Bashar al-Assad was the third child of Ḥafez al-Assad, a Syrian military officer and member of the Baʿth Party who in 1971 ascended to the presidency via a coup. The Assad family belonged to Syria’s ʿAlawite minority, a Shiite sect that traditionally constitutes about 10 percent of the Syrian population and has played a dominant role in Syrian politics since the 1960s.
Unlike his brothers, Bassel and Maher, and sister, Bushra, Bashar was quiet and reserved and he lacked interest in politics or the military.
Hafez al-Assad was born to a poor family of Alawite background, rose through the Ba'ath Party ranks to take control of the Syrian branch of the Party in the 1970 Corrective Revolution, culminating in his rise to the Syrian presidency. Hafez al-Assad promoted his supporters within the Ba'ath Party, many of whom were of also Alawite background. His last name in Arabic means "the lion".
Hafez had risen to power through the Syrian military and the minority Alawite political party to take control of Syria in 1970. With much of the military composed of fellow Alawite associates, he was able to integrate the military into his political regime, and ruled Syria for three decades.
Aniseh al-Assad, the mother of Bashar al-Assad, In the early 1950s hafez al-Assad married With Him, a distant relative of a powerful family.
Bassel al-Assad, Bashar Assad's brother
Bashar grew up quiet and reserved, in the shadow of his more dynamic and outgoing brother, Bassel.
Bassel al-Assad was the oldest son of former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, and the heir apparent to the Syrian presidency. Bassel was an equestrian champion and held a Ph.D. in military sciences. He died in January 1994 in a car crash while driving his Mercedes through foggy weather en route to Damascus International Airport.
Sister of Bashar Assad
Bushra al-Assad, the first child and only daughter of Hafez al-Assad, holds a degree in pharmacy from Damascus University, and was known to have a close relationship with her late father. Bushra al-Assad was the husband of Assef Shawkat. She fled Syria for the United Arab Emirates as the countrys civil war escalated.
Assef Shawkat, the husband of Bushra al-Assad, was Syrias deputy minister of defense from September 2011 until his death in July 2012 in a bomb attack orchestrated by the Free Syrian Army. A powerful figure in the Assad regime throughout his career, Shawkat had been a major intelligence contact for the U.S. following the 9/11 attacks.
Maher al-Assad, Bashar Assad's brother
Maher al-Assad, Hafez al-Assads youngest son, is the commander of the Republican Guard and Syrias Fourth Armored Division. A powerful and long-feared figure in the Assad regime, he has been accused by Israels Channel 2 TV of orchestrating the deadly chemical attack that is said to have killed more than 1,400 people on Aug, 21.
Majd al-Assad, Bashar Assad's brother
Majd al-Assad remained largely out of the public eye throughout his life, so very little is known about the younger brother of Bashar al-Assad. Syria's official news agency, SANA, reports that he died in 2009 after a long illness at the age of 43.