With Russia, Syria and the U.S. led coalition striking targets around Syria, the skies above the war-torn country have become increasingly filled with combat aircraft. These airstrikes have become the bane of militant and rebel factions fighting on the ground. Now some of them are trying are using helium filled condoms with small explosives attached in an attempt to down one of these aircraft.
Kelsey Atherton over at Popular Mechanics describes these questionable weapons:
“The condoms-turned-into-balloons appear to be filled with a lighter-than-air gas, and have small satchels of explosives tied to their ends. Released into the wind and carried into the sky, their transparent bodies almost disappear, which is probably the one advantage they have as an anti-air weapon. In the video itself, we see one balloon explode prematurely, and even without that the balloons aren’t a controlled weapon.”
Atherton goes on to explain that the militants shown, although claimed to be ISIS by the pro-Russian site that posted the video, are more likely part of al-Nusra based on their supposed location.
The use of balloon-borne bombs is nothing new. Japan adapted the idea on a larger scale in a futile attempt to attack the U.S. during World War II. When it comes to air defense, tethered barrage balloons have been used for a century to fend off low-level enemy strafing runs and aerial attacks. But turning a form of birth control and STD protection into improved balloons, and attaching some explosives to them, is a whole new level of low-tech and dangerous anti-air tactics.
Sadly, these balloons will come back down to the ground fairly quickly, at which time their payload will likely be left undetonated. That is until a curious child picks it up, a car drives over it, or it goes tumbling across a roof. It similar to just spreading one cluster bomb sub-munition over a random region one at a time.
Improvised weaponry has been a major component of the Syria’s civil war since shortly after it began. Yet releasing explosives randomly into the atmosphere is definitely a new step in what has become nearly all-out Total War in Syria.