DAMASCUS: Key dates in the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who was sworn in Wednesday for a new seven-year term:
July 17: Bashar Assad replaces his father Hafez Assad who dies after 30 years of iron-fisted rule. He assumes the presidency after the Baath party names him as its candidate. The constitution at the time described the Baath as the ruling party.
September 26: Intellectuals call for political reforms in what was known as the Damascus Spring.
July: After a period of apparent freedom of expression, the government cracks down on the Damascus Spring, and jails several regime opponents.
March: Although his father had sent troops to take part in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq, Assad refuses to support a new U.S.-led invasion of that country.
May 11: The United States imposes sanctions on Syria, accusing it of supporting "terrorists" by allowing Sunni insurgents to fight U.S. troops in Iraq.
February 14: Rafiq Hariri, a former Lebanese premier, is assassinated in a massive Beirut bombing. The major Western powers and many Lebanese blame Syria, which denies responsibility.
April 26: The last Syrian troops leave Lebanon, ending 29 years of military and political domination.
June 9: Assad consolidates his power base as the Baath party's old guard makes way for figures close to him.
October 16: Opposition groups issue the " Damascus Declaration" calling for an end to emergency laws and other forms of political repression and for a national conference on democratic change.
January 19-20: Hardline Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits Syria, his ally in the region.
November 21: Resumption of diplomatic ties between Syria and Iraq, 25 years after they were broken off.
May 27: Assad re-elected to a second term in a referendum.
September 6: Israeli planes strike what Washington later says is a nuclear plant in the northeastern Syrian desert.
December: The launch of a new wave of arrests of opposition members.
May 21: Israel announces new indirect peace talks with Syria, with Turkey mediating. They are suspended in December after an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.
July 30: Assad pays his first visit to Lebanon since Hariri's assassination.
March 15: A popular uprising erupts, and the regime responds by launching a bloody crackdown that spurs an armed rebellion. The conflict is now estimated to have killed more than 170,000 people and displaced millions.
June 5: The army backed by Lebanon's Hezbollah retakes the strategic border town of Qusair. The rebels have since lost one bastion after another, mainly around central Syria and the capital.
The rise of jihadist militants, particularly the Islamic Front, casts the conflict in a new light. Rebels fighting Assad later launch a war against Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).
June 3: Assad wins 88.7 percent of the vote in an election the opposition and Western countries slam as a "farce."