Volcanoes In Damascus: Was Hezbollah Involved With Developing Chemical Weapons


Thursday, 28 November  2013

Volcanoes In Damascus – Was  Hezbollah Involved With Developing Chemical Munitions?

Regular readers of the blog will be familiar with two  weapons used by pro-government forces known as IRAMs (Improvised Rocket Assisted  Munitions) and UMLACAs (Unidentified Munitions Linked to Alleged Chemical  Attacks), both of which I’ve written a number of articles on.  At it’s most  basic, and IRAM is an artillery rocket that’s had the standard warhead removed,  and replaced by a much larger warhead, and in Syria these have been launched  from single barrel stand launchers, and four barrel truck mounted launchers  (pictured below)

UMLACAs are munitions that were linked to the August 21st Sarin attack, and  come in both an explosive type, and chemical type.  The munitions come in  two sizes, with the larger type, fired from a single barrel launcher, shown  below
One question that remains is what the Syrian forces call these weapons.   The following video posted by the Syrian National Defence Force is our  first clue to what the IRAM is called

At 1m28s the narrator describes them as “bourkan”  rockets, which translates to Volcano, and if you search for “Volcano” in Arabic  there’s some results that show the same munition appearing to be used, including  the following video

The  description claims to show Hezbollah using a Volcano rocket, and is a copy of an  earlier video claiming to show Hezbollah in Eastern Ghouta,  Damascus.  Hezbollah appear to have used their own design of IRAM in the fighting in Qusayr,  Homs, and it would be interesting if both the Syrian National Defence Force and  Hezbollah are using the same term for IRAMs, even though the design  differs

Hezbollah “Volcano” in       Qusayr, Homs

Then, a couple of days ago, the following  picture was posted on a pro-Hezbollah Facebook group

The original Facebook post has been deleted,  but the contents was reported here.  This is a screengrab taken from the video  showing the Syrian National Defense Force launching UMLACAs, but what’s  interesting is commentators on Facebook claimed that this was a Hezbollah  designed weapon, known as the “Volcano” described as “The Pride of Lebanese  Industry”.  It could be said that the explosive version of the UMLACA is  basically a larger version of the IRAM, and a suspected chemical variant of the IRAM shared at  least one interesting feature with the chemical version of the UMLACA.  It  should be kept in mind these are just claims by commentators on a pro-Hezbollah  Facebook page, so claims the weapon is Hezbollah made should be taken with a  pinch of salt, and the NDF video  showing the UMLACA claims it’s a Syrian made weapon.
This  leaves many unanswered questions; it’s not clear if both the IRAMs and UMLACAs  are known as Volcanoes, or if it’s an error by the commentators on the  pro-Hezbollah Facebook page.  If they are known as Volcanoes, does that  suggest the UMLACA could be a more advanced version of the IRAM?  Was  Hezbollah involved with the use of IRAMs by the Syrian military, and did that in  turn lead to involvement with the development of the chemical UMLACA? Does that  mean Hezbollah has access to UMLACAs, potentially their first chemical weapon?   At this stage it’s too earlier to know, but it does add a new twist to the  tale of IRAMs and UMLACAs in  Syria.

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