Sunday, January 20, 2019 | ePaper

Why Bashar al-Assad still in power?

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Al Jazeera News :
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has survived seven years of a devastating war and intense international pressure to step aside.
While Saturday's US-led air strikes on Syrian government facilities will be a blow to his attempts to unify Syria under his rule, there's been little suggestion that they are aimed at ending his presidency.
After rapid rebel gains in the early years of the uprising against his authoritarian rule, the possibility that he would join a growing list of deposed Arab rulers was real.
WATCH: US and allies strike Syria 'chemical weapons sites' (2:47)
But today, it's the rebels on the back foot, having lost key strongholds inside the Syrian capital, Damascus, and in the northern city of Aleppo.
Even senior diplomats from states opposed to his government, such as the British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, have said Assad can continue running for Syria's top office.
In the summer of 2012, it was the rebels who had the momentum. A bomb blast in central Damascus had killed senior Syrian officials including the country's defence minister and Assad's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat.
The rebels thought victory was near.
"The Syrian army had all but collapsed," the Free Syrian Army Commander,
Bashar al-Zoubi, told Al Jazeera. It was at around this time that Iran stepped up its intervention in the country, providing training, experienced commanders, and foot soldiers in the form of Shia militias.
Iranian media outlets put the number of fighters Tehran has provided to the Syrian government in the tens of thousands. The Iranian-trained National Defence Forces militia had a peak strength of 90,000 fighters and is widely credited with turning the tide of the war.

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