Tuesday, 6 August 2013

DIY Weapon Linked To Alleged Chemical Weapon Attack in Adra, Damascus

Yesterday there were more reports of alleged chemical weapon use in Adra, Damascus, scene of several previously reportedly alleged chemical weapon attacks.  A number of videos were posted online, including this video showing a number of dead animals, and the remains of a device alleged to be linked to the alleged chemical weapon attack

Regular readers of the blog might recognise this device as resembling an unidentified rocket/missile I've written about recently, reportedly used by government forces in Daraya, Damascus in January, and in Adra, Damascus in June.  Since I made that post I've been sent two photographs of another example that was used in Daraya on the same day as January video

In addition to these images from Damascus we also have this video posted a few days ago from Khalidiya, Homs

It's worth noting that none of the previous videos or photographs have been associated with chemical attacks, so the questions remains, what are these?

In the video from Homs, Khalidiya, it appears there's a clear shot of the unexploded payload

This tightly packed yellow substance is very reminiscent of the explosive fill of high explosive bombs, such as the OFAB 250-275 (seen here), and if the entire front end of that weapon is filled with that sort of high explosive it would be a devastating weapon.  If this was propelled by a rocket it would be very much like an IRAM (Improvised Rocket Assisted Munition/Mortar) that has been previously used in the conflict on several occasions.  The problem is, the other videos and photographs would seem to point away from the payload being a large amount of high explosive.  It seems very likely an explosion of that size would totally destroy the front end of the munition, and almost certainly badly damage the rest of the munition, yet it's clear that in some of the images the front end seems relatively undamaged for what should be a massive explosion.

That made me think, are we perhaps looking at more than one kind of payload?  Looking at the two photographs taken in Daraya in January it appears a near by wall has been splattered by a dark liquid

There's also traces of a dark liquid on the munition used in Adra in June, on the section where the payload would be contained.

In the most recent attack the tube of metal where the payload would have been looks black and shiny, possibly covered in a black liquid, although it's difficult to be sure

It's also interesting that the metal plate shown above appears to have what might be two holes possibly used for filling the warhead, and this appears to be present in all the examples where that part of the munition is visible.

However, without further information it seems to be difficult to ascertain the payload used.  Judging by the number of images being produced of these munitions in recent weeks it does seem to indicate they are being used on a more regular basis, and they also appear to be a rare example of a DIY weapon used by government forces.

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Unexploded Cluster Bomblets Repurposed As DIY Rocket Warheads
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You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmoses@gmail.com


  1. It resembles a smaller version of the basic 60lb rocket projectile used by the RAF and Commonwealth forces during WW2 and in Korea.

    The Australians replaced the explosive warhead with a five gallon container of napalm, because so many of their targets were wooden bridges that weren't really damaged by high explosive.

    The same rocket motor was fitted with the 20lb armour-piercing projectile used in the 25 pounder field gun, mainly for anti-submarine use, as it kept a straight line after it hit the water.

    For someone with a fairly basic industrial capability, it's a good weapon to re-invent because it can be made in almost any sheet metal workshop (even the rocket motor tube can be rolled from sheet metal)and anyone who had access to a museum example of the WW2 weapon would be able to get the proportions right.

    It also works with pretty basic propellents, such as artillery-grade cordite.