The Syrian Mandate

December 1, 1925

Report Outline
French Influence in Syria
The French Mandate in Syria
French Administration in Syria

The recent shelling of Damascus with French artillery has served to focus world attention upon the French mandate over Syria and the whole mandate system provided in the Covenant of the League of Nations. Widespread indignation was aroused by the damage done to the unarmed city, and the proximity of Beitut, a center of American missionary effort in the mandated territory, made the incident one of special concern to the people of the United States. M. Painleve hastened to recall General Sarrail, the French High Commissioner, and at the same time M. Briand, the present Premier, assured Syria and the world that France had Syria's independence at heart.

The bombardment of Damascus was authorized by General Sarrail October 18 and continued the following day because bands of raiding rebels had entered the city and induced dissatisfied elements to riot in the native quarters. The rioting was readily suppressed after the two bombardments. The exact amount of damage from the artillery fire has not yet been ascertained, but it is now evident that many of the early reports were greatly exaggerated.

The Rebellion of the Druses

The shelling of Damascus was an incident to the unrest which has prevailed in Syria since the revolt of the Druses last August. This warlike tribe inhabits the mountains south of Damascus and numbers about 50,000 people. They are religiously separated from the rest of Syria and have steadfastly refused to enter into any Syrian federation. In spite of their independent and warlike spirit they were not originally hostile to the French and until recently had, by their own choice, a French governor. This governor's successor was not able to maintain the friendly relations which had prevailed since 1920, and in July last the Druses sent a delegation to Beirut to ask General Sarrail to let them return to their former custom of having a governor chosen from their own tribe. General Sarrail referred them to a subordinate and even refused to see them. The Druses protested and several were arrested. The others returned to their mountains and stirred up a revolt which broke out in August and has continued ever since.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Imperialism, Colonization, and Independence Movements
Regional Political Affairs: Middle East and South Asia