05/18/2013 - #Syria - Aleppo - Ahrar al-Sham brigade fires rockets at Aleppo’s central prison
(CNN) — It was cloudy the afternoon of January 3 when residents say the cluster bombs fell on the Syrian town of Latamneh.
Three rockets containing the cluster munitions fell in nearby fields, apparently doing no harm, but a fourth landed on the street between residential buildings. Its impact was devastating.
One man was driving down the street when submunitions from the rockets exploded, killing him instantly, residents said. Fifteen civilians walking down the street or in their homes were wounded, including women and children, according to two residents and video evidence. Residents said that an hour after the attack, a submunition that had failed to detonate on impact killed a man who tried to remove it from his yard. It exploded in his hands.
Since mid-2012, Human Rights Watch and others have reported several times on civilian casualties caused by Syrian use of air-dropped cluster bombs, but Latamneh and other recent attacks are the first known instances of Syrian use of ground-based cluster munitions. The rockets were apparently launched from the vicinity of nearby Hama airport, which is under government control.
Evidence we have seen suggests that Syrian government forces delivered the 122mm cluster munition rockets containing submunitions using a BM-21 Grad multi-barrel rocket launcher, a truck-mounted system capable of firing 40 rockets nearly simultaneously with a range of 4 to 40 kilometers (2.5 to 25 miles). Grad rocket launchers are notorious for their inability to be accurately targeted due to their lack of a guidance system. This exacerbates the danger from the wide-area effect of the submunitions the rockets contain.
Many countries, including Lebanon and Cambodia, have experienced civilian casualties from similar types of submunitions, both at the time of attack and from submunitions that didn’t explode on initial impact. Each submunition is the size of a D-cell battery with a distinctive white ribbon, and the design of their fuze system makes each one very sensitive and liable to detonate if disturbed.
After years of civilian harm caused by cluster munitions, Israel’s massive use of the weapons in southern Lebanon in 2006 helped propel governments into action. Working with civil society groups such as Human Rights Watch and international organizations, a broad-based coalition of like-minded governments sought to do something to reduce the unacceptable harm caused by cluster munitions.
The resulting Convention on Cluster Munitions, adopted May 30, 2008, comprehensively prohibits cluster munitions and requires their clearance and assistance to victims. A total of 111 nations, including many former users, producers, and stockpilers of the weapon, as well as countries contaminated by cluster munition remnants, have embraced the ban convention.
Yet there has been limited interest in the Middle East and North Africa regions, where just three countries—Iraq, Lebanon, and Tunisia—are onboard the treaty banning cluster bombs. Some nations, such as Jordan, say they need more time to study the convention’s provisions, while others including Egypt, Iran, and Israel have produced, imported, exported, and stockpiled cluster munitions.
The 122mm cluster munition rockets used by Syria bear the markings of the Egyptian state-owned Arab Organization for Industrialization and an Egyptian company called Sakr Factory for Development Industries. Syria could have bought these cluster munitions from Egypt, received them through military cooperation, or acquired them another way. With no transparency, it is impossible to say how or when they were made or transferred, though it is likely Syria acquired them long ago.
Syria’s relentless use of cluster munitions, including in populated areas, is yet another sign of its blatant disregard for international law and the protection of its own civilians. Syria’s use of cluster munitions runs counter to the new international standard being created by the Convention on Cluster Munitions, rejecting any use of the weapons.
The preventive impact of the convention and the standard it is establishing can already be seen as countries that have joined the ban rapidly destroy their stockpiles of cluster munitions.
In Syria, every time the government has used cluster munitions and other explosive weapons, a lethal legacy of unexploded ordnance is created. Given the terrible humanitarian impact, all governments, regardless of their position on joining the ban convention, should press Syria to stop using cluster munitions.
03/12/2012 - #Syria - Damascus - Mezzeh military airport, video show rockets being launched from the airport
#Syria, Indiscriminate bombing on Haffeh. Shooting rockets like crazy! (Appears to be a leaked video - actual date unknown, but would seem to be from the summer)
#Syria, DamascusTribune Watch 4 rockets landing on2 buildings in Taftanaz in #Idlib. Cameraman reciting prayers b/c he think he’ll die
#Syria, DamascusTribuneOne of the rockets that warplanes dropped on Bosra al-Cham in #Daraa province
by Harry Smith - last updated Sun 4 Nov 2012Smoke rises from Taftanaz airport during clashes between President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and the Free Syrian Army near Idlib Photo: REUTERS/ Abdalghne Karoof
Bombing raids in Syria were the start of one of their more concentrated attacks on military power, according to rebels.
Using what are described as improvised rockets, fighters aimed at one of the countries most strategic air bases in Taftanaz.
There is no way of verifying how effective the onslaught was, but the base is used by government helicopter gunships, which have been mounting regular attacks on rebel strongholds.
The mere fact that rebels can mount such an offensive, suggests they have the weapons and the capability to take on government forces on their own territory.
Control of airspace is crucial to the regime’s survival.
Observers say president Assad’s forces appear to be increasingly overstretched, even in their ability to use air power especially in the north around Aleppo.
Rebels say they are now involved in a push to cut off Syria’s biggest city from the seat of government and secure a vital north-south corridor.
It could though be days or even weeks before the out come is clear.
Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Syrian opposition forces have accused Hezbollah of actively taking part in the fighting in Syria, claiming that the Lebanese–based Shiite organization is firing hundreds of rockets into Syria on a daily basis.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Syrian opposition Local Coordination Committee-member, Mohamed al-Homsi, accused Hezbollah of “intervening in the fighting alongside the Syrian regime with all of its power” adding “Hezbollah is firing its rockets – the same rockets that it claims are to fight Israel – into Syrian territory to kill Syrian people.”
Al-Homsi, who is a member of the Homs Local Coordination Committee, confirmed that “between 100 and 150 rockets and mortar shells are being fired by Hezbollah into the Syrian town of al-Qaseer and the surrounding villages on a daily basis, from the group’s military positions in Hermel [on the Syrian – Lebanese borer].” He also revealed that the previous few days have seen a strong intensification in the barrage of rocket fire from Hezbollah into Syrian opposition-held territory.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat “it has become clear that Hezbollah is taking part, with all of its strength, in this battle, which it considers itself to be a part of. Hezbollah has sent thousands of its troops, along with military equipment and arms, into Syria, deploying them throughout Homs and the surrounding areas, in addition to Hama, Aleppo, Zabadani and Damascus. They are engaging in fierce clashes with rebel forces”.
Al-Homsi also revealed that “Hezbollah fighters are teaching the al-Assad regular forces and pro-regime Shabiha militias how to fight street battles” adding “Hezbollah elements are actively taking part in the conflict in Homs, from suppressing protests to leading the battles in Deir Baalba, Baba Amr, al-Qaseer and elsewhere.”
The British Daily Telegraph issued a report confirming that Hezbollah is launching rocket attacks into Syria, with one eye-witness saying “they [Hezbollah] are concentrating on hitting the villages where the Free Syrian Army are, to weaken them before launching a ground attack.”
Another activist informed the British newspaper that the rocket attacks began six weeks ago, adding “Hezbollah does this almost every night. It gets heavier when the fighting gets worse here.”
Responding to these accusations, Hezbollah MP Walid Sakaria, strongly denied that Hezbollah was firing any rockets into Syria, stressing that “it would be impossible to fire such rockets without people in the surrounding area hearing or seeing this.”
He also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the accusations being leveled against us clearly demonstrate that Hezbollah is being targeted simply because it is an enemy of Israel and the US project in the region, and so we are not surprised to be facing such accusations.”
He added “the NATO project in the region requires Sunni – Shiite conflict which will ultimately lead to a peace agreement with Israel, according to the Israeli conditions. Therefore the accusations that Hezbollah is firing rockets into al-Qaseer and Zabadani represent an attempt to incite this conflict and to say that Shiite Hezbollah is striking the Sunni regions in Syria.”
The Hezbollah MP stressed that “the NATO project will not succeed unless it incites enmity between the Arabs and Iran and promotes the idea that Tehran represents a threat to the Arab world.”