Syrian president’s mother dies aged 86

Anisa, the former first lady and widow of ex-president Hafez al-AssadImage copyright

Image caption

Anisa Assad is survived by three of her five children

The mother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Anisa, has died at the age of 86 in the capital Damascus, his office announced.

The former first lady and widow of former President Hafez al-Assad died in hospital, the presidency tweeted.

Reports say she was ill for many years and travelled frequently to Germany for treatment before 2012, when she was blacklisted by the EU.

Marrying Hafez in 1957, she had five children, three of them still alive.

The rise of the Assads

She was born into a wealthy family from Syria’s Alawite minority from Latakia and rarely appeared in public after her marriage.

However, she is believed to have stayed close to Bashar and the other children.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

In this picture, taken around 1990, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and his wife Anisa pose with their children (L-R) Maher, Bashar, Bassel, who died in a car accident in 1994, Majd and Bushra

She was later reported to have left Syria to join her daughter Bushra in the United Arab Emirates.

Bushra moved there after a bomb killed her husband, Deputy Defence Minister Assef Shawkat, in 2012.

Mrs Assad is survived by Bashar, Bushra and Bashar’s younger brother Maher, a general in the Syrian army.

Bashar’s older brother Bassel, who had been groomed to take over the presidency, died in a car accident in 1994. The other brother, Majd, died of an unspecified illness in 2009, according to state media.

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