April 17th. National Independence Day.
The last French forces depart from Syria in 1946 and President Shukri al-Quwatli declares Syria independent from the French Mandate. Quwatli makes the day the national “Independence Day” of Syria, formally ending 26-years of the French Mandate. The first celebration of independence was marked with grand festivities all throughout Syria. At 9:300 am on April 17, 1946, a 21-gun salute was fired from all the castles surrounding Damascus, indicating that the last French troops had formally evacuated. Before the thousands that assembled in front of government headquarters in the Marjeh Square, President Quwatli appeared with Arab officials and Syrian nationalists who came to celebrate Syria’s Independence Day. By his side was former President Hashim al-Atasi, who had led the nationalist movement during the years of the Mandate, and ruled Syria in 1936-1939. The first secretary-general of the Arab League, Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, was also present, and so was Lebanese Prime Minister Sami al-Sulh, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faysal (later king) Ibn Abdul-Aziz, and King Farouk’s special envoy Abdul-Latif Talaat Pasha. The long awaited Syrian Army paraded through the streets of Damascus, and was accompanied by troops from the Lebanese, Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, and Iraqi armies. Following the Syrian Army came the Syrian Boy Scouts, then the Maysaloun Troops, carrying a huge portrait of General Yusuf al-Azma, the Minister of War who had died while fighting the French when they entered Damascus in 1920. Representatives of every Syrian city came to Quwatli and presented him with a small silk sack containing the soil of every Syrian province, telling him that he was the leader of all of Syria and not only Damascus. Quwatli led the procession to Maysaloun, the site where Yusuf al-Azma had been killed in 1920. Collectively, they commemorated him as the first Syrian official to fall while fighting the French Army.
Source: Syrian History.