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Cluster Bombs Used in Talbiseh, Homs, Match Type Seen at Russia’s Syrian Airbase

February 8, 2016

By Eliot Higgins

Today’s Human Rights Watch report Russia/Syria: Daily Cluster Munition Attacks documents further use of cluster munitions in the Syria conflict, following earlier reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on the use of cluster munitions in Syria. These reports triggered denials from the Russian Defence Ministry, who denied such munitions were even present at their airbase in Syria. This contradicted images published by Spuntik, Russian Today, and the Russian Defence Ministry showing cluster munitions at their airbase in Syria. While attempts have been made to claim the bombs pictured were high explosive bombs, all available evidence points to them being RBK-500 series cluster munitions, and a recent bombing from Talbiseh, Homs, provides further evidence linking cluster bombs dropped on Syrian towns to the type seen at Russia’s airbase in Syria.

On February 7th 2016 the Talbisah Media Center posted the following video online showing cluster submunitions and a cluster bomb casing they claim had been dropped by Russian aircraft:

This video features two types of submunitions, the spherical ShOAB-0.5, and the AO-2.5RTM, the designation of which can be clearly seen in the video:

AO 2.5RTM

Both these submunitions were identified in the CITeam report on Russian cluster bombs in Syria as types seen at Russia’s airbase in Syria, and it’s notable that while the ShOAB-0.5 has been recorded as being used before in Syria, the AO-2.5RTM has not, only the very similar AO-2.5RT variant.

The video from Talbiseh also features a cluster bomb casing, and Talbisah Media Center provided Bellingcat with further images of the cluster bomb casing. These images provided some interesting extra details not visible in the video.

12696450_970945109654120_1557500859_o

When compared to images of the bombs identified as cluster munitions at Russia’s airbase in Syria there are some clear similarities (source):

AO-2.5RTM

Both hooks are visible, as is the red plate above the fuze (absent in the Talbiseh photograph after activating), and a further structure above that. This combination of unusual features match perfectly, as does the tail section

12696608_970945056320792_1644316501_o Tail fins

It’s clear there are many matches between the cluster bomb used in Talbiseh, and the cluster bombs seen at Russia’s airbase, adding to the growing body of evidence that Russia is deploying cluster bombs in Syria, despite their strong and repeated denials.

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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273 Comments

  1. Randy Dread

    they are not regular free falling, they are satellite targeted. but we already had this discussion.

    if you’ll excuse me i have work to do.

    Reply
    • Andrea

      They should have movable fins at the end in order to change course … If they have not there is no way they can guide themselves
      No movable tail fins > free fall bomb

      It isn’t so hard to get it 😉

      Reply
      • Randy Dread

        they dont bloody need to change course.

        they are already on course when dropped.

        how simple can it be.

        Reply
        • Edmund

          Guess you don’t understand that the wind will alter the course and also even the turbulence from the jet upon release will affect the trajectory. More importantly if you looked into the cluster bomb model you will notice that they are free fall cluster munitions and not guided. Even if they were cluster bombs still denoate over a large area that’s the whole point of cluster bombs. This makes them deadly regardless of their guidance.

          Reply
          • Andrea

            he can’t understand …
            … or probably he doesn’t want to say he’s bloody wrong 😛

          • Randy Dread

            we are talking about 500 pound bombs. wind is a minimal consideration.

            no cluster bombs are being dropped.

          • Andrea

            But you said that those with the exact shape of cluster bombs are regular bombs…so…i’m allowed to consider them a cylinder 2,5m long, 45cm diameter ….

          • Randy Dread

            they dont need to change course. that’s the meaning of a firing solution.

          • Andrea

            The point of guided bombs is to let them change course in order to minimize the loss of accuracy due to many factors like turbolences, the spinning of the bomb and even wind…
            Because if the falling time of the bomb is long even the slightest force can deviate it from the target…and those factors are totally unforeseeable.

            Everyone aims their bombs with a firing solution … but it’s what happens next (once is dropped) that makes the difference …

  2. Andrea

    Randy…
    cat-uxo.com (Richard) answered same way they did here…
    He said he never touches submunitions, he lost colleagues who did touch them…and that we only see the videos of those who survive the handling…

    Reply
    • Randy Dread

      well thats so obvious its not even worth saying.

      the alternative view is the munitions are not live and are known not to be live. that’s why they are being picked up and tossed around in the manner we see.

      Reply
    • Randy Dread

      did it seem strange to him that there is not a single report of any of these guys being blown up doing this?

      Reply
  3. Andrea

    Randy, Let’s try this way:
    1) go check on the web what a firing solution is
    2) go check what a guided bomb is
    3) can you write here below what’s your definition for “guided bomb”

    Reply
  4. Randy Dread

    Andrea – February 11th, 2016
    Everyone aims their bombs with a firing solution … but it’s what happens next (once is dropped) that makes the difference …

    Gravity happens when its dropped. Then a bang.

    Reply
    • Andrea

      In free fall bombs
      Self guided ones instead can drive themselves to the target in order to compensate the loss of accuracy during the flight

      Reply
      • Randy Dread

        that’s because such bombs are not dropped with a pre calculated firing solution, thus they have to work that way.

        Reply
        • Andrea

          Saying that “only gravity happens”

          You gave the definition of free fall bomb (dumb bomb)

          Well done, you finally got it !!

          Reply
          • Randy Dread

            pre guided bombs accurately targeted with a GLONASS based firing solution.

          • John Zenwirt

            You are deliberately feeding this guy, why not stop doing so? If one ignores, he will leave…

          • GJR

            Sadly he won’t disappear. He’s a permanent fixture. It’s almost as if Bellingcat is assigned to him.

          • Andrea

            He’ll never leave …
            I’m just trying to let the readers see the sillyness of his comments…

  5. Randy Dread

    Andrea – February 10th, 2016

    I gave you the measures of RBK500…that as you said previously has the same shape of OFABs ?

    And I gave you the measures of an OFAB 250/270.

    Reply
      • Andrea

        But you concluded (in the previous article) that Those in the pictures were OFABs too … With the same dimensions of RBK500s…
        If you can’t confirm this then we have one more proof those were indeed RBKs
        😉

        Reply
        • Randy Dread

          i never concluded anywhere that an OFAB 250/270 has the same dimensions as RBK 500s.

          show me the post.

          Reply
          • Andrea

            -we said the pictures were showing RBK500s in russian airbase and on planes…
            – you said those were instead regular HE bombs (OFAB series)

            – So there are two possibilities:
            1) HE bombs can have the exact dimensions of RBK500s…and are being used
            2) you were lying and those were RBKs

            Chose one …

  6. Randy Dread

    Andrea – February 11th, 2016

    -we said the pictures were showing RBK500s in russian airbase and on planes…
    – you said those were instead regular HE bombs (OFAB series)

    More accurately, I said none of us know for sure what they are because none of us are bomb experts and the complete body of knowledge about Soviet bombs is unlikely to be available on wikipedia or google.

    Reply
  7. Andrea

    You are still trying to avoid this question…
    Randy, Let’s try this way:
    1) go check on the web what a firing solution is
    2) go check what a guided bomb is
    3) can you write here below what’s your definition for “guided bomb”

    Reply
    • Randy Dread

      i would define the bombs dropped by the Russians as pre guided bombs accurately targeted with a GLONASS based firing solution.

      it’s simply not accurate to descibe them as dumb bombs because the probability of accurately hitting the target to within a few metres is very high.

      Reply
      • Andrea

        This is your non expert opinion about russian bombs… I haven’t asked you this…
        The question is:

        give the definition of “guided bomb”

        Reply
    • Andrea

      that’s not the answer to my question…

      Give the definition of a guided bomb

      And if you give any kind of supportink link would be great, as you admitted not being an expert…

      Reply
        • Andrea

          Glides !?!?
          You are the first guy in the world using this word to describe the falling of a bomb !!

          Reply
          • John Zenwirt

            No. The standard guided USA bomb is called “Paveway” when fitted with an advanced targetting head, and adjustable fins that make course corrections from the “smart” nose guidance device…USSR is just ddropping dumb bomb without the “Paveway” additions….

  8. John Zenwirt

    No “sattelite” can alone act as a guide for bombs, as no “Spotter” on the ground has “painted”
    the target so the sattelite can tell the bomb where to go. Satellites cannot attack any target on their own, boots on the ground are required to “light up” the target…only some advanced Western aircraft can do both…

    Reply
  9. Randy Dread

    John Zenwirt – February 11th, 2016

    No. The standard guided USA bomb is called “Paveway” when fitted with an advanced targetting head, and adjustable fins that make course corrections from the “smart” nose guidance device…USSR is just ddropping dumb bomb without the “Paveway” additions….

    No that’s not accurate, they are targetting the bombs using GLONASS satellites to locate the launch point and target, then using an onboard system to calculate a firing solution.

    it should be very accurate, since the laws of physics dont change.

    it’s not complicated to understand.

    Reply
    • Andrea

      That’s war of words…
      He says TARGET while we say GUIDE … And he doesn’t want to uderstand the two things are different

      Reply

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