Syrian rebels debut homemade fighting vehicle
Syrian rebels, claiming to have spent over a month designing, assembling, and developing a garage-made armored vehicle, debuted the Sham II fighting vehicle near the besieged city of Aleppo earlier today. The Sham II, a reference to ancient Syria (ash-Sham), is a boxy, light armored vehicle built upon a car chassis and is outfitted with a 7.62mm machine gun (which appears to be a Russian-designed PKM) that is controlled from inside the vehicle. The Sham II is also outfitted with five cameras -- three in the front, one mounted on or near the machine gun, and one in the back -- all of which are seemingly controlled by -- a Sony PlayStation remote control. It should be noted that, apparently on the side of caution, Syrian rebels have even outfitted the Sham II with an operable headlight.
The Sham II, an updated version of a previously made Sham I light infantry by Syrian fighters from the al Ansar Brigade, cost approximately $10,000 (not including the gun), according to one rebel fighter whose brother had designed and built it. The vehicle is reportedly covered with steel plating approximately 2.5 centimeters thick. However, the Sham II is admittedly underprepared to defend against rocket-propelled grenades or tank fire. Rebels claimed the Sham II would soon be ushered into a combat role by members of al Ansar's Saad Benmoaz battalion near Aleppo.
Al Ansar rebels have fought pitched battles with Syrian army regulars around Aleppo for the past several months. In mid-November, al Ansar fighters succeeded in wresting control of the Syrian Army's 46th Regiment's base west of Aleppo, and in the process, gained access to stores of ammunition and weapons, including sophisticated weaponry such as the SA-16 Gimlet man-portable-air-defense-system (MANPADS).