Hafez al-Assad (1930 - 2000) was the president of Syria from 1970 to 2000. He was the leader of the secular Leftist Syrian Ba'athist party, but he had also close ties to Western countries. Assad was an Alawite. After his death, his son Bashar al-Assad took power over Syria. During the Gulf War Assad opposed Saddam Hussein and even helped to liberate Kuwait by using 4,000 Syrian troops.