Syrian rebels mill around an open lot under a blue sky; off camera, a group chants "God is great." The spoils of a recent raid are laid out before them -- a collection of T-55 tanks and the BMP series of infantry fighting vehicles. A number of rickety pick-up trucks idle in the background, perhaps the vehicles used in the attack. The rebels have wielded heavy machine guns to the truck beds -- constructing an impromptu mechanized unit with which to wage war against President Bashar al-Assad's army.
Syria's 21-month uprising has devolved into a no-holds-barred civil war, where each side has reached for any tool that helps it kill its adversaries more efficiently. And they're not just using the standard weapons of war: Both the rebels and Assad's army have adopted a variety of do-it-yourself weapons to continue the fight. Some are the backbone of the Syrian insurgency, while others are as dangerous to the operator as to their target.
Truck-mounted weapons are one of the mainstays of this conflict, with rebels employing DShK heavy machine guns, KPV heavy machines guns and ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannons for this purpose. The DShK and KPV heavy machine guns are usually found mounted on the BMP vehicles and BDRM-2 armored cars, both widely used by the Syrian government forces. In many cases, they have been taken from those vehicles once they've been disabled or destroyed.
The ZU-23-2 is a more powerful weapon, capable of firing large, 23mm shells over a greater distance. It has proved itself as a deadly anti-air weapon: An October report from the Institute for the Study of War estimated that it has been responsible for 90 percent of the aircraft brought down in Syria.