President Bashar al-Assad, the Accidental Dictator

Once an aspiring eye doctor, Assad struggles to survive and hold on to power.
2:07 | 08/29/13

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Transcript for President Bashar al-Assad, the Accidental Dictator
Now, what about the man who has placed his country right in the bull's eye. Tonight we have more about the leader of syria, educated in the west, who once told me he didn't believe in violence. So what changed? Terry moran covering the region from beirut tonight. Reporter: Today in damascus, while u.N. Inspectors made another of their grisly rounds -- wearing gas masks, collecting samples -- just a few miles away, president bashar assad was shown on syrian tv addressing his troops -- still defiant, still looking very presidential. He was once a man who just wanted to be an eye doctor -- and who told diane sawyer in 2007 he was a man of peace. First of all, we are against violence in general. We don't believe in violence. Reporter: Assad's an accidental dictator. He was a young doctor in london when his older brother died in a car crash, making bashar next in line to rule syria after his father died in 2000. He met his chic wife asma in london -- she of the chanel suits and christian louboutin shoes -- even featured in "vogue" magazine as a desert rose. They seemed so modern. People talked of a damascus spring when he came to power. And they even have an instagram account, recently posting pictures of asma at a soup kitchen. He likes to drive his own car, but now he and his family are mostly hunkered down. Even his own mother has left the country as he wages his merciless war. Last year, a hacked email from assad to his wife surfaced. He'd sent her country star blake shelton's song, "god gave me you," which includes the lines -- ♪ I've made a mess of me the person that I've been lately ain't who I wanna be ♪ Reporter: He's a changed man, for sure. And some who know bashar assad say one reason is the past two years of grinding, desperate civil war. He's fighting for power, for survival. And they say, he's become the ruthless dictator he swfrnt meant to be like his father.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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