Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime has suffered a series of setbacks over the past month that point to a loosening of its grip on the country.
Four of the president's top security aides were killed in a rebel bombing of state security headquarters in Damascus on July 18. There has been a steady stream of high-level defections — from diplomats to generals to the prime minister.
But power remains closely held within Assad's inner circle. And the regime retains the ability to fight rebels in places such as Aleppo, Syria's largest city, which it has pounded with shelling and warplanes.
Here is a photo gallery of images from Aleppo.