What is Evacuation Day (Syria) (1946)?

Introduction

Evacuation Day (Arabic: عيد الجلاء‎), is Syria’s national day commemorating the evacuation of the last French soldier and Syria’s proclamation of full independence and the end of the French mandate of Syria on 17 April 1946.

Background

After World War I, the Ottoman Empire was divided into several new nations, creating the modern Arab world and the Republic of Turkey. Following the Sykes-Picot Agreement between France, the United Kingdom and Russia in 1916, the League of Nations granted France mandates over Syria and Lebanon in 1923.

France divided the region into six states based in part on the sectarian make up on the ground in Syria. However, nearly all the Syrian sects were hostile to the French mandate and to the division it created. This was best demonstrated by the numerous revolts that the French encountered in the Syrian states.

With the fall of France in 1940 during World War II, Syria came under the control of the Vichy Government until the British and Free France invaded and occupied the country in July 1941. Syria proclaimed its independence in 1941 but it was not until 01 January 1944 that it was recognised as an independent republic. With the advent of the Levant Crisis in 1945 prompted by a British invasion authorised by Sir Winston Churchill – the French evacuated the last of their troops on 17 April 1946.

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