Videos surface of the Russian Air Force raid that shows the damage done to recently restored Layramoun factories
Layramoun, an industrial zone northwest of the Syrian city of Aleppo, was once the industrial and financial heart of Syria. This economically important industrial complex changed hands multiple times during the conflict and today it is controlled by the Syrian rebels. The area was wrecked multiple times, most recently in 2016, when Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA) drove the rebels out of most of Aleppo. Upon its recent rebuilding, it was hit again allegedly by the Russian Airforce. @DFRLab assessed the available open source data to present you the story of the Layramoun indrustrial complex.
Layramoun area fell victim to a lot of destruction as early as the conflict in Syria broke out. On July 7, 2016, the Assad’s forces took the Layramoun industrial complex under their control. The Syrian Army’s 4th Mechanized Division and supporting forces took the brunt of the fighting and many of the rebel weapons, supplies, and armament factories were seized by the Syrian troops. Interestingly, a lot of the equipment was stamped by the Saudi Arabian government. Syrian manufacturers have been allowed to enter and to check on their factories. They started working to rebuild their facilities soon after the SAA took control of the large part of the town.
On May 14, 2018, a new video appeared allegedly showing the Russian Airforce bombing an industrial complex, very similar to the Layramoun. The surfaced video claimed that the damage was done by a Russian Su-34 fighter jet attack. Reverse image search suggested that the video has not been posted before, rendering it likely to be genuine.
@DFRLab geolocated the area to confirm that the captured imagery indeed was Layramoun industrial complex.
The unique shapes of the factory buildings allowed for us to geolocate this area easily. The video presented the factories from two different angles, capturing the moments of destruction of the western most building in the complex.
The Layramoun location, according to the Syria Live Map on May 15, 2018, was still in control of the rebels. This find also supports the argument that the attack actually happened, as the attacked buildings were in the hands of rebels at that time.
An image also surfaced on Twitter, allegedly showing the destruction of the complex. As there were no recognizable geolocation details in the photo, the photo was not verified. The complex seemed to have endured heavy damage and was most likely rendered to be not operational anymore.
Before the conflict broke out, Allepo — especially Layramoun area — was well known for its economic importance, producing textiles, plastics, engineering industries, and pharmaceuticals. After the fall of Allepo in 2016, the area was devastated economically, shutting down most of the production. The area was partly revived in 2016, but the recent Russian Airforce attack clearly added to the worsening situation. The attack, reportedly, was a result of a recent rebel attack on the western Allepo. As the conflict in Syria continues, important civilian and economic infrastructure remain to be recklessly destroyed, further prolonging Syria’s recovery in the future.
@DFRLab will continue to monitor military operations and developments in Syria.
Lukas Andriukaitis is a Digital Forensic Research Associate at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (@DFRLab).
Follow along for more in-depth analysis from our #DigitalSherlocks.