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Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad meets students in Damascus.

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Syria's first lady Asma al-Assad recently hosted an event for students who had received high marks in their matriculation exams, Syrian television reported on Thursday. As Syria struggles with a civil war and foreign powers push for a change in leadership, the London-born first lady took time to meet students at a location in Damascus last week, the state broadcaster reported. Students were said to have traveled from Deraa, Damascus and its suburbs, Homs and other cities. The group could be seen seated together holding discussions said to be about the difficulties their families faces in conflict hotspots. A British-educated former investment banker, Asma cultivated the image of a glamorous yet serious-minded woman with strong Western-inspired values who was meant to humanize the increasingly secretive and isolated Assad family. That image crumbled when her husband responded to an anti-government rebellion with extreme violence a year ago. Asma's ancestral home is the city of Homs, now a symbol of the revolt which has been subjected to particularly fierce attack by her husband's tanks to become ground zero in the year-long conflict.

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