Al-Assad is an ethnically Alawite Shia and president of the Syrian Arab Republic. Because of its strategic position, Syria is regarded as a major player in any peace agreement in the Middle East. Since 2011, the civil war between the regime and an assortment of groups (mainly gathered under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army) has resulted in approximately 400,000 people being killed, six million displaced internally, and about five million having fled the country in a humanitarian crisis which is also having a destabilizing influence on neighbouring countries. The Khan Shaykhun chemical attacks of 2017–which the Syrian regimes denies carrying out–provoked airstrikes from the US military. In July 2017, the USA, Russia, and Jordan agreed to a ceasefire, with Russia giving assurances regarding Assad’s compliance, and the US administration stopped equipping and training anti-government rebel groups.