Monday 7 January 2013

The Consequences Of UXO Handling

As I've written about in the past videos showing the handling of UXO (unexploded ordnance) have been frequently uploaded to Youtube by activists in Syria, with great risk to everyone in the video.  For example, in this recent video from a village in the Hama region of Syria shows the cluster bomblets from an Egyptian Saqr 122mm rocket, launched from BM-21 Grads, being handled and shown to the camera

On the same channel we have a video of a man who tried to pull one of the Saqr bomblets out of the ground by pulling at the ribbon attached to the bomblet, which caused it to explode, destroying both his hands and killing him

Cluster bomblets used in the Saqr rockets have a very different arming mechanism from the bomblets used in the RBK cluster bombs dropped by aircraft in Syria.  The ribbon each one is attached to is connected to the arming pin, and when the bomblet is dispersed the ribbon stabilises the bomblet and arms the bomblet as it falls through the air by pulling the pin into the armed position.  The problem is, if the bomblet doesn't disperse correctly and the ribbon doesn't have chance to pull the pin, the bomblet is not activated, but still very likely to go off if the ribbon is pulled.  Think of it as a hand grenade pin, as soon as it's remove the munition is going to go off, and this is likely what cost the man in the above video his life.  It's very unlikely the people handling these unexploded munitions know how the arming mechanism relates to the ribbon, so they are taking huge risks handling these submunitions, as the above video clearly demonstrates.

The RRMA (Responsible Reseachers for Arms and Munitions) has put together a number of safety posters in English and Arabic with details of some of the cluster submunitions commonly sighted in Syria,  and videos of other examples of Saqr rockets seen in Syria can be found here.

Related Articles
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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

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