Bashar al-Assad
Syrian president
Bashar al-Assad
Bashar Hafez al-Assad is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Syrian-led branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. He has served as President since 2000, when he succeeded his father, Hafez al-Assad, who had ruled Syria for 30 years prior to his death. Al-Assad graduated from the medical school of the University of Damascus in 1988, and started to work as a physician in the army.
Bashar al-Assad's personal information overview.
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Popular photos of Bashar al-Assad
October 25, 2012
President of Syria Bashar al-Assad performs Eid al-Adha prayers at al-Afram Mosque in Damascus
July 19, 2012
Morrissey performing live at the Cemil Topuzlu Open Air Theater, where he held up a Turkish flag and paraded his backing musicians in T-shirts reading, 'Assad is S**t,' in reference to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
July 18, 2012
Morrissey performing live at the Cemil Topuzlu Open Air Theater. He held up a Turkish flag and paraded his backing musicians in t-shirts reading 'Assad is Sh*t' in reference to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
July 17, 2012
Mourners gather to protest against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad at a funeral in Yabroud, Damascus, Syria on July 18, 2012. The mass funeral was held for victims who have died during the ongoing civil war in Syria.
March 14, 2012
Political graffiti calling for the stop of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appears on the streets of Hollywood
April 27, 2011
Members of Muslims Against Crusades protest in Westminster calling for the end to President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria.
April 25, 2011
A youth in Damascus featured on 'Daybreak' bravely throwing a rock at a T72 tank in protest at President Bashar al-Assad increasingly paranoid and brutal deployment of military assets against unarmed protesters calling for democratic change. Shown on ITV1
July 12, 2008
Bashar al-Assad and Asma Assad Gala dinner for the first summit of the 'Union for the Mediterranean' held at the Grand Palais.
News abour Bashar al-Assad from around the web
Russian Ambassador To UN Dies Suddenly In New York
Huffington Post - 6 days
MOSCOW, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Russia’s combative ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died suddenly in New York on Monday after being taken ill at work, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The ministry gave no details on the circumstances of his death but offered condolences to his relatives and said the diplomat had died one day before his 65th birthday. It declined to comment on reports that Churkin had been taken to a hospital shortly before his death. A U.S. government official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the case, said that Churkin had died of an apparent heart attack. A federal law enforcement official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said that there appeared to be nothing unusual about the ambassador’s death. The New York Post quoted unnamed sources as saying Churkin had been rushed to a Manhattan hospital from the Russian embassy after falling ill with a cardiac condition. President Vladimir Putin was deeply upset by the ne ...
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U.S.' Tillerson calms allies on Syria ahead of Geneva talks
Yahoo News - 9 days
By John Irish and Sabine Siebold BONN, Germany (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, trying to reassure allies that Washington was not tilting towards Moscow over the Syrian conflict, told them on Friday that the United States backed U.N. efforts to broker a political solution to the war, officials and diplomats said. Tillerson also said military ties with Russia hinged on its stance towards rebels fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, who Russia backs.
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Is There A Seat At Syria's Negotiating Table For Jabhat al-Nusra?
Huffington Post - 11 days
Photo: Hector Sharp - Idlib, 2013 In 1998, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was, "without any question a terrorist group" according to Robert Gelbard (then United States envoy to the Balkans). However, within a year, the West warmed to the KLA; in June 1999, NATO signed an agreement with KLA to demilitarize, stating at the time, "the international community should take due and full account of the contribution of the KLA during the Kosovo crisis and accordingly give due consideration to its proposals for current members to participate in the administration and police forces of Kosovo, enjoying special consideration in view of the expertise they have developed." The Syrian conflict's negotiating table is set once more for 23 February 2017. The United Nations' envoy Staffan de Mistura announced on Monday that efforts would continue to find a solution to the nearly six-year-old war in Syria that has killed more than 310,000 people. The new peace negotiations, backed by Russia, Iran ...
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Lebanon PM Hariri stands firm on Assad 'crimes'
Yahoo News - 11 days
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Monday he stood firm against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's "crimes", at an event marking the anniversary of his father's assassination that he has blamed on Damascus. Hariri, whose father Rafiq Hariri was killed along with 22 other people in a February 14, 2005 bomb blast on the Beirut seafront, was appointed prime minister in November for a second time, under an arrangement struck with the pro-Syrian Shiite group Hezbollah. "We negotiated and we made compromises to preserve stability" in Lebanon, he said in an address to a packed hall in Beirut.
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Don't look away... Syria isn't over yet
Fox News - 12 days
The bloody scenes of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s scorched-earth campaign in Eastern Aleppo have faded from the news, yet the killing in Syria continues.
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Weekend Roundup: Disarming America’s Soft Power
Huffington Post - 15 days
Presidential historian Daniel Franklin writes this week that U.S. President Donald Trump could be a once-in-an-era “reconstructive president” in the mold of Andrew Jackson, FDR and Ronald Reagan. Like those former leaders, says Franklin, he has upended the status quo by realigning partisan constituencies and departing entirely from the previous governing consensus, a shift that can be progressive or regressive. More than just having won an election, Trump is out to effect a “regime change” that will be in place for a long time to come. “There is a very good possibility that Trump will succeed,” Franklin writes. “It is hard to fight a reconstructive president. By and large Americans want to be led. My own research suggests that there is a bias in our minds towards bold leadership, no matter where it takes us. Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that with human beings the facts bend to perception rather than the other way around.” Writing from Santiago, Chile, And ...
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'Yahoo News' Reporter Interviews Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad
NPR - 15 days
NPR's Robert Siegel talks with reporter Mike Isikoff. In a Yahoo News exclusive interview, Isikoff confronts President Bashar al-Assad about his human rights record, his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and whether he would step aside as president if it could help end the war in Syria.
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Exclusive: Syria’s Assad rejects Trump’s call for ‘safe zones’
Yahoo News - 16 days
Syrian President Bashar Assad, in an exclusive interview with Yahoo News, rejected President Trump’s proposal to create “safe zones,” protected by the military, inside his country as “not a realistic idea at all.” He said he could see a role for American troops to fight the Islamic State in Syria, but only with his government’s approval and as part of a “rapprochement” with Russia. “So, if you want to start genuinely as United States to [defeat the Islamic State] it must be through the Syrian government,” said Assad, when asked about reports that Trump has directed the Pentagon to develop new plans to destroy the Islamic State that could include the deployment of more U.S. special forces troops and Apache helicopters inside Syria.
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Bashar al-Assad
  • 2016
    Age 50
    Makhlouf died in Dubai in 2016.
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    Syria's Alawite community is widely written about in the foreign media as the hard core support base of the Assad government and is said to dominate the regime's security apparatus, yet in April 2016 Alawite leaders released a document seeking to distance themselves from both Assad and Shia Islam stressing that "Alawites should not be associated with the crimes the Assad regime has committed".
    More Details Hide Details In 2014, the Christian Syriac Military Council, the largest Christian organization in Syria, formed an alliance with the Free Syrian Army opposed to Assad, joining other Syrian Christian militias such as the Sutoro who had joined the Syrian opposition against the Assad regime.
    In March 2016, the House Foreign Affairs panel of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs called for a resolution led by New Jersey Republican Rep.
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    In January 2016, Russian president Putin said that Russia was supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces and was ready to back anti-Assad rebels as long as they were fighting ISIL.
    More Details Hide Details On 11 January 2016, the senior Russian defence ministry official said that the "Russian air force was striking in support of eleven groups of democratic opposition that number over 7 thousand people." On 22 January 2016, FT, citing anonymous "senior western intelligence officials", claimed that Russian general Igor Sergun, the director of GRU, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, had shortly before his sudden death on 3 January 2016 been sent to Damascus with a message from Vladimir Putin asking that president Bashar Assad step aside. Assad was said to have "angrily refused", Sergun’s failed mission in Damascus leaving Assad "more entrenched than before". The newspaper′s report was promptly denied by Putin′s spokesman. As a result of the Syrian Civil War, "government-controlled Syria is truncated in size, battered and impoverished". Economic sanctions (the Syria Accountability Act) were applied long before the Syrian Civil War by the United States, and were joined by the European Union and other countries at the outbreak of the civil war, causing the regime to slowly disintegrate. These sanctions were reinforced in October 2014 by the EU and US. Industry in parts of the country that are still Assad regime held is heavily state-controlled, with economic liberalization being reversed during the current conflict. The London School of Economics has stated that as a result of the Syrian Civil War, a war economy has developed in Syria, similar to USA and the United Kingdom.
  • 2015
    Age 49
    Assad condemned the November 2015 Paris attacks, but added that France's support for Syrian rebel groups had contributed to the spread of terrorism, and rejected sharing intelligence on terrorist threats with French authorities unless France altered its policy.
    More Details Hide Details In 2016, Syrian Democratic Forces found paperwork including regime bank statements at a recently captured oil refinery during the Al-Shaddadi offensive (2016) showing that ISIS had sold oil to the Assad regime, with a SDF commander stating; "The regime says that it's fighting terrorists, but it's not really. In fact, it's always maintained economic ties. Bashar Assad controls nothing anymore and he has a massive logistical lead in terms of oil especially so he's bought oil from the jihadists, and in return, he's supplied them with weapons". The Druze in Syria have largely sought to remain neutral, "seeking to stay out of the conflict" according to some, while according to others over half support the regime despite its relative weakness in Druze areas. The "Sheikhs of Dignity" movement, which had sought to remain neutral and to defend Druze areas, blamed the regime after its leader Sheikh Wahid al-Balous was assassinated and led to large scale protests which left 6 regime security personnel dead. It has been claimed at various stages of the Syrian Civil War that other religious minorities such as the Alawites and Christians in Syria favor the regime of Bashar al-Assad's because of its appearance as a secular government, however opposition exists among Assyrian Christians who have stated that the Assad regime seeks to use them as "puppets" and deny their distinct ethnicity which is non-Arab.
    In 2015, al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, issued bounty worth millions of dollars for the killing of Assad.
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    At its height ISIS was making $40 million a month from the sale of oil primarily to the Assad regime, as thousands of spreadsheets and accounts kept by ISIS oil boss Abu Sayyaf revealed, documents which were retrieved in the biggest intelligence raid in US Special Forces' history in 2015.
    More Details Hide Details A 2007 law required internet cafés to record all the comments users post on chat forums. Websites such as Arabic Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook were blocked intermittently between 2008 and February 2011. Human Rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have detailed how the Assad regime's secret police routinely tortured, imprisoned, and killed political opponents, and those who speak out against the regime. In addition, some 600 Lebanese political prisoners are thought to be held in regime prisons since the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, with some held for as long as over 30 years. Since 2006 it expanded the use of travel bans against dissidents. In that regard, Syria is the worst offender among Arab states. The Syrian mukhabarat is Alawite dominated.
    In a televised interview broadcast by Česká televize on 1 December 2015, he said that the Western leaders who demand his resignation were of no interest to him, as he said nobody takes them seriously because they are "shallow" and controlled by the U.S. At the end of December 2015, senior U.S. officials privately admitted that Russia had achieved its central goal of stabilising the Assad government and, with the costs relatively low, could sustain the operation at this level for years to come.
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    On 22 November 2015, Bashar Assad said that within two months of its air campaign Russia had achieved more than the U.S.-led coalition in its fight against ISIL for a year.
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    In November 2015, Bashar Assad re-iterated that a political process to end the country's civil war could not begin while it was occupied by "terrorists".
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    In early September 2015, against the backdrop of reports that Russia was deploying troops in Syria ready for combat, Russian president Vladimir Putin said that while such talk was "premature", Russia was "already providing Syria with sufficiently serious help: with both materiel and training soldiers, with our weapons". Shortly after the start of direct military intervention by Russia on 30 September 2015 at the formal request of the Syrian government, Russian president Vladimir Putin said the military operation had been thoroughly prepared in advance and defined Russia′s goal in Syria as "stabilising the legitimate power in Syria and creating the conditions for political compromise".
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    On 1 June 2015, the United States stated that the Assad regime was "making air-strikes in support" of an ISIS advance on Syrian opposition positions north of Aleppo.
    More Details Hide Details Referring to the same ISIS offensive, the president of the Syrian National Coalition Khaled Koja accused Assad of acting "as an air force for ISIS", with the Defence Minister of the SNC Salim Idris stating that approximately 180 Assad regime officers were serving in ISIS and coordinating the group's attacks with the Syrian Arab Army. Christopher Kozak of the Institute for the Study of War states that "Assad sees the defeat of ISIS in the long term and prioritizes in the more short-and medium-term, trying to cripple the more mainline Syrian opposition ISIS is a threat that lots of people can rally around and even if the regime trades … territory that was in rebel hands over to ISIS control, that weakens the opposition, which has more legitimacy ISIS". A media consultant who works directly for Assad threatened the Druze community in Suwayda with allowing ISIS to attack them if they refused to let their sons join the Syrian Arab Army; the Druze continued to refuse to be associated with the Assad regime, and ISIL attacks subsequently occurred soon after in northern Suwayda.
    In May 2015, pro Assad Lebanese politician Michel Samaha was sentenced to four and a half judicial years in jail for his role in a terrorist bomb plot that he claimed Assad was aware of.
    More Details Hide Details The United States, European Union, the March 14 Alliance, Israel, and France accuse Assad of providing practical support to militant groups active against Israel and against opposition political groups. The latter category would include most political parties other than Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, Assad claimed the United States could benefit from the Syrian experience in fighting organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood at the Hama Massacre. In a speech about the 2006 Lebanon War in August 2006, Assad said that Hezbollah had "hoisted the banner of victory," hailing its actions as a "successful resistance." In April 2008, Assad told a Qatari newspaper that Syria and Israel had been discussing a peace treaty for a year, with Turkey as a go-between. This was confirmed in May 2008, by a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. As well as a peace treaty, the future of the Golan Heights is being discussed. Assad was quoted in The Guardian as telling the Qatari paper:
    Rafik Hariri’s attempts to reduce tensions with Syria were considered a “mockery” by Assad, journalist and ad-hoc Lebanese-Syrian intermediary Ali Hamade stated before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in early 2015. Despite gaining re-election in 2007, Assad’s position was considered by some to have been weakened by the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon following the Cedar Revolution in 2005. There has also been pressure from the U.S. concerning claims that Syria is linked to terrorist networks, exacerbated by Syrian condemnation of the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah military leader, in Damascus in 2008.
    More Details Hide Details Interior Minister Bassam Abdul-Majeed stated that, "Syria, which condemns this cowardly terrorist act, expresses condolences to the martyr family and to the Lebanese people."
    In March 2015, an expanded version of the aforementioned leaks with nearly 3,000 additional emails from Assad’s personal account, were handed to NOW News and published the following month; the emails detail attempts to manipulate the opinion of American Christians, flirtatious emails between Assad and a Paris-based geneticist Dr. Suzanne Kuzbari, attempts to organize the kidnapping of individuals with border smugglers, attempts to falsify the results of a poll on the FOX News website, frequent remarks showing contempt for the Arab people, and emails from Fawaz Akhras (Asma al-Assad's father) discussing 9/11 conspiracy theories, how "Jews" created Al-Qaeda and how "Hitler was the founding father of the state of Israel”.
    More Details Hide Details One email showed Assad's wife Asma Assad sharing a modified version of the famous Arab Nationalist song Biladol Orb Awtani, changing the lyrics from "The Arab provinces are my homelands” to "The Russian provinces are my homelands”. After the Syrian Civil War began, the Assad regime began a social media campaign which included an online presence on Facebook, YouTube, and most notably Instagram. A Twitter account for Assad was reportedly activated, however it remained unverified. This resulted in much criticism, and was described as "a propaganda campaign that ultimately has made the Assad family look worse". The Assad regime has arrested and forced disappeared pro-regime activists for creating Facebook groups that the regime disapproved of, as well as appealed directly to Twitter to remove accounts it disliked. The social media campaign as well as the previously leaked e-mails lead to comparisons with Hannah Arendt's A Report on the Banality of Evil. In 2013, Assad's 11-year-old son made a post on Facebook calling American soldiers "cowards with new technology" and claiming that Syria would beat America "just like Hezbollah defeated Israel" if they attacked.
    In March 2015, Assad met with Filip Dewinter of the Belgian far-right party Vlaams Belang.
    More Details Hide Details Most recently Assad met with a far-right French delegation, including former leader of the youth movement of the National Front Julien Rochedy. Left-wing support for Assad has been split since the start of the Syrian Civil War; the Assad regime has been accused of cynically manipulating sectarian identity and anti-imperialism to continue its worst activities. Before the Civil War, British politician George Galloway said of Bashar al-Assad, and the country he leads, during a visit to the University of Damascus in November 2005: "For me he is the last Arab ruler, and Syria is the last Arab country. It is the fortress of the remaining dignity of the Arabs," and a "breath of fresh air," Galloway later criticized the Assad regime at the outset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, dismissing its "gross distortions" regarding the uprising. Hadash has expressed support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, reiterated his full support for the Syrian people in their struggle for peace and reiterates its strong condemnation of "the destabilizing actions that are still in Syria, with encouragement from members of NATO". The leader of the National Liberation Front, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has sent a cable of congratulations to President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, on the occasion of winning the presidential elections. The leader of Guyana's People's Progressive Party, Donald Ramotar, said that Assad's win in the presidential election is a great victory for Syria.
    While hosting an 8 March 2015 delegation from North Korea led by North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Sin Hong Chol, Assad stated that Syria and North Korea were being "targeted" because they are "among those few countries which enjoy real independence".
    More Details Hide Details According to Syrian Opposition sources, North Korea has sent army units to fight on behalf of Assad in the Syrian Civil War.
    In September 2015, France began an inquiry into Assad's regime for crimes against humanity, with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stating "Faced with these crimes that offend the human conscience, this bureaucracy of horror, faced with this denial of the values of humanity, it is our responsibility to act against the impunity of the killers".
    More Details Hide Details "The mass scale of deaths of detainees suggests that the government of Syria is responsible for acts that amount to extermination as a crime against humanity," head of the UN commission of inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro, told reporters in Geneva in February 2016, with the commission finding "unimaginable abuses" by the Assad regime including women and children as young as seven perishing while being held by the Syrian authorities. "There are reasonable grounds to believe that high-ranking officers -- including the heads of branches and directorates -- commanding these detention facilities, those in charge of the military police, as well as their civilian superiors, knew of the vast number of deaths occurring in detention facilities," the UN commission's report stated, "Yet (they) did not take action to prevent abuse, investigate allegations or prosecute those responsible".
    In March 2015 a report published by Physicians for Human Rights documented that the Assad regime was responsible for the vast majority of the deaths of 600 medical workers since the Syrian Civil War began; 88% of recorded attacks on hospitals and 97% of killings of medical workers were attributed to Assad's forces.
    More Details Hide Details For the last three years evidence compiled by the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), made up of investigators and legal experts who formerly worked on war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and for the international criminal court, have cooperated with a team of 50 Syrian investigators to indict Bashar al-Assad and 24 senior members of his regime. Nadim Shehadi, the director of The Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies stated that “In the early 1990s, Saddam Hussein was massacring his people and we were worried about the weapons inspectors Bashar Assad did that too. He kept us busy with chemical weapons when he massacred his people”. A 2015 report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights found that 49 of 56 major massacres displaying "obvious sectarian or ethnic cleansing traits" were carried out by the Assad regime.
    In a February 2015 interview with the BBC, Assad described accusations that the Syrian Arab Air Force used barrel bombs as "childish", claiming that his forces have never used these types of bombs and responded with a joke about not using "cooking pots" either.
    More Details Hide Details The BBC Middle East editor conducting the interview, Jeremy Bowen, later described Assad's claim regarding barrel bombs as "patently not true". The Syrian Arab Air Force's use of barrel bombs is well documented.
    In March 2015, Rapp further stated that the case against Syrian President Bashar Assad is "much better" than those against Slobodan Milošević of Serbia or Charles Taylor of Liberia, both of whom were indicted by international tribunals.
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    In April 2015, Assad ordered the arrest of his cousin Munther al-Assad in Alzirah, Lattakia.
    More Details Hide Details It remains unclear whether Munther al-Assad's arrest was due to actual crimes or plotting against the regime. After a string of government defeats in northern and southern Syria, analysts noted growing government instability coupled with continued waning support for the Assad government among its core Alawite base of support, and that there were increasing reports of Assad relatives, Alawites, and business men fleeing Damascus for Latakia and foreign countries. Intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk was placed under house arrest sometime in April by the regime, and stood accused of plotting with Bashar Assad's exiled uncle Rifaat al-Assad to replace Bashar as president. Further high-profile deaths included the commanders of the Fourth Armoured Division, the Belli military airbase, the army's special forces and of the First Armoured Division, with an errant air strike in Palmyra after the regime's collapse in the Tadmur offensive (2015) killing two officers who were reportedly related to Assad.
    Several members of the Assad family who were once considered untouchable died in Latakia under unclear circumstances, raising questions about the Assad family's influence in the pro-government bastion. On 14 March 2015, an influential cousin of Bashar Assad and founder of the shabiha, Mohammed Toufic Assad, was assassinated with five bullets to the head in a dispute over influence in Qardaha.
    More Details Hide Details The village is the ancestral home of the Assad family, and the cousin had been previously injured in a dispute in 2012.
  • 2014
    Age 48
    Figures close to the Assad regime began voicing concerns regarding the likelihood of its survival, with one saying in late 2014; "I don’t see the current situation as sustainable...
    More Details Hide Details I think Damascus will collapse at some point."
    After the fall of four regime military bases in September 2014, which were the last government footholds in Raqqa province, Assad received significant criticism from his Alawite base of support.
    More Details Hide Details This included remarks and symbolic gestures made by Douraid al-Assad, cousin of Bashar al-Assad, demanding the resignation of the Syrian Defence Minister, Fahd Jassem al-Freij, following the massacre by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant of hundreds of regime troops captured after the ISIL/ISIS victory at Tabqa Air base. This was shortly followed by Alawite protests in Homs demanding the resignation of the governor, and the dismissal of Assad's cousin Hafez Makhlouf from his security position leading to his subsequent exile to Belarus. Growing resentment towards Assad among Alawites was fuelled by the disproportionate number of soldiers killed in fighting hailing from Alawite areas, a sense that the Assad regime has abandoned them, as well as the failing economic situation exacerbated by government corruption.
    On 16 July 2014, Bashar Assad was sworn in for another seven-year term, after taking 88.7% of votes in the presidential elections, running against two government other candidates in the first contested presidential election in Ba'athist Syria's history.
    More Details Hide Details The elections were criticized by Western governments and media as "tightly controlled" and without independent election monitors, while an international delegation led by allies of Assad, composed of officials from more than 30 countries (including Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua, Russia, South Africa and Venezuela) issued a statement stating that the election was "free, fair and transparent". The form of government Assad presides over has been described as an authoritarian regime by Western political scientists, although this is fiercely contested. The Assad government describes itself as secular, while experts contend that the regime exploits ethnic and sectarian tensions in the country to remain in power. The government's alleged sectarian base relying upon the Alawite minority has been noted. Once seen by the domestic and international community as a potential reformer, for some Assad broke those expectations when he allegedly ordered crackdowns and military sieges on so-called Arab Spring protesters, leading to the Syrian Civil War. Despite the accusations, many who are not aligned with the Arab Spring deny it, arguing that armed men in the protesters fired first, as seen by an interview of one of the security guards sent to the initial protests on PBS Frontline. Assad also stated in an interview with SBS Australia that despite the protests been infiltrated by terrorists, some of the initial protesters were wanting of legitimate reform. The Syrian opposition, the United States, Canada, the European Union and the majority of the Arab League called for al-Assad's resignation from the presidency.
    In June 2014, Assad won a controversial election held in regime held areas (and ignored in opposition held areas and Kurdish areas governed by the PYD) with 88.7% of vote Syrian presidential election.
    More Details Hide Details Individuals interviewed in a "Sunni-dominated, middle-class neighborhood of central Damascus" claimed wide support for Assad among the Sunnis in Syria. Attempts to hold an election under the circumstances of an ongoing civil war were criticized by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. Assad has attracted support from the far-right both before and during the Syrian Civil War. Former leader of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke hosted a televised speech on Syrian national television in 2005. The Ukrainian far-right figure Georgy Shchokin was invited to Syria in 2006 by the Syrian foreign minister and awarded a medal by the Ba'ath party, while Shchokin's institution the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management awarded Assad with an honorary doctorate. In 2014, research by the Simon Wiesenthal Center concluded that Bashar al-Assad had, like his father Hafez al-Assad, sheltered Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner in Syria. Brunner was Adolf Eichmann’s top lieutenant and was believed to have advised the Assad regime on torture techniques and on purging Syria's Jewish community. Brunner is thought to have died in Syria of natural causes in 2010.
    An IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center database analysis confirmed that only a small percentage of Assad regime attacks were targeted at ISIS in 2014.
    More Details Hide Details The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces has stated that the Assad regime has operatives inside ISIS, as has the leadership of Ahrar al-Sham. ISIS members captured by the FSA have claimed that they were directed to commit attacks by Assad regime operatives. Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi disputed such assertions in February 2014, arguing that "ISIS has a record of fighting the regime on multiple fronts", many rebel factions have engaged in oil sales to the Syrian regime because it is "now largely dependent on Iraqi oil imports via Lebanese and Egyptian third-party intermediaries", and while "the regime is focusing its airstrikes areas where it has some real expectations of advancing" claims that it "has not hit ISIS strongholds" are "untrue". He concluded: "Attempting to prove an ISIS-regime conspiracy without any conclusive evidence is unhelpful, because it draws attention away from the real reasons why ISIS grew and gained such prominence: namely, rebel groups tolerated ISIS."
    Since the Iraq War and Syrian Civil War Assad's relationship with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has been subject to much attention. In 2014, terrorism expert Peter R. Neumann maintained, citing Syrian records captured by the US military in the Iraqi border town of Sinjar and leaked State Department cables, that "in the years that preceded the uprising, Assad and his intelligence services took the view that jihad could be nurtured and manipulated to serve the Syrian government’s aims".
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    He is currently in his third seven-year term of the presidency, having won the 2014 election.
    More Details Hide Details He is also commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces, General Secretary of the ruling Ba'ath Party and Regional Secretary of the party's branch in Syria.
  • 2013
    Age 47
    ISIS, al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and affiliated jihadist groups reportedly took the lead in an offensive on Alawite villages in Latakia Governorate of Syria in August 2013.
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    On 6 January 2013, Assad, in his first major speech since June, said that the conflict in his country was due to "enemies" outside of Syria who would "go to Hell" and that they would "be taught a lesson".
    More Details Hide Details However he said that he was still open to a political solution saying that failed attempts at a solution "does not mean we are not interested in a political solution."
  • 2012
    Age 46
    In July 2012, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov denounced Western powers for what he said amounted to blackmail thus provoking a civil war in Syria.
    More Details Hide Details On 15 July 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross declared Syria to be in a state of civil war, as the nationwide death toll for all sides was reported to have neared 20,000.
    On 10 January 2012, Assad gave a speech in which he maintained the uprising was engineered by foreign countries and proclaimed that "victory was near".
    More Details Hide Details He also said that the Arab League, by suspending Syria, revealed that it was no longer Arab. However, Assad also said the country would not "close doors" to an Arab-brokered solution if "national sovereignty" was respected. He also said a referendum on a new constitution could be held in March. On 27 February 2012, Syria claimed that a proposal that a new constitution be drafted received 90% support during the relevant referendum. The referendum introduced a fourteen-year cumulative term limit for the president of Syria. The referendum was pronounced meaningless by foreign nations including the U.S. and Turkey; the European Union announced fresh sanctions against key regime figures.
    By the end of January 2012, it was reported that over 5,000 civilians and protesters (including armed militants) had been killed by the Syrian army, militia (Shabiha) and security agents, while 1,100 people had been killed by the anti-regime forces.
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  • 2011
    Age 45
    In July 2011, U.S. foreign minister Hillary Clinton said president Assad had “lost legitimacy.” On 18 August 2011, Barack Obama issued a written statement echoed by the leaders of the UK, France, and Germany, that urged President Assad to "step aside".
    More Details Hide Details In August, Syrian security forces attacked the country's best-known political cartoonist, Ali Farzat, a noted critic of Assad's regime and its five-month crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and dissent. Relatives of the severely beaten humorist told Western media that the attackers threatened to break Farzat's bones as a warning for him to stop drawing cartoons of government officials, particularly Assad. Farzat was hospitalized with fractures in both hands and blunt force trauma to the head. Since October 2011, Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, repeatedly vetoed Western-sponsored draft resolutions in the UN Security Council that would have left open the possibility of UN sanctions, or even military intervention, against the Bashar Assad government.
    On 24 May 2011, Canada imposed sanctions on Syrian leaders, including Assad.
    More Details Hide Details On 20 June, in a speech lasting nearly an hour, in response to the demands of protesters and foreign pressure, Assad promised a national dialogue involving movement toward reform, new parliamentary elections, and greater freedoms. He also urged refugees to return home from Turkey, while assuring them amnesty and blaming all unrest on a small number of saboteurs. Assad blamed the unrest on "conspiracies" and accused the Syrian opposition and protestors of "fitna", breaking with the Syrian Ba'ath Party's strict tradition of secularism.
    On 23 May 2011, the EU foreign ministers agreed at a meeting in Brussels to add Assad and nine other officials to a list affected by travel bans and asset freezes.
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    First, limited, sanctions against the Assad government were imposed by the U.S. in April 2011, followed by Barack Obama's executive order as of 18 May 2011 targeting Bashar Assad specifically and six other senior officials.
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  • 2008
    Age 42
    Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki threatened Assad with an international tribunal over the matter, and ultimately lead to the 2008 Abu Kamal raid, and United States airstrikes within Syria during the Iraq War.
    More Details Hide Details During the Syrian Civil War, multiple opposition and anti-Assad parties in the conflict have accused Assad of collusion with ISIS to some degree. Several sources have claimed that ISIS prisoners were strategically released from Syrian prisons at the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. The Assad regime has bought oil directly from both ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front. United States Secretary of State John Kerry has stated that the Assad regime has tactically avoided ISIS forces in order to weaken moderate opposition such as the Free Syrian Army, as well as "even purposely ceding some territory to them ISIS in order to make them more of a problem so he can make the argument that he is somehow the protector against them".
  • 2007
    Age 41
    On 27 May 2007, Bashar was approved as president for another seven-year term, with the official result of 97.6% of the votes in a referendum without another candidate.
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  • 2005
    Age 39
    In 2005, the former prime minister of Lebanon was assassinated.
    More Details Hide Details The Christian Science Monitor reported that "Syria was widely blamed for Hariri’s murder. In the months leading to the assassination, relations between Hariri and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad plummeted amid an atmosphere of threats and intimidation." The BBC reported in December 2005: "New Hariri report 'blames Syria'."
  • 2003
    Age 37
    After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, al-Douri allegedly fled to Damascus where he organised the National Command of the Islamic Resistance which co-ordinated major combat operations during the Iraqi insurgency.
    More Details Hide Details In 2009, General David Petraeus, who was at the time heading the United States Central Command, told reporters from Al Arabiya that al-Douri was residing in Syria. The U.S commander of the coalition forces in Iraq George W. Casey, Jr. accused Assad of providing funding, logistics, and training to insurgents in Iraq to launch attacks against U.S. and allied forces occupying Iraq. Iraqi leaders such as former national security advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have accused Assad of harbouring and supporting Iraqi militants. At the outset of the Arab Spring, Syrian state media focused primarily upon Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, demonizing him as pro U.S. and comparing him unfavorably with Assad. Assad told the Wall Street Journal in this same period that he considered himself "anti-Israel" and "anti-West", and that because of these policies he was not in danger of being overthrown.
  • 2001
    Age 35
    In 2001, Assad condemned the September 11 attacks.
    More Details Hide Details In 2003, Assad revealed in an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper that he doubted the organization of al-Qaeda even existed. He was quoted as saying, "Is there really an entity called al-Qaeda? Was it in Afghanistan? Does it exist now?" He went on further to remark about bin Laden commenting, he "cannot talk on the phone or use the Internet, but he can direct communications to the four corners of the world? This is illogical."
    During the visit of Pope John Paul II to Syria in 2001, Assad requested an apology to Muslims for the medieval Crusades and criticised Israeli treatment of Palestinians.
    More Details Hide Details Comparing their suffering to that endured by Jesus Christ in Palestine, Assad claimed that followers of Judaism "tried to kill the principles of all religions with the same mentality in which they betrayed Jesus Christ and the same way they tried to betray and kill the Prophet Muhammad." Responding to claims that his comment was antisemitic, Assad said that whereas Judaism is a racially heterogeneous religion, the Syrian people are the core of the Semitic race and therefore are opposed to the term antisemitism. When offered to retract his comment implying that the Jews were responsible for Jesus' suffering, Assad replied, "As always, these are historical facts that we cannot deny," and stressed that his remarks were not anti-Jewish. In February 2011, Bashar backed an initiative to restore 10 synagogues in Syria, which had a Jewish community numbering 30,000 in 1947, but had only 200 Jews by 2011.
    In his foreign policy, Assad is an outspoken critic of the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Until he became president, Assad was not greatly involved in politics; his only public role was head of the Syrian Computer Society, which introduced the Internet to Syria in 2001.
    More Details Hide Details Mass protests in Syria began on 26 January 2011. Protesters called for political reforms and the re-instatement of civil rights, as well as an end to the state of emergency which had been in place since 1963. One attempt at a "day of rage" was set for 4–5 February, though it ended uneventfully. Protests on 18–19 March were the largest to take place in Syria for decades and the Syrian authority responded with violence against its protesting citizens.
  • 2000
    Age 34
    Assad speaks fluent English and basic conversational French, having studied at the Franco-Arab al-Hurriyah school in Damascus. In December 2000, Assad married Asma Assad, born Akhras, a British citizen of Syrian origin, from Acton, London.
    More Details Hide Details In 2001, they became the parents of their first-born child, named Hafez after the child's grandfather Hafez al-Assad. Zein was born in 2003 and Karim in 2004. Bashar Assad's sister Bushra al-Assad and mother Anisa Makhlouf left Syria in 2012 and 2013 respectively to live in the United Arab Emirates.
    Al-Assad was elected president by an unopposed ballot on 10 July 2000.
    More Details Hide Details Immediately after Assad took office, a reform movement made cautious advances during the Damascus Spring, which led to the shut down of Mezzeh prison and the declaration of a wide ranging amnesty releasing hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood affiliated political prisoners. However, security crackdowns commenced again within the year. The New York Times reported that soon after Assad assumed power, he "made Syria’s link with Hezbollah — and its patrons in Tehran — the central component of his security doctrine."
    Soon after the death of Bassel, Hafez Assad made the decision to make Bashar the new heir-apparent. Over the next six and half years, until his death in 2000, Hafez went about systematically preparing Bashar for taking over power.
    More Details Hide Details Preparations for a smooth transition were made on three levels. First, support was built up for Bashar in the military and security apparatus. Second, Bashar's image was established with the public. And lastly, Bashar was familiarized with the mechanisms of running the country. To establish his credentials in the military, Bashar entered in 1994 the military academy at Homs, north of Damascus, and was propelled through the ranks to become a colonel in January 1999. To establish a power base for Bashar in the military, old divisional commanders were pushed into retirement, and new, young, Alawite officers with loyalties to him took their place. Parallel to his military career, Bashar was engaged in public affairs. He was granted wide powers and became a political adviser to President Hafez al-Assad, head of the bureau to receive complaints and appeals of citizens, and led a campaign against corruption. As a result of his campaign against corruption, Bashar was able to remove his potential rivals for president.
    In both the Syrian presidential election, 2000 and subsequent 2007 election, Bashar Assad received votes in his favor in the upper 90th percentile in uncontested elections where other candidates were not permitted to run against him.
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    On 10 July 2000, he was elected president succeeding Hafez al-Assad, his father, who had led Syria for 30 years and died in office a month prior.
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    Assad argued that Syria's gradual withdrawal of troops from Lebanon, beginning in 2000, was precipitated as a result of the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and ended in May 2005. According to testimony submitted to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, when talking to Rafic Hariri at the Presidential Palace in Damascus in August 2004, Bashar Assad allegedly said to him, "I will break Lebanon over your Hariri's head and over Walid Jumblatt's head" if Émile Lahoud was not allowed to remain in office despite Hariri's objections; that incident was thought to be linked to Hariri's subsequent assassination.
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  • 1998
    Age 32
    In 1998, Bashar took charge of Syria's Lebanon file, which had since the 1970s been handled by Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, one of the few Sunni officials in the Assad regime, who had until then been a potential contender for president.
    More Details Hide Details By taking charge of Syrian affairs in Lebanon, Bashar was able to push Khaddam aside and establish his own power base in Lebanon. In that same year after minor consultation with Lebanese politicians, Bashar installed Emile Lahoud, a loyal ally of his, as the President of Lebanon and pushed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri aside, by not placing his political weight behind his nomination as prime minister. To further weaken the old Syrian order in Lebanon, Bashar replaced the long serving de facto Syrian High Commissioner of Lebanon, Ghazi Kanaan, with Rustum Ghazali.
    He entered the military academy, taking charge of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon in 1998.
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  • 1994
    Age 28
    In 1994, after his elder brother Bassel was killed in a car crash, Bashar was recalled to Syria to take over Bassel's role as heir apparent.
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  • 1988
    Age 22
    Born in Damascus, Assad graduated from the medical school of Damascus University in 1988, and started to work as a doctor in the army.
    More Details Hide Details Four years later, he attended postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital, in London, specialising in ophthalmology.
  • 1965
    Born on September 11, 1965.
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