Syria's Assad tightens grip after four years of war

A man rides a bike past a banner bearing a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the city of Damascus on March 5, 2015Despite Western and Arab hopes he would be consigned to the dustbin of history, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad enters his fifth year of war with an increasingly tight hold on power. Alarm over the sweeping expansion of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in Syria and Iraq means that international priorities have shifted away from Assad’s removal. “Assad has improved his position internationally. The US, EU states and others are no longer demanding his immediate departure,” said Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

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