In a rare public statement, Bashar Assad's wife has sent an email to the Times for publication. Her message is clear; the Syrian first lady stands firmly beside her husband as the country teeters toward the brink of civil war.
"The President is the President of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the First Lady supports him in that role," the email stated, according to AFP.
Asma Assad largely has remained quiet since the start of the protests in Syria in March 2011. The statement sent from her office reportedly said that "the First Lady's very busy agenda is still focused on supporting the various charities she has long been involved with and rural development as well as supporting the President as needed."
Asma Assad grew up in Acton, West London, the Daily Mail reports. She graduated from King's College London and worked for Deutsche Bank as an analyst in hedge-fund management before marrying Bashar Assad in 2000.
Asma Assad's family are Sunni Muslims from Homs, the city that has been heavily targeted by security forces in the past months.
Nesrine Malik, a commentator for The Guardian who calls Asma Assad "one of a breed of educated westernised Arab first wives" who "default unquestioningly to their fathers and husbands," noted the poor timing of the first lady's comments.
Last Saturday, government troops shelled Homs in an overnight bombardment, killing more than 200 people. It was the deadliest assault in the uprising so far, according to the Associated Press.
On Tuesday, an activist identified as Omar told the AP that tanks were still occupying parts of the city.
"The shelling has been going on for days and the siege is getting worse. We are short of everything including food and medical supplies," Omar told the AP. "People here have not slept for days," he said.