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On Instagram, business as usual for Syrian first lady

@syrianpresidency via Instagram

Left: Congratulations to Mohamad Ghamaa from Damascus for scoring the highest mark in the Scientific National Baccalaureate 2013.
Right: Congratulations to Walaa Azi from Hassakeh for scoring the highest mark in the Business National Baccalaureate 2013.

London-born Asma al-Assad lives a lavish lifestyle within a country that is crumbling around her. TODAY's Erica Hill reports.

By Robert Hood, Photo Editor, NBC News

Even as U.S. lawmakers debate the potential use of force against her country's military,  Asma al-Assad continues her ceremonial duties as Syria’s first lady. On Wednesday, the @syrianpresidency Instagram feed resumed posts of her for the first time since the apparent chemical attacks of Aug. 21.

NBC News first reported on Assad’s Instagram activities back in July. The U.S. State Department characterized the feed as “nothing more than a despicable PR stunt.” That appears to have fallen on deaf ears. The Syrian government continues to utilize the visual social networking site to show the lighter side of the regime’s activities.

Editor's note: Captions written as they appeared on Instagram.

@syrianpresidency via Instagram

Left:Congratulations to Sara Maurad from Hassakeh for scoring the highest mark in Literature National Baccalaureate 2013.
Right: Congratulations to Alaa Abdul Wahed from Hassakeh for scoring the highest mark in the Arts National Baccalaureate 2013.

syrianpresidency via Instagram

First Lady sits down for an intimate discussion with Syria's top high school students in the National Baccalaureate. This year four of the six highest scores across the country came from Hassakeh governorate – Congratulations Syria, Congratulations Hassakeh, Congratulations to our top students!

Alice Martins / AFP - Getty Images

A look back at the conflict that has overtaken the country.

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