Evidence suggests this 'ancient junk' not fired by Assad regime but by rebels, it is claimed.
It was 'unlikely' the USSR had sold chemical weapons to Syria but said that in any case 'an old munition has clearly been improvised to take chemicals'. Pictured: Sibselmash factory in Novosibirsk, Slava Stepanov
A leading Russian expert has acknowledged that the propulsion unit on one of the rockets responsible for the deadly Syrian chemical attack indicates it was manufactured at a secret Soviet plant in Siberia. However, the remnants of the 'antique' weapons provide new evidence the 'sarin' blast was the work of rebels and not the Damascus regime.
President Assad's military machine would not have used this 'ancient junk' for a chemical attack when they have far more modern missiles, it was claimed.
The first missile was 'a 140-mm M-14-series rocket projectile from an old Soviet-made BM-14-17 multiple-launch system dating from 1952', said Ruslan Pukhov, director of Russia's Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. The numbering shows it is from Sibselmash plant in Novosibirsk, which during the Cold War was 'one of the USSR's main producers of various types of unguided rocket projectiles.
'The code 4-67-179 means the 4th batch in 1967 by factory 179,' he said.
President Assad's military machine would not have used this 'ancient junk' for a chemical attack when they have far more modern missiles, it was claimed. Pictured: Sibselmash factory in Novosibirsk, Slava Stepanov
Pukhov claimed it was 'unlikely' the USSR had sold chemical weapons to Syria but said that in any case 'an old munition has clearly been improvised to take chemicals.
'We know that the Syrians took the BM-14-17 out of service long ago and M-14-series projectiles for that weapon are long past their storage deadlines.'
The Russian expert said: 'If they wanted to use chemical munitions then they probably would not have wanted to risk it with antiques like these and instead would have gone for the BM-21 Grad, for which they probably do have chemical munitions.
'But the insurgents could have found this ancient junk after capturing some military storage depot.'
The second projectile identified by weapons inspectors looked to be 'home made'.
Blaming the Assad opposition for the attack, he claimed: 'The Syrian army is unlikely to be making and using such primitive munitions.'
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