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Speaking out

Amidst carnage in Aleppo, Syria’s first lady gives 1st TV interview in 8 years

October 19, 2016

In her first television interview in eight years, Asma Assad, Syria’s first lady, told Russian state-owned news channel Russia-24 that she had received — and rejected — offers of asylum from unnamed countries.

“I was offered the opportunity to leave Syria, or rather to run from Syria. These offers included guarantees of safety and protection for my children, and even financial security,” said Assad. “It doesn’t take a genius to know what these people were really after: It was never about my well-being or my children, it was a deliberate attempt to shatter people’s confidence in their president, and suffice to say these offers were foolish — and not even made by people who were Syrian.”

Assad, 41, a dual British-Syrian citizen who had formerly worked as an investment banker with JPMorgan in London and New York, called the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Syria “possibly unprecedented” and “beyond comprehension.” She also criticized Western media for “solely [focusing] on the plight of the refugees,” noting that “the vast majority of people displaced are living across the rest of the country, and these people, as much as anybody else, matter.”

The Syrian civil war, which began after Syrian authorities violently suppressed pro-democracy campaigners who had demanded President Assad’s resignation, has caused the deaths of as many as 400,000 people, according to the United Nations. Asma Assad’s comments came the same week that the U.S. hosted talks with diplomats from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iran in an attempt to broker a ceasefire in the conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the talks were motivated by the “urgency of Aleppo,” the Syrian city that has endured repeated airstrikes from Syrian and Russian military hoping to bomb the rebels into submission. On Thursday, it was reported that Syrian and Russian forces would observe a temporary ceasefire in Aleppo to alleviate the humanitarian situation and allow rebel fighters to leave the city.

Watch the full interview below.

Read the full story at NBC News.


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