Syria is strategically located in the middle east. With great natural resources, it has been ruled by many empires and dynasties since antiquity. The area now known as Syria was part of the ancient Near East, and was ruled by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Greeks and Romans. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, Syria passed into Arab control. In 634 AD, a major Islamic military expedition led by Muhammad entered Damascus and united Islam under one leadership. Syria remained under Muslim rule until the French Mandate of Syria ended in 1946. Bashar al-Assad became president in 2000 after his father's death. A popular uprising against Assad's government began in March 2011 and quickly escalated into an all out civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced over 12 million people.nSyria is bordered by Lebanon to the north; Iraq to the east; Turkey to the south; Jordan to the west; and Israel and Palestine to the northeast.