Timeline: Syrian protests and crackdown
(Reuters) - Following is a timeline of events in Syria since protests began.
March 16 - Security forces break up a gathering in Marjeh Square in Damascus of 150 protesters holding pictures of imprisoned relatives. Witnesses say 30 people are arrested.
March 24 - President Bashar al-Assad orders the formation of a committee to study how to raise living standards and lift the law covering emergency rule, in place for 48 years.
March 29 - Government resigns.
April 3 - Assad asks Adel Safar, a former agriculture minister, to form a new government.
April 8 - Demonstrators protest across Syria; 22 people killed in Deraa, another 15 elsewhere, rights group says.
April 14 - Assad presents a new cabinet and orders the release of detainees arrested during a month of protests.
April 19 - Government passes bill lifting emergency rule. Assad ratifies this two days later.
April 22 - Security forces and gunmen loyal to Assad kill at least 100 protesters, a rights group says.
April 29 - The U.S. imposes new sanctions on Syrian figures.
May 10 - European Union sanctions come into effect on up to 13 Syrian officials for their part in the crackdown. The EU adds Assad and nine other senior members of the government on May 23.
June 3 - Security forces kill at least 63 protesters around Syria, including 53 in Hama, a human rights group says.
June 4 - In the town of Jisr al-Shughour, between the coastal city of Latakia and Aleppo, at least 120 members of the security forces are killed, state television says.
June 12 - Armed forces take control of Jisr al-Shughour as thousands of residents flee to Turkey.
June 17 - Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of the president and a focus of protests, says he is quitting business.
June 20 - In his third speech since protests began, Assad pledges to pursue a national dialogue on reform.
June 27 - Syrian intellectuals call for sweeping political change at a rare conference allowed by the authorities. The government also announces it will invite opposition figures to talks on July 10 for a dialogue promised by Assad.
June 29 - The U.S. Treasury Department imposes sanctions against Syria's security forces for human rights abuses.
July 8 - Thousands rally in Hama calling for Assad to go, as U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford and French Ambassador Eric Chevallier visit the city to show support for protesters.
July 10 - Opposition groups boycott talks with the government and will not negotiate until Assad ends crackdown.
July 16 - Syria's opposition, meeting in Turkey, elects a National Salvation Council to challenge Assad.
July 31 - Syrian tanks storm Hama, residents say, after besieging it for nearly a month. At least 80 people are killed.
Aug 7 - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah recalls his ambassador from Syria. Kuwait recalls its envoy the next day.
Aug 9 - Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu holds talks with Assad on ending the violence. A Turkish envoy to Syria visits Hama on August 10 and says tanks have been withdrawn. Rights groups say up to 300 people have been killed in Hama.
Aug 17 - U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, in a call with Assad, expresses alarm at reports of violations of human rights. Assad says military operations have stopped, the U.N. says.
Aug 18 - U.S. President Barack Obama for the first time calls on Assad to step down. Washington also freezes all Syrian government assets under U.S. jurisdiction.
Aug 21 - In an interview on state television, Assad says he expects parliamentary elections in February 2012 after reforms that will let groups other than his Baath party take part.
Aug 23 - Overcoming objections by Russia, China and Cuba, the U.N. Human Rights Council agrees to an international commission of inquiry into possible crimes against humanity.
Aug 28 - At an extraordinary meeting in Cairo, Arab foreign ministers tell Syria to work to end months of bloodshed "before it's too late."
Sept 3 - The European Union imposes a ban on purchases of Syrian oil and warns of further steps unless crackdown ends.
Sept 10 - Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby, in talks with Assad in Damascus, says he has agreed a series of measures with Assad to help end violence in Syria.
Sept 15 - Syrian opposition activists, meeting in Istanbul, announce the members of a Syrian National Council to provide an alternative to Assad's government
Sept 24 - Syria has banned most imports except raw materials and grains, local businessmen say, in a move to preserve foreign currency reserves as pressure grows from Western sanctions.
Sept 29 - Assad supporters throw stones and tomatoes at U.S. Ambassador Ford who was visiting a centrist politician, Hassan Abdelazim, who has demanded an end to the crackdown.
-- Syria accuses the United States of inciting violence against its security forces.
Oct 3 - Syrian opposition groups meet in Istanbul and reject foreign intervention but urge international action to stop what they called indiscriminate killings of civilians by the authorities.
Oct 4 - Russia and China joined forces and veto a European-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syria.
Oct 6 - More than 2,900 people have been killed in Syria since unrest began in March, the United Nations says.
Oct 7 - Syria says that a national investigation is under way into killings, including those of 1,100 security forces, but denies allegations that loyalist forces had shot soldiers refusing to fire on protesters.
-- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says Syria's leaders should step down if they cannot enact reforms, but warns the West not to try to push Assad from power.
(Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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