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10/2/15

Syria: Russia’s Unguided Weapons in Syria Could Ricochet on Moscow

The Syrian air force has been bombing anti-government rebels—as well as innocent civilians—with crude barrel bombs that rarely hit their targets. But the arrival of the Russian air force isn’t bringing a big increase in accuracy. Their bombing technology is a generation behind American weapons, and that could end up pinning a target on the back of every Russian soldier in Syria as well as back home.

The U.S. has claimed that the Russian air strikes that began this week appear aimed at Syrian rebel forces fighting to topple President Bashar Assad instead of the Islamic State in Syria and Greater Iraq. But they may not be very effective. Video released by the Russians—and U.S. intelligence reports—indicate the bombs being dropped are unguided, and that at least some of them are going astray.

That could lead to big problems for the Russians, according to Lieut. General Bob Otto, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. “Those aren’t precision weapons,” Otto said Thursday of the Russian bombs. “We can tell what’s hanging off the airplane” via intelligence imagery, he said. They’re “dumb” bombs, guided to their targets only by gravity and the plane’s position and velocity when they’re released. Such weapons are notoriously inaccurate.

Read more: Russia’s Unguided Weapons in Syria Could Ricochet on Moscow | TIME

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