Syria is on fire.
Confirmed sightings have been made in the country of both RPO-A “Bumblebees” and TOS-1 “Burratinos”.
Both of these platforms utilize thermobaric warheads, which disperse their fuel when approaching their target and ignite, creating large fireballs.
The Syrian Army has become infamous for its utilization of “barrel bombs” in the four year civil war. The inherent inaccuracy of the crude platform has lead to an abhorrent number of civilians being incinerated by the al-Assad Regime.
Despite Russian claims to the contrary, barrel bombings still occur, and with an alarming frequency. The Syrian Network for Human Rights claims that since the beginning of the Russian intervention into Syria, 120 people, including children, have been killed.
Thus the provision of the shoulder carried RPO to the Syrian army is alarming. The mission of the platform is primarily to destroy light skinned targets (i.e. infantry, cars) or clear out indoor spaces with either the six to seven meter fire ball, or the ensuing overpressure.
This will prove vital to Syrian Army forces in urban settings when fighting either FSA units or ISIS.
WATCH: Video showing force of American designed thermobaric warheads
The former is a former of self propelled artillery with conventional 152 mm shells. The latter, is a T-72 chassis with an attached Multiple Rocket Launcher (MRL), equipped to fire 24 220 mm thermobaric warheads at one time.
While the “Burratino” can be used against population centers, the more likely target will be forests, or other concealment in which FSA units are hiding. These artillery pieces have been deployed to the Latakia region, implying that the Russians intend to assist a Syrian Army operation in that part of the country.
Nonetheless, the platform presents another potential means of horrific death for the Syrian people, and makes the possibility of removing al-Assad more remote.
(The ongoing civil war in Syria is a nightmare for the people of Syria. UNICEF has a specially earmarked page for Syrian children and mothers, should you feel the urge to help.)
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Cover Photo Credit: Freedom House/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)