Syria first lady diagnosed with leukemia--presidency

Syria first lady diagnosed with leukemia–presidency

/ 05:31 PM May 21, 2024

Syria first lady diagnosed with leukemia--presidency

A picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) early on May 8, 2018 shows Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad attending an entrepreneurial training program in the capital Damascus. Asma, who recovered from breast cancer in 2019, has been diagnosed with leukaemia, the president’s office said on May 21, 2024. Agence France-Presse

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

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

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She will undergo a “specialized 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”.

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

Born in Britain in 1975, the former investment banker styled herself as a progressive rights advocate and the modern side of the Assad dynasty before the eruption of the country’s brutal civil war in 2011.

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The first lady was even hailed as “A Rose in the Desert” in a now infamous cover story in US magazine Vogue before plaudits turned to condemnation over her support for her husband’s crushing of pro-democracy protests.

She founded the Syria Trust for Development charity, headquartered in Damascus, which is one of the rare such organizations allowed to work in government-held areas.

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The first lady, whose father is a cardiologist and whose mother is a diplomat, has two sons and a daughter with Assad.

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