Some ASF readers may have heard of the airborne”barrel bombs” deployed by the pro-Assad forces in the Syrian civil war, primarily for use against targets in the country’s towns and cities. The improvised – and entirely indiscriminate – weapons are normally dropped from helicopters, progressing in design from metal barrels filled with explosives and shrapnel manhandled out of the door of a circling aircraft to more advanced methods of mechanical release and and delivery. The images above were captured by a cameraman in the Darayya district of Damascus, a suburb of the capital fought over since 2011 and presently in Opposition hands again (primarily through the efforts of the al-Nusra Front or its affiliates). It shows several barrel bombs falling from a helicopter, almost certainly a Russian-supplied Mil Mi-24 variant, followed by a massive explosion as they hit their target. The dreadful consequences for those on the ground can only be imagined.
Bellingcat has more on the partisan intervention by the Russian federation into the Syrian conflict:
“Bellingcat began geolocating and independently verifying videos published by the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) after initial reports from the ground indicated that Russian airstrikes destroyed positions held by the Free Syrian Army and other groups rather than the Islamic State (or ISIS). Bellingcat has geolocated, verified, and visualized each airstrike published by the Russian MoD on its official YouTube channel as of 25 October. The outcome of our work is unequivocal: the overwhelming majority of Russian airstrikes have targeted positions held by non-ISIS rebel groups posing a more immediate threat to the Syrian regime and its head, Bashar al-Assad. In contrast, ISIS strongholds have rarely been attacked: out of 60 strikes recorded on video, only one has been confirmed to be both at the location indicated by the MoD and against ISIS; 14 other strikes said to target ISIS were, indeed, geolocated to the claimed locations, but none of those areas are known to be under ISIS control.”