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Bashar al-Assad will appear on Syria’s newest 2,000-pound banknote

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be the face of a new bank note.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be the face of a new bank note. SANA via AP

The face of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will grace Syria’s newest banknote.

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The 2,000-pound note is equal to approximately US$4 and will go into circulation on Sunday, the Syrian central bank announced. Central bank governor Duraid Durgham said the note was one of multiple new notes printed years ago, but putting it into circulation was delayed “due to the circumstances of the war and exchange rate fluctuations.”

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A portrait of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is seen printed on the new Syrian 2,000-pound banknote that went into circulation on Sunday. SANA
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A portrait of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is seen printed on the new Syrian 2,000-pound banknote that went into circulation on Sunday. SANA
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A portrait of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is seen printed on the new Syrian 2,000-pound banknote that went into circulation on Sunday. SANA
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be the face of a new bank note. SANA via AP

Durgham said that due to wear and tear of the existing notes, the time was right to put the new note into circulation, the state news agency SANA reported.

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These notes mark the first time Assad’s face will appear on a banknote since he took office 17 years ago. Previously, the highest denomination of banknote in Syria was 1,000 pounds. Assad’s father, the late president Hafez al-Assad who died in the year 2000, appeared on many types of Syrian currency including coins and an older version of the 1,000-pound banknote.

The Syrian currency has decreased in value since the civil war in the country began in 2011. In 2010, Syrian pound was worth approximately 47 pounds to the dollar compared to the pound’s present worth at 500 pounds to the dollar.

In addition, inflation has skyrocketed, reaching a high of over 120 per cent in 2013. In 2016, it was estimated that the inflation rate sat around 50 per cent.

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Durgham said the new note was put into circulation “in Damascus and a number of the provinces.”

The Syrian conflict has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Assad has largely enjoyed direct military support from his Russian and Iranian allies. On Sunday, U.S.-backed Syrian fighters claim to have received reinforcements to boost their ranks as they maintain pressure on the Islamic State militants in Raqqa city.

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Bashar al-Assad has been in power for 17 years after his father died of a heart attack in 2000 after 29 years in office. BBC reports that had it not been for the death of his older brother in a car accident in 1994, who had been groomed to succeed his father, Assad may have never ascended to such political heights.

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Assad has often been at odds with American leaders, and most recently, has been accused by many U.S. leaders of orchestrating a chemical attack on a Syrian town this past April.

— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters

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