Syria slowly inches towards civil war
“Assad’s armoured vehicles are coming and they have nothing to stop them.”
“Give them five or six of ours. God willing we will find some more,” replied the man in charge, sitting cross-legged on the floor.
This conversation took place in the Bab Amr quarter of Homs.
The man giving the order for the RPGs to be sent had an M-16 automatic rifle, complete with sniper sight. The weapon did not have a scratch on it. It was brand new, just smuggled from Lebanon, they said.
We had entered Syria the same way the M-16 had, from Lebanon, with men running guns to what is a growing insurgency.
Passage was arranged for us by the Free Syrian Army, or just “Free Army” as it calls itself, a force comprised of defectors from the government forces.
Casualties come out the same way that guns go in. As we set off in fading light from a Lebanese farmhouse, an injured man was brought in and set down, semi-conscious and moaning.
A doctor examined two bullet wounds.
“Fifty-fifty,” said the doctor about the man’s chances. “Probably less than that.”
He had lost a lot of blood in the hours it had taken to carry him across the border.
But even that terrible, jolting, uncertain journey was better than risking arrest at a Syrian government hospital.
We - myself and cameraman Fred Scott - crossed the unmarked border into Syria with the smugglers just before midnight.
The Syrian Army has been laying mines to try to stop this traffic. So far, they have not been successful.
Creeping through orchards and over farmland, the men tried to avoid Syrian patrols.
Hours earlier, in the same place, another smuggler had been caught after being surprised by Syrian soldiers.
We had heard shooting as he tried to run away.
Each man carried two of three rifles for the fighters inside.
Fuelled by demand in Syria, the price for a black market Kalashnikov has gone up to $1,200 (£770) in Lebanon.
They were not paid smugglers, though, but supporters of the revolution.
“The regime has had us under siege for 40 years,” said Huda, who left his job as a painter and decorator in Lebanon to help the Free Army. “We have been starving for 40 years.”
With remarkable efficiency, we were passed along a chain of smugglers, activists, and fighters, each group taking responsibility for a small section of our journey.
We were driven on back roads, slipping around checkpoints, until we reached the outskirts of the city of Homs, the main centre of opposition to the regime.
There we were met by a group of activists taking medicines and dressings to an underground field hospital.
The Syrian government had ringed Homs with checkpoints and observation posts, they told us.
The troops would open fire if we were spotted. Everyone ran as we crossed a ditch, and then a main road, into Homs.
There was an atmosphere of siege, tension and constant fear in Bab Amr.