How Bashar Assad rose from a comfortable childhood to become one of the deadliest world leaders in modern history

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Bashar al Assad

Syrian President Bashar Assad has been widely accused of war crimes for the mass torture and killings carried out by his military throughout more than six years of civil war.

Assad has managed to cling to power thanks to a brutal scorched earth campaign on Syrian rebel groups and civilians, with the help of Russian warplanes and Iranian proxy militias.

The embattled president's rise to power was initially met with optimism in the west, where it was believed the younger Assad would not rule with as heavy a hand as his father. But when protests inspired by the Arab Spring broke out in 2011, Assad responded with force.

Here is a look at Assad's rise and continued stronghold on Syria, which has been gripped by one of the most catastrophic conflicts in decades.

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