Asma Al Assad, the wife of Syria's embattled president, is said to be pregnant, according to reports in a Lebanese newspaper.
The Beirut-based Al Akhbar newspaper published a story on Monday, reporting that president Bashar Al Assad had told a group of unidentified "Arab visitors" to Damascus of the Syrian first lady's pregnancy.
Rumours have been circulating for several months that Mrs Al Assad, 37, was pregnant. There was no way to verify the reports, but if confirmed, the child would be the couple's fourth.
"On the personal level, the man seems calm and in control. His confidence level stands out," read the story on the English-language website of the newspaper, which is regarded as somewhat sympathetic to the Al Assad regime. "Also, there's the news of the pregnancy of his wife Asma."
Since the outbreak of the uprising against the Syrian regime in 2011, there has been growing criticism of Mrs Al Assad, a British-born former investment banker, for her seemingly steadfast support for her husband. Leaked emails believed to be from the accounts of the Syrian first lady revealed she continued to indulge in her taste for high fashion and expensive furniture as the country descended into civil war. Last year, the European Union imposed sanctions on members of the Al Assad regime, including the president's wife.
The Al Akhbar article also describes Mr Al Assad as being deeply involved in the Syrian crisis and that he maintains government forces have the upper hand in the civil war.