Dictator's wife

New propaganda photos of Asma al-Assad, Syria’s first lady, turn up on Instagram

The wife of Bashar al-Assad has often helped her husband’s propaganda machine, but has been doing so less of late

Photos of Syria’s first lady Asma al-Assad have been turning up on official Syrian government social media accounts again. The latest show her at a number of photo ops over the last two weeks, including at the 2015 Mother Festival where she appears to be consoling the mothers of Syrian Army soldiers killed or injured in battle.

She had been out of the public eye for months before re-emerging in photos in late January, according to the Daily Mail. Those public appearances coincided with deadly air raids ordered by her husband, Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president. The air strikes are believed to have killed at least 39, the Daily Mail reported, many of them civilians.

The current crop of photos was released during the same period that U.S. journalist Charlie Rose traveled to Damascus to conduct an interview with Bashar al-Assad on the heels of the news that the U.S. would be open to negotiating with Assad.

In the interview, Assad insisted he still has the support of the Syrian people, but was hard-pressed to provide concrete examples of that support. Asma al-Assad, who has long been a controversial figure in the Middle East, is also a key player in her husband’s propaganda machine.

A glance through the Syria presidency’s official Instagram account shows Asma al-Assad, who is British-born, providing photographic evidence to maintain the narrative that he still has the support of the Syrian people — even through questionable elections and a brutal civil war. Western media have had a fascination with Asma over the years, branding her everything from “A Rose in the Desert” to “the first lady from hell.”

More than 200,000 Syrians have died in the last four years amid civil war and the rise of ISIS.​​

A portion of Rose’s interview aired Sunday on 60 Minutes and the rest airs Monday night on PBS.

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