Vice’s SNIPERS OF ALEPPO

Vice have produced a short film on the rebel snipers operating in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. I couldn’t help but shudder when they showed a 16 year old boy trying to snipe at a long distance with an SKS in the middle of such a heavily populated city. As much as I love the SKS, I would not want to use it in a situation where my target was further away than 100 yards.

UPDATE: I cannot embed the video. Click here to watch it.

Many thanks to Jake for the tip.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Nicks87

    So… what’s your point? You can enlist in the US Army at 17 and very well become a “sniper”.

    • Anonymoose

      But you probably would be older than 17 by the time you got in and finished all the Army’s sniper training, plus these kids were thrust right into war, likely conscripted by local rebel groups, and only given minimal training.

    • Most of the snipers in our military are at least in the mid 20’s if not more.

    • SD Wheeler

      And get REAL training in doing so. Recruiting kids off the street and handing them a rifle does not make them a sniper. It is insulting to those of us who have undergone the years of training it takes to wear that badge of honor.

      • Nicks87

        Lol! A sniper talking about honor? Yeah right, whatever. There’s no honor in killing people from a concealed position at long distance. It’s about as bad as kicking in the bathroom door and shooting someone taking a s**t.

  • bbmg

    “Allah is shooting”

    Looking at their equipment and assuming their levels of training, I would agree that any hit scored beyond 100 yards is more suitably attributed to divine intervention than anything else.

  • Anonymoose

    SKSes are usually at least more accurate than AKMs though, aren’t they?

  • whodywei

    SKS should be able to hit man size target up to 400 yards and the “boy” is actually 26 years old.

    • bbmg

      He says he is “sittash”, 16

    • Simon

      That scope attached to the receiver cover… From personal experience, you will not hit something consistently at all.

    • SD Wheeler

      Neat trick. Especially with that equipment and surplus ammo.

  • Esh325

    I can hit man sized targets with an AK to at least 300 yards, and with some difficulty to 400. So I don’t see how an SKS wouldn’t be suitable to at least 300-400 yards. The biggest problem might be the way the scope is mounted. SKS’s were never really designed with optics in mind.

    • Anonymoose

      I think Molot has been refurbishing SKSes to use an AK optics rail, but I doubt any of those have been exported.

    • SD Wheeler

      Surplus ammo comes into play as well.

  • Dr1579

    If you can’t hit an 8″ paper plate at 200 yards with a SKS your doing it wrong or yours is broken. x2 if your shooting from a rest.

  • politicsbyothermeans

    I cannot watch the video at work so I may be talking out of my fourth point of contact but I think that the “snipers” are probably more akin to marksmen.

  • j

    I’m used to seeing really unskilled rebel armies on TFB and these guys are no exception

  • Riain S

    Annnd by sniper they mean “guy on rooftop who kills random people”

  • rjackparis

    I’ll give them this, They’ve got balls and the proper motivation. In my opinion it seems like being a sniper or marksmen is a VERY intimate thing. poor equipment or not. They’re still watching a guy through a scope who doesn’t know they are there, and shooting at him with the intent to kill him.

  • 032125

    snip•er (ˈsnaɪ pər) n. a person who shoots at individuals from a concealed or distant position. [1820–25]

    You don’t have to be Quigly down under or Carlos Hathcock to snipe; you only need a raged weapon and a position of concealment. Besides, every Marine I ever met was a “sniper”. Apparently there are no cooks in the corps.

  • Kyle

    Simo Hayha used iron sights on his rifle and a submachine gun and he is credited as one of the best snipers of all time. I’m pretty sure an SKS with a scope would make a good makeshift sniper weapon if you would put the effort into it.

    • Carlos U.

      Simo was using 7.62 X 54R, a tremendously powerful round balistically equivalent to a Thirty-odd six. Not 7.62 X 39, which is basically fat and slow. Okay to 300 m. or so.

  • Lee

    Sks’ can vary a lot in their inherent accuracy. Mine, can shoot 4″ groups at about 250 yards with iron sites. It’s a bone stock norinco. Ammo, is a greater factor. Besides, it’s a pretty common understanding that an sks

    • Lee

      Is generally more accurate than it’s AK successor.

  • Jason

    Pretty sure the term sniper applies more to the act than how they qualify as shooters…

  • Anonymous

    For fuck’s sake, there’s no way they have even a remote clue who they’re shooting at. You’ve got entire cities full of kids who have decided to play sniper for real, and they’re sitting together in groups shooting anyone who looks suspicious, or who remotely resembles “the enemy”.

    It could well be that there aren’t any actual loyalist troops out there in Aleppo at all, and everyone they’re shooting at is just another random civilian who looks strange (Or maybe just that guy that was always an asshole back in school, and hey, didn’t Yasser hear a rumor that he was actually a double agent for Assad? Take him out and let Allah decide…).

    Western military and law enforcement snipers go through a tremendous amount of training and indoctrination to observe their surroundings, to be utterly sure of their target beyond a reasonable doubt, and to know why they’re pulling the trigger. In the absence of any of those foundational principles, this is what you’re left with. Random mass murderers who kill while convinced of their own righteousness, ignorant of who they’re fighting or why.

    It’s depressing to watch, and that’s not even touching on the volumes which could be written on their tactical errors as well…

  • Nala

    That has to be a literal turkey shoot for TRAINED snipers of the Assad regime. I’m not buying that that group of ragtag “snipers” are killing Assad military troops with any regularity. The one guy walked into his “hide” dressed in a track suit or something like it. Like a couple other posters earlier said, they are taking anyone that is willing to martyr themselves for the cause. After a quick propaganda talk and some basic gun handling instructions, they are set out to try and kill whomever they “think” is an ASSAD military member.
    Just like with the old guy that lost his 2 sons already, he got in the fight for a while and didn’t last too long.

  • Zapp Brannigan

    I’m amazed that these snipers have lasted as long as they have given that their hides aren’t exactly hidden. It would be pretty easy for trained counter-snipers to find them and return fire on them and Assad’s forces would be far better equipped.

    Syria is going to be a war zone for many years to come.

  • Clodboy

    From Wiktionary:

    Sniper:
    a) A person using long-range small arms for precise attacks from a concealed position.
    b) Any attacker using a non-contact weapon against a specific target from a concealed position.

    This is more of a problem with the English language – in German, there are different terms for “type a)” snipers (“Scharfschütze” – “sharpshooter”, emphasizing the precision aspect) and “type b)” snipers (“Heckenschütze” lit. “hedge shooter”, emphasizing the concealment aspect).

  • vanaheym

    As I know, guy known as “Comandante” from ukrainian forum airgun.org.ua already made proof, that trained shooter can land 2 of three bullets from SKS with optical sight into man-sized target from 600 meters. (Sorry for my bad english, but this is not my native language)

    • Firehand

      I can believe a fine rifleman could manage that, with a rifle and ammo that are up to it. I doubt that bullet would have a lot of energy left at that range.

      I’ve seen a number of SKS that shot quite well with good ammo; for an urban setting, with an optical sight, I’d think it would work quite well to the 300 yards the cartridge was designed for.

  • Nicholas Mew

    Better than pot shots in a STG-44. At least he is using the sights correctly.

  • mikewest007

    Ivan Chesnokov already blew a fuse seeing a scope bolted to the rear of a SKS receiver. Can’t hit shit with that config.

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    While I agree with their assertions regarding a proper sniper requiring years of training and correctly-adapted weapons and equipment, most of the critics on this site seem to have forgotten that the Syrian rebels have clearly not had the luxury of being able to spare the time or resources for that sort of preparation. They have always been under intense pressure due to the exigencies of the civil war and have therefore had to make do with whatever was or is at hand, including resorting to the use of SKS carbines with roughly-installed receiver cover-mounted scopes operated by uninitiated teenagers, among a lot of other improvisations.

    Perhaps said critics could post better ideas to help improve the situation — taking into account the uniquely difficult circumstances faced by the Syrian rebels?

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Most of the fighting in Syria appears to have been conducted in urban or suburban environments. Under those circumstances, typical engagement ranges would be fairly close-in, i.e., under 200 meters or much less. Even the sort of rough “sniping” set-ups improvised by the rebels under desperate and difficult conditions would probably be sufficient for the purpose at hand.

    On the separate but related subject of proper target identification, “Anonymous” had a very good point — are the young would-be marksmen in question able to specifically identify and confirm those potential targets? Unfortunately, recent history does not seem to bear this out, as witness the war in the Balkans as well as the war in Iraq.

  • Andy I.

    I hope they kill each other until only one is left. Then the last one shoots himself