A rare interview with Asma al-Assad, wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, aired Tuesday on Syrian state TV, showing her as she visited the Daughters of Martyrs' school in Damascus.
The first lady, wearing a gray sweater with the Syrian flag in the center, is shown being greeted with applause from dozens of Syrian girls and planting olive trees with them.
The olive tree is a symbol of giving and peace, she says, as well as "a symbol of life and endurance, those who sacrificed and are sacrificing for this homeland are doing that for us so we can live and prosper in this land."
The interviewer asks Asma al-Assad, who lived in Britain before her marriage to Syria's president, about past rumors that she had left the war-torn country for Russia, Lebanon or Britain.
Smiling, she replies, "I am here, I exist here. My husband and my children are present here in Syria. It is quite rational for me to be here with them. And just like the majority of the Syrians, I was raised to love the homeland and I grew up with that notion that wherever I'd travel or lived before, and no matter how long people stay away, there is nothing more precious than the homeland."
The first lady has also been a star of the recently established Instagram account of the Syrian presidency, where she is seen smiling, showing off her volunteer work and attending social events with her husband.
Activists: Truck carrying civilians hit
Syria's descent into civil war began in March 2011, when Bashar al-Assad's regime cracked down on peaceful anti-government protesters.
That conflict spiraled into an armed uprising and a crisis that the United Nations says has claimed more than 100,000 lives.
On Wednesday, at least 53 people -- including 13 children and four women -- were killed nationwide, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria reported.
Four children and six women were among the fatalities in a blast in Daraa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
At least 21 people died when their truck was hit by an explosive device in southern Syria, opposition activists said.
The truck carrying civilians was hit as it passed through an area controlled by troops loyal to the Syrian government, the group said. Government officials did not immediately respond to the allegation.
Two suicide bombers from the al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra rebel group detonated themselves Wednesday afternoon inside the gates of Aleppo Central Prison, killing seven regime forces, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Meanwhile, the Turkish army has reinforced its positions near a strategic border gate between Turkey and opposition-controlled northern Syria, where ISIS fighters have been active. Last month, ISIS fighters pushed more moderate Syrian rebels out of the nearby Syrian town of Azaz.
As the war rages, international inspectors continue their mission to inventory and eliminate Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
Experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, supported by the United Nations, have conducted verification activities at 11 sites identified by Syrian authorities, the OPCW said Wednesday.
They have overseen the destruction of "critical equipment" at six sites, as well as the destruction of some unloaded chemical weapons munitions, it said.
On Monday, Syria became bound by the international treaty banning chemical arms, the Chemical Weapons Convention, which is implemented by the OPCW.