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.
Before he became president he was the defense minister of his country. As such he declared in 1967: “Our forces are now entirely ready, not only to repulse aggression, but to initiate the act ourselves and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland of Palestine. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. I believe that time has come to begin a battle of annihilation.” Statements like this one led to the Six Day War which Israel could won and gain control over the Golan Heights, which the Syrian regime had previously used to fire at the Israeli communities below. Assad continued his aggression against the Jewish state and started the Yom Kippur War in 1973, which Syria has lost.