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As Syria unravels, prices soar for guns, grenades, and RPGs

The cost of an AK-47 has nearly doubled, from $1,200 to $2,100, since the Syrian uprising began in March. The armed opposition says weapons are necessary to hasten the fall of Assad's regime.

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This image made from amateur video and released by Ugarit News purports to show Syrians chanting slogans during a rally in Homs, Syria, Saturday, Jan. 7.

Ugarit News/AP

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The demand for black-market weapons in Syria is soaring as the 10-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime turns increasingly violent, say Lebanese arms dealers.

Procuring sufficient supplies of weapons and ammunition has become a key requirement of rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, a military force composed of deserters from the regular army. Syrian opposition activists say they urgently need weapons to fight back against the security forces and hasten the downfall of the Assad regime.

“We are pushing for weapons but no one is listening,” says Ahmad, a Syrian activist living in hiding in north Lebanon. “Even with limited resources we are making painful attacks. Imagine what we could do if we had the weapons.”

The weapons shortage in Syria, the record high prices for arms in Lebanon, and the limited scale of smuggling into Syria suggests that the Syrian opposition has not yet secured the external logistical support that could help them tip the balance against the Assad regime. 

The Arab world for now is limiting its involvement to the Arab League observer mission which is monitoring Syria’s compliance with a deal signed last month to end the crackdown which has left more than 5,000 people dead, according to the United Nations.

The international community has slapped sanctions on the Assad regime but so far has shown a reluctance to play a more direct role. On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged a delegation from the Syrian National Council, the leading opposition body, to maintain “peaceful means” in pursuing its resistance against the Assad regime.

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