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Syria’s First Lady Asma Al-Assad Diagnosed with Leukemia


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s British-born wife Asma, who recovered from breast cancer in 2019, has been diagnosed with leukaemia, the president’s office said on Tuesday.


“First Lady Asma al-Assad has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia,” an aggressive cancer of the white blood cells involved in battling infection, it said in a statement.

She will undergo a “specialised treatment protocol” that requires social distancing to avoid infection, the statement said, adding that she will “temporarily withdraw from all direct engagements as part of her treatment plan”.

In 2019, Syria’s first lady had said she was “totally” free of breast cancer after battling the disease for a year.

Before the deadly civil war in Syria broke out in 2011, the former investment banker, who was born in Britain in 1975, portrayed herself as a progressive rights activist and the contemporary face of the Assad family.

When the first lady supported her husband’s suppression of pro-democracy protests, she was even praised as “A Rose in the Desert” in a now-famous cover story in the US magazine Vogue.

She established the charity Syria Trust for Development, which has its main office in Damascus. It is one of the few of its kind that is permitted to operate in areas controlled by the government.

With Assad, the first lady has two sons and a daughter. Her mother is a diplomat and her father practices cardiology.

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