Syrian Independence Day Facts: Syria Celebrates Freedom From France Days After Airstrike

Syria made headlines over the weekend when President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike in coordination with France and Britain, after a suspected chemical weapons attack that killed more than 40 people within the country. The airstrike came just four days before Syria’s Independence Day. On Tuesday, April 17, the country marred by an ongoing civil war celebrates 72 years of independence from France.

Related: Trump Vs. Obama: How the Presidents Responded to Syria Chemical Weapons Attack

Here are some facts about Syria’s Independence Day:

France ruled over Syria for more than 20 years

The French gained a mandate over Syria after the fall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Syrians organized numerous uprisings, including the Great Syrian Revolt in 1925, in attempts to get rid of their French rulers. Syria proclaimed its independence in 1941, but it took French troops five years to evacuate the region, so the country celebrates its freedom on April 17, 1946.

The holiday is referred to as Jalaa Day and translates to Evacuation Day or Clearance Day

It refers to the last French soldier leaving Syrian soil. "No matter who rules it, from before the Greeks and Romans or Ottomans or the French, everyone eventually clears out. Hence, Clearance Day!" a resident of Damascus, Syria’s capital, told NPR.

A civil war broke out around 2011 in the name of reform

The civil war grew out of protests in the country that were part of the Arab Spring, revolutions across Arab nations that started in Tunisia. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who came into power in 2000, tried to suppress the protestors through military sieges but protestors responded with an armed rebellion.

ISIS gained control during the civil war

The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) took advantage of Syria’s civil war to recruit members with experience on the battleground and support from Gulf States that wanted to oust Assad. ISIS and Assad’s regime have clashed, but both sides benefit from fighting the rebels.