"Homs is destroyed," Bukiyah said.
The fighters in Qusayr who came from Homs had been hoping to return there at the beginning of the week. But as the army moved against them in Qusayr and increased the number of checkpoints between the two cities, going back became increasingly unlikely. Rather, the rebels in Qusayr were talking about Homs being abandoned by fighters entirely.
Bukiyahs personal story follows that of the larger uprising against the government, which began with three months of peaceful demonstrations before becoming an armed rebellion in response to Assads violent crackdown that left hundreds dead and thousands in prison. "I began as a peaceful demonstrator," he said. "But if we dont fight, Bashar Assad will kill us all."
As the conflict intensified, casualties ballooned. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has kept the most detailed records of any group, says more than 10,000 people have died; the Syrian government says 3,000 soldiers and police have died in the conflict.
In August, Bukiyah helped start the Farouq Brigades branch in Baba Amr, which the fighters took over, then earned fame for withstanding a month of heavy shelling before running short of ammunition and withdrawing at the end of February.
"Baba Amr was a victory," Bukiyah said. "They could only enter after a month of shelling."
Bukiyah said 2,000 Farouq fighters have been killed since August.
The Syrian military on Thursday also shelled the town of Jusey, between Qusayr and the Lebanese border, further pressing the areas that remain under rebel control. Like Qusayr, the residents of Jusey have largely fled, leaving mostly fighters, also from the Farouq Brigade.