Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, according to a tweet Wednesday from the office of the Syrian Presidency.
The official Syrian Presidency Twitter account posted a picture of the British-born first lady with her arm attached to an IV drip line next to her husband, President Bashar al-Assad.
"With strength and confidence and faith, Mrs. Asma al-Assad begins the preliminary stage of treatment for a malignant tumor in the breast that was discovered early," the statement reads. "From its heart, the presidency and all those who work in it wish Mrs. Asma a speedy recovery."
The first lady has become highly controversial since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. The 42-year-old first lady was once thought to be a reforming influence on her husband’s administration, but she turned a blind eye to the brutality inflicted upon Syrians by the Assad government, as the seven-year conflict became one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
The E.U. placed heavy sanctions on Asma al-Assad in 2012 after the Syrian government responded to the 2011 uprising with extreme violence. Her assets were frozen as a result of the sanctions, and she was unable to travel to any country in the E.U. She was still allowed to travel between Syria and Great Britain, where she retained citizenship. Several British officials called for her British citizenship to be revoked after she defended her husband in an Instagram post following a deadly Sarin gas attack on a Syrian village in April 2017.
Fashion magazine Vogue dubbed the ex-J.P. Morgan banker, "a rose in the desert," in February 2011 for being "glamorous, young, and very chic." One month later, Bashar waged a violent crackdown on his own people that would result in the decimation of Syria and hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths.
Asma’s last foreign interview was conducted in October 2016 with Kremlin-backed RT, in which she said she turned down offers from foreign adversaries for guarantees of safety and financial security if she fled the war-torn country.
"I’ve been here since the beginning, and I never thought of being anywhere else at all," the first lady said in the interview. Since her sit-down with RT, Asma’s Instagram and Twitter accounts have continued to post photographs of her visiting with wounded citizens across the country.