Bellingcat

Monday, 31 December 2012

Video Appears To Show A Syrian Army Soldier Executed By Ahfad al-Rasul Brigade For Heresy

Today I was made aware of this video posted on the pro-opposition news24deiralzour Youtube channel, apparently showing a man being executed titled "execution of a Shabih who tampered with the Quran and likened Bashar to Allah almighty"


Having searched for earlier versions of this video it appears it was first posted on the KatibatAhfadAlrasool Harem Youtube channel, titled "one of Assad's dogs executed in Harem".  Harem is a small town in the Idlib region, located here, and the Ahfad al-Rasul [Grandchildren of the Prophet] brigade are believed to be a Jihadist/Salafist brigade operating outside of the FSA, who have been previously been involved with attacks on the Syrian military and security apparatus, including bombings in Damascus in co-operation with the Jihadist/Salafist group Ansar al-Islam  

According to the description on the video, and discussion on various pro-opposition forums (for example here) the executed man was a officer in the Syrian Army (variously described as a sergeant major, sergeant, and lieutenant) who was apparently executed for writing pro-Assad slogans that transposed the word "God" with "Assad", which distorted a Koranic verse, committing heresy. 

One translator I spoke to said he believed at one point in the video one of the men says "this is the dog who wrote [what sounds like] 'it all belongs to Bashar al-Assad'", and believes it might relate to a popular Jihadist verse "fight them until there is no more strife in the land, and faith belongs entirely to God", with "God" being replaced with "Assad".  As of yet it's unclear if any other circumstances surround the execution, but it may relate to this video posted on the same day showing a large number of men arrested by Ahfad al-Rasul in the same region


Update December 31st Something else pointed out to me is that at the end of the video someone says "whoever shot from here, you hit the boy, whoever shot from here, you shot the boy, look!", and a poster on this forum berates the execution, stating a man nearby was shot accidentally during the execution.

Related Articles
Alleged Mass Execution By The FSA And Al-Nusra Front In Aleppo
Alleged Shabiha Tried And Executed In Aleppo
Zaino Berri, Shabiha Leader, Captured And Executed
Shabiha Captured In Salqin And Confronted By Their Victim's Family
Major General And Brigadier General Captured By The FSA In Damascus
Time - The Making of a Syrian Rebel: The Saga of Abboud Barri

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

The Weapons Of The Syrian Air Force - Updated

Over the past months we've seen an escalation in the air war in Syria, with helicopters being joined by L-39 and MiG jets, and an increasing variety of weapons being deployed by the Syrian Air Force.  By examining the various UXO (Unexploded ordnance) filmed by opposition activists in Syria we can see which weapons are being used by the Syrian Air Force, and get an idea of the quantities being used.

S-5 Rockets


One of the most widely used weapons by the Syrian Air Force is the S-5 rocket, used from the earliest days of the air war, and capable of being used by both helicopters and jets.  They also featured heavily in the Libyan Civil War, generally fired from rocket pods welded to the backs of pick up trucks.

They have a very distinctive long thin body, usually a light metallic colour, with black stabliser fins at the rear.  The actual explosive charge it only at the very end of the missile, the rest of the body being used to hold propellant.  As the above videos demonstrates large numbers of rockets have been used across Syria.

AT-2 Swatters



AT-2 Swatter/3M11 Fleyta anti-tank missile have made rare appearances, the above example being from December 2012, around the same time their was a significant rise in the use of armour by the Syrian opposition.  Unlike the other bombs and missiles on this page the AT-2 has an in-built guidance system, the remains of which can be seen in the above video.

OFABs


OFABs are Russian made general purpose bombs (classified as fragmentation/blast bombs in Russia) designed for attacking lightly armoured vehicles, non-fortified structures, and personnel in the field.  The first OFABs to be identified as UXO in Syria were the larger OFAB 250-270 bombs


In August, around the same time as L-39s started being used in Aleppo and elsewhere, we began to see evidence of OFAB 100-120 bombs


It's interesting to note that since L-39s were first spotted in Aleppo I've collected around 30 examples of unexploded or partly exploded OFAB 100-120 bombs, compared to a handful of all other bomb types in the same period.  This strongly suggests that OFAB 100-120 bombs are the bomb of choice for the Syrian Air Force, and were very likely introduced alongside the use of L-39 jets in Aleppo.

FABs


In October 2012 Russian FAB M62 high explosive bombs first made an appearance.  These are simply large high explosive bombs, and while they haven't been used as widely as OFAB bombs they are far larger and much more powerful.  Unexploded FAB bombs have been spotted making up part of a massive truck bomb used by Jabhat al-Nusra.

RBK Cluster Bombs


RBK 250/250-275 cluster bomb dispensers and their associated cluster bomblets first made their appearance in the conflict around July 10th 2012 in the Jabal Shehshebo region in the Hama, later confirmed by Human Rights Watch.  Evidence of only one cluster bomb was found at that time, carrying AO-1 SCH fragmentation bomblets, designed to attack lightly armoured targets and ground personnel.  Here activists took the incredible risk of lining them up for a Youtube video


Cluster bombs are rather unique as they will nearly always leave behind evidence of their use, namely the dispenser part of the bomb which opens up when deployed to scatter the bomblets, rather than exploding like a traditional bomb.  This means that each bomb dropped can be reasonably expected to leave behind a casing.

Until August 2012 there were no more videos of cluster bombs or bomblets until activists in Abu Kamal posted this video


Again, they take a huge risk moving these bomblets to make a Youtube video, and what they are showing here are PTAB 2.5m cluster bomblets, primarily used as anti-armour weapons, but equally deadly to anything else in the area.

There were virtually no other reports of cluster bomb use until around October 10th, when shortly after the opposition captured a major highway in the Idlib region there was a sudden and massive increase in reports of cluster bomb use across the entire country.  Later, in late November, we saw the first images of incendiary cluster bombs loaded with thermite based ZAB incendiary bomblets.  This escalation in the air war appeared to occur shortly after a series of military bases were captured in the Aleppo region.

ZAB-100-105s


Around the same time ZAB incendiary cluster bombs made their first appearance in the conflict we also saw the first use of ZAB-100-105 incendiary bombs, containing both a napalm style mixture and 9 thermite cartridges designed to scatter on impact.  More details of the contents of these bombs can be found here.

ODABs


ODABs are fuel-air bombs which create huge explosive fireballs that are capable of much more destruction against buildings than an OFAB bomb.  It's believed by some people these bombs were used in Azaz in an incident where it appears only two bombs flattened houses in "an area of approximately 70-by-70 meters – more than half a football field" killing over 40 civilians.  Judging by UXO evidence it appears these bombs have only been used since August 2012, and not in huge quantities. More examples can be found here.

BETABs


So far only a few examples of BETAB penetration bombs have been recorded since their first appearance in September 2012, specifically the BETAB-500M62 free-fall 500kg model.  Designed to penetrate and destroy reinforced structures it's unclear why one would be used in a village outside of Aleppo, as the above example was.  While these bombs are cleared for use on the various jets used by the Syrian Air Force it's unclear if they can be dropped by helicopters.  More examples can be found here.

ADIEDs


From August 2012 there were multiple reports of ADIEDs (Air Deployed Improvised Explosive Devices) dropped across Syria.  To begin with multiple examples of what appears to be DIY bombs, barrels filled with explosives and piece of shrapnel were reportedly dropped from helicopters in locations across Syria, followed by an increasing number of reports of "TNT barrel" being dropped.

What appears to have happened is activists have begun to use the term "barrel bomb" or "TNT barrel" to describe pretty much any cylinder shape bomb they see being dropped, something that's reflected in the increasing number of videos being uploaded to Youtube described as showing "barrel bombs" or "TNT barrels" that in fact clearly are OFABs or one of the other bombs shown above.

In late October 2012 videos were posted online that showed members of the Syrian air force dropping these devices from the back of a helicopter, seemingly confirming that these improvised devices were being used by the Syrian Air Force.  More examples of ADIEDs can be found here.

Naval Mines


In December 2012 we saw the first sighting of naval mines dropped from helicopters in two locations in Syria.  It's unclear how effective these have been as weapons, or whether this reflects supply issues for the Syrian Air Force. 

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

Thursday, 27 December 2012

A Collection Of Some Unusual Syria Videos From The Past Week

Now I'm back from my Christmas break I'd thought I'd take a quick look at some of the more unusual videos sent to me by various people over the last week or so.  First of all we have a reappearance of another air dropped sea mine that made a much derided appearance earlier in December:


This video was posted online with claims that this was an Israeli provided weapon used by Assad's forces, proving Israeli support for the Syrian government.  Rather being Israeli in origin Nic R. Jenzen-Jones of the excellent Rogue Adventurer blog noted that it was a Bulgarian ZH-40 propelling charge, and the star was likely a factory mark


The below video had people scratching their heads, and after some research I managed to identify this as the tail end of a AT-2 Swatter/3M11 Fleyta anti-tank missile, capable of being launched from the ground and from aircraft.  While it's impossible to draw reliable conclusion from one example, it is interesting to see this missile around the same time the Syrian opposition is beginning to use heavy armour more widely


This next video shows the first example of the AT-5 Spandrel/9M113 Konkurs wire-guided anti-tank missile I've seen in the conflict.  The AT-5 is an 1960's predecessor to the more commonly spotted AT-13 Saxhorn-2/9K115-2 Metis-M, numerous examples of which have been recorded in the hands of the Syrian opposition


I also received a number of queries about this video, which with the help of Nic R. Jenzen-Jones and others I've managed to identify as part of a cluster bomb, with the red markings possibly indicating it's from an incendiary cluster bomb


Related Articles
Evidence Of New Grad Launched Cluster Munitions Used In Syria
Grads Join Scuds And Incendiary Bombs In The Latest Escalation Of The Syrian Conflict
How to Build an Army in Your Basement - Even More DIY Weapons
Are Assad's Forces Using IEDs In Syria?
Unexploded Bombs Used In A Truck Bomb By Jabhat al-Nusra  
Clear Evidence Of DIY Barrel Bombs Being Used By The Syrian Air Force
Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads


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

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Media Mentions And Appearances

Articles I've Written

Foreign Policy - How to Build an Army in Your Basement

Foreign Policy - Syria's DIY Revolt

Medium - How I Used Social Media to Become an “Accidental Arms Expert”

New York Times - Weapons From the Former Yugoslavia Spread Through Syria’s War

Sabotage Times - How I Accidentally Became An Expert On The Syrian Conflict

School of Data - Social Media and the Conflict in Syria

Interviews

ARD TV - Gestern Kosovo, heute Syrien (German)

Channel 4 News - Brown Moses: the British blogger tracking Syrian arms

CNN - In his living room, blogger traces arms trafficking to Syria

Der Standard (Austria) - Higgins: Selbstgebastelte Sprengsätze immer wichtiger

Deutsche Welle - Weapons in Syria

France24 - Eliot Higgins, l'expert par accident du conflit syrien (French)

Guardian - How Brown Moses exposed Syrian arms trafficking from his front room

NOS TV - Britse blogger stort zich op Syrische wapenhandel (Dutch)

NPR - Variety Of Weapons Increases In Syrian Conflict

Radio Netherlands Worldwide – Brown Moses – A Reliable Source Of Information On The Weapons In Syria (Arabic)

RTL - Wapenexpert niet overtuigd van Amerikaans bewijs (Dutch)

Sky Italia - Siria, il blogger che racconta il lato oscuro della guerra (Italian)

Spiegel Online - Syrien-Blogger Brown Moses: Der YouTube-Waffenexperte (German)

Syria Deeply - The Profile: The Man Behind Brown Moses

Times of Israel - Footage from rebels shows Iranian munitions in Syria

Vercernji List - Kako sam otkrio da Hrvati šalju oružje u Siriju (Croatian)

ZDF TV - Interview (German)

ITN's Truthloader - Syria's arms race: cluster bombs vs IEDs with Brown Moses


ITN's Truthloader - Best evidence yet that Assad carried out 'chemical attack'?



Mentions

Advance - The New York Times o hrvatskom oružju u Siriji - saudijska kupnja i transfer preko Zagreba za Jordan, upletenost "visokih hrvatskih dužnosnika"(Croatian)

Atlantic Council - Are Syrian rebels now armed with heavy weapons from Croatia?

BBC News - Analysis: US Syria strategy aims to salvage reputation

BBC News - Syria chemical weapons allegations

Business Week - Syria's Rebels Raise Funds Online

Business Insider - Non-Radical Syrian Rebels Recently Received A Ton Of Foreign Weapons

CNN - Syrian rebels begin to challenge al-Assad's command of skies

CS Monitor - Where Syria's opposition groups get their rockets

Daily Star Lebanon - Gruesome video shows rebel biting into soldier’s heart

Daily Telegraph - EU battle over move to ease arms flow for Syrian rebels

Daily Telegraph - US and Europe in 'major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb'

Dnevnik - NY Times: Sirijski pobunjenici bore se hrvatskim oružjem! (Croatian)

Financial Times - Fresh clashes hit flights to Damascus

Foreign Policy - The Syrian rebels arm up

France24 - Syrian regime accused of using cluster bombs

France24 - 


Globe and Mail - How did Syria’s rebels get their hands on powerful new weapons?

Human Rights Watch - Syria: New Evidence Military Dropped Cluster Bombs

International Business Times - Turkey Bans Syrian Civilian Flights; Assad Forces Accused Of Using Russian-Made Cluster Bombs

Jutarnji List - Novi Detalji YouTube preplavljen snimkama hrvatskog oružja u rukama sirijskih pobunjenika! (Croatian)

Letna - Саудиты закупили хорватское оружие для сирийских повстанцев (Russian)

L'Espresso - Sì, hanno usato il nervino (Italian)

McClatchy - Syrian rebels’ arsenal now includes heavy weapons

McClatchy - To some, US case for Syrian gas attack, strike has too many holes

New York Times - Syrian Rebels Claim to Shoot Down Warplane 

New York Times - Syria Unleashes Cluster Bombs on Town, Punishing Civilians

New York Times - U.N. Envoy Seeks Pause in Syria for Holiday

New York Times - At War - Possible Score for Syrian Rebels: Pictures Show Advanced Missile Systems

New York Times - At War - Syria’s Dark Horses, With Lathes: Makeshift Arms Production in Aleppo Governorate, Part I

New York Times - At War - Syrian Forces’ Improvised Arms: Desperate Measures, or Deliberate Aid? 

New York Times - The Lede - As Last Member of NBC Team Escapes Syria, More Details on Hostage Drama Emerge

New York Times - The Lede - Multiple Clips of Syrian Helicopter Crash

NOW Lebanon - Who just started arming Syria rebels?

NOW Lebanon - Syria’s DIY revolution

Politika Plus - New York Times: Saudijci hrvatskim oružjem pomažu sirijskim pobunjenicima (Croatian)

Politiken - Her er nørderne, der leder efter sandheden i Syrien (Danish)

Press TV - Foreign powers send influx of arms to militants in Syria: Report

Reuters - Syria government, rebels ramp up conventional weapons use

Sol - Suriyeli muhaliflere silah transferi hangi ülkeden yapılıyor? (Turkish)

The Wall Street Journal - How to Become a Weapons Expert Without Leaving Home

The Global Post - Turkish doctors say no nerve gas in Syrian victims' blood

UPI - Syria denies but videos show cluster bombs

Washington Post - In Syria, new influx of weapons to rebels tilts the battle against Assad

Wired - Danger Room - Exclusive: U.S. Sees Syria Prepping Chemical Weapons for Possible Attack

Wired - Danger Room - Syria Fires Scud Missiles, Burning Bombs and Even Sea Mines at Rebels

Podcasts

The Loopcast - Arms in Syria

Middle East Week - Weapons in the Syrian Conflict

Contacts details

You can follow me as @Brown_Moses on Twitter, or email me at brownmoses@gmail.com

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Video Shows NBC's Richard Engel And Crew Held By Assad Loyalists

Shortly before reports of Richard Engel escape from his Syrian captors made it to the press a video was posted online, with the title "صحفيين كلاب في المصيدة", roughly Google Translated as "Journalists dogs in the trap", to this Youtube channel.  The video was swiftly deleted by Youtube for violating it's terms of use, but Twitter user Guardian_Mario, who has been cataloging interesting videos from Syria, managed to download a copy and reuploaded it to his own account


Unlike virtually every Youtube account that reuploads videos from Syrian Guardian Mario carefully records the original information that comes along with the original upload, and helpfully provides further information
Video shows the NBC crew before their release. In the clip the six-man crew -- a German, two Britons, two Americans and a Turk -- plead with their respective governments to help secure their freedom. Speaking to a script prepared by his captors, NBC's Richard Engel said:

"My name is Richard Engel, I'm a correspondent with NBC News. I would like to urged the United States government to do what it can to secure our release and to cease its activities in Syria."

The graffiti on the right wall has a Shia slogan. It says "There is no chivalrous man except 'Ali [a figure revered in Shiaism], and there is no sword except Dhu l-Fiqar ['Ali's mythical sword]."
Graffiti on the left wall is a well-known pro-Assad slogan, and reads: "Assad, or we burn the whole country!"
Guardian Mario also puts together handy panoramas stitched together from video stills, as he's done for the Richard Engel and crew video


Fortunately for Engel and his crew they were successfully rescued by Syrian opposition fighters, who posted their own video


And thanks to Guardian Mario for this panorama of the above video



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

New Pictures Of The Syrian Opposition With Complete SA-16 MANPADS

As regular visitors to the blog will know in recent weeks there's been a number of videos surfacing that showed partial SA-16 MANPADS in the possession of the Syrian opposition (see here, here, and here for examples).  MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) are shoulder mounted surface to air missile systems, with a number of examples of the more dated SA-7 reportedly in use by the Syrian opposition in recent months.

Previous examples of SA-16 sightings in Syria have shown incomplete systems, missing the grip-stock component, which along with the missile tube and battery pack makes up the complete MANPADS system.  Missile tubes come preloaded, and battery packs generally have enough charge for one use, with the grip-stock being the only reusable part.  This means having a thousand missile tubes and battery packs without a grip-stock is worthless, but one grip-stock would make all of those missile tubes and battery packs usable.

Today Joshua Landis published a piece on his blog, Swedes, jihadis & anti-air missiles in northern Syria, which included images taken from Kataeb al-Muhajerin's Facebook page of at least one complete SA-16 MANPADS




As far as I am aware this is the first example of a complete SA-16 MANPADS system in the possession of the Syrian opposition, and would be a vast improvement on the SA-7 systems seen so far.  The main question is how many missiles and battery packs do they have access to?

Update December 18th Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch has just reminded me there was one sighting of a complete SA-16 system before.

Related articles
Something Everyone Should Know About SA-24 MANPADS
New Type Of Shoulder Mounted Surface To Air Missile Captured By The Opposition  
Video Shows Captured SA-16 And SA-24 Surface To Air Missiles
The Trigger - The MANPADS presence in the Syrian conflict mapped
NYT At War - Heat-Seeking Missiles in Syria: The SA-7 in Action with Rebels
Youtube Playlist MANPADS Sightings In Syria

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

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Mystery Solved! - Remains Of A Large Unidentified Missile/Rocket Film In Syria

Update December 17th Thanks to the many people who made a variety of suggestions for the identity of the missile, and I believe we now know what this is.  It appears to be part of a S-200 surface to air missile, specifically the "PRD-81/5S25/5S28 solid propellant booster using RAM-10K filler with 3-5 sec burn duration".  How it got into that field is still a mystery, but it seems we can exclude this video from examples of surface to surface missile in Syria. 

Update December 19th Thanks to @massdall for this video which gives a clear view of the booster described above.

In the past week there's been numerous reports in the press of claims by US and NATO officials of Scud missiles being fired at opposition forces in Syria.  Since then a number of videos have been posted online claiming to show Scud missile launches, but none have been clear enough to make a positive ID, for example


The Syrian military has a variety of tactical ballistic missiles including Soviet, North Korean, and Iranian missiles, so it cannot be assumed these launches are Scud missiles.

Today two videos were posted online showing the remains of a large missile, possibly the first example of tactical ballistic missile remains being filmed in Syria


The missile is covered with Russian text, but the markings don't give much useful information, with most of it appearing to be basic technical information and information about the correct method of transport, none of which provides enough detail to make a positive ID.  As the text is in Russian it means the following missiles used by the Syrian military are the most likely suspects
From what I can tell the missile in the video is too thin to be a Scud, and the OTR-21/KN-02 doesn't appear to have tail fins in the same position, so that would leave the FROG-7.  However, due to the damage on the missile it's difficult to find matching features, so for now I'll have to leave this one as an unidentified missile. 

Related Articles
Evidence Of New Grad Launched Cluster Munitions Used In Syria
Grads Join Scuds And Incendiary Bombs In The Latest Escalation Of The Syrian Conflict
How to Build an Army in Your Basement - Even More DIY Weapons
Are Assad's Forces Using IEDs In Syria?
Unexploded Bombs Used In A Truck Bomb By Jabhat al-Nusra  
Clear Evidence Of DIY Barrel Bombs Being Used By The Syrian Air Force
Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads


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

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Evidence Of New Grad Launched Cluster Munitions Used In Syria

Earlier this week I wrote about the recent use of BM-21 Grad rocket launchers in Syria, and today I've been provided a video by Yalla Souriya showing another unexploded rocket from these launchers, with some very interesting items at the end of the video

The rocket pictured is produced by the Egpytian Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) owned Sakr Factory for Development Industries, which produces a variety of weapons, including the Sakr series of 122mm rockets used by BM-21 Grad rocket launchers, the Sakr-18, Sakr-36, and Sakr-45, the number being the range of the rocket.  What's very interesting about these particular rocket is rather than being the usual high explosive fragmentation round they instead carry M42D dual purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions, a type of cluster submunition.  As per the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor
The SAKR Factory for Developed Industries produces two types of 122mm surface-to-surface rockets: the SAKR-18 and SAKR-36, containing 72 and 98 M42D submunitions, respectively.
So this brings us to the items shown later on in the video

 
 

The image quality isn't great, but you get a sense of what they look they, a small munition with what's known as a "drag ribbon" attached, which unfurls when the bomblet is deployed and acts to stablise and arm the bomblet.  One problem with this is it also results in the bomblet getting caught up in trees and bushes, presenting an UXO hazard.  Unfortunately I've been unable to find a reference image for a M42D bomblet, but here's a couple of example of other very similar bomblets via the Cluster Munition Coalition

You'll note the US made M42 submunition looks very similar, which, based off the designation, makes me wonder if the M42D is a copy of that munition.

In lieu of a reference image for the M42D I cannot say for certain that the submunitions in the video are M42Ds, but based off the type of rocket pictured in the video it seems highly likely we have the first evidence pointing towards a new type of cluster munition being used in Syria by the Syrian army.


Update December 16th Thanks to Mark Hiznay for pointing me to this reference image of a M42D cluster bomblet, which appears to match the submunition shown in the video


Update January 3rd 2013 This new video has been posted showing a much clearer shot of the submunitions, which appears to match with the above pictured M42D


Update January 7th Thanks to Nic Jenzen-Jones of the Rogue Adventurer blog for providing me with this video of a sales video for these rockets, with good cutaway models showing how the bomblets are held inside the rocket



Related Articles
Grads Join Scuds And Incendiary Bombs In The Latest Escalation Of The Syrian Conflict
How to Build an Army in Your Basement - Even More DIY Weapons
Are Assad's Forces Using IEDs In Syria?
Unexploded Bombs Used In A Truck Bomb By Jabhat al-Nusra  
Clear Evidence Of DIY Barrel Bombs Being Used By The Syrian Air Force
Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads
Improving Syrian Oppositon Armaments Demonstrated During The Taftanaz Airbase Attack

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

Thursday, 13 December 2012

An Islamist Free Syrian Army Brigade Burns A Shiite Mosque In Zarzur

Meet the Amr bin ma'ad Yakrib al-Zubaydi Brigade, based around Jisr Al Shughoor, Idlib


Note both the presence of the Free Syrian Army logo, and a version of the Islamic State of Iraq flag modified to include the name of the brigade, taken from the name of one of Mohammad's companions, itself not too unusual.  They've operated in the region for several months, and yesterday this video was posted online, from the village of Zarzur


At around 1:15 we see the mosque (marked here) has been set alight, and among the commotion someone says "destroying the dens of the Rejectionists (a term for derogatory of Shiites) and the Shabbiha" and "God is great, all glory to God. The banner of Islam is being raised [over the mosque]", and later flags being burnt. 


We also see graffiti that reads "No, 1,001 times to Sectarian strife!", which in the circumstances seems unlikely to have been written by the men in the video


So is this a sign of sectarian violence rearing it's ugly head in Syria?  Other motivations for burning the mosque appear unclear, and as the group involved associates itself with the Islamic State of Iraq, an organisation that "aims to establish a caliphate in the Sunni dominated regions of Iraq", it seems there's a strong possibility of sectarianism playing a significant part of the events shown in the video.

Many thanks to Michael Nahum for his translation work on this video.

Related Articles
Alleged Mass Execution By The FSA And Al-Nusra Front In Aleppo 
Alleged Shabiha Tried And Executed In Aleppo
Zaino Berri, Shabiha Leader, Captured And Executed
Shabiha Captured In Salqin And Confronted By Their Victim's Family
Major General And Brigadier General Captured By The FSA In Damascus
Time - The Making of a Syrian Rebel: The Saga of Abboud Barri

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

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Grads Join Scuds And Incendiary Bombs In The Latest Escalation Of The Syrian Conflict

In the past month those of us tracking the use of arms in the Syrian conflict have noted a fresh escalation in the conflict.  We've seen RBK cluster bombs deployed with ZAB incendiary munitions along with ZAB-100-105 incendiary bombs, as well as reports of Scud missiles being used.  One other part of this apparent new escalation is the increasingly widespread use of BM-21 Grad rocket launchers, shown here in a clip leaked from Assad's forces firing from Bosra al-Hareer, Daara


BM-21 Grad's can be loaded with 40 rockets, which can be fired of ranges between 20-40km depending on the rocket, and while they've made the occasional rare appearance in the conflict it seems they are being used on an increasing basis, with a couple of examples of missile remnants from the Idlib and Aleppo regions pictured below


A number of more recent videos have been posted showing unexploded missiles, giving us a clear look at what they look like


It's been claimed in some of these videos that these are Iranian Saqr rockets, but the below logo present in each video suggests another source


The logo belongs to the Egpytian Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI), which states on it's website
- The Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) is one of the largest industrial organizations in Egypt.
- It is State-owned and enjoys an international status that gives it complete flexibility in decision-making.
- AOI strategies are drawn by a Supreme Committee whose Chairman is the President of Egypt and whose membership comprises several Cabinet ministers.
On this link you see some of the military products it creates, including 122mm rocket systems.

In Human Rights Watch's April 2011 report on the use of Grad rockets on civilian areas in the Libyan Civil War Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director at Human Rights Watch states that "the Soviet-made Grad in particular is one of the world's most inaccurate rocket systems and should never be fired in areas with civilians" and goes on to say "firing indiscriminately into civilian areas is a clear violation of the laws of war", something there appears to be increasing evidence of in Syria.

Related Articles
How to Build an Army in Your Basement - Even More DIY Weapons
Are Assad's Forces Using IEDs In Syria?
Unexploded Bombs Used In A Truck Bomb By Jabhat al-Nusra  
Clear Evidence Of DIY Barrel Bombs Being Used By The Syrian Air Force
Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads
Improving Syrian Oppositon Armaments Demonstrated During The Taftanaz Airbase Attack

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


Monday, 10 December 2012

Something Everyone Should Know About SA-24 MANPADS

A number of people have sent me this video, which claims to show a complete SA-24/9K338 Igla-S MANPADS


The SA-24 is one of the most advanced shoulder fired surface-to-air missiles in the world, so capturing complete systems would be a massive boon to the rebels, but in this example there's actually nothing much to get excited about.  What we are seeing here is a training model, and how do we know that?  First of all the entire system is painted silver, indicating it's a training version, but even if a Syrian soldier had got carried away with some silver paint on a working model we also have this rather important word written on the missile tube and grip-stock:

 

Steve Zaloga, editor of Teal Group’s “World Missiles and UAV Briefing” explained the meaning of the word:
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.
This hasn't stopped some opposition groups waving them around like they could actually do any damage, for example the Islam Brigade


The fact is the only way these "Maket" SA-24s will ever damage a helicopter is if someone uses it as a club to hit a helicopter while it's still on the ground.

Related articles
Sky News Arabic Misidentifies Weapons As SA-24 MANPADS
New Type Of Shoulder Mounted Surface To Air Missile Captured By The Opposition  
Video Shows Captured SA-16 And SA-24 Surface To Air Missiles
The Trigger - The MANPADS presence in the Syrian conflict mapped
NYT At War - Heat-Seeking Missiles in Syria: The SA-7 in Action with Rebels
Youtube Playlist MANPADS Sightings In Syria

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