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Who are the Syrian rebels?


NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel, Producer Ghazi Balkiz and Cameraman John Kooistra traveled inside Syria during early July to report on the ongoing conflict there. NBCNews.com originally posted this blog on July 13, 2012.

Updated: October 8, 2012 at 9:13 a.m. ET

By Ghazi Balkiz, NBC News Producer:  

 Farmers, barbers, bakers, policemen. These are just a few of the professions of the men who call themselves the "Free Syrian Army" or simply, "the rebels" in Syria’s mountainous northwestern Jabal al-Zawiya area. 

An NBC News team made up of chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, cameraman John Kooistra and myself entered Syria to report on the conflict there. In the course of our reporting we came across many people who were involved in the struggle against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's regime. 

The rebels who we met came from various backgrounds, all walks of life and all ages. They opened their homes to us and welcomed us with open arms. We had no choice but to trust them as our guides as we traveled with them around the war-torn region. We had come to report on their side of the conflict.

Editor's note: Many of the rebels identified themselves by the common Arab custom of 'Abu' and their eldest son's (or daughter's) name. For example 'Abu Abdo' means 'Father of Abdo.'

Inside Syria with Ann Curry

Portraits from the frontline: Syrian rebels pose in Aleppo

Machine guns operated by motorcycle brakes? Get a glimpse at the rebels fighting against Assad's forces in Syria's mountainous Jabal al-Zawiya area.

Syrian Ali Bakran, an air conditioning repair man by trade, has turned into a militia commander to fight against the leader of his home country, Bashar al-Assad. After being fired upon while peacefully protesting, Bakran left his job and formed a citizen's militia. NBC News' Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel journeys inside Syria.

SANA via Reuters

A look back at the violence that has overtaken the country

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