As the civil war in Syria drags on, President Bashar al-Assad is fearful of being assassinated and has almost completely disappeared from public view, according to a report published on Sunday.
According to the report published in the Washington Post, Assad does not go outside during the day—afraid of being shot by a sniper—is fearful of being poisoned via his food, and sleeps in a different bedroom every night.
However, Assad, who has repeatedly said that he will “live and die” inside Syria, remains determined not to step down from power.
According to the Washington Post article, which is based on information given by American and Middle Eastern officials, Assad is mainly focused on keeping himself and his family safe rather than directing the Syrian military to fight against the increasing tide of rebel fighters.
Assad, who the newspaper describes as “isolated and fearful,” has cut off contact with everyone except for “a small circle of family members and trusted advisers.” He has not made any public speeches or appearances in weeks.
“His movements suggest a constant state of fear,” a Middle Eastern official told the paper.
Recently, more and more officials in the Syrian regime have defected, including the general who was in charge of the army’s military police division. This, along with rebel advances in Damascus and other cities, are having a psychological impact on Assad. His forces in recent months have also been beaten back by rebel forces and appear to be unable to mount a sustained offensive.
This summer, a bomb attack carried out by rebels killed three of his senior advisers, including his brother-in-law.
On an international level, Russian officials recently made statements that suggest Moscow is looking to withdraw its support of the regime. President Vladimir Putin said last week that Russia is “not concerned with the fate of Assad’s regime.”
“With the Russians pulling back, there’s increasingly a feeling that the ship is sinking,” a Middle Eastern intelligence official told the Washington Post.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who met with Assad recently, said Sunday that the 47-year-old leader has no intention of stepping down.
Lavrov told The Associated Press that Assad “has repeatedly said publicly and privately, including in his meeting with [Arab League-United Nations envoy] Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus not long ago, that he does not intend to leave for anywhere, that he will stay to the end in his post, that he will, as he expressed it, defend the Syrian people, Syrian sovereignty and so forth.”
“There is no possibility to change this position,” he said.
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