The Russian arm sales to Syria have continued despite Western protests. The photo on the right shows the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, visited Syria shortly after vetoing the proposal of UN Security Council that called for Assad to give up power in Syria.
|From Russia with lovely arms (and a veto)|
One of them is the most powerful mortar system in the world that fires 240 mm shells weighing nearly 300 lbs. The shells come in multiple types, including cluster munitions, with a lethal area equal to four football fields - great for crowd control.
The residents of Homs dig out fragments of large mortar shells from the rubble of their houses.
|The tell-tale tail of 300 lbs mortar|
|240 mm mortar shell, with its distinctive tail|
Origin of the shells falling on Homs is unambiguously Russian - no country makes mortar shells exceeding 160 mm. Russian army used these mortars to level Chechnya's capital Grozny in 1990's.
Syria is known to have purchased the mobile launcher designated 2S4 "Tulip" (Tuylpan in Russian, shown below on the left). The purchase of advanced weapon systems like 2S4, S-300 anti-air rockets, and Yak-130 fighter-bombers shows that Syria has bolstering its capabilities for stand-off fighting. Because the urban fighting will not go well for Syrian army (see below on the right), it is likely to rely on the super-heavy mortars to wipe out entire neighborhoods, as Assad's father has done in Hama by shelling it for three weeks.
|2S4 Tuylpan fires man-sizes projectiles|
|Burned-out BMP-1 in Homs|