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  • "Stay back, stay back"

  • "I don't need covering fire"

  • "It's coming, it's coming"

  • "Tank's coming"

  • Since defecting from the Syrian Army early in 2012, former colonel Abu Mohammed has been trying to

  • organise rebel forces.

  • "God is great"

  • "Takbir! Allah-u-Akbar!"

  • His new comrades aren't used to taking orders.

  • "Why is there always this hatred between us"

  • "I'm defending my land. I'm the one who faces the tanks. Do you really expect me to go out

  • like this"

  • "Put your ammunition back"

  • "Allah-u-Akbar"

  • "Most of the revolutionaries are civilians"

  • "In the army there are rules If you order a solder to do something and

  • he fails... ... you can discipline him, but you can't

  • do that here We have no discipline

  • "This is one of our biggest problems They don't follow directions

  • "We make plans and they don't abide by them If they follow 15% of the plan, that's a great

  • result!"

  • "Yes, Abu Hussein, I'm at my location

  • What can I do? I only have 6 rockets and about 600 bullets

  • 600 bullets"

  • It's Abu Mohammed's responsibility to distribute ammunition

  • and the rebels fighting the Syrian Army on the frontline are running short.

  • :

  • "Mahmud Can you go to the car...

  • ...and open the boot and take 3 bags Each bag has 100 bullets

  • Take them to the hospital road"

  • Salahuddin district in Aleppo

  • has seen the bloodiest fighting since the civil war began.

  • "The army has taken key areas of Salahuddin

  • "They push tanks forward... ...plant snipers and pull the tanks back

  • The snipers clear the area in front The next day, the tanks advance past the snipers...

  • ...and then the snipers go forward again"

  • The rebels use anything available to build barriers in a war where the frontline is

  • constantly changing.

  • "The army is moving back and forth."

  • "We need local fighters, about 50 men"

  • Government soldiers have taken an important building

  • in a nearby residential area.

  • The rebels need to win it back, quickly.

  • They claim to have killed 5 enemy soldiers while the others fled.

  • But this can't be confirmed.

  • When they return to base, some of their own men are missing.

  • "We looked everywhere and couldn't find them"

  • "Maybe they went the other way"

  • The missing men reappear with a defector who has left the Syrian army to join the rebels.

  • "He has just defected"

  • "This soldier has just defected from Assad's dogs"

  • The government of Bashar al-Assad is mainly from the minority Alawites. But most of the

  • population is made up of Sunni Muslims who've suffered under Assad's repressive regime.

  • "I left the regular Syrian Army... ...because I didn't want to kill my own people

  • The Sunnis"

  • With two-and-a-half million people,

  • Aleppo is Syria's largest city.

  • It's the country's commercial centre

  • and its citadel is one of the oldest structures in the world

  • In one of its suburbs, a group of fighters are taking a

  • couple of days before returning to battle.

  • "Allah-u-Akbar!"

  • Their young commander, Abu Bakri, was chosen to lead having shown immense bravery on the

  • battlefield.

  • "I finished compulsory military service in 2006"

  • "Then I went back to my studies And by Allah's grace went on to study economics

  • at the University of Aleppo That was me, until the revolution started"

  • "Takbir! Allah-u-Akbar"

  • At first, Abu Bakri had joined

  • peaceful demonstrations. But everything changed when he was

  • arrested and tortured.

  • "The way they beat people, it became clear that...

  • ...they had no conscience about their actions"

  • After his release, he joined the rebels

  • "We organised groups"

  • "And together we began to liberate the city"

  • One of his men filmed this footage as the rebels advanced

  • through the streets of Salahuddin.

  • But government forces have pushed back in recent days and the rebels were forced to

  • retreat to prepare a counterattack.

  • As they wait, the fighters receive an SMS message

  • on their mobile phones.

  • It's from the government.

  • "Abu Bakri, there's a message here The Syrian Army advises the rebels...

  • ...to get out of Salahuddin. What do you think?

  • "What?"

  • "'Learn from Salahuddin and put down your weapons'"

  • "That's a new one"

  • "Tell them we're coming back to Salahuddin"

  • "So what do you think?"

  • "It's just propaganda When we were in Salahuddin, they said we weren't

  • in Salahuddin"

  • "Do you pay any attention to it?"

  • "Not at all"

  • "When we see this we laugh"

  • "'Look out Aleppo, the Syrian Army is coming'" "And also"

  • "'Protect Aleppo by informing on the terrorists'" "So we're terrorists"

  • In Salahuddin,

  • things are not going well for Abu Mohammed and his men.

  • They're almost out of ammunition.

  • But their biggest problems are

  • attacks from the air

  • and snipers

  • "They set up at the end of the park on top the buildings

  • Look over there On the mosque minaret and on the tall buildings

  • "They formed a line of snipers

  • "And targeted everybody, young, old and women

  • A man throws his arms around his wife in a last desperate attempt to save her.

  • Their young son lies in the back.

  • The rebels thought they had killed all the snipers.

  • But a shot narrowly missed our team,

  • forcing them to take cover.

  • They can't find the last sniper and the rebels must prevent civilians from wandering into

  • the line of fire.

  • This father and his daughters were stopped just in time.

  • "Can I come back tomorrow?"

  • "God willing"

  • "The situation changes every half hour You can't come this way for the sake of you

  • and your children"

  • "Are you telling me they will get killed?"

  • "Don't be scared"

  • Already, a quarter of a million people have fled Aleppo.

  • But many others remain, despite attacks from government jets,

  • Helicopter gun ships and tanks

  • Some blame the rebels for the destruction.

  • Because everywhere the rebels go, Assad's forces attack.

  • "Why are you destroying the world?"

  • "We started with one bullet We have God on our side

  • "But civilians are victims. We are being bombarded"

  • "The people of Homs put up with it for 18 months"

  • The father of these young boys tells us he can't leave.

  • Fearing the regime, he asks us not to show his face.

  • "It's not a question of danger

  • "I worked hard all my life to buy this house"

  • "Better for me to die here"

  • "We try our best to keep them inside"

  • "We're in God's hands It's His will if we live or die"

  • A young woman with only a First Aid certificate has to tend the wounded.

  • "They are babies,

  • they are little kids, two years, two years. Three years, four years.

  • "They are wounded. Injured. In their -- in their homes"

  • Anyone who can, is getting out.

  • "What's happening?"

  • "They're bombing everyone. We're scared for the kids"

  • "Most people have left, only the poor remain"

  • "Those without means can't escape"

  • "If you go out, you risk being killed by a sniper's bullet or a bomb"

  • "If you go out, you risk being killed by a sniper's bullet or a bomb"

  • Day and night, the bombing is relentless.

  • "Everyone get off the streets, everyone go home"

  • "Go inside" "Get off the streets"

  • In a nearby apartment, exhausted rebel fighters

  • Sing of love and sacrifice

  • "Mother, death has come to me

  • "Let your heart forgive me"

  • "Don't cry for me, mother

  • "Because I'm going to heaven"

  • "Don't cry for me mother Because I'm going to heaven

  • Let my blood touch the sand"

  • A new morning, a new death

  • As the toll mounts, public gardens have been converted into

  • makeshift graveyards to stem the threat of disease

  • from rotting bodies.

  • Fighting has broken out near 's headquarters on the edge of Salahuddin.

  • Syrian Army heavy machine guns are trying to clear a path for its soldiers to advance

  • towards the rebel position

  • "Is the 14.5 ready?"

  • "Yes, it's ready"

  • "Only fire if you see the target Make Amin come back and help"

  • As his men hold the government forces back, Abu Mohammed has dispatched a small group

  • to sneak around them

  • But now they've run out of ammunition.

  • "The guys