Assad’s wife starts cancer treatment
THE British-born wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Asma al-Assad, 42, is being treated in an unnamed hospital after her early-stage tumours were detected.
In a photograph on the Syrian Government's official Facebook page, Mrs al-Assad is pictured apparently in a hospital ward, wearing pants and a casual T-shirt, with an intravenous tube in her left arm. Her husband is sitting beside her, and the couple are smiling at each other.
"The First Lady of #Syria, Asma #Assad was diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer,'' a short statement accompanying the picture said in English.
"She begun (sic) her treatment. We wish her a full recovery and many years to come to live.''
The rare public statement was accompanied with two emojis of hands held in prayer.
Mrs al-Assad shared the picture on her Facebook page, with the comment, in Arabic: "Strong, trust and faith. The First Lady #asma _ Lion begins the initial stage of a malignant tumour therapy discovered early.''
"From the heart, the presidency of the republic and its working group wishes Mrs Asma a speedy recovery.''
A former investment banker, Mrs al-Assad was born in Britain to Syrian parents, was educated at Kings College in London, and married Bashar al-Assad almost 20 years ago.
They have three children.
A beautiful and successful woman who is seen as a progressive, she has been the target of much hate directed at her over her husband's brutal regime.
The country has now been at war for seven years, although the Assad regime, backed by Iran and Russia, appears to have all-but won the civil war and will remain in power.
Western allies, including Australia, which originally demanded al-Assad be removed from office for atrocities such as chemical weapon attacks have now softened their rhetoric.
The war created a power vacuum which spawned the evil terror group Islamic State, killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, displaced millions of refugees and created one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.
Bashar al-Assad, now 52, inherited the presidency of Syria when his father Hafer died in July 2000. Hafer had held the position since 1971.
Asma al-Assad is subject to various sanctions as a result of the war, including a travel ban and asset freeze in the European Union.
However she remains a British citizen and is still able to legally enter the UK.
The Syrian capital Damascus, which remained largely under the control of the regime, escaped much of the damage from the war and is still functioning, meaning she would most likely undergo treatment there.