Just days after the four-year anniversary of Syria’s bloody civil war, new photos of Syrian rebels’ weapons suggest increasingly ambitious innovation in their DIY arms manufacturing. Although anti-government groups like the Free Syrian Army have repeatedly called for—and
sometimes received—arms donations from foreign governments, homemade weapons cobbled together from farming and construction equipment continue to play an important part in the conflict. They have been deployed on all sides, from Syrian government forces’ nail-filled “barrel bombs” to the Islamic State’s improvised explosive devices to rebel Islamist coalition Shamiyya Front’s gas-canister-loaded cannon, the Borkan (“Volcano”).
Below, the evolution of weapons made by Syrian rebels throughout the conflict.
Oct. 15, 2012: Members of the free Syrian Army use a catapult to launch a homemade bomb during clashes with pro-government soldiers in the city of Aleppo. (Reuters/Asmaa Waguih) Oct. 20, 2012: Free Syrian Army fighters launch a homemade bomb using a catapult during clashes in Aleppo (Reuters/Zain Karam) Spring/summer 2013:
Jan 29, 2013: Free Syrian Army fighters use a homemade catapult in old Aleppo (Reuters/Zain Karam) Feb. 9, 2013: Fighters from the Free Syrian Army’s Tahrir al Sham brigade use a shotgun to fire an improvised grenade at Syrian Army soldiers in the Arabeen neigbourhood of Damascus. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) Jun. 16, 2013: A member of the Free Syrian Army writes the name of a fellow fighter on a homemade rocket in Deir al-Zor (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) July 6, 2013: A Free Syrian Army fighter displays homemade bombs made from ornamental balls (Reuters/Muzaffar Salman) Fall 2013:
Sept. 5, 2013: A Free Syrian Army fighter spray paints on improvised mortar shells at a weapon factory in Aleppo (Reuters/Hamid Khatib) Sept. 4, 2013: A Free Syrian Army fighter spray paints an improvised mortar shell as his fellow fighter watches him, in Aleppo (Reuters/Hamid Khatib) Oct. 14, 2013: Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to fire rockets towards forces loyal to Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa (Reuters/Nour Fourat) Spring 2014:
Feb. 25, 2014: A Free Syrian Army fighter runs to take cover after launching a mortar Fall 2014:
Sept. 9, 2014: Rebel fighters make improvised mortar shells inside a weapons factory in the southern countryside of Idlib (Reuters/Khalil Ashawi) Dec 10, 2014: A locally-made shell is launched by rebel fighters towards forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad at the frontline in al-Breij district of Aleppo (Reuters/Sultan Kitaz) Spring 2015:
Mar. 5, 2015: Men fill gas canisters with explosives for use with a cannon named “Borkan” (Volcano) inside a weapon factory in Aleppo countryside (Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail) Mar. 18, 2015: Rebel fighters from Suqour al-Sham Brigade prepare a locally-made shell before launching it towards forces loyal to Syria’s president Bashar Al-Assad in Idlib countryside (Reuters/Mohamad Bayoush) Mar. 5, 2015: The “Borkan” is made out of four tubes attached to a loader, can fire four shells at a time, and have a range of three kilometres (1.86 miles). (Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail) Mar. 7, 2015: Al-Shamiyah Front fighters inspect a new locally-made cannon named “Borkan” (Volcano) as it was being launched towards forces loyal to Syria’s president Bashar Al-Assad located in Aleppo artillery school (Reuters/Abdalrhman Ismail)
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