Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have captured the deputy commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Damascus and its suburbs, Al Arabiya TV reported on Saturday.
Colonel al-Moatasim Billah Abu al-Walid is the deputy of Colonel General Khaled Habous who heads the FSA’s operations in the capital and the surrounding area.
The capture of Abu al-Walid came days after a report stating that Syrian opposition fighters were planning a campaign of guerrilla warfare in Damascus following a daring operation that took place in the capital’s most secure district of Mezza.
The opposition army had set up a military council to coordinate operations around Damascus, bringing the year-old conflict to the capital.
The FSA chain of command has been divided and mostly localized. Top leaders General Mustafa al-Sheikh and Lieutenant Colonel Riad al-Asaad are living in Turkey.
Colonel Asaad had said the formation of a new military council was “a step towards guaranteeing the unity of the troops and armed forces (of the opposition) on Syrian territory.”
Opposition fighters, lightly armed, have been on the retreat from cities since the start of March in the face of the far superior firepower of government forces.
The fighters have turned to swift hit-and-run raids, with Damascus, which has been largely spared the worst of the bloodshed, becoming a prime target over the past week.