Election posters of President Bashar al-Assad hang on a cigarette vendors stand in Jaramana near Damascus on May 28, 2014. AFP PHOTP/ LOUAI BESHARA
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Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is expected to clinch re-election effortlessly next week, believes he has saved his regime from a brutal three-year insurgency, despite international isolation and calls for his departure.Confronted with an Arab Spring-inspired revolt calling for political change in March 2011, Assad opted to unleash a massive security crackdown, fueling what swiftly turned into a full-blown insurgency.Despite a U.N. human rights inquiry indicating that he authorized war crimes, Assad said his troops had never massacred civilians since the conflict began, while accusing rebels of "killing civilians everywhere".Faced with the biggest threat to his rule, in August 2013, when U.S. forces were poised to launch military strikes in Syria, Assad kept his nerve, even receiving foreign journalists to make his case.
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