Tuesday 31 July 2012

Aleppo - Zaino Berri, Shabiha Leader, Captured And Executed

As reported by Sky News footage has emerged showing a violent execution of alleged shabiha in Aleppo.

Allegedly Liwaa Attawhid, Aleppo's Unification Brigade, were responsible for the killing, and I've spoken to a number of activists to gather more information on the situation surrounding the executions.

According to activists, the men killed belonged to the Berri clan, a notorious Aleppo based shabiha, with some estimating the clan has around 5000 members.  Activists allege the Berri clan were involved in various criminal activities, including drug dealing and arms dealing, as well as being used as militia by the Assad government, a role in which they are accused of rape, torture and murder.  One of the men killed was the leader of the Berri clan, Zaino Berri, and his brother, Hussein Berri, is reportedly a member of the Syrian Parliament.

According to reports from activists the FSA captured the Berri clan's HQ in Al Neirab (the same location where a police station was captured today) after a fierce gun battle that left several FSA members dead, leading to the capture of Zaino Berri and other members of his clan, among other prisoners

This video in Arabic was recently posted showing the commander in charge of Berri explaining the circumstances of the execution

Update August 1st The Guardian Middle East Live Blog has some additional information about the events surrounding the execution, including this quote
Today, the Barris killed one of the rebels in Al Marjah district. The FSA then entered the Barri's stronghold. They captured the clan’s leaders. They killed some of those who resisted, families and children were allowed to leave the neighbourhood.
I am sure that everyone in Aleppo, be pro-regime, anti-regime or those in the middle, are happy today with their demise.
Update August 1st The Angry Arab blog also has a piece on the execution, with details of the religious affiliation of the Berri clan, details of their activity, and the reason for the execution.

Update August 1st Ivan Watson of CNN Tweeted the following
Spokesman for rebel Tawheed brigade claims responsibility for execution of 10 suspected members of Berri Shabiha yesterday in Aleppo
Update August 1st The Guardian has spoken to Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of FSA supreme military, who says this about the incident
Regarding the video of the shabiha killed by the FSA, as far as I know these shabiha are from the "Berri" clan in Aleppo. They have a long history of being pro-regime shabiha and they have been involved in a lot of killing in Aleppo.

The regime used to provide them with light weapons and knives and gather them in schools to go and launch their attacks against civilians. Just before they left one of the schools they were caught by the FSA and killed.

In this war in which we left alone to fight such a vicious regime, everything is possible and legitimate and as long as the international community keeps looking at Syria in such carelessness, you will see more of that and even worse.
Update August 1st The Guardian has spoklen to Basheer al-Haji, "media speaker of the Tawheed ("Unity") Brigade in Aleppo"
We were in a truce with the Berri clan, which are shabiha clan. We asked them to stay at home and not to support any part of the fight but they did not comply to the truce.

We were attacking one of the police stations in the city and Berri clan began shooting against us from behind. They killed 15 members of the FSA. We were in big clashes with them and were able to kill 20 of them and arrest another 50.

Then we held a field trial for them. We have judges and lawyers who are in the opposition. They found that seven of the Berri clan were involved in killing and they decided to execute them. Others are kept for trial after the collapse of the regime.

We are keeping a lot of prisoners for trial after the collapse of the regime as long as their hands are clean of the Syrian people's blood, otherwise we kill them immediately.
Activists THE_47th also Tweeted the following
Chiefs of Baggara, Berri & other pro Assad Tribes in Aleppo met this morning and announce arming themselves for vengeance.
I'm being told that among the tribes that net are Hasasne & Zeido. Together with Baggara & Berry, they have no less than 20k fighters.
I think Aleppo is going to witness a major war: FSA against Assad Forces & Arab tribes who want retribution for death of Zaido Berri.
Update August 1st This video was Tweeted by J. David Goodman appearing to show the FSA inside Zaino Berri's home

Update August 1st J. David Goodman has put together a post on the New York Times covering the reaction to the execution and the story behind it.  The Syrian also has an article on the execution in Arabic.

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

Monday 30 July 2012

More High Level Defections Predicted In Syria

Activist THE_47th, who accurately predicted Manaf Tlass' defection from the Syrian regime has been making a series of Tweets about future defections
Exclusive: as I tweeted b4, Parliamnt Member Anas Al Shami is in Cairo now waiting for all his family members to leave 2 announce defection.

In lesser important news, Ana's Al Shami's brother, big Aleppo Sheikh Suhaib Shami, has arrived in Beirut also 2 announce his defection.

But the bomb news of the night is as follows: talks are now finalizing with top Syrian Gov official, expected within a week, the biggest 1.

This one official that I expect 2 defect within one week, holds a TOP position, is willing to defect, but waiting to get out. Cant say name.

I will have the exclusive on that person once he is out of Syria. This will be the ultimate slap on Assad's face. The biggest in 17 months.

This major defection will hinder how the Assad Gov works, and will shake the entire regime to its core. It is big, trust me.

Again, this major defection should be finalized this week, but it all depends in the exit. It won't be easy, very key position.

Related Posts
The Head Of The Investigation Into The Qubair Massacre Defects To The Syrian Opposition
Manaf Tlass And His French Far Right, Voltaire Network, Pro-Assad Friends

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

Friday 27 July 2012

The FSA Captures An Unusual Weapon

This video recently uploaded from al-'Ido in the Latakkia governorate shows a wide variety of weapons, ammunition, and equipment captured by the FSA from the Syrian military.

While this isn't an uncommon sight one of the captured weapons caught my eye.  At around 0:56 we spot the ammo for the weapon, then the weapon itself

What this appears to be is a Soviet AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher, designed to fire 30mm grenades at a rate of up to 400 rounds/min.  The video shows only one or two 29 round belts, and it's unclear if the FSA have captured any more, but this is the first time I'm aware of that the FSA have managed to get their hands on a weapon like this, making it a rather unusual find.

Related Posts
Another Video Selection Of The Free Syrian Army's Weapons And Equipment
Rastan's Al-Farouq Brigades Show Off Their Latest Loot - Tanks 
The Latest Weapons Of The Free Syrian Army

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

Two Examples Of Filming Unexploded S-5 Rockets (Updated With Bonus Child Endangerment)

Following on from my earlier posts on handling UXO I've been sent a couple of videos of unexploded S-5 rockets which really give two examples of a better way to film UXO, and the worst possible way to film UXO.  First of all this video of an unexploded S-5 rocket filmed today in Aleppo

While the cameraman really has no reason to get that close to the rocket he does at least avoid touching it, which is something that cannot be said about this video filmed a couple of days ago (thanks to Félim McMahon)

It really cannot be stressed how dangerous this is.  At the best of times any UXO could explode from the slightest movement, so kicking it repeatedly in a street full of fleeing women and children is just incredibly reckless behaviour.

Update - HamaEcho sent me this of some small children kicking some large UXO, which really speaks for itself

Related posts
Two More Examples Of How Not To Handle UXO From Syria

Thursday 26 July 2012

The Head Of The Investigation Into The Qubair Massacre Defects To The Syrian Opposition

A couple of weeks ago activists reported that Talal Houshan, who had been appointed by the Syrian government to investigate the Qubair Massacre, had defected to the opposition, with claims he had evidence that the Syrian government was responsible for event in Qubair.  Now a video has emerged showing him announcing his defection (English subtitled version here)
In the video he says he witnessed many corpses of woman and children transferred to his city, Muhardeh, and he found that during the analysis of the wounds on the corpses that they had been shot from less than half a meter away, with an eye witness assuring him it was pro-Assad groups responsible (thanks to @troublejee for translation).  This was apparently enough to trigger his defection to the opposition.  Whether or not he has more detailed evidence is yet to be seen.

Related Posts
Syria - The Qubair Massacre
Syria - The Qubair Massacre - Evidence Gathered So Far

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

Leveson In The Thick Of It

If 'The Thick of It' is the 'Yes, Minister' of the 21st century, isn't it time that Armando Iannucci penned a comtemporary 'Drop the Dead Donkey' for our delectation?  Iannucci has gone part way into the press and Dead Donkey territory as he has hinted that a Leveson-style judicial inquiry may well feature in the new 'Thick of It' series, filmed in Spring 2012 and due to air in the autumn.  Imagine what The Thick of It will do with THAT.

Paul Merton might cameo as the editor of an irreverant, fortnightly satirical publication.   Guido Fawkes could reprise himself.  Maybe Peter Mannion will give evidence at the Inquiry - no longer an MP but a professional bagpipe artiste.  Or perhaps Malcolm Tucker (now out of government) might have taken advantage of the revolving door between No 10 and the tabloids. Maybe he's done a 'reverse-Coulson' and is now a foul-mouthed red-top editor - all profanity at daily editorial meetings and paranoid about mendacious smears.  Oh, how we would laugh...

And with self-referential irony, a completely implausible scenario could be connived where the editor of a revered broadsheet was legally compelled to submit a statement under Section 21 of the Inquiries Act (2005) defending a mildly amusing article about a TV programme which lampoons the Inquiry itself - how funny that would be!

I, James Harding c/o The Times. Times Newspapers Limited of 3 Thomas More Square, London, E98 l XY, will say as follows:

This is my response to the notice under Section 21 of the Inquiries Act dated 5 July 2012.

The Inquiry has asked about two articles published by The Times: "The Joke is on Leveson in new series of The Thick of It", June 19, and "World of Glitz and Glamour that’s on the revenue’s radar", June 21. In particular you ask why the stories were chosen for publication, why the contents were appropriate and how I consider tile articles comply with the PCC Editors’ Code of Practice.
No, not a comedy script - behold the Fourth Witness Statement of James Harding, Esq., Editor of the esteemed 'newspaper of record', The Thunderer, called to account for printing "The Leveson inquiry has become the inspiration for the next series of the political satire The Thick of It, the show’s creator Armando Iannucci revealed last night. Mr Iannucci said that a 'major inquiry will feature quite heavily' in the next series"

And the second 'Glitz' article?  The one on celebrity tax evasion?  With the accompanying photograph of Sir Elton John? Well, The Times had to issue an immediate correction and apology to him, and Elton "is currently suing the paper for libel."

You couldn't make it up.

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

Glenn Mulcaire And His Money-Laundering Charges

Another piece by a regular contributor.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) statement on Tuesday on Operation Weeting charging decisions repays careful reading.  Beneath the headline-grabbing decisions to charge eight people, there are details which are quite telling - particularly regarding Glenn MULCAIRE.

All, with the exception of Glenn Mulcaire, will be charged with conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority, from 3rd October 2000 to 9th August 2006.
Two things here are of note:-
  • Firstly, Mulcaire appears to be the sole exception because he has already been convicted of the relevant offences of conspiracy to intercept - as has Clive Goodman.  Mulcaire is however charged with other alleged offences for which he has not previously been convicted, in relation to Milly Dowler, Andrew Gilchrist, Delia Smith and Charles Clarke.
  • Secondly, the lengthy span of time defined also covers the period of illegal activity uncovered by Operation Motorman (c. 1999 to early 2004).  This appears to be a clear signal that the Motorman Files are also NOT ruled 'out of court' as being too historical to pursue.  Sue Akers' evidence on Monday to the Leveson Inquiry seemed to concur.  She made reference in her update to quantities of evidential material which have been collated 'from previous enquiries'.  These are likely to include, amongst others, Operations Glade and Caryatid as well as Operation Motorman.  At least three of those now charged by the CPS under Operation Weeting are also named in the leaked and redacted Motorman Files 'Blue Book'.
Giving her evidence to the Inquiry the day before the CPS charging statement, DAC Sue Akers was careful not to name them in advance of the CPS Announcement.  At the time of her evidence, she identified as pending charging decisions 11 current or former journalists, plus 1 non-journalist (para 13).  The only non-journalist in the batch now charged by the CPS is Glenn MULCAIRE.  Akers' statement continued
The non-journalist referred to at paragraph 13, together with a further non-journalist, is on pre-charge bail in relation to money laundering offences till 24 July 2012. A preliminary file is currently with the CPS for advice in respect of this matter.
So it seems the only 'non-journalist' is additionally awaiting ANOTHER CPS charging decision - not under Weeting-style data interception - but for alleged money-laundering. Hmmmmm.... wasn't that how Al Capone was tripped up?  It really doesn't do to mess with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) through aliases, numerous questionable companies or undeclared income.  In February 2012, Tom Watson raised a relevant query with HMRC regarding the tax arrangements of those in receipt of cash payments from News International
....some of which are reported to run into tens of thousands of pounds, failed to declare this on their Self Assessment tax returns. The company failed to take appropriate measures to ensure the recipients were paying tax...  I would ask you to investigate whether a true record of cash payments was kept by the company, and whether any records have been destroyed...
...Although I appreciate there are currently three ongoing police investigations into criminal wrongdoing at News International, I think it is imperative that reassurance is given from HM Revenue and Customs that these important issues are being investigated in cooperation with the Metropolitan Police. I am sure you will agree that no company, or individual, should be allowed to get away with what amounts to possible tax fraud by paying too little tax and acting in a dishonest manner.
As noted in this Brown Moses blog post, 'Where Now for the Motorman Files', Glenn MULCAIRE (alias 'Paul Williams', alias 'Alexander') ran a company called 'Nine Consultancy Ltd' which was dissolved in Feb '06, according to Companies House records.  He also owned another company called 'Nine Consultancy UK Ltd', dissolved in 2007.  It is to be hoped that he was efficient enough not to get invoices and remittances muddled up in the accounts of these two similarly named businesses.

Another MULCAIRE company 'Eight Consultancy UK Ltd' (Company No. 06280986) wasn't dissolved until 2009. And yet another MULCAIRE company, 'C & E Intelligence Services Limited', employed the non-journalist Alison MULCAIRE (resident at the same address) as Company Secretary.  Glenn MULCAIRE was re-employed by News International when he was released from prison for phone-hacking. At this time, Alison MULCAIRE owned two more businesses: 'Global Intel Services Limited' and 'Euro Research & Information Services Limited'.

No doubt invoices and remittances for any work undertaken will all marry up with payment records of News International Trading Ltd, the company formerly-known-as, until June 2011, News International Supply Co Ltd.

All terribly complex, isn't it. But with the help of electronic records, most business acounts these days are an awful lot better organised than Al Capone's were, aren't they?

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

Wednesday 25 July 2012

After Buying Followers Menshn Buys Some Tweets

Following reports by Political Scrapbook that the Conservative MP and founder of social networking website Menshn, Louise Mensch, had suddenly been followed by thousands of fake accounts it now appears Menshn has been purchasing Tweets from dozens, if not hundreds, of Twitter bots to promote Menshn.  For example, here's a small list of mentions of Menshn from a small time frame
Now if you have a quick look at what these accounts and others have been Tweeting you'll see the same articles have recently been Tweeted, with result like this

And so on through dozens of accounts, the same articles Tweeted by all of them, clearly indicating that Menshn has purchased Tweets to promote the site.  Between this and Louise Mensch's recent addition of thousands of followers it does seem that she's getting a little desperate in her attempts to promote her latest project, not surprising after all the teething problems its had.

Related Posts
More Teething Problems For Menshn
Even More Teething Problems For Menshn 

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

Jets Spotted Above Aleppo Identified As Aero L-39 Albatroses, Not MiGs

I've been taking a look at the various video of fixed winged aircraft spotted above Aleppo following this report by Ian Pannell of the BBC
But it was what happened late in the afternoon that underlined the grave risk to the government of losing ground in what is Syria's largest city and its economic capital.
First came an unmistakeable sound that has so far been absent in this conflict - the roar of fighter jets.
What appeared to be Russian-made MiG planes arced through the sky. We watched as they dropped in, bombing and strafing rebel positions.
A number of videos supposedly from Aleppo showing aircraft flying through the sky, for example this one from Bambuser and this one from Youtube, and are generally pretty unclear, so making out the shape of the aircraft is difficult.  However, one video has been posted that has a great shot of the aircraft
I've blown up this screengrab to get a clear idea of the silhouette of the aircraft
Let's compare that to some of the aircraft listed as being used by the Syrian Air Force, first the various MiGs
The above two aircraft are a MiG-21 and MiG-29, both of which clear have wings that look nothing like the aircraft in the videos.  Then we have MiG-23 and Su-24, with variable geometry wings
To me it looks like the wings are too thin, and set too far back, plus it appears in the video there's something on the end of the wings, and what I believe we are seeing in the video is an Aero L-39 Albatros
Here's a clearer top down view which we can compare to the still from the video
So in this case it seems likely that what we're seeing in the above video is not a MiG, but a jet training aircraft being used to attack targets in Aleppo.  The question is, why?

Update - After some discussion of whether or not it could be a SU-25 (which I believe the Syrian Air Force doesn't have) Tim Robinson, editor of Aerospace International, Tweeted to say
Its a L-39. Straight wings, wingtip fuel tanks, & longer nose than Su-25.
Update - HamaEcho sent me a second clip from Aleppo that seems to clearly show an L-39

And as yet there's been no video evidence of any other fixed-wing aircraft being used.

Update - Another video showing a L-39 over Aleppo
The excellent Aviationist blog has also taken a look at this and also come to the same conclusions.

Update July 28th - Two more videos have been posted showing the L-39 flying over Aleppo in the opening stages of the Syrian Army's attack on the FSA inside the city

Update July 28th - This video appears to show a L-39 making bombing runs, although the video quality makes it difficult to be certain

Update July 31st This video shows another L-39 above Aleppo possibly firing rockets or missiles

Related Posts
Evidence Of Cluster Bombs Being Deployed In Syria
New Cluster Bomb Evidence Emerges From Syria
Evidence Of Unguided Bombs Being Deployed By The Syrian Air Force

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

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Sue Akers' Evidence At The Leveson Inquiry Points To Serious Legal Trouble For Murdoch And News Corp

A new article from a regular contributor.

Amongst some jaw-dropping evidence on Monday from Sue Akers are these significant elements...
We've worked obviously closely with the CPS, and they have advised us regarding potential offences. We've sought legal advice and in respect of both individual and corporate offences 
Easily overlooked, that reference to "corporate offences" being considered is very significant. Coming hard on the heels of the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee which found Rupert Murdoch 'not a fit person', it is clear that News Corp should now be worried about the FBI. The Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is a U.S. piece of legislation which enables prosecution in relation to bad practice, bribery and corruption - whether or not those offences took place on American soil.  News Corp, an American company, is wary of falling foul of FCPA through the UK phone hacking, computer hacking, or bribery of police/public officials. Whilst purely speculation, Rupert Murdoch's resignation as Director of his UK newspaper companies could be explained as a pre-emptive move hoping to mollify the FBI and undertake some damage-limitation for the FCPA storm that News Corp can see looming over the horizon.

Additionally, Robert Jay summarised the current UK offences being considered under Operation Elvedon:
...the well-known corruption offences and new Bribery Act offences, and before the Bribery Act, it was of course the Prevention of Corruption Act.
This indicates that the alleged offences (and arrests) must span a period of time that includes the 'high water' era of News Int questionable tradecraft AND much more recent instances as the new Bribery Act didn't come into force until 1st July 2011.  It seeks to bring UK law closer to international legal frameworks dealing with corruption so includes a focus on corporate wrongdoing creating a
new offence under section 7 which can be committed by commercial organisations which fail to prevent persons associated with them from bribing another person on their behalf
Presumably, willful blindness is no defence. 

It should also be remembered that Sue Akers was updating the Leveson Inquiry on Operations Weeting, Elvedon and Tuleta - but NOT Operation Rubicon which falls within the bailiwick of Strathclyde Police.  More individual - and corporate - offences could considered from phone-hacking, corruption and perjury allegations ensuing from Operation Motorman and the Tommy Sheridan trial.

A perfect storm gathering for News Corp?

Related Posts
Glenn Mulcaire And His Money-Laundering Charges
Hackgate for Beginners - Current Police Operations
Hackgate for Beginners - Past Police Operations

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

Sunday 22 July 2012

Two More Examples Of How Not To Handle UXO From Syria

As I've previously discussed in my earlier post on the handling of UXO in Syria there's been a worrying trend of activists filming the poor handling of a wide variety of UXO, from the small mortar shells to the largest bombs.  Here's two more examples of extremely inadvisable UXO handling.

In this first example we see a unexploded artillery shell being picked up and handled.  In the background we can here nearby children, so if the shell had gone off he wouldn't have only killed himself and the camera, but probably someone's children, something I don't think he'd be remembered kindly for
And what do we learn from that handling of the UXO?  Nothing, so why take the risk?

Next we have a great example of what not to do with an unexploded OFAB 250-270 that's been dropped from a Hind
If you find an fully intact unexploded OFAB 250-270 High Explosive Fragmentation Bomb my first piece of advice is not to use a tractor to drag it along the ground where they could be all sorts of lumps and bumps that could set it off. My second piece of advice is don't start kicking it like the guy at 1:18 does because that might just be pushing your luck a little too far.

Related posts
Two Examples Of Filming Unexploded S-5 Rockets (Updated With Bonus Child Endangerment)
A Beginner's Guide To Identifying UXO In Syria

Friday 20 July 2012

A Beginner's Guide To Identifying UXO In Syria

I'm frequently asked for help identifying a number of different UXO found in the towns and cities of Syria, and with this guide I hope to assist those of you trying to identify some of these finds, and also hopefully discourage the unnecessary handling of the various UXO found in Syria.  I should stress that any UXO should always be left alone as it's impossible to know how safe something is, and that knowing every little detail about a particular piece of UXO is never worth the life of an individual.

These two pictures were posted online, and show the remains of a 23mm HE-I round fired by anti-aircraft guns, such as the ZU-23-2

A wide variety of artillery shells are used in Syria, and you can generally tell them from unexploded mortar shells as one end has a gentler taper than mortars, as can be seen in these two examples
It should go without saying that you should never handle unexploded artillery rounds.

Cluster bombs
So far only one cluster bomb has been filmed in Syria, the RBK 250-275 dropped in Jabal Shehshebo region I blogged about when the video first appeared.  Activists made this video show the bomblets and bomb casing (more details here)
It should be noted that in moving these cluster bomblets to create this display the activists took a massive risk, and provided no additional information that couldn't have been provided in a far safer manner.  None of the new information relates to the bomblets themselves, just the information given by the men in the video.

Unlike a conventional bomb, a cluster bomb breaks open in flight scattering the bomblets, which means the bomb casing will always be left behind, so if a cluster bomb is dropped there should always be a bomb casing left somewhere.  However, it's also highly likely unexploded bomblets will be left in the area, and I would strongly advise anyone in the area to avoid the area the bomblets were dropped.

Grenade Rounds
Grenade cartridges, used in underbarrel grenade lauchers are quite rare, and in the below example we see the remains of a VOG round used with Russian weaponry

Much like artillery, mortars in Syria come in a great range of sizes, all the way up to the massive 240mm mortars first identified as being used in Homs in February.  Generally all that remains are tail fins, which generally look about the same no matter what the size.  Here's a couple of example, one small and one from the 240mm mortar shell
So you can see that despite the huge size difference they are similar in many ways.  You've got a flat base, a number of curving fins, and holes punched into the stem.  For more examples this gallery has a whole range of mortars shell remains.  Here are two examples of unexploded mortar shells that have had their tails snapped off, and can be mixed up with unexploded artillery shells.  The first is a 240mm mortar shell, much larger than any artillery shell, the second a smaller mortar shell, which has the sharply tapering end that distinguishes it from a artillery shell

OFABs are a range of bombs dropped from Hind helicopters, with only OFAB 250-270s being recorded as being dropped in Syria at the moment.  I've collected a large number of videos of them here, and the below video shows the most complete example
It should be stressed that as with handling any UXO the people in this video took an incredible risk moving this bomb from the crater it landed in, and UXO should always be left alone as it's impossible to know how safe they could be.

A variety of RPG rockets are used in Syria, and generally they leave two distinct types of remains.  This first video shows the low explosive cartridges used to propel the rockets out of their launch tubes
You can see an example of the complete rocket with low explosive cartridge attached here.
Then we have the remains of the rockets, which are being pointed to in the below picture (taken from this video)
These are generally quite easy to spot as they are quite thin, and have many holes stamped into them, a clear example of which can be seen on image (source)
Another example of a badly bent RPG motor is shown below, along with another mortar tail fin

S-5 Rockets
The S-5 rocket is a common sight in many videos from Syria, launched from Hinds armed with rocket pods.  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.  Other examples are here, here, and here.

If you come across any other examples you think aren't mentioned on this page please send them to me and I will attempt to identify them and add them to this page.  It should again be stressed that UXO should never be handled as they present a very high risk to the person handling them and anyone nearby.

Related posts
Two Examples Of Filming Unexploded S-5 Rockets (Updated With Bonus Child Endangerment)
Two More Examples Of How Not To Handle UXO From Syria
How Not To Handle Unexploded Ordnance - A Syrian Top Ten

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

Celeb Boutique Tweets A Tasteless Message About The Batman Theater Shooting

With terrible events such as last night's Dark Knight Rises theater shooting in Aurora, Denver which has left 12 dead and many more injured social media plays a role in disseminating information about the events that took place, but unfortunately it also leads to some very tasteless Tweets, such as this one from the official Celeb Boutique Twitter account
Not a classy move by Celeb Boutique after such terrible events, I wonder what "Kim K" would think?

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

Thursday 19 July 2012

How Not To Handle Unexploded Ordnance - A Syrian Top Ten

Over the many months I've been examining videos from Syria there's been a rather unfortunate trend for activists to pick up and move the various unexploded ordnance (UXO) they've discovered in their home towns and cities.

While it's understandable that activists wish to show the world the sort of weapons that are being used against them it seems to me they are taking unnecessary risks to do so, and I also feel that in today's modern era of Youtube and 24 hour news coverage there's almost a demand for detailed footage of UXO.

I myself have examined various videos of UXO, but I'd be much happier if they were filmed from a safe distance, and left alone.  No matter how sure you think you are that UXO is safe there's no real way to be sure, and Assad is killing enough people without helping him out trying to let the world know about the methods Assad is using.  Here's a quick top ten of highly inadvisable UXO handling.

10: An unexploded mortar shell lying in the middle of a street, with an unnecessary close up
9: An unexploded artillery shell that's been stood upright so it can be compared to a bullet
8: Yet another artillery shell that's stood up by the cameraman so the audience can get a closer look, with the fuze leaning against a tree
7: A close examination of an unexploded artillery shell
6: An activist shows the audience an unexploded 70mm rocket jammed into the ground, and tries to pull it out of the ground
5: This video shows two UXO, one unexploded artillery shell, and one massive unexploded 240mm mortar, which is lifted up rather ungracefully on what you might describe as the business end of the mortar
4: Another unexploded 240mm mortar, this time being tapped with a rock
3: Here we see an OFAB 250-270 high explosive bomb being closely examined by activists, as well as the hole it punched in the roof it crashed through, and the crater the activists pulled this unexploded high explosive bomb out of to examine
2: Activists arranged these 9 AO-1 SCH cluster bomblets so they could tell you all about them, even though they are notorious for not exploding when deployed and hanging around on battlefields until someone bumps into them
1: In this video we see a man pick up an unexploded artillery shell, show it to the camera, and then throwing it onto the road like a piece of rubbish
So, to activists I would say please leave this items alone, none of the information we could gather from these videos are worth the life of a single activist, and you can never be sure if these items are safe, no matter what your past experience is with handling them, and to those who would encourage activists to risk themselves so you can have a more interesting image for your report, be it inadvertently or not, please consider that when they do that they are risking their lives, and the lives of those around them.  

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Wednesday 18 July 2012

Another Video Selection Of The Free Syrian Army's Weapons And Equipment

Here's the latest round up of weapons and equipment featured in FSA videos posted online.  Earlier posts can be found here, here ,and here.

AA guns and truck mounted heavy machine guns 
Not many new videos in this section, but it's interesting to note the ZU-23-2s being used to fire at ground level targets.

Aleppo - Truck mounted ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun
Unknown - Truck mounted ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun
Jarabulus, Aleppo - Truck mounted DShK

Mortars and rockets
A couple of interesting ones this time round, including a video showing a LAW rocket launcher, the supply of which was covered in a recent Reuters article, alongside what may be home made rockets. There's also an rare sighting of a more advanced anti-tank system.

Unknown - 9M14 Malyutka anti tank rockets
Talbisah, Homs - Mortar being fired at a shabiha base
Homs - Al-Farouq Brigade - Firing mortars at a shabiha base
Unknown location - Descendants of Khalid ibn al-Walid Battalion - What appears to be homemade missiles, and a LAW

Tanks and armoured cars
As before, the FSA appears to be capturing an ever increasing number of armoured vehicles, and as I reported earlier in the week we've seen the first example of a T-series tank being used in combat by the FSA.

Rastan - Al-Farouq Brigade - 3 T-62 tanks and one armoured car (more details here)
Rastan - Al-Farouq Brigade - One tank, possibly a T-62
Andan, Aleppo - Champions Andan - T-72 tank
Homs - Umar's Free Army Battalion - Battalion formation video with a T-72 tank
Midan, Damascus - Armoured car captured from security forces
Talbiseh, Homs - A mixture of six armoured cars and BMPs captured by the FSA

Ammo, guns and other equipment
Idlib - 4 DShK machines guns, 1 mortar, 60+ mortar shells, and a handful of RPG rockets
This week we see a return of an old favourite, and a use for all those destroyed and disabled BMPs

Aleppo - A large catapult being used to launch home made explosives
Unknown location - BMP cannon mounted on the back of a truck

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