Beirut, May 21: Syrian first lady Asma Assad has been diagnosed with leukemia, the office of President Bashar Assad announced Tuesday. The president's wife was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia “after presenting with several symptoms and following a comprehensive series of medical tests and examinations”, the statement said. Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Visits Syria as Relations Thaw

She will “adhere to a specialised treatment protocol that includes stringent infection prevention measures” and “will temporarily withdraw from all direct engagements” as part of the treatment plan, it added. Asma Assad has previously been treated for breast cancer. In August 2019, she announced that she was “completely” free of the disease a year after her diagnosis. Born and raised in the United Kingdom, although her family is originally from central Syria, the first lady is a powerful and divisive figure. She is under western sanctions and has been a highly controversial figure in the course of the Syrian conflict. French Government Issues Arrest Warrant for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad for Complicity in War Crimes

She was an investment banker before quitting to marry the then-newly minted President Bashar Assad, in 2000. She has since maintained a public role, promoting civil and charity groups, but has been accused of using her British education and Western style to try to mask the brutality of her husband's crackdown on dissent. The war, which has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half the country's pre-war population of of 23 million, began as peaceful protests against Assad's government in March 2011. The protests were met by a brutal crackdown, and the revolt quickly spiralled into a full-blown civil war.