The official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) claimed that President Bashar al-Assad is in Damascus on Thursday, contradicting other reports that he had fled with his family to the coastal city of Latakia.

SANA issued a photograph showing Assad swearing in his new defense minister General Fahd al-Freij.

However, Syrian rebel groups said they are certain that Assad took a private jet to Latakia right after a bomb killed three of his closes aides.

“Our information is that he is at his palace in Latakia and that he may have been there for days, an unnamed senior opposition official told the Daily Telegraph newspaper of Britain.