Tue, 18 Oct 2016 20:39 UTC
The wife of President Bashar Assad gave an exclusive interview, her first in seven 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.
Comment: Does anyone else think 'Lady Diana' when they hear this woman speak?
Does she sound like someone married to a 'brutal dictator'?
It's a pity she doesn't speak up more, but then, her hands are full with helping to heal all those wounded and traumatized by the West's war on her country.
A Rose in the Desert: Asma Al-Assad, Lady Diana of the Middle East
Update: Russia 24 spent a week with Asma al-Assad prior to the interview above, accompanying her during visits from Syrian families who lost sons and fathers in the war, and her visits to the families and the hospitals where they are being treated. What can we say except to simply watch it and see how lucky Syria is to have a woman like her, intelligent, compassionate, strong-willed, fearless, and perhaps most importantly, loved and respected by the people whom she serves.