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In a statement posted on Twitter, the Syrian Presidency said: “Mrs Asma al-Assad begins the first stage of treatment for a malignant breast tumour that was discovered early.

“The President and his team wish Mrs Asma a speedy recovery.”

The statement concludes that the President has “strength, confidence and faith” as the treatment begins.

Mrs al-Assad has been a controversial figure since Syria descended into civil war in 2011.

She was born in London in 1975, the daughter of Syrian parents, and holds both British and Syrian citizenship.

After growing up in Acton she studied computing science at King’s College London, graduating with a first class degree.

Mrs al-Assad worked for a period of time for the banking firms Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan.

She was due to start studying for a Masters degree in business administration at Harvard, but her plans changed after meeting Bashar al-Assad on holiday in Syria in 2000.

In 2011, Mrs al-Assad was controversially described as a “rose in the desert” in a profile by Vogue magazine.

The piece was later pulled from the magazine’s website.

Mrs al-Assad has an official Instagram page with 266,000 followers, on which she posts photos of herself with her husband and Syrian government troops.

Bashar as-Assad also has strong connections to the UK, after working in London as a doctor, specialising in treating eye conditions.

In 2000, Assad replaced his father Hafez al-Assad as Syrian President, a position he had held for 29 years.

The Middle Eastern nation descended into chaos in 2011 when an armed uprising began after Syrian security forces shot and arrested Syrians taking part in peaceful protests as part of the Arab Spring.

Both the Syrian regime and opposition groups have been accused of carrying out numerous war crimes, with the former being blamed for a series of brutal chemical weapons attacks.

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