Syrian rebels' makeshift weapon
Amidst the bloody conflict in the war-torn streets of Aleppo, a group of Free Syrian Army fighters used a catapult to shoot a homemade bomb at pro-government forces.
"He released this weapon. A short pause, and… boom."
Nothing is fixed in Aleppo: not the location of pro-government snipers, nor the position of rebels, nor the streets themselves, many of which have been destroyed by months of fighting.
My presence in Aleppo was not consistent either. We stayed outside the war-torn city at night, reentering in the daytime as we looked for areas to cover.
The place is rife with snipers. Pro-government gunmen could be anywhere, near or far, in Aleppo’s damaged network of roads. Sometimes you have to move around very quickly, to avoid the shots they might fire. And everything changes at night, when they shift their positions. It was very difficult moving around the mess of streets.
We came into the city through contacts with the Free Syria Army, but we weren’t moving around with just one group. Some of the rebels like you to be with them and take pictures, others are more suspicious.
We’d move from rebel checkpoint to rebel checkpoint, where the Free Syrian Army fighters often light fires. Some say this is a bad idea because it gives away their position, but they do it in the hope that the smoke will make it more difficult for the snipers to take aim.
On one day of coverage, we started out with a group of rebels aiming at a sniper. But they were really angry and didn’t want journalists around, so we moved on to a different area, with quarters full of members of the Free Syrian Army.
That was where I saw these men working on the catapult. I saw five or six people talking together, and sometimes they would talk to us too. All of a sudden I caught sight of this guy, and I went over.
I saw him setting up the device, and then, as the other men directed him, taking aim at pro-government forces with a homemade bomb. In order to fire, he had to lower his body all the way to the ground. Then he released this weapon. A short pause, and… boom.
It’s not uncommon for rebels to use homemade bombs. There’s a shortage of ammunition, and they have factories where they make these improvised explosives, although they won’t allow journalists inside to see.
As the fighting like this continues, the situation in Syria’s largest city is very sad. There are residential areas that have been completely smashed.
What’s more, an old civilisation is being damaged, for example an old castle that we couldn’t reach, and the historic market. And of course, the suffering human beings come first. Adults and children are having their lives destroyed. Looking around, it seems like everything is finished.