Syrian President Bashar Assad has employed many diverse and crude weapons against his own civilians in a long internecine attempt to put down a revolution seeking to oust his iron-fisted rule, and another new tool of destruction can be added to that list: the elephant rocket.
Assad's regime on Tuesday unleashed elephant rockets on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma, wreaking havoc and killing at least 27 people in addition to over 60 wounded including many children, reports Al Jazeera citing activists.
The elephant rockets are named after the unusual noise they make after being fired; they are improvised munitions constructed by cobbling together rocket motors to massive bombs.
Due to their unusual construction, the rockets have greatly improved destructive capabilities while accuracy and range are cut significantly, making them a very imprecise and dangerous weapon particularly when used against populated suburbs such as Douma.
Video from Tuesday's attack was posted online and shows residents struggling to rescue a brother and sister trapped in a collapsed building. The girl was pulled alive from the rubble, while her brother was heard still calling for help in the video.
Assad's regime has already been criticized for using other unusual weapons on its civilians, including crude barrel bombs tossed from helicopters as well as chemical weapons.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday he was sure Assad is responsible for a "preponderance" of chemical attacks against citizens.
"I think everybody's patience is wearing thin with respect to the extraordinary depravity of the weaponry and mechanisms for delivery which Assad has used against his own people," said Kerry, who noted he had asked his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to raise the issue with Assad.
Over 230,000 people have died in the bloody war according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, including around 70,000 civilians.