'I will fight this battle', Syria's first lady speaks of her leukaemia diagnosis

In 2019, Ms Al Assad had said she was 'totally' free of breast cancer after battling the disease for a year.

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Syria's first lady Asma Al Assad has spoken of her leukaemia diagnosis for the first time in a video posted on her Instagram account on Saturday.

Earlier this month, Ms Asma, who recovered from breast cancer in 2019, was diagnosed with leukaemia.

“I will fight this battle, armed with faith and absolute trust in God, and with your prayers and love,” Mrs Al Assad said in the video.

“Anyone battling an illness must have the strength and willpower to not only overcome it, but also to endure being away from the people they love,” she said.

The office of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad released a statement confirming that “First Lady Asma Al Assad has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia,” an aggressive cancer of the white blood cells.

She was to undergo a “specialised treatment protocol” that requires social distancing to avoid infection, the statement said, adding that she will “temporarily withdraw from all direct engagements as part of her treatment plan”.

In 2018, Ms Al Assad was diagnosed with breast cancer after a malignant tumour was discovered, state media reported at the time.

A year later, she announced that she had “fully recovered” from her illness.

“My journey is over, with all its pain and weariness, its drawbacks and even its positives. Praise God, it's over. I have fully triumphed over cancer,” she said at the time, adding that she had been receiving chemotherapy treatment at a Syrian military hospital.

Last year, she accompanied her husband, President Bashar Al Assad, on a visit to the UAE in her first official trip abroad with him since the war began in 2011.

Ms Al Assad, a British-born former investment banker, heads several charities dealing with the families of soldiers killed in the war.

She runs the Syria Trust for Development, an NGO that acts as an umbrella organisation for many of the aid and development operations in the country.

Many Syrians accuse her of being complicit in Assad regime crimes against civilians.

The war has displaced more than 11 million Syrians, creating one of the biggest refugee crises in recent history.

Ms Al Assad was born and raised in London to Syrian parents before returning to Syria after meeting the President.

She married Mr Al Assad in 2000, and the couple have three children.

Updated: May 25, 2024, 1:14 PM