Who backs Syria's Assad? Top 4 sources of support
Syria’s uprising is more than six months old and more than 2,700 people have been killed – yet President Bashar al-Assad is still in power. Here's a look at his key sources of support.
Assad and his family are Alawites, a Shiite Muslim minority that forms the backbone of the regime. The religious group makes up only 12 percent of Syria’s population, but Alawites hold many government, military, and security forces posts, giving them a disproportionate amount of power that they would likely lose if the Assad regime was toppled. Sunni Muslims make up 74 percent of Syria’s population and have long chafed under Alawite rule. Many Alawites likely fear retribution if Assad were replaced by a Sunni.