Asma Assad shows her face, scotching escape rumours
Bashar al-Assad's wife is alive and well – and has not fled from Syria with her three children
ASMA ASSAD, wife of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, has made her first public appearance in many months. The British-born 33-year-old visited the opera house in Damascus to attend a fundraiser for the widows of soldiers. She took her three children with her.
The sighting scotched persistent rumours that the president's wife had fled to another country to join her husband's mother and sister, said to be living in the United Arab Emirates. Her appearance also seemed to contradict rumours that she is pregnant, The Times reports.
The daughter of Syrian parents, Assad was brought up in Acton, west London, and was privately educated in Marylebone. She took a degree at King's College, London before working in a merchant bank and marrying the Syrian leader in 2000.
A first lady who embraced good causes, Assad has been little seen since the current conflict began – but leaked emails between the couple showed her spending lavishly on domestic luxuries as the fighting raged.
Her public reappearance came as Bashar al-Assad's logistics chief, General Mohammed Khalouf defected to Jordan. Appearing on Jordanian television with his son, he denounced the Assad regime and said its morale was collapsing.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reported today that Syria's main opposition coalition has agreed to form an interim government for the 'free' areas in rebel control. The deal was struck at a summit in Istanbul.
Two previous attempts to form a governing coalition between Assad's opponents had failed but this time unification was seen as essential because the rebel-held zones have expanded so far. The area under the new interim government's control will include Syria's largest city, Aleppo, and one provincial capital, Raqqa.
Last month, the UN announced it believed the death toll from the Syrian war had reached 70,000, with up to two million people internally displaced and 700,000 registered refugees in neighbouring countries. ·