Bashar al-Assad Fast Facts

CNN  — 

Here’s a look at the life of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


Birth date: September 11, 1965

Birth place: Damascus, Syria

Father: Hafez Assad, late Syrian President

Mother: Anisa Makhlouf al-Assad

Marriage: Asma (Akhras) al-Assad (2000-present)

Children: Karim, Zein and Hafez

Education: University of Damascus, Medicine, 1988; Ophthalmology residency, London, 1992-1994

Military service: Syrian Army, 1999, Colonel

Religion: Alawite Muslim


1994 - Syrian President Hafez Assad’s oldest son and heir apparent, Basel, dies in a car accident. Second son Bashar, is called back from medical training in Britain and is groomed to take over his father’s role as president.

1999 - Assad becomes a colonel in the Syrian army.

June 10, 2000 - President Hafez Assad dies of a heart attack after 29 years in office.

July 10, 2000 - Assad is elected unopposed as president of Syria.

January 2006 - Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hold a summit meeting in Damascus. Assad declares his support for Iran’s nuclear program.

April 2006 - Assad meets with the head of a United Nations panel investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri.

May 29, 2007 - Runs unopposed for president and is elected to a second seven-year term.

October 14, 2008 - Assad signs a decree establishing diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon.

April 21, 2011 - In response to Arab Spring protests, Assad lifts the country’s 48-year-old state of emergency law. The law, which went into effect in 1963, restricted freedom of speech and gave the government broad power to detain people for perceived threats to national security.

May 19, 2011 - Assad is harshly criticized in a speech by US President Barack Obama. Obama says Syrians have displayed “courage in demanding a transition to democracy [but Assad’s regime] has chosen the path of murder and the mass arrests of its citizens…President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition, or get out of the way.”

August 18, 2011 - Both the United States and the European Union call for Assad to step down. US authorities also impose new economic sanctions against Damascus, freezing Syrian government assets in the United States, barring Americans from making new investments in Syria and prohibiting any US transactions relating to Syrian petroleum products, among other things.

October 10, 2011 - A statement issued after a meeting attended by all 27 foreign ministers in the European Union condemns “in the strongest possible terms the ongoing brutal repression led by the Syrian regime,” and declares that Syria’s leader must resign “to allow a political transition to take place in Syria.”

November 14, 2011 - Jordan’s King Abdullah calls on Assad to resign.

November 20, 2011 - In an interview with a British newspaper, Assad warns other countries that military intervention in Syria would have “very dire” repercussions and that his country “will not back down” in the face of international pressure and condemnation.

November 22, 2011 - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls on Assad to resign and warns that he faces the same fate as Benito Mussolini, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Moammar Gadhafi, all leaders killed by their own people.