Syrian rebels cling to bullets and hope

The Guardian reports: In the shadow of the monolith they call the Corner Mountain, Firas Abu Hamza was carefully counting his most prized possessions. He removed a dirty sock from his camouflage vest and spilled its contents, 13 old bullets, on to the fire-scorched concrete in front of him.

“I’ll use them if I have to,” he said. “But I have to be very accurate. And there has to be a good reason to fire.”

At $4 each, one bullet is more expensive than the total sum Abu Hamza and the 12 rebels around him spend in a week on food. And three bullets are worth more than the monthly salary of many of the young defectors like him who now live in this shabby concrete room in northern Syria.

The coveted rifles they fled with from the Syrian military, worth at least $4,000 each on the black market, hang on nails driven into a dirty white wall. Two green wooden boxes in the corner contain extra rounds of ammunition and three explosive heads that fit on to the end of rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs).

An officer, Abu Ahmed, walked into the room and asked the latest defector to have joined the rebel ranks, a 19-year-old from the ruined Baba Amr district of Homs called Adnan, to display the RPG heads. “They are $1,000 each,” Abu Ahmed said. “Beyond anyone here’s wildest fantasies.”

Just as incredible to many of the men who live in this makeshift outpost, known as Katibat al-Harameen al-Sharifeen, is that they had finally found a way to break the shackles tying them to the Syrian military and Bashar al-Assad’s uncompromising regime.

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