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.