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New Heavy Short Range Rockets Deployed By Pro-Syrian Government Forces

July 16, 2014

By Eliot Higgins

A few weeks ago images of a new type of rocket began to appear, reportedly coming from sources close to Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), a Shia paramilitary militia operating in Iraq and Syria.

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According to sources who provided the pictures, the AAH had named this rocket al-Qahere, with reports that other groups, including Hezbollah, are using the same rockets, using the name Tsunami.  It’s possible these rockets are the same rockets Al-Rai’s Chief International Correspondent Elijah J Magnier tweeted about in April 2014

@EjmAlrai 7/ #Syria ‪#‎Damascus‬ : The attack against Ghouta was stronger than ever today. ‪#‎BreakingNews‬ : #SAA received new “rockets” with a very high explosive warhead for short distance. These were made “abroad” for breaking first line of defence with over a ton of explosive. The delivery of new TOW and other military warfare to the rebels was considered a violation of a non signed agreement btw Russia and the West. These missiles are used for the first time in Al-Ghouta on Mliha, Jobr front. Attacking forces #SAA ‪#‎Hezbollah‬ consider the Ghouta would require no more than 3 months to be re-taken by the regime forces

It’s interesting to note that shortly after this information was posted videos began to appear from Mliha showing a different type of rocket, similar to the design of the Volcano rockets used elsewhere in Syria (more here).  It’s also interesting to note a number of videos from those areas posted by activists have them describing rockets fired at them as Earthquake, Elephant, or Lion’s Roar rockets.  There’s an Earthquake (Zelzal) series of rockets from Iran, but as with all things in Syria it’s difficult to know if this is a local name, an assumption about the type of rocket, or an accurate piece of information.

Recently, we’ve also seen a video of the rocket in action

One feature that’s interesting to note in this video is the rocket launched in the video has tail fins attached, while the above picture doesn’t show tail fins present, which may suggest they are transported without the tail fins being attached.  According to some sources, one of the men in the AAH pictures may be a senior figure in the organisation, Haj Hassan Salem Abbas Al-Zirjawi, aka Abu Rabi, AAH high commander and part of AAH core leadership, who fought US forces in Iraq and has close ties with Iran

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As with many of these sightings of new weapon system in Syria we can only try to piece together those few pieces of information that are already out there, but from viewing videos from opposition groups in the area these rockets are supposedly being used in it does appear there’s some evidence that these rockets, and other heavy short-range rockets have become an increasingly common feature in the arsenal of groups fighting for the Syrian government.

Many thanks to B. Khabazan for his help with this article.

Eliot Higgins

Eliot Higgins is the founder of Bellingcat and the Brown Moses Blog. Eliot focuses on the weapons used in the conflict in Syria, and open source investigation tools and techniques.

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One Comment

  1. zekhong

    If I am suppose to make something for Syria,I will make remote control vehicle with half spherical on the top, Turtle remote control car and use it to put mine or dynamite on building.It will be much more cost effective than using Machine gun round and tanks rounds to destroy the building.Seriously , that war is using residential and non residential building as bunkers


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