Bellingcat

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Collected Evidence Of SA-7 Anti-aircraft Missile Systems in Syria

In recent weeks there's been a lot of talk of SA-7 anti-aircraft systems reaching the hands of the Free Syrian Army.  As CJ Chivers of the New York Times has highlighted in the past previous videos of SA-7 missiles have appears to show incomplete SA-7 systems, with the system requiring a missile tube, a battery unit and a grip stock to function.  In a more recent blog entry CJ Chivers highlights a photograph of what appears to be a complete SA-7 system, but he also highlights the difficulties in confirming the location and circumstances the photograph was taken in
More recently a video has emerged from around August 15th showing a massive amount of captured weapons and ammo, including at least one SA-7 system that appears to be complete


Following on from that a video has been posted today from Al Bukamal showing a member of the FSA holding what appears to be another complete SA-7 system


It's possible it may be related to this video posted from Al Bukamal that shows weapons and ammo captured by the FSA, and at one point shows part of an SA-7, but it's unclear whether or not the system is complete


It should of course be noted that possessing these weapons is not the same as being able to use them effectively against air targets, but it's interesting to note the increasing numbers of reports, photos, and videos of the FSA in possession of anti-aircraft missiles.

Update August 28th Time has an article looking at the Libyan fighters now inside Syria, which has a brief mention of SA-7 missile systems
Some Syrians are more frank about the assistance the Libyans are providing. “They have heavier weapons than we do,” notes Firas Tamim, who has traveled in rebel-controlled areas to keep tabs on foreign fighters. “They brought these weapons to Syria, and they are being used on the front lines.” Among the arms Tamim has seen are Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, known as the SAM 7.
Update September 1st Thanks to the many people who sent me the following videos overnight from Al Bukamal in the far east of Syria near the Iraq border.  The three videos shows weapons captured from a Syrian Army air defence base, and in this first video the tubes you see at the start of the video are claimed to be SA-7 missile
These next two videos show even more captured equipment, including stacks of 23mm ammo, ZU anti-aircraft gun barrels, RPG rounds, tanks shells, grenades, and huge amounts of other ammo.  In the second video we see maybe one or two SA-7s, although it appears they are incomplete.  However, with the amount of crates and piles of ammo and equipment it's hard to be sure if there's more parts of the SA-7 buried underneath them


This next video from the same area shows what appears to be a complete SA-7 system apparently captured from the air base.  It's interesting to note that in all these cases the SA-7 is described as a "Cobra" missile, perhaps a local name for the SA-7 missile system

CJ Chivers has also put together another excellent post on the FSA's improving air defences which I highly recommend reading, In Syria, Inching Toward Ground-to-Air Capacity?

Dam Spleeters is also putting together a map of sightings of SA-7s, so let him know if you spot any more.

Again, thanks to the many people who sent me these videos and additional information relating to them.

Update September 8th I came across the following video from August 8th filmed in Al Bukamal which shows two men at the back of the frame, on either side, holding partial SA-7 missile systems.  From the way they are holding the tubes it appears they are missing the trigger.


Update October 6th Thanks to @troublejee @bjoernen_dk and @damspleet for bringing this video and picture to my attention.  The video filmed in East Ghouta, Damascus, shows a large number of ZU-23-2 AA guns, a number of prisoners, and a SA-7 missing the firing grip


This picture from Atareb, Aleppo, taken on September 24th, shows a complete SA-7 system


Related articles
The Daily Mirror Confuses Sidewinders With Stingers
First Video Evidence Of Tank On Tank Combat In Syria
The FSA Captures An Unusual Weapon
New York Times - The 3-Step Method to Analyzing Videos from Syria: The Case of Heat-Seeking Missiles 

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

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