Bashar al-AssadPolitical Leader / President of Syria
Born: 11 September 1965
Birthplace: Damascus, Syria
Best known as: The president of Syria, 2000-present
Bashar al-Assad has been the president of Syria since 2000. He took the oath of office on 17 July 2000, succeeding his father, Hafez al-Assad, who was Syria's president from 1971 until his death on 10 June 2000. Bashar al-Assad was promoted to Lieutenant General of the armed forces on 11 June 2000, then chosen by his father's Baa'th Arab Socialist party to run -- unopposed -- for the presidency. Al-Assad was re-elected in 2007 for another 7-year term. Trained at Damascus University as an opthamologist, he graduated in 1988 and went to work at Tishrin Military Hospital, then had a medical residency in England from 1992 to 1994. Swept into office in 2000, he began a series of reforms in an effort to alter his father's repressive regime. By the time of his 2007 re-election, however, he was under fire from international human rights organizations for his treatment of political opponents. Anti-government protests in Syria in 2011 were met with a military clampdown as al-Assad promised reforms; by the end of the year Syria was on the verge of a civil war, with an opposition government in exile, the Syrian National Council, coordinating with protesters and anti-Assad military forces. The United Nations General Assembly condemned President Assad for "gross human rights violations" in February of 2012.
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