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Fighting back against Assad's forces
By Jane Ferguson inon Sun, 2012-02-05 10:27.
Within half an hour of arriving at the activists’ office in Homs, I was in a car and careering past the sound of sniper fire.
These citizen journalists wanted to waste no time in showing an international reporter what they’re up against.
Climbing the stairs of an abandoned building, they push forward in front of me with their small, hand-held video cameras.
While this area of the city - Bab Amr - has been pounded by President Assad’s tanks, almost all of the footage seen on the world’s TV screens has come from this small team of self-made cameramen.
The Arab Spring has clearly shown revolutionaries that they can fight an aggressive government by exposing it to the outside world.
But in that regard, Syria is very different from Egypt, Yemen, or Libya where access for foreign journalists was tough, but by no means impossible.
Revolting areas of Syria are surrounded by government soldiers - tiny revolutions of their own, under siege. The only chance of independent reporting is a dangerous, secret route in.
The renegade soldiers making up the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are trying to protect these areas and have so far managed to hold back Assad’s tanks.
Fighting back
The day before I arrived, activists told me several tanks had been blown up by the FSA using anti-tank missiles. Such weapons are their only hope for survival at the minute.
Bab Amr is hemmed in by Assad’s tanks and one FSA commander told me they have only light weaponry, other than a few pieces of heavier machine guns.
The area can survive the onslaught of tank shells from afar, but if Assad decides on an aerial bombardment, the resistance will be destroyed, he told me.
In the mean time, the seemingly quiet streets become busy in between the bombings. Slowly, faces appear at windows and heads pop out of doorways, looking one way and then the other for signs of safety.
But the snipers are always at work, shooting down from tall buildings on the outskirts of the area. So people run from one street to the next, hoping to stay lucky.
Those who aren’t, can only be treated at makeshift field hospitals – converted homes with little more than wooden benches for beds and perilously small amounts of medicines.
The mosque minarets here broadcast for blood donations regularly – letting the community know what blood type is needed.
I’m told, if people go to government hospitals from uprising neighborhoods, they will be killed. I visited the home of a family mourning the death of their 20 year old son.
He had been shot in the calf by crossfire in a government controlled are of the city. After disappearing from a government hospital his mother was called to collect his dead, mutilated body over a week later.
Such stories across the country are common. Both sides of this conflict know that if one wins, the other will not survive.
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