On jungle crests about 1 mile from the front lines in eastern Myanmar, a former hotel banquet coordinator slipped his index finger onto the trigger of an assault rifle. A dentist recalled picking larvae from a young fighter’s infected bullet wound. A marketing manager described the adapted commercial drones she is directing to foil the enemy.

More than a year after Myanmar’s military seized full control in a coup — imprisoning the nation’s elected leaders, killing more than 1,700 civilians and arresting at least 13,000 more — the country is at war, with some unlikely combatants in the fray.

On one side is a military junta that, apart from a brief interlude of semidemocratic governance, has ruled with brutal force for a half-century. On the other are tens of thousands of young city-dwellers who have taken up arms, trading college courses, video games and sparkly nail polish for life and death in the jungle.