‘Tulip’ Tango

February 23, 2012

Beyond war crimes:

Peter Falstead of Jane’s Defence Weekly says the tail fins look, “very much like the tail fins from SM-240,” also known as the “Tulip Tree” developed by the Soviets in the 1970s.
Today it is the largest mortar system used by any military in the world, and the Syrian army is believed to have up to 10 in service.
“If you wanted to strike at rebel-held positions in a built-up area to which you had no line of sight, and you had no regard whatsoever for the killing of innocent civilians, then I guess the SM-240 would be a weapon of choice,” Falstead told ABC News.

(Illustration and explanation of ‘Tulip‘ weapon system found here).

The above narrative comes from a weapons-expert’s opinion off a video at The Christian Science Monitor, which two men are standing in rubble holding up the fanned tails of the exploded ordnance.
Horrible damage done:

From Peter Bouckaert, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, comes an indication why the death toll has been steadily climbing in Homs.
He says a video from Homs that shows the fragments of a mortar the struck a building there is proof that Assad has deployed the Russian-made “Tulip” weapons system against the town, which fires the largest mortar round in any military’s arsenal.
The tank-like vehicle that serves as the firing platform can lob 240mm mortar rounds up to 20 kilometers away, and they carry over 70 pounds of explosives.
The largest mortar used by the US, in contrast, is 160mm.
Syria has another Russian-made system for firing rounds that size, the towed M240, and it’s possible that’s being used to fire the rounds instead of the Tulip.
The Tulip was designed for use against dug in positions from a standoff distance.
But its lethality has been used in the past to bring devastation to civilian neighborhoods, most famously by the Russians during the siege of the Chechen capital of Grozny over a decade ago, where thousands of civilians were killed and hundreds of buildings reduced to rubble.
The use of such weapons in dense urban environments is a war crime.

(h/t War in Context).

Bashar Assad has a lot of innocent blood on his long-necked hands, and way-more than a little bullshit.
From the LA Times:

Syrian state media reported that the Syrian Human Rights Network was surprised at “some countries’ attempts to turn public opinion against Syria” and stated that “when individuals enter a country illegally, then this country’s authorities are not responsible for their safety and protection.”

Syrian officials are also urging foreign journalists who are illegally inside the country to report to immigration centers, Reuters reported.
They say the Syrian government was unaware that reporter Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik, who both died Wednesday, had entered the country.
Colvin, 56, and Ochlik, 28, were killed Wednesday by a rocket as they tried to escape from a house that was being shelled.
A French journalist, Jean-Pierre Perrin, told the British newspaper The Telegraph that he and Colvin had been advised a few days ago that the Syrian government would target them.
“The Syrian Army issued orders to ‘kill any journalist that set foot on Syrian soil,’ ” Perrin said.

Although I wasn’t too familiar with Colvin, she was a much-noted war reporter, living amongst dying in far-off lands embroiled in conflict — she was working for the UK’s Sunday Times, but also reported via CNN.
Colvin, 56, had been in her line of work for 26 years, covering horror stories all over the world — twice winning the British Press Award for foreign reporter of the year — and in 1999 issued this in reporting the strife in East Timor: “Our mission is to report these horrors of war with accuracy and without prejudice.”

And she most-wonderfully continued that until the end.
Via a memorial by Christopher Dickey at The Daily Beast and a Facebook post Colvin wrote on the last full day of her life:

“I think the reports of my survival may be exaggerated.
[I am] in Baba Amr,” she wrote.
That neighborhood of Homs has become the focal point of resistance to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and in retribution its people and their lightly armed defenders have been subjected to more than two weeks of relentless pounding by government artillery.
“Sickening,” wrote Marie.
“[I] cannot understand how the world can stand by and I should be hardened by now.
Watched a baby die today.
Shrapnel, doctors could do nothing.
His little tummy just heaved and heaved until he stopped.
Feeling helpless.
As well as cold!
Will keep trying to get out the information.”

(h/t also to War in Context).

Beyond the ‘Tulip,’ there’s also concern about an apparent large arsenal of chemical weapons Assad has amassed, and there a good foundation for that fear because of past actions of other dictator/assholes — Gamal Abdel Nasser used mustard gas in Yemen in the 1960s, and, much-of-course, Saddam Hussein used both mustard gas and the nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX against the Kurds in the 1980s, especially one village where 2,500 to 5,000 people were murdered.
When these shitheads are pushed in a corner, no one is safe and no weapon off limits.
And according to US officials, getting a handle on Syria’s chemical shit would take 75,000 ground troops and a lot of urban-war-zone killing — intel reports say there’s about 50 sites in country storing gas weapons as the Assad family/regime created a top-of-the-line operation: “Syria probably has one of largest programs in the world,” said Leonard Specter with the Monterey Institute of International Studies. “It has multiple types of chemical agents.” Specter said the stocks include World War I-era gases like chlorine and phosgene as well as more modern nerve gases.

The horror is options are limited — from doing something without war to invasion to other avenues whatever they may be.
Hard to hide from the horror, though  — ‘Watched a baby die today.’

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