Syrian rebels took control of all four border crossings into Iraq and one into Turkey on Thursday. Rebel forces also claimed to have taken over a pocket of Damascus. Many residents were warned to evacuate a portion of the capital after the armed forces warned of an assault. The developments came a day after rebels assassinated three of President Bashar al-Assad’s top security officials. Assad swore in a new defense minister on Thursday, in his first television appearance since Wednesday’s assassinations. Various reports indicated that the president had fled to the coastal city of Latakia, but one opposition activist said that only the Assad family’s women and children had left the capital.