Fighters with Ahrar a-Sham al-Islamiya claim they assassinated Brigadier General Bassam Muhana al-Ali, a major regime figure, inside Damascus by means of a roadside IED on Sunday.
Here, Ahrar a-Sham spokesman Abu Abid tells Syria Direct’s Ammar Hamou about why al-Ali was singled out for assassination, and the impact of targeted rebel operations inside the capital.
Q: What sort of message does Ahrar a-Sham want to send with its repeated operations inside Damascus?
“These operations are [intended to send] a strong message to the regime and its officers that the state of security they are experiencing in Damascus is an illusion. The regime’s most secure bastion of Damascus has been infiltrated, operations have been conducted inside.
This destroys the theory that the capital is safe, the capital that the regime has tried to secure with various means in order to show the world that it is in control of the situation.
These operations are also a message to the rebels that the revolution is ongoing, and isn’t limited to certain areas at the exception of others. We will not leave the people of Damascus to face their fate alone.”
Q: Why was Bassam Muhana al-Ali targeted specifically?
“He was chosen after we conducted an intense study of the man. Brigadier General Bassam Muhana al-Ali was an officer in the General Operations Body and responsible for planning military operations. We try to target symbols of the regime’s criminality in order to hasten its fall at the lowest possible cost.”
Q: In your opinion, are targeted operations inside Damascus more effective than general wartime operations?
“In a lot of cases yes, they are considered most effective, provided that they are planned for and executed with precision after studying the situation closely. Usually, following normal military operations, the regime takes revenge on the liberated [rebel-held] areas, and areas witnessing ongoing clashes by bombing them, which leads to widespread property damage—this does not happen with targeted operations.
Also, these targeted operations aim at influential officials, in contrast with general fighting that ends up killing those who don’t carry any weight as far as the regime is concerned. The regime doesn’t throw anyone into the front except its least valuable soldiers.”