Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad has been diagnosed with breast cancer, the office of the Syrian Presidency announced in a tweet on Wednesday.
“With strength, trust and faith .. Mrs Asma al-Assad begins her preliminary treatment of a malignant breast tumor that was discovered early,” the office tweeted.
The tweet included a photo of the first lady, her arm attached to an IV drip, alongside her husband, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“From the heart, the presidency and the staff wish Mrs. Asma a speedy recovery,” it read.
The British-born wife of the Syrian president is a high-profile figure who has received both praise and criticism for standing by Assad throughout Syria’s seven-year civil war. In 2016, she told Russia Today that she turned down guarantees of protection and financial security in exchange for leaving Syria.
The 42-year-old rose to prominence on social media during Syria’s war. Her Instagram feed shows images of Asma cradling small children, sitting by the bedside of injured war victims and touring sites with local women.
Vogue’s spring 2011 profile of Asma al-Assad was highly controversial. The piece called her a “rose in the desert” but didn’t mention Syria’s abysmal human rights record.
President Assad has been repeatedly accused of war crimes over the past seven years and several countries have accused him of launching chemical attacks on his own people in rebel-held areas. The president also has been heavily criticized for his treatment of political prisoners, many of whom have died in detention.