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About Syria

For earlier issues, see Ottoman Empire. Long before an armistice ended World War I on 11 November 1918, the United Kingdom and France signed the secret Skyes-Picot Agreement of 16 May 1916, specifying British, French, and Russian spheres of influence in post-war Southwestern Asia. The agreement allocated to Britain control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan, Jordan, southern Iraq, and an additional small area that included the ports of Haifa and Acre. France was allocated southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, while Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits, and Armenia. The Paris Peace Conference which formally ended the war also created the League of Nations, an intergovernmental organization founded on 10 January 1920. Nine months later to the day, the Treaty of Sèvres formally partitioned the Ottoman Empire; with the French Republic to govern “Syria and the Lebanon” as a League of Nations mandate (legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another). The legal text of the mandate uses the singular when discussing the “territory,” but specifies “The Mandatory shall further enact measures to facilitate the progressive development of Syria and the Lebanon as independent States.” The region was divided under the French into four governments as follows: Government of Aleppo from the Euphrates region to the Mediterranean; Great Lebanon extending from Tripoli to Palestine; Damascus, including Damascus, Hama, Hems, and the Hauran; and the country of Mount Arisarieh.

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