Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told “unnamed” visitors that his wife is pregnant with their fourth child, the pro-regime Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported.
Meanwhile, his country's uprising that started in March 2011 has in 22 months deteriorated into a brutal civil war in which more than 60 000 people have died, with more than 600 000 refugees and millions internally displaced.
Al-Akhbar reported that al-Assad shared the news with “Arab visitors,” who relayed his comments to the newspaper. It did not specify who the “visitors” were, but said they “were interested in seeing the inner workings of Syrian decision-making first hand.”
Asma al-Assad, the 37-year-old British-born mother of three, married Bashar in 2000, a few months after he assumed power.
Earlier rumours suggested that she became pregnant in June; some said she had fled Syria. She hasn't been seen in public for months.
The newspaper said that the “visitors” described al-Assad as being very comfortable while carrying out his daily activities in Rawda castle, in the capital Damascus.
It said al-Assad told the “visitors” his army was achieving “important results” in fighting insurgents across Syria.
Emails leaked in March revealed that the glamourous Syrian first lady spent thousands of dollars on designer goods while her husband spent time downloading music on his iPad - while the country descended into chaos.
Purchases attributed to Asma included a new chocolate fondue set, Christian Louboutin stilettos, chandeliers and a DVD copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. - Sapa-dpa