Jan 29, 2013

Syria President’s Wife Pregnant, Lebanese Newspaper Says

By RICK GLADSTONE


Just as tens of thousands of Syrians are scrambling to get themselves and their children out of war-ravaged Syria, President Bashar al-Assad and his glamorous wife, Asma, apparently are taking the opposite approach. They are having a baby, according to a Lebanese newspaper sympathetic to the Assad family.

The newspaper, Al Akhbar, dropped this news on Monday as a tangential reference in a fawning article describing a visit with President Assad in Damascus, in which he predicts victory in an increasingly bloody insurgency that is almost two years old. “On a personal level, the man seems calm and in control,” said an English-language version of the article on the newspaper’s Web site. “His confidence stands out. Also, there’s the news of the pregnancy of his wife, Asma, which could not be dealt with as a simple personal matter between a couple.” The Assads already have three young children.

The Al Akhbar account provided no further insight into the pregnancy or due date. But the reference seemed to corroborate rumors that Mrs. Assad had conceived in June, which was reported in November by Al Bawaba, an Amman-based news Web site. Mrs. Assad, a 37-year-old former investment banker who was born in London, has not been seen publicly in months. Rumors have repeatedly surfaced that she has left Syria for personal safety reasons.

If the June conception rumors are correct, the Assads expanded their family during some of the worst mayhem in the country. Mr. Assad said for the first time that month that the country was in a state of war. He further antagonized his former friendly neighbor Turkey when Syrian gunners shot down a Turkish warplane over the Mediterranean. A rash of high-ranking military officers defected in Turkey, and a Syrian Air Force pilot flew his MiG to Jordan and sought asylum. And the United Nations cease-fire monitoring mission in Syria was suspended because of escalating violence.

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