BEIRUT - Syrian forces struck back against rebels Thursday with attack helicopters and shelling in Damascus, one day after an audacious rebel attack in the capital killed three leaders of the regime and left President Bashar Assad's hold on power increasingly tenuous.
The whereabouts of President Bashar Assad, his wife and their three young children were not known. Although Assad does not appear in public frequently, his absence was notable following such a serious blow his inner circle.
Thousands of Syrians streamed across the Syrian border into Lebanon, fleeing as fighting in the capital entered its fifth straight day, witnesses said. Residents near the Masnaa crossing point - about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Damascus - said hundreds of private cars as well as taxis and buses were ferrying people across.
- Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations and director of the Middle East Center, London School of Economics
This segment aired on July 19, 2012.