As Syria's rebels work to overthrow the tank-equipped Assad regime, they've learned that it helps to have tanks of their own. They deserve bonus points for integrating video game technology. This is no exaggeration. Have a look at the opposition forces' "100 percent made in Syria" armored vehicle, the Sham II.
Named for ancient Syria and assembled out of spare parts over the course of a month, the Sham II sort of rough around the edges, but it's got impressive guts. It rides on the chassis of an old diesel car and is fully encased in light steel that's rusted from the elements. Five cameras are mounted around the tanks outside, and there's a machine gun mounted on a turning turret. Inside, it kind of looks like a man cave. A couple of flat screen TVs are mounted on opposite walls. The driver sits in front of one, controlling the vehicle with a steering wheel, and the gunner sits at the other, aiming the machine gun with a Playstation controller.
Sham II is heading up to the devastated city of Aleppo to join the combat forces there. Meanwhile, rebel forces continue to close in on Damascus and Assad's shrinking regime. Diplomats have already begun to speculate about what the Syrian president's next move would be. We do know that Assad has been exploring the option of seeking political asylum in the Middle East or in Latin American. However, it looks more likely that Assad and his cronies will retreat to the Alawite-controlled mountains on Syria's Mediterranean coast. The only other alternative -- chemical weapons attack notwithstanding -- would be for Assad to stay in the palace and fight to the end. And can you imagine standing helpless as a fierce machine like Sham II roared up the palace steps? Run, Bashar. Run.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.