Crude weapons, exhausted forces fuel deadly stalemate in Aleppo

ALEPPO, Syria -- The siege on rebel-held eastern Aleppo, which is slowly choking the life out of almost half the city, is being painfully drawn out because neither Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, nor the opposition are strong enough to win decisively, nor weak enough to be forced to capitulate.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer says one missile in particular has become a trademark of the opposition fighters in the city -- once Syria’s economic powerhouse and its most densely populated metropolis.

Cooking gas canisters are sawn in half, packed with explosives, closed up and mounted on crude tail fins. They are then aimed -- sort of -- and launched through an ordinary piece of steel pipe. The result isn’t pretty, or accurate, but it is lethal.

In a neighborhood recently recaptured from the rebels by the Syrian army, soldiers who didn’t want to be identified gave CBS News a tour of the basement of a ruined building that had been a makeshift bomb factory.

There were piles of the parts needed to build the simple, cheap homemade bombs everywhere -- and some leftover devices that looked like they could be ready to blow up.

But on the other side, the Syrian army has deadly improvised weapons of its own, including the now infamous barrel bombs.

When you put crude weapons in the hands of poorly trained and overstretched fighting forces, on both sides of this grinding war, and Palmer says you are left with the current situation in Aleppo; death and devastation on an epic scale, and stalled front lines.

In southern Aleppo, it’s taken the Syrian army three months to advance about 800 yards.

All around, there’s misery for the civilians trapped in a war they didn’t ask for, and which they now have no power to end.

The fact that no promise of a ceasefire came out of talks this weekend between Russia and the United States was only the latest blow to the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve lost almost everything amid the stalemate.