Sunday, May 20, 2018

Foreign Policy: Just How Deadly Is Assad's Arsenal?

Syria's arsenal

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Syria's government has been moving its stockpile of chemical weapons — thought to be the world's largest. As Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned American lawmakers in March: "We need to be especially alert to the fate of Syria's chemical weapons. " Syria has been pummeling civilian centers with tanks, artillery, mortars and aircraft.

Chemical weapons

The latest estimates say that the Assad regime has hundreds of tons of mustard gas, a blister agent, and large stockpiles of sarin and possibly VX, both of which are nerve agents — all of which can be launched by Scud missiles, artillery or aircraft, according to Charles Blair, a specialist in chemical and biological weapons at the Federation of American Scientists. Although the U.S. government has released only vague estimates as to the size of Syria's chemical and biological weapons stockpile, Dempsey told lawmakers in March that the arsenal was "100 times the magnitude we experienced in Libya."

Artillery

M240 "Tulip": While the Syrian government may not be using its heaviest rockets against the rebels yet, it has been using the world's largest mortar system, the Soviet-made M240 "Tulip" breech-loading mortar system. Originally designed to take out NATO bunkers during the Cold War, the Tulip has been used to lob massive, 5-foot-long, 240mm mortar rounds onto civilian populations, including in the Syrian city of Homs.

Howitzers: The U.S. State Department has posted photos suggesting that the Syrian army has positioned its Soviet-built D-30 122mm towed howitzers outside of several cities.

Rocket launchers: Assad's army may have also parked Soviet-designed BM-21 Grad rocket launchers around Homs, according to the State Department. The Grad dates to the 1960s and consists of 40 launch tubes sitting in the back of a six-wheeled truck that can fire two 120mm unguided rockets per second up to 20 miles. Its name, Grad, means "hail" in Russian.

Aircraft

Helicopters: The regime has reportedly used its Soviet-built, Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters, along with Mi-8 and Mi-17 Hip transport helicopters outfitted as gunships. The Mi-24 is armed with a 23mm main auto-cannon and a mix of dozens of rockets and up to 2,000 pounds of bombs carried on its stub wings.

Fighter jets: So far, Syria is not thought to have used its Soviet- and Russian-made fighter jets. Of these, the most advanced are the newly purchased Mig-29 Fulcrums, a Mach 2 fighter first fielded by the Soviets in the 1980s to achieve air superiority against U.S. jets like the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Viper. Although the MiG-29 is a relatively new airplane, the Fulcrum did not perform well against NATO fighters in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq.

Foreign Policy

Comments
Lightning-Capitals: Familiar ground for Capitals as they face elimination

Lightning-Capitals: Familiar ground for Capitals as they face elimination

TAMPA – Capitals G Braden Holtby basically summed up playoff life for the Capitals after Saturday's Game 5 loss in the Eastern Conference final when he said the team never makes it easy for itself."No, we don't," coach Barry Trotz agreed Sunday...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Traffic lights out at Pinellas Park intersection; drivers should avoid area

Traffic lights out at Pinellas Park intersection; drivers should avoid area

PINELLAS PARK — Traffic lights have lost power at the intersection of 66th Street N and Park Boulevard, police said.About 5:45 p.m., Pinellas Park Police announced the outage. Duke Energy is working to restore power, according to the agency. Drivers ...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

A day after England’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, St. Petersburg hosted a royal celebration of its own.Among the estimated 500 graduates to receive an Eckerd College diploma at Sunday’s graduation ceremony held at Tropicana ...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
For Bolts radio duo, being fans at heart is key to their success

For Bolts radio duo, being fans at heart is key to their success

As the last tension-filled seconds of a tight playoff game wind down, high above the Amalie Arena ice, the play-by-play man becomes increasingly animated.Dave Mishkin, eyes bulging, face purple, jumps from his seat, holding the headset with his left ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Unveiling for

Unveiling for "Fortune Taylor Bridge" marker rained out, but celebration continues indoors

TAMPA — There’s a saying that everyone dies twice, Tampa City council member Guido Maniscalco said Sunday. Once, when they take their last breath. And again, the last time someone mentions their name.So in this case, he said, the name "Fortune Taylor...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years at USF, Willie Taggart was used to the reception he'd get as a head football coach in the Tampa Bay area.But coming back as the new coach at Florida State, Taggart said, was different."Pretty cool," Taggart sai...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: In playoffs, Lightning and its town become one

Lightning-Capitals: In playoffs, Lightning and its town become one

TAMPA — The Lightning is a win away from a trip to the Stanley Cup final. Its Game 5 win Saturday, to take a 3-2 lead over the Washington Capitals, was another chapter of a story being written on the fly."Think about Game 1 in New Jersey,"...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lopez goes 8 innings as White Sox blank Rangers 3-0

Lopez goes 8 innings as White Sox blank Rangers 3-0

Reynaldo Lopez pitches 8 sparkling innings as Chicago White Sox blank Texas Rangers 3-0
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jimenez holds on to win Regions Tradition for first major

Jimenez holds on to win Regions Tradition for first major

Miguel Angel Jimenez won the Regions Tradition for his first senior major title, closing with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory
Updated: 1 hour ago

AP Top News at 6:18 p.m. EDT

AP Top News at 6:18 p.m. EDT
Updated: 1 hour ago