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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, 2004; Zein, 2003; Hafez, 2001
    Education: University of Damascus, Medicine, 1988; Ophthalmology residency, London, England, 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 - Bashar al-Assad becomes a colonel in the Syrian army and commander of the army's armored division.
    June 10, 2000 - Syrian President Hafez Assad dies of a heart attack after 29 years in office.
    July 10, 2000 - Bashar al-Assad is elected unopposed as president of Syria.
    January 2006 - Al-Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hold a summit meeting in Damascus. Al-Assad declares his support for Iran's nuclear program.
    April 2006 - Al-Assad is questioned by a United Nations team 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 - Al-Assad signs a decree establishing diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon.
    April 21, 2011 - Lifts the country's 48-year-old state of emergency. He also abolishes the Higher State Security Court and issues a decree "regulating the right to peaceful protest, as one of the basic human rights guaranteed by the Syrian Constitution."
    May 18, 2011 - The United States imposes sanctions against al-Assad and six other senior Syrian officials. The Treasury Department details the sanctions by saying, "As a result of this action, any property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the individuals listed in the Annex have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them."
    May 19, 2011 - Al-Assad is harshly criticized in a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama, that 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 al-Assad to step down. U.S. 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 U.S. 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 EU 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 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign.
    November 20, 2011 - In an interview with a British newspaper, al-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 al-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.
    December 7, 2011 - In an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, President Bashar al-Assad denies responsibility for the violence in Syria and distances himself from the behavior of his armed forces.
    February 3, 2012 - Date of leaked email from Asma al-Assad to a friend discussing the merits of buying a certain pair of shoes, Christian Louboutin crystal-covered pumps for about $7,000. The same day 200 Syrians are reported to have died in Homs.
    March 10-11, 2012 - Al-Assad meets twice with then-U.N. envoy Kofi Annan to discuss the bloodshed in Syria.
    March 23, 2012 - European Union sanctions are placed on al-Assad's wife, Asma, his mother, sister and sister-in-law. Their EU assets are frozen and a travel ban prevents them from traveling to any EU country. London-born Asma al-Assad cannot be barred entry into Britain despite the EU ban. The sanctions cover 12 other family members also.
    November 9, 2012 - Amidst growing pressure to step down and leave Syria, al-Assad tells Russia Today TV "I am Syrian. I was made in Syria and to live and die in Syria."
    January 6, 2013 - In a speech, Assad lays out his solution to the ongoing crisis in Syria. He says he wants to foster national dialogue and proposes a new constitution that would be put up for a public referendum. He also says he will not negotiate with terrorists and asks regional governments to stop supporting them.
    April 17, 2013 - In an interview with Syria state TV network al-Ikhbariya, al-Assad compares the support of rebels in Syria now to the backing of fighters in Afghanistan during their war with Soviet troops in the 1980s. He predicts that the rebel groups will one day turn against the United States and others.
    June 3, 2014 - Is re-elected with 88.7% of the vote in Syria's first election since the start of civil war in 2011.
    February 10, 2015 - In an interview with the BBC, al-Assad says his regime is apprised of U.S.-led coalition efforts against ISIS in Syria -- not by the Americans, but through third parties such as Iraq. Al-Assad also says that Syria won't join the international coalition trying to "degrade and destroy" ISIS.
    December 1, 2015 - In an interview with Czech TV, al-Assad says that U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS have not slowed the terrorist organization, and that ISIS has only recently begun to shrink due to Russia's direct involvement.