Timeline: Crackdown on protests in Syria

(Reuters) - Following is a timeline of events in Syria since protests began:

March 16, 2011 - Security forces break up gathering of 150 protesters in Damascus holding pictures of imprisoned relatives.

April 19 - Government passes bill lifting 48 years of emergency rule.

April 22 - Security forces and gunmen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad kill at least 100 protesters, rights group says.

May 23 - EU imposes sanctions on Assad and nine other senior government officials.

July 31 - Syrian tanks storm Hama, residents say, after a month-long siege. At least 80 people are killed.

September 2 - EU imposes ban on purchases of Syrian oil.

November 12 - Arab League suspends Syria.

November 27 - Arab states vote to impose economic sanctions.

November 30 - Turkey says it has suspended all financial credit dealings with Syria and frozen Syrian government assets.

December 7 - Assad denies ordering his troops to kill peaceful demonstrators telling U.S. television channel ABC that only a “crazy” leader kills his own people.

December 13 - The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights puts death toll at more than 5,000.

December 19 - Syria signs Arab League peace plan, agrees to let monitors into the country.

December 27 - Monitors say there is “nothing frightening” during initial visit to Homs, as 20,000 people hold protest there.

January 10, 2012 - Assad says he will not stand down, vows to restore order by “hitting terrorists with an iron fist.”

January 11 - Gilles Jacquier, a journalist at France 2 television, is killed in mortar attack in Homs.

-- One monitor leaves the mission, calls it a “farce.”

January 22 - Arab League urges Assad to step down and hand over power to a deputy, a call Syria rejects a day later.

-- Saudi Arabia quits monitoring mission, saying Syria had done nothing to implement Arab peace plan.

January 24 - The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council says it is withdrawing its 55 monitors from the 165-strong monitoring mission. Syria agrees to extend mission for a month.

January 25 - The head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is shot dead on highway in clearly marked vehicle, ICRC says.

January 26 - Residents and activists say militiamen from Assad’s Alawite sect kill 14 members of Sunni Muslim family in Homs, in one of Syria’s worst sectarian attacks.

January 27 - UNICEF says at least 384 children have been killed during the uprising.

-- U.N. Security Council discusses Syria before a possible vote the following week on a new Western-Arab draft resolution aimed at halting the bloodshed.

January 28 - Arab League suspends its monitoring mission in Syria because of worsening violence, a move Damascus criticized as an attempt to encourage foreign intervention.

January 31 - Government forces reassert control of capital’s eastern suburbs after Free Syrian Army withdraws, capping three days of fighting that activists say killed at least 100 people.

-- United Nations starts discussion of draft resolution on Syria calling on Assad to step down. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby asks Security Council to take “rapid and decisive action” by approving the resolution.

February 1 - Russia signals it will block the draft resolution unless it explicitly rules out military intervention.

Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Mark Heinrich