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The emails show the couple trying to carry on their extravagant lifestyle while the country slipped into chaos, with Mrs. Assad routinely browsing the Internet for clothes and fine jewelry.

Mr. Assad used a different name and a New York address - presumably to sidestep U.S. sanctions - on iTunes. His purchases reveal a taste for American music, including songs by electro-pop performers LMFAO, R&B singer Chris Brown and country star Blake Shelton.

Mr. Assad also ordered a “Harry Potter” film and a biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs.