Tag Archives: Syria

Have Assad’s forces used Chemical Weapons on Homs?

Reports have appeared on news websites according to those, forces loyal to President Assad have attacked Syrian rebels in the city of Homs with what appears to be a gas type chemical weapon.

Quoting Al-Jazeera, Haaretz has reported that opposition leaders said that government jets dropped bombs containing a poisonous gas onto Homs on Dec. 23.

It is not known what chemical agent was used. Some think it’s something similar to Sarin although according to a doctor who treated some of the victims the agent QNB or 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate for its full name (also known by NATO as BZ) was used possibly mixed in with another agent to mask its identity.

QNB is an odorless incapacitating agent which is usually delivered as a aerosol based solid and this would fit in with some of the symptoms the victims suffered.

Around 6 or 7 people were killed outright in the attack, 4 were left paralyzed, 4 where left blind and dozens had symptoms including agitation, consciousness impairment, pinpoint pupils, nausea and  breathing difficulties.

Many of the victims said that there was a bad odor along with the gas and as QNB is odorless this would suggest that the QNB is mixed with something else quite possibly a solvent to aid ingestion or per-cutaneous adsorption (through the skin).

[Read also: Assad regime has turned combat planes into WMD-armed drones]

An article ran on the Independent website states that a defecting Syrian army General Abdul-Aziz Jassim al-Shallal confirmed that the attack was indeed a chemical weapons attack, although he did not give any further details.

However Wired’s Dangeroom (Link contains graphic video) quotes an unnamed US official as saying that “It just doesn’t jibe with chemical weapons,” after viewing the videos supplied by the rebels, assuming Sarin had been used the casualty numbers would have been far higher and felt that the videos didn’t really conclusively state that chemical weapons had been used at least Sarin and we could have been shown anything not necessarily victims of a chemical weapons attack.

Both sides of the conflict have been sending out propaganda to meet their own needs and this could be another example of this fake claims.

Until this has been independently verified its hard to say what exactly has happened.

Syria reportedly tested chemical weapons using tanks and helicopters earlier this year.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

A Su-22 drops a freefall bomb next to a lucky cameraman in Homs

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Assad regime has turned combat planes into WMD-armed drones

According to Israel Hayom daily, the Mig-21 fighter jet flown by a defecting Syrian pilot to Jordan last June was found to have been modified by the Syrian Arab Air Force to carry weapon of mass destruction and to fly without a pilot.

Indeed, U.S. experts who examined the plane believe that, with the help of Russia, Assad’s engineers have converted that airframe and possibly some more of the same type in the SyAAF inventory.

The Syrian Mig-21, piloted by Colonel Hassan Hamada landed at the King Hussein Air Base in Mafraq, Jordan, on Jun. 21.

Even if Hamada had removed his rank and requested political asylum upon landing in Jordan, the regime immediately denied that the Mig had defected and requested the airplane (and its pilot) to be returned.

Inspection conducted by U.S. intelligence teams on the plane revealed modifications that could explain why Syria put so much pressure on Jordan to have the jet back.

Image credit: Aircraftslides.com

For sure modifying a combat plane to make it a sort-of drone is something that skilled engineers might be able to achieve quite easily. What could be more difficult is to properly control and fly it at high speed and low level to evade enemy radars and make it capable to hit its intended target on the long range, beyond LOS (Line Of Sight). But, launching the unmanned Mig on a pre-programmed one-way route would require less engineering work.

The news has yet to be confirmed by U.S. sources. Provided the Mig-21 was really modified, it’s still unclear whether the Syrian regime converted the plane to use it against the rebels, a neighbouring country, a U.S. aircraft carrier or warship in the Mediterranean Sea.

Hezbollah has recently proved its ability to fly a remotely controlled drone deep inside the Israeli airspace. The Syrian regime has made extensive use of drones to spy on rebel activities since the beginning of the uprising.

With the help of Russian or Iranian engineers, they may have modified one or more Mig-21s to use them in kamikaze missions either against the Free Syrian Army or Turkey, Israel or Jordan in an attempt to spark off a regional war.

That’s why NATO E-3 AWACS deployed in Turkey could prove useful.

H/T to Guido Olimpio for the heads-up

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Amid fears of Syrian missile attack, NATO prepares to deploy E-3 “flying radar stations” to Turkey

Along with several Patriot missiles batteries, about to be stationed along the border with Syria as part of a NATO force to protect Turkey from a potential ballistic missile attack by Assad’s forces, the alliance is about to deploy E-3A AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) planes to the region.

According to a source who spoke off the record, the AEW planes are bound to Konya, one of the FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) of the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force component.

Although they were scheduled to attend a training exercise from the Anatolian airfield, it is safe to say that the “flying radar stations” will be used to keep an eye on the southern chunk of the Turkish airspace where Ankara has strenghtened the presence of Turkish Air Force planes since Turkey and Syria exchanged fire with Syrian forces on the border at the beginning of October.

[Read also: Turkey scrambles two fighter jets as Syrian Helicopter bombs Syrian border town]

The E-3 AWACS are not only capable to discover aircraft flying at very low altitude; they can provide Airspace Management duties as well as act as information sharing hubs (by interconnecting ground-based radar stations and flying assets), and can also detect missiles, as the Soviet-built Scud-B missiles that landed fairly close to the Turkish border lately.

In other words: although they may be on a scheduled deployment, they are moving into position should the need to support a Peace Support Operation arise.

H/T to Gábor Zord for the heads-up

Image credit: NATO


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Syrian Scud missile launch caught on tape

Filmed with a mobile phone (oriented vertically), the following amateur footage shows a Scud missile fired at rebels by Syrian forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad.

Although the authenticity of the video can’t be verified (it could have been filmed before the uprising), the reported use of Scud missiles marks a further escalation of the 20-month civil war.

According to U.S. and NATO officials, loyalists have fired Scud-style ballistic missiles at rebels, several of those have landed “fairly close” to the Turkish border U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said on Friday in a blog explaining why Patriot anti-missile batteries are being deployed to Turkey.


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Syrian chopper drops incendiary cluster bombs on rebels

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

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