History, The French Mandate
Alexandretta, Vichy government, sanjak, military position, administrative personnel
The Arabs, in alliance with the British and French, fought the Turks for the rest of the war and participated in the capture of Damascus in 1918. In 1919 British forces withdrew from the area assigned to France, leaving French troops in control. The following year France, with the understanding that Syria and Lebanon were to become independent within a reasonably short time, was granted a mandate over them by the League of Nations.
Anti-Turkish sentiment in Syria soon developed into anti-French sentiment and more determined nationalism. The French quelled one armed rebellion in 1920 and a second and better organized uprising from 1925 to 1927. In 1938, soon after French and Syrian leaders had reached agreement on a treaty providing for substantial Syrian independence, the French government refused to ratify the treaty, partly because France regarded control of the area as vital to its military position. The following year France ceded to Turkey the former Turkish administrative district (sanjak) of Alexandretta (present-day Iskenderun), in which the ancient Syrian capital of Antioch is located.
These events raised Syrian hostility toward France to a high pitch. Many prominent political figures in Syria nevertheless declared their loyalty to France and the Allies when World War II broke out in 1939. After the surrender of France to Germany in 1940, Syria came under the control of the Vichy government. British and Free French forces, however, invaded and subdued Syria in 1941. Later in the same year, the Free French government formally recognized the independence of Syria but continued to occupy the country. With the elections in 1943, a new government was formed under the presidency of the Syrian nationalist Shukri al-Kuwatli, one of the leaders of the 1925 to 1927 uprising against the French. After the end of World War II in 1945, France persisted in trying to exercise influence over Syria. Resultant anti-French uprisings subsided only after the British military intervention on the side of the French and the withdrawal of all French troops and administrative personnel. In 1946 the British troops left Syria. Syria became a charter member of the United Nations (UN) in 1945.
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