Syrian actress Thanaa Debsi dies aged 83

Her career spanned theatre, television and film

Syrian actress Thanaa Debsi during the opening ceremony of the Syrian Cultural Days Festivity in Damascus, Syria, 23 November 2020. EPA
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Syrian actress Thanaa Debsi has died aged 83.

The news was announced by Syrian Artist Syndicate on Tuesday with no cause of death revealed.

"The Damascus branch of the Artists Syndicate mourns the death of our colleague, the distinguished artist, Thanaa Debsi," it posted on Facebook. "We belong to God and to Him we shall return."

Born in Aleppo in 1941, Debsi's career began in the early 1960s and encompasses Syrian theatre, cinema, television and radio.

After getting her start in the Aleppo's theatre scene, Debsi's career began in earnest after moving to the Syrian capital, Damascus, where she took part in theatre festivals before she found regional fame in television.

Defined by a fierce presence, Debsi's television work often found her taking on roles of strong and vulnerable characters.

These include popular drama series such 2009's Zaman Al Aaar (Time of Shame) and Wara' Al Shams (Behind the Sun) in 2010.

Her last major role was in the 2019 television drama Nas Min Waraq (People Made from Paper) alongside Salma Al-Masri and Jirjes Jbarah.

Some Debsi's former collaborators took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to pay tribute.

"This painful news grips my heart with sadness," said Nadin Khoury.

"At the beginning of my artistic journey, she guided me with love and care and did not skimp on me with advice."

Actor and playwright Mohammed Kheir Jarrar recalled Debsi's presence on screen.

"A painful departure and sadness that bleeds the soul," he posted.

"Throughout my journey in the art world, I have never met an artist who enjoyed all this respect... We will miss you very much."

Syrian writer and director Marcelle Aleid said: "Thank you Madam. May your soul have mercy."

Thanaa leaves behind her husband, Syrian actor Salim Sabri, and three children.

Updated: February 21, 2024, 6:56 AM