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Syria: Asma Al-Assad has leukaemia, says presidency 

May 21, 2024 at 11:05 am

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma in Hangzhou, China on 23 September, 2023 [Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images]

Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad, has been diagnosed with leukaemia, the presidency in Damascus said on Tuesday. The announcement was made almost five years after she announced that she had recovered fully from breast cancer, Reuters has reported.

The official statement said that the 48-year-old wife of President Bashar Al-Assad would undergo a special treatment protocol that would require her to isolate, and that she would step away from public engagements as a result.

Since Syria plunged into civil war in 2011, the British-born former investment banker has taken on the public role of leading charity efforts and meeting families of soldiers killed in the fighting. She is hated by Syrian opposition groups.

The first lady runs the Syria Trust for Development, a large NGO that acts as an umbrella organisation for many of the aid and development operations in Syria.

Last year, she accompanied her husband on a visit to the UAE, her first known official trip abroad with him since 2011. There she met Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, the Emirati president’s mother, during a trip seen as an overt sign of her growing role in public affairs.

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