DAMASCUS, Syria – Rockets and mortar shells hit an upscale Damascus neighborhood Thursday where Syrian President Bashar Assad was visiting a nearby mosque, laying bare the ability of rebels to strike one of the most secure areas of the capital despite an ongoing government offensive.

At least two rebel brigades claimed to have hit Assad’s motorcade on its way to the mosque, but this appeared to be untrue. Two opposition figures said the route was hit but not the convoy itself.

The regime also denied the reports, and state TV broadcast images of Assad praying at the mosque.

There were no reports of casualties or damage in the shelling of the Malki district. The area is a largely pro-regime neighborhood where Assad used to live before the uprising began more than two years ago.

Nevertheless, the attack terrified residents and exposed the regime’s vulnerability as it tries to maintain momentum against rebels with increasingly sophisticated weaponry.

It may also shake its confidence.

“What happened today is highly indicative,” said Khaled Saleh, a spokesman for Syria’s main Western-backed opposition group.

“It shows that the regime is unable to control the situation even in the most secure areas of Damascus and despite suffocating security measures,” he said.