Al-Assad's wife, children make rare Damascus appearance

Al-Assad's wife, children make rare Damascus appearance

DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
Al-Assads wife, children make rare Damascus appearance

This image made available by the Syrian presidency media office on March 17, 2013, shows Asma al-Assad, the wife of the president of Syria, being greeted by young people during an event to remember the 'Mother of Martyrs' at the Opera House in Damascus. AFP PHOTO/HO/SYRIAN PRESIDENCY MEDIA OFFICE

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's wife and his children have made a rare public appearance at a charity fund-raiser in Damascus for mothers of soldiers killed in the two-year conflict, his office said on Facebook March 17.

The office said that Asma al-Assad, her three children as well as their cousins "took part Saturday in a charity event called... at the Damascus Opera House on the occasion of Mother's Day." The event, dubbed "Mothers Rally," was aimed at raising funds for the mothers of Syrian soldiers killed in fighting with rebels through the sale of crafts, the office said in a statement.

Al-Assad's stylish British-born and British-educated wife is rarely seen in public, let alone with her three children -- two sons and a daughter.

In June last year Russia dismissed as "rumors" speculation on the Internet she had taken refuge in the country amid the escalating violence in Syria.

In January al-Assad's mother, Anisa Makhluf, reportedly left the war-torn country for Dubai to join her daughter Bushra, according to Syrian expatriates and an activist in the United Arab Emirates.

Bushra's husband, Gen. Assef Shawkat, an army deputy chief of staff, was killed along with three other high-ranking Syrian officials in a July 18, 2012 bombing at the National Security headquarters in Damascus.

The following September, Syrian residents in the Gulf emirate said Bushra had enrolled her five children at a private school in Dubai where she had moved.