Syria reportedly captured the brother of the head of al-Qaeda in the south western city of Daraa as he was meeting opposition members, a report said.
The Independent reported on Friday that Mohamad al-Zawahiri, the brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri was said to be seized by Syrian forces in Daraa.
The daily said militants said Mohamad al-Zawahiri was engaged on a “humanitarian mission” and had not been involved in violent acts. They also claimed that he had, in fact, proposed a local truce to enable aid to get through.
The reports of his presence in Syria have come from armed factions, the Independent said.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over as al-Qaeda leader following the killing of Osama bin Laden, has declared that it is the duty of Muslims to take part in a jihad against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Jabhat al-Nusra, an extremist opposition group with links to al-Qaeda, has become increasingly powerful in the conflict, and its leader, Abu Muhammad al-Julani, is said to be in personal contact with Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Mohamad al-Zawahiri has denied in the past that he wanted to get involved in the Syrian crisis. Speaking in Cairo recently, he stated that he had no plans to join the armed groups in Syria. Zawahiri spent 14 years in an Egyptian prison on charges of being involved in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and taking part in terrorist acts. But he has protested his innocence and insisted that he now devotes his time to attempt reconciliation between extremists and mainstream Islam.
Daraa, near the Jordanian border, has become a stronghold for Jabhat al-Nusra where its “emir”, the organization has announced, is Abu Julaybib, a brother-in-law of the former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in an American air strike in 2006.
Jabhat al-Nusra denied reports on Al Jazeera that Abu Julaybib and Julani, who has been described as an emissary of the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawhari, were recently killed in fighting in Daraa.