Saturday 3 November 2012

Improving Syrian Oppositon Armaments Demonstrated During The Taftanaz Airbase Attack

Early this morning Syrian opposition fighters began a co-ordinated assault on Taftanaz air base in the Idlib Governorate, used as a base for a significant number of Syrian Air Force helicopters operating in the surrounding area.  Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons reported on the fighting

One of the interesting aspects of the operation was the use of a variety of much heavier weapons than we've generally seen used in the conflict so far.  To start with we have videos of the common ZU-23-2 auto-cannons and KPV heavy machine guns being used as anti-aircraft weapons

Not so unusual, nor is this mortar being used to attack the air base

But what we also see are at least one Type-63 multiple rocket launcher being deployed, firing a volley of five 107mm rockets with a range of up to 8km in this video

We also see the increasingly common DIY rockets being fired at the airport

But what's very interesting is the use at least one T-55 tank in the operation

So far in the conflict we've only seen a handful of occasions where tanks and other armoured vehicles have been used in combat, no doubt because of the risk of using them without air cover, so it's interesting to see a T-55 being used in an attack where the Syrian Air Force wouldn't have that far to travel to find an attacking tank.  Maybe this suggests the opposition are becoming more confident in using anti-aircraft weapons to defend their more vulnerable weapons.
In conclusion we see that the following weapons were used in the attack:
  • ZU-23-2 auto-cannon
  • KPV heavy machine gun
  • Type-63 multiple rocket launcher
  • T-55 tank
  • DIY rockets
  • Mortars

Quite a variety of weapons, and seems to demonstrate how the opposition are becoming increasingly well armed as the conflict continues. 

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  1. Were they trying to overrun the base, or to establish themselves in the SAM (well, ZSU) template in order to deny it, as they seem to have done elsewhere with 14.5mm HMGs?

    as a guerrilla force, it might be advantageous to deny flight operations there but keep the government forces at the base in being, so they have to keep trying to resupply it, as well as avoiding a force-on-force, high risk assault on the place.

  2. you'll of course remember Lawrence writing about the Turkish army in the Hejaz.