NEWS
19/03/2012 07:06 GMT

Syria: Asma Al-Assad Joked 'I Am The Real Dictator,' According To Leaked Emails

Asma al-Assad, the British-born wife of the Syrian president, claimed to be "the real dictator" in the family, according to leaked emails.

More than 3,000 private messages, released by activists and the Guardian newspaper last week, have shown an astonishing disconnect between the ruling family and the violence taking place on Syrian streets.

In the latest emails to be uncovered, Asma al-Assad offers no sympathy for the 8,000 civilians who have died after bloody 12-month crackdown on anti-government protesters.

"As for listening – I am the REAL dictator, he has no choice," she wrote to a friend on 14 December, referring to perceptions of her husband, Bashar al-Assad.

In an email sent on 10 January she welcomed a speech by the president for its "no more messing around" attitude.

She also forwarded a joke email making fun of people from Homs, just before the government launched a four-week mortar assault on the city which left hundreds dead.

The email, titled 'Student who obtained 0% on an exam' was originally sent to her by her husband. The next day she forwarded it to her father, a London-based doctor, with the subject line 'A really bright Homsi student!'.

In return her father offered Assad and his wife advice on how to deal with the crackdown, and gave tips on how to suppress YouTube footage showing evidence of torture committed against children by the security forces.

In another message to her husband Asma al-Assad said: "So cute, I miss youuuuuuu" and attached a photo of him forwarded by one of his aides.

The Guardian also revealed messages in which she discussed purchasing shoes worth several thousand pounds with friends.

In another more sinister email sent from an iPad Asma forwarded her husband a link to a report on the violence in Homs by BBC reporter Paul Wood, exclaiming that he had been "smuggled" into the city.

Asma al-Assad is a former investment banker, who was born in London to Syrian parents and worked at Deutsche Bank before marrying her husband in 2000.

Although maintaining that the emails are a hoax, President Assad has been criticised in parts of the Arab world for the contents of some of the emails.

New damaging claims were made in the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail over the weekend, after it was reported that three young women were in 'affectionate' contact with the president.

The emails were sent by two of Bashar al-Assad's public relations aides as well as a designer, the Daily Mail said.

In one message Sheherazad Jaafari, who is a PR adviser in her early 20s, allegedly asked a security adviser to tell the president: "I love him so so so much and that I miss him".

Yet another email revealed on Sunday featured a photo of a woman in her underwear pressed up against a wall.

Others, widely publicised last week, revealed an exchange between the president and an unknown woman in which a discussion of political matters descend into an exchange of love songs and flirty messages.

Meanwhile there were reports of large-scale battles between government forces and opposition fighters across Syria on Monday.

The BBC said that machine guns and rocket attacks were heard in a district of Damascus where security buildings are based.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the fighting was among "the most violent of its kind and closest to security centres in Damascus since the revolution began".

Syrian state media blamed the attacks on "terrorists", and said several army "martyrs" had been killed, echoing the language of the opposition.