Syrian rebels desperate for weapons

Rebels who CBS' Clarissa Ward met in Syria have crude weaponry, and must buy guns on black market at a permium.
CBS News

The rebels in Syria are up against a trained well-armed military. Their elite forces are led by the dictator's brother. So what do the rebels have? CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward has been with the rebels inside Syria twice in recent weeks. "Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley spoke with Ward reporting from Lebanon Friday. A transcript follows.

Pelley: Clarissa tell us, what do the rebels have to fight back with?

Ward: Well Scott, the group that we were with which called itself the Syrian Liberation Army had a very modest selection of light weaponry, Kalashnikovs, rocket propelled grenades -- also some very crudely-fashioned homemade bombs. But they are desperate for more weapons. They told us their only funding comes from the Syrian Diaspora, but because the supply is so limited and the demand is so high, the price of weapons has gone through the roof. They said that a Kalashnikov is about $2,500 and that is roughly five times the world average.

Pelley: A Kalashnikov being an AK-47, the standard machine gun that is prevalent in that area. I wonder how are arms getting smuggled in to the rebels. You were deep inside Syria, when you were with them last?

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Ward: There are two ways. Some weapons are being confiscated from attacks on the Syrian army and are being bought on the black market inside Syria itself. And some are being smuggled through from bordering countries. But at least one of those countries, the one I am in, is trying very hard to crack down on the supply of weapons to those rebels.

Pelley: The Saudi Foreign Minister said today that the arming of the rebels inside Syria was what he called "an excellent idea." Clarissa Ward thank you very much, reporting tonight from Lebanon.

By the way, we noted this week is the anniversary of the Assad dictatorship: President Assad's father took over Syria 41 years ago.

  • Clarissa Ward
    Clarissa Ward

    Foreign Correspondent, CBS News