Not a drone nor a bird. What's that "thing" seemingly orbiting over Homs, Syria?

While seeking for new interesting footage from Syria, to update the yesterday post about the weapons being used by the regime against the opposition in Homs, I stumbled upon this video.

Something seemingly “solid” seems to orbit in the smoke coming from a burning building (an oil pipe according to a comment) at Homs. Most probably it has nothing to do with a drone (too low, it would be operating inside the smoke cloud where visibility is poor, and so on) and it is not even solid.

An optical illusion caused by a strong light? Thermal convection? Anything else that can be scientifically explained?

What’s your opinion?


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. No compression artifact. See at 1:26 how a white smoke is mixing with the balck one soon after the thing/vortex is moving. As there is some white smoke coming up too it’s possible that there are two different materials burning with different smoke density and different temperature that causing the faster spiral movement of the white one inside the black one….

  2. Jonathan took the words right out of my mouth. That’s exactly what I was thinking when I saw it. It seems like every “orbit” was a bit lower, as if gravity was having a greater effect than the updraft.

  3. Somebody sampling – particulates and/or vapors? Who and why? Concern over CW? Can the location of the burn be triangulated from multiple images? Then Google Earth to see what’s there. The apparent control of the platform to remain inside the plume suggests local command vice semi-autonomous. Very strange indeed.

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