After the bomb that shook Syria: Life and death questions

After the bomb that has shaken Damascus, Syria and the watching world, the question is, what next?

Will President's Assad's men hit back hard and fast? If so, where?

Will they concentrate on striking rebels in Damascus who have now struck at the heart of the security, military and intelligence community?

Will the rebels, emboldened by what they have done, push through the poorer suburbs of the capital closer to the Presidential Palace?

General Fahad Jassim al-Freij is Syria's new defence minister Credit: Reuters

Will the men who replace three of the top Security officials be more violent in their campaign against the rebels, less able to know when to pull back and keep their Russian allies on board? Will they be clever enough to keep Assad's embattled regime strong?

What are Assad's close allies thinking? Many will be angry and emotional at the loss of old comrades and friends. Will they begin looking over their shoulder to see who is still following them? Will some decide to cut and run with their families?

So far, most of the defections have been of single Generals, or small units. Is the day approaching when a battalion and its commanders defects? So far, the regime has been tight. There have been few cracks in the senior ranks of the military or the President's inner circle.

Asma Assad pictured in 2006 Credit: Reuters

Now the biggest crack of all has appeared in the bombed out headquarters of the National Security Agency.

Assad's brother in law, dead, his only sister in mourning. His Christian Defence Minister and former Head of the Army, dead. Five of his inner circle dead or injured. Assad himself might be wondering - "if my enemies can penetrate that building, am I safe in the Palace? Is Asma safe?"

He isn't going any time soon. But he can't have imagined death would come so close to him so soon after he declared that this is a war he has to win.