Syrian rebel from Atlanta: We fight for a cause

mahmoud, syria, rebels
Mahmoud, a bulldozer salesman from Atlanta, Georgia, who was born in Syria, now fighting with the rebels there
CBS News

(CBS News) NEAR THE TURKISH BORDER WITH SYRIA - The dictator Bashar al-Assad, urged his military to step up the fight against rebels in Aleppo, saying the street-by-street battle in Syria's largest city will decide the civil war.

The war began a year and a half ago, as a popular uprising against the 42-year-old dictatorship of the Assad family.

In northern Syria, refugees and rebels are pouring over the border into Turkey. On that border, the wounded come looking for treatment.

Shujah al-Ahmed was a soldier in the Syrian army, but he said he couldn't stand by as children were killed.

He told CBS News he was hit by an exploding mortar as he attempted to switch sides and join the rebels. He wants to go back and fight as soon as his wounds have healed.

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So far, the opposition has been outgunned and outmanned, but in the battle for Aleppo the rebels still claim they're winning.

Mahmoud, a bulldozer salesman from Atlanta, Ga. -- who was born in Syria -- told CBS News he couldn't watch from afar any longer. He decided to join the rebel cause.

Mahmoud said he's been in and out of Syria since April, when he returned as a fighter.

"We are very determined. We're gonna keep fighting even if it's with sticks and stones. We have a cause, which the military and government don't. We are fighting for a cause," Mahmoud said.

There is a refugee camp in Turkey for Syrian soldiers who have defected. It's off-limits to journalists, but the Turkish government told CBS News hundreds of officers have come across the border, including 28 generals.

Many former Syrian soldiers who have defected are now using Turkey as a base, going back and forth across the border to fight with the rebels against the Assad regime.

"We come in and out. The Turkish, they are closing eyes, when we cross. We bring our wounded people here," Mahmoud said, adding that he'll go back to Syria in a few days.

"I could get injured. I could die, but at least if I die I'm doing something for my country, that's good enough for me and for my family," Mahmoud said.

The rebel forces are men with rifles against one of the biggest armies in Middle East with tanks and helicopters and jet planes.

However, rebels say they're confident they're going to win in the ends because more and more people are coming over to their side, but they say victory is slower than they want because they don't have the weapons that they need.

What they want, several told CBS News, is heavy weapons to use against the tanks and the helicopter gunships of the regime.

The other side to that, though, is that this is a very complicated, a very messy conflict, and the foreign government who might give the rebels those weapons are worried that in the end, they could end up in the wrong hands.