Thursday, 16 October 2014

UR-77s in Syria, a force to be reckoned with?



In early October 2014, the Republican Guard was seen using a vehicle not believed to be in Syrian service for the first time, in an attempt to clear the rebel stronghold of Jobar, Damascus.

The UR-77 'Meteorit', once designed to breach minefields with its two mine-clearing line charges to make way for assaulting infantry and armour saw heavy use in Chechnya, blowing whole houses and apartments suspected to house Chechen rebels away. It also saw use in Angola, which acquired a limited number for its fight against UNITA.

As the vehicle wasn't part of the standard Soviet client state vehicle park, it was never believed to have been exported to any nation but Angola. It is certain that the UR-77 has never been sighted in the now three-and-a-half year long war. This while the Republican Guard was desperately in need for such a vehicle as they had to use T-72AV tanks and 2S3 self-propelled howitzers to engage housing believed to be harbouring rebels, leading to huge and unnecessary losses of valuable T-72AVs.



The fact that it was reportedly flown to Mezze on an Il-76, offloaded and rushed to the neighbourhood of Jobar [1] does not correspond with the theory of the UR-77 already being in Syrian service. As the Republican Guard already started its offensive on Daraya back in 2012, losing many tanks in the progress, the need for this vehicle was already apparant two years ago. Although much can be said about the Pro-Assadists's tactics, waiting two years to transfer this important vehicle from one part of Syria to Damascus does not make sense.

Much more likely is that the UR-77s and associated munitions were sold to Syria by either Russia or (less likely) Belarus, subsequently loaded onto an Il-76 and flown to Mezze. As the UR-77 was most likely never operated by Syria, it is possible foreign personnel are in fact manning the UR-77s currently used in Jobar.

In a video provided by Wassim Issa, the operator of the UR-77 is blurred. This while all the other faces of the fighters around him remain perfectly visible. One shot of the operator gives a part of his face away, but as soon as the camera zooms in, it immediately gets blurred.

Although the unblurred shot and footage later on shows the operator's caucasian look, this doesn't tell us much about the origin of the operator. He is later seen in a direct conversation with a soldier of the Republican Guard, and despite the heavy usage of hand signals, the soldiers seem to understand him perfectly.





Although the Assad regime is deprived of hard currency, the capabilities that come with the UR-77 outweighs the costs. The mine-clearing line charges of the UR-77 are a definite improvement over the several types of IRAMs (also known as Volcanoes) and Iranian made Falagh (or Falaq) rockets in use with Pro-Assadist forces such as the National Defence Force (NDF) and Hizbullah. Although few UR-77s are believed to have been acquired, they will likely be a common sight in Pro-Assadists's offensives around Damascus from now on.

10 comments:

  1. definitely a game changer for any urban operations. rebels cant get out of the way fast enough to avoid blast radius. I suspect many will surrender or try to flee jobar and surrounding areas.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is a thing of beauty. Seen bunch of videos of this thing in operation. With any luck, the nightmare will be soon over for the people of Damascus.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Another knife in the hands of the butcher jr.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This vehicle was nicknamed 'Zmey Gorynych' (3-Headed fire breathing Dragon-like beast from Ru folklore) among Russian forces during 1st and 2nd Chechen conflicts.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for article. Really hope this will help the SAA to force the remaining terrorists in Jobar and around to surrender and accept amnesty. Appart mining the buildings, digging tunnels, and shelling christians or shias neighborhoods controled by the gov. they're unable to do anything anyways, and this since 18 months.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the article. Just out of curiosity. What is the best way to destroy a UR-77? What are its weaknesses to render it unusable?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have special anti-tank teams hunting for them. It's likely a suicide mission as they're probably well defended, but it does solve the problem of having your strongholds blown away.

      Delete
    2. Well sending anti-tank teams to hunt down something that comes with an armoured convoy and infantry forces is much more worse than a suicide mission

      Delete
  7. It is not unlikely that a small number of these vehicles could have been in service with the SAA. Reliable info has always been scares when it came to the SAA. The breacher could be quite useful in urban warfare but there are other weapons that would be far more useful. The TosA1 comes to mind. Iraq already have a few and I am sure that some are on their way to Syria.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A barrel bomb has been proven to level buildings as well.

    ReplyDelete