After six days of heavy fighting in Damascus, government forces announced that they re-gained control of a neighborhood won by rebels earlier in the week . . . President Assad also appeared on television yesterday for the first time since a rebel bombing attack killed several high-ranking government officials . . . the government televised Assad swearing in a new defense minister . . . Syrian state television reported that Hisham Ikhtiar, the head of general security and member of Assad’s inner circle, died on Thursday from sounds sustained in the bombings . . . on Friday, the UN Security Council unanimously endorsed a resolution that will extend the observer mission in Syria for a final 30 days
. . . there is no indication that the violence is lessening or that either side is prepared to negotiate . . . the rebel successes early in the week appear to be waning in the face of heavy retaliation by government forces . . . Assad likely will ratchet up attacks on rebel strongholds in an effort to counter rebel momentum.