• White House says Assad is losing control
• UN security council to vote on sanctions
• Assad's wife rumoured to be in Russia
Ian Black, Martin Chulov and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 19 July 2012
"Syria's uprising has entered uncharted territory after rebels fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad killed three of his top security chiefs in a devastating bomb attack in the heart of Damascus on Wednesday – the single worst loss for the government in 16 months of increasingly bloody struggle.
Mass defections of soldiers and a rampage by pro-regime militiamen were reported in the capital amid a swirl of rumours, including one that Assad's wife, Asma, had fled to Russia and another that troops were being issued with gas masks, raising fears of the use of chemical weapons.
The president's whereabouts was also unclear, with one unconfirmed report that he had been wounded and left Damascus for Latakia on the coast....."