BISHQATIN, SYRIA – From a distance it resembles a large rusty metal box, but closer inspection reveals the latest achievement of Syrian rebels: a homemade armored vehicle waiting to be deployed.
Sham II is built from the chassis of a car and touted by rebels as “100 percent made in Syria.”
It required a “month of work” for the design, assembly and development of the vehicle, says its designer, Mahmud Abud, of the Al-Ansar rebel brigade in the Aleppo region of northwest Syria.
The fully enclosed vehicle made from light steel is 4 meters long and 2 meters wide, mounted with a 7.62 mm machinegun controlled from inside the cabin.
The vehicle has five cameras: three at the front, one in the back and another attached to the gun.
The crew inside the cabin are fully protected, with the driver maneuvering the vehicle by watching a screen that displays video from the cameras.
The gunner, seated next to the driver, can activate the machinegun by watching another screen and using a Sony PlayStation video game controller.
The metal walls are 2.5 cm thick and said to be able to resist up to 23 mm cannon fire. The vehicle, however, cannot withstand rocket-propelled grenade or tank fire.
“This is my brother, a trained engineer, who got the idea. We got a car, left its diesel motor on the chassis and built the engine,” says Abud, based in a rebel command center in Bishqatin, near the flash-point city of Aleppo.
“Not including from the gun, the vehicle costs about $10,000,” he said.