- Title: Bashar al-Assad: 20 years as Syrian president
- Date: 27th June 2020
- Summary: Syria's President Bashar al-Assad unexpectedly flies to Moscow to thank Russian President Vladimir Putin for air strikes. MOSCOW, RUSSIA (FILE - OCTOBER 20, 2015) (RUSSIAN POOL) MEETING BETWEEN ASSAD AND RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, DURING A SURPRISE VISIT BY ASSAD TO THANK RUSSIA FOR AIR STRIKES IN SYRIA (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SYRIAN PRESIDENT, BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SAYING (AUDIO CONTINUES OVER SIDE VIEW OF MEETING): "Thank you very much, Mr. President. (PAUSES FOR TRANSLATION) First of all, I would like to thank you and the state of Russia and the Russian officials and of course the Russian people, for their support of the Syrian people." MEETING BETWEEN ASSAD AND PUTIN
- Embargoed: 11th July 2020 17:53
- Keywords: Asma Assad Assad meeting Khamenei Bashar al-Assad file Syrian conflict chemical attacks profile timeline
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- Topics: Government/Politics,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA016CKAVGP3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: CONTAINS GRAPHIC MATERIAL
PROFILE IS BEING SENT AHEAD 20 YEARS SINCE BASHAR AL-ASSAD WAS SWORN IN AS SYRIAN PRESIDENT ON 17 JULY 2000
QUALITY AS INCOMING
Bashar al-Assad will on Friday (July 17) mark 20 years in office as President of Syria, as the civil which began in 2011 still shows few signs of abating.
Assad assumed leadership of the middle eastern nation at age 34 in July of 2000, following the sudden death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, who had ruled Syria for three decades.
Bashar had not initially been his father's intended heir, but was forced to assume the responsibility after the death of his older brother Basel in a car accident in 1994.
After winning overwhelming support in a single candidate nation-wide referendum, Assad was sworn into office for his first seven-year term on July 17, 2000.
During the first years of his rule, Assad pursued increasingly close relations with Iran and Russia, and clashed with regional rivals Israel and Turkey, the former over disputed territory and the latter due in part to Syrian support for Kurdish separatists active in Turkey.
In May 2007 Assad was returned for a second seven year term, winning 97.6 percent of the vote in an uncontested presidential referendum.
Assad's toughest challenge came in March 2011, when protests triggered by the "Arab Spring" wave of demonstrations across the Middle East spread to rural areas of Syria.
Assad sought to crush the protests with a fierce security crackdown while at the same time his government approved legislation to lift nearly 50 years of emergency rule and allow parties other than the ruling Baath Party to be established.
As government repression of the protests continued, opposition to Assad's government became increasingly violent, and by July of 2011 Assad was facing an armed insurrection against his rule.
The opposition to Assad's rule was not homogenous, and was made up of Islamist fighters as well as Kurdish separatists and pro-democracy groups, but over the next three years they managed to wrest significant sections of the country away from government control.
But from 2015, Assad slowly regained the upper hand with the help of Russian air power and Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces, who helped deliver the defeat of the last rebels near the capital Damascus and the city of Homs, and allowed him to recover the southwest in a matter of weeks.
While the Syrian government now controls the majority of the country, pockets of resistance remain, particularly in the northwest, where Turkey is providing ongoing military support for opposition fighters operating in the region.
As the conflict enters its eighth year, all efforts have so far failed to make progress toward a political settlement to end the eight-year civil war. The United Nations says the conflict has killed approximately 400,000 people, displaced 6.6 million internally and more than 5.6 million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.
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