Considering the array of images of young Syrian men with rocket-launchers on their shoulders and ammo slung around their necks, you probably wouldn't think the rebel army consists of many white collar stiffs. But you'd be wrong. Following the Syrian rebel group Lions of Tawhid for five days last week, The New York Times' C.J. Chivers offers a fascinating report on the rag-tag makeup of a rebel unit and its increasing sophistication. The group is led by Abdul Hakim Yasin, a 37-year-old Syrian who was a clean shaven accountant in his past life turned hardened, bearded freedom fighter. Chivers introduces us to others as well:
His fighters are a cross section of a nation at war with itself. They include a real estate agent, several farmers, construction workers and a nurse who owned a short-order restaurant. These men fight side by side with a cadre of army defectors, who say the government they once served must fall.
The civilians started with stones and firearms bought for hunting. Their first more powerful weapon was a huge slingshot for hurling Molotov cocktails and small homemade bombs. As professional soldiers have joined them, they have gradually acquired assault rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled and hand grenades. They now control a captured armored vehicle and two tanks.