Syria is a Middle Eastern Arab country, located between the Mediterranean, the valley of Bekaa and the Mesopotamian desert. It is traversed by one of the most important rivers in the region, both in terms of geography and history: the Euphrates. Possessed by the French following the Sykes-Picot accord of 1916, since 1945 it is an independent nation. After a brief union with Egypt, in 1963 Syria has been governed by the Ba'ath party, a party with ideology comparable to Pan-Arabism. In 1970 Hafez al-Assad came into power, dominating politics in the country until his death in 2000. Succeeding him was his son and current president, Bashar al-Assad. Since 2011 Syria has been involved in a civil war that still has not ended. The conflict began following protests in the city square by armed groups of Islamists and Jihadists. From 2013, to 2017, ISIS had established an Islamic caliphate within the country. The capital is Damascus, while the most populous city is Aleppo. Both are among the most ancient cities in the world.