Inside Syria's civil war

Sneaking across Syria's border, Clarissa Ward reports from its most dangerous city, Aleppo, where a battle rages between rebel groups and Syria's military

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Clarissa Ward: So they can buy weapons with the money?

Maher Nana: Yes. They can buy weapons-- they can buy weapons, yes.

Clarissa Ward: And the U.S. administration understands that and is at peace with that?

Maher Nana: Yes, they can buy weapons. They can buy logistics. They can buy telecommunications. They can pay salaries.

Clarissa Ward: But it is an extremely ambitious project. I mean, you're essentially a small group of Syrian Americans with limited funds who are trying to fund and organize an army.

Maher Nana: Yeah, it's a revolution. You cannot stop your ambition or limit your imagination in a revolution. This is what the revolution is.

But the optimism of revolution is giving way to the bitterness of insurgency. And as the fighting drags on, Syrians, disappointed with a West that they expected to come to their rescue, are turning elsewhere.

Maher Nana: When you fight for your life, you ask for help. And when good people don't help you, you're going to ask for help from anybody else.

Increasingly, it is Islamists from across the region who are offering their help. This video was posted online by Libyan militants who say they are training Syrian fighters, passing on their ruthless tactics and religious zeal. Western governments are reluctant to send the rebels heavier, longer-range weapons, for fear that they will end up in the wrong hands.

Ahmed al-Abaid is the kind of rebel leader they're worried about. He leads a group of several hundred jihadis, or holy warriors. These young and impressionable village boys, his latest recruits, will go into battle under the black flag of radical Islam.

After weeks of negotiations, we were allowed to travel to Azaz, a town north of Aleppo, to meet al-Abaid face-to-face. He said he was fighting for a free Syria, but for him that means a country governed under the ancient Muslim legal code of Sharia.

Clarissa Ward: You would like to see Sharia law implemented as the law of the land.

Al-Abaid (translator): Certainly. Certainly, yes.

Clarissa Ward: That is therefore saying that you wish to create an Islamic state in Syria.

Al-Abaid: And what's wrong with that? The world has misguided ideas about Islam. Muslims have never been the aggressors against anyone.

We had heard that, under al-Abaid, captured government soldiers were being tried by self-appointed Sharia judges.

Clarissa Ward: You have a judicial system here?

Al-Abaid: Yes, we got a judicial system, and everybody is happy with it. Sometimes, when we release the prisoners, and they refuse to leave.

Clarissa Ward: Would it be possible for us to meet with some of your prisoners?

Al-Abaid: Well, most of them have left. I believe there's one or two who are still there, but it wouldn't be possible for you to meet them.

Al-Abaid's men gave us a collection of videos as a parting gift. Most of them showed his fighters on the front lines in Aleppo. But one stood out. It shows four Syrian soldiers, their military IDs on display, as an off-camera voice says that they were tried and found guilty of "waging war against the people." It caught our attention because we had obtained another video from a separate source, which is very hard to watch. It begins with the same scene but then...

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