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Syrian sniper says rebels must fight

Said Mermet joined the rebels when his nephew was killed by the Syrian army. He insists it's not revenge that motivates him, but the love of his country.

Said Mermet never planned on becoming a rebel in the Free Syrian Army.

When the revolution started in March 2011, Mermet wanted to join in the protests. As his mother's only son, though, he felt obliged to stay out of harm's way in order to take care of her.

Then, the Syrian military killed his nephew; he joined the Free Syrian Army that same day, on August 18, 2012.

"It was not revenge," Mermet says. "My nephew was my friend. We were the same age. I didn't want to take revenge; I wanted to complete his work of fighting for a free Syria. I wanted to help the Syrian people."

Born in Azaz, Syria, to a Turkish father and an Egyptian mother, Mermet considers himself a Syrian patriot. He had 15 days of military training with the Free Syrian Army and was then sent to Aleppo to be a sniper.

Becoming a sniper

The 31-year-old claims to have killed at least three people. He may have killed more people but as a sniper he has to move from location to location after firing each shot.

"It was very difficult the first time, but we know that if we don't kill them, they will kill us," explains Mermet. "Anyway, it is very difficult, whether they are Syrian or not. To kill a human being is very difficult but we have to do it."

After a few months in Aleppo, he was transferred to fight in rural areas near Minnagh Airport. A few months later, he was transferred to work as a border guard at the Bab al Salameh border crossing along the Syrian-Turkish border. He has been living and working here as a border guard for about six months.

When asked if he likes his job, he replies, "I like Syria."

Mermet, who has an eighth-grade education, lives in the Bab al Salameh Internally Displaced Persons camp, just a short walk from the border. He lives alongside about 10,000 Syrians seeking refuge from the conflict in their hometowns. Mermet and his wife share a three-meter by three-meter (10-feet by 10-feet) tent. His family's home in Azaz was destroyed and his mother has since died.

Mermet holds up a key ring with a picture of his nephew

Mermet felt he had to take action when his nephew was killed

The revolution has altered Mermet's life dramatically. "Of course, it is not easy. It is a big change," he says.

He says he'll fight until Syrian President Bashar al Assad is gone. He calls on the West to support the Free Syrian Army. "Of course, we don't expect them to fight for us. We are responsible for our country, we can defend our country, we can end the regime," he adds.

But, like rebel military and political leaders, Mermet says the rebel fighters need anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons.

"Kalashnikovs, sniper weapons and other small weapons can do nothing," he says. "We need [the West] to support us and we will do the rest. We will finish Bashar al Assad."

Defending Syria

Mermet insists the Free Syrian Army soldiers are not terrorists. He says they just want to defend themselves and the Syrian people.

As for the small bands of foreign radical militants coming from places like Iraq and Libya, Mermet says they should go home once the regime falls. But if they don't leave, the Free Syrian Army will fight them, too.

Once the war is finally over, Mermet simply wants to go home to resume his job repairing computers.

"We will put the weapons aside. We will go back to our jobs. Everyone will go back to his shop," he says. "We don't want to be soldiers."

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