The beleaguered Syrian soldier raises his weathered rifle in the air and declares defiantly how he and his comrades would meet a U.S. missile strike.
"When they send their rockets we'll shoot them out of the sky," he tells Bill Neely of the Telegraph.
Neely followed up the soldier's amazing assertion by asking what weapons they might have on hand to obliterate cruise missiles headed their way; a crew of fighters replied that they have secret weapons for that task.
Photo taken on August 24, 2013 on a government organized media tour shows a Syrian army soldier walking on a street in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. (Credit: AP)
Then Neely met Abu Issa, a 70-year-old pro-Assad fighter dressed in full camouflage. "I fought the Israelis in '67 and '73," he says proudly. "The Americans can shoot their missiles but they'll get nowhere. Our real enemy is over there, on the ground - al-Qaeda!"
An educated young commander is perplexed by the Obama administration's stance. "How can it be that America is going to fight us, on the side of al-Qaeda?" he asks Neely. "How can America be against a secular country and for Islamists who kill their prisoners and dump their bodies in a well?"
A Syrian military soldier holds his Ak-47 with a sticker of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Arabic that reads, "Syria is fine," as he stands guard at a check point on Baghdad street, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (Credit: AP)
More from the Telegraph:
For all the bravado, soldiers and citizens of the capital are watching events with growing concern. There are reports that a military radar system has been dismantled at Damascus International Airport; that missiles, tanks and aircraft have already been hidden; that Intelligence and Defence buildings have been emptied of vital computers. The Information Ministry has a new satellite television set-up in case the State Broadcasting building is attacked. [...]
Around the swimming pools of the rich areas of Damascus, the middle class and business leaders, or at least those of them who haven't chosen to flee, predict the unintended consequences of an American raid. If it destroys enough of the planes, airfields, helicopters and equipment that has given Assad a clear military advantage over the rebels, they say, America might give al-Qaeda linked groups the opening they need to push on to the capital and take down the whole regime. Many Christians and Sunnis, as well as Assad's key Alawite supporters, are concerned that the secular Syria they remember may be destroyed by an Islamist offensive on the back of American missiles.