The wife of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad may have fled to Britain with the couple's three young children, a media report has said.
British-born Asma Assad, considered to be one of the most glamorous first ladies in the world, may be living in a safe house in or near London, a high-ranking Arab diplomatic source was quoted by The Daily Telegraph as saying.
She has not been seen in public since the start of the Arab Spring. And, as the violence in Syria has been increasing, Asma is said to have been warned "to get out as soon as you can," the report said.
"Her first reaction was clearly to get to London because of her family there. Her evacuation was carried out under conditions of immense secrecy but she's now safely there with her three children and surrounded by security guards.
"Clearly her presence could cause huge embarrassment to the British, so none of this has been made public," the unnamed source was quoted as saying.
Arab news organisations have even reported that Asma has been in London for up to three weeks, with very few people knowing about it, the newspaper said, adding that her father, consultant cardiologist Fawaz Akhras and her retired diplomat mother live in a large-terraced house in west London.
Asma, who was brought up in London, has been recently described by American Vogue magazine as "a rose in the desert". She holds dual British and Syrian citizenship.
According to Human Rights International, there have so far been up to 800 civilians, including women and children, murdered since the start of the Arab Spring.