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Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French administered the area as Syria until granting it independence in 1946. The new country lacked political stability, however, and experienced a series of military coups during its first decades. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. In September 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the Socialist Ba'th Party and the minority Alawi sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional peace talks over its return. Following the death of President al-ASAD, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum in July 2000. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005. During the July-August 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Syria placed its military forces on alert but did not intervene directly on behalf of its ally Hizballah. In May 2007 Bashar al-ASAD was elected to his second term as president.


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Government

Country name
Conventional long form Syrian Arab Republic
Conventional short form Syria
Local long form
Al Jumhuriyah al Arabiyah as Suriyah
Local short form Suriyah
Former
United Arab Republic (with Egypt)

Government type
Republic under an authoritarian regime

Capital
Name Damascus
Geographic coordinates 33 30 N, 36 18 E
Time difference
UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time
+1hr, begins first Friday in April; ends last Friday in October

Administrative divisions
14 provinces (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Hasakah, Al Ladhiqiyah (Latakia), Al Qunaytirah, Ar Raqqah, As Suwayda', Dar'a, Dayr az Zawr, Dimashq (Damascus), Halab, Hamah, Hims (Homs), Idlib, Rif Dimashq (Damascus Countryside), Tartus

Independence
17 April 1946 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)

Constitution
13 March 1973; amended February 2012

Legal system
Mixed legal system of civil and Islamic law (for family courts)

International law organization participation
Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Suffrage
18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state
Vice President Farouk al-SHARA (since 21 February 2006) oversees foreign policy; Vice President Najah al-ATTAR (since 23 March 2006) oversees cultural policy
Head of government
Prime Minister Wael al-HALQI (since 9 August 2012)
Cabinet
Council of Ministers appointed by the president; note - new Council appointed on 14 April 2011
Elections
President approved by popular referendum for a second seven-year term (no term limits); referendum last held on 27 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2014); the president appoints the vice presidents, prime minister, and deputy prime ministers
Election results
Bashar al-ASAD approved as president; percent of vote - Bashar al-ASAD 97.6%, other 2.4%

Legislative branch
Unicameral People's Assembly or Majlis al-Shaab (250 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
Elections
Last held on 7 May 2012 (next to be held in 2016)
Election results
Percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA

Judicial branch
Supreme Judicial Council (appoints and dismisses judges; headed by the president); national level - Supreme Constitutional Court (adjudicates electoral disputes and rules on constitutionality of laws and decrees; justices appointed for four-year terms by the president); Court of Cassation; Appeals Courts (Appeals Courts represent an intermediate level between the Court of Cassation and local level courts); local level - Magistrate Courts; Courts of First Instance; Juvenile Courts; Customs Courts; specialized courts - Economic Security Courts (hear cases related to economic crimes); Supreme State Security Court (hear cases related to national security); Personal Status Courts (religious; hear cases related to marriage and divorce)

Political parties and leaders
Legal parties
National Progressive Front or NPF [President Bashar al-ASAD, Dr. Suleiman QADDAH] (includes Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'th) Party [President Bashar al-ASAD]; Socialist Unionist Democratic Party [Fadlallah Nasr Al-DIN]; Syrian Arab Socialist Union or ASU [Safwan al-QUDSI]; Syrian Communist Party (two branches) [Wissal Farha BAKDASH, Yusuf Rashid FAYSAL]; Syrian Social Nationalist Party [As'ad HARDAN]; Unionist Socialist Party [Fayez ISMAIL])
Opposition parties not legally recognized
Communist Action Party [Fateh al-JAMOUS]; National Democratic Rally [Hasan ABDUL-AZIM, spokesman] (includes five parties - Arab Democratic Socialist Union Party [Hasan ABDUL-AZIM], Arab Socialist Movement, Democratic Ba'th Party [Ibrahim MAKHOS], Democratic People's Party [Riad al TURK], Revolutionary Workers' Party [Abdul Hafez al HAFEZ])
Kurdish parties (considered illegal)
Azadi Party [Kheirudin MURAD]; Future Party [Masha'l TAMMO]; Kurdish Democratic Alliance (includes four parties); Kurdish Democratic Front (includes three parties); Yekiti Party [Fu'ad ALEYKO]
Other parties
Syrian Democratic Party [Mustafa QALAAJI]

Political pressure groups and leaders
Arab Human Rights Organization in Syria or AHRO; Damascus Declaration Group (a broad alliance of secular, religious, and Kurdish opposition groups); National Salvation Front (alliance between former Vice President Abd al-Halim KHADDAM and other small opposition groups in exile; formerly included the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood); Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression [Mazin DARWISH]; Syrian Human Rights Organization [Muhanad al-HASANI]; Syrian Human Rights Society or HRAS [Fayez FAWAZ]; Syrian Muslim Brotherhood or SMB [Muhammad Riyad al-SHAQFAH] (operates in exile in London)

International organization participation
ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the us
Chief of mission
Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Mounir KOUDMANI
Chancery
2215 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone [1] (202) 232-6313
FAX [1] (202) 265-4585

Diplomatic representation from the us
Chief of mission
Ambassador Robert S. FORD; note - on 6 February 2012, the US closed its embassy in Damascus
Embassy
Abou Roumaneh, Al-Mansour Street, No. 2, Damascus
Mailing address P. O. Box 29, Damascus
Telephone [963] (11) 3391-4444
FAX [963] (11) 3391-3999

Flag description
Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; two small, green, five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; the band colors derive from the Arab Liberation flag and represent oppression (black), overcome through bloody struggle (red), to be replaced by a bright future (white); identical to the former flag of the United Arab Republic (1958-1961) where the two stars represented the constituent states of Syria and Egypt; the current design dates to 1980
Note
Similar to the flag of Yemen, which has a plain white band, Iraq, which has an Arabic inscription centered in the white band, and that of Egypt, which has a gold Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band

National symbol(s)
Hawk

National anthem
Name
"Humat ad-Diyar" (Guardians of the Homeland)
Lyrics/music
Khalil Mardam BEY/Mohammad Salim FLAYFEL and Ahmad Salim FLAYFEL
Note
Adopted 1936, restored 1961; between 1958 and 1961, while Syria was a member of the United Arab Republic with Egypt, the country had a different anthem


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Syria (Damascus):


GPS points from Syria (Damascus)

Zorhar Aleppo

Tlaiai Tartus

Kaklijah Aleppo


Mastur Al-hasakah

Ain Soueida Rif-dimashq






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