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Syria's first lady reveals she has refused offers to leave country

Published 18/10/2016

The wife of Syrian president Bashar Assad has said in a television interview that she declined offers to leave her country during the war in return for safety and financial security for herself and her children.

Asma Assad, 41, was speaking to Russia 24, a Moscow-based state-run television channel.

It was her first interview with international media since the war broke out in Syria in 2011. She said the "foolish" offers aimed to undermine confidence in her husband.

"I was offered the opportunity to leave Syria or rather to run from Syria," she said in the 33-minute interview conducted in English.

"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."

She did not specify who the offers were from.

Asma Assad has largely avoided the international media since the start of protests in Syria in the spring of 2011. As the government cracked down on the protests, the country descended into a civil war that has also seen other countries back opposing sides.

She has, however, had a highly visible role in showing support for the families of soldiers killed or wounded in the fighting, and appears regularly in hospitals and at funerals.

Syria's conflict has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced half the country's pre-war population of 23 million since March 2011, most of them inside the country.

She said everyone in Syria is at risk because of the war, but she added: "I refuse to live in fear."

In this frame grab taken from a video released on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016 on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency, Asma Assad, wife of the Syrian president Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with the Russia 24 TV channel in Damascus, Syria. (Syrian Presidency via Facebook)
In this frame grab taken from a video released on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016 on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency, Asma Assad, wife of the Syrian president Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with the Russia 24 TV channel in Damascus, Syria. (Syrian Presidency via Facebook)
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 10, 2010 shows Asma al-Assad, the wife of the Syrian president gesturing as she speaks during a meeting at the International diplomatic academy in Paris. Syria's first lady Asma al-Assad said she rejected multiple offers to flee the war-ravaged country with her children, according to an interview with broadcaster Russia24 aired on October 18, 2016. The comments were part of the British-born Assad's first interview with international media since Syria's revolt erupted in 2011 with demands for her husband Bashar's ouster / AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINAMIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
Asma Assad said she has declined offers to leave Syria

She also said help from Syria's friends like Russia had been invaluable to alleviate people's suffering from the conflict and sanctions.

"It is these noble efforts that have helped loosen the chokehold on ordinary Syrians and this is something we will never forget."

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