Footage from rebels shows Iranian munitions in Syria

Analysis by weapons expert suggests Tehran violating UN Security Council sanctions against weapon shipments

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

A YouTube video uploaded by Syrian rebels provides what appears to be strong proof that Iran is supplying the Syrian regime with arms, in violation of a UN weapons embargo.

The video published Monday appears to show an Iranian-made rocket found in rubble in a shelled Damascus suburb, according to British analyst Eliot Higgins, who wrote about the munitions in his Brown Moses blog.

Based on the footage, Higgins concluded that the missile was an unexploded Iranian-made 107-mm rocket.

The local coordination committee for the Agraba suburb of Damascus originally posted the video on its Facebook page and Twitter account. The rebels allege that the video was shot in Agraba.

The clip shows the 2012 date of manufacture written on the rocket, well after the uprising began in March 2011.

These rockets “are launched from Type-63 multiple rockets launchers with a range of 8-10 kilometers,” Higgins told The Times of Israel. “They can be loaded with 12 rockets at a time, and can use high explosive, high explosive incendiary, and high explosive fragmentation warheads, making them useful for a variety of situations.”

Illustrative photo of a Type 63 rocket launcher in use by Libyan rebels in 2011. (photo credit: CC BY-SA Al Jazeera English, Flickr)
Illustrative photo of a Type 63 rocket launcher in use by Libyan rebels in 2011. (photo credit: CC BY-SA Al Jazeera English, Flickr)

Reuters reported last week that a panel of experts reported to the Iran sanctions committee on the Security Council that Iran continues to defy the UN ban on weapons exports.

Western officials have described Tehran as Syria’s most important backer, keeping it supplied with arms via airlifts and overland transfers through Iraq and Turkey.

UN Security Council Resolution 1737 has prohibited Iran from procuring or selling arms since 2006.

Israeli commandos captured Iranian 107-mm rockets on their way to Hezbollah aboard the MV Francop in 2009. Higgins believes the captured shipment contained incendiary versions of the Iranian rockets in the rebel video.

Tehran’s involvement in the conflict came into focus once again over the weekend, as the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah assumed a central role in the fierce street fighting in Qusair along the Lebanese border. Oppositions source report that at least 28 elite militants in the Lebanese Shiite group were killed in the battle, as pro-Assad forces advanced into the strategic city.

More than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria since March 2011.

Higgins, an unemployed British father, has become an unlikely expert on Syrian munitions. After losing his job in 2012, Higgins began blogging on the conflict from his home in Leicester, England, and now monitors over 450 YouTube channels, daily analyzing the weapons that appear in the videos.

“I think it’s fair to say it’s been a rather unusual experience, especially as I really only started my blog as a private thing to record my own thoughts on a variety of subjects, and it just happens that Syria was a particular subject that caught people’s attention… There was such a vast amount of information through social media channels from Syria it pretty much began to dominate the blog,” he told The Times of Israel.

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