Assad, Hafez al-
Assad, Hafez al- (1928–2000) Syrian statesman, president (1970–2000). Assad served as minister of defence (1965–70), before seizing power in a military coup. He was elected president in 1971. Assad took a hardline stance against Israel and Syrian troops participated in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. He was accused of harbouring terrorists. In 1976 Syrian troops were deployed in the Lebanese civil war. In 1987 the Syrian army moved into Beirut to restore order. In the mid-1990s, Assad's stance towards Israel softened and he played a vital role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Syria supported the coalition forces arrayed against Iraq in the Gulf War. He was succeeded as president by his son, Bashar al-Assad.
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