Confessions Of A Sniper

A rebel gunman in Syria talks about his disillusionment with the cause--and one soul-shattering decision

Alessio Romenzi for TIME

Free Syrian Army's sniper position, in Al Qsair, on February 9, 2012.

To the other men in his Free Syrian Army unit, he's simply known as the Sniper, a 21-year-old army-trained sharpshooter who defected on Feb. 21 and joined their ranks. Few of his colleagues know his first name, let alone his surname--and that's the way he wants to keep it.

He hails from a Sunni military family in a town on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus. His uncle is a general in President Bashar Assad's army. Several of his other relatives are also high-ranking military officers. Apart from his parents and siblings, however, his kinfolk all think he's dead--and that's the...

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