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In photos: On the front lines with Syrian rebels

Reuters photojournalist Goran Tomasevic recounts the stories behind some of the gripping images he shot while on assignment with rebels in Aleppo, Syria

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Free Syrian Army fighters take a break from clashes in a coffee shop in Aleppo in this August 12, 2012 photo. The Free Syrian Army is organized and knows what they are doing. Some members are former Syrian soldiers who defected but most are young civilians, some 16 or 17 years old. They are fighting the Syrian Army with small arms and RPGs and without many supplies but somehow they set up a supply line to get fuel for their vehicles. At first they noticed my presence and were a little bit suspicious but after a while they began saying “Goran come here,” though they didn't really speak English. They would tell me what missions they were conducting or show me some positions and ask if I wanted to join them.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter reacts after his friend was shot by Syrian Army soldiers during clashes in the Salah al-Din neighbourhood in central Aleppo in this August 4, 2012 photo. The rebel’s friend was killed by a very accurate Syrian army sniper who found a hole in between sandbags and fired. The sniper shot him in the chest. I just ran fast across the street and took the pictures in really bad light - strong highlights and dark shadows. This rebel was definitely close to the fighter who'd been shot. He was in bad shape and crying a lot.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter gestures as others carry a fighter shot by Syrian Army soldiers during clashes in the Salah al-Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo in this August 4, 2012 photo. The fighter was killed by a very accurate Syrian army sniper who found a hole in between sandbags and fired. The sniper shot him in the chest killing him instantly.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter takes cover during clashes with Syrian Army in the Salaheddine neighbourhood of central Aleppo in this August 7, 2012 photo. This rebel had been firing at the Syrian army when he came under attack from sniper fire, he was pulling back into a secure position when the picture was taken. I was next to him, on the ground, and shooting with a 20mm lens. The yellow dot on his head is a reflection from the camera lens.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter screams in pain after he was injured in his leg by shrapnel from a shell fired from a Syrian Army tank in the Salaheddine neighbourhood of central Aleppo in this August 7, 2012 photo. We heard shooting and started running into the building. We heard a large explosion and then the rebel was hit by shrapnel. I was in shock and took some out of focus pictures. It was such a small room with not much light that I had to push the camera up to 3000 ISO. I couldn't see much because there was a lot of smoke. It was really difficult technically to take these pictures. There is a knife on the floor because people had just been eating lunch.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter enters a room through a hole in a wall in Aleppo in this August 12, 2012 photo. The rebels made holes in buildings, inside walls and through gates, the fighters would sneak into the houses through these holes. These holes allowed them to move around the city without going out on the streets. Sometimes, I saw some families coming back to take some goods from their homes but most of the time the houses were empty, abandoned as the families sought refuge.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter fires his sniper rifle from a house in Aleppo in this August 14, 2012 photo. Some fighters took position in the living room of a family house. One rebel sits on the chair eating a chocolate bar as the commander looks out the window to scout the area beside a rebel firing from the window. They told me it was a former Syrian army position and they had killed three soldiers in the house - I could see tracks of blood in the corridor - and taken over their position. There was no one else in the house, except the rebels.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter helps a woman to run across a street during clashes in Aleppo in this August 12, 2012 photo. One woman came back with her husband to take goods from her house. Some of the Free Syrian Army fighters told her that she shouldn't go but she ran across the street to her house alone. A fighter ran to get her and bring her back. She was crying as she ran across the street under open fire. This is one of the many Aleppo streets that you cannot go out on because you are in danger of being shot.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter fires an RPG after a Syrian Army tank shell hit a building across a street during heavy fighting in Salaheddine neighborhood of central Aleppo in this August 11, 2012 photo. There is the first in a series of three pictures. In this image you can see the tree being hit with the shrapnel.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter prepares to fire a RPG as a Syrian Army tank shell hits a building across a street during a heavy fighting in Salaheddine neighborhood of central Aleppo in this August 11, 2012 photo. This is the second in a series of three pictures. In this image you see a rebel firing an RPG.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter tries to fix his jammed rifle during a heavy fighting in Aleppo in this August 11, 2012 photo. This is the third in a series of three pictures, taken just after he fired the RPG. It was a very dramatic situation with smoke from the tank shells filling the street behind the fighters.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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Free Syrian Army fighters carry the body of a fellow fighter during clashes in Aleppo in this August 16, 2012 photo. When some of the rebels took over a government position a few of their fighters were killed by government forces. Five rebels decided to go on a rescue mission to recover the bodies of their comrades. I went with them. We were literally crawling for 150 meters. They used a long stick, on which they attached a hook to drag the bodies a few meters off the street and into very narrow alleyways. Then they carried the bodies through the streets, passing them to one another through the holes in the buildings. The whole process took about 4-5 hours; it was a really long day. The bodies will be sent back to the families.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter carries the body of a fellow fighter during clashes in Aleppo in this August 16, 2012 photo. When some of the rebels took over a government position a few of their fighters were killed by government forces. Five rebels decided to go on a rescue mission to recover the bodies of their comrades. I went with them. We were literally crawling for 150 meters. They used a long stick, on which they attached a hook to drag the bodies a few meters off the street and into very narrow alleyways. Then carried the bodies through the streets, passing them to one another through the holes in the buildings. The whole process took about 4-5 hours; it was a really long day. The bodies will be sent back to the families. One of the bodies was of the brother of one of the fighters.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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A Free Syrian Army fighter carries the body of a fellow fighter during clashes in Aleppo in this August 16, 2012 photo. When some of the rebels took over a government position a few of their fighters were killed by government forces. Five rebels decided to go on a rescue mission to recover the bodies of their comrades. I went with them. We were literally crawling for 150 meters. They used a long stick, on which they attached a hook to drag the bodies a few meters off the street and into very narrow alleyways and then carried the bodies through the streets, passing them to one another through the holes in the buildings. The whole process took about 4-5 hours; it was a really long day. The bodies will be sent back to the families. One of the bodies was of the brother of one of the fighters.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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Free Syrian Army fighters take a break from the clashes in the Salaheddine neighbourhood of central Aleppo in this August 17, 2012 photo. On my last day in Aleppo one of the fighters was walking around and looking into the buildings and he found a bird in a birdcage. He took it out of the apartment and onto the streets with him. The rebels also put this mannequin in the line of sniper fire on the street. Because I don't speak Arabic, I didn't understand exactly what they were doing. They would be laughing one minute and the next minute you would see incoming fire and about 60-70 meters away a tank shell exploding into a building.

GORAN TOMASEVIC/REUTERS

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