A pinch of salt and a dash of lemon; the FSA’s homemade weapons

A young man works on the production of hand made missiles in a secret factory in Al-Bab, 30 kilometers from Aleppo. (AFP)

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has marked its second year of combating the regime. During the escalation of the conflict, the government has been accused of committing war crimes by executing artillery attacks, using cluster bombs, tanks and other heavy arms against opposition fighters and the population at large.

The opposition forces have found themselves at a disadvantage in terms of weaponry available.

It has been reported that artillery and weapons provided by supporters outside the country have not been able to reach opposition fighters throughout Syria. This has led some members of the FSA to develop their own weaponry in an attempt to level the playing field.

“We were unfortunate to not be armed like other fighters were in cities like Homs and Hama,” Said Abu Hasan, a Free Syrian Army lieutenant in the province of Aleppo. “My group and I took on the fight as a win-win case, so we had to play a survival of the fittest game and defend ourselves from the attacks of these animals.”

Abu Hasan’s team is comprised of 57 members; eight of them are capable of designing and manufacturing unique weapons, according to the lieutenant.

“Not all of our weapons are accurate and we do have few misses every now and then, but that is part of fighting in a battle. However, these homemade weapons provided us with the power we need to kill a few in every attack we launch.”

Abu Hasan’s unit produces an average of 18-30 homemade rockets daily, and has built a rocket launcher by using “around the house goods” like the salt in the kitchen or acid extracted from freely available lemons.

This particular team is mandated with the protection of Old Aleppo and only takes part in ground combat procedures. However Abu Hasan said he witnessed far more technically advanced inventions at different FSA bases within the city, where warplanes have been shot down with homemade artillery.

“The regime underestimates the mental capability of the Syrian people… although many of us are not educated; we are managing to invent weapons from scratch to destroy [the regime’s] ginormous machines.”

A great investment

Abu Hasan said the simple homemade weapons were a great investment; his unit has been able to make advances against the Syrian army and snatch up weapons used by Assad’s forces in the foray.

“Every rocket we successfully launched, in return we received RPG-7s, AK-47s, and ammunitions and that’s how we are able to grow stronger.”

The Free Syrian Army first announced its formation in July 2011, four months after the start of the unrest. The initial numbers stood at 15,000 defected army members.

With international backing by Turkey and the U.S., the group expanded and was able to receive military training from American commanders and base its headquarters in Turkey.

As of the two-year anniversary, the FSA has more than 50,000 members fighting on ground.

Last Update: Friday, 15 March 2013 KSA 07:21 - GMT 04:21