Some media outlets and media “activists” noticed this picture published by the Sputnik news agency from Syria’s Shayrat Airbase that was struck by US missiles earlier this week.
The picture showed a number of scattered containers outside one of the airport’s hangars. Immediately, Twitter experts made claims that these containers were some “chemical weapons containers” linking them to an old picture showing Russian Army personnel getting rid of chemical weapons stored in similar containers.
Few examples of these allegations:
Most viewers would then consider this to be an “incontestable proof” that the containers inside Shayrat Airbase stored chemical weapons. Though, this assumption ignored some facts:
1) The hangar was targeted, and the United States Department of Defense (DoD) declared that it targeted no chemical weapons in the missile attack.
2) If the containers did indeed contain chemical weapons previously, this would mean that those weapons were used until they’ve emptied which would mean thousands if not tens of thousands of casualties across Syria as a result of multiple chemical weapons attacks that had not happen. Furthermore, according to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Syria does not have the ability to neutralize chemical weapons, and did not have the time to do so before the strike.
After the spread of the false allegations, the truth was quickly revealed.
The containers turned out to be ammunition storage for several types of ammo, most significantly cluster bombs. This was the case in the aforementioned Airbase as parts of the RBK-500 cluster bombs are easily identified in the same picture which removes any minimal doubt about the identity of the stored material in the containers.
With the containers present in the same hangars, the bombs would be directly armed with the cluster munitions prior to combat sorties.
A PMF-1 munition container (general look):
A PMF-1 munition container from the base (containers have a similar type of marking):
AO-2,5RT cluster submunitions:
Noticeably, the picture also showed another type of cluster munitions dispenser the KMGU the KMU muntions are also stored in such containers.
Then, a Russian journalist, Evgeniy Poddubnyy, shared a video proving without a doubt that these containers are for traditional cluster bombs ending the discussion.
The video contains Poddubnyy’s video from the Instagram with subtitles:
Worth mentioning, cluster munitions are used by all sides of the Syrian conflict whether through fighter jets or through ground-to-ground cluster rockets.