Illuminating the new Turkish M-60T1 Sabra deployed in Syria

Before anything I want to thanks in first term to @trubia_t but also to @TarMilus and @WithinSyriaBlog for give me their valuable opinion while I was doing this article.

On this article we are going to have a closer look to the new Turkish tank that has also appeared in Syria, the M-60T1 Sabra.

Fist of all the M-60T Sabra is a very deep upgrade designed in Israel and based on the Magach 7C tank which is in turn based on the M-60 Patton, the Israelis called it Sabra Mk. II but when it was chosen by the Turkish Army it was called M-60T from “Türkiye” (Turkey).

Israeli Magach 7C, the father of the M-60T Sabra, also called Sabra Mk. II

In the end of August, 2016 Turkey launched the Operation Euphrates Shield (OES) with the aim of kick ISIS from some areas in the nort of Syria and also there was a hidden objective to prevent Kurdish from unify their cantons in Syria and ensure survival of some Turkish backed rebel groups.

Since the begin the armored spearhead of the Turkish and its allies during OES was the M-60T Sabra, the tank was quite good and was able to even resist on the front the impact of a 9M133 Kornet, one of the most advanced Russian ATGMs, this is not a small matter as far as the M-60T in the end was based on a tank from the 60s, but despite of that the numerous impacts on the sides of the M-60Ts showed that they still were very vulnerable to the ISIS ATGMs.

The amount of losses of men and material was increasing at a relatively high rate and it finally lead to the appearance of the Leopard 2A4TRs to replace at a certain degree the losses suffered by units equipped with the M-60s.

So the situation was relatively bad and Turkey came up with a new upgrade that has probably been conceived in less than a few months, unless it was a previous secret program, so this is why the M-60T1 probably bornt, to meet the demanding requirements of the new Syrian operational environment.

On 7th February some images of a tank called “M-60T1” merged and that was quite strange as far as we didn’t hear nothing about that upgrade before.

First image of the M-60T1 Sabra in Syria, via @huseyinbozan

The first interesting thing is the Remote Weapon Station (RWS) that replaces at the left-back of the turret the M85 HMG weapon station, that was not remotely operated, the new RWS uses a typical 12,7 x 99 mm M2 Browning HMG, the new RWS looks like is a N-2000 from the Turkish company Nurol Makina who has put it on the Ejder Yalçin 4×4 armored vehicle, also it is possible that this product has been developed with some know-how from ASELSAN or could be a SARP RWS from the same Turkish company with a lot of experience in the field of RWS design.

Ejder Yalçin with one variant of the N-2000
Ejder Yalçin with another variant of the N-2000, this one looks closer to the one featured in the image of the M-60T1

The company provides some information about the N-2000 that is stated to use a DNP-28 ASELSAN night and day vision system and also it can be rotated manually from inside between -20° and +60° in elevation and 360° in azimuth (multi-turn).

In opposition to most tanks in the world the M-60 was one of the few with a commander’s machine gun fired from a protected station without the need to expose himself to the bullets or the shrapnel when firing the machine gun so the motivation of this improve can not be the protection, we think that the reason is due to the optics and at a less extent because of the standarization.

The N-2000 possess good optics, specially for night operations much better than those of the original M-60T M85 machine gun, and also it is the standarization which is a minor point. The M85 is a machine gun only operated in the M-60 series  and, in spite of be similar to the M2 Browning it is still different and could have some disadvantages against the M2 that is used in a lot of vehicles and by the Turskish infantry and so it has a less complex logistic.

M-60T1 in Syria

The other main improvement of the M-60T1 is the “artifact” located at the side of the turret, but before treat it we would like to say that the opinion emitted about the artifact must not be taken as a fact because we are far from sure to be able to say what it is exactly.

The artifact looks comprised of two different elements that we have not been able to ID, the one on the top looks like a Laser Warning Receiver, a device that would be useful just against the 9M133 Kornet, the only laser guided missile on hands of ISIS, the device below could be a camera or a dazzler, the camera could be useful for driving and at close range during urban fighting, but for us it looks fixed so at a certain degree it wouldn’t have sense to install such a big camera fixed in the end we find this second theory less likely.

The lower part of the artifact could be a TLUS LWRS from ASELSAN but unleast some better images appear we can’t be sure.

Also the theory of a non hard-kill APS similar to the Shtora-1 has some weak points as @trubia_t notest because just 8 smoke-launchers on the tank are not enough to fully exploit a system like this.

*SARP or N-2000 RWS

So in our opinion the most likely and desirable device would be a dazzler similar in concept to the “red eyes” of the T-90’s Shtora, essentially it consists in a special light able to confuse the automatic part of the guidance system from a Semi Automatic Line of Sight (SACLOS) ATGM, a system present in most ATGMs in Syria, with the exception of the 9M14 Malyutka that is MCLOS, that would explain the fixed position looking at the sides of the device, as far as the M-60T front has shown to be very well protected against all the threats in Syria and so the tank  does not need protection on the front but rather on the sides were nearly all of the impacts had happened.

T-90A with the dazzlers of the Shtora-1 activated

It is interesting to note the arid camo paint on the M-60T1 what proves the especialization of this upgrade for the Syrian scenario, at the moment just the Leopard 2A4 TR and a few M-60Ts deployed in Syria had get something like it while most M-60Ts even keep the typical Turkish green camouflage.

M-60T Sabra in Syria with arid camouflage

We are not sure if this is a prototype or an incoming massive upgrade for M-60Ts but it is interesting to note that Turkey has recently launched a competition to upgrade 40 M-60A3s, 40 Leopard 2A4s and 120 M-60Ts, while of course this has no direct relation with the M-60T1s it makes us think that maybe the M-60T1 is a temporary patch until those upgraded tanks are ready.

Hope you have enjoyed the reading, I am writing a book about tank on tank engagements during the Syrian Civil War so stay alert if you are interested on it, also if you want to help me to invest more time in my English articles you can donate something by clicking here.

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Made on the Caliphate Attack Drones: Brief Analysis of the Threat

Along 2016 and 2017 have emerged images and videos showing us an exponential increasing use of drones as attack platforms by ISIS and some rebel groups in Syria and Irak, on this article we are going to treat the evolution we have been able to see in their use their capabilities and the projectiles designed by Islamic State.

At first drones were used just for propaganda to record images from above, lately they were used for reconnaissance and intelligence and finally following the logical development  ISIS used them on ground attack role.

How threaty they are?: Knowing their secret weapon

At first ISIS used them as SVBIEDs but with not a very high effectiveness, for example on the New York Times on October 2016 was stated: “Of the three known drone attacks in Iraq, only the one involving the Kurdish soldiers caused casualties. “The explosive device inside was disguised as a battery — there was a very small amount of explosives in it, but it was enough to go off and kill them[…]”.

The relatively low degree of effectiveness is related to the relatively cheap series of drones available for ISIS and their small payload capacity.

Normally civilian drones are designed for especific missions and most of them are not designed to wear big payloads as ISIS needs, still they offer a safety space between the capability of the engines and its total weight letting ISIS install relatively small explosives and devices on them.

On December 2016 in the besieged city of Deir ez Zor the pro-Assad forces were able to down two ISIS drones by presumably using some kind of electronic warfare equipment, both drones can be seen on the images below.


Both are civilian drones, the first uses a PG-7V and the second an improved PG-7VM warhead. These ones were rocket-propelled grenades originally intended to be fired from the Soviet rocket launcher  RPG-7  with multipurpose capability, and they are able to penetrate more than 20 cm of armor (RHA) or to roughly create an explosion like that of a hand grenade but more powerful.

A PG-7 warhead alone would weight around 1 kg but it would also need a dropping mechanism if it is a tactical support drone, or even a phone or a special device to make the SVBIED exploit at the desired moment unleast the plan is launch the drone straight to the target and make the impact fuze exploit, what could be a difficult task.

While we are not sure if those drones were intended to be SVBIEDs or to be support attack drones they were using typical war material from the region adapted to their new purpose, in spite of use especially designed projectiles.

On November 2016 Conflict Armament Research documented some interesting DIY ” Made in the Caliphate” mortar round fashion artifacts, as can be seen on the images below.

We have calculate that the lenght and the radius of the cylinder containing the explosive must be 4,5 and 1,85 cm approximately



The projectile is formed by five elements: (5) The plastic tail designed to gain stability and so accuracy during the flight (4) The main part of the body is united to the tail and made of the same plastic, it is cylindical and inside (3) it is the manufactured explosive  mixture, (1) then it is the pin point steel plain impact fuze and (2)  it also has an ingenious safety system by using a pin that needs to be removed to get the projectile armed.


Behind these artifacts there is a much bigger project that includes design, production, know-how and testing, what tells us a lot about ISIS State-like capabilities, but still if we have a closer look to some of them we will see that they are not mass pruced but manufactured because their lines are not equal and perfect on every product, we may call this kind of middle way between DIY and industrial product a “DIY/2”.

We have been able to make a rough estimation of the explosive inside the projectiles on the images above, and they have a volume of 40 to 70 cm3 to be filled with an ISIS produced DIY/2 explosive mix with less power than a military one.

Conflict Amamente Research show us on its excellent document  that ISIS has been able to produce plastic fuzes so, why do not use those on these artifacts?. In my opinion when the projectile is falling it is good for the accuracy that most of the weight is on the nose where the fuze is and so if the projectile is so light a fuze composed of steel has a great advantage over a plastic one providing the desired “nose-falling” effect.

Also some may think that this looks like a DIY/2 mortar round, but this can not be true because the “projection cartridge” (as we call it in Spanish) needed to fire a mortar round would destroy the whole projectile if it was made of plastic.

Finally if we compare the ISIS designed projectiles with the adapted PG-7s we will find out that for every PG-7 at least 3 ISIS projectiles probably can be carried by a drone, but to attack an armored vehicle, even like a humvee, just a PG-7 can be effective so If I were a terrorist I would use PG-7s against highly protected targets while ISIS projectiles against enemy exposed infantry or unprotected vehicles. In the end even a M1 Abrams hasn’t got protection enough on the roof to deal with a PG-7.

Soviet RPG-7 along with a PG-7V (green) and a PG-7VM (black) both used on ISIS drones and very popular warheads in the world

But here comes the other question: Accuracy.

These drones can fly very high but if it is too high they can loose a lot of autonomy and also their payload is very low so there is no possibility to install even some kind of primitive aim device so everything must be done literally by the eye of the operator. If conditions are good without wind nor rain and the altitude is low, I would say no more than 100 metres, a well trained operator might be able to calculate with some precision the dropping, but if we are speaking of a PG-7 warhead not designed to fall from the sky it is very probable that the operator needs to send the drone as a SVBIED straight to the target in order to let the fuze of the PG-7 impact on the target.

Let’s have a closer look to another recently released ISIS video, on this one we see another civilian drone, some claimed that it was one called “X8 Skywalker” while I don’t think it is this model probably they are quite similar products, so for example there is a video on Youtube of a flying X8 that goes extreme and flies at an altitude of 5.341 metres!. Also its payload can be as much as 2 kg, and its price is around 180$ to 250$. This could be considered as a representative example for a typical ISIS  drone.

View from the camera of a X8 drone
ISIS drone with two small bombs, it is possible that they were inert and were used just to record the propagandistic part of the video



On the images above we see more interesting projectiles, in this case the drone mounts two artifacts, one per wing, and they are composed by a similar tail of that of the projectile treated above.

ISIS produced projectile being dropped

In the case of the artifact used on the attack while we can’t know its size I would say that it has a similar white plastic tail as other ISIS designs while in this case it is coupled with what looks like a 40 mm grenade typical from Western grenade launchers or even a OG-7V HE-Fragmentation warhead designed for RPG-7s.


The ISIS projectile may use a typical Western grenade like one on this image. A normal HE  40 mm grenade has a weight of around 0,25 kg and a kill radius of 5 metres and so is ideally suited for the low payload capacity of a civilian drone

Also when this artifact exploits just at a  few metres from a group of 5 men it produces minor injuries to two of them while heavy injuries to the other three, and this with a relatively accurate attack.

If we do a comparison, what could be the cost of an ISIS SVBIED including car, oil, the man, the explosives and the typical add on armour?. Just the car should cost several times the drone, but still both are different weapons meant for different situations. For example in my opinion every unit of ground based VBIEDs can be a very powerful tactical weapon while a few drones can be useful for a squad or a company of ISIS but not for a whole offensive, and even more if the enemy is digged in fortified areas.

Would also be interesting to see if ISIS includes thermal or infared cameras on its drones, what could be an interesting option for them.

Also I know that this is speculation, but what about the use of big formations of like 20 drones or so, a true unmanned air force ideally suited for non-state actors, maybe the combination of something we may call mini-carpet-drone-bombings could be effective in some situations, or the use of small wings of drones to attack objectives in succession looking if the first drone has succeed and sending another if not, like a true air force does. If this hasn’t happen yet it could be for two reasons: The less important is that the drones, specially those with a certain size are available for ISIS just in limited quantities, but the most important is that they would need a real training program of drone operators, what must be the real challenge for non-state actors. The money should not be an issue as far as buy for example 100 X8s might cost, going extreme, as much as 40.000$ what isn’t a problem for an organization able to earn billions of dollars every year.

I must also say that during the propagandistic video a drone was recording the other drone so it is possible that ISIS has some ability operating at least small groups of drones simultaneously.

It is obvious that the drone on the image was recorded by another drone

Finally I would like to say that new imaginative and unpredictable tactics using bigger drones formations could be expected if ISIS has time enough.

They are vulnerable

Teach the ground soldiers to fire at the drones could be okay if they are able to mass enough muzzles firing and there is no risk of betray their positions to other ISIS weapons like mortars, but still it is a relatively costly measure. From my point of view the best way to deal with them would be to make troops aware of the threat and so survey the sky and hide when they see or hear something.

Finally as equipment especially designed to combat drones we should not forget that these are civilian drones with badly protected links between the machine and the operator and so they are very vulnerable to minimum electronic warfare countermeasures so apart from specialized EW units I think that the use of relatively cheap devices designed to inhibit the link between the operator and the machine could be enough to effectively deal with the increasing threat that apparently drones possess on the hybrid battlefield.

Pax Syriam

A lo largo de este texto voy a exponer mi opinión y análisis acerca de lo que va a ocurrir para que acabe la guerra y en que condiciones se va a llegar y a desarrollar la paz en Siria.

Situación internacional

Hasta ahora se estaban manteniendo una serie de infructuosas negociaciones en Ginebra, como es típico mientras estas se desarrollaban los múltiples actores se afanaban en demostrar su fuerza en el campo de batalla para así estar en una posición de superioridad durante las negociaciones, sin embargo debido al relativo equilibrio de fuerzas reinante las conferencias de paz sólo lograron acuerdos puntuales que apenas duraron unos días tras ser incumplidos por alguna de las partes, al problema de las negociaciones se sumaba el que uno de los grandes actores de este conflicto, el Estado Islámico, por ser un grupo terrorista no estaba representado en Ginebra, limitándose así los efectos de cualquier pacto que hubiera podido ser alcanzado.

De un lado en septiembre de 2015 se produjo un aumento vertiginoso del apoyo ruso a Assad, hasta entonces se habían limitado a darle un fuerte apoyo diplomático, político y de suministros, sin embargo desde septiembre de 2015 todo el apoyo anterior de Rusia a Assad se reforzó y además se dio el paso de intervenir directamente en las operaciones de combate. Es posible que esto se debiera a que durante el verano de 2015 el Ejército Árabe Sirio (EAS en adelante) estuviera en su momento de mayor debilidad, porque durante el verano se habían venido sucediendo las derrotas, a las que además iba unido al desgaste propio de cuatro años de guerra. De hecho se llegó hasta el punto de que durante aquel verano se acondicionaron obsoletos vehículos guardados en la reserva, como el ZSU-57-2 para poder abastecer a las fuerzas Assadistas.

Esta anticuada pieza antiaérea ZSU-57-2 data de los 50 y fue sacada de los depósitos para volver a servir en el EAS durante el verano de 2015

Pero la intervención rusa cambió el signo de la guerra, se enviaron asesores, oficiales de enlace para dirigir los ataques aéreos realizados por los aviones que habían sido desplegados, se construyeron varias bases y se ampliaron las existentes, se enviaron unidades de artillería, zapadores, fuerzas especiales, así como cuantioso suministro de material avanzado para el EAS y sus aliados, por ejemplo la entrega del T-90A, uno de los mejores carros de combate rusos da idea de este intenso apoyo.

El suministro de material avanzado como el T-90A de la fotografía ejemplifica la escalada del apoyo por parte de Rusia hacia el Estado sirio

Todo este nuevo material, potencia de fuego, inyección de moral, así como el esfuerzo realizado por el otro gran aliado de Assad; Irán dieron como resultado que a día de hoy los rebeldes se encuentren en una situación muy precaria, por ejemplo en la Alepo en la que durante septiembre de 2015 los rebeldes luchaban por expulsar a los oficialistas en 2016 son los rebeldes los que están completamente rodeados y sin esperanza alguna de salir victoriosos, además la caída negociada de numerosas bolsas rebeldes situadas al sur de Damasco y las derrotas sufridas entre Hama y Homs han agravado aún más la situación rebelde.

Sin embargo no todo estaba perdido, la administración Obama aunque de forma cauta y lenta había procurado apoyar a los grupos rebeldes y kurdos, en especial entregando a los primeros los eficaces misiles contracarro TOW, sin embargo contra todo pronóstico las elecciones de Estados Unidos de 2016 encumbraron a Donald Trump, un político que se había mostrado muy amigable con Rusia y muy poco receptivo respecto a los grupos rebeldes, con lo que desde el momento en que Trump pase a ostentar oficialmente el cargo de Presidente podremos ver como la actuación de EEUU se moverá dentro de la siguiente horquilla:

  • En el mejor de los casos los rebeldes seguirían recibiendo el apoyo recibido hasta ahora, limitándose este a un envío de cantidades significativas pero insuficientes de material, junto al apoyo político y diplomático estadounidense.
  • En el peor de los casos la administración Trump podría retirar totalmente su respaldo e incluso pasar a dar apoyo a las fuerzas de Assad.

En cualquier caso una idea parece muy probable, y esta es la desaparición o disminución del contrapeso de Estados Unidos al apoyo de Rusia a Assad, lo que implica que los rusos tendrán vía libre o como mínimo un mayor margen de maniobra para actuar en Siria.

Hubo momentos en los que se habló de una posible intervención al estilo de la de Libia por parte de EEUU y sus aliados en Siria, sin embargo a nuestro entender tal intervención a día de hoy sería excesivamente riesgosa debido a la presencia de baterías antiaéreas de largo y corto alcance desplegadas por Rusia, lo que podría provocar un conflicto de impredecibles consecuencias a un coste que ningún político occidental razonable debería estar dispuesto a asumir por un país con una importancia modesta para nuestros intereses.

El despliegue de sistemas AA de largo alcance rusos como los S-300VM o los S-400 en Siria hacen mucho más compleja cualquier intervención militar contra Assad

Sin embargo no todo podrían ser buenas noticias para el régimen, ya que Trump siempre se ha mostrado muy beligerante respecto al acuerdo nuclear alcanzado por la administración Obama con Irán, en este sentido se podría jugar con la importante intervención iraní en Siria a la hora de negociar la revisión del mentado acuerdo nuclear, lo que podría atraer de nuevo a EEUU al conflicto.

Situación bélica

A día de hoy podemos dar por sentado que la eterna batalla por la simbólica urbe de Alepo va a terminar en unos meses con una victoria total por parte del régimen, sin embargo en ese momento se le plantearán dos grandes disyuntivas respecto a las dos posibles grandes campañas estratégicas. Dichas campañas serían la de la provincia de Idlib, que tendría por objetivo final volver a controlar toda la frontera con Turquía y expulsar a los rebeldes de su principal bastión en Siria, asestándoles así un golpe mortal, o bien se podría iniciar una campaña para que el EAS pueda tomar antes que nadie la simbólica capital de EI, Raqqa. Cada campaña presenta unas ventajas y unas desventajas.

En este mapa de Siria, al norte se aprecian las provincias y ciudades de Raqqa e Idlib respectivamente

Hasta ahora el régimen ha seguido una estrategia conservadora que buscaba mantener y asegurar bajo su poder la espina dorsal de Siria, que sería toda el área al oeste del eje Damasco-Alepo, esto es porque estas son las zonas más pobladas y ricas de Siria, así que legitiman y otorgan diversas ventajas estratégicas a quien las posea.

En este mapa se aprecia que la principal arteria de Siria va en línea “recta” desde Damasco hasta Alepo, este ha sido el esqueleto sobre el que se ha colocado la estrategia gubernamental

Siguiendo esta estrategia lo más lógico sería decantarse por la campaña para recuperar Idlib y no por la campaña contra EI, además EI hasta ahora no ha sido la mayor amenaza para el régimen debido a que el Califato se está enfrentando sobretodo a los kurdos apoyados por EEUU y a los rebeldes apoyados por Turquía en el norte de Siria, a esto hemos de sumar que mientras Idlib permanezca en manos rebeldes la llama de la esperanza rebelde permanecerá encendida, y dicha llama podría verse alimentada por sucesos impredecibles de la arena internacional, así como por el aumento vertiginoso del envío de material a los grupos rebeldes, un aumento que por cierto parece estar experimentándose ahora mismo, cuando están llegando semanalmente cantidades nunca vistas de cohetes de 122 mm para los BM-21 Grad rebeldes.

De otro lado la campaña contra EI podría ser muy interesante sobretodo de cara a lavar la imagen del régimen a nivel internacional, hay que tener en cuenta que Raqqa va a ser la última capital del Califato, por lo que quien la conquiste se llevará todo el mérito y alabanzas de la prensa internacional, y desde luego los titulares anunciando que el EAS ha conquistado Raqqa sin duda alguna mejorarían mucho la imagen y predisposición del público mundial hacia el régimen, sin embargo si se toma esta opción y los rebeldes reciben un repentino y cuantioso apoyo desde el extranjero toda la provincia de Idlib podría convertirse en una daga apuntando a la espalda de los oficialistas mientras estos están centrados en Raqqa.

Es posible que se de un híbrido de ambas campañas, de tal forma que después de que acabe la batalla de Alepo pero antes de que empiece el verano se tome alguno de los principales nudos de comunicaciones de Idlib, alguna localidad como Muraat an-Numan, Saraqib, Kafarya o la propia ciudad de Idlib, dificultando así posteriores ataques rebeldes, y de esta forma, una vez asegurados esos puntos claves, podrían concentrarse sobre EI. Además antes de llegar a Raqqa se encuentra la localidad de Tabqa donde en su momento se produjo una sonada masacre de soldados por parte de EI, por lo que reconquistarla aumentaría el prestigio interno de Assad.

También cabe decir que dentro de lo que cabe la tarta que es el Califato en un momento u otro va a ser repartida, y si los rebeldes jugasen bien sus bazas y su apoyo externo aún podrían quedarse con la mayor parte de los territorios de EI reforzándose así y por tanto manteniendo las esperanzas y ganando tiempo, sin embargo esta opción sería complicada, ya que además existe una importante guarnición embolsada en Deir ez Zor, en medio del territorio de EI, y dicha guarnición probablemente sería usada como cabeza de puente para realizar ulteriores operaciones para conquistar territorio de EI a la vez que se realizan los avances desde el oeste hacia Raqqa.

La cuestión kurda

Seguramente la parte más compleja e impredecible de todas es la que tiene que ver con los kurdos de Siria, esos que pretenden crear el estado de Rojava, que ocuparía toda la cornisa de Siria incluyendo los cantones de Efrin, Kobane y Yazira, sin embargo la operación turca “Escudo del Éufrates” ha invadido territorio sirio, impidiendo que los cantones de Efrin y Kobane puedan unirse.

En amarillo el Estado ideal de Rojava, en realidad la extensión territorial que poseería Rojava no está unificada y hay varias posturas al respecto

El régimen nunca tuvo especial simpatía por los kurdos, ya que eran una minoría tradicionalmente marginada, problemática e independentista, de hecho en su momento incluso se les retiró la nacionalidad a todos ellos, sin embargo a medida que la guerra se ha ido desarrollando el régimen ha encontrado en los kurdos un aliado, a pesar de los diversos encontronazos y tensiones existentes, ejemplo de esto es que en la provincia de Hasakah existen varias bolsas oficialistas en las que hay una gran tensión con los kurdos y de hecho se producen esporádicos enfrentamientos cuando dicha tensión se eleva demasiado.

A nivel internacional los kurdos gozan de un gran prestigio, cuentan con el apoyo de EEUU quien ya desde 2003 en Iraq estableció unos fuertes lazos con los que parecían los únicos aliados estables, y dicha imagen se ha visto reforzada cuando EI ha realizado su “blitzkrieg” particular hasta ser frenado por aquellos lugares habitados por kurdos donde la resistencia a los yihadistas fue feroz.

Aunque en menor medida también Rusia, y otros países de Occidente en general, ven a los kurdos con buenos ojos, sin embargo por una cuestión de coherencia muchos de estos Estados no apoyarán abiertamente la independencia de los kurdos debido a la existencia de movimientos independentistas en sus propios países.

Los estados de la región como Siria, Iraq, Irán o Turquía que sí cuentan con población kurda a menudo los ven como una fuente de problemas, y en especial Turquía; que es quien alberga a la mayor cantidad de kurdos, quiere evitar que se cree un santuario kurdo en el norte de Siria junto a la frontera turca que de alas a los separatistas en Turquía.

Teniendo en cuenta el estado de la cuestión kurda en Siria mi opinión es que Rusia y EEUU van a presionar para que se permita la creación de una región autónoma kurda al norte de Siria, al estilo del Kurdistán iraquí, de esta forma la legalidad internacional dará cobertura a los kurdos de Siria, haciendo que cualquier intervención turca en su suelo suponga una violación de la soberanía siria, sin embargo con ese grado de autonomía los kurdos podrían ser usados como arma de presión estratégica contra Turquía, lo que otorgaría a Rusia y a Siria una baza muy importante a la hora de entablar negociaciones con los turcos. Además Bashar al-Assad podría presentárselo al pueblo sirio como parte de la victoria final, esto es mantener la integridad territorial de Siria, aunque es posible que existan elementos que estén en desacuerdo con la decisión de otorgar tanta autonomía a los kurdos, por último EEUU mantendría a su tradicional aliado kurdo y además podría presentar Rojava como una victoria contra Assad, ya que los kurdos se encuadran en la “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) una organización principalmente compuesta por kurdos, pero de la que también forman parte diversos grupos árabes rebeldes apoyados por EEUU, así, siguiendo esta vía Estados Unidos podría “escurrir el bulto” del desgraciado apoyo a los rebeldes en Siria, que a la hora de la verdad parece que acabará en saco roto aduciendo que se ha logrado un estado autónomo para las SDF.

La SDF “Syrian Democratic Forces” engloban a varios grupos, aunque la YPG y la YPJ  kurdas son las principales fuerzas

La cuestión turca 

A finales de agosto de 2016 Turquía lanzó la operación militar “Escudo del Éufrates” en la que participó directamente el Ejército turco junto a grupos rebeldes apoyados por Turquía para conquistar toda una serie de territorios controlados por los kurdos y el Califato en el norte de Siria.

A mi entender los objetivos de Turquía con esta operación eran, evitar que tras el desmoronamiento de EI los kurdos llegaran a unificar todos sus cantones, asegurar la supervivencia de al menos una parte de los grupos rebeldes, utilizar ese territorio para reasentar a parte de los refugiados sirios y quizás tener una nueva baza en las futuras negociaciones.

Resulta obvio que las Fuerzas Armadas de Siria no están ni con mucho en condiciones de expulsar al Ejército turco, y los rusos no se van enfrentar a Turquía que está respaldada por la OTAN por un pequeño pedazo de territorio, por lo que parece obvio que deberá haber una solución negociada, sin embargo creemos que en realidad ese territorio va a ser anexionado a Turquía de facto y que en realidad no va a poder ser recuperado por Siria.

En azul la zona controlada por la operación turca “Escudo del Éufrates” en la que también participan los grupos rebeldes apoyados por Turquía

Pax Syriam

Pero ¿en que condiciones alcanzará el país la paz?

Las cifras son apabullantes 13,5 millones de sirios necesitan ayuda humanitaria, 6,1 millones se encuentran desplazados dentro de Siria y 4,8 millones han huido del país y se encuentran asentados en Jordania, Turquía, Líbano, Alemania y la UE en general.

Una parte muy importante de las negociaciones van a tener que ver con el futuro de los refugiados, ya que no está claro si estos van a querer volver a territorio controlado por el gobierno, donde las represalias son previsibles y donde en muchos casos no les quedará nada, ya que sus hogares han sido destruidos por la guerra, y en el mejor de los casos habrán sido saqueados por unos u otros. Además muchos de los que han escapado son jóvenes desertores que huyeron del país cuando fueron llamados a filas y que por tanto están perseguidos por el ordenamiento sirio.

La pregunta es ¿para quien es una ventaja en las negociaciones esta situación? a priori parece que lo normal es que Assad quisiera recuperar al menos a una parte de la población que huyó, pero en realidad puede no ser así, ya que al fin y al cabo los sentimientos que albergan quienes huyeron al extranjero seguramente no son positivos respecto a Assad, además para Líbano, Turquía, Jordania y la UE en general los refugiados con una carga de la que quieren desquitarse, por lo que Assad podría usar esto para presionar a la hora de las negociaciones.

En materia humanitaria es absolutamente imprescindible que la acción de todas las naciones bajo el auspicio de la ONU y con el consentimiento del Estado sirio se unan para satisfacer las necesidades mínimas de todos los sirios, sin realizar sesgos políticos.

De un lado tenemos la cuestión de las infraestructuras, carreteras, centrales eléctricas, sistemas de agua, instalaciones de extracción de recursos naturales como gas, petróleo, fosfatos o sulfuros, instalaciones militares, fábricas y hogares destruidos por la guerra. Actualmente no hay cifras fiables a cerca del porcentaje de destrucción que ha sufrido el país, sin embargo podemos asumir que los daños han sido altísimos a todos los niveles, y en especial en todas las urbes, salvo aquellas situadas en las provincias de Tartus y Latakia, a donde la guerra como tal nunca ha llegado.

De otro lado es una teoría personal que China va a tratar de influir al máximo en la economía Siria a través de ayudas y acuerdos como aquellos a los que se llegó con Angola o Sudán, estos consisten en que China construya o reconstruya numerosas infraestructuras con mano de obra china y que el pago por parte del gobierno sirio se realice en especie mediante recursos naturales, y en especial gas, petróleo y campos cultivables, al fin y al cabo la forma de actuar de los chinos recibiendo pagos en especie podría funcionar especialmente bien en Siria, ya que ahora mismo las arcas del estado no están ni estarán listas para afrontar las contraprestaciones mediante el pago de dinero.

El gran aeropuerto internacional de Luanda (Angola) ha sido totalmente construido por China usando mano de obra china, esto refleja la fórmula que utiliza China para ganar influencia en el mundo en general y en África en particular

De otro lado después de esta guerra nadie va a estar más en deuda con Rusia y Vladimir Putin que Bashar al-Assad, por lo que es de esperar que las relaciones en todos los sentidos, pero sobretodo el militar se afiancen aún más entre Rusia y Siria y Siria e Irán.

¿Y España?

Dentro del espacio político delimitado por la UE las posturas de los estados miembro han variado mucho respecto a Siria, desde la posición británica más proclive a la intervención militar hasta la postura neutral de los países mediterráneos, incluida España quien a pesar de todo a lo largo de la guerra siempre ha mantenido una actitud de cierta simpatía por el régimen de Assad.

La capacidad de construcción de infraestructuras por parte de España es notable, y en especial en lo que se refiere a vías de ferrocarril, ¿por qué no aprovechar esta capacidad para obtener lucrativos contratos en Siria?

A mi entender existen dos elementos que le podrían resultar interesantes a España:

  • Seguridad: es obvio que Siria ha sido un criadero de yihadistas, y que la cantidad ingente de armas, incluidas las armas químicas que han caído en manos “inestables”; en el sentido más amplio, podrían derivar en numerosos problemas de seguridad en el viejo continente, incluido el regreso de yihadistas potencialmente peligrosos, es por ello que al igual que se hizo con Marruecos, será importante que se establezca una cooperación fuerte en materia de seguridad e inteligencia para enfrentar al terrorismo islámico.
  • Económica: como ya hemos comentado este país está completamente arrasado y va a requerir de ingentes obras de reconstrucción tanto de infraestructuras complejas como vías de ferrocarril, aeropuertos, centrales eléctricas, depuradoras, potabilizadoras etc, como de estructuras simples como edificios de viviendas, en este sentido las numerosas empresas españolas dedicadas al sector de la construcción en general y de las infraestructuras en particular podrían buscar su espacio para obtener beneficios económicos, eso si, uno de los problemas será la financiación, ya que ahora mismo por lo obvio el Estado sirio tiene las arcas vacías y ya de por si está sumamente endeudado, por lo que no está nada claro la capacidad que posee para hacer frente a futuros pagos de esta clase de obras relativamente costosas.
Las infraestructuras de Siria han quedado abandonadas, inutilizadas o han sido destruidas, en la imagen un puente sobre el Éufrates en la capital del Califato, Raqqa, que fue destruido por la Fuerza Aérea de Rusia



Document 2: NBC equipment in Syria

An article in Spanish will be published few days after the English version of the document.

Este mismo artículo será publicado en castellano días después de la versión en inglés.

Click here to download the document “NBC equipment in Syria”:


This is an  article about the NBC equipment in Syria.


Anaconda 2016, Cuba

In this article we are going to do a fast ID of images recorded about the recently done Cuban national defense exercise “Anaconda 2016”.

Special thanks to Oryx for his great article about Cuban fighting vehicles

En este artículo vamos a hacer una breve identificación de los vehículos que hemos podido observar durante los ejercicios de defensa nacionales de Cuba “Anaconda 2016”.

Agradecimiento especial a Oryx por su excelente artículo sobre los vehículos de combate de Cuba.

BRDM-2 modified to have transport capabilities. BRDM-2 modificado para tener capacidad de transporte de tropas
Modified BRDM-2 with a 120 mm M-1938 mortar. BRDM-2 modificado con un mortero M-1938 de 120 mm
What looks like a BTR-50. Lo que parece un BTR-50
Júpiter I or II
Unknown name, local variant it is a T-34 chassis with KS-19 gun. Nombre desconocido, fabricación local, es una barcaza de T-34 con un cañón KS-19
T-62 Obr. 1967
T-62 Obr. 1972
ZSU-57-2 turret on ship. Torre de un ZSU-57-2 sobre un barco
What looks like a ZiS-2 or ZiS-3 AT gun. Lo que parece un cañón AT ZiS-2 o ZiS-3
Unknown UAV. Dron de reconocimiento desconocido

Hezbollah getting armored in Syria

During 13th November 2016 merged a lot of images about a Hezbollah parade on the Syrian-Lebanese border town of Al-Qusayr it was very interesting as far as we could saw an unexpected huge armored force owned by the group.

We will divide the article in to three parts, the first will be dedciated to the material found on the images in general, the second will treat the images on their own and in the third part I am going to expose my conclusions.

There were a lot of unconfirmed rumors about Assad supplying heavy material to Hezbollah, even during the 2013 battle for Al Qusayr the Institute for the Study of War said that Hezbollah probably operated T-54 or T-55 tanks however we never see before such evidence of heavy material in hands of Hezbollah this represnts a quality leap on their improvement as a military force able to fight in hybrid and now more conventional conflicts.

Resume of vehicles recognized

Tanks: T-54A, T-62 Obr. 1972, T-72M1, T-72AV also very likely T-55s

IFV: BMP-1s some of them with cage armor on the turret and some with the rail to fire 9M14P ATGM

Close range AA (normally they act as direct fire support vehicles): ZSU-57-2, M-113A1 with ZPU-2, GM chassis series with KS-1 and KS-19, trucks with KS-1 and KS-19

Direct fire support vehicles: technycals

Electronic Warfare Vehicles: probably R-330Ps or externally similar

Self-propelled guns: 2S1 Gvozdika

Supplier: mostly came from SAA, T-72M1s and T-72AVs could also be from Russia but this is unlikely, M-113A1s came from Lebanon but it is not sure if they were captured years ago by Hezbollah or they have been sent by Lebanese Army (LAF)

Part I – General analysis of the material

Unuseful material from the SAA

Most part of this old material could have been stored inside SAA depots until now so it is not a strange thing that SAA gave it to arm Hezbollah.

Here we include KS-12, KS-19, GM series chassis and ZSU-57-2s

Useful but outdated material from SAA

In this category we include all the weapons with a certain degree of activity and usefulness during the war but with outdated capabilities that make them expendable for the SAA.

Here we include the T-54, T-55, T-62 and BMP-1.

In the case of the T-54 it is interesting because until now as we probed no more than twenty T-54s from T-54-3, T-54A and T-54B variants have been documented until now during the five years of war so find them on Hezbollah hands is quite interesting also it is true that T-54 is the baddest tank in active use in Syria and probably hundreds of them are still stored in depots so they would probably be the first option for the SAA to arm Hezbollah.

Good and expensive material from SAA

Here we include T-72AV and T-72M1.

Both are good tanks for the Syrian war standards so it is very strange that they have been donated to Hezbollah, it is also right that just a few of the tanks look T-72s but anyway this supply aims to a strong will to supply Hezbollah with very capable weapons, finally must be noted that the T-72AV and T-72M1 could came from Russia but this is a less likely option as far as those are both Syrian tanks so if they were Russian supplied T-72Bs or just T-72Ms or T-72M1s would be more likely.

Lebanese origin?

It is not a secret that Hezbollah has a lot of influence inside Lebanon and its army as far as the group is a very deep part of Lebanese society, so It would not be a surprise for anybody to find that weapons from LAF ended on hands of Hezbollah but also is true that there is a big step bertween get some light weapons from LAF and get heavy weaponry.

We think that there are enough evidences on this photos to think that it is a possibility that actually could exist a incredibly high degree of corruption/infiltration of Hezbollah inside LAF and who knows if this is an example of corruption or a true hidden support to Hezbollah by the State or the Army of Lebanon .

First of all the Lebanese Army is one of the fews in the world still operating big amounts of T-54s when I did the document about T-54s in Syria I was able to see that all of them were very “battered” from years of storage and fights so it is very suspicious to see all those T-54s so well preserved on Hezbollah hands. Also their colors look closer to Lebanese T-54s than those from Syria but this is not a definitive evidence.

It is important to note that the M-113A1s of the images are mounting a ZPU-2 double KPV machine gun. The M-113 was never operated by SAA and the closer thing to it was one or two normal M-113A1s captured by Jabhat al-Nusra to the 8th Mechanized Brigade during August 2014 while fighting LAF on Arsal Valley but those M-113A1s were for .50 caliber machine gun not for ZPU-2 a much heavier artifact.

Lebanese T-54-3

And also if we look at what M-113s of the world are mounting ZPU-2s nearly all of the images come from Lebanon where they were used even during 1982 war this is specially relevant as noted Tobias Schnider because those M-113s were provided by USA as free supplies for the LAF, it must be said that they could have been spoils of war with the South Lebanon Army.

Images taken from the excellent “Military in the Middle East”

Part II – Images


On the first two photos we can appreciate various tanks probably they are T-54A or T-55, and they mount the DShK 12.7 mm HMG on the turret. They all look very well preserved and possibly they have received a recent “fine tunning”.

Also on the first image we can appreciate what looks the emblem of this new Hezbollah’s armored unit.

We can appreciate the emblem of the unit and the DShK HMG on this image




On the next image at the right we can see the dome shaped ventilator that indicates us that we are facing a T-54, and taking in to account photos before those are probably T-54As

That dome shaped ventilator and the bore evacuators tells us that this is a T-54A


On the foreground a GM series chassis with a KS-1 85 mm gun mounted on it more interesting is that on the right side there is a column of tanks headed by a T-72AV and followed by a T-72M1 and some T-62s and other tanks that could be T-72M1s or T-55AMs. At the left side there is a column of M-113A1 APCs with ZPU-2 montage.



On the left side column there are three M-113A1s with ZPU-2s and at the right side there are three T-62 Obr. 1972, the unit shown here is the same of the upper photo.



On the foreground of the next image we can see a BMP-1 with a 9M14P or 9M14P1 ATGM Malyutka ready to be fired it also has a cage armor surrounding the turret of the vehicle.

Along with the BMP-1 on the foreground is a very uncommon electronic warfare vehicle called R-330, however the image shows us a little so could be another version like a R-370B or a R-381.

Probably it is a R-330P because this is a very uncommon vehicle likely coming from SAA and as Oryx show us there are R-330Ps in service with the SAA.

Also on the background we can appreciate more BMP-1s and T-62s.



On this image we can see two ZSU-57-2 a very old self propelled AA based on T-54/55 chassis those are quiet uncommon in Syria because most of them probably were until now in storage but also a few of them appeared during the course of the war.

At the front we can see two GM series chassis the one on the left mounts a 85 mm KS-1 WWII designed gun and the one on the right mounts a 100 mm KS-19 this piece was used before in Syria but still it was a very uncommon and outdated one. In the same manner as the GMs there are a few trucks behind them with KS-1s and KS-19s.

At the background we can appreciate three 2S1 Gvozdikas those are 122 mm self propelled guns widely used in Syria by SAA and rebels. At the right side background we can also appreciate two likely R-330s.

Finally there are a lot of technycals some of them likely supplied by Iran.



On the image below we can appreciate five BMP-1s almost two of them have cage armor around the turret and the first one has the rail to fire the ATGM 9M14 Malyutka.



Part III – Conclusion

The magnitude and impact of this weaponry must be calculated throughout the course of the time but there is no doubt that this represents a big step for Hezbollah, now they are not just an asymmetric warfare group able to defend by using a hybrid warfare with a mix of guerrilla and light infantry tactics now Hezbollah is a much more capable group with an armored unit with enough power to deal with some regular army units of the LFA. To illustrate this idea we just need to know that Hezbollah’s T-72AV with an advanced AP round or missile could be able to deal even with Israeli Merkava tanks.

This is a huge force specially for a skirmish-war like it is that of Syria also it is going to be interesting to see what lessons Hezbollah can learn about the use of combined arms forces with fire support vehicles, AA, self propelled artillery, IFVs, mechanized infantry, EW vehicles and tanks.

On one hand I want to note the big importance of the fire support forces inside their armored unit as far as we have been able to see KS-1s, KS-19s, ZSU-57-2s, M-113A1s with ZPU-2s and tonnes of technycals in comparison with the relatively few tanks and IFVs on the other hand Iran recently produced its own KS-19s and KS-12s this is strange as far as this kind of guns were discarded decades before by the USSR because they were unable to effectively shoot down planes because their design was based on WWII lessons and technologies but inexplicably Iran decided to produce a new variant of those guns! taking it in to account my point  is that the equipment of Hezbollah looks strongly influenced by Iranian ideas because otherwise would have been very unlikely that the leaders of Hezbollah would have decided  to acquire this kind of strange weaponry on their own.

The resume is easy we are facing a new step forward of Hezbollah in the short term it will mean a new armored unit for the SAA and in the long term a new field of opportunities for Hezbollah to learn about combined arms, conventional and armored warfare and also this is going to give them a bigger military power that could weight a lot on Lebanese internal affairs, negotiations or potential future civil conflicts.

VHS-D1 y Siria

Haz clic aquí para descargar el documento

Documento enviado por un cooperador al que llamaremos “Maharbal”.

El documento forma parte del extenso trabajo de investigación que yo y otros colaboradores estamos realizando sobre las rutas y armas suministradas a los rebeldes de Siria, tanto por actores estatales como desde el mercado negro.

En dicho futuro trabajo incluiremos mapas con las rutas de suministros, estadísticas gráficas y varias decenas de municiones, armas y vehículos recibidos por los rebeldes.