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Anatomy of a Sarin Bomb Explosion (Part II)

April 20, 2017

By Dan Kaszeta

Translations: Русский

Introduction

Part I describes the basic behaviour and intended function of an air-delivered gravity bomb containing Sarin, designed along US/USSR cold war lines. When we left off in Part I, a well-crafted gravity bomb will have dispensed its Sarin broadly along this distribution:

  • Aerosol: The majority of the contents will have been dispensed as a finely divided mist of small droplets.
  • Vapour: A small amount of Sarin will be in vapour state from the elevated temperature of the explosion.
  • Liquid: Some Sarin will be in liquid form in the crater and immediate vicinity of the explosion, having been dispersed in drops too big to form an aerosol. Other bits of liquid are likely to be on the surface of fragments of the bomb.
  • Destroyed/Decomposed: A non-trivial percentage of the Sarin will have been destroyed by the explosion, or even have degraded before the bomb was used.

How does Sarin Work?

Sarin, also commonly known by its old NATO nickname GB, is one of a family of chemical warfare agents known as nerve agents.   It was invented by German scientists in 1938-1939 who were performing research on organophosphorous pesticides led by Dr. Gerhard Schrader. Sarin was named by the team of researchers who invented it. It is in a family of chemicals known as organophosphates. There are other chemicals within this family, including the chemical warfare agents Tabun, Soman, VX, and the pesticides Malathion, Parathion, and Amiton.

All of the nerve agents affect the human body’s nervous system. The human nervous system requires a delicate balance of chemicals to regulate itself. Nerve agents bind to a chemical known as acetylcholinesterase and, in doing so, disrupt the electrochemical reactions required for the body to operate properly. The binding of acetylcholinesterase leads to a build-up of acetylcholine, which then in turn leads to a syndrome called a “cholinergic crisis”. In effect, the nervous system starts to over-act and muscles and glands start to work over-time and cause serious problems. The signs and symptoms will vary in severity and timeline depending on the route of exposure and dose (i.e. the amount of Sarin absorbed). This will be discussed at length below.

Routes of Exposure: How can Sarin enter the human body?

There are several ways Sarin can enter the human body. These are called “routes of exposure” and are as follows:

  • Respiratory: Sarin in vapour or aerosol form can be inhaled.
  • Ocular: Sarin can be absorbed by the eyes.
  • Dermal: Sarin in liquid form, or a very high concentration of aerosol or vapour (many times higher than that which is lethal through inhalation).
  • Via Wound: Through a disruption in the skin. This would generally only occur if Sarin in liquid form was on a fragment or sharp object and it entered into the human body. This is a rare scenario.
  • Gastrointestinal: Sarin can enter the body if ingested. This would happen if it was in food or drink, for example. However, Sarin rapidly degrades in the presence of water and moisture, so this is also a fairly exotic scenario.

Sarin acts very quickly through respiratory and ocular exposure, with onset of adverse effects within seconds to a few minutes depending on dose. Absorption through the skin is slower, i.e. minutes to hours, depending on dose. Rate of action for wound exposure is believed to be intermediate in speed between respiratory and dermal absorption. Gastrointestinal absorption is not well documented but is likely to be fast.

Sarin, as it is less persistent and evaporates at a faster rate relative to the other nerve agents, is foremost an inhalation hazard. Absorption through skin takes time, and even someone with liquid Sarin on their skin is extremely likely to suffer inhalation effects from the Sarin evaporating off of their clothing and skin, except in very cold weather. In moderate or warm temperature situations, the only realistic exposure scenarios for a “liquid Sarin only, through skin absorption” are for partially protected troops already wearing protective masks or donning them very quickly at the onset of a chemical attack. So, with unprotected target populations, the route of exposure of most significance is inhalation of aerosol and vapour.

Signs and Symptoms:

The “cholinergic crisis” that Sarin (and its other cousins in the same family) provokes manifests itself in signs (things that are externally observable) and symptoms (subjective indications felt by the victim that are difficult or impossible to observe). This graphic, taken from the canonical Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare (various editions accessible online) lists the major signs and symptoms:

Rhinorrhea is a fancy term for a profusely snotty nose. Miosis means pinpointing of the pupils. The rest is either self explanatory or you can look it up in a normal dictionary if unsure.

The order in which signs and symptoms appear and their severity will vary both with degree of exposure and route of exposure. For Sarin, this is principally inhalation. This graphic describes this exposure category in detail:

 

In the event of liquid absorption through skin, signs and symptoms progress differently. This is really more relevant for the more persistent, slower evaporating agents like Tabun and VX. In the case of Sarin exposure, an unprotected person with lots of Sarin liquid on them will get respiratory exposure from evaporation, and this is very likely to happen faster than dermal exposure. With Sarin, the likely exposure scenario is for someone who has protective equipment for their respiratory tract and eyes (e.g. a gas mask) but unprotected skin. For comparison purposes, this is the progression of signs/symptoms for dermal exposure:

When people die from nerve agent exposure, the mechanism of death is almost always a pulmonary death. Such respiratory failure, which denies the body oxygen happens through several mechanisms with nerve agent poisoning. Depending on route of exposure and dose, any or all of these will be the exact mechanism by which death occurs:

  • Bronchoconstriction – narrowing of the air passageways in the lungs
  • Bronchorrhoea – buildup of water sputum in the respiratory tract

  • Central Apnea – the brain stops sending signals to breathe.

  • Paralysis of the muscles needed for respiration

All of these conditions can cause cyanosis , a tell-tale blueish discolouring of skin due to oxygen deprivation.

What levels of Sarin are dangerous?

Most studies of the toxicity of Sarin are derived from data involving animal research. Much of the information is now quite dated, having been developed in the 1950s and 1960s. These should all be taken with a reasonable margin for error. However, the following chart from the US Army’s Field Manual 3-11-9 is as useful a summary as any I’ve seen. Anyone interest in the footnotes can go to the Field manual and look them up, although some of the references are to studies and documents not readily available online. You might need a good research library.

Unpacking the numbers

These numbers probably mean little to most readers so I am going to unpack this at some length. Concentration is measured in milligrams per cubic meter. As there is almost nothing in toxicology that’s instant, concentration is measured over a time domain. So for things like vapor exposure, the figures used are in milligrams per cubic meter per minute. For example 50 mg-min/m3 means 50 mgs of Sarin per 1 cubic meter of air for a period of 1 minute.

Toxicity by inhalation

The key figure here is something called 50th percentile Lethal Concentration – LCt50. This is the concentration that is reckoned to kill half of the exposed population, assuming a normal adult male (these studies were all based around Cold War soldiers) breathing at 15 liters of air per minute. This is the MV (‘respiratory minute volume’) on the table. This is equivalent to a soldier engaged in moderate activity.   (Someone asleep will be breathing slower, someone running full tilt is likely to be higher.) So, for Sarin, breathing 35 mg Sarin in aerosol or vapour, per cubic meter of air, continuously for 2 minutes, will kill about 50% of the exposed people. This is extremely lethal. By comparison, the similar figure for phosgene, the most lethal chemical weapon used in World War 1, is about 1500 mg-min/m3.

For severely debilitating effects, the figure for Sarin is 25 mg-min/m3, again over the course of 2 minutes, not much less than the lethal figure. It is likely that there would be some lethality at this level. For mild effects, the threshold is around 0.4 mg.

Toxicity by absorption of vapour/aerosol through skin:

Sarin vapor and aerosol can enter through the skin. However, if you examine the table, these effects require a FAR HIGHER level of concentration and longer exposure. Lethal concentrations (LCt50) for this route of exposure are 6000 to 12000 mg-min/m3 for much longer durations of exposure (30 mins to 6 hours). This is an entirely difference exposure scenario. (The differences in the figures in the table are for differing air temperatures.) So, yes, Sarin is lethal through a route of permeation through the skin, but only at levels that are literally hundreds of times higher than the levels that are dangerous for respiration. The figures for severe effects (4000-800) and minor effects (600-1200) are correspondingly lower, but still MUCH HIGHER than effective concentration levels for absorption via the respiratory route. It should be noted that a very dense aerosol may result in some condensation or deposit of liquid on skin, which behaves as described in the next paragraph.

Toxicity by absorption of liquid on skin:

Percutaneous liquid exposure takes time, as was noted above. Time of exposure is a bit different here, and is less significant than the amount absorbed through the skin. A large gob of Sarin landing mostly on outer clothing and almost instantly removed by decontamination may result in less net absorption of Sarin into the body than a small droplet on the back of the neck that goes unnoticed until symptoms appear.

LD50 for Sarin is calculated at 1700 mg for a 70 kg male. This means that, for a normal 70kg human male, 1700 mg of Sarin absorbed into the human body would kill about half of the people with that level of poisoning. Statistically, some would die with less, and some could survive with a much higher exposure. ED50 is the level of exposure for serious, disabling effects. For Sarin it is 1000 mg for the same assumptions. Note that at this level of dose, some are likely to die. This is an awful lot of Sarin when compared to the amounts that are needed to kill or seriously incapacitate people through inhalation.

The behaviour of Sarin on skin is important. Several things happen when Sarin is on human skin:

  • Some of it is absorbed through the skin into the human body. This Sarin does not readily come back out of the human body. It is busy binding itself to chemicals in the nervous system. Rather a lot of it is degrading in the blood stream into other things, as the blood is still largely water. But there is not a ready mechanism for Sarin that has been absorbed in the body to come back out and be harmful for others.
  • A lot of it evaporates, depending on temperature, both of the skin and ambient temperature of the environment. Due to proximately of the mouth and nose, this means that Sarin on skin may be more acutely a respiratory hazard than an absorption hazard.
  • One of the more immediate effects is the stimulation of sweat glands. Even low level exposure to Sarin can produce much sweating. However, sweat is largely water. And Sarin is both water soluble and reacts with water to break down into less hazardous substances. So, some Sarin on skin is likely to be removed or neutralised. This has not been well-studied and I do not know if this is a major or minor factor.

For those who are curious, here’s what some of the other columns mean:

  • ROD – Rate of detoxification. The rate at which the human body can render the toxic substance safe.
  • DOC – Degree of confidence. Basically, how accurate do the authors of the field manual believe these figures are.
  • TLE and Probit Slope: These are mathematical concepts that are a bit complex for discussion here and have to do with how you extrapolate the given toxicity figures for other combinations of concentration and time. If you really want to get your head around this, see pages II-7 to II-9 in the Field Manual.

Applying this knowledge to field scenarios:

Now that we understand the practical toxicology here, it is easy to analyze exposure scenarios in the field. It is clear from the toxicological data that Sarin is far more efficient as a killer in an aerosol or vapour form, easily by several orders of magnitude. A weapon system that dispenses its contents in the form of liquid would largely be a waste of expensive Sarin. So, we are now understandably back to the concept of a weapon system that is designed and tested to optimize the quantity of aerosol.

In our suspected scenario in April 2017, there is a well-substantiated allegation that an air-dropped Sarin bomb was dropped. It appears to have functioned as designed and created an aerosol that drifted downwind, as the victims were a distance away from the bomb. Any person close enough to have been splashed with some liquid was probably close enough to the bomb to die very quickly. In any case, the impact point appears to be in the middle of a road.

So, for a person to be seriously ill or to die, there is a need to create an aerosol of a concentration of 25 to 50 mg-min/m3. So, people exposed to an aerosol of this density will get sick and easily could die. People exposed to an aerosol of only 2 or 5 mg-min/m3 may easily get very ill, particularly if they are in it for minutes. But think it through. A cubic meter is a lot of air. And that’s a very small amount of Sarin. How much Sarin is actually going to get deposited on their skin, hair, and clothing. A few milligrams, maximum.

Next, these people either escape or are carried away a significant distance and then receive emergency treatment. There are firm reports of responders going to rescue people becoming victims. However there are videos taken in locations some distance away from the impact site. People wearing little or no protective gear are seen handling the victims. Why are they not being seriously affected by Sarin? The simple answer is that these victims were affected by aerosol and/or vapour. Very little material actually got deposited on them. Even if it did, it would have been in the order of a few milligrams. And it takes 1700 milligrams over a period of time to kill someone by simple absorption. Responders aren’t falling over because, simply, the math doesn’t work and Sarin isn’t a magical substance.

Why then do emergency responders in more developed/better equipped situations train to wear full protective equipment? For several reasons. Emergency responders wear equipment that is prescribed through obeisance to occupational health and safety regulations, not a “what can I get away with and not die” ethos. Second, in the early stages of an incident, the chemical agent that was used may not be known. Even if you knew it was a nerve agent, you aren’t likely to know it was Sarin and not one of its more persistent cousins. VX, for example, is a different game altogether being primarily a contact/liquid hazard and requiring more skin protection when dealing with victims.

The bottom line is that Sarin evaporates quickly, not much is needed to do harm to people, and people who are exposed only to aerosol and vapour are a minimal contact or respiratory hazard to others. Even given this, some responders reported illness. So, the “Responders didn’t die on film so it wasn’t Sarin” is an incorrect line to take here and displays a basic ignorance of the facts.

Dan Kaszeta

Dan is the managing director of Strongpoint Security Ltd, and lives and works in London, UK. He has 26 years experience in CBRN response, security, and antiterrorism.

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86 Comments

  1. Andrea

    I still have to read it…
    but guys… you have to better schedule your releases… all at same time isn’t effective 😉

    Reply
  2. Ghostship

    “there is a well-substantiated allegation that an air-dropped Sarin bomb was dropped.”
    No there is not. All we have are reports from people on the scene who are mostly connected to HTS/Al Nusrah/Al Qaeda so not the most impartial of sources. Yet again Bellingcat decides on the conclusion then “fixes” the evidence to justify that conclusion – a habit frequently demonstrated by the UK government and HMG-funded NGOs.
    BTW, someone who was part of a chemical warfare unit is most likely no more than a technician and not a expert in the field, so Bellingcat is using a “citizen scientist” to produce the conclusions of this report. Can’t HMG afford a scientist out of Porton Down?

    Reply
    • DDTea

      Here we have a case study in Russian disinformation “4D” strategy: Deflect, discredit, dismiss, deny.

      “All we have are reports from people on the scene who are mostly connected to HTS/Al Nusrah/Al Qaeda so not the most impartial of sources.”

      Ghostship attempts to dismiss every piece of eyewitness testimony, video evidence, radar data, test results from four OPCW labs. The evidence is overwhelming, so he chooses to simply dismiss it without engaging it.

      “BTW, someone who was part of a chemical warfare unit is most likely no more than a technician and not a expert in the field, ”

      An example of an attempt to discredit the source rather than engage the overwhelming evidence. Dan laid out a detailed and well-referenced (to peer-reviewed literature) description of the physiological effects of Sarin, the reasons why it would not be present at the impact site, and why first medics would not be affected by secondary contamination.

      Dan’s CV is publicly available if anyone cares to look at it. Clearly Ghostship couldn’t be bothered to take the 10 seconds to find it online, instead choosing to type out a comment without doing his research. I think that says everything about his regard for facts and data.

      Reply
      • kalashnikov

        Oh, look who is complaining of 4D (Deflect, discredit, dismiss, deny) strategy, this guy:

        “Ghostship attempts to dismiss every piece of eyewitness testimony, video evidence, radar data, test results from four OPCW labs.”

        – Radar data: NO evidence at all, since Syria has never denied it conducted airstrikes on Khan Sheikhoun, actually “airstrike” has a place in their own version of the story. What they have been claiming is that, one of their aircrafts bombed a depot. Oh you should know the story…
        – OPCW: The last time I saw, OPCW report blamed no party. It didn’t say/imply ‘chemical dropped by aircrafts’ Don’t put a spin on it.
        And OPCW didn’t say “It was sarin” but “The results of the analysis indicate that the victims were exposed to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance.” So not confident about sarin exposure.
        – Don’t manipulate the debate as if “Sarin usage = Assad” ‘Rebels’ could have sarin, it’s not a rocket science…

        And let’s focus on the main question: Cui Bono?

        Reply
        • DDTea

          “The results of the analysis indicate that the victims were exposed to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance.” So not confident about sarin exposure.”

          The statement “sarin or sarin-like substance” did not raise flags in my head. Let me take a step back: the molecules sarin, soman, cyclosarin, thiosarin, thiosoman, and chlorosarin are different nerve agents that all possess a common molecular fragment. They decompose to the same molecule, methylphosphonic acid, from environmental exposure or in the body. They have different physical properties and somewhat different potencies, but in many regards they “look” the same to an analytical chemist.

          “Cui Bono?” — it’s really not the most important question, because there are numerous tactical benefits to Assad or Russia for using Sarin. The rebels have less of an obvious benefit: if we accept that Ghouta was a “false flag” attack, then it can only be described as a failure to trigger a critical military intervention. And it came at the expense of their own limited troops and their families. Why would they try again when the odds of intervention seemed even slimmer? Why not use their Sarin super weapon against government troops, where it might do them more good? They don’t have to worry about losing support from their benefactors: Turkey, KSA, and Qatar, gave them the Sarin, so they’re cool with the rebels using it. I mean, they’re jihadists and fundamentalists!

          Reply
          • Olli

            . Why would they try again?

            Because POTUS struggled within USA and desperately needed to distract attention

          • stranger

            “because there are numerous tactical benefits to Assad or Russia for using Sarin”
            Tell us more please, what is a “tactical benefit” to use sarin for Russia?! Have you completely lost your mind? Sorry, usually I try to be polite.

          • stranger

            “The rebels have less of an obvious benefit”
            “Why not use their Sarin super weapon against government troops, where it might do them more good? ”
            ISIS does use chemical weapon in Mosul. Why the mass media doesn’t yell about it? The AlQueda and other disguised under the label of “moderate opposition” do benefit the support of the so called western countries. The west and not only Saudi or Turkey provides them with the modern weapon and whiten via mass media. It would be a suicide for them to use CW. Their lives literally depend on that support.
            IF they are behind this attack their motive is obvious, try to pull the west into the war against Assad, try to get Russia out of support of Assad, which Tillerson recently tried visiting Moscow. After all they might have wanted to distract attention from the humanitarian crisis in Mosul which is no less than it was in Aleppo. That doesn’t mean they were always able to reach this aim, but they could have tried. They have an obvious motive. That doesn’t mean they are guilty. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore this version too.

      • stranger

        DDTea, you are behaving like a desinformation troll yourself. You are trying convince everybody in your predefined conclusion without having evidences nor considerations convincing enough. When you have no more arguments you are trying to attack personally to label an opponent a “Russian troll” so that anything the opponent is saying would be discarded.

        Reply
        • Mad Dog

          Nope, DDTea is refuting the very short synopsis provided by Ghostship to discredit the long article by Dan. Even Dan says “In our suspected scenario in April 2017”, which shows he is trying to piece together evidence to show that all those naysayers out there who said the rescuers should have died etc. are probably very ignorant of the real facts behind Sarin usage. Yet, Ghostship just uses the typical RT line that all info come from Jihadis and Dan is not qualified….Bwa, ha, ha! How about the “In our suspected scenario in April 2017” as offered by the Russians. Please tell us how a warehouse explosion would create an aerosol that would descend far from the explosion. (well, maybe Ghostship has more information on that ‘warehouse’)

          Reply
          • stranger

            DDTea has no proves convincing enough to claim that exactly Assad is behind this gas attack, nevetherless he is trying hard to impose this single sided version on us. That is just a version so far. With this respect he is behaving like a desinformation troll. If you think that only Russia hire trolls and only Russia is lying you are very delusioned. And I’m not sure Russia does. I’m not finger point on anybody to be a troll, I’m saying he is behaving like one. I remember how many times I was accused to be a paid Russian troll here myself.
            As for the CW warehouse I have the same facts as you do and may be less, because I didn’t research this deeply. The only official position of Russia is – conduct the investigation, send the experts to the site of the attack(!) not only to Turkish hospitals and Assad’s airfield.
            I’m not sure that after the so called “western countries”, which is US and always dancing by their tune U.K., have invented so much politics into this version, the investigation would be any objective. But anyway just do it.

          • Ghostship

            “In our suspected scenario in April 2017”

            Funny how “suspected scenario” immediately morphs into “a well-substantiated allegation”.

            “In our suspected scenario in April 2017, there is a well-substantiated allegation that an air-dropped Sarin bomb was dropped.”

            If you are going to quote people make sure you quote them in full. It’s quite clear from all Mr Kaszeta’s statements that there is no doubt in his mind that it was a bomb dropped by the SAAF.
            BTW, his science seems flawed:
            “A cubic meter is a lot of air.”
            No, it’s not. An average person (cross-sectional area ~ 0.5 sq metres)walking at a brisk pace (2m/s) would sweep through that volume in 1 second while someone standing still in a light breeze would sweep through 1.5 cu. metres per second.

            “Please tell us how a warehouse explosion would create an aerosol that would descend far from the explosion.”

            You do understand what an aerosol is and thus why it might descend at a distance?

            It’s obvious that a large proportion of the people who it’s claimed were exposed to a chemical agent are dead so one question I have is if so many people received a lethal dose why does nobody demonstrate the typical symptoms of receiving that high a dose. Nowhere have we seen any evidence that any of the dead pissed or shitted themselves. With one or two people receiving a lethal dose I could understand seeing no evidence but with close to a hundred dead it’s statistically very improbable that you’d see no such symptoms.

        • Zaida

          What is the credibility of a
          former KGB boss like Putin?
          Russia is now using the same disinformation tactiics it used in Soviet times.
          Would take a long time to compile a list of Putin’s crimes.

          Reply
          • Mad Dog

            Stranger, where is the bloody warehouse? There is no need to investigate, there is plenty of information available on the Russky/SAA side. They said it, they said they bombed it, they have the coordinates of where they bombed, so why can they not provide convincing information. How about because it does not exist. All this other stuff is just typical RT type of diversion.

        • Zaida

          What is the credibility of a
          former KGB boss like Putin?
          Russia is now using the same disinformation tactics it used in Soviet times.
          Would take a long time to compile a list of Putin’s crimes.

          Reply
      • Olli

        The evidence is not overwhelming but completely absent.
        There are no any documented evidence.
        No one.

        Reply
          • Woody

            Well, kind of evidence they had in the JFK shooting, something that really confuses by its illogics. But the best part is that we are no longer looking for the missiles the eyewitnesses reported about, its a bomb. Next week its a mine.

          • DDTea

            What are you a pedant? If a civilian says an aircraft “missile,” it’s reasonable to conclude they might be talking about a “bomb” as well. It’s something that fell from an aircraft that went boom.

            But it surely does *not* mean a mine, a chemical warehouse, or a pipe with a bomb on top. Talk about illogic… Would you believe that garbage if Trump or Bush said it?

      • Ghostship

        His CV means nothing but I looked on JSTOR to see if he’d published anything but nada.
        “Here we have a case study in Russian disinformation “4D” strategy: Deflect, discredit, dismiss, deny.”
        Is that your most intelligent response to anyone who questions your world view?

        Reply
        • DDTea

          Nope. The intelligence of my responses mirrors the intelligence of the post I’m replying to.

          Reply
      • Ghostship

        “Ghostship attempts to dismiss every piece of eyewitness testimony,”

        So you trust everything that HTS/Al Nusrah/Al Qaeda say then? You are aware that HTS/Al Nusrah/Al Qaeda or whatever else it decides to call itself is a terrorist organisation with a genocidal agenda?

        Reply
        • Azriel

          Put aside everything HTS has supposedly said. Do you think that the narrative of Putin and Assad on the matter is trusthworthy and consistent with facts on the ground? Be honest.

          I mean when the Bush administration wanted to attack Saddam for having WMD people screamed for “proof” like vultures. When it comes to Assad/Putin claiming that they supposedly hit a chemical weapons depot beloning to HTS they simply forget to question the matter.

          Being a terrorist doesnt mean that you lie more than anyone else. In fact, terrorist, like IS or al-Qaida, are very open with their terrorist agenda. They don’t have to prove to the world that they are “good people”, unlike the Assad regime who has an interest of denying all kinds of misconduct to secure the image of being “secular and civilized” in order to secure national and international support.

          Reply
          • Woody

            Again, reversed proof of quilt is meaningful here. No one is saying there was no sarin. No one is saying the aircraft did not fly in the area.
            So you have 90 % of the story explained? Then how on earth do you explain the visible results not matching the case? Take a look the last French report punlished today. It explains numerous issues related to the mechanism of delivery of purported 2013 case but it fails to say nothing of the Khan S case that everybody suspects. How dubious is that? This thing starts to smell because the obvious parts missing from the picture are kept out of our eyes. Such conduct of France today does not meet the high criteria of objectivity in information supply that democratic countries seek to bolster. Why did France not lift this issue in report for that had secured some respectability?

          • DDTea

            There is no “reversed proof of guilt” here. There is a damning case against Assad and at this point, denials are looking more and more pathetic. Assad is using nerve agents, and has been proven to have done so on at least one occasion (Saraqeb). Thus the SAA is a prime suspect in the other Sarin cases in Syria.

            1. A helicopter dropped Sarin grenades in Saraqib. The rebels have no helicopters. French intelligence captured an unexploded grenade and profiled the chemical composition of its filler, noting the idiosyncratic presence of hexamine. They did not disclose this until yesterday. This a strong indictment of Assad loyalists using the nerve agents which they were known to possess–and which they admitted to having in 2013.

            2. Hexamine residues were detected in the vicinity of Sarin decomposition products at the sites of other Sarin attacks (Ghouta and Khan Sheikhoun) by multiple OPCW labs running validated test methods. Once again, this is idiosyncratic of regime Sarin. Combined with the surge of victims to hospitals in Turkey (where they would be safe from rebel reprisal) telling the same story of a plane dropping a projectile that dispersed toxic fumes, once again this is a strong indictment of the regime. The plane was an Su-22 that was tracked from Shayrat airbase, by the way. What next: rebels, (or the CIA) captured an Su-22 and were given permission by the regime to fly it from Shayrat to gas their own comrades so that they could invite an American intervention against the regime….oh nevermind.

            3. It would be truly remarkable for any of the state sponsors of the rebels–all of whom are signatories to the CWC and subject to inspections–to clandestinely manufacture Sarin and to arrive at the same composition as the Syrian regime. To further suggest that they were willing to give the rebels nerve agents, but not MANPADs or other tactically useful weapons, defies credibility.

            4. To suggest that the rebels manufactured so much Sarin in the Syrian battlefield is ludicrous. This has been discussed ad nauseum, no pun intended.

            As an aside, LeMonde reported Sarin grenades being used in Jobar (eastern Damascus) by the regime months before the infamous August 21 attack. ( Le Monde, Chemical Warfare in Syria, 27 May 2013 , see video).

            What’s remarkable to me is the consistency of the accounts of victims in the LeMonde video as well as the other proven Sarin incidents (Ghouta in August 2013, Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017):

            Fighter: “We heard an explosion, and we smelled the odor, we immediately had trouble breathing. Our vision was blurred. And we had headaches. We had really bad headaches.”

            Doctor: “They had rashes, red eyes, and constricted pupils. They suffered from nausea, vomiting, and some were coughing up blood. … One hour later, I felt the same symptoms”

            We’ve discussed at length the origin of odors in Sarin, and we have discussed symptoms of Sarin in depth.

          • Woody

            It is amazing how the proof is established by luring media to repeat something. As for you yourself, you have never arrived into any logical explanation for the crater that does not meet any criteria – besides your own hypothesis. You surely have no idea what a road looks like after hit impact of 10 kg TNT like you said or more likely far greater amount required in explosion that destroys a projectile carrying 200 kg warhead of sarin.
            Saraqib helicopter attack – this is again pure hearsay.
            SU-22 flightpaths did not match a bomb drop site – mind you that we still argue if it was a torpedo?
            And you say that the state sponsors are not suppling rebels with various things? When was the last time that you have read that ISIS has run out of ammos? Or any other rebel group? Just read ICJ Nicaragua so you will understand that state sponsors are violating Int law, so does it bother them if they add something on top of it? Its been proven that Qaidas got part of chemical warheads in the beginning of the war so I would not be surprised if those were still attainable by the rebels.
            After the release made yesterday by France, I think that even you are holding the laughter at that report, so mixing Le Monde to this issue is just pure amusement.
            Remarkable here is that MSM pushes that tiny crater caused by an insect’s fart to be a hitpoint of + 300 kg warhead. Get real here.

          • DDTea

            “You surely have no idea what a road looks like after hit impact of 10 kg TNT like you said or more likely far greater amount required in explosion that destroys a projectile carrying 200 kg warhead of sarin.”

            60-100 kg of Sarin is my best estimate of the payload. Much below 60 kg, and the explosive:sarin ratio becomes too large (based on examples of US sarin bombs); much above 100 kg, and we’d expect a lot more dead. Explosive estimate is based on the size of the crater–up to 10 kg of high explosive.

            If you think a “far greater” amount than 10 kg (which is probably overkill, in all honesty) is required to disperse even 200 kg of Sarin and destroy the bomb, your sense of perspective regarding high explosives is off. I’ve referred you to a video of 5 kg of TNT inside of a car.[1]

            From this document[2] on fuel air explosives, a charge of 1-2% of the fuel weight is typical to disperse the liquid into a cloud. So 1-2 kg TNT for 100 kg fuel. Above 2.5 kg and it doesn’t really affect the shape of the cloud. This is true for ethylene/propylene oxide, but it might vary for Sarin (which is more dense and less volatile). Either way: a little bit of high explosive goes a long way.

            “Remarkable here is that MSM pushes that tiny crater caused by an insect’s fart to be a hitpoint of + 300 kg warhead. Get real here.”

            That crater isn’t “tiny.” It isn’t huge, but it’s deep enough for a grown adult to crouch in comfortably. And nobody here is talking about a +300 kg bomb either.

            [1]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhTiRYwJqHY
            5 kg of TNT inside of a car. Typical car length is 4.5-4.8 meters. Using a ruler, you can show that airborne metal objects are about 40 meters away before they fly off camera, still airborne and 15 meters above the ground. Other objects flew higher than 45 meters above the detonation.
            [2] http://www.mineactionstandards.org/fileadmin/MAS/documents/technical-notes/TN_09.30_04_2001_FAE_V.10_Amd_1_01.pdf

    • Dan Kaszeta

      Mr. Ghostship,

      My “guy who part of a chemical warfare unit” days were the beginning of my career. I’ve worked for 26 years. My biography is largely in the public domain. So, if you are going to criticise my CV, please do so from an informed position. You also seem to imply that I am funded by HMG, whereas that is most demonstrably not the case. It is also worth adding that, as an independent consultant, I’m in a far better position to comment independently than government employees.

      regards,

      The Author

      Reply
      • Ghostship

        “You also seem to imply that I am funded by HMG,”
        No I didn’t. I suggested that Bellingcat could have done better job of presenting its case if it had “borrowed” a Porton Down scientist to write the article.
        As for your CV, you appear to have a non-scientific background. BTW, have you published any articles in scientific journals on chemical weapons and warfare?

        Reply
        • DDTea

          He probably hasn’t, but then he never claimed to be a scientist either. And it’s not really relevant: he cited several peer-reviewed sources. If you disagree with his presentation of that data, you’re free to look into the primary/secondary literature yourself and draw your own conclusions. Come on, don’t take the path of intellectual laziness: dig in. Much of it is publicly available, including “The Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare.”

          But if you can’t come up with specific points of disagreement, then why are you making so much noise?

          Reply
          • Woody

            With your reasoning, you encourage people to value evidence yet you yourself have never given any viable explanation to the crater.

            You lift up here people like Dan K, with no academic merits and yet you are able to toss off MIT professor – yes, he is just a professor…

            This entire case awaits now that the French bring in their mambo jambo evidence as they promised.

            I bet you 1:10 that the residue of the bomb/mine/missile/rocket/torpedo in the crater does not survive into the hands of objective researchers. In that case – Elefant is relevant – Assad has only to win if that piece of crap from the crater is looked into by third parties.

          • DDTea

            “With your reasoning, you encourage people to value evidence yet you yourself have never given any viable explanation to the crater.”

            Except I did offer a hypothesis. A piece of ordnance that fell from the sky delivering 60-100 kg of sarin dispersed by up to 10 kg of high explosive. In other words, an equivalent of a US MC-1 or Mk94 sarin bomb.

            “You lift up here people like Dan K, with no academic merits and yet you are able to toss off MIT professor – yes, he is just a professor…”

            I’m not elevating anyone. I’m pointing out that on this topic, DK has more subject matter expertise than TP and has provided us with verifiable data. On the other hand, TP has made statements about sarin that are demonstrably (and laughably) false, cited zero references, and relied on dubious advisers. Accepting TP’s hypothesis requires us to bend reality and suspend our disbelief. And having to suspend your disbelief is the hallmark of fictional narratives.

          • Woody

            Dearest DDTea,
            out of curiosity and in order to understand if our views of facts can ever merge, could you comment the following:
            Do you believe into evolution theory or do you believe in creationism? I myself am a firm supporter of evolution theory but I have noticed that once these two schools collide, there is little room for any fruitful argumentation.

        • Dan Kaszeta

          Mr. Ghostship,

          Let me address your points. Your first point. The UK government is not going to let a civil servant employee of DSTL Porton Down blog on this stuff for Bellingcat, or anyone else. It’s silly to suggest that.

          Your second point. I am, indeed, not a scientist, but I have 26 years of combined experience in military and civil CBRN defense across a wide variety of subdisciplines. I have over 2000 hours of rather specialised training above and beyond my admitted non-scientific bachelor’s and master’s degrees. To be honest, fully fledged chemists and chemical engineers are rare in the ranks of CBRN responders, although the do exist and I count a number of them as valued colleagues. Some of my best work I can say, actually, has been as a historian of the US chemical weapons program, having both in official and unofficial capacities been studying that program, particularly cold-war era nerve agent weapons, to a pedantic degree of detail. I’ve worked on detection, decontamination, individual and collective protection, emergency planning, medical countermeasures, and ran a highly regarded training program for 6 years. Do you seriously think I would have worked in CBRN at the White House under 2 different administrations if I was a charlatan? Regarding my publications. I have published numerous articles on CBRN related subjects, but relatively few of them are in scientific journals. I’ve done a number of conference papers, generally well regarded. I do have peer-reviewed publications, but they are not on the subject of chemical weapons. My chemical weapons related articles tend to be in CBRNe World, a non-peer reviewed but ferociously edited specialty publication. I do have a widely regarded book, CBRN and Hazmat Incidents at Major Public Events, which went through a fairly serious vetting and review process at my publisher (Wiley, 2012 – buy it on Amazon). Honestly, I would love to have some time for more academic work and peer reviewed stuff. To be brutally fair, I tend to write articles that someone will somehow pay me a bit for, as one has bills to pay. Academics who draw a salary for being an academic are expected to write that stuff as part of their duties. For me, it takes time out of hide from consulting work. But I sense you aren’t looking for an essay on how and why my career is the way it is.

          Reply
          • Mad Dog

            Yeah, but Dan, you don’t have the proper degrees and your time-stamp is all wrong, plus you have not told us about all that money George Soros pays you to do this stuff…..Egads, I HAVE been watching too much RT!

    • Bubslug

      I agree there is definitely not good evidence a sarin bomb was dropped. Or if there is, no one has produced it. The green “122mm” tube found in the impact crater which is crushed, split and stippled on one side is not what the burster tube inside a sarin bomb would look like if exploded from the inside. I doubt there would be anything left of it that big.

      Plus we apparently have no other shrapnel like the tail section of the bomb, which the rebels would be displaying prominently if it existed.

      My guess is the crumpled green tube in the crater was exploded laying on the asphalt to create the “bomb” fragment and attack crater as part of a false flag. Possibly it contained sarin, or maybe not. Possibly the 3 new (since Feb 21) impact sites east of the asphalt impact crater in the field and on the roof of the warehouse were a rebel executed grad rocket attack from outside the town meant to fool any witnesses into thinking that an aerial attack had occurred.

      If it turns out to be true that the UK and others on the OPCW executive council voted down a proposal to investigate the impact and other sites in Khan Shaykhun, the public should be asking why. There might be a reasonable explanation, but it doesn’t feel like they truly want a comprehensive investigation, meaning that internally UK intelligence thinks it’s a false flag also.

      Reply
    • Ghost Dog Fox

      Wow , you’re a proper nefarious idiot . Well done in proactively enhancing your credentials

      Reply
  3. frank

    I am looking at 2013 NIOSH Sarin toxicity on pubmed, and I see skin human LD50 at 25 MICROgrams per kilo, and oral toxicity at 2micrograms per kilo. Data that Sarin is released from CLOTHING for 30 mins after exposure suggests that going anywhere near Sarin contaminated victims without the best protection would likely be fatal

    Reply
    • Dan Kaszeta

      Oral toxicity implies ingestion generally. Also, there is the matter of mass. If a person is in a cloud of, say, 25 mg of Sarin per cubic meter of air, there simply isn’t the mass to permeate much into clothing. We can do an estimate of how much of that 25 mg is actually in contact with the clothing. So, yes, you make a point about the clothing. But if there isn’t material to off-gas from clothing, there isn’t the material.

      Reply
      • frank

        Thanks for the response. I did not have the time to look at the NIOSH data : I can’t really work out why they have 2 different skin LD50 reading for human – one in the micrograms and one much larger. But the second link seems to suggest that differing tests have resulted in widely different results, so perhaps the NIOSH data uses multiple sources.

        Reply
  4. kalashnikov

    Interesting!

    I have seen no effort to question White House Syria report, that states SOLELY y sarin that caused the deaths in Khan Sheikhoun. https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3553049/Syria-Chemical-Weapons-Report-White-House.pdf

    – MSF (based on the reports provided by a field hospital in Bab al-Hawa that treated chemical incident victims) said “victims of the attack on Khan Sheikhoun were exposed to at least two different chemical agents.”

    – And Turkish CBRN team reports chlorine exposure
    exposure…http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-sends-report-to-un-over-possible-chlorine-gas-attack-.aspx?PageID=238&NID=111675&NewsCatID=359

    – And also at least some ‘activists’ on ground, insist Chlorine theory http://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/regime-chlorine-gas-attack-kills-100-in-syria-s-idlib/787425

    Why US only pick-up Sarin theory and gives no chance to “at least two chemicals” theories… Strange isn’t it? And strange for Bellingcat not raking this obvious contradiction up…

    Reply
    • DDTea

      Chlorine is improbable, but people may have been confused in the fog of war. MSF reported patients smelling like chlorine, but this could also be due to local medics decontaminating patients with bleach solution. Witnesses reported, “”The foam filled their mouths, their eyes were red, and they were bleeding from the nose,” (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-syria-chemical-attack-20170407-story.html ) . Those symptoms certainly *sound* like they could be caused with chlorine (except the foaming). But looking at photos of Halabja victims, who died mostly from nerve agent, blood is seen coming from their noses and mouths as well. Likewise, victims of Aum Shinrikyo’s sarin attacks reported eye pain as well. So some of these symptoms may be non-specific to nerve agents, but some almost certainly are: miosis, convulsions, paralysis, loss of consciousness.

      Ultimately, there’s no possible way chlorine would kill 100 people from a single bomb unless all these people were somehow trapped in the cloud. I’m not sure if you’ve ever felt chlorine, but it’s extraordinarily irritating and difficult to inhale. There have been hundreds of chlorine attacks in Syria, and not one has caused so many deaths.

      Reply
  5. jayC

    in the days after the attack, there were suggestions about two agents – chlorine and sarin/sarin-like agents . can you distingish the effects on the victims in videos or pictures?
    chlorine destoys lung tisssues, causing edema …suffocation in the end.
    sarin had more ways with killing, there should be pictures with vomit, pee and feces all over the poor victims, people.

    Reply
    • DDTea

      Chlorine doesn’t cause convulsions, unconsciousness, paralysis, foaming at the mouth, or pinpoint pupils. These were all seen in footage of victims.

      Vomiting is often delayed in Sarin victims, especially following dermal exposure. Involuntary urination and defecation can’t be treated as the ultimate litmus test of exposure. Not every patient will display every one of the known symptoms. The onset of certain symptoms will vary based on the degree of exposure and route of exposure.

      Look for a video titled “the goat is dead” demonstrating a US Army sarin test against a goat and chicken. The goat does not vomit or defecate before dying.

      Reply
      • frank

        Look up toxicity of Sarin on different animals. True that human symptoms would have involved defacation etc

        Reply
        • DDTea

          I found another video of a rabbit injected with nerve agent. No urination or defecation. OK, goats, pigeons, and rabbits are not humans but they still have large intestines that will be stimulated during a cholinergic crisis. So I looked at over a dozen photos of victims of the Halabja attack (who were killed by a chemical cocktail, of which the most lethal component was nerve agent). Once again, no urination or defecation visible on any of the victims.

          I’m starting to think people are overemphasizing the significance of involuntary urination and defecation so as to deliberately miss the forest for the trees.

          Reply
          • frank

            That’s my point – the mouse toxicity for Sarin is thousands time weaker than for human, according to what I briefly glanced at, suggesting different animals react to it very differently. Frankly, anyway, I think it doesn’t matter if it’s Sarin or not – lots of people died horribly – organophosphates pesticides or otherwise. Still think the whole conjecture the Assad regime did this [deliberately] is nonsense. And if the whole place is Al Nusra, who the hell cares anyway?

      • Dan Kaszeta

        Also, there is some useful case history of Sarin exposure in humans without defecation or vomiting.

        Reply
  6. Bubslug

    “The bottom line is that Sarin evaporates quickly”

    Compared to what? It has a higher boiling point than water, which means it should evaporate slower than water to my logic. This statement should be quantified as to vapour pressure at 20C or something like that so we can judge for ourselves.

    Reply
    • DDTea

      Your logic is correct. Sarin has a vapor pressure of 2.9 mmHg at 20°C, It has a vapor pressure about 1/6 that of water (17.5 mmHg @ 20°C). That’s still rather quick, especially if the Sarin were aerosolized by an explosion. It’s not going to stick around for very long.

      Reply
    • It doesn't add up...

      Water evaporates more slowly than most other liquids of similar boiling point because of the high level of hydrogen bonding between water molecules in the surface layer, creating surface tension that reduces evaporation rates.

      I have no figures for Sarin, but for example n-Octane boils at 125C yet has a surface tension that is just a quarter that of water at 20C.

      Reply
    • Dan Kaszeta

      The rate of evaporation has to do with more factors than just boiling point, as others have, no doubt pointed out. One factor is surface tension. Another factor is latent heat of vaporization. Also, when water evaporates into air that generally has moisture in it. We all know, anecdotally, that water drops on the floor of a humid bathroom at 25 deg C evaporate at a slower rate than water drops on the floor of an extremely dry room at the same temperature. But, thankfully, there’s generally no Sarin in the air…

      Reply
      • Bubslug

        The surface tension aspect makes sense, but the rate of evaporation of sarin at the temperatures experienced at the crater should be quantified. Would 50% liquid sarin on the asphalt be left after 6 hours at 25C or what? This is a question that needs to be answered if the validity of the hypothesis of a certain MIT professor emeritus is to be tested properly.

        Maybe 30% of the UN samples from East Ghouta tested positive for GB 7 to 8 days after that attack . Does that mean sarin evaporation was not complete even after 7 days in that case (in Damascus August weather)?

        Also video of dead birds in a cage near the crater has circulated. Does anyone know when the “canary” test for sarin was done (midday the 5th?). The video I’ve seen doesn’t actually show the birds dying.

        Reply
        • RobTN

          I’m not seeing it a s canary test but as a sampling of dead domestic animals. Why? Because the cage had bird food hoppers and water in there. Did they imagine that the birds might like a snack while being killed?

          (Also looking at the video it comes from the next image is a dead goat. I don’t think they put that in the crater).

          Evaporation will involve a lot of things, surface area, humidity, wind speed (think wind chill). I see the MIT man keeps publishing wind date for the village. Not sure where he’s getting it as it doesn’t seem like they’d be uploading meteorological data to the internet.

          Reply
          • Bubslug

            Why would they bring the bird cage to one of the alleged bomb attack locations (it looks like the west “collapsed front building” location)? Wouldn’t they just sample the dead birds in-situ where ever they were found? And if they decided to test a location for sarin vapours, would they take the trouble to remove water etc. from the cage before taking it to the test location?

            As for the goat, there are drag tracks behind it so it looks like it was moved to the location it was videoed after death. For what reason would that have been done?

          • Dan Kaszeta

            Dr Postol, ex of MIT, appears to be citing historical weather data. This is of general interest, but can’t really be all that useful for a specific incident that happened at a defined time and place.

        • Dan Kaszeta

          Much of the degradation of Sarin in the environment is from hydrolysis, i.e. reacting with water. Predicting how much will be left after a certain period of time is genuinely difficult without access to more data. However, if you go to this document http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADB955399 and go to pages 19 and 20 the behaviour of Sarin in soil is discussed.

          Re the Ghouta samples, many of the “positive” samples were actually for IMPA, the specific degradation product of Sarin. The bits and traces of Sarin that were found, I seem to recall (it’s in one of the appendices from the UN/OPCW report in late 2013) were found in places where vapor or liquid would have absorbed into a matrix of some type. For example, paint (Sarin absorption into paint is a documented phenomenon) and a rubber window seal were both sources of Sarin in the Ghouta examples that I can remember off the top of my head. The OPCW report gives no quantities so some of these might be the barest trace, e.g. milligrams.

          Hope that helps.

          Reply
          • Bubslug

            “Re the Ghouta samples, many of the “positive” samples were actually for IMPA”

            I collated the UN sampling results, from Moadamiyah, zero samples (of 30 tests of 13 samples) were positive for GB, 13% of samples for IMPA; for Zamalka, 57% positive for GB, 59% positive for IMPA (from 44 tests of 17 samples). Its true the soil samples were the only ones with 100% positive for GB (2 samples by 2 labs), but lots of metal fragments were positive for GB in Zamalka also, at least the ones sampled with DCM wipes.

            From the results I don’t think there was an actual sarin attack at West Ghouta, only East Ghouta, which implies the rebels attempted to fake an attack at West Ghouta probably using victims imported from East Ghouta. They are the ones who directed the UN to the West Ghouta attack site, where presumably they had done some prep work with a spray bottle of mild sarin mix, but clearly not enough to guess all the floor/fabric samples the inspectors would take. Anyway there were zero samples positive for GB in West Ghouta, vs 57% for West Ghouta where a real sarin attack did occur.

    • frank

      What does this mean? :

      Acute Toxicity Data Dec-13 NULL skin/human lethal dose (50 percent kill): 28 mg/kg Lung, Thorax, or Respiration: Dyspnea
      Acute Toxicity Data Dec-13 NULL skin/human lethal dose (50 percent kill): 24.29 microgram /kg NULL

      Two data points for skin toxicity – one at about 2g for a 70kg male, one at about 1.7 milligram – very different!

      Reply
      • ncz

        The medium lethal dose for a healthy adult man is estimated to be 28 mg/kg in the source cited (Marrs et al.) through the HS database ( http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/r?dbs+hsdb:@term+@rn+@rel+107-44-8 ). This corresponds well with the US CW Service figure of ca. 1.7 g for a man of 70 kg body mass.
        The 24.29 µg/kg figure is quite odd and orders of magnitude out of other published data for percutaneous toxicity in humans. It might be simply mistaking µg for mg in the transcription/printing, or mistaking the exposition route (most sources do place the estimated LD dosages for Sarin percutaneously at about 10-30 mg/kg level, while parenteral (subcutaneous, intravenous, inhalatory) LD levels are generaly reported at ca. 10-40 µg/kg).

        Reply
  7. grouper42

    What would an attack look like using limited quantities of Sarin that was homebrewed? Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese doomsday cult, used homebrewed Sarin and other chemical agents to conduct a number of attacks, including the Tokyo Subway Attack. These attacks were well documented and cover symptoms/casualties/etc/etc.

    Here’s some additional info for all you folks “that are way smarter then me” to scrutinize. This is just one, of many studies, on these Sarin attacks; Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons;
    https://www.opcw.org/news/article/the-sarin-gas-attack-in-japan-and-the-related-forensic-investigation/

    Reply
    • Dan Kaszeta

      Comparing this recent attack to the 1995 attack in Tokyo is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. In the 1995 subway attack, the Aum cult had a few litres of Sarin but a really poor dissemination method based basically on putting the Sarin in bags and puncturing the bags. In addition, they “stretched” their Sarin with other chemicals.

      What in particular is it that you are looking to discuss?

      Reply
      • grouper42

        I figured this incident would be the best, fact based, case study of an attack on unprotected civilian with the nerve agent Sarin. I can’t think of any other Sarin attack where all parties worked toward the same end like they did in this incident. Collecting and analyzing evidence from this attack wasn’t rift with competing geopolitical interest, theories, smoke and mirrors, etc (like all other Sarin attacks that I’m aware of). Everyone involved focused on getting the “facts”. I’m sure there are detailed forensics available from these Aum Shinrikyo attacks and they certainly would validate your fine work. Note; I could be wrong about my assumptions.

        Reply
          • grouper42

            Yep, IMHO that attack is a “well documented” starting point when it comes to trying to understand Sarin attacks on unprotected civilian populations. The reference in my original post on Aum Shinrikyo covers both the Tokyo Subway and Matsumoto Sarin attacks. A few more short inputs on these two “case study worthy” attacks;
            – These crazy amateurs were not state sponsored and basically cooked up this Sarin on their own. A few liters of this weak/diluted Sarin brew (See Dan K’s response above; “they “stretched” their Sarin with other chemicals”) still caused lots of casualties.
            — Matsumoto Sarin attack casualties; 8 killed and 274 injured/treated at hospitals.
            — Tokyo Subway attack casualties; 12 killed and over 5,000 treated at hospitals.

            – Both attacks only used a few liters of weak/diluted Sarin;
            – The Tokyo Subway attack (confined space attack) used a really poor method to disseminate a few liters of weak/diluted Sarin (see Dan K’s response above).
            – The Matsumoto attack (open air attack) used a much more efficient method to disseminate a few liters of weak/diluted Sarin (pre-heat the Sarin and use fans to diffuse the gas into the neighbourhood attacked).

          • Dan Kaszeta

            We should also bear in mind that many of the 5000+ Tokyo injured were not directly poisoned by Sarin. A fair number were conventional trauma (fractures, sprains, bruises, head injuries) caused by the stampede of people. A non-trivial percentage were “worried well” who had, apparently, psychogenic symptoms like headache and dimness of vision but who, upon analysis, couldn’t be definitively diagnosed as having been exposed. Some may indeed have been exposed, but as the more advanced post-exposure analysis techniques (i.e. fluoride regeneration) had not been fielded yet, someone with a mildly depressed acetylcholinesterase (AChe) count could go undiagnosed because everyone’s baseline normal AChe is a bit different and if you don’t have a pre-exposure sample to compare it with, a reasonable % decrease in count could go unremarked.

          • DDTea

            In that regard, discussing the symptoms experienced by the victims of known Sarin attacks is worthwhile.

            From the wiki article on the Matsumoto attack, “The patients were suffering from darkened vision, eye pain, headaches, nausea, diarrhoea, miosis, and numbness in their hands.”

            From the OPCW report you cited: ” Typical symptoms included darkened vision, ocular pain, nausea, miosis, and a decrease in serum cholinesterase (ChE) activities. Autopsy findings showed intense post-mortem lividity, miosis, pulmonary edema, increased bronchial secretion, and congestion of the parenchymatous organs. ”

            From the wiki article on the Tokyo attack:

            “the mildly affected victims had recovered from vision problems and were released from hospital. Most of the remaining patients were well enough to go home the following day, and within a week only a few critical patients remained in hospital. ”

            From the OPCW article:

            “Typical symptoms included darkened vision, ocular pain, nausea, miosis, hyperaemia, and nosebleeds.”

            It seems that vision changes, miosis, and nausea are probably the most common symptoms of mild sarin poisoning. The hyperaemia is interesting: that would explain the bright, cherry-colored skin seen in some of the victims that certain “truthers” have found so suspicious. “They should be cyanotic!!!” Well, it turns out that they may be hyperaemic as well. Nosebleeds are in accord with what eyewitnesses at Khan Sheikhoun reported, that blood was coming out of victims’ noses. It’s also seen in photographs of dead Halabja victims.

        • Dan Kaszeta

          Ah, I see what you mean. The Aum Shinrikyo attack is well documented and much of the forensic data, particularly medical data, has been the subject of much scrutiny for 20 years now. I was privileged to see a lot of Japanese govt data back circa 1996, but it certainly wasn’t mine to retain or keep so I don’t have it now.

          However, you merely need to google the chemical attack at Halabja, during the Iran Iraq war, to see that even that well-documented attack has engendered conspiracy theories and denialism. There were people who did (and some still do) claim that it was Iran that did it, despite the overwhelming weight of evidence. A good book on that whole affair is “A Poisonous Affair” by Joost Hiltermann.

          Reply
        • Dan Kaszeta

          I should also say, due to the fastidious record keeping in Japanese hospitals, there is a wealth of medical information and a reasonably high sample population for the Tokyo attack. Some of it is easily found, others require access to a library or to pay-walled journals but there is some really good data on that.

          Reply
    • RobTN

      Homebrew seems a bit ‘generous’ a term. Did you read about their production facility?

      “What is most striking about the documents related to Aum’s production facility was the scale of the undertaking. The plant was a free-standing three-story building, staffed by workers with chemistry and chemical-engineering expertise who designed and built proper process controls. ”

      https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2013-10-10/no-you-can-t-make-sarin-in-your-kitchen

      Reply
  8. etienne marais

    Is there any news on the current whereabouts of the alleged bomb fragment that supposedly contained the sarin ?

    Reply
    • Woody

      You can see it hanging on a wall at a private club in Florida, Mar a Lago. Don’t forget to taste their chocolate cake, its…beautiful.

      Reply
    • Bub Slug

      Did not Boris Johnson say that “shell fragments” from the impact crater had been tested confirming, you guessed it, “Assad did it”?

      That would imply the Brits have got at least some part of the “122 mm Grad Rocket tube”. Maybe the “endcap”?

      Let’s put it this way if they have the tube itself they know whether the “improvised sarin device” theory is correct or not.

      Reply
      • Woody

        But of course they have it. Like seen here for multiple times, it was a bomb – no, a rocket – wait, an arrow I mean… Boris bought the endcap from TV-shop, 9,99 Pounds + VAT where applicable, ships free in UK.

        Boris will have a hard time when he needs to divide his time in between Brexit and SEXIT as when the BS around this false flag ends and people start to ask more about Khan Sheikhoun UK might – that is might – consider reducing support to jihadis that they support even as it violates Int Law principles clearly established in ICJ Nicaragua – ruling.

        Reply
      • etienne marais

        “We know from shell fragments in the crater that not only had sarin been used, but carrying the specific chemical signature of sarin used by the Assad regime. And given that samples from the victims show conclusively that victims have been exposed to sarin gas, there is only one conclusion that the Assad regime almost certainly gassed its own people in breach of the international law and the rules of war,” Johnson said in the House of Commons.

        Mr Johnson does not stipulate that the “shell fragments” were actually tested, and nowhere else can I find reference to a competent authority claiming to have secured, via a proper chain of custody, such “shell fragments” as is being hinted at.

        I suppose Mr Johnson may have interviewed, via video link, the suspected “shell fragments”, and that they had a very convincing narrative to share.

        Reply
        • Woody

          Well, the shell fragments speak fluently only hebrew so there was a translator in between the Skype conference they had.

          Reply
  9. frank

    Ok, I think it ought to be clear to reasonable people that at the time of the Tomahawk reprisals there was no way the US could have had any convincing evidence that Syrian forces were behind the attacks, and in any case the whole conjecture makes no sense. There was no battlefield tactical necessity, but the motives for a repeat of Ghouta, a rebel attack, were high.
    Given that, and given the seemingly endless stream of false flags and false narratives coming out of the US, from Iraqi WMD to Libyan no fly zones, we need to start looking very seriously at who in the US intelligence community is responsible for subverting the US government on behalf of a private agenda. Is Bellingcat prepared to go there?

    Reply
    • Woody

      We live in a world where media does not bother to implement its duties in discovering and presenting facts but it rather leans on the information released under the flag of power.
      Reversed onus – reversed proof of guilt that is. Other countries are lightyears behind USA in steering of “independent or nearly independent” information distribution. In a way I admire how well they have done it.

      Reply
    • DDTea

      It’s worth noting that the most recent “false flag” of the Syrian war was conducted by loyalist forces: they bombed the Ayn al-Fijah water station, accused the rebels of “shutting off the water,” and used that as an excuse to launch an offensive in violation of the ceasefire they had signed.

      “There was no battlefield tactical necessity, but the motives for a repeat of Ghouta, a rebel attack, were high.”

      Repeating BS doesn’t make it sound more reasonable. If Ghouta was a false flag, then it was a costly failure. Not even Jihadists have an appetite for repeating failures. And it raises the question: if Trump so wanted to intervene against Assad, then why hasn’t he yet? A few missiles is nothing.

      Reply
      • frank

        No that is not worth noting at all. What is worth noting is that someone or some group is poisoning signals intelligence in the West, and you ought to be looking into it.

        Reply

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