Who would have guessed that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad spends his days shopping for music and video games on iTunes? The Guardian has exclusively obtained 3,000 email exchanges between the Syrian leader and his wife, revealing surprising facts about the brutal dictator's private life. The messages, which were allegedly leaked to an opposition group by someone in the president's inner circle between last June and early February, paint a portrait not of a villain whose regime has seen more than 8,000 Syrians killed but of a rich leader who was more consumed by his lavish lifestyle than the protests and bloody crackdown going on around him. The emails reveal Assad's wife spent upwards of $10,000 on the Internet, while the president himself bought Chris Brown songs and games for his iPad on iTunes. They also indicate that Iran may have been involved in helping Assad suppress political uprising. One message sent from a media adviser to Assad was based on consultations with "the media and political adviser for the Iranian ambassador" and urged the president to use "powerful and violent" language in a December speech.