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The OPCW Just Trashed Seymour Hersh’s Khan Sheikhoun Conspiracy Theory

July 4, 2017

By Eliot Higgins

Translations: Русский

Seymour Hersh is not having a good couple of weeks. Since his latest article was published in Welt, he has come under criticism from various parties, not least Bellingcat, for his thinly-sourced piece on the April 4th, 2017 Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack that offers a narrative totally unlike those presented by not only the United States, but also Russia, France, Syria, and opposition groups operating on the ground in the aftermath of the attack.

Hersh relies heavily on a single source in his article: “a senior adviser to the American intelligence community, who has served in senior positions in the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency.” In his article, this source spins a detailed tale of the Russian’s monitoring of a Jihadi meeting place, with a basement full of cleaning chemical and fertilisers released into the atmosphere when a Russian supplied laser guided 500lb bomb was dropped by a Syrian Su-24 onto the building.

As I’ve previously highlighted, it appears odd that when the Russian and Syrian governments provided their version of events shortly after the attack, they gave a different target location, target type, and attack time that Hersh’s sources provided. Instead of the early morning bombing of a Jihadi meeting place in the north of Khan Sheikhoun, Russia and Syria said the first bombing that took place was a Syrian Su-22 bombing a chemical weapons warehouse in the east of Khan Sheikhoun after 11:30am, hours after the time claimed by Hersh. It’s unclear why Russia and Syria would lie if the Hersh narrative is true, especially in the face of what would be a massive conspiracy against the Syrian government that led to the US launching an attack on a Syrian airbase.

Hoping to gain some clarity around what really happened, we contacted Seymour Hersh by email. In this message, we asked if he received the co-ordinates of the building he claimed was attacked, and if he could provide these co-ordinates if he received them. This request is relevant because satellite imagery of Khan Sheikhoun is available for April 6, 2017, where a building hit by a 500lb–as Hersh claims–would be clearly visible. At the time of writing, no response has been received.

With the publication of the OPCW report on the attack on Khan Sheikhoun, it is apparent that the OPCW report not only fails to support any claims made by Seymour Hersh, but clearly points away from them in a number of ways. The narrative from Hersh’s source cannot be reconciled with the findings from the OPCW report.

Hersh claims the source of chemical exposure was the Jihadi meeting place’s basement, filled with “rockets, weapons and ammunition, as well as products that could be distributed for free to the community, among them medicines and chlorine-based decontaminants for cleansing the bodies of the dead before burial.” The OPCW report contradicts this in two ways.

First, the report states that the source of the chemical agent was a crater in the middle of the road on the north side of Khan Sheikhoun, not any sort of structure. The OPCW report contains a map showing the exact location of this crater:

Samples were taken from this crater and provided to the OPCW. These samples were provided to the OPCW not only by opposition groups, but also by the Syrian government. The Syrian government samples were tested by both the Syrian governments Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) and the OPCW, with samples taken from the crater testing positive for Sarin.

In addition, the OPCW interviewed a number of witnesses, and based on that and other pieces of evidence, it created a map of where victims were found, showing the chemical agent used in the attack originated from the crater:

This map and the OPCW’s other findings runs counter to the narrative presented by Hersh in his article for Welt in every regard:

  • The impact site was the middle of a road, not a two-storey Jihadi meeting place,
  • Tests at the site and on the victims confirms the use of Sarin, with no results for chlorine, organophosphate, or phosgene,
  • The crater is far too small for a 500-lb bomb, laser-guided or not.

It’s unclear if this source was purposefully misleading Hersh, or the source was provided false information which he shared with Hersh. However, considering this information provided by primary source for Hersh’s article was directly contradicted by the OPCW report, there are serious doubts on the rest of Hersh’s reporting in the Welt article. Welt editors, fact-checkers, and other staffers who have supported Hersh’s work have repeatedly claimed that they’ve checked the source carefully, but it is now quite clear that this source has presented a version of events totally unlike those presented by the OPCW. Even if Hersh’s source’s story was true, this would mean that the Syrian and Russian governments were both complicit in independently fabricating stories what  by both falsely claiming that they bombed a different target in different parts of Khan Sheikhoun. These divergent claims would have been made despite how Hersh’s source claims that intelligence was gathered for days on the two-storey building supposedly hit.

It’s clear now that Welt must present evidence to support their claim, or retract the story entirely, and apologise for promoting conspiracy theories in their publication.

Eliot Higgins

Eliot Higgins is the founder of Bellingcat and the Brown Moses Blog. Eliot focuses on the weapons used in the conflict in Syria, and open source investigation tools and techniques.

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100 Comments

    • Avryl Densy

      So much so that the OPCW didn’t see fit to even mention them in their report. The HRW has played a propagandistic role in this matter. The OPCW are the experts in such investigations and are the authority that should be listened to.

      Had the OPCW found ANY verifiable evidence of the dispersal method they wouldn’t have hesitated to declared it. Remember the US put tremendous pressure on them concluding in advance that a Syrian bomb was used in the Sarin attack. The US is a major funder of the OPCW so it was brave of them to be honest and say, ‘Look we just don’t know how the Sarin got there and we aren’t gonna make up a story without evidence’.

      The whole Hersh, Postol, US, Syria, Russia arguments are distractions and nothing other than a side show. The investigation needs to now shift from, Was there Sarin released at Khan Sheikhoun? To, How was the Sarin released. For if it wasn’t a Syrian jet dropped bomb that carried the Sarin then what was it? A huge can of worms has opened due to the OPCW report.

      Reply
      • Bubslug

        I don’t disagree with the presence of sarin, but it should be pointed out that from the Ghouta attacks, it’s pretty clear the rebels have had access to sarin in the past, so the presence of sarin does not exonerate them.

        Reply
        • DDTea

          No, the rebels did not commit the Ghouta gas attack. No, the rebels do not have access to Sarin on the scale (~1 ton) required for the Ghouta attack (~100 kg). And if you honestly think they committed both attacks, you run into an even stupider problem entirely of your own making:

          If Ghouta was an attempted false flag attack, it was a disastrous failure. The rebels wasted an estimated 1 ton of precious Sarin slaughtering their own families and troops. Obama backed down from his “red line” and refused to intervene in Syria, as did the UK. In the intervening time, there has been a sense of resignation that Assad will remain in power. Trump has stated that removing Assad is not the priority. Current US defense officials have said, “We want the rebels to stop attacking Assad.” Turkey has warmed up to Russia’s agenda in Syria. The world watched indifferently as Aleppo was bombarded with thermobaric bombs and chlorine gas; as its hospitals and aid convoys were deliberately targeted by regime and Russian air power. The world didn’t bat an eye when SAA/Hezbollah launched an offensive on Wadi Baradah during supposed “deescalation.” Every rebel says the same thing: nobody cares about them anymore.

          So in spite of all this, you expect us to believe the rebels launched *a second* Sarin false flag attack to provoke an intervention, in spite of the utter failure of the last one.

          Reply
          • Bubslug

            @DDTea

            “If Ghouta was an attempted false flag attack, it was a disastrous failure.”

            It was a great success in one respect: not getting caught, even with the UN tests showing fakery in West Ghouta.

          • DDTea

            Wasn’t Assad on the cusp of victory in 2013? Wasn’t the running refrain, “Why would he do this when he’s winning?” He was winning so hard in Damascus and yet he still hasn’t recaptured Ghouta, Jobar, or Zamalka yet.

            It’s 2017. He hasn’t won yet. The whole “false flag” narrative is mierda de perro.

          • Bubslug

            @DDTea:

            “Wasn’t Assad on the cusp of victory in 2013?”

            I don’t think I’ve made this argument. Maybe others have but my main argument for Assad not doing an attack in 2013 is why would he wait until UN chemical weapons inspectors were in Damascus to launch a chemical attack? UN inspectors had been called by the Syrian regime to investigate the Khan Al-Assal incident and had arrived only 2 days before the Ghouta chemical attack.

            Neither side could have known in August of 2013 that Obama would not hold to his “red line” policy as to chemical weapons use by the Syrian regime. So in August 2013, the obvious candidate with motive for the Ghouta attacks were the rebels, who were trying to drag the US into direct military action against the Syrian regime.

            Of course there was risk for them too, the risk of getting caught perpetrating a false flag using civilians. But they didn’t get caught, so they learned that even amateurish fakery, like at West Ghouta, would not be challenged by western media or NGOs who stuck to the US government narrative that the Ghouta attack was done by the Syrian regime.

            Likewise the Syrian regime in August of 2013 could not have known before hand they could conduct a chemical attack on civilians with no response from the US who had at the time a “red line” policy on chemical weapons use, so they had a motive not to perpetrate a chemical attack, especially with UN inspectors in Damascus, trained and equipped to identify quickly such an attack.

            Really not much has changed in 2017, except for the fact that this time the Syrian regime was fairly decisively retaking ground from rebel groups, like East Aleppo, and had by April 4 successfully repelled a rebel attack on Hama initiated on March 21. In addition, the US State department had only in the week prior to April 4 officially rescinded the “Assad must go” policy.

            So the rebels had a strong motive to conduct another false flag chemical attack. They needed both a reversal of the regime change policy back to the former stance, and hopefully direct military intervention by the US against the Syrian regime. They got both, although I’m sure they had hoped for a prolonged military response by the US against the Assad regime, rather than just a once off.

            From the motive perspective alone, you might argue that rogue elements in the Syrian military, hoping to topple Assad in favour of a more religious Shia leader, might conduct an attack with the motive of having US forces try for a direct hit on Assad. However, if there are elements in the military not loyal to Assad, it’s more likely they could engineer an assassination themselves. The bottom line is that Assad didn’t order these attacks, he’s just not that crazy.

            As a final point, it’s pretty clear the rebels might try a third major false flag incident, since they know from both Ghouta and Khan Shaykhun that western media and governments aren’t going to look too skeptically at their storyline, even when it’s abundantly clear that from a motive perspective they are the prime candidate.

        • RobTN

          That would be the Ghouta attack where the UN investigation said that the people who did it had access to the Syrian military stockpiles?

          That the Syrians haven’t reported losing?

          Reply
          • Bubslug

            “…UN investigation said that the people who did it had access to the Syrian military stockpiles?…”

            Point out exactly where in the UN report it says this. The UN sampling of Moadamiyah did not show any positive results for sarin, or degradation products, in the apartment where, according to the rebels, victims died so it’s pretty clear the rebels attempted to fake the East Ghouta attack.

            There was a gas attack in Zamalka (West Ghouta) and the sarin signature of that is alleged to match that of Syrian stockpiles. However, there are reports that sarin was captured by rebels, and alternatively that testing at the British facility of Porton Down of the Ghouta sarin did not match what was known of Syrian stockpiles, and also that the OPCW could only confirm removal of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime at 12 of 14 sites as 2 site of alleged weapons storage were then under rebel control.

            So it’s not clear whether the rebels have never had sarin, had sarin (or precursors) they captured from Syrian army bases, or sarin made in Turkey, or sarin captured from stockpiles squirrelled away in Libya, but anyone who says the rebels couldn’t possibly have sarin has not looked at all the evidence.

            There certainly is evidence the Syrian army has come under attack with sarin as indicated in the UN report of 2013. I suppose these could be false flags, but I don’t see a strong motive for the SAA to do this, as the western media and governments default to blaming them for all attacks, so trying a false flag for them is a losing proposition.

          • RobTN

            “The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used on 21 August indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents”

            http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-syria-crisis-chemical-idUKBREA240SA20140305

            But if you think Reuters is lying you could try RT

            “”The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used on 21 August indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents,” the UN investigators said in the report. ”

            https://www.rt.com/news/sarin-syria-military-stockpiles-038/

          • RobTN

            How do you feel about chain of evidence for this one?

            “However, there are reports that sarin was captured by rebels, and alternatively that testing at the British facility of Porton Down of the Ghouta sarin did not match what was known of Syrian stockpiles”

            Oh WAIT, that doesn’t count if it ‘proves’ it wasn’t Syria!!!

      • RobTN

        Looks like the Russian media are going with this version now too. Russian Diplomat – Mikhail Ulyanov

        “Now when the use of sarin may be considered as an established fact, and we do not challenge it, there is the need to focus on how this toxic agent had been used and how it had been delivered to the scene,”

        More:
        http://tass.com/politics/955033

        Reply
  1. Mark

    “5.107 The FFM was unable to retrieve any parts that might relate to dispersion of a chemical. However, the FFM was informed that remnants of a munition from the impact crater (point 1 in Figure 5) have been secured and could be made available in the future.”

    Does this strike anyone else as bizarre?

    Reply
    • Avryl Densy

      Just a bit. It’s akin to saying, “We’ve got the smoking gun that proves our story 100% and could nail Assad but we’re not handing over just yet. Maybe one day, we’ll see.”

      The OPCW are only reporting what they were told. It doesn’t make it clear who said that though, was it one of the rebel ensemble or Assad’s mole? Doesn’t matter anyhow. If they had it they would have presented it. I do wonder though why the OPCW just made it a passing comment and didn’t say more about it?

      Reply
      • DDTea

        Funny that you discount that the SSRC or other representative of the Syrian Arab Republic itself may have possession of them.

        Reply
        • Avryly Densy

          My friend I am not interested in who said what, when or where apart from the OPCW. I don’t care what these White Helmet people or SSRC have to say because they have all lied and distorted reality. All I care about is evidence and facts.

          The fact is that the US/UK/France et al along with rebels/nusra/whitehelmets/bogeyman et al have all concluded that a bomb was dropped from a Syrian fighter jet loaded with Sarin. That is a fact. What is equally as factually is that the OPCW cannot find any supporting evidence of that claim. So if there is no evidence of a bomb then we must assume that there wasn’t a bomb unless the evidence is being kept hidden to annoy people.

          If the evidence is being kept secret then it doesn’t exist in terms of proving guilt. Thats all speculative because I’m with the OPCW here, there’s no evidence. So if there’s no evidence of bomb then the official narrative is brought back into question. How was the Sarin delivered if not by Syrian airforce bombing runs? We must then look at the possibility that a rebel faction could have access to Sarin as has been claimed for the past 4 years. That is a uncomfortable scenario for many people but a scenario that must be looked at if nobody can find evidence of the bomb. Surely you must see merit in this analysis?

          Reply
          • DDTea

            If I understand your reasoning: because we cannot reconstruct the bomb (because its fragments are irretrievable for whatever reason), we must assume it does not exist. We must ignore that an SU-22 was flying over Khan Sheikhoun during the time of the Sarin incident. We must ignore that there is a crater in the ground (indicating explosive dissemination). We must ignore the fact that most known Sarin ordnance uses high explosives for dispersal (i.e.: “sarin bombs”). There is no room for knowledge or experience here: we must walk into this as a blank slate.

            I’m sorry, but I do not see the merit of this approach.

            We have looked into the possibility that the rebels would have Sarin. It defies credibility, for reasons Dan Kaszeta has articulated at length in his articles on this very site. I myself have discussed this at length. Unless you provide evidence that the rebels have so much Sarin (we’re talking tons), there’s nothing further to consider.

            I have to wonder though: the rebels have last Barzeh, Wadi Baradah, Qaboun, Aleppo, and have been newly besieged in East Qalamoun in recent months. Their supply lines from Lebanon have been cut. Jordan is doing its utmost to impede rebel offensives. Turkey has warmed up to Russia. Everyone expects the revolution to collapse in the near future… What do they have to lose from using Sarin offensively? Why haven’t they done it yet? Why hasn’t ISIS used Sarin on the besieged SAA garrison at Deir Ezzor–it would certainly help them to capture it? If Sarin is so easy to acquire, why isn’t everyone using it?

        • Avryl Densy

          “If I understand your reasoning: because we cannot reconstruct the bomb (because its fragments are irretrievable for whatever reason), we must assume it does not exist.”

          To say that the “fragments are irretrievable” is incorrect as it implies that there are fragments but they just can’t be retrieved for one reason or another. If we are to believe the OPCW report, as I am sure you do, then there is no evidence at all of a bomb. No fragments. Nothing. So in the absence of any evidence then you are correct that “we must assume it [the bomb] does not exist”.

          No smoking gun. No case. That’s how western law works.

          The rest of your post is analogous and/or hyperbolic to the issue of the delivery mechanism used to disperse the Sarin. As stated before, I am not interested in theories or distractions or who said what. I am interested in the facts surrounding the Sarin release.

          I am not going to be indulging you any further on this matter unless you bring something tangible to the table to support your defence of the conspiracy theory that a bomb filled with Sarin was dropped from a fighter jet at Khan Shakhoun.

          Reply
    • Bubslug

      “Does this strike anyone else as bizarre?”

      What seems even more bizarre is that on different days it appears the munitions fragment in the alleged attack crater has been switched. In the early images, the fragment is grey with dark green, stippled appearance with the end sticking up flared, and in the later ones it looks olive green, with smooth surface but with some “rub” marks, and the out end crushed flat.

      It might be the same fragment upside down and flipped over, which is what I thought the first images I saw, but the more I turn this thing over in my mind I can’t see that it is the same piece.

      If it is a different fragment, then why would the rebels not just show us the details of each fragment, unless they know neither is really a sarin bomb fragment.

      Reply
      • Bubslug

        I have changed my mind back. I now think it is the same fragment, just bent over the other way by the rebels, showing the underside. The real question: what is it?

        Reply
  2. Avryl Densy

    Yar

    I am unable to respond to your question as replies to it are being moderated so I will try again here.

    Yar – July 5, 2017
    “Have the fragments reported by, e.g., HRW been debunked?

    https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/05/01/syria-new-evidence-shows-pattern-nerve-agent-use

    So much so that the OPCW didn’t see fit to even mention them in their report. The HRW has played a propagandistic role in this matter. The OPCW are the experts in such investigations and are the authority that should be listened to.

    Had the OPCW found ANY verifiable evidence of the dispersal method they wouldn’t have hesitated to declared it. Remember the US put tremendous pressure on them concluding in advance that a Syrian bomb was used in the Sarin attack. The US is a major funder of the OPCW so it was brave of them to be honest and say, ‘Look we just don’t know how the Sarin got there and we aren’t gonna make up a story without evidence’.

    The whole Hersh, Postol, US, Syria, Russia arguments are distractions and nothing other than a side show. The investigation needs to now shift from, Was there Sarin released at Khan Sheikhoun? To, How was the Sarin released. For if it wasn’t a Syrian jet dropped bomb that carried the Sarin then what was it? A huge can of worms has opened due to the OPCW report.

    Reply
    • DDTea

      Glad to see people coming around to what we, the actual truth-seekers have been saying all along:

      Theodore Postol is not worth anybody’s attention, and his reports should not be taken seriously. They have contributed exactly nothing to this discussion besides confusing the credulous.

      Funny how one by one, the regime’s ardent defenders are being exposed as charlatans.

      Reply
      • waveshaper

        “Curious about the size of these craters and skip marks: have you seen a falling bomb create a crater on a paved surface the size of the one in Khan Sheikhoun (1.45 m x 1.61 m x 0.49m depth)? ”

        This is in response to this question;
        – First, IMHO the Khan Sheikhoun crater shows no indication its from a bomb/ordnance item skipping. Also, there are indications that at least one explosive event occurred at this location. Question; Is there any indication that this crater existed before 4 April?
        – A bomb (large bomb) skipping can make a crater of similar size on this type surface. That being said, the Khan Sheikhoun crater doesn’t have the typical characteristics you would see if bomb skipped at this location like;
        — Elongated shape.
        — Debris field would be 100% directional, example-45 degrees downrange in the direction the bomb was traveling.
        — Uplifted lip of asphalt/earth on the downrange portion of the crater.
        — Compacting of some asphalt/dirt in the portion of the crater where the bomb impacted and transferred most of its energy to the target surface (this can also help determine the bombs direction of travel).
        — Paint transfer from the bomb to asphalt or other hard debris at the impact point.
        — etc.
        Note; I’ve seen skipping bombs in the MK-84/BLU-109 (2,000 lb class bomb) make some very large skip marks/craters on hard surfaces/Asphalt but the craters will have “most” of the characteristics I listed above.

        Even a MK-82 (500 lb class bomb) can leave a fairly large skip mark/crater in asphalt when it porpoises. This is a rarity and lots of thing must go right for it to happen. Example; The MK-82 bomb impacts an asphalt target and makes a nice clean hole of entry. The bomb travels underground for a short distance (say 5 ft) and it hits a hard subsurface object that drastically deflects/changes the direction of travel of the bomb. This object causes the bomb to start tumbling while still underground. The bomb resurfaces “porpoises” sideways (sometimes the bomb will also leave a nice clean exit hole when it porpoises) and continues downrange (normally not to far in the this mode). When the bomb exits the ground in a sideways/tumbling mode it causes lots of upheaval of earth/asphalt and can leave a big exit hole/crater/skip mark or what ever the heck you want to call it. Anyway, this type crater/skip mark is unique and easy to ID.

        Reply
        • Bubslug

          @waveshaper:

          “Question; Is there any indication that this crater existed before 4 April?”

          Thanks for the detailed reply. I don’t know if the crater might have been there before April 4. There is an electrical junction box or transformer that had to have been placed after any conventional explosion at the crater as it would have sustained shrapnel damage being only 3 or less meters from the crater.

          The sheetmetal on it shows no damage in the rebel videos of the crater. It has a lifting sling on it, which might indicate recent placement.

          The crater does indicate a very slight south east bias to the ejected debris. It’s very slight but indicates that if this was a bomb it might have had some south east velocity component as it hit.

          Reply
        • DDTea

          Fantastic post. Thanks a lot for sharing that.

          @Bubslug: now can we agree that the crater was caused by a detonation?

          We can look for historical satellite photos to confirm whether or not the electrical box was placed there and to determine a window when the crater appeared.

          Reply
          • Just Passing Through

            For what it’s worth, I’ve been looking at the things around the crater recently.

            If any help to anyone, this is a compilation of all the crater footage I could find. It’s pretty much in order so you can also see how the contents of the crater change over the following days.

            https://youtu.be/qmE1K–8LUg

            The first video is from the morning of April 4, you can see the shadow of the electrical box on the right. It seems unlikely they would be putting the box back during a Sarin emergency. The pillar over the road is interesting to look at too.

            Links to original videos are in the description.

          • Bubslug

            @Just Passing Through

            Very useful observations. It’s pretty clear the electrical box was there prior to the crater. It seems almost inconceivable that being that close to an exploding warhead of some kind, the box did not suffer shrapnel damage. The argument of the sarin bomb theory believers is that the casing of the bomb was sent flying too far away to find any fragments thereof (like the tail section). This is kind of an absurd claim on it’s own, but given not even one small fragment ripped into the electrical box, it becomes even more unbelievable.

            Perhaps this is supporting evidence of the Postol theory of an explosive charge draped over a metal tube containing sarin. In this case the fragments of the tube would have been driven mostly downward, sparing the junction box from any shrapnel. It would depend on what contained the explosive, but that wouldn’t have to be metal.

          • RobTn

            The postol theory?

            Which one? Later on he claims there was no chemical attack. So which is it to be?

            That’s the great thing about Postol’s work – it’s a smorgasbord where you can pick anything you fancy.

          • waveshaper

            A couple observations “ramble” about this electrical box (based on the video compilation that Just Passing Through posted):
            – This electrical box looks like it’s some type of pad/ground mounted power distribution panel/transformer. Typically this type pad/ground mounted system would be used for an underground power grid. Note; these are just my assumption and I very well could be totally wrong.
            – This electrical box/pad mounted power distribution panel/transformer looks like it was originally mounted on that nice looking pad about 5 to 10 feet to its right (see video and its easy to see this pad).
            – In the video it shows this electrical box is currently mounted on a temporary/improvised metal mount.
            – A few of my assumption about what might have happened prior to 4 April; This pad mounted power distribution panel/transformer was originally mounted on the pad seen in the video. At some point prior to 4 April it was damaged/knocked of its mounting pad, possibly by some type to explosive event/attack. This item was then expeditiously and in improvised manner repaired and placed in its current “improvised/temporary” location (these type of field expedient repairs are common in a combat zone). Down the road, when the shooting/bombing stop I’m sure it will be put back on that nice looking mounting pad.

          • Bubslug

            @RobTn:

            “That’s the great thing about Postol’s work – it’s a smorgasbord where you can pick anything you fancy.”

            But that’s true of pretty much every group that’s been conducting analysis of this event. BellingCat’s geolocation has been correct but their contention of a sarin bomb does not look supportable by the evidence. Postol is correct that the other conventional impact sites from the morning of April 4 are not large enough to be 250 to 500 lb bombs, and possibly correct that the crater was created by an IED, or “Improvised Sarin Device”, but the evidence does not seem to support a warehouse attack. ACLOS has well documented the video history of victims and linking them to names on assorted victim lists by age, family groupings etc., but their wind direction analysis (I contributed some to that) is too northward by my analysis.

            So from all this work done by different entities, there is a smorgasbord of interpretation, but from what I see as the most believable, this event was a rebel false flag event.

          • RobTN

            Oh I see less of an issue with different *sources* having differing viewpoints. Postol has the unique ‘benefit’ that he contradicts himself (and sometimes is forced to correct himself) on a regular basis.

            Take his first analysis of the KS incident – April the 13th.

            “The only undisputable facts stated in the White House report is the claim that a chemical attack using nerve agent occurred in Khan Shaykhun, Syria on that morning”

            So a nerve agent attack is “undisputable”. But..then, amazingly, on April 19th he titles his article

            “The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur: ”

            And starts saying it’s just ‘alleged’

            “This analysis contains a detailed description of the times and locations of critical events in the alleged nerve agent attack of April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun”

            (That’s not even considering his wind direction and time/date issues.)

            In 6 days it’s gone for “undisputable” to “alleged”?

            However did that happen?

  3. rob

    Elliott Higgins: “First, the report states that the source of the chemical agent was a crater in the middle of the road on the north side of Khan Sheikhoun”

    No, it doesn’t. The report says:

    “The release that caused exposure *was likely* to have been initiated in the crater in the road”

    Later the report calls this a “hypothesis”.

    Reply
    • Avryl Densy

      I picked up on this myself Rob and thought it was disingenuous for Eliot to present the OPCW’s findings in this manner. But you are right to highlight this flaw.

      Eliot states as fact “that the source of the chemical agent was a crater in the middle of the road” which is an unproven “hypothesis” according to the OPCW. This again shows us just how important it is for an investigation team to take charge of the Chain of Custody of samples and to attend the scene to carry out physical analysis.
      This could have then gone from a “hypothesis” to a conclusion.

      Relying on the White Helmets to do your investigating for you is the biggest flaw in the OPCW’s investigation and is the single biggest issue that will give rise to questions of their integrity.

      Reply
      • DDTea

        Syrian Civil Defense, Idlib Health Directorate, and Syrian Arab Republic all collected samples from the scene.

        It is also disingenuous to say that all of these samples came via the White Helmets.

        Reply

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