Bellingcat

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Evidence Of New Incendiary Bombs Used In Syria

As I reported last week recent successes in the Aleppo and Idlib regions by Syrian opposition forces appear to have triggered another escalation in the Syria air war, with incendiary cluster munitions being deployed in locations across Syria.  A new video from al-Bab, Aleppo, has now emerged showing another type of incendiary bomb making it's first appearance in the conflict


What we are seeing in this video is a ZAB-100-105 incendiary bomb, with it's designation clearly marked on the bomb casing


This cutaway image gives you a sense of the shape of an undamaged ZAB-100-105 (source)



With reports of incendiary artillery rounds being used by the Syrian army, and more videos of incendiary cluster bombs emerging it seems the pro-Assad slogan of "Assad or Syrian burns" might be turning into more than just a something shouted at pro-government rallies. 

Update December 23rd Nic Jensen-Jones has put together this excellent post examining the payload of these bombs that's well worth a read.

Related Articles
First Evidence Of Incendiary Submuntion Cluster Bombs Used In Syria  
Clear Evidence Of DIY Barrel Bombs Being Used By The Syrian Air Force
Heavy Weapons And Surface To Air Missiles Captured From The 46th Regiment Base
Video Shows Captured SA-16 And SA-24 Surface To Air Missiles
Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads

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


Sunday, 25 November 2012

New Videos Show Even More Heavy Weapons Captured From The 46th Regiment

As I've been posting for the last few days a recent major victory at the 46th Regiment base near Aleppo has resulted in large numbers of heavy weapons being captured by the Syrian opposition, including surface to air missiles, tanks, and artillery.  Now more photographs and videos have been posted online showing a large collection of heavy weapons that are claimed to have been captured from the 46th Regiment base.


In this first video we at first see, from right to left, a T-55 tank, a BMP-1, what I believe is a BMP variant, and three more tank, possibly T-55s. We then see 6 truck mounted guns, including ZPU-2s, DShKs, and KPVs, likely used in the attack rather than captured from the base.

We then have this video from the same gathering showing off some of the artillery captured


First we see a 130 mm M-46 field artillery gun, then three D-30 howitzers, which I gave more details on in an earlier post

HamaEcho posted a number of photographs showing even more equipment, apparently taken at the same gathering.


In this first picture we get another look at the 130mm M-46 field artillery gun, along with four Type-63 multiple rocket launcher, a weapon that until now was the longest ranged artillery weapon widely available to the Syrian opposition (see here for more details of their past use).


This photo provides us with another angle on the various collected artillery pieces.


Again, another angle on the artillery, and what I believe is a 120mm M1938M mortar.  Finally we have one last video from Al Jazeera Arabic filmed at this gathering


It's difficult to get a sense of whether or not they filmed additional vehicles and weapons, but at one point a BTR-60 or BTR-70 is visible in the background.

It should be noted one earlier video showed six Type-63 launchers, and there's no sign of the surface to air missiles captured, so it seems unlikely this shows off every heavy weapon captured.

Related Articles
Videos Show More Heavy Weapons Captured From The 46th Regiment
Videos Show Complete SA-7 MANPADS Reportedly Looted From The 46th Regiment Base
Heavy Weapons And Surface To Air Missiles Captured From The 46th Regiment Base
Video Shows Captured SA-16 And SA-24 Surface To Air Missiles
Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads
Unexploded Bombs Used In A Truck Bomb By Jabhat al-Nusra

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

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Videos Show More Heavy Weapons Captured From The 46th Regiment

Early on this week I posted about some of the equipment captured from the 46th Regiment base near Aleppo after an attack by the Syrian opposition, including videos of T-55 tanks, Type-63 rockets launchers, SA-7 and SA-16 surface to air missiles, and various artillery pieces.  Two new videos have now been posted showing more equipment looted from the base.  This first lengthy video provides us with a tour of the 46th Regiment base

At 3:26 we see two T-55 tanks, one of which we see later loaded onto a truck, ready to be transported out of the base.  We also see plenty of abandoned trucks, as well as the same BTR-60 I highlighted in this earlier video.

Away from the 46th Regiment base we have this selection of heavy weapons reportedly captured from the base

It begins with a T-55 tank, then shows a D-30 howizter, followed by a 130 mm M-46 field artillery gun, and a second D-30 howitzer.  The D-30 howitzer has an effective range of 15.4km, 21.9km with a rocket assisted projectile; and the M-46 field artillery has a range of between 27.5km to 38km with a rocket assisted projectile.  Compared to the range of the Syrian opposition most recently used long range weapon, the Type-63 multiple rocket launcher with a 8.05km range, it's clear this would be a significant improvement in the range of heavy weapons used by the Syrian opposition.  The question is whether or not the Syrian opposition has members who can use these weapons accurately and effectively.

We might see these weapons making an appearance soon at another key battle being fought at the Sheikh Suleiman army base, 15km north of the 46th Regiment base.  Covering around 200 hectares of rocky hills 25km west of Aleppo the Syrian opposition claims "The day Sheikh Suleiman falls, all of western Aleppo will finally be liberated. Give it 45 days and Aleppo city will fall too", and with the 46th Regiment base captured after a lengthy siege freeing up it's attackers to join the battle at Sheikh Suleiman with their freshly acquired heavy weapons it seems as if this may not be an idle boast.

Related Articles
Videos Show Complete SA-7 MANPADS Reportedly Looted From The 46th Regiment Base
Heavy Weapons And Surface To Air Missiles Captured From The 46th Regiment Base
Video Shows Captured SA-16 And SA-24 Surface To Air Missiles
Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads
Unexploded Bombs Used In A Truck Bomb By Jabhat al-Nusra
Clear Evidence Of DIY Barrel Bombs Being Used By The Syrian Air Force


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


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Videos Show Complete SA-7 MANPADS Reportedly Looted From The 46th Regiment Base

As I noted in my recent article about the weapons and equipment captured from the 46th Regiment base outside of Aleppo it appears as at least 10 crates of the type used to store a variety of SA series surface to air missile systems were looted from the base by the Syrian opposition.  The ten crates in question can be seen in this video


The only crate that has been opened has a SA-16 missile tube and battery, but no visible grip-stock, a type part of the system that's required for it to be fired.  The best view of the crates they are stored in is here


And another example of this type of crate can be seen in this earlier video showing a number of SA-24 missile tubes, this specific examples showing a SA-24 Maket (mock-up) training model

Although the first picture isn't too clear you can see the have roughly the same sort of design, and this is the type of crate these surface to air missiles are transported in.  In a later video from the 46th Regiment raid we also see a truck loaded with crates, and we briefly see the end of crates that match the ones seen above


At this point I'm sure at this point you are wondering why I'm going on about the shape and design of crates.  What I want to establish is this design of crate is used to transport SA series missile system parts, as we now have this new video from the 313 Brigade featuring one of the same type of crates that contains a complete SA-7 missile system, which they claim was looted from the 46th Regiment


Here we get a good view of the contents of the crate, two missile tubes, two batteries, one on the bottom left corner and the 2nd in the middle of the bottom of the picture, and most importantly the grip-stock, absent in so many examples of these captured weapons



The Syrian opposition member in the video demonstrates how the system is put together, and shows the completed system ready to fire


Here we not only have a demonstration of how to put together a SA-7 MANPADS for other members of the Syrian opposition who might have looted SA-7s elsewhere, but evidence that at least one pair of SA-7 MANPADS that they cliam to have looted from the 46th Regiment base, and with 10 crates in those stacks, minus one containing the SA-16 system, that could mean up to 18 complete SA-7 MANPADS.

The most important thing here is the presence of the grip-stock.  Usually shipped separately they are often the key missing component from looted surface to air missile systems, but unlike the batteries they can be reused, so only one is needed to make all the missiles and batteries usable.

Related Articles
Heavy Weapons And Surface To Air Missiles Captured From The 46th Regiment Base
Video Shows Captured SA-16 And SA-24 Surface To Air Missiles
Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads
Unexploded Bombs Used In A Truck Bomb By Jabhat al-Nusra
Clear Evidence Of DIY Barrel Bombs Being Used By The Syrian Air Force
Cluster Bomb Usage Rises Significantly Across Syria


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


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

First Evidence Of Incendiary Submuntion Cluster Bombs Used In Syria

Recently a number of videos have been posted online that seem to indicate that a new type of bomb is being used in Syria, likely an incendiary bomb of some type.  For example, this video from the Aleppo region shows what appears to be the contents of one of these bombs


It's unclear what this substance is, but some people believe it's white phosphorous, but as yet there's been no evidence of how these bombs have been delivered.

The following video from the Aleppo region shows what I believe is the first evidence of incendiary cluster bombs being deployed in Syria


At first glance these may look like regular RBK cluster bombs, but this image from the video showing the bomb markings tell us exactly what the bomb is


The text reads RBK-250, the cluster canister type, and ZAB-2.5.  ZAB stands for zazhigatelnaya aviatsionnaya bomba, meaning "incendiary aircraft bomb".  At the end of the video we also see what appears to be the scorched remains of one of the bomblets.  As yet it's unclear the exact type of incendiary substances used with the ZAB-2.5 bomblets, so I cannot confirm this is white phosphorus.  This clearly indicates that there's at least one incendiary cluster bomb in this, picture, and three if the tail fins belong to RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 cluster bombs.

As with all cluster bombs we'll almost certainly see more evidence of cluster bomb canisters and unexploded bomblets, so expect more videos like this in the future.  It's also interesting to note that this bomb appears shortly after the recent significant gains by the Syrian opposition across the country, much like cluster bombs began to appear after the Damascus-Idlib highway was captured near Maarrat al-Numan in Idlib.

Update December 16th Nic Jenzen-Jones has put up a couple of great posts on his blog detailing the contents of the ZAB bomblets (a variety of thermite mixes), and a guide to telling the difference between white phosphorous and thermite munitions, both highly recommended reads.

Related Articles
Heavy Weapons And Surface To Air Missiles Captured From The 46th Regiment Base
Video Shows Captured SA-16 And SA-24 Surface To Air Missiles
Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads
Unexploded Bombs Used In A Truck Bomb By Jabhat al-Nusra
Clear Evidence Of DIY Barrel Bombs Being Used By The Syrian Air Force
Cluster Bomb Usage Rises Significantly Across Syria


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


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Hackgate - Dacre's Dodgy Dossier - War Of Attrition

The latest piece from my regular contributor.

What on earth could have brought about The Mail's scatter-gun 'Dodgy Dossier'?  For a start, it's not even news...

13th July 2011
Way back, in the dim distant days before the Leveson (yes, there really was a time before Leveson...), Prime Minister David Cameron announced he was setting up a judge-led inquiry into press practices. Lord Justice Leveson was appointed to report to the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport. 

20th July 2011
The Prime Minister announced the Terms of Reference and appointment of “a panel of experts” to assist the Inquiry.  He named each of them and observed (Hansard, 20 July 2011, column 918): “These people have been chosen not only for their expertise in the media, broadcasting, regulation and policing, but for their complete independence from the interested parties.”  Ed Miliband too welcomed the Inquiry "and, indeed, the panel members chosen by the Prime Minister". Cameron praised cross-party agreement which had “worked well over the judicial inquiry, the panel, the terms of reference". (Hansard, 20 July 2011, column 918 onwards)  So it is clear that the Assessors were Prime Ministerial appointments, in consultation with two Secretaries of State, and with cross-party agreement. They were not appointees in Leveson's gift.

At that time, News International might have been the most apprehensive about the forthcoming Inquiry. Yet, arguably, Paul Dacre and Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL) have proved the most challenging to Lord Justice Leveson. The Inquiry would hear evidence on ANL's past record with the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) when confronted with criticism - allegedly approximating string it out, object, delay, object some more, delay, go missing, too busy, fail to respond, object again.  Leveson may well have reflected later that this obdurate strategy was mirrored in ANL's dealings with him - the self-same modus operandi in macrocosm.

28th July 2011 
Leveson held an initial session and press conference to introduce himself, Assessors & Terms of Reference etc.  He also drew attention to the Inquiries Act, and its provision that any objections on Assessor appointments could be made within 14 days. None were made.

Summer 2011
Coordination, planning and procedural sessions continued on a variety of topics, including deciding who would have crucial Core Participant status. For example,
"Mr Mathieson of RPC repeated his position, identified in correspondence, that Associated Newspapers Ltd were minded to ask for core participant status but said that he was not in a position to do so in the absence of the Editor in Chief.  On other issues, he was without instructions." 

Pre-evidence discussion Seminars were scheduled  Mindful to include a range of experience and opinion, Leveson invited Paul Dacre to chair one of the Seminars: "I did ask him to participate. Unfortunately, on 6th October he cannot, and I am waiting to hear from him about the 12th, I understand."

26th August 2011
ANL wrote to Leveson, questioning the role and remit of the Assessor function, and challenging three of the six Assessors - Sir David Bell (here), George Jones (here), and Elinor Goodman (here).

In addition, ANL complained that the panel of Assessors lacked balance as none had tabloid or mid-market newspaper experience (oddly overlooking Elinor Goodman's freelancing for ANL's own Mail on Sunday).  Written exchanges continued with ANL adding concerns about Inquiry strategies they considered political partisanship for good measure.  Letters, submissions, maneuvering rumbled on all summer, delaying and distracting from the main business of the new Inquiry, leading to this revealing exchange:
MR CAPLAN: I am sure you will understand that Associated Newspapers, whom I represent, do not in any way wish to be confrontational with the Inquiry, but you will also understand of course --

LORD JUSTICE LEVESON: The letters didn't quite read like that.
 Leveson made a salient point about ANL's argument that long experience of working with tabloids should be the prime criterion for balance of Assessors.  If so, he suggested, it "would have been open to them (the Ministers) or to me to appoint, for example, Mr Mulcaire.  He has expertise."  (ANL Oral Arguments)  Far from being swatted away dismissively, Leveson mustered the patience of a saint to give ANL's objections due consideration.

17th October 2011
Leveson's formal Ruling reiterated any appeal against Assessors would have needed to be promptly addressed to the Ministers who appointed them not Leveson himself, and that he was satisfied with their relevance and integrity.  By this point, it should be remembered, the Inquiry evidence Hearings hadn't even begun. Finally in mid-November the Evidence Hearings started. But by Day 2, ANL's Opening Submission again set an uncompromising tone.  There were three main issues raised: the absolute necessity of press self-regulation, objections to anonymous witnesses, and - red rag to Dacre's bull - ANL's asserted innocence re Operation Motoman. (for background see here)

21st November 2012
Hugh Grant gave evidence.  That evening, "Paul Dacre, the Associated Newspapers editor-in-chief, had a hand in the drafting of the Daily Mail publisher's statement accusing Hugh Grant of "mendacious smears" (Guardian

Who can forget the interminable arguments in Court 73 twixt ANL and Mr Sherborne..?

2nd December 2011
Leveson held a closed session with Core Participant counsel to discuss the general treatment of Operation Motorman materials. A consensus was reached that there was prima facie evidence of newspaper 'bulk users' illegalities.  On condition of that collective consensus, Leveson proposed not to make the Motorman files public.

2012 dawned. Perhaps New Year's resolutions would bring peace and goodwill...

13th January 2012
Application for Judicial Review
High Courts of Justice, Case No: CO/11362/2011:
Before LORD JUSTICE TOULSON, MR JUSTICE SWEENEY and MRS JUSTICE SHARP
 Between: (Claimant)
THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS LIMITED
- and -
(Defendant) THE RT HON LORD JUSTICE LEVESON (AS CHAIRMAN OF THE LEVESON INQUIRY)
In short, ANL applied for permission of overrule Leveson on allowing anonymised witness evidence from those fearful of victimisation.  ANL opined that Leveson would thereby be trampling on natural justice, risked causing them reputational damage, and trangressed their section 10 Human Rights.  Mr Justice Toulson declined...
...to micromanage the conduct of the Inquiry by the Chairman... (I) refuse this application for judicial review. For the future,...protocol will be matters of detailed consideration for him, which should not foreseeably give rise to further requests for judicial interference.

Mr Justice Sweeney: I agree.   

Mrs Justice Sharp:  I also agree.
The week scheduled for evidence from Editors was inconvenient for Dacre - again.  Robert Jay reported, ...
some people may be wondering why Mr Paul Dacre is not on the list for today. The answer is he's not available for the rest of this month, and indeed for today, but we have lined him up, as it were, for 6 February
6th February 2012
Dacre's first appearance. Duly sworn-in, Leveson welcomed him: "Mr Dacre, I thank you, as I've thanked the editors of other newspapers who have allowed me to visit their newsrooms. I know you weren't there at the time but I'm grateful to you for allowing me to do so"

Asked by Robert Jay if complainants to the PCC were commonly worn down by a protracted ANL 'war of attrition', Dacre categorically denied it (p45).  When questioned closely on Motorman and use of Steve Whittamore, Dacre became obstinate and combative.  He refused to accept ANL's titles might have been complicit in illegality so Leveson called a short break to allow him to consult Counsel.  On return Dacre was hardly pacified, asserting that whilst Whittamore may have done illegal acts ANL journalists had demonstrably not. (p57)

Because of the spat over Hugh Grant and the 'mendacious smear' allegation - Leveson directed that Dacre return for a second appearance.  Mr Caplan QC first argued against Dacre having to appear again, and then seemed to prevaricate as to whether Dacre would even comply. The exchanges are interesting:
LORD JUSTICE LEVESON: We, of course, as you know, fitted in to Mr Dacre's timetable....  We WILL find some short period of time for this to be the subject of further evidence and we shall do that this week. And there it is.
MR CAPLAN: Sir, I obviously will have to make enquiries of --
LORD JUSTICE LEVESON: Yes.
MR CAPLAN: I have no idea of Mr Dacre's whereabouts.
LORD JUSTICE LEVESON: Mr Caplan, I'm very sorry. I know that Mr Dacre is busy. We have worked very hard to fit ourselves around his commitments. I cannot believe that in the next three days it is not possible to find a few minutes. We shall fit ourselves around him to such extent as we can but I beg you not to ask me to go further. 
(for more, see The Motorman Files and Dacre's Dilemma)

9th February 2012
Required to give that encore appearance (and clearly there grudgingly), yet another Dacre robust defence was prompted re Grant's "mendacious smears" - and a testy 11 page Supplemental Statement.



14th June 2012
ANL's counsel wrote to the Inquiry and, arguably, reneged on the consensus understood to be have been reached that the Motorman files demonstrated prima facie offences by press journalists.

18th June 2012
The Mail splashed its story alleging that Leveson had threatened to resign, was stifling free speech, and had clashed with Michael Gove's right-minded defence of press liberty.


19th June 2012
A seeming Motorman-related Submission from ANL on 'Standard of Proof', challenging Lord Justice Leveson. (here)
In ANL’s submission the issues to be considered are as follows:
(1) Whether it is open to the Chairman to express concerns based on suspicion?
(2) If so, in what circumstances, including, whether the grounds giving rise to the suspicion must be reasonable grounds or whether a lower standard of proof is acceptable, having regard to the duty of fairness?
(3) Whether it is fair or appropriate when dealing with allegations of a criminal or quasi-criminal nature for the Chairman to state that he finds such allegations proved on the civil standard?
10th July 2012
Leveson's measured response, via written Ruling - addressed solely to ANL - was that he considered "it would not be appropriate to reach a conclusion about the Whittamore material that one of the most significant core participants (and one of the largest users of Mr Whittamore’s services) wished to challenge without deploying that evidence in public" (p8)  So, Leveson was being very clear that he could and would put selected Motorman evidence into the public domain. As just ANL were recanting, he was prepared to arrange that only Motorman files exclusively linked to ANL titles would be made public.  To reinforce the point, he was happy to order the necessary additional public Hearings in August.  It did not sound as though Leveson was making an empty threat.

13th July 2012
ANL backed down by apologising for any misunderstanding: "It was not our intention to resile from the position confirmed on a confidential basis to the Inquiry in December 2011." (see here)

Lord Justice Leveson and Mr Jay QC must have given sighs of relief.... prematurely.

20th July 2012
ANL Closing Submission, (p41)
ANL also remains concerned that one of the Assessors who will be assisting the Chairman in his task is the former chairman of the Media Standards Trust, whose proposals for regulation - opposed by ANL and other publishers - include a proposed regulatory "backstop"
23rd July 2012Future Directions Ruling (here).  Amongst other observations, Leveson returned to Operation Motorman.  One outstanding issue he identified was "concerning the attitude of Associated Newspapers Ltd to the evidence revealed in the documentation seized from the private detective Steve Whittamore."  He reported back publicly ANL's letter apologising for any misunderstanding on the Motorman evidence.  Leveson also reminded that Mr Sherborne (Counsel for Core Participant Victims) was in the process of collating information on journalists named in the Motorman files who were still in continuous employment with the relevant titles. This exercice was to determine if those journalists had been rewarded by promotion or had perhaps retained data obtained from Whittamore.  Once presented, Leveson required responses from the newspapers by 10th September.  at time of writing, only one of those responses has been made public on the Inquiry web site - from ANL.

7th Sept 2012
Two days before the deadline, ANL sent the Inquiry 'Witness Statement from ANL re Steve Whittamore data'.  It suggested that the Inquiry misunderstood the organic, perhaps haphazard, nature of working journalists collection and retention of people's personal data that they procured.  ANL considered it disproportionate to search for and collate this "low grade" personal information, failed to name any journalists, and said they did not realise that Leveson actually required a response to his request made to Dacre as the Inquiry team had omitted to remind them.

16th November 2012
Safely past the cut-off date which may have risked another Leveson admonishment, Dacre launched his 'Dodgy Dossier' fusillade. Obviously unused to not getting his own way, the 'Special Investigation' targeted Leveson's questionable associates, raising "disturbing questions"  of the "quasi-masonic nexus" of "an elite" of "People-Who-Know-Best". (Dossier here)

What could have provoked Dacre's itchy trigger finger?  Well, there is one thing left out of our timeline as we don't know the 'if' or 'when'.  It is a requirement that Lord Justice Leveson write, giving notice and inviting response, to anyone he intends to criticise in his Final Report.

Hmmmm.... could it be that Dacre's Mail have had a Section 13 letter from Lord Justice Leveson? 

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Hackgate - The John Boyall Files

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

Monday, 19 November 2012

Heavy Weapons And Surface To Air Missiles Captured From The 46th Regiment Base

Today we've seen a number of reports about the capture of the 46th Regiment base west of Aleppo, after two months of fighting around the base.  EA Worldview has a summary of the events, which includes these claims
Rebel fighters took control of the 46th regiment in the western suburb of Aleppo, the last bastion of regime forces in the area and the biggest military base where its artillery and tanks used to bombard the surrounding towns and villages as well as the city of Aleppo. The base also was the main reinforcement’s source to regime forces fighting in Aleppo city. The rebels acquired more than ten military tanks and a number of rocket launchers, heavy artillery in addition to a big quantity of arms and ammunition.
Al Jazeera also had this report


Several Youtube channels have been posting footage from the battle, as well as footage of what was captured, including atareb mohrara, atarebintoheart, freenorthernsyria, and atarebsyfree2012, and from those channels we can see a great deal of equipment was looted.

For example, in the below video we see a captured T-55 tank driving away with a D-30 howitzer, with the howitzer's ammo pictured in this video


In this video we see multiple tanks, although from the quality of the video it's unclear if they are functional, or if they are all T-55s


In the below video we briefly see a BTR-60 in the background, along with what appears to be the T-55 shown towing D-30 in the first video, which can be seen clearly in this second video of the scene shot from behind the tank.


These videos show six Type-63 multiple rocket launchers, which I've written about in more detail here




There's also large amounts of crates containing a variety of ammo captured, and in these two videos we get a brief look at a SA-16 missile tube, along with it's battery


It appears that the stack of crates it's in, and the one behind it, are all the same kind of crate, matching the crates seen in the video of SA-24s and SA-16s captured in the Bala Air Defense Base in East Ghouta, outside of Damascus.  It should be noted that as with many surface to air missile systems captured by the opposition it appears there are no gripstocks, which are required for the operation of the missile systems alongside the battery and missile tube.

Finally in this video we see trucks loaded up with crates, apparently looted from the ammo dumps, and even a brief glimpse of what looks like the ends of the SA-16 crates at 16s into the video, just on the right hand side


It appears that the Syrian opposition has managed to capture a large amount of heavy weapons with plenty of ammo in this attack, and we may see in coming days these weapons in action around Aleppo.

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

Friday, 16 November 2012

Video Shows Captured SA-16 And SA-24 Surface To Air Missiles

Following my earlier post examining evidence of SA-24 and SA-16 surface to air missile captured by Syrian opposition groups a video has been posted on Youtube which appears to show the same missiles captured, along with a large number of other weapons


Here are some key frames from the video that provides more details on what has been captured.
Thanks to Steve Zaloga and Matt Schroeder for additional information.


At the start of the video we see two crates, one holding a cutaway demonstration model of a missile, and a yellow demonstration model of the SA-24, both totally useless.


The two crates above those crates hold a pair of live SA-24 missile tubes each.


As the camera pans over we catch a glimpse of two more live SA-24 missile tubes on the right side of the screen.


The camera than shows a AT-3 anti-tank missile.


Before quickly panning over a pair of training SA-24s, again not much use to the Syrian opposition.


The camera pans up to show two crates containing a pair of training SA-24s each, along with the grip stock, and just in the top left corner we spot another pair of live SA-24 missile tubes.


The camera than quickly pans across, and for a brief moment on the right hand side of the screen we see what appears to be the edge of a live SA-16 missile tube, and more importantly what appears to be two spare SA-16 batteries.  This means the only missing component for a complete SA-16 missile system is the grip-stock.


Finally we have another pair of training SA-24s, followed by a massive amount of guns and other items.

So in total we appear to have
- 10 training or demonstration SA-24s.
- 8 live SA-24 missile tubes.
- 1-2 live SA-16 missile tubes
- 2 SA-16 batteries.

It's still unclear if live SA-16 or SA-24 grip-stocks have been captured, and training grip-stocks will not work with the live missile tubes.  However, there were reports of a helicopter shot down in the area today, as well as video of a downed Hip Mi-8, although it's impossible to know if these events were related at this stage.


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A Beginner's Guide To Identifying UXO In Syria

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


Hackgate - Sue Akers' Swansong

The latest piece from my regular contributor.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers (Retired) has now delivered her FOURTH - and final - witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry.  Dated October 31st and 'taken as read', Akers' Hallowe'en missive updates Leveson, as promised, with current developments in the multiple MET investigations into phone and computer hacking, corruption of police and other public officials and so on.  No doubt with some sense of relief, she reminds the Leveson Inquiry
However, on 31 October 2012 I will be retiring from the MPS and will be handing over responsibility for Operations Weeting, Elveden, Tuleta and all related investigations to DAC Stephen Kavanagh. 
In her 15 page statement, Akers has much to say of interest and includes  (either explicitly or by omission) some developments in those intriguing 'related investigations' or  'sub-operations' are implied.

The MET continue to liaise closely with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on which charges are most appropriate and have the most chance of advancing successful prosecutions.  Both MET and CPS will be acutely aware that each and every one of their charging decisions, and indeed their liaison process, will come under intense public scrutiny given the criticisms and consequences of the 2006-7 Operation Caryatid investigation into phone hacking by the (NOTW) News of the World's Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire. Neither MET or CPS can afford any more reputational damage or suspicions of lack of backbone in confronting alleged offences by the press. Unsurprisingly then, Akers reveals that both individual and CORPORATE charges are under consideration.

Operation Weeting:  She sets out the known charges brought so far against 7 former NOTW journalists and executives, plus one non-journalist - see CPS statement here, with a provisional trial date set for September 2013.  All eight are now on court bail.  Also, of  "the 17 arrested, six individuals have been released from police bail with no further action being taken. The remaining three individuals remain on police bail until November and December 2012. All three are on bail for offences relating to conspiracy to intercept communications."  The 1 non-journalist above plus another non-journalist are also awaiting charging decisions in relation to associated money laundering allegations.  Lastly, six others previously arrested under Weeting have been released from police bail with no further action to be taken.  Weeting sub-investigation, Operation Sacha, has so far resulted in seven individuals charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice: "A hearing for defendants’ applications to dismiss is scheduled for 12-13 December 2012."  One for the diary.

The large proportion of Weeting police resources which had to be devoted to notifying possible victims is almost complete. Those number contacted is at present c. 2,500.  The number of officers tasked is now being scaled back to 12, from a peak of 40.

Operation Elvedon:
...52 arrests consisting of 27 current or former journalists, six police officers, 12 current or former public officials and seven individuals who acted as conduits for corrupt payments. Files have been submitted to the CPS to advise on appropriate charges for three public officials and four journalists (current and former). One police officer has been charged with misconduct in public office and an offence under the Official Secrets Act 1989.
The misconduct charge of this last individual has been reported as being in connection with Operation Varec.

Elvedon charging decisions are now being considered under a range of offences:


  • corruption under the 1906 Prevention of Corruption Act
  • conspiracy to corrupt
  • misconduct in a public office
  • conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office
  • aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office
  • money laundering contrary to s328 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 
  • bribery contrary to Section 1 Bribery Act 2010


The last is intriguing - it means offences being considered must therefore include allegations which post-date 2010.

Kelvin Mackenzie, amongst others, may belatedly realise that not all of the offences being considered jointly by MET and CPS have a public interest defence. Whilst re-acquainting themselves with the law, Kelvin and his ilk should note that the CPS have overhauled their guidance on what may be held to constitute 'public interest' in evaluating potential charges (see here) and provided a very handy guide to 'Criminal Offences Most Likely To Apply To Be Committed In Cases Affecting The Media', with maximum penalties spelt out clearly.

Akers states that Operation Elvedon is pursuing evidence realting to News International, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Star and Sunday Star.  Express Newsgroup seem to be more amenable to MET investigation than Trinity Mirror does.

Operation Tuleta:
is conducting an assessment of 142 complaints of data intrusion, including allegations of phone hacking, computer hacking and improper access to banking, medical and other personal records... a vast quantity of data across 70 storage devices is being searched for evidence to support or contradict allegations made... MPS counter corruption databases and relevant HOLMES databases are also being searched. 
Counter-corruption databases?  Must be some joined up thinking going on.  Seventeen individuals have so far been arrested, plus one interviewed under caution on suspicion of offences re the Computer Misuse Act, handling stolen goods (alleged to be mobile phones), and/or perverting the course of justice.

And that's it for Tuleta....  A screechingly abrupt halt on page 10.

But sharp-eyed readers will remember that Sue Akers submitted a 15 page witness statement.  That's easily explained - page 11 REDACTED,  page 12 REDACTED, page 13 REDACTED, page 14 REDACTED, and page 15 REDACTED.

So, presumably for operational reasons and ongoing enquiries, Tuleta's sub-operation Kalmyk is off-limits (for background see here). As are any speculative links to any other past police investigations.


So it's hello to Steve and so long to Sue....

Enjoy your retirement, DAC Akers - "Thank You & Goodbye".


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

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads

Over the past month we've seen large numbers of cluster bombs being dropped by the Syrian Air Force across Syria, leaving unexploded bomblets across the country.  These are extremely unsafe and leave a long term UXO threat that one group in Syria has taken a rather novel approach to removing.  In this following video filmed in Hama from one of the groups that make up Al-Farouq Brigade we see something quite remarkable, cluster bomblets being repurposed as warheads for DIY rockets.


At the start of the video we see the bomblets being plucked from the ground, itself extremely dangerous, and the fuze being removed.  We then see the rocket workshop with rows of these bomblets on the ground, all with the fuzes removed, and we're then shown a bomblet having it's tail fins removed, and replaced with a fitting that then allows it to be screwed into the rocket.  A newly manufactured fuze is screwed into the bomlet/warhead, completing the rocket.

What this video shows isn't just simply the bomblets being used as warheads, but that there's an entire manufacturing process behind this, with new fuzes being made, the new fitting being designed and manufactured specifically for this task, and the rockets being designed around carrying the bomblets as a warhead.  It really shows how sophisticated the manufacturing process for making these DIY weapons has become.

Thanks to @HamaEcho for the video.

Related Articles
Unexploded Bombs Used In A Truck Bomb By Jabhat al-Nusra
Clear Evidence Of DIY Barrel Bombs Being Used By The Syrian Air Force
Cluster Bomb Usage Rises Significantly Across Syria
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A Beginner's Guide To Identifying UXO In Syria
The Mystery Of The Syrian Barrel Bombs

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

Unexploded Bombs Used In A Truck Bomb By Jabhat al-Nusra


Thanks to @troublejee for pointing out this post on Jihadist forum showing a rather interesting detail from a recent truck bomb attack executed by Jabhat al-Nusra.  The post details an attack that took place using what they claim was a 3.5 tonne truck bomb, claiming to have killed 200 men and injuring many more.  It's impossible to verify these claims, but I believe it relates to this report from Hama where 50 government soldiers were reportedly killed.

What caught my eye was this following image


This shows the payload of the bomb, fairly typical lengths of metal tubes filled with explosives, as seen in other examples of truck bombs, but what I find very interesting is what's between some of them.
The 4th and 6th items from the left aren't barrels of explosives, but appear to be unexploded FAB 500 M62 high explosive bombs, a pair of which can be seen in this video


As Bjørn H Jespersen notes on his blog post examining UXO evidence of FAB 500 M62s these are one of the most powerful bombs used in the conflict, carrying 200kg of high explosives, so those two bombs on the truck contain at least 400kg of high explosives, so it's no wonder that along with the explosives in the barrels they produce an massive explosion like this


Update January 7th The following video shows footage from the above attack, including the martyr video of the driver, and footage of the vehicle driving into the compound shortly before detonating.  The video also allows us to confirm the location



Related Articles
Clear Evidence Of DIY Barrel Bombs Being Used By The Syrian Air Force
Cluster Bomb Usage Rises Significantly Across Syria
Collected ODAB Thermobaric Bomb Evidence
A Beginner's Guide To Identifying UXO In Syria
The Mystery Of The Syrian Barrel Bombs
New Bomb Identified In Syria
The Weapons Of The Syrian Air Force 

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

New Type Of Shoulder Mounted Surface To Air Missile Captured By The Opposition

Update November 16th Video footage has now been posted showing the SA-24 missiles described in this post, a detailed analysis of which can be found here.

During the conflict in Syria a great deal of attention has been paid to SA-7 shoulder mounted surface to air missiles, but these are not the only type of shoulder mounted surface to air missiles in the hands of the Syrian military.

Until now there's been no evidence of these systems being captured by the opposition, but this picture shows one system, an SA-16, that was reportedly captured by Ansar al-Islam from an air defence in East Ghouta, near Damascus




Currently there's very little other information about the equipment captured, with no indication of the number of systems captured, and while it appears the battery is present it's unclear if the grip stock is also present.

Update November 13th Another new type of surface to air missile has been spotted, apparently looted from Babla Base air defence base by Ansar al-Islam, and interestingly this appears to be an SA-24 system,  the latest generation of Russian surface to air missiles


It's also been pointed out to me it appears to be the same man holding both missile systems.


Update November 14th Thanks to @penym2 who has noted that the word on the gripstock of the SA-24 might be "MAKET", the Russian word for mock-up, although it's not possible to be 100% sure due to the quality of the photograph.

The Damascus Tribune blog has also been able to gather some more details on the base attacked 
AFter some research I found out that they were captured from Bala Air Defense Base near Mleiha town of Damascus Suburbs in Eastern Ghouta (Not Babla) by Ansar al-Islam as they said in a statement they issued on their Facebook page.
Update November 14th Thanks to Steve Zaloga, editor of Teal Group’s “World Missiles and UAV Briefing”, who emailed me some very interesting information on the SA-24 pictured

When a country buys a MANPADS system, they get a standard package which includes several different types of training missiles. One type is a simple, non-functional cut-away dummy which is used to train operators on the basic construction of the weapon. They also get some non-functional models which are used for very simple training (pointing, etc.) The most elaborate type is a functional trainer which operates like the real thing and has a functioning seeker (but not a warhead or rocket motor) so that the trainee can understand what happens when they operate the real thing. The most elaborate type is a trainer that hooks into a desk-top computer simulator where the computer can be used to generate targets that are viewed on a small video device attached to the gripstock.

I can’t tell from your photo, but it would seem to be one of the functional trainers, and not a simple dummy. On these MANPADS, the gripstock (the lower section with the trigger, thermal battery and electronic package) is reusable, while the missile in its launch tube/transport tube, and the thermal battery are replaced for each launch.

BTW, the Russian word Maket is borrowed from the French (maquette) and means “Model” rather than mock-up. Maket is painted on Russian training weapons  so that troops don’t confuse them with the real thing. Likewise, they are often painted in a different color (such as silver) for the same reason.

I have no specific details on what Syria has purchased in recent years. The Russians do not usually list their sales on the UN Arms Register, or if they do, it is limited to some very generic data (160 missiles, vs. 160 Igla-S, etc). The fact that the Syrians have the gripstock trainer strongly suggests that they got it  as part of a package with the functional weapons.
Update November 15th This photo has been posted showing the missile tubes for at least 12 MANPADS, possibly SA-24s.  Hugely significant if they have complete systems


This page claims that they were captured by the Jesus son of Mary Battalion at the above mentioned Bala Air Defense Base.  It should be noted without gripstocks and batteries these missiles are useless, and neither of them are pictured.

Update November 15th Another photograph has been posted online, which appears to again show the training model of the SA-24, as well as an unrelated anti-tank rocket.  It's rather interesting no pictures of batteries or grip-stocks have been posted, which may suggest the systems are incomplete


Update November 15th A number of videos have been posted on this channel filmed at the Bala air defence base featuring the previously mentioned "Jesus son of Mary Battalion".  The description for the videos claim that they fought alongside Ansar al-Islam and the Nasser Saladin Battalion, capturing 23mm weapons (likely ZU-23-2s), SA-16s, and "Malocka" anti-armour missiles, which I believe are AT-3 missiles




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