One of the tactics adopted by the fighters in Aleppo is the length they go to to hide their identities by wrapping their faces with the Koufieyh or wearing masks. Not because they fear a face-to-face confrontation with the Assad army but because the regime has planted many fake “defector killers” amongst the FSA to identify and hunt the fighters one-at-a-time.

As a precautionary measure also, fighters do not verbalize their communications with each other, they use sign language to communicate just so their voices cannot be recognized. Some, I am told by a commander fighting in Aleppo, when they return home to rest, disappear without notice for fear of being followed.

Another tactic they adopted recently is when on a battle front, the last defector must showcase his courage by taking the front lines. He is the fighter leading the group and is the first one to face fire. How resistant or amiable a defector is to this idea is an indication on which side he stands.

This is making it much more difficult for the Assad “defectors” to act independently. Most who are dying in Aleppo are dying in battles. The same was not true in other parts of the country.

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