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Profile: Bashar al-Assad

<p>Bashar al-Assad (R) son and designated successor of late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad follows the coffin of his father during the burial ceremony at the local mosque in the home village of the late Syrian leader June 13, 2000.   REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
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Bashar al-Assad (R) son and designated successor of late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad follows the coffin of his father during the burial ceremony at the local mosque in the home village of the late Syrian leader June 13, 2000. REUTERS/Wolfgang...more

Bashar al-Assad (R) son and designated successor of late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad follows the coffin of his father during the burial ceremony at the local mosque in the home village of the late Syrian leader June 13, 2000. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

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<p>Bashar al-Assad, the apparent heir to Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, walks past a portrait of his father at the openning of a computer exhibition in Damascus April 24, 2000.  REUTERS/Khaled Al Hariri</p>

Bashar al-Assad, the apparent heir to Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, walks past a portrait of his father at the openning of a computer exhibition in Damascus April 24, 2000. REUTERS/Khaled Al Hariri

Bashar al-Assad, the apparent heir to Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, walks past a portrait of his father at the openning of a computer exhibition in Damascus April 24, 2000. REUTERS/Khaled Al Hariri

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<p>A resident of the old quarter of Damascus hangs a picture of Bashar al-Assad June 14, 2000.  REUTERS/Khaled Al Hariri</p>

A resident of the old quarter of Damascus hangs a picture of Bashar al-Assad June 14, 2000. REUTERS/Khaled Al Hariri

A resident of the old quarter of Damascus hangs a picture of Bashar al-Assad June 14, 2000. REUTERS/Khaled Al Hariri

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<p>A Syrian woman from Golan Heights' village of Ain al-Tinaeh uses binoculars as she searches for relatives in the Israeli-occupied village of Majdal Shames July 8, 2000.  A poster showing Hafez and Bashar al-Assad is seen behind the woman.  REUTERS/Khaled Al Hariri</p>

A Syrian woman from Golan Heights' village of Ain al-Tinaeh uses binoculars as she searches for relatives in the Israeli-occupied village of Majdal Shames July 8, 2000. A poster showing Hafez and Bashar al-Assad is seen behind the woman. ...more

A Syrian woman from Golan Heights' village of Ain al-Tinaeh uses binoculars as she searches for relatives in the Israeli-occupied village of Majdal Shames July 8, 2000. A poster showing Hafez and Bashar al-Assad is seen behind the woman. REUTERS/Khaled Al Hariri

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<p>Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) during talks with Libyan counterpart Mummar Gaddafi in Damascus October 8, 2000.  REUTERS/Stringer</p>

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) during talks with Libyan counterpart Mummar Gaddafi in Damascus October 8, 2000. REUTERS/Stringer

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) during talks with Libyan counterpart Mummar Gaddafi in Damascus October 8, 2000. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad review the Honor Guard at Itehadeya presidential palace in Cairo October 1, 2000. REUTERS/Mona Sharaf</p>

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad review the Honor Guard at Itehadeya presidential palace in Cairo October 1, 2000. REUTERS/Mona Sharaf

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad review the Honor Guard at Itehadeya presidential palace in Cairo October 1, 2000. REUTERS/Mona Sharaf

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<p>Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair (R) stands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus October 31, 2001.  REUTERS/Pool/Alistair Grant</p>

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair (R) stands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus October 31, 2001. REUTERS/Pool/Alistair Grant

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair (R) stands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus October 31, 2001. REUTERS/Pool/Alistair Grant

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<p>Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer (L) gestures while escorting his Syrian counterpart Bashar Al Assad (2R) as they walk through a snow storm during an official welcoming ceremony at the grounds of the Presidential Palace in Ankara January 6, 2004.  REUTERS/Fatih Saribas</p>

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer (L) gestures while escorting his Syrian counterpart Bashar Al Assad (2R) as they walk through a snow storm during an official welcoming ceremony at the grounds of the Presidential Palace in Ankara January 6, 2004....more

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer (L) gestures while escorting his Syrian counterpart Bashar Al Assad (2R) as they walk through a snow storm during an official welcoming ceremony at the grounds of the Presidential Palace in Ankara January 6, 2004. REUTERS/Fatih Saribas

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<p>Syrians chant slogans during a protest in Damascus October 24, 2005. Chanting anti-U.S. slogans, tens of thousands of Syrians protested against a U.N. inquiry they say unfairly blames Damascus for the killing of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.  REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri </p>

Syrians chant slogans during a protest in Damascus October 24, 2005. Chanting anti-U.S. slogans, tens of thousands of Syrians protested against a U.N. inquiry they say unfairly blames Damascus for the killing of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik...more

Syrians chant slogans during a protest in Damascus October 24, 2005. Chanting anti-U.S. slogans, tens of thousands of Syrians protested against a U.N. inquiry they say unfairly blames Damascus for the killing of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

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<p>Syrians celebrate the return of their troops from Lebanon at the Syrian-Lebanese border of Jdeideh April 26, 2005.  The poster on the right shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri  </p>

Syrians celebrate the return of their troops from Lebanon at the Syrian-Lebanese border of Jdeideh April 26, 2005. The poster on the right shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

Syrians celebrate the return of their troops from Lebanon at the Syrian-Lebanese border of Jdeideh April 26, 2005. The poster on the right shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

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<p>Syrian President Bashar al-Assad opens a gate in a newly restored section of Damascus citadel late July 1, 2006.   REUTERS/Khaled Al-Hariri </p>

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad opens a gate in a newly restored section of Damascus citadel late July 1, 2006. REUTERS/Khaled Al-Hariri

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad opens a gate in a newly restored section of Damascus citadel late July 1, 2006. REUTERS/Khaled Al-Hariri

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<p>Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asmaa chat with children during an Iftar dinner in the northern city of Aleppo October 6, 2006.   REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri </p>

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asmaa chat with children during an Iftar dinner in the northern city of Aleppo October 6, 2006. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asmaa chat with children during an Iftar dinner in the northern city of Aleppo October 6, 2006. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

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<p>Posters with images of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are seen on a street in Damascus May 26, 2007.   REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri</p>

Posters with images of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are seen on a street in Damascus May 26, 2007. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

Posters with images of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are seen on a street in Damascus May 26, 2007. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

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<p>Syrian President Bashar al-Assad waves to the crowd after opening a new national hospital in Eazaz village, near Aleppo, in northern Syria April 2, 2007.  REUTERS/SANA/Handout </p>

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad waves to the crowd after opening a new national hospital in Eazaz village, near Aleppo, in northern Syria April 2, 2007. REUTERS/SANA/Handout

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad waves to the crowd after opening a new national hospital in Eazaz village, near Aleppo, in northern Syria April 2, 2007. REUTERS/SANA/Handout

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<p>Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) welcomes Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi at the opening of the two-day Arab Summit in Damascus March 29, 2008.  REUTERS/Jamal Saidi  </p>

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) welcomes Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi at the opening of the two-day Arab Summit in Damascus March 29, 2008. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) welcomes Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi at the opening of the two-day Arab Summit in Damascus March 29, 2008. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

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<p>A Syrian worker shouts slogans against the U.S. as he waves a flag with the image of President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration in Damascus October 30, 2008. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi  </p>

A Syrian worker shouts slogans against the U.S. as he waves a flag with the image of President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration in Damascus October 30, 2008. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

A Syrian worker shouts slogans against the U.S. as he waves a flag with the image of President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration in Damascus October 30, 2008. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

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<p>Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listen to the Syrian national anthem during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran August 2, 2008. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl </p>

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listen to the Syrian national anthem during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran August 2, 2008. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad listen to the Syrian national anthem during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran August 2, 2008. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

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<p>A demonstrators hold up a flag of Lebanese Hezbollah and a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration to mark the 60th anniversary of "Nakba" in Damascus May 15,2008. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri </p>

A demonstrators hold up a flag of Lebanese Hezbollah and a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration to mark the 60th anniversary of "Nakba" in Damascus May 15,2008. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

A demonstrators hold up a flag of Lebanese Hezbollah and a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration to mark the 60th anniversary of "Nakba" in Damascus May 15,2008. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

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<p>Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (R) presents Syria's President Bashar al-Assad with a replica of the sword of national hero Simon Bolivar at Miraflores Palace in Caracas June 26, 2010.  REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins </p>

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (R) presents Syria's President Bashar al-Assad with a replica of the sword of national hero Simon Bolivar at Miraflores Palace in Caracas June 26, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (R) presents Syria's President Bashar al-Assad with a replica of the sword of national hero Simon Bolivar at Miraflores Palace in Caracas June 26, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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<p>Boys dressed in soldiers' uniforms sit next to Druze men, as they mark Syria's independence from France in 1946 at the village of Majdel Shams in Golan Heights, on the Israeli side of the ceasefire line between Syria and Israel April 17, 2010.  Syrians who live on both sides of the border gathered to celebrate the Syrian independence day with Syrian and Palestinian flags and photos of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. REUTERS/Nir Elias </p>

Boys dressed in soldiers' uniforms sit next to Druze men, as they mark Syria's independence from France in 1946 at the village of Majdel Shams in Golan Heights, on the Israeli side of the ceasefire line between Syria and Israel April 17, 2010. ...more

Boys dressed in soldiers' uniforms sit next to Druze men, as they mark Syria's independence from France in 1946 at the village of Majdel Shams in Golan Heights, on the Israeli side of the ceasefire line between Syria and Israel April 17, 2010. Syrians who live on both sides of the border gathered to celebrate the Syrian independence day with Syrian and Palestinian flags and photos of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. REUTERS/Nir Elias

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<p>Syria's President Bashar al-Assad attends a news conference with Romania's President Traian Basescu (not pictured) at Cotroceni presidential palace in Bucharest November 10, 2010. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel </p>

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad attends a news conference with Romania's President Traian Basescu (not pictured) at Cotroceni presidential palace in Bucharest November 10, 2010. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad attends a news conference with Romania's President Traian Basescu (not pictured) at Cotroceni presidential palace in Bucharest November 10, 2010. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

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<p>Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) welcomes his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad during an official welcoming ceremony in Tehran October 2, 2010. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl </p>

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) welcomes his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad during an official welcoming ceremony in Tehran October 2, 2010. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) welcomes his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad during an official welcoming ceremony in Tehran October 2, 2010. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

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<p>Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during a joint news conference with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov after their meeting in Sofia November 9, 2010.  REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov (</p>

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during a joint news conference with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov after their meeting in Sofia November 9, 2010. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov (

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during a joint news conference with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov after their meeting in Sofia November 9, 2010. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov (

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<p>Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad acknowledges applause before addressing the parliament in Damascus in this still image taken from a video footage March 30, 2011. Al-Assad said that Syria is the target of a "conspiracy" to sow sectarian strife, but some Syrians who have demonstrated against his rule had legitimate demands.  REUTERS/Syrian state TV via Reuters TV </p>

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad acknowledges applause before addressing the parliament in Damascus in this still image taken from a video footage March 30, 2011. Al-Assad said that Syria is the target of a "conspiracy" to sow sectarian strife, but...more

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad acknowledges applause before addressing the parliament in Damascus in this still image taken from a video footage March 30, 2011. Al-Assad said that Syria is the target of a "conspiracy" to sow sectarian strife, but some Syrians who have demonstrated against his rule had legitimate demands. REUTERS/Syrian state TV via Reuters TV

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<p>Syrians living in Greece burn posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in solidarity with anti-government protesters in Syria, outside European Union's offices in Athens, May 13, 2011. REUTERS/John Kolesidis </p>

Syrians living in Greece burn posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in solidarity with anti-government protesters in Syria, outside European Union's offices in Athens, May 13, 2011. REUTERS/John Kolesidis

Syrians living in Greece burn posters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in solidarity with anti-government protesters in Syria, outside European Union's offices in Athens, May 13, 2011. REUTERS/John Kolesidis

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