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Syria Live Blog

Syria - Apr 18, 2012 - 17:15

Last modified: 18 Apr 2012 14:15

President Assad and his wife Asma were shown on Syrian state TV on Wednesday packing food aid, an apparent effort to burnish the image of a first couple derided for ordering luxury goods on the internet while their country burns.

In the footage, the Assads received a rapturous welcome at al-Fahya stadium in Damascus.

They joined hundreds of volunteers boxing cartons full of flour, sugar, cooking oil and pasta for victims of fighting in Homs.

The Assads have long worked to manage their image, but it backfired a year ago when a glamorous photo shoot and gushing profile of Asma, 36, appeared in Vogue magazine just as her husband launched a violent crackdown on protests.

Those images are now part of a YouTube campaign led by the wives of UN ambassadors from Britain and Germany, which alternates stylish shots of Asma with gruesome pictures of dead and injured Syrian children.

For Wednesday's appearance Asma avoided any hint of glamour, dressing down in a sheer pink sweater over a simple dress with her dark blonde hair soberly braided and pinned up.

Her husband looked relaxed, in a polo shirt with an identity pass on a ribbon around his neck like other volunteers. The two packed boxes, sealed them with Scotch tape and carried them over to stacks of aid awaiting distribution. [Reuters]