seats.

June 2009

In parliamentary elections, the March 14 coalition, led by Saad Hariri, retains its majority in Parliament by taking 71 of 128 seats. The Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition wins 57 seats.

Jan. 2011

Lebanon's government falls apart when Hezbollah's ministers resigned from the cabinet to protest Prime Minister Hariri's refusal to reject the UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri. Two weeks later, Hezbollah wins enough support in Parliament to form a new government with Najib Mikati, a billionaire businessman, as prime minister. Mikati, a Sunni and former prime minister, said even though he was backed by Hezbollah, he will govern as an independent.

June 2011

Mikati assembles a cabinet with 16 out of 30 seats going to Hezbollah and its allies.

The UN's Special Tribunal for Lebanon issues arrest warrants for four high-ranking members of Hezbollah in connection wtih the murder of Hariri and 21 others. Hezbollah refuses to turn the suspects over to authorities.

October 2012

Intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, a foe of Syria who was an ally of slain prime minister Rafik Hariri, is killed in a bombing in Beirut. Observers suspect Syria was behind the assassination.

March 2013

Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigns in protest over parliament's failure to agree on how to oversee upcoming elections. Mikati was also unhappy with the cabinet's refusal to consider extending the police chief's tenure.

April 2013

Tammam Salam, a Sunni, is asked to form a government.

May 2013

Syria's civil war spills into Lebanon, mainly due to the increased involvement of Hezbollah, which supports Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. On May 25, Hezbollah and Syrian forces bomb the rebel-controlled town of Al-Qusayr in the Syrian province of Homs. Dozens are killed. The following day, multiple rockets hit Beirut, mainly striking Shiite suburbs.

May 2013

Syria's civil war spills into Lebanon, mainly due to the increased involvement of Hezbollah, which supports Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. On May 25, Hezbollah and Syrian forces bomb the rebel-controlled town of Al-Qusayr in the Syrian province of Homs. Dozens are killed. The following day, multiple rockets hit Beirut, mainly striking Shiite suburbs.

Parliament votes to delay elections in Lebanon for at least 17 months, citing indecision over a new electoral law and the deteriorating security in the country as a result of the Syrian crisis spreading into Lebanon. It's the first time an election had been delayed since Lebanon's civil war ended in 1990.

July 2013

The European Union declared the military wing of Hezbollah a terrorist organization in July 2013. The move makes it illegal for Europeans to send money or arms to Hezbollah and freezes the assets held in European institutions by the group's members.

Nov. 2013

A double suicide bombing outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut kills at least 23 people in November 2013. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an affiliate of Al Qaeda, takes responsibility for the attack, which is seen as retribution for Iran's support of Hezbollah and the Syrian government.

Feb. 2014

After 10 months of negotiations, Salam formed a cabinet represented equally by members of the pro-Syria, Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition and the Western-backed March 14th group headed by Saad Hariri.

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