As Assad loads chemicals into weapons, new footage (sent to me by Jake Snyder) emerges from Syria showing regime’s helicopters dropping incendiary cluster bombs on rebel positions.
The Mil Mi-25 Hind gunship (capable to carry rockets that can theoretically be loaded with chemical agents) can be clearly seen releasing bombs leaving fanning smoke trails. Although the resemble flares, these are actually ZAB submunitions igniting upon dispersal, and falling near Deir ez-Zour.
Such subminutions are contained into RBK-250 cluster bombs.
According to the Rogue Adventurer blog, RBK-250 ZAB-2.5 (Zazhigatelnaya Aviatsionnaya Bomba; incendiary aircraft bomb) 250-kg cluster bomb contains 48 submunitions in total in three different variations: one with an incendiary (thermite) composition, one with a thermite + high explosive composition, and one with a thermite + jellied incendiary composition.
The Syrian regime is using its gunships to fire rockets, drop barrel bombs, PSYOPS leaflets, and even cluster bombs. That’s why they are the priority target of the rebel’s anti-aircraft fire.
H/T Bjørn Holst Jespersen for the help in identifying the bomblets
German Weekly publication “Der Spiegel” has reported that witnesses have seen Syrian forces test firing chemical weapons systems at its research centre at Safira, east of Aleppo, in August.
According to the report, a total of five or six shells designed to deliver chemical agents were fired by both tanks and helicopters, at a site called Diraiham in the desert near to the village of Khanasir. The Safira site is thought to be Syria largest testing centre for chemical weapons, the official title is a “scientific research centre”.
The site is thought to house scientists from Iran and North Korea and according to western intelligence agencies they produce chemical agents such as Sarin, Tobun, and mustard gas.
Der Speigel says that during recent months the guards have been replaced and reinforced by more than 100 elite troops from the 4th Tank Division. Diesel powered generators to safe guard the electricity supply from sabotage from the rebels were delivered as well.
According to the report the rebels were quoted as saying “We hope American troops will secure the plant. We don’t want the regime to be able to use the weapons, but nor do we want them to fall into the hands of radicals after the downfall.”
The article doesn’t go into details with regards to the helicopters used to test the weapons but they could have been either the multi-role Mil Mi-8/17 Hip or the Mil Mi-25 Hind gunships, both capable to carry rockets that can theoretically be loaded with the chemical agent.
Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com
A Syrian Mil Mi-17 at the Tishreen War Panorama Museum, in Damascus (image by David Cenciotti)
Mil Mi-8/17 Hip and Mil Mi-24 (25) Hind gunship helicopters (alongside made-in-Iran drones) have been Assad’s main tools against the oppositors.
That’s why the rebels have put the instructions on how to shoot down an helicopter on-line: the Syrian Revolution 2011 page on Facebook (with about 514K likes) has published a short text that provides hints on how to target a chopper.
Here’s a (rough) translation (provided by Bing)
To all free people free national army …I’ve observed recently that some of the rebels are targeting aircraft alasdet as if they had parked in the air! Any that are targeted directly without taking account of space and time which will reach the plane and shot/shell at the same time!.In fact this is known for both served in the air force and Army aviation use, but to deliver this information to both HSS and the rebels and especially for newcomers to our free hero; we Dear Heroes to leave some distance between the plane and the access point, so that the shot hit the target in the appropriate place and time.The picture below shows a correction and payment when you reference x. And then the plane will arrive and she shot/shell, so drop goal.The seasoned in correction and drop aircraft can estimate the distance accurately, but affiliated with new free army needs to train and practice and awareness. Valnnshar dear HSS this image to all activists and perhaps up to members of the rebel army stationed on the fronts free in most Syrian cities.
Screen dump from Facebook
H/T to @bjoernen_dk for the heads-up
Respectively taken on Jun. 10 at Rastan and on Jun. 11 at the Idlib village of Farkia, the following videos mark the first involvement of Syrian Mil Mi-24 Hind-D (Mi-25) gunship helicopters in Syria.
Much more maneuverable and powerful than the Mi-8/17 Hip spotted so far, the Mi-25 is an attack helicopter (equipped with a nose machine gun capable to carry rockets, bombs and missiles) that can also perform troops transportation.
Most probably, the use of this kind of helicopter testifies the regime’s growing concerns for the successes obtained by the rebels in the last periods.