Syrian independence was acquired in 1946. Although rapid economic development followed the declaration of independence, Syrian politics from independence through the late 1960s was marked by upheaval. The early years of independence were marked by political instability.In 1948, Syria was involved in the Arab-Israeli War with the newly created State of Israel. The Syrian army was pressed out of the Israeli areas, but fortified their strongholds on the Golan and managed to keep their old borders and occupy some additional territory. In July 1949, Syria was the last Arab country to sign an armistice agreement with Israel.
Here's another hypothesis I'll be kicking around for a while: that "modern" Syria exists partly in order to make "Israel" look good. It's doing a pretty good job of it, anyways, assuming that the media report are fairly accurate.