Evacuation Day (Syria)

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Evacuation Day
عيد الجلاء
The people of Deir ez-Zor, Syria, celebrate their independence from France, 1946.
Official nameEvacuation Day
Observed bySyrians
SignificanceEvacuation of the last French soldier and Syria's proclamation
ObservancesParades, flowers
Date17 April[1][2]

Evacuation Day (Arabic: عيد الجلاء, romanizedʿīd al-jalāʾ, also known as Jalaa Day or Clearance Day),[3][4] is Syria's national day commemorating the evacuation of the last French soldier at the end of the French mandate of Syria on 17 April 1946 after Syria's proclamation of full independence in 1941.

After World War I, the Ottoman Empire was divided into several new nations, creating the modern Arab world and the Republic of Turkey. Following the Sykes–Picot Agreement between France, the United Kingdom and Russia in 1916, the League of Nations granted France mandates over present-day Syria and Lebanon in 1923.[5]

France divided the region into six states based in part on the sectarian make up on the ground in Syria. However, nearly all the Syrian sects were hostile to the French mandate and to the division it created. This was best demonstrated by the numerous revolts, including the 1925 Hama uprising, that the French encountered in the Syrian states.[6] A six-day general strike in the spring of 1936 paralyzed the country and in part forced the French government to negotiate the Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence with the National Bloc.[7] However, the French did not withdraw right away after the treaty was signed in the autumn of 1936.

With the fall of France in 1940 during World War II, Syria came under the control of the Vichy Government until the British and Free France invaded and occupied the country in July 1941. Syria proclaimed its independence in 1941 but it was not until 1 January 1944 that it was recognized as an independent republic. With the advent of the Levant Crisis in 1945, prompted by a British invasion authorised by Sir Winston Churchill the French evacuated the last of their troops on 17 April 1946.[8] The French regime had proposed to depart on 18 April, Good Friday in 1946, but Syrian officials opted for a slightly earlier date to avoid holding ceremonies on the Christian holiday.[9]

In 2018, with the Syrian Civil War ongoing, commemorative activities of Evaculation Day held in Umayyad Square in Damascus, merely days after the Douma chemical attack and the retaliatory military strikes carried out by the US, UK, and France, were attended by thousands of people carrying Syrian flags.[10]

As of 2021, Evaculation Day is observed by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Edward Ziter (2014). Political Performance in Syria: From the Six-Day War to the Syrian Uprising. Springer. p. 9. ISBN 9781137358981.
  2. ^ a b "AANES declare April 17 an official day –off - ANHA". www.hawarnews.com. Hawar News Agency. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  3. ^ Kwong, Jessica (17 April 2018). "How did Syria get its independence? Facts on Syrian Independence Day". Newsweek. The holiday is referred to as Jalaa Day and translates to Evacuation Day or Clearance Day
  4. ^ "On Independence Day, A Subdued Syrian Capital". NPR.org. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2021. April 17 is called Jalaa Day, which translates to Clearance Day, a reference to the last French soldier vacating Syrian soil.
  5. ^ Tarek Osman (13 December 2013). "Why border lines drawn with a ruler in WW1 still rock the Middle East". BBC. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Syria: The French mandate". Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  7. ^ Moubayed, Sami M. (2006). Steel & Silk: Men and Women who Shaped Syria 1900-2000. Cune Press. p. 170. ISBN 978-1-885942-40-1. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  8. ^ "Syria profile". BBC. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  9. ^ Jansen, Michael (18 April 2014). "Syria marks 'evacuation day' to the beat of mortars and the march of security forces". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 April 2021. April 17th is a day of complications and contradictions. The French colonial regime proposed the 18th, but in 1946, as now, the date fell on Good Friday so the Syrian nationalists decided it should be a day earlier to accommodate Christians. The holiday commemorates the departure of the last colonial soldier from Damascus. He was an Indian from a British regiment rather than a French trooper serving the sour mandatory power, which had wanted a dependent rather than an independent Syria.
  10. ^ Tidey, Alice (17 April 2018). "Syria celebrates independence from France, days after Western military strikes". Euronews. Retrieved 17 April 2021.