Remote IED blasts staged and sold to West as government shelling

Smoke from army shelling or activist IED?

When the media’s ongoing story about government violence in Syria switched temporarily from Homs to Idleb in March, we saw the usual unconfirmed activist videos featuring multiple plumes of smoke rising up all over the landscape – what looked to be a massive shelling of the town by the army.

However, journalist Sharmine Narwani was learning, to the contrary – through an online messaging group of Syrian civilians whom she trusted – that telephone calls to Idleb were yielding reports that activists were seen “rigging the town with IEDs” before the government troops moved in.

In a March 13 article, Narwani (Huffington Post and Al Akhbar) published the transcript of an informal online exchange in which a man recapped telephone conversations with his family in Idleb during the occupation of the town by the military the weekend before.

Excerpts from the transcript:

“Today the Army went into [the city of] Idleb. There was no random shelling, they were slowly moving into neighborhoods, starting from the east and southern”

[later] Most damages are caused by the IEDs (some up to 50kgs of explosives) and random firing by militants (using PKT/PKC and DUSHKA/DShk machine guns), with the army returning fire when attacked, but no excessive use of force (i.e no artillery barrages as reported by al Jazeera and other channels)”

The man also passed along news that a home blown open by one of these IEDs had been remotely triggered by activists “as the army was approaching” – with the troops in such proximity to the blast that they were forced to fall back momentarily and restart their sweep of the neighborhood with extra caution.

Journalist Narwani refuses to make more of her evidence than the case will admit – she describes her source as “not a reporter, he relies entirely on his family’s accounts and estimates in Idlib, and his claims cannot be verified at this point.”

MY COMMENT: I think Narwani’s second-hand testimonies are important, constituting, as she says – “the anecdotal evidence that provides the basis for further investigation.”

This further investigation might proceed on grounds more scientifically sound than you think.  All that is required is the ability  to distinguish a remotely triggered IED explosion from a shellburst, and anyone who has seen both would be able to tell us if this differentiation is possible – provided he has no motive to favor one side or other of the debate. The images of the Idleb bombardment or of any other scenes of government shelling alleged by the activists might easily be examined to determine how many of the blasts fit the profile of an IED better than that of an artillery shell.

Pending that investigation, MY QUESTION ABOUT THE IDLEB BOMBARDMENT IS THIS: Could activist videos showing smoke from explosions after the army’s entrance into the city be purposely enhanced by the addition of blasts from remotely triggered IEDs which may have been planted by activists before the army arrived?

Smoke rising from government shelling/ activist IED/ (whatever) in Khaldiyeh neighborhood of Homs province (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS HANDOUT PHOTO

I have already posted a warning that tire fires are sometimes ignited in Syrian cities and carefully tended by activists while their comrades film the thick black plumes of smoke from afar as falsified evidence that buildings are being destroyed by merciless government shelling (see “Rebel tire fires packaged and sold to West as government shelling”).

Smoke from tire fires/ terrorist IEDs/ shelling/ (whatever) rising up from buildings in the Khaldiyeh neighborhood of Homs province, central Syria. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)

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