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DAMASCUS - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rebuilt the pillars of his administration on Tuesday by appointing five security officials to sensitive positions in a bid to control the months-long crisis a week after a bomb rocked a high-profile meeting attended by his inner circle.
A source told Xinhua Tuesday that Maj-Gen Mohammad Deib Zaitoon has been appointed as the chief of the Syrian Intelligence, while Maj-Gen Ali Yunus is appointed as the chief of the military intelligence.
Maj-Gen Ali Mamlouk is appointed as the head of the National Security, replacing Hisham Ikhtiar, who was killed in last week's bombing.
Maj-Gen Abdulfattah Qudsieh is appointed as deputy National Security chief.
Meanwhile, Rustom Ghazaleh, former head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, is appointed as the head of the Syrian Political Security.
The appointment came after last Wednesday's bombing that ripped through a high-level meeting and killed four security officials from the inner circle of President Assad. The bombing hit the Syrian administration to the core.
Syrian Defense Minister Dawood Rajha, his Deputy Assef Shawkat, National Security chief Hisham Ikhtiar and crisis management head Hassan Turkmani were killed by the explosion, and Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Sha'ar was injured in the blast. Shawkat was also the president's brother-in-law.
Shortly after the incident, Assad appointed Fahad al-Freij as the minister of defense and Gen. Ali Abdullah Dayyoub as chief of staff.
The appointment of security officials on Tuesday came against the backdrop of the escalating violence and clashes between government troops and armed rebels in the capital Damascus and northern Aleppo province, the commercial hub of the country.
The clashes started about 10 days ago in several neighborhoods of Damascus and recently moved to Aleppo as part of the rebels' resolve to bring down both of the two cities of vital importance, which are the strongholds of the current leadership and the source of its coherence.
On Monday, state-run SANA news agency said the authorities repelled some armed groups that were trying to infiltrate across the Lebanese borders into Syria at different sites in Talkalakh area in the countryside of Homs province, adding that hefty toll was inflicted upon the infiltrators.
SANA also said the Syrian army on Tuesday pursued the defeated armed terrorist groups at Nahr Isha neighborhood in Damascus after theyterrified the citizens, devastated and spread chaos in the area.
Also in Damascus' countryside, the authorities are hunting the "terrorists" in al-Sayida Zainab, Hajera and al-Diybia neighborhoods, causing big losses among them while many of them surrendered themselves to the authorities, according to SANA.
In Aleppo, the troops clashed with some armed groups in al- Sukari and Salah al-Din neighborhoods, said SANA, adding that many of them were rounded up and others surrendered along with their weapons.
The state news agency also reported similar incidents in northern Idlib, central Homs and coastal Latakia provinces.
On the opposition side, the Local Coordination Committees said as many as 132 people had been killed Tuesday in several Syrian cities, reporting shelling by the government troops on a number of areas in addition to clashes in eastern Deir al-Zour province. Yet the opposition's account cannot be independently verified.
While the violence continues in the ground, Herve Ladsous, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, arrived in Syria Tuesday to oversee the humanitarian situation on the ground after the UN extended the observers' mission for another 30 days.
Upon his arrival at the Dama-Rose hotel in the capital Damascus, Ladsous said the trip is intended in the framework of the UN Security Council's latest resolution, which is renewing the UN Supervision Mission for the final 30 days "unless there are significant developments regarding the level of violence and the use of heavy weapons."
The UN official said a number of meetings are going to be held in the next three days in his second visit to this unrest-torn country in two months, adding that Lieutenant Gen. Babacar Gaye of Senegal will arrive in Syria overnight Tuesday to head the UN observers' mission.