Syria's Stylish First Lady's Shopping Sprees Now Hit By Sanctions

Syrian First Lady Target of New Sanctions

The e-mails do not reveal her true feelings about the violence in any depth, the worst of which has been in her family's ancestral city of Homs. In a January e-mail to a friend following a speech by the president, she writes, "very strong, no more messing around," according to The Telegraph.

She also makes a personal appeal for a 60 year-old communist with medical conditions who she feels was wrongfully arrested. "Kindly transfer him to court, particularly as his hands are not tainted with blood," she writes.

It's not the general light-heartedness or confidence of the e-mails that has infuriated Syrians in the opposition, but rather the gall of the lavish spending sprees.

"She is one of the robbers. The price of her shoes is enough to feed three families in Syria for one year," activist Omar al-Muqdad, now in Turkey, told ABC News. "She is an important part of our pain."

Asma al-Assad was born to a Syrian cardiologist in London. After high school she studied computer science at King's College London before going into investment banking. She met the future president while on holiday in Syria and started dating him while he was studying in London to be an opthamologist in London, before his brother died and he had been named heir. They married in 2000 after once became president and have had three children together.

The first lady with the perfect English who did charity work instantly put a warmer face on the closed and despotic Assad regime that has ruled Syria since 1970. In a now infamous glowing profile in Vogue magazine published last year as the uprising started, she was described as a "a rose in the desert."

"I found her intelligent and warm," says ABC's Barbara Walters who has met Asma al-Assad on three occasions, most recently in December, adding they did not discuss politics.

Now in its second year, analysts say the uprising has no end in sight. The armed opposition is growing, but their numbers and weapons pale in comparison to the Assad forces and they are routinely routed. The regime has held together as the death toll climbs and international sanctions make life and trade increasingly difficult.

One of the e-mails The Guardian published reveals that at the end of January, the daughter of the emir of Qatar, a strong supporter of the Syrian uprising, wrote to Syria' first lady to say that, "i only pray that you will convince the president to take this as an opportunity to exit without having to face charges?i am sure you have many places to turn to, including doha."

Regardless of how long the conflict drags on and how it ends, Asma al-Assad's silent support of her husband has ensured that the bloom is undoubtedly off the "desert rose."

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