Calls to remove UK citizenship of Syrian President Assad's wife

Bashar al Assad's UK-born wife should lose her British citizenship if she continues to publicly back his "barbarous" regime, the Liberal Democrats say.

Asma Assad has defended the Syrian President despite his forces being blamed for fatally gassing more than 80 of its own civilians, including children, the party claims.

It says the Government could tell the 41-year-old first lady, who is a dual Syrian-UK citizen, to "stop using your position to defend barbaric acts, or be stripped of your citizenship".

Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman Tom Brake claimed Mrs Assad's vocal support for the man who Britain has branded an "arch-terrorist" cannot be ignored.

Social media accounts in Mrs Assad's name have some 500,000 followers and are used as pro-regime tools.

Mr Brake, who is writing to Home Secretary Amber Rudd to set out his concerns, said: "The first lady of Syria has acted, not as a private citizen, but as a spokesperson for the Syrian presidency.

"This is a barbarous regime, yet Asma Assad has continued to use her international profile to defend it, even after the chemical weapons atrocity."

He added: "The Government is entitled to deprive someone of their citizenship if it is conducive to the public good because that person has prejudiced the interests of the UK.

"As the Assad regime has presided over a sickening civil war that has brought instability to the region and enabled terrorism to flourish, the justification seems clear.

"She enjoys dual nationality so would still remain a citizen of the country, and the regime, to which she is so publicly committed."

Speaking last October, Mrs Assad said she refused to leave Syria because she did not want people to lose confidence in her husband who is fighting a six-year civil war against rebels.

She told the Russia-24 news channel: "I never thought of being anywhere else at all... Yes, I was offered the opportunity to leave Syria, or rather to run from Syria.

"These offers included guarantees of safety and protection for my children, and even financial security.

"It doesn't take a genius to know what these people were really after. It was never about my wellbeing or my children - it was a deliberate attempt to shatter people's confidence in their president."

She was born to Syrian parents in Acton, west London, and worked as an investment banker before she married her husband in 2000.

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