Syrian Army Using World’s Biggest Mortar Against Own People

So the Syrian government,  has been unable to break the back of a populist uprising using snipers, RPGs, tanks and aircraft has turned to lobbing massive 240 mm mortars into the city of Homs, killing dozens. This sounds like an old fashioned leave no one alive siege. In case there were any doubts, this shows that the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al Assad is at war with his own people.

Syrian troops are firing Soviet-made M240 breech loading mortars into the city. These fire the largest mortar rounds in the world, according to the Christian Science Monitor. To put things in perspective, the 240 mm mortar rounds are  roughly five-feet long. The Soviets used them in Afghanistan and the Russian army used the weapons to bombard the city of Grozny during its wars in Chechnya. So while they were designed to hit enemy bunkers from long ranges, they’ve also been used to bludgeon civilian population centers.

The mortars can either be towed or carried aboard the purpose made tracked vehicle called the Tulip. Nice huh?

Click through the jump to see a video of the Tulip in action.

  • Zeyn

    Eventually he is going to kill enough people that he wont have anybody to rule.

    i hope turkey invades Syria and chop this coward balls

    • Ara

      They have to rise up for themselves just like Libya, we can’t open a war against any dictator, Iran is enough

      • elportonative77

        Don’t forget we also helped the Libyans overthrow Gaddafi. The Syrian people are already rising up against Assad I think it’s time we stop dancing around this subject and instead start helping them.

        • STemplar

          No UNSC resolution, there is no way this President in an election year is going to lead the charge for a military option. The phrase “coalition of the willing” was already mentioned on one news piece l saw and that just feeds into too many attack ads during the election and easy openings in a debate.

          • guess

            This might sound callous but just out of curiosity, are there any european countries invested in Syria for oil?
            Cause the Europeans were all over a civil war in libya. Yet slaughtering unarmed civilians they don’t seem to care to much about.
            Or maybe the reports of france and england running out of bombs were true and they don’t have any munitions left to step in with.

          • NoCo

            Syria doesn’t have much oil

          • A. Nonymous

            Syria is one of the few countries on the Arabian peninsula with very little in the way of oil reserves. Within the next few years they will be importing more oil than they produce.

          • Chuck

            Oh. That explains all

          • greg

            Learn your geography not on the Arabian peninsula its south of Turkey on the Med.

          • Jay


            “blood for oil” is only wrong when Americans do it. Europeans are allowed, obviously.

            The Libya-Italy pipeline is flowing again. Europe bought from Iraq under Saddam and buys from Iran.
            How much Iraqi oil are we buying? I guess Americans are not very good at “blood for oil” business anyway.

          • blight_

            Our sources are West Texas intermed, Canadian shale, Nigerian and Venezuelan and Brent for the east coast. Europe’s sources are Brent in the north, Libya to the south, perhaps Nigeria and the MidEast. Asia’s sources are Brunei/Indonesia other local sources and the Mideast.

  • Eric

    Interesting “bell” ring sound these make when firing.

  • STemplar

    That’ll show those terrorists and armed gangs.

    • Jay

      I suspect that resorting to using armored tracked artillery shows that the Syrian army is not having success with lesser weapons. This may be due to “those terrorists and armed gangs” having access to some decent firepower of their own, either through defection or foreign supply.

      • blight_

        It’s cheaper than sending in infantry troops to fight it out house to house.

  • Ryan

    I love the sabot tied on with string in the video, good ole dependable Russian technology right there.

    • Old Ranger

      That appears to be a booster charge, what our mortar guys called a “cheese charge.”

  • JRL

    A mortar round is caseless, with a comparatively small amount of self-contained propellant expended directly against the base-plate, and thus it acts more like a rocket than a two-part artillery shell. This keeps tube pressure much lower, allowing much lighter tube construction, and hence greater portability.

    The down side is that you get less range, and insufficient projectile velocity for effective direct fire. The striking power is mainly the explosive in the bomb.

    • Joe

      does the U.S military own any of these 240 mm Mortars?

  • matt

    In this situation, how do you differentiate between Mortar and Artillery Shell? Just curious?

    • STemplar

      I’d imagine this pig can drop that engine block of a munition much closer than a similar sized Howitzer could .

      • Ryan

        Trajectory maybe? Not sure how else you differentiate.

        The description of this whole contraption makes it sound more like a gun you off load before firing….

        • Cthel

          The main difference is the location of the trunnions (the bearings that enable the barrel to alter its elevation) relative to the breech. Howitzers/cannon have trunnions in front of the breech, roughly at the center of gravity of the barrel assembly. Mortars have the trunnions behind the breech.

          It’s also possible to distinguish based upon whether the projectile incorporates the propellant in the design – i.e. there is no separate propellant charge (either in a separately loaded bag, or a brass cartridge)

    • Will

      Field guns & howitzers have rifled barrels. The great majority of mortars have smooth barrels, inc. the M240. Major exceptions are the French MO-120 RT-61 recently adopted by the USMC as the M327 & the old American 4.2 inch still in use around the world.

    • Buzz

      Lots of things are different besides the previous answers. Cannons are for Direct fire (low angle) and motars fire high angle and shorter range. This allows for their use against targets hidden behind hills buildings etc.

      • FA Officer

        Bad answer. Artillery cannons rarely fire direct fire. Also, low angle doesn’t refer to direct fire. Indirect fire refers to the inability to observe, aim, and fire in three steps. When a FO is used, and calculations are made to determine angle to target, etc., that is considered indirect fire, which accounts for 99% of Field Artillery (cannon) missions.

  • M.L.

    Sometimes I wish I lived in Soviet Russia so all my military systems & inventions I designed as a kid would actually materialize.

    But with my childhood behind me, I just don’t see how this is better than having smaller mortars and equal/bigger artillery. Ammo transportation/loading seems like a pain.
    I guess it’s only practical for what Syria is using it for – urban civilians/uprisings. I guess that’s why russia sent it to syria.

  • Old Ranger

    Tell me they don’t have a Willie Pete round for that monster! That would be serious hell in an urban environment.

    • Thomas L. Nielsen

      According to the 2010-2011 edition of Jane’s Ammunition Handbook, the Russians developed the standard HE shell, an extended range rocket-assisted HE, a laser-guided HE, a cargo bomb with 24 HE bomblets and, in case you really need to make an impression, a tactical nuke shell with a 2 kT yield. No WP bomb, though, so you can sleep easily again :-)

      Regards & all,

      Thomas L. Nielsen

  • Morty

    So Um….. don’t you think he would eventually use gas which is one of the reasons we went into Iraq. So I THINK we eventually have to go in and stop them.

    • LeeRetArmy

      Chemical warfare is a whole different animal right now it is bombs and bullets people are kind of sensitized to that sort of violence. But if the chem genie is let out of the bottle every nation will demand the regimes ouster and be willing to fight for it.

    • STemplar

      I doubt they would use it. The problem is there are sectarian divides in every city. Saw footage of the border between neighborhoods in Homs, across the street was an Alawite neighborhood. It would be very hard to use them and not kill your own supporters. They are a pain in the ass to deploy and create nothing but headaches for the Syrian Army, after all, what do you do with wind shifts?

      Chem weapons are area denial weapons, not terribly good offensively. To say nothing of that would make it too easy for the world to green light military action, UN or no UN.

    • So?

      Chemical weapons are almost worthless. HE > silly gas everytime.

  • jacquesdaspy

    Where is the Syrian Air Force, don’t they still have something left that can fly?

    • Ronnie

      Waiting to take over the country after someone shoves a JDAM up Assad ass.

  • KarlW

    In WW2, Soviet propaganda made a point of saying, “Every second German soldier has an Iron Cross, but every second Soviet soldier has a mortar!”. Good point, considering that in modern times artillery has killed more infantry than any other weapon.
    Did I hear it right in that video, the commentator called Chechens “bandits”?

    • Stratege

      “Did I hear it right in that video, the commentator called Chechens “bandits”?”

      Do you prefer to call them “freedom fighters”?

  • blight_

    Once you read Inside the Soviet Army, you develop a grim appreciation for Soviet artillery doctrine. And as someone else said, big guns never tire…

    For perspective, the American military used to have (203mm?) 8″ artillery pieces (the M110) for heavy artillery. And as an aside, it used be the family of M108 (105mm), M109 (155mm), M110 (203mm).

    • KarlW

      As was evidenced by the second assault on Grozny: slow moving extremely heavy preparation fire, advancing street by street.

      • blight_

        Versus the first war, which was tank blitz into downtown against a defense force with a nucleus of ex-Soviet soldiers and stockpiles of Soviet military hardware. The Chechens were predominately nationalists the first go-round until displaced by the Islamists later on.

  • Lance

    Since this whole uprising is supported by AL Qaeda and is lead by the Islamic Brotherhood I prefer to see this uprising go away. Al Assad is a creep and dictator but isn’t a Islamist like the groups wanting to kill him and take over.

    Mortar system is cool but looks dated. However as mobile light artillery looks cool.

    • KarlW

      Actually, none of the Arab Spring uprisings were organized or led by Islamists. The social dynamics at play are much, much more complex.

      • So?

        IMHO, at least in the case of Egypt, old man Malthus was at play. But revolutions may be started and finished by different people. Case in point, Russia.

      • Jay

        Karl, Lance’s point was that religious fanatics are taking over from secular dictators. While the Muslim Brotherhood did not start the protests in Egypt and Al-Qaeda didn’t start the revolt in Libya it’s clear both got involved quickly and profited immensely. Check the election results from Egypt.

        “Social dynamics” in Libya, Egypt, and now Syria are shaping up as old dictator of the not so religious sort replaced by younger more fanatic islamists. That is something to be concerned about.

        • blight_

          Correct. The Shah was taken down by a mix of secular and religious leaders (and event left-wing commies). The religious ones terminated their former allies.

  • So?

    Yeah it kind of puts those silly “best rifle” flame wars into perspective. I wonder what was the last war where firearms produced the most casualties?

    • joe

      Spanish War of succession. Then some spoilsport called Shrapnel went and invented something called a ‘canister shell’ and it was all downhill from there.

  • So?

    Those who cheer for the freedom fighters of Bumrootistan ought to take pause, and reflect on the fact that revolutions are often precipitated by foreign policy failures. Russia had been all but defeated in WWI. French ambitions had been checked by the British at every turn. Failures on the international front may not be main reason, but when it’s at least one of the reasons, the new government may be a revanchist one. After all, the first thing the French did after the Revolution was declare war on Britain. The new Egyption government is far more hostile to Israel than Mubarak ever was.

    • KarlW

      You’re right. The American Revolution should have been stopped right away. Look where that led to!

      • So?

        What does it have in common with Syria and Egypt?

        • KarlW

          An uprising of the people against an unwanted, undemocratic regime. Why deny them what you’re proud of yourself?

      • Another product of Denel that would make sense, as it is can be motenud on the LAVIII. Range 30km with a round, according to Denel, equivalent to 155mm in lethality. Amazing that smaller economies such as South Africa, Israel and Sweden can produce things that work.

  • Lance

    Sorry Carl not all the rebels are Islamist. BUT the moments leader are hard line Islamist. Case in Egypt and Libya which now Taliban like governments are forming. and in Syria Al Qaeda has approved and aids the rebels sorry but the Arab spring isn’t bringing democracy more theocracy.

    • KarlW

      Egypt? Lybia? Taliban-like? Say what?
      Besides, what’s wrong with a little religion in politics? Isn’t that exactly what people like Santorum want?

      • tiger

        Silly comparison.

        • blight_

          Nobody can imagine how far the religious right would go, being as the bill of rights prevents the use of a Guardian Council or Saudi Arabian religious police. They’re just envelope-pushing.

          • No, but people don’t have to imagine to see how far off track the “religious left” has taken us. All they have to do is look around them. Abortion extremism, environmental extremism, over regulation, and a litany of unintended consequences. In fact leftist fiscal and political philosophy is the main driver of our current economic struggles.

            We have been living in the religion of the left since the 1930s when progressivism promised to transform the nation. Turns out the transformation was based on an equation of failed principles that it has taken us 80 years to figure out, and that transformation was to something less than our former self.

          • blight_

            I find it interesting that you describe Roe v Wade as “abortion extremism”. As for environmental extremism, without some regulatory framework there’s little incentive for companies to clean up waste products, though the compromise-hobbled EPA of today cannot guarantee anything either.

            People still point to the heyday of America as either Reagan or Clinton depending on ideology. We have ascended quite nicely from the ’30s through a succession of liberal and conservative presidents; and if Keynesianism failed us in the great depression America would have been a failed state much sooner.

  • Credit due to Obama for what again? Destabilizing the middle east? We have a bogus “R2P” “kinetic action” in Lybia but when the conditions are much worse in Syria, we balk. Talk about leadership.

    Does the “R2P” doctrine only apply to African states? Why? Why did Valerie Jarrett push Obama so hard for the war in Lybia? Why are the democrat war-mongers now silent on Lybia when their hypocracy has been fully exposed?

    “Give Obama credit”… please… people like you are a freaking joke. swallowing it whole and regurgitating it whole.

    • Edit: Why are the democrat war mongers silent on Syria* (not Lybia)

      • Brad

        Matt, you dont belong here, this is for people that know what they are talking about. This is an article on a freakin mortar system, you are proving you’re own extremism… brought up abortion LOL….

        Go onto Fox or something and post your bile there. Im a centrist by the way, and its people like you that push everyone to the left, good job captain america.

        • Really? I believe you were the one pointlessly towing the line for the administration and media, “giving Obama credit” out of nowhere for the colossal failure of his foreign policy.

          I dont watch Fox. You brought up Obama the Great ™ and of course you dont answer or attempt to answer any of my questions.

        • BTW Brad, you are not a centrist, you are obviously a leftist. No one is fooled. Leftists love to call themselves “centrists” in a benign attempt to constantly move the baseline further left.

          It was obvious when you interjected YOUR POLITICS into this thread to begin with.

  • I love the Arab Spring: the violent, extremist, unemployed, distraught, archaic, hopeless young men of the middle east are turning their hatred they learned so well from their masters, to their masters themselves. Was there ever a question the middle east was going to implode? The only question was “when?”. When you cultivate terror and extremism and hatred internally and project those things out on to an external boogey-man (US, Israel, etc) eventually things boil over at home when people realize the boogey-man invented rock and roll and facebook and they like to watch the boogey man’s movies and watch his porn.

    The world is too small now for these dictators to blame some far off land for their people’s state as they are living in 8 mansions and have golden cars. Hadji can get on google and see freedom all across the world and contrast it with his failed hard-socialist state.

    In the words of our POTUS’ spirtual mentor “Syria’s chickens have come home to roost.”

    • Jay

      Agree, but “Hadji can get on google and see freedom all across the world and contrast”

      You mean some of the people want freedom and rock n roll. The Hadji types wants to take over the old secular dictatorships and replace with a new muslim dictatorships and ban rock n roll. We need some way to identify and support the genuine freedom fighters and avoid arming and helping the Hadji ones.

    • Jacob

      I didn’t think this was something that needed to be pointed out, but not everyone in the Middle East is a terrorist.

      • blight_

        Yeah, but they’re the ones happy to live in peace, no matter which crazy bastards are ambitious enough to get to the top; be they general or islamic revolutionary.

      • passingby

        speaking of terrorists, I challenge the “patriots” to google “USS Liberty” and find out what happened, why the incident had been covered up, and why the those responsible for the incident (including the country) were allowed to get away free.

        • Jay

          I took you up on your challenge.

          The 6th fleet ordered the Liberty to leave the war zone, but the order was lost in the new computerized communications routing system (same system that did not route the signals from the USS Pueblo in 68 until it was too late).
          The Israelis asked the 6th fleet command and we told them all of our ships were clear of the area. Which 6th fleet thought was true since they had ordered such.

          Then Israeli ground forces were shelled by an Egyptian ship near El Arish, and scrambled fighters to attack the ship. They found the Liberty instead, unfortunately.

          After the event Israel apologized and compensated our sailors. It’s the least they could do.

          To compare: Terrorists target civilians on purpose, and they don’t apologize and pay compensation.

          You are a liar “passingby”.

          • blight_

            The Liberty was flying an American flag, and if I remember correctly was overflown before it was engaged.

          • passingby

            exactly. and ship was unarmed. the attack wasn’t preceded by any warning.

            US crew on board were waving to the Israeli pilots during the first fly-by

            this Jay guy is simply pathetic

          • passingby

            your lie is way too lame and stupid to merit a serious rebuttal.

  • Jacob

    You know, maybe we should intervene after all. Not an all-out campaign of regime change, just something to take out Assad’s heavy weapons, just to limit civilian casualties in the meantime while the international community decides what to do with Assad. Then again, Libya started out as this and ended up being regime change anyway….

  • Mike

    Assad supports womens rights to get married and then on a whim, divorce and get huge money from her husband. We do not want that. Better is three pieces of silver as said in Shariah Law.


    O Regime está caindo. Armas nenhuma conseguirão parar o ímpeto da revolução. Viva os Mártires, Viva o FSA.

  • alexbacha

    A Rússia pagará caro pelo seu apoio a um Louco no Poder. A Rússia e a China passarão para a história como os grandes defensores de assassinos de inocentes.