Bellingcat

Friday, 29 June 2012

The Even More Increasingly Well Armed Free Syrian Army

Following my earlier post, The Increasingly Well Armed FSA, And Other Oddities, I've been on the look out for videos that give an indication of how well armed the FSA.  Aside from the endless defection and brigade formation videos, which usually feature the same small arms, there's been an increase in videos showing truck mounted heavy machine guns and AA guns.  Here's a selection of videos posted over the last couple of weeks

Unknown location - Truck mounted DShK heavy machine gun

Al Bab, Aleppo - Truck mounted unknown heavy machine gun

Jabel Zawieh, Idlib - Truck mounted gun, possibly a single barreled ZU-23-2 variant

Idlib - Truck mounted DShK with metal shield

Update June 30th @ginnysacksmole tells me the above individual shown operating the DShK above apparently shot down the helicopter shown lower down in this post, and received a reward of 50,000.00 SYP (781.86USD), according to reports from activists.

Hamidia, Homs - Truck mounted DShk heavy machine gun

Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib - One mounted AA gun, possibly a ZU-23 variant, and a mounted heavy machine gun with a metal shield

Deir ez Zor - Alsaitat Battalion - Truck mounted DShK

As you can see, the majority appear to be DShK heavy machine gun, with only one video (an M2 Browning) of a non-Russian made heavy machine gun posted online as far as I'm aware.

The next set of videos shows the second most prevalent heavy weapon I've come across, AA guns.

Mount Simon, North of Aleppo - Freedom Martyrs Brigade in a captured army base. ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun

Rural Aleppo - Atareb Battalion - Captured 57 mm AZP S-60 and ammo

Qabtane Ej Jebel, Aleppo - ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun firing at helicopter

Sheikh Barakat, Aleppo - Captured ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun

Although these videos are in Aleppo there have been reports of AA guns captured in other areas of Syria, and as there's also videos of the previously mentioned DShK heavy machine guns being used to fire at helicopters, which might explain where there's started to be reports of downed Syrian helicopters, including this one in Idlib

On top of the captured AA guns there's also been a number of videos showing captured armoured vehicles in a number of different locations.

Unknown location - Captured tank, unknown make.

Zabadani, Rif Dimashq - Captured BMP-1

Mardbsa, Idlib - Another captured BMP-1

Jabal Az Zawija, Idlib - Sham Falcons Brigade - Two captured military trucks and an unknown tank

Idlib - Captured BMP-1

Idlib - Captured BMP, unknown model.

I've yet to see any videos of these vehicles in combat, but it does show there's an increasing amount of armour falling into the hands of the FSA, and with an increasing amount of AA guns also falling into their hands they might actually be able to use it with the risk of it being destroyed from the air.

There's also been more videos of weapons, ammo, and equipment captured by the FSA.

Unknown - FSA capturing a truck supposedly loaded with weapons and ammo, unknown contents

Deir Al-Zour - Around 100 assault rifles, likely AK-47s, and a few RPG launchers captured along with ammo

Sheikh Barakat, Aleppo - At 3:20 crates at the captured radio station, unknown contents

So it seems that there's a steady flow of small arms and ammo from captured checkpoints and bases.  This influx of small arms is clearly reflected in the following videos, which demonstrate the sort of numbers the FSA can now muster.

Maerdebseh, Idlib - Around 50 FSA fighters armed with a variety of light arms storm the Maerdebseh checkpoint, capturing a tank

Douma, Damascus - A column of dozens of FSA fighters armed with a variety of light arms traveling in a convoy that includes heavy machine guns or AA guns mounted on trucks

Derbers, Deir-Ez Zor - A variety of videos demonstrating the strength and equipment of local forces

Rastan – Formation of the al-Hamza Brigade, demonstrating the increasing size of local FSA forces

Update June 30th Hama Echo has noted in the above video that at 0:47s in the above video you can on the right hand side of the screen a man in blue trousers holding a Strela-2 (SA-7) surface to air missile.  Rastan, where this video was filmed, is about 10km away from the missile base that defected on June 10th, from which it is has been reported a number of Stela-2's were looted.
 
One group that has caught my attention is the Al-Ansar brigade that operates in Old Homs and Talbiseh, who according to activists are a civilian group who have captured a number of heavier weapons, as demonstrated below.

Baba Amr, Homs - Al-Ansar brigade using a truck mounted B-10 Recoilless rifle to attack a check point

Talbisheh, Homs - Al-Ansar Battalion using 120mm mortars.

And this post would of course not be complete with a couple of examples of DIY weapons.

Home made mortar system

Home made rocket

In my mind the home made rocket seems rather impractical; even if you could construct it with a guidance system that gave it at least some chance of hitting a useful target it seems unlikely they could be manufactured easily enough, and in a large enough quantity to be of any use.  The mortars on the other hand could actually be of some use as it seems like quite a simple system to manufacture rounds for.

As far as I am aware all these videos were filmed in the last two weeks, and I think really shows how well equipped the FSA are getting, especially if you compare it to previous months. There's pretty strong evidence that the Syrian government is losing control of much of the Aleppo region, including losing military bases, which means more equipment for the FSA in a region where they also have the advantage of a fairly open border with Turkey. 

As always, I'm on the look out for any new footage of weapons and equipment captured or in use by the FSA, and if you think I've made any errors, or can provide any more information about the videos I've posted please let me know.

Update June 30th BH Jespersen has posted about a very interesting rocket launcher spotted in one of the videos coming out of Syria, that possibly shows a Belgian made BL-83 Blindicide (tank killer) rocket launcher.  Along with FN FAL rifles and the previously mentioned M2 Browning that brings the total of different Belgian origin weapons to 3.

Many thanks to Hama Echo, troublejee, Dsyrer, sherbalkis, James Miller, Le Shaque, BH Jespersen and many others for various videos, translation, and discussion that contributed to this post.

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmoses@gmail.com

4 comments:

  1. I want to thank you very much for giving us the possibility of having all this information in one place, its not easy for non Arab speakers to know where exactly to look on youtube for Syria war related videos. You do a terrific job, thank you !

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  2. This area is something I'll be keeping an eye, so expect more posts like this every week or so.

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