Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad marked his 48th birthday on Wednesday with the threat of US-led strikes against his regime in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack apparently receding.
A Syrian pro-regime site called on residents of the capital Damascus to demonstrate their support for Assad by joining a convoy of cars in the Mazzeh district to honour him.
Assad, a British-trained ophthalmologist who has three children, succeeded his father Hafez, who died in 2000.
He came to the position of heir unexpectedly, after his brother Bassel was killed in a car accident Once considered a potential reformer, who discussed the need for political and economic openness after he took office, Assad has responded with an iron fist to an uprising that began in March 2011.
He marked his birthday as the threat of imminent US-led strikes against his regime appears to have waned.