Heaviest Russian mortars pound Homs

Christian Science Monitor reports: From Peter Bouckaert, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, comes an indication why the death toll has been steadily climbing in Homs. He says a video from Homs that shows the fragments of a mortar the struck a building there is proof that Assad has deployed the Russian-made “Tulip” weapons system against the town, which fires the largest mortar round in any military’s arsenal. The tank-like vehicle that serves as the firing platform can lob 240mm mortar rounds up to 20 kilometers away, and they carry over 70 pounds of explosives. The largest mortar used by the US, in contrast, is 160mm.

Syria has another Russian-made system for firing rounds that size, the towed M240, and it’s possible that’s being used to fire the rounds instead of the Tulip.

The Tulip was designed for use against dug in positions from a standoff distance. But its lethality has been used in the past to bring devastation to civilian neighborhoods, most famously by the Russians during the siege of the Chechen capital of Grozny over a decade ago, where thousands of civilians were killed and hundreds of buildings reduced to rubble. The use of such weapons in dense urban environments is a war crime.

This video (with obnoxious soundtrack) shows the Tulip (2S4 Tyulpan) being used in exercises by the Russian military. The fins and perforated stem match those shown in the video showing mortar remnants in Homs.

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Comments

  1. Since there are credible reports from CNN (admittedly unintentional) of damage from heavy weapons in an Alawite suburb of Homs, al-Zahra, there could be legitimate reasons for the Syrian Army to bombard an insurgent stronghold like Babr Amr.

    http://english.al-akhbar.com/blogs/sandbox/high-tech-trickery-homs

  2. When a state resorts to the use of heavy weapons in order to crush political dissent, it has lost its political legitimacy — if it ever had any. The fact that the Assad regime now faces an existential threat does not mean it can legitimately do anything to retain power.

    Do Western powers have dubious motives for supporting Assad’s opponents? Of course. But it’s perverse to conclude on this basis that Assad’s actions are therefore somehow excusable.

  3. Paul Woodward seems to find it repulsive that the Syrian army, the legitimate army that is, is using excessive force to put down the insurgency that spread across Syria. This is the same Woodward who uses Al Jazeera as a reliable new source on the events in that country even though it has been show many times that this outlet has actually fabricated and exaggerated news as instructed by the western puppert rulers in Qatar.
    I would ask Mr. Woodward if he really believes the fight in Homs is an amry against civilians and not an armed bunch of thugs receiveing support from the GCC and Lebanon’s right wing groups who would like nothing more than to see Syria fall into turmoil and self destruct.
    No one in Syria would want to see Assad stay in power and everyone would love a new Government, more democratic and more representative of the people. But no Syrian want their country destroyed in the process and no Syrian want to be governed by A GCC puppet or a Western puppet group. If you really think Assad is fighting hard to retain power then you know nothing about Assad or Syria. You seem to also know nothing about the history of this country and what it had to face the past decade.
    Assad has the support of the Syrian people in trying to crush this group in Homs and other parts of the country. Because no Syrian wants these people to gain power any more than they want the present Government to survive. The armed group fighting in Homs are no more than religious fanatics and thugs who have been given legitimacy by pro Western agents who want Syria to be weak and cut its relations with Iran. Syria’s close relationship with Russia is also a major factor that the west would love to kill, these are the motivation behind this fight and not Democracy. The armed group in Homs are just a tool used by pro western factions to weaken Syria.
    Left alone, the people of Syria, and not the thugs will lead Syria into a new world free of outside influence and a representative Government.
    I wonder if Mr. Woodward thinks that these armed groups would stop the killings and the chaos if the Syrian army was to stop and retreat. In Zabadani when the army retreated the people were subjected to harrassment and theft by the thugs who ran the town when the army retreated. In Home they would kill anyone who did not agree with them and they would steal and destroy businesses that do not conform to their beliefs.
    Do Syrians a favor Mr. Woodward and study the history of this region before you publish your bleeding heart condemantion of what you think is going on. Syrians are fighting for their survival, and people like you are legitmizing the killings of civilians by pretending you know what is going on and condeming what you claim as actual events and use your source of information the same media outlets who take their orders from, true, democratic and Syrian loving sources like the US, France and the GCC. Give me a break.

  4. Assad has the support of the Syrian people and no one wants him to stay in power. That’s quite a paradox.

    I make no pretense to be any kind of expert on Syrian politics or history but there are some patterns in power struggles that play out in similar ways everywhere. When the status quo becomes untenable, those who want to defend it invariable attribute its fractures to pressure from foreign influences.

    If the Syrian army was to stop shelling Homs, would civil strife across Syria suddenly stop? Of course not. The cruel logic of a civil war is now playing out in which each side views defeat in absolute terms. That means there is little chance of the fighting ending any time soon. Are outside powers exacerbating the conflict? No doubt, but absent their influence I see no evidence that Syria would now be on a peaceful path towards democracy.