Two videos posted on YouTube in recent days demonstrate rebel claims that defected soldiers fighting in the name of the Free Syrian Army have access to at least some infantry fighting vehicles, which were either captured from the regular army or acquired when whole units defected.
In one video, uploaded Wednesday, fighters in the town of Homs are shown attacking a Syrian army checkpoint using a Soviet-made BMP, an infantry fighting vehicle that has a small cannon.
In another, posted the day before, fighters purportedly maneuver a Soviet-made BMP through the town of Rastan in the central province of Homs, before clambering out of it shouting “God is Great.” Rastan, on the road between Homs and Hama, is one of the areas the Free Syrian Army claims it now controls.
The videos speak to the intensity of the fighting that has been raging in recent days as President Bashar al-Assad’s government seeks to reclaim territory that had fallen under the sway of the Free Syrian Army. The government appears to have been successful in driving the fighters out of the suburbs east of Damascus. But the rebels still claim to be holding territory in the north, notably in Homs and in the far northern province of Idlib, bordering Turkey.
The Free Syrian Army says it consists almost entirely of defected soldiers, though in recent weeks it has become clear that civilians also are joining its ranks.
More world news coverage: