“We go searching for unexploded bombs to extract their powder”
Since the beginning of the armed conflict, we’ve done what we could with whatever means we’ve had available. We use the regime’s weapons against its own troops. Each time we are bombed by planes releasing cluster bombs [aerial bombs that can explode before hitting their target and that release smaller bombs], we wait for the blasts to stop and then go searching for unexploded bombs to extract their powder. Then we use this powder to build explosives as well as cartridges, shells, rockets, etc.A good chunk of our weapons come from the Syrian army. At first, we bought lots of weapons and ammunition from officers who were looking to make some money. But this ended up being very costly, and some tried to sabotage us by selling cartridges that exploded in our guns, or by selling us anti-tank rockets that didn’t work!“Many students and engineers are fighting with the rebels and help us with their scientific knowledge”Many students and engineers are currently fighting with the rebels and help us with their scientific knowledge, for example with regards to ballistics. They use tools like Google Earth to accurately target specific areas.With help from these engineers as well as trained blacksmiths, we manage to build our own rockets, mortars, and ammunition. This is not just in Homs; rebels in several other Syrian cities are doing the same.The north has the most experienced combatants, because they are the ones who first started repurposing recovered weapons. Now, men from all over the country go to the northern region of Idlib or even to Turkey to learn from them. In Turkey, we also buy important components such as casings and primer caps for different calibre cartridges.Our financial constraints force us to jump on every opportunity. When our fighters attack armoured personnel carriers, we try to save everything we can. We often recover the cannon, the machine gun, and ammunition. If the turret is still in good shape, we also take it to attach it to a truck or a 4x4, because it gives our sniper additional protection.Turret from a BMP1 personnel carrier with a 73-mm smooth-bored cannon and a Soviet-made 7.62-mm PKT machine gun affixed to a truck. Deir-Ezzor, November 6, 2012. The cannon can store 40 mortars. The BMP1 personnel carriers are not well armoured and so are easy to disable and dismantle.In Homs, we have even managed to build a remote-controlled machine gun. We had recovered the gun from a T72 tank and then set it up on wheels so we could guide it remotely. Five people worked on this project; they used an old bicycle and a small electric motor to get the mechanism to work. As for the camera, it’s simply a webcam. In fact, we use webcams along all the dividing lines to watch over the streets and buildings.