Department of Unusual Ordnance Finds
Field researching and reporting on arms and the arms trade often leads to the same old discoveries in war after war, fight after fight. But most trips also turn up the odd and unusual item.
This pair of disc-shaped ordnance packages bearing Russian labels (above) was one of the unexpected finds in the possession of Ahfad al-Rasul.
They were presented to us as landmines, and, consistent with that pitch they were roughly the size and shape of many factory-made anti-personnel mines. But the Russian suite of AP mines are well-documented, and neither the packaging nor the labels matched any of those. Inside the aged paper wrapping, the next layer of packaging was a black wax-like coating, clearly intended to block moisture. We wouldn’t expect that for AP mines, as such weapons are designed to endure in the elements, and would not require a wax coating for warehouse storage.
A few of us put heads together and are just about sure we’ve pinned down what these are. The proof would be to open the packages, but we neither did that nor encouraged their owners to do it either, as these packages were confiscated by rebels from the Syrian Army, which has been known to leave behind “surprises” (euphemism alert) on ground and bases it yields.
I’ll post the answer tomorrow. Late here, and morning soon will call.
(Guesses or answers to chivers@nytimes.com).
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH
By the author, Deir ash Sharqi, Syria. Last week.

Department of Unusual Ordnance Finds

Field researching and reporting on arms and the arms trade often leads to the same old discoveries in war after war, fight after fight. But most trips also turn up the odd and unusual item.

This pair of disc-shaped ordnance packages bearing Russian labels (above) was one of the unexpected finds in the possession of Ahfad al-Rasul.

They were presented to us as landmines, and, consistent with that pitch they were roughly the size and shape of many factory-made anti-personnel mines. But the Russian suite of AP mines are well-documented, and neither the packaging nor the labels matched any of those. Inside the aged paper wrapping, the next layer of packaging was a black wax-like coating, clearly intended to block moisture. We wouldn’t expect that for AP mines, as such weapons are designed to endure in the elements, and would not require a wax coating for warehouse storage.

A few of us put heads together and are just about sure we’ve pinned down what these are. The proof would be to open the packages, but we neither did that nor encouraged their owners to do it either, as these packages were confiscated by rebels from the Syrian Army, which has been known to leave behind “surprises” (euphemism alert) on ground and bases it yields.

I’ll post the answer tomorrow. Late here, and morning soon will call.

(Guesses or answers to chivers@nytimes.com).

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH

By the author, Deir ash Sharqi, Syria. Last week.

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    Looks like Cheese.
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    Ooh, what’s in the box?!
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