Sources: Assad staying out of Damascus
While fighting continues in Damascus, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is in the city of Latakia, located along the Mediterranean Sea, from where he coordinates the response to yesterday's bombing, according to sources close to the Syrian opposition and a Western diplomat.
The Syrian president has not been seen in public since the attack that caused the death of three senior security officials Wednesday morning. These included his brother in law Assef Shawkat and the defense minister, Daoud Radjha.
It is not clear if he had gone to Latakia before or after the attack that was perpetrated in the heart of the security apparatus. "According to our information, he is in his palace in Latakia and might be there for several days," said a senior opposition leader who requested anonymity. The palace in Latakia is located in the hills overlooking the city port.
Meanwhile, fighting continued for a fifth straight day between government forces and rebels in Damascus. While the number of military armored vehicles rose Thursday in the capital, hundreds of residents were fleeing the bombings in various neighborhoods.
Clashes broke out again near the headquarters of the Syrian government in the morning, said insurgents and residents. At least one death is reported in the district of Ikhlas.
On Wednesday, at least 214 people including 124 civilians, 62 soldiers and 28 rebels were killed in violence across the country, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) organization.