An email sent from the wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in which she has offered full support to her husband, has reportedly sparked outrage from the country's opposition activists and experts.
Asma Assad, 36, is believed to have said in a letter to The Times of London, that she was encouraging dialogue over the crisis gripping Syria, and that she was comforting the bereaved.
"The First Lady's very busy agenda is still focused on supporting the various charities she has long been involved with and rural development as well as supporting the President as needed," the email sent to the paper said.
According to Fox News, opposition activists decried her first message to international media in 11 months since the uprising began.
"Asma cannot continue her charitable work as before and all the evidence shows that she is not. ... It would be interesting to know if she has ever been able to comfort those who have lost love ones to her husband's security forces," Chris Doyle, the director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding said.
"Can you picture her comforting a widow whose husband has been shot or beaten to death by Bashar's thugs?" he added.
The Times said Asma sent the email after it had asked for her thoughts on the violence carried out by Assad's forces.
She reportedly said in the email that her husband "is the President of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the First Lady supports him in that role."
According to the paper, a group of Syria experts suspects Asma is privately appalled by the carnage, but compelled to remain silent.