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President Bashar al-Assad has not made a public appearance since the July 18 bombing which killed four of his most important security officials- including Assef Shawka, his brother-in-law. The bombing took place during an attack through rebel forces in the country’s capital city of Damascus.
A few days ago President Assad urged his army to increase fighting against rebel forces. The United States has condemned his recent declarations, and has called him a coward. U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said, “We think it’s cowardly, quite frankly, to have a man hiding out of sight, exhorting his armed forces to continue to slaughter the civilians of his own country.”
Some reports said that President Assad has fled Damascus to a safe locations like Latakia or Tartous, which are areas in which the Alawite sect, Assad’s family sect, is predominant. Other reports say he is still in Damascus. His actual whereabouts are a mystery.
Fighting in Damascus has increased in recent days, so many Syrians have decided to evacuate the capital and many of them have headed towards neighboring country Lebanon.
A Syrian opposition activist, whom alleged receiving information from a senior Syrian army officer, said that after the deadly bombing President Assad, accompanied by his wife and three children, decided to escape to Tartous, which is a port city on the Mediterranean coast and a place where Russia has a naval base. Russia has in past months supported Assad’s regime and even vetoed, along with China, the UN intervention in Syria.
The Syrian state media, on the other hand, is alleging that Assad is still in Damascus, and showed broadcast footage of the president swearing in the new defense minister, who will replace Daoud Rajha killed in the July 18 bombing.
Another report, published by Reuters, quotes opposition forces and a Western diplomat who assure that President Assad escaped to Latakia, which is another coastal city very close to Tartous. In this city President Assad has a summer palace that is heavily guarded.
These are just the main possibilities of President Assad’s location. His location is uncertain and the situation is getting worse every day. A diplomatic solution does not seem possible, as the Arab League and the UN have tried to force President Assad to resign, to no avail. The Syrian rebels’ methods are getting more and more brutal every day; some recent videos showed atrocities committed against Assad’s regime supporters. The situation is chaotic and has already taken thousands of human lives.
Image Courtesy of FreedomHouse2