13 July 2012

Helicopter attack on farm outside Daraa.

Helicopter Syria, Syrian Air force attack.
Please notice: this is a layman's post. If you read it please don't skip the notes during and at the bottom of the post. Also before you decide what to think of my writings: please read through my latest post (plead added 03/06/2014).

Since right after the two videos, showing cluster munition said to have been dropped in the Jabal Shahshabo area were up-loaded, and their content was being interpreted, another video have been heavily debated on-line.
The video shows a blurred spot becoming visible in the air above a farm, then multiple explosions almost simultaneously covering a large area on the ground, where the farm was visible just before the attack. Right after this the aerial vehicle takes of, and both the shape, the sound and the flight pattern makes it clear, that it's unlikely to be other than a helicopter.
A frame at 0:38 min from this video uploaded to altyba2's YouTube channel on 04/07/2012. (via @Brown_Moses)

The first time I saw this video was on July 4th, and in its title the date of the attack is stated as being July 1st. I have not seen any confirmation of the date, but the location East of Daraa seems to have  been verified by Storyful.
The video was re-uploaded five days later with subtitles or written commentary, that identifies the bombardment as being done with cluster-bombs. It is not clear to me whether the text is a translation of the terrified screams in the room from where the video was recorded, or somebody else's opinion of what the video is showing, but as the re-uploading coincided with the cluster munition find in Jabal Shahshabo, that labelling definitely brought the video in focus.
The video is mentioned on the New York Times Watching Syria's War Project, and also New York Times Journalist C. J. Chivers has found reason to deal with it on his blog.
In the image above I have given my reasons to find it more likely, that the helicopter is seen firing some kind of (different) weapon, rather than to be dropping one or more cluster bomb canisters.
But no matter the weapon: if that farm was not a base of armed opposition, then what we see could be a horrible crime.
* note 1(June 13. 2012): the lines I have drawn in the image above does not depict the true angle of the fanning-out of the munitions. The further behind the farm the helicopter is hovering the more pointed the true angle will be. However, the idea of the helicopter releasing one or more cluster-bomb canisters and then being in a position behind the target as the bombs hit would in my understanding involve a sudden reduction of the forward speed of the helicopter right after the release. To me that seems unlikely, but the quality of the video does not make it possible for me to rule out such a scenario.
*note 2(June 13. 2012): I should also add that this is not an expert analysis but a presentation of observations and thoughts. Please apply your own judgment.

For comparison:
video title: 'Zablatani 17/07/2012 flying helicopters bombing with rockets at Qaboun ...' (Google Translate, link added 29/09/2012).
video title: 'The firing of rockets from aircraft to Damascus Jobar 18/07/2012' (Google Translate, link replaced 13/01/2015).
video title: 'Heavy shelling from helicopters on the eastern Ghouta 08/02/2012' (Google Translate, link added 13/01/2015).

Related posts on this blog: 
M5 highway, Aleppo - Damascus - (Daraa on the map)
mortar position, Homs
weapons used on Homs

- any corrections and additions are welcome. You can leave information as a comment or you can contact me here, or via twitter.


Mountain Ridge Helicopter said...

It must have taken some serious helicopter training to be able to even pull something like this off.

Bjoern Holst Jespersen said...

Thanks for your comment. Feel free to expand.

PFF said...

I think it's a S-5/S-8 rockets attack.

Bjoern Holst Jespersen said...

I share that opinion.