Timeline of Key Events in Lebanon

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

1920

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

1941

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

1943

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

1944

Lebanon becomes truly dependent on Jan. 1, 1944.

1948

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

1960s

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.

1975–1976

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

1976

Syrian troops enter Lebanon to stop the civil war.

1978

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

1982

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

1983

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

1985

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

1990

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.

2001

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.