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Syria's iPhone insurgency makes for smarter rebellion

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Lounging after a dinner to break the day's Ramadan fast as incoming artillery fire strikes nearby buildings, they recall how the current president's father, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled Syria from 1970, ordered the destruction of the city of Hama in 1982, killing at least 10,000 to crush a Muslim Brotherhood uprising. 

"His father destroyed Hama in a few days, but there was no TV there and no Internet to show the world," one rebel fighter told the Monitor. "But today we have the Internet, we photograph and film and have Al Jazeera, so people know. They can see what is happening."

Wielding thumb drives as a weapon

Making that happen has been no accident. Arriving at one makeshift rebel headquarters in a Salaheddin building with thick walls, rebel media activist Abu Mhio sits at a desk-turned-command center.

Two laptop computers sit with lids up, importing and showing combat video. Scattered about are external hard drives, video and still cameras, mobile phones, and a tangle of cables – the tools of war and public persuasion that have become prominent in Syria like no other Arab Spring revolt.

Abu Mhio's first question to a visiting journalist is: "Do you have a thumb drive?"

As he downloads images and video onto the drive, Abu Mhio explains his homegrown effort – one that has been repeated by activists across the country since the uprising began in March 2011, with anti-regime street protests that evolved into armed opposition and now civil war.

"Everything here is from my house," says Abu Mhio. "This is my laptop. This is my camera. This is a printer from my friend. We have no help from outside."

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