Bashar Hafez al-Assad (Arabic: بشار حافظ الأسد Baššār Ḥāfiẓ al-ʾAsad, Levantine pronunciation: [baʃˈʃaːr ˈħaːfezˤ elˈʔasad]; born September 11, 1965) is the current President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Syrian-led branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000.
al-Assad graduated from the medical school of the University of Damascus in 1988 and he started to work as a physician in the army. 4 years later, he attended postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital, in London, specializing in ophthalmology. In 1994, after his elder brother Bassel, the heir apparent to their father Hafez al-Assad, was killed in a car crash, Bashar was hastily recalled to Syria to take over his role. He entered the military academy and he took charge of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon in 1998. In December 2000, al-Assad married Asma Assad (née Akhras). He was elected as President of Syria in 2000, 2007 and 2014, unopposed each time.
Initially seen by the domestic and international community as a potential reformer and gaining the nickname "The Hope," this expectation gave way to the events of the Syrian civil war. The domestic Syrian opposition and large parts of the wider international community have subsequently called for al-Assad's resignation from power.
The bloody response to the popular demand for political change led to a civil war which has claimed more than 115,000 lives. To maintain their leader, Assad's forces used war techniques such as torture, massive execution of prisoners, toxic gas attacks on civilians and tnt droppings on housing buildings. Among the casualties, more than 11,000 were children.