Ahmad is from a well-to-do Sunni family and lives in a wealthy area of central Damascus. He was recently married and is trained as a dentist but his interests stretch from politics to Arabic music. In the past he spoke of his admiration for President Bashar Al-Assad, whom he saw as a man attempting to angle free from the regime forces of his father's generation to build a new Syria.
Seven months ago when I last spoke to Ahmad (whose last name cannot be published for security reasons), he preached of giving the authorities time to enact their reforms "because the alternative - civil war - is so much worse than them," he said. At that time, he spoke of how reform "takes time" and of how changing a 40-year-old system takes "much longer than a couple of months."
The recent violence in Damascus has seen Ahmad, like thousands of other Syrians, flee the city for Lebanon. Tens of thousands of middle-class Damascenes packed-up and left for Lebanon when on July 16, government forces began an operation to oust rebels from parts of the city. Ahmad left shortly after, his family following a couple of days later.
For four days earlier this month the violence that has gripped much of the country finally arrived in Damascus. The so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), comprised primarily of defectors from the regime's forces, mounted a campaign of attacks on government buildings in several districts of Syria's capital.
The regime's response was immediate, and brutal.
Government helicopters fired rockets and security forces shelled the residential areas where the FSA was operating. Hundreds of residents caught in the crossfire were killed and many more were injured. On July 20, following four days of intense fighting in south and northeast Damascus, the rebels fled in what they called a "tactical withdrawal."
Today, civilians in the affected areas still fear a backlash from government militias, or shabiha, for what the regime may perceive as their compliance with the rebels.
It has been this brutality, this total lack of regard for civilians, says Ahmad, which has changed his and others' views of the Syrian government.
"Six months ago I would say 60 percent of people in Damascus wanted the regime to stay; three months ago maybe 40 percent," says Ahmad.
"But now, so much more blood has been spilt; only maybe 10 percent of people in the city still support them. Now we have seen firsthand what they are capable of doing to us," he adds.
"There were streams of families clutching their belongings walking along the streets of central Damascus during this time [of the battles]. This is something we are not used to, this is something we see on television happening to people in Homs or Idlib or Iraq - not here in the heart of Damascus," he says as he muses on the prism of historical pride Damascenes have come to view themselves through.
For Damascenes -- who had not been directly affected by the regime's weapons; who had not had their homes destroyed in shelling or have had relatives killed in the fighting -- for these few days there was no electricity, no food and no one dared to move in the streets. The regime had taken over the city. It was for them, not the residents of Damascus. "The stench of garbage was horrific," Ahmad recalls.
Damascus has changed almost out of recognition over the past number of months, he says as he tells of the bleak situation facing the city where the vast majority of civilians are dependent on their savings to survive.
Motorists no longer stop at traffic lights at night. Western-style cafes built to meet demand from a once-growing number of young, wealthy Damascenes are doing a very slack trade. Illegal, unlicensed, street traders have mushroomed on sidewalks in all parts of the city center. For many, it has been these small but noticeable changes that have swelled a sense of fear in the capital.
The breakdown in law and order inside Damascus, says Ahmad, has been most apparent in the aggressiveness of the security forces that now man checkpoints throughout the city.
"Last week they stopped my wife and I when we were driving. They were very aggressive, asking us who we were, where we were going, but in a very aggressive way. It was as if they wanted to arrest us, they were looking for a reaction, an excuse to take me in. But I stayed calm, fortunately."
Ahmad spoke of driving to the restless eastern suburb of Qudsayiyya, a ten-minute drive from the city center, where apartments regularly fetch sell for more than $1million, earlier this month where he reported driving through a scene he could not quite believe.
"Telephone and electricity pylons were smashed on the streets, everywhere was dark. I saw five bodies left out in the open. Their [the regime's] idea was to show the locals that this is what happens to you if you oppose us, if you demonstrate."
Such scenes have forced him and his family to organize backup plans. His father has rented an apartment in Jounieh, a resort town north of Beirut, for when fleeing Damascus is necessary.
But the revolution has hit wealthy peoples' pockets, too.
"My father has three apartments in Damascus and they're all empty. He had a good business but now, like everyone, it's finished. He's thinking of moving to Saudi and maybe then to the UK with the rest of my family if he can".
The Media Line asked Ahmad if business families and the wealthy are preparing to act more defiantly against the regime.
"Business men never get involved in revolutions, but they will help rebuild the country after the regime goes," he simply replied.
The vast majority of Damascus residents who are fleeing the capital have found themselves in a far graver situation than Ahmad and are fleeing for their lives. His friend sitting with us at a café on Nejmah square in downtown Beirut lives in the Lebanese-Syrian border town of Chtoura and says there are 30,000 Syrians living there temporarily. As of last week UNHCR, the United Nations organization which supports refugees, has registered 120,028 refugees in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. The actual figure is likely to be far greater.
However, the fact that the city's elite are forced into such action - and such radical views given the prosperity they enjoyed under the Assad regime - is startling.
But Ahmad is returning to Damascus, or Sham as it is known colloquially, soon. Where he will wait and hope for the regime to fall.
"The big problem for people is that they cannot make any plans. They are stuck one day at a time, every day for 16 months."
Relative quiet has returned to the capital during the past few days as the Syrian army concentrates its efforts on assailing rebel forces in the northern city of Aleppo where, like Damascus, opponents to the Assad regime have taken control of a number of residential neighborhoods.
But the violence will return to the capital.
The rebels' inability to defeat regime forces during recent skirmishes in the capital does not necessarily mean the government will prevail. It does, however, mean this revolt will continue on for some time, and that many more lives will be lost. Families like Ahmad's, who live several hundred meters from the presidential palace - the ultimate prize for rebels - are likely to find themselves fleeing the city once more.
"At least we have the option to come to Beirut," he says, referring to his family. "Many people do not and they are stuck there."
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