Bashar Hafez al-Assad was born on 11 September 1965 and is a Syrian politician who has served as the 19th president of Syria since 17 July 2000.
29 Facts About Bashar al-Assad
In 1994, after his elder brother Bassel died in a car accident, Bashar was recalled to Syria to take over Bassel's role as heir apparent.
Bashar al-Assad entered the military academy, taking charge of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon in 1998.
On 17 July 2000, Bashar al-Assad became president, succeeding his father Hafez, who had died on 10 June 2000.
Bashar al-Assad's reign has been characterised by numerous human rights violations and severe repression.
Unlike his brothers Bassel and Maher, and second sister, named Bushra, Bashar al-Assad was quiet, reserved and lacked interest in politics or the military.
The Assad children reportedly rarely saw their father, and Bashar al-Assad later stated that he only entered his father's office once while he was president.
Bashar al-Assad was described as "soft-spoken", and according to a university friend, he was timid, avoided eye contact and spoke in a low voice.
Bashar al-Assad had few political aspirations, and his father had been grooming Bashar al-Assad's older brother Bassel as the future president.
However, he died in a car accident in 1994 and Bashar al-Assad was recalled to the Syrian Army shortly thereafter.
In 1998, Bashar al-Assad 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.
Parallel to his military career, Bashar al-Assad was engaged in public affairs.
Bashar al-Assad was granted wide powers and became head of the bureau to receive complaints and appeals of citizens, and led a campaign against corruption.
Bashar al-Assad became the President of the Syrian Computer Society and helped to introduce the internet in Syria, which aided his image as a moderniser and reformer.
Bashar al-Assad urged refugees to return home from Turkey, while assuring them amnesty and blaming all unrest on a small number of saboteurs.
Bashar al-Assad derided the Arab Spring movement, and described those participating in the protests as "germs" and fifth-columnists.
Bashar al-Assad said that the Arab League, by suspending Syria, revealed that it was no longer Arab.
Bashar al-Assad recognised the Russian annexation of four Ukrainian oblasts and ratified the new Russian borders, claiming that the territories were "historically Russian".
However, unlike Hafez; Bashar al-Assad had even less loyalty and was politically fragile, exacerbated by alienation of the majority of the population.
Bashar al-Assad kept us busy with chemical weapons when he massacred his people.
Bashar al-Assad said regarding Egypt's stance in the conflict: "Our stance in Egypt is to respect the will of the Syrian people, and that a political solution to the Syrian crisis is the most suitable way, and to seriously deal with terrorist groups and disarm them".
Bashar al-Assad said Hamas would disappear if peace was brought to the Middle East.
Bashar al-Assad 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 betrayed Jesus Christ and the same way they tried to betray and kill the Prophet Muhammad".
Bashar al-Assad never allowed the Iranians to intervene in Syrian affairs.
Since 2011, Bashar al-Assad has lost recognition from several international organizations such as the Arab League, Union for the Mediterranean and Organization of Islamic Co-operation.
Bashar al-Assad is widely criticised by left-wing activists and intellectuals world-wide for appropriating leftist ideologies and its socialist, progressive slogans as a cover for his own family rule and to empower a loyalist clique of elites at the expense of ordinary Syrians.
Bashar al-Assad's regime has received support from prominent white nationalist, neo-Nazi and far-right figures in Europe, who were attracted by his "war on terror" discourse against Islamists during the period of European refugee crisis.
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has expressed confidence that Syria will eliminate the current crisis and continue under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad "the fight against terrorism and foreign interference in its internal affairs".