Ill will

Photos of post-chemo Asma Assad roil social media

While some wish Syrian leader’s wife a speedy recovery, others say it’s time for ‘first lady of sarin and chlorine attacks’ to get a taste of her own medicine

Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife, Asma Assad, in July 2010. (AP/Hassene Dridi)
Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife, Asma Assad, in July 2010. (AP/Hassene Dridi)

New photos of the wife of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad showing telltale signs of chemotherapy treatment for her cancer have elicited divided responses on social media.

In August, Syrian state media announced that Assad, 43, had been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and was receiving treatment. Assad’s official Instagram account on Saturday published a photo in which she was seen wearing a head covering, and had clearly lost her hair.

“Your story is a story of perseverance, determination, faith and submission,” the post said.

Some social media users agreed. “May Allah heal her,” one tweeted. Another wished her “a speedy recovery, God willing.”

But others appeared to take satisfaction in the fact that Assad — whose husband has brutally repressed his people in a seven-year-long civil war that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and driven millions from their homes — was ill.

The UN has accused the Assad regime of multiple chemical attacks against civilians throughout the course of the war, the irony of which did not escape commentators.

On tweet pointed out that “the first lady of sarin” and “chlorine” was now herself a “specialist in chemical treatment” like her husband.

Another, speaking as though in the voice of the Syrian leader, said: “Today I gave a small chemical dose to my wife, like the one I gave to the children of #Ghouta #Douma.”

Still another, who called Assad “a truly inspirational woman,” said it was “vile and repugnant to wish harm on anyone suffering from cancer.”

Asma Assad herself had been silent and avoided the public eye for much of the civil war. In a rare 2016 English interview she defended her husband, and said she hoped to make her country “stronger and fairer” and to help “empower people.”

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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