Short of Weapons, Syrian Rebels Create Their Own Arms Industry

Still outgunned by the government


SARAQIB, Syria — The workers arrive by darkness, taking their stations at the vise and the lathe. Soon metal filings and sparks fly, and the stack of their creations grows at their feet: makeshift mortar shells to be fired through barrels salvaged from disabled Syrian Army tanks.

Across northern Syria, rebel workshops like these are part of a clandestine network of primitive arms-making plants, a signature element of a militarily lopsided war.

Their products — machine-gun mounts, hand grenades, rockets, mortar shells, roadside bombs and the locally brewed explosives that are packed inside — help form the arsenal of a guerrilla force that has suffered serious setbacks this year in its effort to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.