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Invention consists in avoiding the constructing of useless contraptions and in constructing the useful combinations which are in infinite minority.
-- French mathematician Henri Poincare

One could be forgiven for thinking that the Syrian rebels currently fighting to overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have spent a little too much time watching "Junkyard Wars."

To wit: the unfortunately named Sham II. (It's a reference associated with a geographical region known as Greater Syria, in case you're wondering.)

Using the chassis of an old car and some 2.5-centimeter metal plating (sporting what looks to be a healthy patina of rust), rebels based in Bishqatin, near Aleppo, constructed a homemade tank.

Perhaps the singular feature of this killing contraption is that its turret-mounted 7.62-millimeter machine gun appears to be controlled by a game console from an old PlayStation.

The driver of the tank steers using information relayed from five externally mounted cameras to a video screen inside. As "The Atlantic" writes, "it kind of looks like a man cave."

Touted by the rebels as "100 percent made in Syria," the tank, which seats two, took a month to design and build and reportedly cost $10,000 (machine gun not included).

Abud, a rebel fighter involved in the project, surmises that the Sham II can resist up to 23-millimeter cannon fire but could not withstand tank fire or a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade.

Abud says the Sham II is soon to see action as part of the Saad Benmoaz battalion of the Al-Ansar brigade.

In the understatement of the year, the French news agency AFP reports that the Sham II is a big improvement over its predecessor, which protected the driver but left the rest of the crew exposed.

-- Grant Podelco

Watch a video of the Sham II from Russia's RT TV station:

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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