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Home World Why Syria’s Bashar Assad stays in power—even after chemical attacks

Why Syria’s Bashar Assad stays in power—even after chemical attacks



Published 10:53 a.m. ET April 5, 2017 | Updated 1 hour ago


Foreign affairs reporter Oren Dorell explains who is fighting whom in the Syrian Civil War in two minutes.

Allegations that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad killed dozens of people — including children — in a chemical weapons attack Tuesday on a rebel-held town prompted global outrage and condemnations. (Russia said Wednesday that the chemicals were released when Syrian planes struck a terrorist lab.)

Despite renewed calls around the world for his ouster, Assad remains entrenched in power after a six-year-long civil war that has destroyed much of his country, killed an estimated 500,000 people and forced half of Syria’s pre-war population of 22 million to flee.

Here are five reasons why he continues to survive absent a coup from within his own ranks:

Powerful patrons

Assad appeared to be losing the war until Russia became involved in 2015 with military support to reverse gains made by rebel groups. Russian airstrikes and other aid bolstered support Assad already was receiving from Iran, which has supplied fighters and other military help. As a result, Assad has strengthened his grip on power, although pockets of resistance remain.

Russia’s alliance with Assad puts President Vladimir Putin back as a player in the Middle East to offset…

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