Assad - Syria. It borders S Lebanon, NE Israel, and NW...

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Assad, Hafez al- Assad, Hafez al1930–2000, president of Syria (1971–2000). He graduated (1955) from the Syrian Military Academy and advanced through the army ranks to become a general. He served (1966–70) as Syria's minister of defense and commander in chief of the air force. Using that position, Assad was able to become the most powerful figure in Syria, and in 1971 he became the country's president after leading a coup in late 1970. An autocratic ruler at the head of a police state, he was strongly anti-Zionist and a major supporter of Palestinian guerrilla organizations. In 1976 he sent Syrian troops as a peacekeeping force to Lebanon, where they became a force in Lebanese politics. In the 1990s, Assad sought to cultivate both the support of more militant Arab leaders and peaceful relations with the West in an attempt to regain the Golan Heights and increase Syrian influence in the Middle East. Golan Heights Golan Heights, strategic upland region (2003 est. pop. 10,500), c.500 sq mi (1,250 sq km), SW
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Unformatted text preview: Syria. It borders S Lebanon, NE Israel, and NW Jordan. It takes its name from the ancient city of Golan and was known as Gaulanitis in New Testament times. It is a rocky plateau overlooking Israel where elevations range from c.6,500 ft (2,000 m) in the north to below sea level along the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) and the Yarmuk River in the south. The Golan Heights were fortified and used for artillery attacks on Israel after 1948. The region was captured by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967 (see Arab-Israeli Wars ) and formally annexed by Israel in 1981, an act that was not internationally recognized. A number of Israeli settlements have been established in the area; the region has become an important source of water for Israel. Ultimate control of the Golan Heights has been a stumbling block to Israeli-Syrian peace talks....
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