The following combat footage shows a Hellcannon belonging to the Free Syrian Army being used against a government position during the Battle of Aleppo. A few seconds after impact the building succumbs to the force of the blast and collapses. A Hellcannon belongs to the family of Improvised artillery being used in the Syrian Civil War almost entirely by Syrian opposition forces.

Known as the Jahannam (Hell) in Arabic, the Hellcannon was first produced by insurgents belonging to Ahrar Al-Shamal Brigade back in 2012. Initially, the manufacture of the weapon took place at a plant in the Syrian town of Binnish but later moved to Aleppo where various manufacturing and engineering businesses were repurposed for production of the weapon.

The hell cannon was largely used during the urban warfare of the Battle of Aleppo. The medium-range capability of the Hellcannon (about 1.5 kilometers) requires the target to be nearby. The Hell Cannon is unarmored and is vulnerable in the open spaces and rural areas, hence why it was well suited to urban warfare where a combination of close-quarter fighting and the ability to hide behind buildings, walls, and other structures gave it a huge advantage.

Hellcannon

The Hellcannon barrel is about 3 feet long. The weapon is mounted on wheels and towed. It is muzzle-loaded. Explosive powder such as ammonium nitrate is first dropped into the muzzle and tamped with a wooden stick.

Like in the video, the projectile is usually a re-purposed gas cylinder full of explosives and shrapnel. Welded to the payload is about a 2-foot metal tube around the same circumference as the cannon’s muzzle. The full length of the tail is inserted into the muzzle, forming a tight seal inside the cannon. The payload remains outside the muzzle but still attached to the tail now inside the cannon. When the cannon is fired, the force of the explosion takes the path of least resistance pushing the projectile towards the target at high velocity. Flight stabilizing fins that are part of the tail ensemble ensure the cylinder doesn’t tumble.

What’s the story behind the Syrian Civil war?

The Syrian civil war began in 2011 and continues to rage into its tenth year. The war in Syria is an ongoing multi-sided civil war in Syria being fought between the Ba’athist Syrian Arab Republic led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, along with domestic and foreign allies such as Iran and Russia, and various domestic and foreign forces opposing both the Syrian government and each other in varying combinations. The war is currently the second deadliest of the 21st century.

The Syrian Civil War erupted during the Arab Spring protests in 2011. Discontent with the long-reigning Assad regime turned into protests which were subsequently put down with violent force by the Assad regime. Shortly after, the discontent erupted into armed conflict.

Hellcannon

The war is multi-sided and features a range of domestic factions: the Syrian Armed Forces and its international allies, a loose alliance of mostly Sunni opposition rebel groups (including the Free Syrian Army), Salafi jihadist groups (including Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham), the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and the ISIS. However, the Syrian Civil War is most certainly an international conflict that features various countries being either directly involved or providing support to one or another faction such as Iran, Russia, Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Almost every side involved in the Syrian Civil War has been heavily criticized for their behavior or actions. The Assad government, ISIS, opposition rebel groups, Russia, Turkey, and the U.S.-led coalition have all been accused of human rights breaches and war crimes. The war has caused the most serious refugee crisis in modern times.

Hellcannon
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Batya (Батя) is the founder of Reaper Feed. He is an international security advisor and a high-risk expedition leader across former and active conflict zones such as Eastern Ukraine, unrecognized post-Soviet states, the North Caucasus, and the Middle East. Batya founded Reaper Feed to provide unprecedented insight into the lesser-seen sides of human conflict and modern warfare. He is from the UK but his work means he is based in various countries around the world.