Assad’s whereabouts remain a mystery (WORLD TRIBUNE) WASHINGTON 07/20/12)
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WASHINGTON — Nearly two days after a bomb killed his top aides,
Syrian President Bashar Assad has failed to emerge.
Assad has not been seen in public or addressed his country since at
least three of his top aides were killed in a bombing on July 18.
younger brother, Maher, regarded as the architect of the war on Sunni
rebels, has also not been seen.
“We’re not 100 percent sure where he is,” U.S. State Department
spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
On July 19, Syrian state television showed images of what it said was
Assad speaking to his new defense minister, Gen. Fahd Jassam Al
Freij, the outgoing military chief. But in an unusual omission, the
television did not show the swearing-in ceremony for Al Freij, who
succeeded Daoud Rajiha. Rajiha was killed in the bombing in the
National Security Agency in Damascus.
“The footage released was not that of Assad’s office in Damascus,” a
Western analyst who monitors Syria said.
Earlier, Western intelligence sources said Assad left for Latakia
the bombing. They said Assad as well as Maher were believed to have
been injured in the attack.
Maher, commander of the Syrian Army’s 4th Division, has also not been
heard from since the explosion. Maher, regarded as the No. 2 member
regime, was responsible for the war against Sunni rebels.
“We’ve been saying consistently for some time now that the Assad
is not going to survive this,” Ventrell said during a July 19
so we’re planning on that political transition.”
Opposition sources have asserted major gains in the rebel war against
Assad. On July 19, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebel
seized control of much of the Damascus neighborhood of Mezzeh as well
parts of the Syrian border with Iraq and Turkey.
“Rebel forces are now in full control of the Basateen Al Mezzeh area
after regime troops retreated,” the London-based
opposition group said. “Clouds of black smoke were seen rising from
Qasyoun, which overlooks Damascus.”
The Assad regime has asserted that rebels were attacking government
targets in Damascus dressed in the uniform of the Republican Guard.
guard has been responsible for regime security, and at least one
decimated by massive defections.
“Gunmen are wearing Republican Guard uniforms in the neighborhoods of
Tadamon, Midan, Qaa and Nahr Aisha, proving that they are planning
and crimes,” the official Syrian news agency, Sana, said.
The United States has been urged to intensify military support for the
rebels, particularly the Free Syrian Army. A leading American analyst
the death of Assad’s brother-in-law, Assaf Chawkat, deputy defense
regime members would force Assad to reorganize his command.
“Washington should build on the Damascus attack to hasten the regime’s
collapse, focusing on the dangerous period marked by Assad’s last
the emergence of whatever comes next,” Robert Satloff, executive
the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said. (Copyright ©
2012 East West Services, Inc. 07/20/12)
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