Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s Wife Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Begins Treatment
Syrian government released a photo of Asma Al-Assad undergoing treatment for breast cancer (Photo: Twitter, Presidency_Sy)

Asma Al-Assad, wife of Bashar al-Assad, has been diagnosed with breast cancer, the Syrian president’s office has announced via its social media accounts.

The post included a photograph of the Syrian first lady with an intravenous line in her arm and smiling at her husband, who is sitting next to her, while apparently undergoing treatment in a hospital. “With strength and confidence and faith, Mrs Asma al-Assad begins the preliminary stage of treatment for a malignant tumor in the breast that was discovered early,” the statement said. “From its heart, the presidency and all those who work in it wish Mrs Asma a speedy recovery.”

A dual British-Syrian national, Asma Assad attended school and university in London before becoming an investment banker. She moved to Syria in 2000 and married former ophthalmologist Bashar al-Assad, just months after he succeeded his father Hafez al-Assad as president.

Since the Syrian civil war began, Asma has become a controversial figure. She has been sanctioned by the European Union in 2012. Asma was also outed for shopping for luxury goods while her husband was bombing his own citizens. Once dubbed by Vogue as a “rose in the desert”, she acknowledged that there was suffering on both sides of the war and said she had rejected offers of asylum outside the country during the crisis. During the war, she has been seen doing humanitarian work in areas controlled by the Syrian government. Her Instagram feed shows her cradling small children, sitting by the bedside of injured war victims and touring sites with local women.

The Syrian Civil War now in its seventh year has claimed at least half a million lives and more than half the country’s population has been displaced. Almost 5 million Syrians have been rendered refugees in the neighbouring countries of Jordan and Turkey.