Hafez el-Assad was born on October 6, 1930, in the Alawite part of the Lebanon Syria. Assad was the first in his family to go to high school. In school, he became involved in the Ba'ath Party. He joined the army which led him to the airforce where he became a pilot.
In 1964 was named Commander of the Syrian Air Force. In 1966, Assad became the Defense Minister and, in that role, he was partially responsible for Syria's loss of the Golan Heights to Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967.
In 1970, a Ba'ath Party-sponsored coupled to his being named President of Syria. Syria's participation in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel nearly cost the country even greater territorial losses. But under Assad's rule, Syria achieved near-hegemony in Lebanon. Assad was a ruthless leader is known for a massacre of 5,000 Sunnis in Hama.