After ‘hellfire’ and ‘hell:’ meet the Syrian rebels’ new rocket in Aleppo

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Members of Syrian Islamic Front prepare a shell made out of bottled gas to hit on Assad's regime forces in a Syrian Islamic Front-besieged area of Aleppo, Syria on September 3, 2014. Anadolu/Ahmed Mohammed Ali

By: Basel Dayoub

Published Friday, December 5, 2014

Fighters in Aleppo have gotten creative with the names they give to the locally-produced weapons they fire at areas under the control of the Syrian regime. The latest weapon is called Himam-1 (Lava) launched by fighters for the first time toward the town of al-Zahraa.

Aleppo – Lava-1 is a new rocket or artillery shell weighing about 800 kilograms (1,763 pounds). It is the latest invention by armed groups in Aleppo which are unique among all armed groups for their ability to continuously manufacture and develop weapons due to the well-established manufacturing infrastructure in the country’s economic capital.

Lava-1 was tested by shelling al-Zahraa, a town in the northern countryside that has been subject to continuous attacks for the past 10 days. The new rocket did not cause casualties because it fell in an unpopulated area in the south of the town. Media circles close to the fighters talked about other rockets that will be used in their attacks.

This series of huge artillery that rely on cylinder bombs began with the Jahannam (Hell) Cannon. It was manufactured by Ahrar al-Sham at a plant owned by Abu Adnan al-Idlibi in the town of Binsh about two and half years ago to be used specifically for shelling the town of al-Foua. Manufacturing of the cannon soon moved to Aleppo as Khaled al-Hayani – leader of the Martyrs of Badr Battalions – seized the idea. It is estimated that this group has about 20 cannons and more than 250 gas cylinder bombs.

The Hell Cannon was followed by the Jahim (Hellfire) Cannon which replaced the gas cylinder bomb that weighs no more than 40 kilograms or 88 pounds (three quarters of the weight is explosives) first with an industrial oxygen cylinder then with a water-heating tank. The weight of a booby-trapped water-heating tank can reach 300 kilograms (661 pounds).

The first time Hellfire Cannon was used was in Aleppo’s Ashrafieh neighborhood, causing severe damage in addition to killing and wounding dozens of civilians. Currently, fighters of the Islamic Front began to target the Citadel of Aleppo with these shells.

The fighters, who suffered losses because the cannon was being towed by pickup trucks or agricultural tractors, developed a new version of the cannon called Our Lord Omar bin al-Khattab. The new model mounts the cannon on a tractor frame to facilitate movement and aiming. This cannon is used to fire gas cylinders and water-heaters.
Other fighters also developed a Quadruple Hell Cannon which fires four gas cylinders at once. However, no other canons of this model were manufactured after it was bombed by a military helicopter during the battle to liberate Ard al-Hamra.

Arms manufacturing plants spread rapidly in Aleppo and its countryside and manufacturers found a large market to sell their products. It is believed that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took advantage of its presence in Aleppo and its nearby countryside to persuade plant owners affiliated with the Free Syrian Army to manufacture hundreds of Hell Cannon bombs for double the price. Some of them moved to al-Bab and Manbij after ISIS was expelled from Aleppo. The most famous is Abdo al-Hiriatany, nicknamed Karo the Armenian.

In Aleppo, the Hell Cannon is associated with one of the most famous fighters in Anadan, named Jamil Kadour, who had close ties with Khaled Hayani. Kadour went from being an auto mechanic to booby-trapping vehicles and repairing weapons, then to manufacturing bombs and cannons. He was killed by ISIS members and his body was found in a mass grave at the Institute of Electricity near Haritan.

An opposition source said Kadour was killed because he refused to work with ISIS outside Anadan, demanded exorbitant prices for repairing weapons and equipping the Hell Cannon and prefered to manufacture arms for their arch-enemy, Khaled Hayani.

Although Hell Cannon was first manufactured in the Idlib countryside, its use is now limited to Aleppo for several reasons, the most important of which is geography. It is the only place where rebel positions are close to areas controlled by the Syrian army. Most of the time, the cannon’s medium-range does not exceed one kilometer. That is why it cannot be used in an open area because it will be easily spotted and destroyed. Houses and blocks of urban environment are preferred to hide and use it. This kind of terrain is only available in Aleppo and its suburbs where fighting between army units and opposition fighters happens within short distances. Besides, the fact that fighters are concentrated in the center of the city puts the rest of its neighborhoods in the range of these cannons.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

These things are never justified, no matter who is behind them.

But seriously, Secretary Hagel and his successor love to see young people taking an interest in industrial careers, and are happy to facilitate by creating a demand for their services, it being understood that these skills and capabilities must only be deployed against sub-human demons and phantasms sent by God to test us as true Crusaders, Franks, and Christians.
It is remarkable how successive US administrations speak with almost one voice, think with almost one mind, when it comes to bringing peace to the middle east, and this goes back before the Israel enterprise was even dreamt of.
Listen to the voices of frequent, predominant commenters on Naharnet mocking democracy, referring to Hezbullah, the party of the Shia majority, as an instrument of Satan, and then Patriarch al Rahi speaking of institutionalized racism (the Taef Accord set-aside of half of Parliament to the vanishing Christian minority) as "coexistence" and "equality". This is Viking ecstastic suicidal blood-frenzy fantasy, locally manufactured but to the highest international standard.

So this is the barrel bomb.

So I guess using barrel bombs and even stronger missiles by the army is a just response. No?

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