One of our readers submitted a piece of combat footage to us asking for our take on the footage. The video showed an insurgent in what looks to be somewhere in Syria preparing to fire an RPG over a wall. By doing so, his head promptly exploded across the street killing him in a split second. In this article, we’re going to look into what exactly happened and showcase the danger of RPG use.

What happened?

From a poorly maintained weapon to exploding ammunition, there are various theories floating around about what caused this gruesome accident. The reality is rather simple. The insurgent fired the RPG directly into the white chunk of the wall immediately in front of him. The rocket deflected backward and obliterated his head and the launcher. You can see a chunk of wall get broken off by the impact. The following theories are my take on the footage.

1. The insurgent didn’t make sure that his front was clear from obstruction. If you look closely, once he aims, he backs down slightly and the pillar gets in the way.

2. An RPG has a slight delay between the trigger pull and the rocket launch. It’s possible the insurgent pulled the trigger and ducked too soon resulting in the rocket hitting the wall he was using for cover.

3. The sights he is aiming down are above the object but the rocket itself is not. Some basic training on muzzle clearance would probably avoid this but I highly doubt he has had any training. I remember shooting the wall in front of me with a 4x sight on an M4. I took a shot and never saw dust kick up behind or around my target. It left me a little confused until I noticed the freshly-scarred rock in front of my barrel. Taught me to be very careful about my muzzle clearance.

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.

Insurgent

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.

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.

Insurgent

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.

So there you have it, my take on the now-infamous video of the involuntary suicide of a Syrian insurgent. If you have a different theory as to what happened or would like to add your take on the incident, comment below.

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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.