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As Fighting Rages In Damascus, Survival Of Assad's Regime Is In Doubt

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One day after three members of his inner circle were killed in an explosion, opposition fighters in Syria are continuing to put pressure on the regime of President Bashar Assad as clashes with government forces draw near to the his palace in Damascus, residents tell Reuters.

Just where Assad is now isn't clear. The BBC says "he has not made any public appearances since the attack."

According to Reuters, "an official source said the president ... was still commanding operations from his Damascus office. But opposition sources and a Western diplomat said the embattled leader was now in the coastal city of Latakia."

Al-Jazeera is reporting that "intense fighting between the opposition and government forces is raging in a half-dozen areas of the Syrian capital. ... Columns of black smoke rose over Damascus on Thursday as troops shelled Qaboon and Barzeh, while fighting raged in al-Midan and Zahira and loud explosions were heard in Mashrou-Dumar, said the Syrian Local Coordination Committees."

There have now been clashes in Damascus for five straight days.

On Morning Edition, Washington Post correspondent Liz Sly told host Renee Montagne that with the killings of some Assad insiders, "it is in question now whether the regime can survive. ... It does seem to me that there is a crisis in the heart of the regime."

But even those who have been protesting against the regime since March 2011 aren't sure just who is responsible for the attack that killed Syria's defense minister, a brother-in-law of Assad and a former defense minister. "The opposition is delighted" but also "a little bit taken aback," Sly said. No one thought the armed wing of the opposition "were that good," she added.

Meanwhile, there are reports from opposition leaders that as many as 200 people were killed around the county on Wednesday. And in New York today, the U.N. Security Council is to meet to consider a proposed resolution that threatens sanctions if the Assad regime does not stop its attacks on Syrian citizens.

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