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Who backs Syria's Assad? Top 4 sources of support

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Alawites

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.

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