Several groups and organisations today use this mode of operation against government troops. But Jabhat al-Nusra are still the most experienced and professional organisation. They have a flawless organisation with engineers, pyrotechnicians and professionals specialised in very precise crafts - and some of these men have also acquired good fighting experience in Iraq.
For the majority of their operations Jabhat al-Nusra use the explosive C4 (mainly used by armies and demolition experts, and thus highly controlled). Most of their stock comes from contacts in Iraq, because the border between the two countries is very porous and open for trafficking. Otherwise, the C4 comes from Syrian army stocks seized by barrels, or occasionally sold by Syrian army officers.
"They often try to send their men undercover to get information or even organise an attack from the inside"
The tools groups like Ahrar al-Sham use are less efficient - they make their explosive devices with live munitions, like shrapnel or anti-personnel mine, to which they add nails or scrap iron. It’s a very rudimentary technique
. Fertilizer is also used in the making of these bombs.
I’ve seen for myself an anti-personnel mine being made. It was to destroy a BMP1 troop carrier [Editor’s Note: this is an armoured troop carrier] in Yaakoubi, my village. This type of operation is done in two stages - the explosive device immobilises the vehicle, then the rebels attack with machine guns
and launch RPG 7 rockets.
Jabhat al-Nusra is much more sophisticated. They organise their operations sometimes months in advance, and with minute precision. The way they organise and attack depends on the nature of the target, but they often try to send their men undercover to get information or even organise an attack from the inside.
Each team of fighters has a task that the other teams don’t know about. Regime troops have no hope against this type of strategy. Even electronic interference [which is done with a special vehicle placed at the head of a convoy to neutralise IEDs] is useless against devices detonated by a wire [like the operation we see in the video, above].