Talk:Aleppo "Barrel Bombs Massacre"

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In December, 2013, daily reports out of Aleppo claimed a remarkable number of civilian deaths from increased aerial bombardment with explosive barrels. By December 24th there were reports that over 360 people had been killed so far in these attacks by the Syrian military. This page will be dedicated to collecting these reports, and examining the evidence behind them, and related issues.

Does it make any sense?

I find it strange that almost no one has pointed out that these press reports, taken at face value, don't make much sense. I couldn't find even a single well documented case. What I could find was contradictory and unconvincing. They have all the marks of the usual bullshit disseminated by the mainstream media and the SOHR, the one-member group. Just a bit of common sense: why on earth would a real, trained army use improvised devices when they have normal bombs. If they want to bomb indiscriminately, conventional artillery will do the job, without risking helicopters and improvising bombs of dubious quality. Improvisation is the consequence of the lack of means. The SAA doesn't seem to be short of supplies.

Anyway, they want us to believe that the SAA lacks conventional bombs, uses quite crude IEDs and a rather sophisticated delivery method (ie. helicopter, with its personnel, fuel, and maintenance requirements) that is out of reach for the 99,9% of humankind. They supposedly position the helicopter above the target, not very high because when you aim and drop this way you can't move nor be at height. So they risk the aircraft and the trained pilot in a situation where even conventional handheld weapons can hit the chopper not to mention flak and the numberless MANPADS known to be in possession of the "rebels", for achieving a very dubious military goal. Not very convincing. -- Balu (talk) 16:17, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Interesting thoughts, some I've had myself. First, I haven't looked into or learned much, so from a position of ignorance, I'm not sure If the weapon makes sense or not. If a crude weapon works okay and is cheap (like the UMLACA) they might use it. OTH, barrel bombs are a lot like the canister bombs rebels make for the roadside, but bigger. If we had proof they were actually being dropped, it must be from helicopters, etc (or rolled from a tall building onto a shorter one?). I wouldn't rule it out. Otherwise, they could be just set somewhere and blown up, and rebels could do that.
What has been striking me as making no sense is the huge number of civilians they keep killing day after day. This is against their normal MO, where human shields slow them down (these are the places they wind up slowly sieging instead). That they would drop these things, kill 20 civilians at a time, and keep doing that, makes no sense unless you think they're just heedless and evil. Which some do think.
AFAIK they're just blowing up or stabbing prisoners and blaming the barrels, which might be real and effective where they are used, and thus got rebels pissed off at them, and blaming them for crimes they didn't do. Warrants more study. --Caustic Logic (talk) 00:08, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
One explanation for the barrel bomb is that the helicopter would simply zero in using GPS coordinates. It still does not explain how the helicopter avoid flak fire. Could be, that some of the barrels are in fact UMLACA rockets. -- 00:22, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Balu, I read too quick earlier and didn't appreciate the good technical points against this tactic. I'm still agnostic, but considering it solidly challenged on the logic front. If there's video of one falling from a helicopter that would trump this, of course. As for UMLACAs, it could be. This activist talking to Slate was careful to connect it to helicopters and their sound, but said ""The barrels are huge and very heavy, so when they fall you hear this sound like they're tearing through the air. I don't know how to describe it." [1] Like a rocket maybe? --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:42, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Adam, you may be right with this UMLACA. If the barrels have audible noise when going through the air, I'm pretty sure they aren't just dropped. Rockets and mortar projectiles have (sometimes quite characteristic) noise (whistle etc. we should ask a soldier), but not (heavy?) barrels dropped from - say - 500m (and this height is in my opinion much too high for any meaningful targeting). But first of all some firsthand evidence is needed, eg. at least a single video of an actual barrel drop from a chopper and a subsequent explosion. Currently, there's no such evidence (just bullshit). A well known pseudo-expert who goes by the name of Brown Moses claims to have seen footage of drops taken from inside the helicopters, but these videos were later got deleted from YouTube, a very dubious claim. -- Balu (talk)
Oops, I can easily imagine a completely innocent situation when an SAA chopper drops some kind of barrels. There are a lot of besieged areas that the SAA supplies via air, with helicopters. Supplies often come in barrels. And perhaps when a chopper gets into trouble (flak, MANPAD, whatever) it may get rid of some supply to make its escape easier. So a footage of a chopper dropping barrels doesn't mean anything in itself. Disclaimer: I'm no security or military expert and I've not been a soldier either, so the above is a kinda speculation, hopefully "informed" speculation. -- Balu (talk)

"Youtube research"

Dear Contributors, I've "researched" youtube for this phenomenon. I know YT is not a reliable source etc. but I was curios whether I could find anything resembling the claim at all. This "research" took a staggering amount of time and is far from exhaustive. I've found at least a few genuine looking videos where a helicopter drops something that subsequently explodes, but I doubt these are IEDs, and there's no clear context why that actual bombing run happened. Unfortunately, I've got a deadline with my work so I can't contribute more at the moment. -- Balu (talk)

I was wondering where you went. Thanks for this time. I would have recommended, well, you see what we do. Check the videos. What it shows is much better than what people say. I will have a look at this over the next couple of days. Kind of excited, though it's another gear, and already in 2 or 3 gears at once. Cheers --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:36, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
Adam, you have to know this is the result of much filtering. The majority of what I found was more like disassembling IED looking things of suspicious origin. I was interested in the actual delivery, and -incidentally- stumbled upon a lot of Bronw Moses stuff. --Balu (talk) 11:11, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
To clarify, I meant I would suggest just what you did, so good instincts there. That other stuff could be interesting too, maybe, but clearly the falling from a helicopter part is crucial to proving any part of any of these claims has any basis in truth. The rest of the claims (what do the alleged victims look like, etc.) is another story, but this is where to start. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:58, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Also, there's a hyperactive blogger, Brown Moses, aka Eliot Higgins. He has gained some reputation in certain circles but IMHO he is a propagandists. He is by no means an expert. To me he looks more like the "Gay girl in Damascus". I think there should be a page devoted to him at ACLOS because he is constantly referred to in the mainstream media as an expert. (I don't know how to start a new page, and whether I can do that at all.) He's got a playlist for "barrel bombs". https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPC0Udeof3T7JqsCa586FSo7QoQYycP-1

The link there now will take whoever to the empty new page on him. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:58, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Helicopter dropping a bomb (whatever it is) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5PB-k9Runo

Helicopter dropping 2 things, at least one with guiding parachute (very unlikely that it is improvised), explosion, looking genuine? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTb7ciyyKlY

Likely Mi-8 or Mi-17, two bombs from the rear? Explode, type unknown, unlikely IED http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQRkv6DKr8w

Likely drop and explosion but a commenter with a "Jack Smith" type Hungarian name says it is fakery: "Attila Kovacs

Routers... it's a shame, that you release such edited footage as news. This is NOT quality journalism (if you call it yourself). Those barrels are parachute dropped with food supplies for civilians who are held hostage and trapped by the terrorists. The two blasts are typical mortar impacts (no flame, as you suggest with "oil filled"). The "aftermath" footage was edited in from a vehicle based bomb blast that was done by terrorists. If Routers did this editing, then shame on you. If you received this edited video from an outside source, then stop releasing it without double checking it with qualified JOURNALISTS or mil. intel. professionals!!!!

Rebel/foreign terrorists make such videos and blame mass murders on gov. forces and the labels on the videos prove these are separate sources and terrorist propaganda videos" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bFmpCqXcJ8

I agree with the comment's assessment. Reuters was handed rebel footage and edited according to their explanations, apparently. Something falling, edit, something's been blown up, edit, burning car wreckage at an apparent car bombing scene. part 1 and part 3 at least don't seem to belong together. This one fails. Its alleged barrel deserves a still below however. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:58, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Drop, and then explosion, unclear whether the video is cut, the cameraman lost it mid air http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7cLIllcAo0

Bomb from the sky, no evidence of IED and scrap metal. No helicopter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUJoitUMBGA

A very big explosion from two angles. One source says it was an ammunition dump. Relevance: Brown Moses (Eliot Higgins) published an article about barrel bombs from a certain Richard M. Lloyd, with some speculation about a new type of weapon that produces very big explosions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vefpIcUdqHM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqDbtQsWdnQ Brown Moses article URL is below. I plan to debunk it. Richard M. Lloyd is an actual expert (unlike Eliot Higgins), but with an agenda. http://brown-moses.blogspot.hu/2013/12/syrias-barrel-bomb-technology-relative.html

Dud "barrel bomb", this "incident" appears in the Lloyd article above too. The thing is that it looks very much like an improvised rocket, and it is most likely "rebel" originated of course. The smaller diameter pipe with white material in it is very likely part of the rocket motor, and not a "small warhead [used] as a booster" as Lloyd claims in his article. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=nk8vH8LFfBQ This link above can also be found in a comment at the following Brown Moses article http://brown-moses.blogspot.hu/2013/11/evidence-of-very-large-diy-barrel-bombs.html but a sane commenter also thinks it is an improvised "rebel" rocket: "If it's a Hell Cannon round, it's a brief but very clear shot which might tell us more about how it's made. Looks as if the warhead was a propane cannister in another life."

From the hyperactive Brown Moses http://brown-moses.blogspot.hu/2013/01/diy-barrel-bombs-adieds-filmed-in.html It has embedded videos ostensibly taken by rebels at the Taftanaz air base after the rebel takeover. They "found" a few sealed pipes and there are embedded videos of these pipes stuck in the ground, supposedly dud barrel bombs. You can't watch the videos but there are preview pictures. IMHO these are obviously faked, the barrels don't dig a hole and then slide in slanted, and they should show more apparent damages. There's a video that -I think- is significant. It shows a Mi-8 type helicopter, intact (but w/o rear door), with an interior that matches the interior of the helicopter (blue and w/o rear door) on the only know videos where people (presumably SAA soldiers) drop IED looking things after lighting a fuse. Brown Moses devotes a whole post for these videos: http://brown-moses.blogspot.hu/2012/10/clear-evidence-of-diy-barrel-bombs.html I don't think it is outlandish to assume the "rebels" sometimes fake videos for their propaganda purposes. The videos have actually been removed, making investigation impossible, very conveniently, but there are stills in the Lloyd article. The "rebels" don't even have to fly with the aircraft to produce an interior shot.

From Brown Moses again, some bullshit and speculation with a sane comment at the end, that says these are used fuel tanks. http://brown-moses.blogspot.hu/2012/08/the-mystery-of-syrian-barrel-bombs.html

-- Balu (talk)

You're not alone in your fascination with Brown Moses, he's kind of a star here. ;o) You'll find some editing tips on the "How to Contribute" page in the menu to the left. You can start new pages and are entitled to do so, just follow the simple rules outlined there (articles should be fact-based and reasonably neutral/civil and you shouldn't sign contributions there, while you should sign on Talk pages and are free to rant to your heart's content). Practically, and I think that's not explained over there so I will add it in the near future, the easiest way to start a new page is go to the URL in the Browser and replace the stuff that's behind /wiki/ now with the title of your planned page. You will be guided from there. It's also possible to start Talk pages without an article page yet existing with the same method (just like it is on this page, a "Talk:" before the name of the article). --CE (talk) 21:06, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
Oh, and please use four tildes or the button second-to-right in the edit menu to sign your contributions, so the date and time is included in the signature. How do you do it now (too lazy to look it up)? --CE (talk) 21:10, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
Somehow that button didn't work. Now it's fixed. --Balu (talk) 11:07, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I didn't even know how to do it 'til recently. --~~~~ Or the scribble/signature button. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:58, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm taking some screen grabs, enhanced a bit for clarity. If there are better stills to use, give me a time-stamp. Images from the first three videos below, comment space open for each. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:58, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Or, this could be re-organized however. Maybe just for the final front-page assembly? --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:10, 26 February 2014 (UTC)


  1. Bulky with tail fins, no parachute, explodes on impact. Looks like #3. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:58, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  1. Slender with possible tail fins, segmentation, parachute, presumably doesn't explode on impact or they wouldn't have cut the video early. Different model from #1 and #3, probably not a bomb at all. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:58, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  1. Bulky with tail fins, no parachute, explodes on impact. Looks like #1. Tearing sound as desribed in last moments before impact. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:58, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Sources

SOHR Reports

Aleppo city: 22 civilians, including 14 children, were killed by the regime helicopter bombardment, using explosive barrels, on the Haydariya area, Ard al-Hamra and al-Sakhour. The number of those killed by this morning's bombardment is likely to rise due to the large number of people severely injured. Helicopters also bombarded the Salhin neighbourhood and parts of the Tariq al-Bab, Karm al-Beik, Qadi Askar and al-Firdous neighbourhoods, near a field hospitals being used as a base by rebel groups. [2]

Video is provided for two other airstrikes in Aleppo, but not this one. --Caustic Logic (talk) 14:10, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

364 killed in the nine days of barrel bombs on Aleppo
The number of casualties killed by the continued regime helicopter and airforce bombardment on Aleppo city and its countryside since 15/12/2013 has risen to 364. The victims include 105 children, 33 women and 30 rebel fighters.
In the face of such a large number casualties by the continued air bombardment, the SOHR urges the International Community and the Secretary General of the United Nations to work immediately on a ceasefire to end this indiscriminate violence.
The SOHR considers all actors who do not work to end the massacres taking place in Syria as complicit in the war crimes that come out of this war.

SOHR Facebook, Dec. 28

Aleppo province: 25 civilians, including 2 women, 4 children 2 teenagers and a media activist, were killed by barrel bombs dropped by regime helicopters on the vegetable market and the by a hospital in the Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood of Aleppo. the number of dead is likely to rise because of the large number of injured.
...
Victims of the barrel bombs on the vegetable market: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhMXNc-De5Y
Who is it that's been killing media activists? Random bombs or more targeted? --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:39, 3 January 2014 (UTC)
The number of casualties killed by the continued regime helicopter and airforce bombardment on Aleppo city and its countryside since 15/12/2013 has risen to 517. The victims of the shelling: 471 civilians(including 151 children, 46 women), 34 rebel fighters and 12 ISIS fighters
In the face of continuing large number of casualties by the air bombardment, the SOHR renews its demand that the International Community and the Secretary General of the United Nations work immediately on a ceasefire to end this indiscriminate violence. We consider all those who have not worked to end the massacres taking place in Syria as complicit in the war crimes that come out of this war. We also call for the referral of this and all other war crimes committed in Syria to be taken to the International Criminal Court.
The Syrian Air Force has utilized barrel bombs to penetrate through the terrorist tunnels and underground bases. The barrel bombs are heavy and extremely effective - they have been primarily used in Hanano. Hanano is a volatile area and it is still under terrorist control. By obstructing the underground movement of the terrorists, the SAA is slowly forcing them to fortify positions above ground, creating an issue for the terrorists as the SAAF bombards their positions from the sky.

This is directly related to the use of UMLACAs in Zamalka. I still believe the rocket are SAA weapons used to collapse the tunnels between Ein Tarma and Zamalka. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 01:58, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Barrel bombs have been used in Syria since mid-2012 but in the past couple of months, the military seems to have settled on a uniform design for them. This isn’t to say that this is sophisticated technology.

An analysis posted by one munitions expert on Eliot Higgins’ Brown Moses blog—an essential clearinghouse for information on Syrian weaponry—argued that “it is evident from visual observations that there has been little to no quality control on these designs because of the many shapes and sizes that have been observed.  There appears to be clear design trends that clearly show that Syrian personnel have no weapon design and effects training.” In other words, they’re far less effective than conventional bombs. [1]


Etc.

In comments, I mentioned needing to see the bodies (when "regime supporters" were asked to explain). A commentator there shared a video للإعلام مجزرة ضمير 8 شهداء وهناك المزيد لطفك يارررب2013 12 15 mirror (Gtrans: media massacre conscience 8 martyrs and there's more for your kindness Aarrrb 2013 1215 ) As I said in response:

Inconclusive. Those five aren't blown-up. They were somewhere smoky, seemingly hadn't changed clothes in a while, and people near them may have been blown up. I can see a lot of causes. I might start a page on this. I just looked at the Khalidiya massacre, Feb. 2012, might color my thinking. Regime shelling killed 138 people in 36 destroyed homes Feb 3/4, whole families just living there. But some were recognized as people taken captive by the rebels (allegedly, by locals who'll talk to SANA), and according to rebel records, the 138 victims are 100% male and 94% adult. That's prisoner segregation there. So who blew those prisoners up in their prison(s) in a rebel-held district of Homs? And don't dare look into the "Aqrab Massacre," vis-a-vis "regime shelling" killing prisoners in a smoky house. --Caustic Logic (talk) 14:10, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Syria's Brutally Crude New Weapon By Joshua Keating. Slate, February 18, 2014.
  2. SOHR 14 children killed in the explosive barrels massacre Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Facebook post, December 15, 2013