Syria’s first lady gave an interview to Russia 24 in Damascus on Tuesday, where she slammed Western media for its coverage on the Syrian conflict.
In rare public comments she told the broadcaster that she had rejected offers of financial security and asylum in order to stay by her husband’s side saying she believed those offering her a new home were trying to undermine her husbands presidency.
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“It doesn’t take a genius to know what these people were really after. It was never about my wellbeing or my children – it was a deliberate attempt to shatter people’s confidence in their president.”
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The mother of three also hit out at the West for what she called double standards in coverage of the war, saying media coverage of child casualties differed “depending on the loyalties of their parents.”
Mrs Assad also thanked Russia for its “noble efforts” supporting the regime.
The wife of President Bashar Assad gave an exclusive interview, her first in eight years, to Russia’s Rossiya 24 channel. The full version of the interview is to be shown on Saturday.
Asma was asked why the western media is selective in covering the Syrian crisis, in particular the humanitarian catastrophe that has engulfed the country.
For example, the story of the civilians from the village of Zarah in Hama Province, who were attacked by Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra fighters in May, wasn’t covered by the mainstream media.
“Why was the fate of the children in Zara [village] not given the same media coverage as the tragedies of Aylan and Omran?” Asma Assad asked.
Reuters then reported that no civilians were hurt, but the locals told RT that the terrorists “killed elderly people, took children and women as captives.”
However, the stories of drowned refugee boy Aylan Kurdi and of Omran Daqneesh, who was pulled from the rubble after an airstrike in Aleppo, have gone viral in the media.
“The western media decided to focus on these tragedies because it suited their media agenda. It is actually the West dividing our children in this conflict according to the political beliefs of their parents. Aylan was a Syrian child irrespective of what his parents believed as was Omran and the other innocent children in the Zara village massacre,” Asma Assad told Rossiya 24.
“These are all children, they are all innocent children and they are all a loss to Syria irrespective of which side of the conflict we support. And as a Syrian, I am personally saddened by the loss of every single child, whether it is Aylan or Omran or the many, many others, whose names did not reach western headlines,” she added.
In August harrowing images of an ash-covered boy who survived an air strike in Syria quickly spread across the internet. The boy, later identified as Omran Daqneesh was supposedly pulled from the rubble after an air strike in Aleppo’s Qaterji district, a rebel-held area.
In September last year the world was shaken by the death of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi who drowned in the Aegean Sea trying to reach the Greek island of Kos. The image of his body lying on the beach has been distributed and re-distributed on social media and has become a symbol of Syrian crisis.
“Ultimately, humanitarian aid should not be determined by geography, political orientation or religious beliefs. It cannot be allowed to be driven by political agendas,” the Syrian First Lady said.
Asma Assad was born to Syrian parents in London and educated in the UK. She graduated from King’s College London, and two years later in 2000, as a Syrian-British national she married Bashar Assad. The couple have three children: Hafez, Zein and Kareem.
Since the start of Syrian civil war in 2012, the first lady was often criticized for staying silent. She hasn’t been seen much in public. In 2013 there were even rumors that she fled the country but dispelled them by appearing in public.