Update Brig. Gen. Issa al-Kholi who headed a military hospital, was assassinated Saturday outside his Damascus home. He is the first high-ranking officer to be killed. Because he was a physician rather than a staff or field officer, he probably lacked good security and so was a soft target. Hitting physicians and nurses is a hallmark of the Iraqi Sunni insurgency.
A deadly car bomb killed at least 28 and wounded more than 200 in Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city on Friday. The regime blamed “terrorists” for the blast, and the US fingered “al-Qaeda” (presumably the Iraqi ‘al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia). Syrian oppositionists entertained dark suspicions that the regime bombed itself in Aleppo. As the second largest city, it has a significant Christian population. The opposition gains nothing from this bombing, and, indeed, suffers. Christians and others in the city were already afraid that the uprising could lead to Iraq-style violence, so here was their proof.
Elsewhere, regime security forces killed some 27 civilians as they came out of mosques after Friday prayers or tried to join protests. A handful of Syrian troops was also killed by military defectors.
Sources in Washington DC maintained that they had sources that informed them that members of the Syrian elite were making plans to flee.
This latter item seems to me likely an element of psychological warfare. There was all that talk about the Saddam family surrendering in Iraq before the Bush invasion. Regime decapitation or collapse at the top is a fantasy in Washington, but it seldom works in real life.