(dailymail) report Syria has refuted claims that President Bashar al-Assad has had a stroke and insists he is in ‘excellent health’.
The Lebanese newspaper, al-Mustaqbal, said ‘reliable sources’ had told them Assad, 51, had suffered a cerebral infarction and was being treated in a hospital in Damascus amid high security.
But Syria’s state news agency SANA quoted the president’s office in Damascus as saying rumours about his health were ‘absolutely incorrect’ and he was working as normal.
Assad’s office said the Syrian people had become ‘immune against such lies’ and made dark insinuations about who was behind the claims.
Russian blogger Navsteva added: ‘Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya spreading rumours Assad suffered a stroke, was shot by his Iranian bodyguard, and is dead.’
Saudi Arabia supported Sunni Muslim rebels when they first rose up in 2011 against Assad, who is from the Alawite minority and has close links with Shia Iran and Lebanese-based Hezbollah.
Earlier in the month the Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat, based in London, claimed the Syrian leader’s mental health was deteriorating because of the ‘psychological pressures’ of Syria’s civil war.
But SANA said the spreading of ‘unfounded claims’ coincided with a change in the balance of power in Syria, after the Assad regime recaptured Aleppo in November, and said the health rumours were ‘hopes in the imagination of those who made them up’.