They call it the jineyee, Arabic for "genie" -- or crazy female. Standing at about 60 cm high, the rust-colored metal tube doesn't look like much. But it's what's inside that counts: 2 kg of yellow granular explosive material, hooked up to a trigger device that is remotely detonated.
The handful of Free Syrian Army members who gather in this safe house on the Turkish-Syrian border hope that the improvised explosive device (IED) will help even out the odds somewhat in what has become a brutal, vastly asymmetrical civil war in Syria. (See photos of a bomb blast in Damascus.)
On this day, eight of the cylinders were being put together in one of the two rooms of the decrepit stone house with no electricity. It's in the middle of nowhere (TIME was asked not to provide further details of its location). The bombmaker, a short, bearded man in civilian clothes and latex gloves who looked to be in his early 40s, puffed on a cigarette as he prepared what he called his "special recipe." He didn't want to give a name, not even a pseudonym. He'd learned his trade in the military, he said, where he was an explosives engineer "another lifetime" ago. He'd since improved his skills "here and there" and had been a civilian "for a long time."