Outnumbered, outgunned and isolated, the defected soldiers of the ‘Free Syrian Army’ are still managing to hound the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. From one desperate day to the next, these rebels claim to protect demonstrations and conduct skirmishes on government forces, while living in constant fear for the safety of themselves and their families.
1) Defecting Syrian soldiers gathered under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are contributing to a growing armed resistance to the regime in Damascus.
2) The rebels live a furtive existence, holed up in abandoned farm houses, hidden away in the Syrian countryside.
3) The body of a demonstrator, freshly killed by security forces in the town of Qusayr, is cleaned by FSA members and sympathetic locals. The FSA have tried to assert their role as armed protection for civilian demonstrators against attacks from government forces.
4&5) Despite reports of a dramatic rise in arms smuggling into Syria, the FSA soldiers outside the village of Qusayr said that most of their weapons were bought from sympathetic soldiers still serving in the regular Syrian army.
6) A defected security agent tells his story to a journalist in a safe house outside of Homs. So far, defections from the ranks of the security forces have been limited, but this deserter said that if a ‘safe zone’ was arranged, those “without blood on their hands” would flee in droves.
7) An FSA soldier stands guard on a misty night outside a countryside hideout.
8) The next morning, FSA fighters modify a pickup truck in order to mount it with a heavy machine gun, in a similar fashion as those widely used by the rebel fighters in Libya last year. Similar to Libyan rebels, the FSA are calling for a NATO imposed ‘no-fly’ zone.
9) However, with international intervention looking unlikely, the FSA seem set for an uphill struggle as they continue to launch operations from farmyard hideouts such as these.