We already brought you part one of our list of 15 things you probably didn’t know about Bashar al-Assad, and now we’re back with part two! Check out eight more interesting facts about the Syrian president that you definitely (probably) did not know. You might be surprised by what you find out!
Number Eight: He Has Three Children. Bashar’s three children are named Karim, Zein, and Hafez. They were born in 2004, 2003, and 2001, respectively.
Number Seven: He Credits Russia With Helping to Shrink ISIS’ Power. In an interview that Bashar did with Czech TV in early December, he said that U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS did not help to slow down the terrorist organization. He went on to say that it was Russia’s direct involvement that has helped slow ISIS down.
Number Six: His Brother Was Killed in a Car Accident. Bashar’s brother, Bassel, was in training to take over his father’s presidency when he was killed in a car crash in 1994. In just five years after that, Bashar was able to join the military and become a colonel.
Number Five: He Had Only Been in His Father’s Office Once Before He Assumed Presidency. Bashar was not very interested in politics, and he actually pursued medical school. By the time he assumed the presidency after his father died of a heart attack, he had only been in the presidential office once. The second time he entered the office was after his father’s funeral.
Number Four: He Was Forward-Thinking, but not Everybody Around Him Was That Way. Though Bashar’s education was thought to make him more receptive to change, and he even wanted to push Syria toward democracy, other members of the government contained members of the “old guard,” who were military figures thought to undermine Bashar and push him toward political opposition.
Number Three: He Has Censored Popular Websites. In an effort to quiet the activists who oppose him, Bashar has censored websites like Facebook and YouTube.
Number Two: His Wife Has Expensive Taste. Bashar’s wife, Asma, has been documented to spend thousands of dollars on designer shoes and fancy lighting fixtures. She was doing so while hundreds of Syrians died as a result of the conflict.
Number One: He Has an Instagram. Despite the fact that Bashar has censored websites like YouTube and Facebook, his Instagram account, @syrianpresidency, has over 46,000 followers.