Bellingcat

Saturday, 5 January 2013

French Rockets Used By The Syrian Opposition

Today I've been pointed to this collection of photographs showing a DIY rocket launching system reportedly seized by the Syrian Army from the Syria opposition in Kafersoosseh.  What's interesting about this rocket launcher is the ammunition it uses, pictured below


The rocket, also featured in this Syrian State TV report, is a French made 68mm SNEB rocket, usually fired from rocket pods attached to a variety of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, but not the Russia/Soviet aircraft generally used by the Syrian Air Force. 

This therefore begs the question of the possible source for these rockets.  There have been other recent sightings of these weapons, including this video and this video, and as far as I'm aware there's been no earlier sightings before November 2012, which might imply these are something they've acquired recently.  The Syrian Air Force does have French made SA-342 Gazelle helicopters so there's a chance they might have acquired these rockets during there recent advances across the country, but there's been no video evidence of that being the case.  These rockets are used quite widely in the region so the black-market is another possibility, and I'd assume (maybe wrongly) if a regional power was going to send arms to Syria they'd send something that didn't require the construction of a DIY weapons systems to launch it inaccurately at the enemy.

One other possible source is Libya.  In the first half of 2012 a shipment of arms from Libya allegedly destined for Syria on the Lutfallah 2 cargo ship was intercepted by the Lebanese Army, and this blog has a series of photographs taken of the cargo.  Among the wide variety of munitions there's crates containing the same type of 68mm rockets pictured above



With rumours and reports of other cargo vessels bringing weapons to Syria from Libya it seems that this could be another possible source of the rockets.

Thanks to Nic R. Jenzen-Jones and Mark Hiznay for additional information.

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

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