Bellingcat

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Syrian National Defence Force Video Shows Them Using The Munition Type Linked To The August 21st Sarin Attack

Thanks to reader simla1, and the Syrian National Defence Force, for the following video


Posted on the Syrian National Defence Force YouTube channel and Facebook pages, this video, titled "The Road to Victory", is a fairly straightforward promotional video, much like the videos posted by various opposition groups.  The video shows of various military equipment, and at 1:33 it shows off something that's very significant


This clearly matches the type of munition used in the Sarin attack on August 21st, which I dubbed the UMLACA (unidentified munition linked to alleged chemical attacks).  Previously it's been established there's at least two types of these munitions, explosive and chemical, and possibly two different sizes.  I suspect this version might be the larger type I believe is launched from a single barrel launcher shown in a video published on August 28th. The smaller type is launched from twin-barrelled launchers, as seen at the government controlled Mezzeh airbase at the end of 2012.

It seems that with this video, and other evidence gathered over the past couple of months, it now seems undeniable that the Syrian military has been using this family of munitions for at least the past 10 months.

It's also worth noting the nose of the warhead appears to be rounded


During the discussion of the range of the munition, the aerodynamics of the warhead appears to be a significant factor in the range of the munition, and it appears some examples of the munition have been shown with a rounded nose, which is significant when calculating the possible range of the munition.

While not quite as significant, this video also contains another example of the Syrian military using IRAMs.

More posts on the subject of the August 21st attacks can be found here, and other posts on chemical weapons and Syria, including extremely informative interviews with chemical weapon specialists, can be found here.

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

18 comments:

  1. It would be useful if anyone could ID the mosque in the video at 1:34
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=QHt_HESA-SE#t=94

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    2. There are a 'few' mosque in (or around) Damascus, so it's will be not easy, but. The tower (minaret) is rounded(and standalone from the building (?)), it has two level and something on the top, and the mosque have a very high cupole (which is grey/silver). Also the base of the mosque looks like a hexagon. Plus the background show no high building, so it's should be on a suburb or a nearby village. But even it's not 100% that thats around Damascus. My bet is thats a smaller Shia mosque, and it's unique one. The hexagon base and this type of minaret both very rare.

      I checked around 100+ mosque around Damascus and this one the only which could be on the video. Link: http://wikimapia.org/#lang=hu&lat=33.483120&lon=36.249671&z=19&m=b

      May I'm wrong, so thats not 100% sure, but I bet on this.

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    3. Assuming the minaret is on the north side (difficult to tell from the map), and the camera is facing south, it seems the contours of the hills in the back are a possible match, although nothing I'd say was 100% certain
      http://i.imgur.com/QFsx6M8.jpg

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    4. During the searching I checked for the following elements:
      - Skyline/contours of the hills, terrain
      - Low avarange building height
      - Mosque with "onion" style big cupole, in silver color
      - Moscue "building base" shape, which is looks like a hexagon or so
      - Minaret, which is not exactly built into the mosque base, aka. stand alone , but still placed very close
      - Minaret have two levels, one at the middle of it, and another one at the top, and at the top there is a small cupole
      - There is a road (or something similar) running paralel to the viewpoint, because peoples/cars are on it.
      - On the right side of the screen there is a stone wall or something like that
      - UMLACAs are often launched from the Mezzeh Military Airfield's area, so I think there is a method to select the launch positions
      - The direction of the launch is about East, South East where the rebels hold some positions.
      - To mosque have to be in SAA hold area.

      During the searching abouth the mosques:
      - About 50-60 % of the mosques have cupole, but with different colors (silver, green, brown)
      - 95% of the mosques have a "rectangle" base, just a few have "ellipse" or " "rounded" base, while i found only one with hexagon base
      - The tower (minaret) are often built into a corner of the mosque, so they are rarely standalone, and also not always placed on the north side.
      - The tower (minaret) styles are very different, and most of them have a "rectangle" base, and only become rounded form around the middle.

      So these are the things why I think this is same as the one on the video. Your image show very high match if we focus for the contours on the background.

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    5. Bing Maps has a much clearer view of the mosque
      http://binged.it/1ciwQAZ

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  2. Yes, seems to me it's a strong contender, and it would fit with Mezzeh being used in the past to launch these munitions.

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    1. About the Mezzeh launching position. Is it possible, that only the red "signed/numbered" UMLACA-UKs were used in Damascus area (Adra, Zamalka and Ghouta)? Is this have any sence?

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    2. Well, there's certainly months of use, with only a few linked to chemical attacks, so it's possible.

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  3. Two corrections:

    1. Since OpenRocket's developer told us not to trust drag calculations for this design, we do not have any indication at this time that the nose cone has a dramatic effect on range. This is still being researched.

    2. The UMLACA was seen with three warheads so far (not two): explosive, chemical, and incendiary, with chemical being documented only on August 21st.

    And in general, whenever using such evidence to imply culpability, I think it's important to mention that practically every weapon of the Syrian Army was looted by the opposition at one time or another.

    Thanks!

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  4. Why you confuse the Big Eskimo from Qaddam (see http://luccum.blogspot.com/2013/10/different-tail.html) and Eskimo from Zamalka?

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    1. Eskimo!

      Great name! Especially since the vast majority of these missiles have zero link to Chemical attacks!

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    2. — Great name!
      This is the name coined by ©WarOnline.org (Israeli Military History Forum).

      p.s. Incidentally, in the Soviet ice cream "Эскимо" was not chemistry, really. )

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  5. The video shows NDF using a peculiar type of munition but do not prove that Syrian Army used chemical weapons in Damascus incident.If some intelligence agency was to plan that incident then it is obvious that it would use a weapon that is in SAA inventory and not a Saudi weapon.
    In other words,if I have a particular type of gun in my house and a crime has happened in my neighborhood that doesn't imply I am the author.Maybe some of my neighbours have also some undeclared guns of their own.

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  6. Wonder what kind of weapon to make out of sulfur?
    http://www.todayszaman.com/news-330543-turkey-seizes-20-bags-of-sulfur-on-syrian-border.html

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    1. Explosives, and it appears there's plenty of homemade explosives being manufactured by the opposition.

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  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXuX32ILevg

    Pro-Asaad Mayadin TV report. In the beginning you can see twin barreled launcher on white civilian truck, similar to Iranian Falaq and UMLACA launchers. Unfortunately its not loaded.

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    1. Thanks for that, putting a post together about it and another video now.

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