From Doctor to Dictator: Assad's Rise to Power in Syria - NBC Bay Area
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From Doctor to Dictator: Assad's Rise to Power in Syria

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    From Doctor to Dictator: Assad's Rise to Power in Syria
    AP
    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, speaking during an interview with the Iran's Khabar TV, in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015.

    As world powers meet in Vienna Friday for marathon talks aimed at ending the wear in Syria, a key figure who won't be present is also the major stumbling block — ex-doctor and President Bashar Assad, NBC News reported.

    Assad, whose removal from power is being sought by U.S.-led Western allies including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, now has the military support from Russia and Iran. That casts a shadow over negotiations and has diminished the prospects of a deal for his exit from office.

    Syria's leader grew up surrounded by power but never planned to become president. He graduated as an ophthalmologist from a university in Syria in 1988 and moved to London to pursue an advanced degree. There, he met his future wife, British-Syrian Asma Akhras.

    Assad was still living in London in January 1994 when he learned his older brother Basel had died suddenly in a car crash. Bashar Assad was recalled to Damascus to take his place in the succession.