Hafez al-Assad (Arabic: بشار حافظ الأسد
Baššār Ḥāfiẓ al-ʾAsad, Levantine pronunciation: [baʃˈʃaːr
ˈħaːfezˤ elˈʔasad]; English
pronunciation (help·info); born 11 September 1965) is the 19th
and current President of Syria, holding the office since 17 July 2000.
He is also commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces, General
Secretary of the ruling Arab Socialist
Ba'ath Party and Regional
Secretary of the party's branch in Syria. He is a son of Hafez
al-Assad, who was
President of Syria
President of Syria from 1971 to 2000.
Born and raised in Damascus, Assad graduated from the medical school
Damascus University in 1988, and started to work as a doctor in the
Syrian Army. Four years later, he attended postgraduate studies at the
Western Eye Hospital
Western Eye Hospital in London, specialising in ophthalmology. In
1994, after his elder brother Bassel died in a car crash, Bashar was
Syria to take over Bassel's role as heir apparent. He
entered the military academy, taking charge of the Syrian military
Lebanon in 1998. On 10 July 2000, Assad was elected as
President, succeeding his father, who died in office a month prior. In
the 2000 and subsequent 2007 election, he received 99.7% and 97.6%
support, respectively, in uncontested referendums on his
On 16 July 2014, Assad was sworn in for another seven-year term after
receiving 88.7% of votes in the first contested presidential election
in Ba'athist Syria's history. The election was dismissed as a
"sham" by the
Syrian opposition and its Western allies, while an
international delegation who observed the election issued a statement
asserting that the election was "free and fair". The Assad
government describes itself as secular, while some political
scientists have claimed that the government exploits sectarian
tensions in the country and relies upon the Alawite minority to remain
Once seen by the international community as a potential reformer, the
United States, the European Union, and the majority of the Arab League
called for Assad's resignation from the presidency after he allegedly
ordered crackdowns and military sieges on
Arab Spring protesters,
which led to the Syrian Civil War. During the Syrian Civil
War, an inquiry by the
United Nations reported finding evidence which
implicated Assad in war crimes. In June 2014, Assad was included
in a list of war crimes indictments of government officials and rebels
handed to the International Criminal Court. Assad has rejected
allegations of war crimes, and criticised the American-led
Syria for attempting regime change.
1 Early life
1.1 Childhood and education: 1965–1988
1.2 Medicine: 1988–1994
1.3 Rise to power: 1994–2000
Damascus Spring and pre–Civil War: 2000–2011
2.2 During the Syrian Civil War
2.2.2 Since Russian intervention in September 2015
Syria under Bashar al-Assad's rule
3.2 Human rights
3.2.1 Alleged war crimes
3.3 Foreign relations
Iraq War and insurgency
3.3.3 Involvement in Lebanon
3.3.4 Arab–Israeli conflict
3.3.5 United States
3.3.6 North Korea
Al-Qaeda and ISIS
4 Public and personal life
4.1 Domestic opposition and support
4.2 International support
4.3 International public relations
4.4 Personal life
7 Further reading
8 External links
Childhood and education: 1965–1988
Further information: Al-Assad family
Hafez al-Assad with his family in the early 1970s. From left to right:
Bashar, Maher, Anisa, Majd, Bushra, and Bassel.
Hafez al-Assad was born in
Damascus on 11 September 1965, the
second oldest son of
Anisa Makhlouf and Hafez al-Assad. Al-Assad
in Arabic means "the Lion"; Assad's peasant paternal grandfather had
changed the family name from Wahsh (meaning "Savage" or "Monster")
upon acquiring minor noble status in 1927.
Assad's father, Hafez, was born to an impoverished rural family of
Alawite background and rose through the
Ba'ath Party ranks to take
control of the Syrian branch of the Party in the 1970 Corrective
Revolution, culminating in his rise to the Syrian presidency.
Hafez promoted his supporters within the Ba'ath Party, many of whom
were also of Alawite background. After the revolution, Alawite
strongmen were installed while Sunnis, Druzes and Ismailis were
removed from the army and Ba'ath party.
Assad had five siblings, three of whom are deceased. A sister named
Bushra died in infancy. Assad's youngest brother, Majd, was not a
public figure and little is known about him other than he was
intellectually disabled, and died in 2009 after a "long
The al-Assad family, c. 1993. At the front are Hafez and his wife,
Anisa. At the back row, from left to right: Maher, Bashar, Bassel,
Majd, and Bushra
Unlike his brothers Bassel and Maher, and second sister, also named
Bushra, Bashar was quiet, reserved and lacked interest in politics or
the military. The Assad children reportedly rarely saw
their father, and Bashar later stated that he only entered his
father's office once while he was president. He was described as
"soft-spoken", and according to a university friend, he was very
shy, avoiding eye contact and speaking in a low voice.
Assad received his primary and secondary education in the Arab-French
al-Hurriya School in Damascus. In 1982, he graduated from high
school and went on to study medicine at
Bassel al-Assad, Bashar's older brother, died in 1994, paving the way
for Bashar's future presidency.
In 1988, Assad graduated from medical school and began working as an
army doctor at the Tishrin Military Hospital on the outskirts of
Damascus. Four years later, he went to London to begin
postgraduate training in ophthalmology at the Western Eye
Hospital. He was described as a "geeky I.T. guy" during his time
in London. Bashar had few political aspirations, and his
father had been grooming Bashar's older brother Bassel as the future
president. However, Bassel died in a car accident in 1994 and
Bashar was recalled to the
Syrian Army shortly thereafter.
Rise to power: 1994–2000
Soon after the death of Bassel,
Hafez al-Assad made the decision to
make Bashar the new heir apparent. Over the next six and half
years, until his death in 2000, Hafez prepared Bashar for taking over
power. 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 familiarised with the mechanisms of running the
To establish his credentials in the military, Bashar entered the
military academy at
Homs in 1994, and was propelled through the ranks
to become a colonel of the elite
Syrian Republican Guard
Syrian Republican Guard 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
In 1998, Bashar took charge of Syria's
Lebanon file, which had since
the 1970s been handled by Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam, who had
until then been a potential contender for president. By taking
charge of Syrian affairs in Lebanon, Bashar was able to push Khaddam
aside and establish his own power base in Lebanon. In the 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
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 Ghazaleh.
Parallel to his military career, Bashar was engaged in public affairs.
He was granted wide powers and became head of the bureau to receive
complaints and appeals of citizens, and led a campaign against
corruption. As a result of this campaign, many of Bashar's potential
rivals for president were put on trial for corruption. Bashar also
became the President of the
Syrian Computer Society and helped to
introduce the internet in Syria, which aided his image as a moderniser
Damascus Spring and pre–Civil War: 2000–2011
Bashar al-Assad with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, 2010
Syrian Arab Republic
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Prime Minister (list)
Speaker: H. K. Abbas
High Judicial Council
Supreme Constitutional Court
National Progressive Front
Popular Front for Change and Liberation
Ba'ath Party (Syrian branch)
Foreign Affairs and Expatriates
UN resolutions on Syria
Syrian Civil War
After the death of
Hafez al-Assad on 10 June 2000, the Constitution of
Syria was amended; the minimum age requirement for the presidency was
lowered from 40 to 34, which was Bashar's age at the time. Assad
was then elected president on 10 July 2000, with 99.7% support for his
leadership. In line with his role as President of Syria, he was also
appointed commander-in-chief of the
Syrian Armed Forces
Syrian Armed Forces and General
Secretary of the Ba'ath Party.
Immediately after he 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
Muslim Brotherhood affiliated political prisoners.
However, security crackdowns commenced again within the year.
Many analysts stated that reform under Assad has been inhibited by the
"old guard", members of the government loyal to his late father.
Soon after Assad assumed power, he "made Syria's link with Hezbollah
– and its patrons in
Tehran – the central component of his
security doctrine", and in his foreign policy, Assad is an
outspoken critic of the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and
In 2005, the former prime minister of
Lebanon was assassinated. 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 that an interim
United Nations report "implicated Syrian
officials", while "
Damascus has strongly denied involvement in the car
bomb which killed Hariri in February".
On 27 May 2007, Assad was approved for another seven-year term in a
referendum on his presidency, with 97.6% of the votes supporting his
During the Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War and Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil
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.
Protests in Douma, 8 April 2011
The U.S. imposed limited sanctions against the Assad government in
April 2011, followed by Barack Obama's executive order as of 18 May
2011 targeting Bashar Assad specifically and six other senior
officials. 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. On 24 May 2011,
Canada imposed sanctions on Syrian leaders, including Assad.
On 20 June, 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.
Pro-Assad demonstration in Latakia, 20 June 2011
In July 2011, U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton said Assad had
"lost legitimacy" as President. On 18 August 2011, Barack Obama
issued a written statement that urged Assad to "step aside".
In August, the cartoonist Ali Farzat, a critic of Assad's government,
was attacked. Relatives of the humourist told media outlets 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 hospitalised with fractures in both hands and blunt force
trauma to the head.
A mural of Assad in
Latakia in November 2011
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 Assad
By the end of January 2012, it was reported by
Reuters that over 5,000
civilians and protesters (including armed militants) had been killed
by the Syrian army, security agents and militia (Shabiha), while 1,100
people had been killed by "terrorist armed forces".
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". 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.
Destroyed vehicle on a devastated
Aleppo street, 6 October 2012
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. In July 2012, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
denounced Western powers for what he said amounted to blackmail thus
provoking a civil war in Syria.
On 15 July 2012, the
International Committee of the Red Cross
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 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".
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."
After the fall of four military bases in September 2014, which
were the last government footholds in the Raqqa Governorate, Assad
received significant criticism from his Alawite base of support.
This included remarks 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 government troops captured after
ISIL 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. Figures close
to Assad began voicing concerns regarding the likelihood of its
survival, with one saying in late 2014; "I don't see the current
situation as sustainable ... I think
Damascus will collapse at some
A poster of
Bashar al-Assad at a checkpoint on the outskirts of
In 2015, several members of the Assad family died in
unclear circumstances. On 14 March, an influential cousin of Assad
and founder of the shabiha, Mohammed Toufic al-Assad, was assassinated
with five bullets to the head in a dispute over influence in
Qardaha—the ancestral home of the Assad family. In April 2015,
Assad ordered the arrest of his cousin Munther al-Assad in Alzirah,
Latakia. It remains unclear whether the arrest was due to actual
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 businessmen fleeing
foreign countries. Intelligence chief
Ali Mamlouk was placed
under house arrest sometime in April, and stood accused of plotting
with 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 during the Palmyra offensive killing two officers who were
reportedly related to Assad.
Since Russian intervention in September 2015
See also: Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War
Assad greeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, 21 October 2015
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
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, Putin
stated the military operation had been thoroughly prepared in advance
and defined Russia′s goal in
Syria as "stabilising the legitimate
Syria and creating the conditions for political
In November 2015, Assad reiterated that a diplomatic process to bring
the country's civil war to an end could not begin while it was
occupied by terrorists. On 22 November, Assad said that within
two months of its air campaign Russia had achieved more in its fight
ISIL than the U.S.-led coalition had achieved in a year.
In an interview with
Česká televize on 1 December, he said that the
leaders who demanded his resignation were of no interest to him, as
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
Syria and, with the costs relatively low, could sustain
the operation at this level for years to come.
In January 2016, Putin stated that Russia was supporting Assad's
forces and was ready to back anti-Assad rebels as long as they were
fighting ISIL. 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
seven thousand people."
Bashar al-Assad meets with Iran's representative on Syrian affairs,
Ali Akbar Velayati, 6 May 2016
On 22 January 2016, the Financial Times, 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
Assad step aside. The Financial Times' report was promptly denied
by Putin′s spokesman.
It was reported in December 2016 that Assad's forces had retaken half
of rebel-held Aleppo, ending a 6-year stalemate in the city.
On 15 December, as it was reported government forces were on the brink
of retaking all of Aleppo—a "turning point" in the Civil War, Assad
celebrated the liberation of the city, and stated, "History is being
written by every Syrian citizen."
After the election of Donald Trump, the priority of the United States
concerning Assad was unlike the priority of the Obama administration
and in March 2017
United States Ambassador to the
United Nations Nikki
Haley stated the U.S. was no longer focused on "getting Assad
out", but this position changed in the wake of the 2017 Khan
Shaykhun chemical attack. Following the missile strikes on a
Syrian airbase on the orders of President Trump, Assad's spokesperson
described the United States' behaviour as "unjust and arrogant
aggression" and stated that the missile strikes "do not change the
deep policies" of the Syrian government. President Assad also
Agence France-Presse that Syria's military had given up all
its chemical weapons in 2013, and would not have used them if they
still retained any, and stated that the chemical attack was a "100
percent fabrication" used to justify a U.S. airstike. In June
2017, Russian President Putin stated that "Assad didn't use the
[chemical weapons]" and that the chemical attack was "done by people
who wanted to blame him for that."
On 7 November 2017, the Syrian government announced that it had signed
the Paris Climate Agreement.
Syria under Bashar al-Assad's rule
See also: Economy of Syria
According to ABC News, as a result of the Syrian Civil War,
Syria is truncated in size, battered and
impoverished". Economic sanctions (the
Syria Accountability Act)
were applied long before the
Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War by the United States,
and were joined by the
European Union at the outbreak of the civil
war, causing disintegration of the Syrian economy. These
sanctions were reinforced in October 2014 by the EU and U.S.
Industry in parts of the country that are still held by the government
is heavily state-controlled, with economic liberalisation 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. A 2014 European Council on
Foreign Relations report also stated that a war economy has formed:
Three years into a conflict that is estimated to have killed at least
140,000 people from both sides, much of the Syrian economy lies in
ruins. As the violence has expanded and sanctions have been imposed,
assets and infrastructure have been destroyed, economic output has
fallen, and investors have fled the country. Unemployment now exceeds
50 percent and half of the population lives below the poverty line ...
against this backdrop, a war economy is emerging that is creating
significant new economic networks and business activities that feed
off the violence, chaos, and lawlessness gripping the country. This
war economy – to which Western sanctions have inadvertently
contributed – is creating incentives for some Syrians to prolong the
conflict and making it harder to end it.
United Nations commissioned report by the Syrian Centre for Policy
Research states that two-thirds of the Syrian population now lives in
"extreme poverty". Unemployment stands at 50 percent. In
October 2014 a $50 million mall opened in
Tartus provoked criticism
from government supporters, and was seen as part of an Assad
government policy of attempting to project a sense of normalcy
throughout the civil war. A government policy to give preference
to families of slain soldiers for government jobs was cancelled after
it caused an uproar, while rising accusations of corruption caused
protests. In December 2014 the EU banned sales of jet fuel to the
Assad government, forcing the government to buy more expensive
uninsured jet fuel shipments in the future.
See also: Human rights in Syria
Billboard with a portrait of
Bashar al-Assad and the text '
protected by God' on the old city wall of
Damascus in 2006
A 2007 law required internet cafés to record all the comments users
post on chat forums. Websites such as Arabic, YouTube
and Facebook were blocked intermittently between 2008 and February
Human Rights groups, such as
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty
International, have detailed how the Assad government's secret police
allegedly tortured, imprisoned, and killed political opponents, and
those who speak out against the government. In addition,
some 600 Lebanese political prisoners are thought to be held in
government prisons since the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, with some
held for as long as over 30 years. Since 2006, the Assad
government has reportedly expanded the use of travel bans against
political dissidents. In an interview with
ABC News in 2007,
Assad stated: "We don't have such [things as] political prisoners,"
The New York Times
The New York Times reported the arrest of 30 Syrian political
dissidents who were organising a joint opposition front in December
2007, with 3 members of this group considered to be opposition leaders
being remanded in custody.
Syria banned face veils at universities. Following
the Syrian uprising in 2011, Assad partially relaxed the veil
Foreign Policy magazine released an editorial on Assad's position in
the wake of the 2011 protests:
During its decades of rule... the Assad family developed a strong
political safety net by firmly integrating the military into the
government. In 1970, Hafez al-Assad, Bashar's father, seized power
after rising through the ranks of the Syrian armed forces, during
which time he established a network of loyal
Alawites by installing
them in key posts. In fact, the military, ruling elite, and ruthless
secret police are so intertwined that it is now impossible to separate
the Assad government from the security establishment.... So... the
government and its loyal forces have been able to deter all but the
most resolute and fearless oppositional activists. In this respect,
the situation in
Syria is to a certain degree comparable to Saddam
Sunni minority rule in Iraq.
Alleged war crimes
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation has claimed that at least 10
European citizens were tortured by the Assad government while detained
during the Syrian Civil War, potentially leaving Assad open to
prosecution by individual European countries for war crimes.
Stephen Rapp, the
United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes
Issues, has argued that the crimes allegedly committed by Assad are
the worst seen since those of Nazi Germany. In March 2015, Rapp
further stated that the case against Assad is "much better" than those
Slobodan Milošević of Serbia or Charles Taylor of Liberia,
both of whom were indicted by international tribunals.
In a February 2015 interview with the BBC, Assad described accusations
Syrian Arab Air Force
Syrian Arab Air Force used barrel bombs as "childish",
stating that his forces have never used these types of "barrel" bombs
and responded with a joke about not using "cooking pots" either.
BBC Middle East editor conducting the interview, Jeremy Bowen,
later described Assad's statement regarding barrel bombs as "patently
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," and claimed that "Assad did that too. He kept us busy
with chemical weapons when he massacred his people."
In September 2015, France began an inquiry into Assad 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
In February 2016, head of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Paulo
Pinheiro, told reporters: "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." The UN
Commission reported finding "unimaginable abuses", including women and
children as young as seven perishing while being held by Syrian
authorities. The report also stated: "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
... yet did not take action to prevent abuse, investigate allegations
or prosecute those responsible".
In March 2016, the
United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs
New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith called on the Obama administration
to create a war crimes tribunal to investigate and prosecute
violations "whether committed by the officials of the Government of
Syria or other parties to the civil war".
Assad meets with U.S. Senator
Ted Kaufman in 2009
Assad with Russian President
Dmitry Medvedev in 2010
Iraq War and insurgency
Assad opposed the
2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq despite a long-standing
animosity between the Syrian and Iraqi governments. Assad used Syria's
seat in one of the rotating positions on the
United Nations Security
Council to try to prevent the invasion of Iraq.
According to veteran U.S intelligence officer Malcolm Nance, the
Syrian government had developed deep relations with former Vice
Chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council Izzat Ibrahim
al-Douri. Despite the historical differences between the two Ba'ath
factions, al-Douri reportedly urged Saddam to open oil pipelines with
Syria, building a financial relationship with the Assad family. After
the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, al-Douri allegedly fled to
he organised the National Command of the Islamic Resistance which
co-ordinated major combat operations during the Iraqi
insurgency. 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
Iraq to launch attacks against U.S. and allied forces
occupying Iraq. Iraqi leaders such as former national security
Mowaffak al-Rubaie and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
have accused Assad of harbouring and supporting Iraqi
At the outset of the Arab Spring, Syrian state media focused primarily
Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, demonising him as pro-U.S. and comparing
him unfavourably 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.
Involvement in Lebanon
Syrian occupation of Lebanon
Syrian occupation of Lebanon and Lebanon–
Assad argued that Syria's gradual withdrawal of troops from Lebanon,
beginning in 2000, was a result of the assassination of Lebanese Prime
Rafic Hariri and ended in May 2005. According to
testimony submitted to the
Tribunal for Lebanon, when talking
Rafic Hariri at the Presidential Palace in
Damascus in August 2004,
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. In early 2015, journalist and ad hoc
Lebanese-Syrian intermediary Ali Hamade stated before the Special
Lebanon that Rafic Hariri's attempts to reduce tensions
Syria were considered a "mockery" by Assad.
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
Hezbollah military leader, Imad Mughniyah, in
Damascus in 2008. 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 May 2015, Lebanese politician
Michel Samaha was sentenced to
four-and-a-half years in jail for his role in a terrorist bomb plot
that he claimed Assad was aware of.
The United States, the European Union, the March 14 Alliance, and
France accuse Assad of providing 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 the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine. According to
the Middle East Media Research Institute, Assad stated the U.S. 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
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. This was confirmed in May
2008, by a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. As well
as the treaty, the future of the
Golan Heights was being discussed.
Assad was quoted in
The Guardian as telling the Qatari paper:
... there would be no direct negotiations with Israel until a new US
president takes office. The US was the only party qualified to sponsor
any direct talks, [Assad] told the paper, but added that the Bush
administration "does not have the vision or will for the peace
process. It does not have anything."
According to leaked American cables, Assad called
Hamas an "uninvited
guest" and said "If you want me to be effective and active, I have to
have a relationship with all parties.
Hamas is Muslim Brotherhood, but
we have to deal with the reality of their presence," comparing Hamas
to the Syrian
Muslim Brotherhood which was crushed by his father Hafez
al-Assad. He also said
Hamas would disappear if peace was brought to
the Middle East.
Assad has indicated that the peace treaty that he envisions would not
be the same kind of peace treaty Israel has with Egypt, where there is
a legal border crossing and open trade. In a 2006 interview with
Charlie Rose, Assad said "There is a big difference between talking
about a peace treaty and peace. A peace treaty is like a permanent
ceasefire. There's no war, maybe you have an embassy, but you actually
won't have trade, you won't have normal relations because people will
not be sympathetic to this relation as long as they are sympathetic
with the Palestinians: half a million who live in
Syria and half a
Lebanon and another few millions in other Arab
During the visit of
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II to
Syria in 2001, Assad
requested an apology to Muslims for the
Crusades and criticised
Israeli treatment of Palestinians, stating that "territories in
Lebanon, the Golan and Palestine have been occupied by those who
killed the principle of equality when they claimed that God created a
people distinguished above all other peoples". He also compared
the suffering of Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis to the
suffering endured by
Jesus in Judea, and said that "they tried to kill
the principles of all religions with the same mentality in which they
Jesus Christ and the same way they tried to betray and kill
the Prophet Muhammad". Responding to accusations
that his comment was antisemitic, Assad said that "We in
the term antisemitism. ... Semites are a race and [Syrians] not only
belong to this race, but are its core. Judaism, on the other hand, is
a religion which can be attributed to all races." He also stated
that "I was talking about Israelis, not Jews. ... When I say Israel
carries out killings, it's the reality: Israel tortures Palestinians.
I didn't speak about Jews," and criticised Western media outlets for
misinterpreting his comments.
In February 2011, Assad backed an initiative to restore 10 synagogues
in Syria, which had a Jewish community numbering 30,000 in 1947, but
only 200 Jews by 2011.
Assad met with U.S. scientists and policy leaders during a science
diplomacy visit in 2009 and he expressed interest in building research
universities and using science and technology to promote innovation
and economic growth.
In response to
Executive Order 13769
Executive Order 13769 which mandated refugees from
Syria be indefinitely suspended from being able to resettle in the
United States, Assad appeared to defend the measure, stating "It's
against the terrorists that would infiltrate some of the immigrants to
the West... I think the aim of Trump is to prevent those people from
coming," adding that it was "not against the Syrian people". This
reaction was in contrast to other leaders of countries affected by the
Executive Order who condemned it.
North Korea has allegedly aided
Syria in developing and enhancing a
ballistic missiles programme. They also reportedly helped
Syria develop a suspected nuclear reactor in the Deir ez-Zor
Governorate. U.S. officials claimed the reactor was probably "not
intended for peaceful purposes", but American senior intelligence
officials doubted it was meant for the production of nuclear
weapons. The supposed nuclear reactor was destroyed by the
Israeli Air Force
Israeli Air Force in 2007 during Operation Orchard. Following the
Syria wrote a letter to Secretary-General of the United
Ban Ki-moon calling the incursion a "breach of airspace of the
Syrian Arab Republic" and "not the first time Israel has violated"
While hosting an 8 March 2015 delegation from North Korea led by North
Korean Vice Minister of
Foreign Affairs Sin Hong Chol, Assad stated
Syria and North Korea were being "targeted" because they are
"among those few countries which enjoy real independence".
According to Syrian Opposition sources, North Korea has sent army
units to fight on behalf of Assad in the Syrian Civil War.
In 2018, the
United Nations exposed North Korea for their facilitation
of Syria's development of chemical weapons. According to a report by
U.N. investigators, North Korea provided the Syrian government with
acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers. Additionally, DPRK
missile technicians had been seen inside various Syrian chemical
weapons facilities. This series of about 40 unreported shipments
between North Korea and Syria, on which were the chemical weapons
materials as well as prohibited ballistic missile parts, is said to
have occurred throughout 2012-2017.
Al-Qaeda and ISIS
In 2001, Assad condemned the September 11 attacks. 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 Osama 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
Assad's relationship with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of
Levant has been subject to much attention. In 2014, journalist and
Peter R. Neumann
Peter R. Neumann maintained, citing Syrian records
captured by the U.S. military in the Iraqi border town of
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". Other leaked cables contained remarks by US general David
Petraeus which stated that "Bashar al-Asad was well aware that his
brother-in-law 'Asif Shawqat, Director of Syrian Military
Intelligence, had detailed knowledge of the activities of AQI
facilitator Abu Ghadiya, who was using Syrian territory to bring
foreign fighters and suicide bombers into Iraq", with later cables
adding that Petraeus thought that "in time, these fighters will turn
on their Syrian hosts and begin conducting attacks against Bashar
al-Assad's regime itself".
Iraq War, the Assad government was accused of training
jihadis and facilitating their passage into Iraq, with these
infiltration routes remaining active until the Syrian Civil War; US
Jack Keane has stated that "Al Qaeda fighters who are back in
Syria, I am confident, they are relying on much they learned in moving
Iraq for more than five years when they were waging
war against the U.S. and
Iraq Security Assistance Force". Iraqi
Nouri al-Maliki threatened Assad with an international
tribunal over the matter, and ultimately lead to the 2008 Abu Kamal
United States airstrikes within
Syria during the Iraq
During the Syrian Civil War, multiple opposition and anti-Assad
parties in the conflict accused Assad of collusion with ISIS; several
sources have claimed that ISIS prisoners were strategically released
from Syrian prisons at the beginning of the
Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War in
2011. It has also been reported that the Syrian government has
bought oil directly from ISIL. A businessman operating in both
government and ISIL-controlled territory has claimed that "out of
necessity" the Assad government has "had dealings with ISIS." At
its height, ISIS was making $40 million a month from the sale of oil,
with spreadsheets and accounts kept by oil boss Abu Sayyaf suggesting
the majority of the oil was sold to the Syrian government.
In 2014, U.S. Secretary of State
John Kerry claimed that the Assad
government has tactically avoided ISIS forces in order to weaken
"moderate opposition" such as the Free Syrian Army, as well as
"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". A
Jane's Defence Weekly
Jane's Defence Weekly database
analysis claimed that only a small percentage of the Syrian
government's attacks were targeted at ISIS in 2014. The Syrian
National Coalition has stated that the Assad government 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 [on 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." Similarly, Max Abrams and
John Glaser stated in the
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times in December 2017 that "The
evidence of Assad sponsoring Islamic State ... was about as
strong as for
Saddam Hussein sponsoring Al Qaeda."
Mark Lyall Grant, then Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom
to the United Nations, stated at the outset of the American-led
Syria that "ISIS is a monster that the Frankenstein of
Assad has largely created". French President François Hollande
stated, "Assad cannot be a partner in the fight against terrorism, he
is the de facto ally of jihadists". Analyst Noah Bonsey of the
International Crisis Group
International Crisis Group has suggested that ISIS are politically
expedient for Assad, as "the threat of ISIS provides a way out [for
Assad] because the regime believes that over time the U.S. and other
countries backing the opposition will eventually conclude that the
regime is a necessary partner on the ground in confronting this jihadi
threat", while Robin Wright of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow
Wilson International Center for Scholars has stated "the outside
world's decision to focus on ISIS has ironically lessened the pressure
on Assad." In May 2015, Mario Abou Zeid of the Carnegie Middle
East Center claimed that the recent
Hezbollah offensive "has exposed
the reality of the
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in
Qalamoun; that it is operated by the Syrian regime's intelligence",
after ISIS in the region engaged in probing attacks against FSA units
at the outset of the fighting.
On 1 June 2015, the
United States stated that the Assad government was
"making air-strikes in support" of an ISIS advance on Syrian
opposition positions north of Aleppo. Referring to the same ISIS
offensive, the president of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) Khaled
Koja accused Assad of acting "as an air force for ISIS", with the
Defence Minister of the SNC
Salim Idris claiming that approximately
180 Assad-linked officers were serving in ISIS and coordinating the
group's attacks with the Syrian Arab Army. Christopher Kozak of
Institute for the Study of War
Institute for the Study of War claims 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
In 2015, the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, issued
a bounty worth millions of dollars for the killing of Assad. The
head of the al-Nusra Front, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, said he would pay
"three million euros ($3.4 million) for anyone who can kill Bashar
al-Assad and end his story". As of 2015[update], Assad's main
regional opponents, Qatar,
Saudi Arabia and Turkey, are openly backing
the Army of Conquest, an umbrella rebel group that reportedly includes
the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front and another Salafi coalition known
as Ahrar al-Sham. In the course of the conflict, ISIS
has repeatedly massacred pro-government Alawite civilians and executed
captured Syrian Alawite soldiers, with most Alawites
supporting Bashar al-Assad, himself an Alawite. ISIS, al-Nusra Front
and affiliated jihadist groups reportedly took the lead in an
offensive on Alawite villages in
Latakia Governorate of
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 foreign policy on
Public and personal life
Domestic opposition and support
Further information: Sectarianism and minorities in the Syrian Civil
During the Civil War, the
Syria have largely sought to remain
neutral, "seeking to stay out of the conflict", while according to
others over half support the Assad government despite its relative
Druze areas. The "Sheikhs of Dignity" movement, which
had sought to remain neutral and to defend
Druze areas, blamed
the government after its leader Sheikh Wahid al-Balous was
assassinated and led to large scale protests which left 6 government
security personnel dead.
It has been reported at various stages of the
Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War that
other religious minorities such as the
Alawites and Christians in
Syria favour the Assad government because of its secularism,
however opposition exists among Assyrian Christians who have claimed
that the Assad government seeks to use them as "puppets" and deny
their distinct ethnicity, which is non-Arab. Syria's Alawite
community is widely written about in the foreign media as Bashar
al-Assad's core support base and is said to dominate the government's
security apparatus, yet in April 2016 a
BBC report claimed
that Alawite leaders released a document seeking to distance
themselves from Assad.
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
Sutoro who had joined the
Syrian opposition against the Assad
In June 2014, Assad won a controversial election held in
government-controlled areas (and ignored in opposition held areas
and Kurdish areas governed by the Democratic Union Party) with
88.7% of vote. 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 criticised by UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Assad's support from the right-wing has mostly been from the
far-right, both before and during the Syrian Civil War. David Duke
hosted a televised speech on Syrian national television in 2005.
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
Interregional Academy of Personnel Management awarded
Assad an honorary doctorate. In 2014, the Simon Wiesenthal Center
Bashar al-Assad had sheltered
Alois Brunner in Syria, and
alleged that Brunner advised the Assad government on purging Syria's
The National Front in France has been a prominent supporter of Assad
since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, as has the former
leader of the Third Way. In Italy, the parties New Front and
CasaPound have both been supportive of Assad, with the New Front
putting up pro-Assad posters and the party's leader praising Assad's
commitment to the ideology of Arab nationalism in 2013, while
CasaPound has also issued statements of support for Assad. Syrian
Social Nationalist Party representative Ouday Ramadan has worked in
Italy to organize support movements for Assad. Other political
parties expressing support for Assad include the National Democratic
Party of Germany, the National Revival of Poland, the
Freedom Party of Austria, the Bulgarian Ataka party, the
Jobbik party, the Serbian Radical Party, the
Portuguese National Renovator Party, as well as the Spanish
Falange Española de las JONS and
Authentic Falange parties.
The Greek neo-Nazi political party Golden Dawn has spoken out in
favour of Assad, and the Strasserist group Black Lily has claimed
to have sent mercenaries to
Syria to fight alongside the Syrian
Nick Griffin, the former leader of the British National Party, was
chosen by the Assad government to represent the UK as an ambassador
and at government-held conferences; Griffin has been an official guest
of the Syrian government three times since the beginning of the Civil
War. The European Solidarity Front for Syria, representing
several far-right political groups from across Europe, has had their
delegations received by the Syrian national parliament, with one
delegation being met by Syrian Head of Parliament Mohammad Jihad
al-Laham, Prime Minister
Wael Nader al-Halqi
Wael Nader al-Halqi and Deputy Foreign
Minister Faisal Mekdad. In March 2015, Assad met with Filip
Dewinter of the Belgian party Vlaams Belang. In 2016, Assad met
with a French delegation, which included 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 government has been accused of
cynically manipulating sectarian identity and anti-imperialism to
continue its worst activities. During a visit to the University
Damascus in November 2005, British politician
George Galloway said
of Assad, and of the country he leads: "For me he is the last Arab
Syria is the last Arab country. It is the fortress of the
remaining dignity of the Arabs," and a "breath of fresh
Hadash has expressed support for the Government of Bashar
al-Assad. The leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela
President of Venezuela
President 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 and President of Algeria,
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has sent a cable of congratulations to Assad, on
the occasion of winning his presidential elections. The leader of
Guyana's People's Progressive Party and President of Guyana, Donald
Ramotar, said that Assad's win in the presidential election is a great
victory for Syria. The leader of the African National Congress
and President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, congratulated Assad on
winning the presidential elections. The leader of the Sandinista
National Liberation Front and President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega,
has said that Assad's victory [in the presidential elections] is an
important step to "attain peace in
Syria and a clear cut evidence that
Syrian people trust their president as a national leader and
support his policies which aim at maintaining Syria's sovereignty and
unity". The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
supports the Assad government. The leader of
President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, has said that
electing President Assad means "preserving Syria's unity and
sovereignty and that it will help end the crisis and confront
terrorism, wishing prosperity and safety to Syria".
Alexander Lukashenko has expressed confidence
Syria will eliminate the current crisis and continue under the
leadership of President al-Assad "the fight against terrorism and
foreign interference in its internal affairs".
International public relations
Bashar al-Assad wearing the "Grand Collar" of the National Order of
the Southern Cross, accompanied by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio
Lula da Silva in Brasília, 30 June 2010
In order to promote their image and media-portrayal overseas, Bashar
al-Assad and his wife
Asma al-Assad hired
United States and United
Kingdom-based PR firms and consultants. Notably, these secured
Asma al-Assad with fashion and celebrity magazines,
including Vogue's March 2011 "A Rose in the Desert". These
Bell Pottinger and Brown Lloyd James, with the latter
being paid $5,000 a month for their services.
At the outset of the Syrian Civil War, Syrian government networks were
hacked by the group Anonymous, revealing that an ex-Al Jazeera
journalist had been hired to advise Assad on how to manipulate the
public opinion of the United States. Among the advice was the
suggestion to compare the popular uprising against the regime to the
Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street protests. In a separate e-mail leak several
months later by the Supreme Council of the Syrian Revolution, which
were published by The Guardian, it was revealed that Assad's
consultants had coordinated with an Iranian government media
advisor. In March 2015, an expanded version of the aforementioned
leaks were handed to
NOW News and published the following month.
Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War began, the Assads began a social media
campaign which included building a 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 by
The Atlantic Wire
The Atlantic Wire as
"a propaganda campaign that ultimately has made the [Assad] family
look worse". The Assad government has also allegedly arrested
activists for creating Facebook groups that the government disapproved
of, and has appealed directly to
Twitter to remove accounts it
disliked. The social media campaign as well as the previously
leaked e-mails led to comparisons with Hannah Arendt's A Report on the
Banality of Evil by The Guardian,
The New York Times
The New York Times and the Financial
Bashar al-Assad with his wife Asma in Moscow, 27 May 2005
In October 2014, 27,000 photographs depicting torture allegedly
committed by the Assad government were put on display at the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Lawyers were hired to
write a report on the images by the British law firm Carter-Ruck,
which in turn was funded by the Government of Qatar.
In November 2014, the Quilliam Foundation reported that a propaganda
campaign, which they claimed had the "full backing of Assad", spread
false reports about the deaths of Western-born jihadists in order to
deflect attention from the government's alleged war crimes. Using a
picture of a Chechen fighter from the Second Chechen War, pro-Assad
media reports disseminated to Western media outlets, leading them to
publish a false story regarding the death of a non-existent British
In 2015, Russia intervened in the
Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War in support of
Assad, and in 21 October 2015, Assad flew to Moscow and met with
Russian president Vladimir Putin, who said regarding the civil war:
"this decision can be made only by the Syrian people.
Syria is a
friendly country. And we are ready to support it not only militarily
but politically as well.".
Assad and his wife Asma, 2003
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 al-Assad (née Akhras), a British
citizen of Syrian origin from Acton, London. In 2001, Asma
gave birth to their first child, a son named Hafez after the child's
grandfather Hafez al-Assad. Their daughter Zein was born in 2003,
followed by their second son Karim in 2004.
Assad's sister, Bushra al-Assad, and mother, Anisa Makhlouf, left
Syria in 2012 and 2013, respectively, to live in the United Arab
Emirates. Makhlouf died in
Damascus in 2016.
Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise
21 April 2002
Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I
21 March 2004
Dynastic order of the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies; Revoked several
years later by Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro.
Order of the White Rose of Finland
5 October 2009
One of three official orders in Finland.
Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian
11 March 2010
Highest ranking honour of the Republic of Italy. Revoked by the
President of the Republic on 28 September 2012 for "indignity".
Collar of the Order of the Liberator
28 June 2010
Highest Venezuelan state order.
Grand Collar of the Order of the Southern Cross
30 June 2010
Brazil's highest order of merit.
Grand Cordon of the National Order of the Cedar
31 July 2010
Second highest honour of Lebanon.
High Medal of Honor of the Islamic Republic of Iran
2 October 2010
Highest national medal of Iran.
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насчитывающих свыше семи тысяч
человек", – рассказал он. "За последние
несколько дней ВКС России нанесли 19
авиационных ударов в интересах
отрядов группировки "Джейш Ахрар
Аль-Ашаир" – Армия свободных племен, –
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Judaism. Welcoming John Paul, Assad compared the suffering of the
Palestinians to that of
Jesus Christ. The Jews, he said, "tried to
kill the principles of all religions with the same mentality in which
Jesus Christ and the same way they tried to betray and
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Bashar al-Assad collected news and commentary". The Guardian.
Bashar al-Assad collected news and commentary". The New York
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Rose, Charlie (9 September 2013). "Interview with Bashar Hafez
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Syria (August 2016–March 2017)
2017 Russian Air Force Al-Bab incident
2017 Deir ez-Zor missile strike
Ba'ath Party –
Syrian Social Nationalist Party
Arab Socialist Movement
Syrian Communist Party
Military & Militias
Syrian Armed Forces
Palestine Liberation Army
Support for the government
medical facility targeting
Popular Mobilization Forces
Popular Mobilization Forces (Iraq)
Syrian opposition, Al-Qaeda
affiliates and allies
Local Co-ordination Committees
Syrian National Council
Supreme Council of the Syrian Revolution
National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change
Syrian Revolution General Commission
Syrian Support Group
Adopt a Revolution
Syrian Patriotic Group
Syrian Liberation Front
Army of Free Men
Abu Amara Battalions Covert
Special Tasks Force
Army of Glory
Army of Victory
Martyrs of Islam Brigade
National Liberation Movement
1st Coastal Division
Free Idlib Army
Army of Islam
1st Brigade of Damascus
Army of Free Tribes
National Front for the Liberation of Syria
Unified Syrian Army
Company of the People of the Levant
Authenticity and Development Front
Al-Qaratayn Martyrs Brigade
Revolutionary Commando Army
al-Qaeda affiliates and allies
Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria
Ansar al-Islam splinter faction
Allied groups (to the Opposition militias)
Muslim Brotherhood of Syria
Support for the Opposition
American rescue mission
Democratic Union Party
Kurdish National Council
Smaller political parties
People's Protection Units
Women's Protection Units
Army of Revolutionaries
SDF Military Councils
Syriac Military Council
Syriac Military Council (Bethnahrain Women's Protection Forces
Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa
Raqqa Hawks Brigade
Northern Democratic Brigade
Free Officers Union
Liberation Brigade faction
Liwa Owais al-Qorani
Liwa Owais al-Qorani remnants
Martyr Amara Arab Women's Battalion
Battalion of Karachok Martyrs
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
Kurdistan Workers' Party
International Freedom Battalion
International Anti-Fascist Battalion
Sinjar Resistance Units
Êzîdxan Women's Units
Islamic State of
Iraq and the Levant
Military of ISIL
Khalid ibn al-Walid Army
Group of the One and Only
Fahd Jassem al-Freij
Ali Sadreddine Al-Bayanouni
Abdul Halim Khaddam
Ali Habib Mahmud
Ali Mahmoud Othman
Yassin al-Haj Saleh
Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid
Cities and towns
Damaged heritage sites
Human rights violations
International demonstrations and protests
Refugees (European migrant crisis)
Sectarianism and minorities
Spillover into Lebanon
Arab League monitors
Kofi Annan peace plan
UN Supervision Mission
Lakhdar Brahimi peace plan
U.S.–Russia peace proposals on Syria
39th G8 summit
UN Security Council Resolution 2118
Geneva II Conference
2015 Zabadani cease-fire agreement
2015 Vienna talks
2016 Geneva talks
2014 Syrian detainee report
Fourth Extraordinary Session of the Islamic Summit Conference
International recognition of the Syrian National Council
Syrian media coverage
The Return to Homs
Syrian presidential election, 2014
Elections and referendums
held during the civil war
Syrian local elections, 2011
Syrian constitutional referendum, 2012
Syrian presidential election, 2014
Rojava local elections, 2015
Syrian parliamentary election, 2016
Syria local elections, 2017
ISNI: 0000 0001 1487 7178
BNF: cb155413327 (data)