An image grab taken from Syrian TV shows Syrian security forces taking position during armed clashes with gunmen who the TV called "terrorists" (unseen) in the Al-Midan district of Damascus on July 18, 2012. Rebel forces said the battle to "liberate" Damascus had begun, as heavy fighting raged with the regime using helicopter gunships in the capital for the first time.

An End to Assad?


As fighting between regime forces and rebel fighters intensified in the capital, Damascus, bomb blasts in the heart of the city killed Defense Minister Daoud Rajiha; his deputy, Assef Shawkat, who is also the brother-in-law of embattled President Bashar Assad; and the Interior Minister, Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar. Syrian authorities declared the strike a suicide attack; other reports suggested it was carried out by a remote-controlled bomb placed in a water cooler. In either event, the fact that the rebellion could target such prominent figures in Assad's Cabinet could signal the unraveling of his rule....

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