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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

  1. Bill Harvey

    This is nothing other than a hit piece. Plain and simple.

    Let me introduce a few FACTS to this debate that aren’t discussed by anyone but wildly known.

    1. This is the first time the OPCW have carried out an investigation like this where they were not in charge of the samples. They neither collected the samples, secured the samples or transported the samples. Anotherwords they were not in control of the chain of custody. Again, this is the first time ever.

    2. This is the first investigation of this type carried out by the OPCW where they have not attended the scene of an alleged chemical weapons attack to investigate the matter, interview their own witnesses or gather other information. Instead they relied on a party to the conflict, the opposition, to collect the samples, select the witnesses and carry out on the ground investigations and report back. The OPCW allowed the accusers to supply the evidence. This has never happened before!

    3. Nobody has been able to find the alleged Sarin bomb. It and its fragments have simply disappeared. It’s akin to someone being accused of shooting someone yet the prosecution can’t find the gun.

    4. The OPCW trusted the opposition to carry out their investigation for them and to bring them samples yet didn’t trust them to provide their investigators with safety so they could attend the scene themselves.

    5. The OPCE witnessed samples being taken from 2 victims that tested positive for Sarin. Can the OPCW link these two people to Khan Shakhoun? Who are they and where did they come from? The opposition again supplied these two victims to the OPCW.

    6. The OPCW report was “leaked” to several pro-opposition activists such as yourself from what you claimed was a “one use anonymous email account”. Why did only pro-opposition activists get this leak?

    In your rush to attach Hersh you chose ignore all this information. Had this report been from the Russians on the opposition you would be the first to cry foul and kick and scream calling the investigation a fraud and a lie. But in looking for confirmation bias you read what you want from this report and it reaffirms your own beliefs.

    “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.”

    You go on…

    “First, the report states that the source of the chemical agent was a crater in the middle of the road…” – Based upon soil samples that were collected by the opposition and witnesses selected and provided to them by the opposition. FACTS.

    “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 are disputed at the minute by them. It remains to be seen how the Syrian government could collect soil samples from a site controlled by the opposition. Then tested these samples to prove Sarin was released and thus providing evidence of their own guilt.

    Sarin doesn’t smell and doesn’t produce a cloud. Chlorine does but. The Russians said a chemical weapons store was hit, Hersh says that a building was hit that had chemicals stored in the basement. Both Russians and Hersh say that the bomb released these chemicals upon impact. Leaving aside the claim of chemical “weapons” by the Russians but stories are not that dissimilar.

    You and you alone have set about on a personal journey to try and discredit Hersh. Far and beyond that of someone who felt that a story was wrong and wanted to prove it so. With you it’s a lot more than that and I would personally question your motives.

    Whether Hersh is right or wrong, whether the Russians & Syrians have lied. Known of this is the real story here. Personal vendettas should have no place in serious investigations. The real story is was there a Sarin bomb dropped from the air at Khan Shakhoun. There is no verifiable evidence to say there was.

    -No bomb or bomb fragments recovered
    -No on the ground investigation carried out by the OPCW
    -No chain of custody for the samples collected – they were collected by the opposition
    -No independent witnesses selected – they were provided by the opposition
    -People on video claim to “smell” the Sarin and see “clouds” – Sarin doesn’t smell or form clouds

    You then finish your hit piece demanding a paper release information on its sources and if they won’t their conspiracy theorists. Yet you yourself would never dream of giving up any sources you use. So what’s your real motives here Mr Higgins? It’s not to find the evidence as I’ve pointed out. So what is it?

    Reply
    • Bill Harvey

      6.15 In summary, the sudden high number of fatalities, the high number of people presenting the same symptoms at the same moment, and the location and the absence of traumatic injuries among the casualties [b]all support the hypothesis of an incident involving a toxic chemical dispersed in the environment[/b].

      Bear this in mind, “a toxic chemical dispersed in the environment”.

      6.19 Although, some witnesses advised that the release was due to a munition dropped from an aircraft, [b]the FFM was unable to retrieve any items from the site which would indicate the means of dispersal of a chemical.[/b] After analysing photographs and video supplied by witnesses,[b] the FFM could not establish with a great degree of confidence the means of deployment and dispersal of the chemical.[/b]

      -“the FFM was unable to retrieve any items from the site which would indicate the means of dispersal of a chemical.”

      -“the FFM could not establish with a great degree of confidence the means of deployment and dispersal of the chemical.”

      The fundamental core issue of the charge against the Syrian government is that a bomb, filled with Sarin was dropped from an jet. That’s right at the heart of the charge. If you have no bomb the narrative collapses. So where is it? Sarin was dispersed somewhere by someone. But who?

      Reply
      • Mr White

        Indeed, no bomb, no Syrian government involvement. And there is no sign of any bomb. Not a single fragment of this large object which would have remained mostly intact.

        Reply
        • Bill Harvey

          Mr Higgins made a name for himself by weapons spotting and helping identify munitions used in Syria. It is bizarre therefore that he has been unable to find any evidence of the alleged bomb in his countless hours of investigating this event. He and the OPCW cannot find ANY evidence to support the air dropped Sarin bomb theory so what does he do? He deflects to keep the narrative alive. He attacks Hersh and the “conspiracy theorists” rather than attempting to support his narrative with evidence.

          He knows the evidence isn’t there to support the official narrative. Had he found any he would be pushing it in everyone’s face. The fact is that he is the one helping push a conspiracy theory that a bomb, filled with Sarin was dropped from a Syrian military jet on Khan Shakhoun. That’s the real conspiracy theory here and will remain so until someone can present evidence of the bomb and that evidence can be analysed by the OPCW.

          Reply
        • DDTea

          “Not a single fragment of this large object which would have remained mostly intact.”

          Where did you get the notion that the bomb should have remained “mostly intact?”

          Reply
          • DDTea

            The bomb that fell on Khan Sheikhoun on the morning of April 4 that contained a 5-10 kg high explosive burster charge to disperse its Sarin payload.

            After three months of dealing with Khan Sheikhoun trolls, in addition to my experience handling Ghouta trolls, I can confidently say that I know a hell of a lot more about chemistry and chemical weapons than the average internet denizen.

          • Avryl Densy

            “After three months of dealing with Khan Sheikhoun trolls, in addition to my experience handling Ghouta trolls, I can confidently say that I know a hell of a lot more about chemistry and chemical weapons than the average internet denizen.”

            That’s really good news and I’m very pleased for you.

            But back on point, have you any evidence of this “5-10 kg high explosive burster charge” of a bomb? I enjoyed your story but as pleasant as it was it’s nothing other than bluster without supporting evidence. Have you got any?

          • DDTea

            Avryl:

            Yes. There are known formulas for correlating crater size to high explosive yields (referenced in a few of my comments now–including a pending one on this post). I came up with 5-10 kg TNT.

            That’s consistent with the sizes of burster charges in Sarin bombs whose details are public, by the way:

            “For example, the MC-1 Sarin bomb contained 100kg of Sarin and had a burster charge weighing 6.8 kg, although not all of the 6.8 kg will be explosive weight, i.e. some of that weight will be wire and casing. The US Mk94 bomb held 49kg of Sarin and had a 7.3 kg burster. The Weteye bomb appears to have contained 159 kg of Sarin and had a large bursting charge, around 27 kg, leading one to deduce that it had a much thicker case.”

            https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/articles/2017/04/13/anatomy-sarin-bomb-explosion-part/

            If you disagree, then either explain why you do and/or make your own estimate.

          • Avryl Densy

            You have the burden of proof in the wrong order. It isn’t up to me explain anything. You made the claim a bomb containing Sarin was dropped from the air. You went as far as being rather detailed in its description stating it had “a 5-10 kg high explosive burster charge to disperse its Sarin payload.”

            Unless you can provide any evidence to support your claim then I would advise against peddling conspiracy theories as it reflects poorly on your previous writings on this blog.

            Have you ANY evidence of a Sarin bomb? Not theories now but evidence. Not your opinions, not how amazing you are but cold hard evidence. Yes or no would do.

          • Azriel

            Avryl Densy.

            He’s given his explanation to his claims.

            Also, if you’re being insisitent on using the “burdon of proof”-rhetoric, l would ask you a couple of questions. The Assad and Russian both claimed that they attacked a compund that had CW. Thats a claim they made which should mean, according to your logic, that they should provide evidence to back this up. Have you any? If you do not share the view of the russians and syrians, whats your position on that?

          • Adrian D.

            Hello DDTee,

            Wouldn’t your 5-10kg of TNT equivalent produce a noise when it exploded and pulverised the casing?

            A key element of the evidence that ‘attack 1’ was a chemical munition was that there was no explosive sound from the ‘first attack’.

            Ismail Raslan, from the HRW report (who I also strongly suspect was the only witness quoted in the OPCW report) stated that he was close enough to hear the whine and wind from the bom, but only a dull thud. Would this be what you might expect from upto 10kg of TNT? Sounds more than a little implausble to me.

    • Clay Claiborne

      Much of your comment seems so willfully confused that I am forced to question your motive. For example, you accuse Higgins of asking Hersh to give up his single source. He did no such thing, He asked for the coordinates of the building that was struck. Where is the danger in giving that up. You say a cinder block building was bombed but we don’t believe you. You tell us where the building is and then we will see for ourselves and shut up. Or you refuse to tell us where the building is or say you don’t know where the building is and we don’t take it on faith that somewhere in Khan Sheikhoun there is a bombed out cinder block building.

      Hersh also said he was provided transcripts of real-time communications. He should release those too. We don’t ask him to give up his source. Anyone who can ease drop on the president, knows what’s in the basement of a building in Idlib, and knows what Putin tells Assad is obviously too unbelievable to be compromised.

      Also, you claim there were no bomb fragments. How quickly Dr. Ted Postol’s theory has been forgotten by his former supporters. He found bomb fragments in a crater in the street. Remember? He said they were fragments of a terrorist pipe bomb. Remember?

      If Hersh is correct, Dr. Theodore Postol is all wrong, but Postol did document bomb fragments and now the OPCW has told us where they came from.

      Also you say sarin dosen’t smell and doesn’t produce a cloud. Well sarin might not smell, but the additives, explosive charges and reaction products do, Also water doesn’t smell but under the right conditions it will produce a cloud, as any liquid that can be suspended in air in tiny droplets can.

      As for the passion some of us have to see the real killer named and con artists like Hersh exposed as necessary steps towards ending the slaughter. If you don’t get that, I can’t explain it.

      Reply
    • trak

      The OPCW interviewed witnesses and investigated local (electronic/phone etc.) early warning systems.
      They all state clearly there was no air attack in the morning in Khan Shaikoun on that day.
      That´s all to be read in that OPCW report, but bellingcat ignores this really important informations.

      Reply
      • RobTn

        Well given that

        The Russians and Syrians said there was an air attack at about 11:00AM that morning

        Hersh said there was an air attack about 7:00AM

        You’d seem to have a problem.

        Reply
  2. Mr White

    The OPCW report itself has testimony that a house or warehouse containing chemicals was hit.

    Interviews conducted in Damascus
    5.27
    The narrative collected from two interviews conducted in Damascus over the period of 21 – 22 June 2017 differs. One interviewee stated that “members of” … an armed opposition group… “had evicted tenants from a house in Khan Shaykhun, replacing them with new tenants and the house was used for the storage of weapons, munitions and barrels some two months prior to the incident on 4 April 2017”. That house appeared to have been damaged at some
    time during the incident on 4 April 2017.

    Reply
    • Bill Harvey

      Damascus interviews sound scripted. I’m not convinced by them. But it’s interesting the OPCW seen video footage of samples being collected around the alleged bomb site by someone who then forwarded them to the government (apparently).

      Reply
  3. Mr White

    6.19
    Although, some witnesses advised that the release was due to a munition dropped from an aircraft, the FFM was unable to retrieve any items from the site which would indicate the means of dispersal of a chemical. After analysing photographs and video supplied by witnesses, the FFM could not establish with a great degree of confidence the means of deployment and dispersal of the chemical.

    Reply
  4. Bubslug

    I agree that the Seymour Hersh story is likely not true, but I also believe this was a false flag perpetrated by Harat Tahrir Al Sham, not a Syrian regime air attack. Mr. Hersh is being played either by his source, or his source’s sources, probably to make President Trump look like a loose cannon (which is not too hard in any case).

    As for the argument that it is a false flag other comments posted on this story note the lack of any bomb fragments that would indicate an air dropped chemical munition that either failed to explode, or exploded with a very small charge.

    If that was true where is the tail section of the bomb for example? It should have survived, along with some other larger pieces of the bomb. The HRW storyline this is a Russian Khab 250 which malfunctioned and failed to airburst is just not credible because of this lack of bomb debris in the vicinity as noted by others posting here.

    The presence of hexamine in the sampling is also not a good argument for this being a regime attack since as documented thoroughly at the WhoGhouta website, that attack was most likely a rebel false flag and the samples from that attack contained sarin and hexamine.

    A third point supporting this as a false flag is the wind direction. Videos of conventional explosive clouds rising, alleged at nearly the same time as as the chemical munition was dropped were being blown to the east (viewed as to the left from the Saloum video), yet all the victims were to the southwest of the crater. For that matter, the green area presented as the OPCW victim zone in this article appears wrong as Al Jazeera presented a map showing more victims to the the north west of the victim zone map shown here. Their map could have been based on HRW data, as seen as red circles on the laptop screen in one of their videos of this event.

    A fourth point in favour of the false flag hypothesis there is evidence of victim “rescue faking”, or videoing scenes of victims being rushed into a hospital, when it’s clear from other video that some of those being rescued were dead perhaps 4 hours earlier, as identified by unique characteristics of the victims and sun angles.

    As a final comment on the Hersh story, I think one thing his source has right is that there is skepticism in the US intelligence community that this was a regime chemical attack.

    Reply
    • DDTea

      “If that was true where is the tail section of the bomb for example?”

      Somewhere within a 100-200m radius, perhaps? Fragmented into multiple pieces? And let’s suppose that it were found somewhere, days (or weeks) later. You and I both know that would be unconvincing to you–you (and I) would be on the same page in saying it could not uniquely be linked to the chemical attack on April 4, given the extensive bomb damage to Khan Sheikhoun.

      “The presence of hexamine in the sampling is also not a good argument for this being a regime attack since as documented thoroughly at the WhoGhouta website”

      As someone who contributed to early discussions at WhoGhouta, it is abundantly clear that that website is a phony investigation. It is designed to have the appearance of an objective analysis, but its conclusions are independent of any of the discussion, debate, or rebuttals in the comments section. As an obvious, glaring example of sasa wawa’s piss-poor analysis, he believes this video to be an authentic depiction of the chemical attack ( http://whoghouta.blogspot.com/2013/09/liwa-al-islam-videos-improved-quality.html ) in spite of confirmation that a Howitzer was *not* used to deliver Sarin.

      Look: you denialists have been wrong about everything regarding hexamine since 2013. Why should anybody take you seriously now when you come up with a new theory? How about you come up with some evidence for once.

      Reply
      • Bubslug

        “Somewhere within a 100-200m radius, perhaps?”

        That’s not very far to be found, but probably not event that far as multiple witnesses claim the chemical munitions didn’t make the sound of conventional bombs, but instead a “thump” sound, meaning a very small charge inside the bomb or no charge at all, meaning the noise was just that of the bomb impacting the pavement.

        “It is designed to have the appearance of an objective analysis”

        BellingCat isn’t really objective either, but no matter, take each source for what is credible and what is not (kind of like prosecution and defense in a courtroom). I think my interpretation of the August 2013 chemical attacks in Moadamiyah and Zamalka began with the review of the UN report. From that report it appeared that the Moadamiyah attack was faked as the fatality victims apartment shown by the rebels and sampled by the UN had no traces of sarin, and in most cases not even decomposition products. So if the West Ghouta attack was faked, it seemed likely the real attack in East Ghouta was a false flag, conducted by the rebels and timed to take advantage of the arrival of UN inspectors in Damascus to investigate earlier chemical attacks in the spring of 2013.

        Reply
    • DDTea

      This must be interpreted together with details of the terrain. Nonetheless, all the noise made by certain “experts” and Assadists about the wind direction has proven to be exactly that: noise, unsupported by a shred of fact.

      “6.21 The descending nature of the terrain from the initiation point and the distribution of the casualties support the promulgation of a chemical denser than air, which followed the slightly descending nature of the hill towards lower areas towards the West and South West of the likely initiation location, and along a street descending from the hill in a southerly direction. ”

      (P. 52 / 78 of the latest OPCW report)

      Reply
    • Bubslug

      “Wind direction on april 4th, 8am, seems consistent with the image showing contamination zone:”

      The bomb clouds drift to the east, maybe a little north of east, maybe a little south of east, but in the end that evidence trumps any readings from an airport 50 km to the west.

      Reply
      • Adrian D.

        I’d tend to agree – although I’m not a qualified fluid dynamicist.

        All the particles of smoke and dust are all heavier than air and yet they’re conspicuously not creeping back down the hill are they? There’s more than enough movement in the air to propel them along – I can think why it would be any different for sarin.

        Reply
  5. DDTea

    Regarding the “thump:” I can’t say how a high explosive sounds, dampened by liquid/disseminating vapor cloud, mixed with flying crater ejecta, from an arbitrary distance away, in a built-up neighborhood, based on the third-hand written account of an eyewitness. Can you?

    The size of the crater is a good piece of objective evidence to work with. Firstly, there’s no way an impact, without explosion, can create that crater–that can be dismissed immediately. Examples from the Gaza war in 2014 show several examples of 1000 lb bombs, which failed to detonate, leaving no craters in the road. The size of the crater can give us a rough idea of the yield of high explosive that created it.

    There are formulas for doing said calculations (see below). So given this amount of high explosive–even, being extremely conservative, and saying 2 kg TNT–debris from the bomb would be hurled rather far away. As a point of reference, the is a video available online showing what 5 kg of TNT inside of a car does to it (car parts are hurled at least 40 m vertically, and much farther laterally). And again, given the extensive bomb damage to the city, including in the vicinity of the silos, how could an investigator unambiguously link recovered debris from ~100 m away to the Sarin attack that originated from the crater?

    This leads me to believe that obsessing over the remnants of the bomb is a lot of noise about nothing.

    High explosives and cratering:
    [1] http://keith.aa.washington.edu/craterdata/scaling/index.htm
    [2] http://www.cimec.org.ar/ojs/index.php/mc/article/viewFile/713/675 (Cool calculator!)
    [3] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JB076i023p05732/pdf

    Reply
    • Avryl Densy

      “formulas” & “calculations” but no facts or evidence just theories. Another words just a lot of “noise”.

      “This leads me to believe that obsessing over the remnants of the bomb is a lot of noise about nothing.”

      Interpreted this means, “I haven’t got any evidence but it’s not really important because I have a theory that makes me right.”

      I’m embarrassed for you.

      Reply
      • Mad Dog

        Aw, poor boy, ego roughed up a bit. Otherwise, why would you persist pursuing this line. DDT has shown a knowledge far deeper than most here and I doubt that came in the past 3 months. Attack his technical analysis and stop being Russian about him personally as a means of diverting attention.

        Reply
    • Bubslug

      “Examples from the Gaza war in 2014 show several examples of 1000 lb bombs”

      We’ve been through this before. Those Gaza bombs were moved after being extracted from their real impact point. There is absolutely 100% utterly no conceivable way that a 500 lb to 1000 lb object can fall unimpeded from a 500 m relative elevation or more without a significant impact crater being formed. This simply the laws of physics; the energy has to be absorbed by some combination of the bomb itself and the ground, and the energy is significant.

      Reply
      • DDTea

        Yes, I recall you saying that previously. That discussion is here, between you, me, and Paveway: https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/articles/2017/04/13/anatomy-sarin-bomb-explosion-part/comment-page-1/

        And you’ve shown the dangers of inductive reasoning. You’ve made your calculation of the energy of the falling bomb, you’ve made your prediction of what that *should* do; but when faced with contradictory evidence (i.e., 1 ton bombs that did not leave craters in paved surfaces), you have nothing to do but reject it as invalid. They MUST have been moved! It might even be a conspiracy to frame Assad.

        On the other hand, I would look at those photos and say, “Maybe roads are strong, paved, dense surfaces designed to handle the wear and tear of heavy objects. Maybe it takes something truly extraordinary to damage them.”

        I’d also consider the impulse of the falling object rather than just its absolute energy. You calculated that a 1 ton object falling from 500 meters would have a kinetic energy of 25 MJ or thereabouts. That’s actually comparable to 5 – 10 kg of TNT (1 kg of TNT = 4.184 Megajoules; 5 – 10 kg TNT = 21 – 42 Megajoules). The difference is in the impulse: TNT rearranges its surroundings all sudden-like, on a timescale far faster than a collision.

        Not everything is as basic as you would think. And by the way, seeking validation from Paveway is a risky endeavor considering he’s made false statements before (for example: that hexamine can form by “unnitration” of RDX during detonation).

        Reply
        • Bubslug

          See my comment to “waveshaper” which was intended for you.

          The bottom line on the whole bomb debris issue is that what has been produced isn’t consistent with a 500 lb bomb exploded by a 5kg “burster” charge. Where is the bomb tail? Or any other fragments of this alleged bomb?

          The rebels are masters at propaganda so if they had more bomb fragments they would have produced them. Then again, I shouldn’t give them ideas, they’ll fake a sarin bomb by detonating a burster charge in a 500 lb bomb filled mostly with water, then spray bottle the resulting fragments with a dilute sarin mix and voila: “we just found more evidence on a nearby roof that proves Assad did this”.

          Reply
          • DDTea

            It’s very consistent with a chemical bomb falling and its sarin payload being dispersed by a high explosive charge. Firstly, this would be the default assumption for the way that Sarin (and most other chemical weapons) would be dispersed: by a small, high explosive burster charge. This has been the standard mode of delivery for close to 100 years for a variety of chemical weapons. If you believe it was disseminated some other way, you’ve created a high bar of evidence for yourself.

            And we see exactly what we’d expect to see in Khan Sheikhoun if such a chemical bomb detonated: eyewitness accounts of a “thump,” a small crater, traces of bomb debris, and the rest of the debris scattered over a wide field.

            If your only qualm is that the remainder of the bomb hasn’t been found, then I agree with you: that debris would be nice to have. But its unavailability no way discounts that it was used.

    • waveshaper

      “Examples from the Gaza war in 2014 show several examples of 1000 lb bombs, which failed to detonate, leaving no craters in the road”.

      To a novice this may look like it’s impossible but trust me “this is normal”. I’ve cleared “thousands” of air dropped bombs of every possible type in my 27 year EOD career that left no crater at the location of the bombs final resting place. One trip to a bombing range and you will see bombs like this “everywhere”.
      After impact it’s very common for bombs to skip, tumble, porpoise, and make many skip marks/small craters that show direction of travel/angle of impact of the bomb as it heads downrange dissipating its kinetic energy. Normally at the end of this sequence of events and as the bombs kinetic energy is dissipated they roll/slide/gently make their last tumbles and come to rest in a position that leaves very little evidence the bomb was dropped from an aircraft.

      Reply
      • Mad Dog

        Hahahaha, your evidence must all have been faked. There were actually a bunch of neo-White Helmets on those firing ranges just waiting to cart those bombs around to new resting places, just like in Israel. Kind of an exciting job, doncha think?

        Reply
      • Bubslug

        “……..you’ve made your prediction of what that *should* do; but when faced with contradictory evidence (i.e., 1 ton bombs that did not leave craters in paved surfaces)”

        The kinetic energy of the bomb resting on the pavement is zero. The kinetic energy of a one ton (2000 lb) bomb was 25MJoules (actually 22.6MJ) assuming it is dropped from high enough to hit 500 mph (which is depending on aero drag it’s terminal velocity). So where did the 22.6MJ of kinetic energy go? It has to be either in the pavement or the bomb itself, but since the pavement is much softer than the bomb, mostly in the pavement. It is not simply not conceivable the photos you showed were taken of where said bombs impacted and I won’t be drawn into this nonsensical conversation again.

        You are wrong. Period.

        That said the energy of this alleged bomb wouldn’t be 25MJ as the weight is much less than 2000 lb. and the terminal velocity likely less than 500 mph.

        Reply
        • Bubslug

          “….that left no crater at the location of the bombs final resting place.”

          But there’s a crater or craters someplace. Millions of joules of energy don’t get absorbed by pavement or even concrete with showing significant impact signs which is what DDTea appears to be claiming with his Israeli bomb examples.

          Reply
          • waveshaper

            Yep, there will be a crater/skip mark where the bomb initially impacted the surface/target and after it skips/tumbles there will be other craters/skip marks. One skipping/tumbling bomb can make numerous craters/skip marks as it heads down range dissipating its energy by bouncing off stuff like the ground/buildings etc.

          • DDTea

            Thanks for sharing your experience 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)?

            These dimensions were measured/estimated by the folks at Forensic Architecture, http://www.forensic-architecture.org/case/khan-sheikhoun-crater/ .

          • Somone

            Concrete has a failure stress of about 20 MPa (https://www.nrmca.org/aboutconcrete/cips/35p.pdf)
            Contact area depends on bomb shape, but let’s say 0.15m x 0.15m (diameter of bomb is 0.5m per wikipedia page) = 0.02m^2
            Force = deceleration x mass
            Velocity = min {(2 x g x height)^0.5, terminal velocity = 200m/s roughly depending on shape of bomb}
            So from 5,000 feet = 1,524 metres, bomb attains velocity of say 170m/s
            Failure Stress = Force / Area
            = vertical deceleration x mass / Area
            Assuming linear deceleratio, deceleration = velocity / time

            Solve for amount of time for impact to take place in to keep stresses below failure stress

            time = Stress x Area / mass x velocity
            = 20×10^6 x 0.02 / 454 x 270
            = 10.4 seconds to decelerate bomb

            So easily feasible to drop a bomb from 5,000 feet without hitting breaking stress of concrete.

          • Bubslug

            @Somone:

            You’ve completely bungled your calculation, but you’re missing the important part, namely over what distance does the deceleration take place.

            This whole side trip on the Israeli bombs on undisturbed pavement is irrelevant in any case, other than to demonstrate how tenuous a grasp some have on basic physics.

          • DDTea

            No, this tangent serves a purpose: you made a dubious claim (that a falling object can create a 1.4m x 1.6m x 0.5m crater on a highway), that claim is being scrutinized (your calculation of kinetic energy was too simplistic), and now you’re growing defensive rather than acknowledging your error.

            Your assumption has been that the bomb impacts the pavement and comes to a complete stop immediately, thus imparting its energy strictly to the ground and leaving a crater. This is not borne out by either photographic evidence (from Gaza), other calculations (e.g. by somone above), or by Waveshaper’s experience in EOD.

            No, we’re not going to let this slide because it relates to an important fact about Khan Sheikhoun: the crater resulted from a high explosive.

            You’re not getting a free pass to obfuscate this point.

          • Bubslug

            @DDTea:

            “No, this tangent serves a purpose: you made a dubious claim…”

            I suppose you’re right on the “serves a purpose” part, as you won’t ever claim again that a large unexploded bomb can fall on pavement, leaving no damage to the pavement. You now appear to be pretending you knew all along that a falling unexploded bomb would make a crater and that the only argument was about whether it will make a 1.61×1.45 m crater (I like the centimeter accuracy in your estimate). I’ll repeat what I said back in April on the other thread:

            “It is not physically possible for a one ton object to hit the ground at xx hundred miles per hour and not have a crater or hole in something. The energy must be absorbed by deformation heat and sound energy and that energy is very large.”

            As for this comment:

            “that claim is being scrutinized (your calculation of kinetic energy was too simplistic)”

            If my calculated energy for a 1 ton bomb falling at terminal velocity is not 22.6MJoules, then what is it?

            As for this comment:

            “Your assumption has been that the bomb impacts the pavement and comes to a complete stop immediately”

            Where did I say that straw man maker? Anyway, it’s a reasonable assumption the bomb will not “skip” along the pavement if the bomb is falling at it’s terminal velocity, which was my scenario. In that case it would be falling mostly vertical and hence would not “skip”. Most likely it would embed itself in the ground, which is why we’re still digging up buried WWII bombs in Europe. The bomb will only “skip” along if it has a substantial lateral horizontal velocity component relative to it’s vertical velocity component.

            Anyway so now that you’re an expert on falling bomb energy dissipation thanks to somone and waveshaper, tell me where somone went wrong in his calculation.

          • DDTea

            Those dimensions are from Forensic Architecture’s analysis of the crater. Yeah, sig figs. Round that figure (within reason).

            “tell me where somone went wrong in his calculation.”
            Running his numbers I get (20×10^6 x 0.02) / (454 x 270) = 3.6 seconds. He may have made some typos, so (20 MPa x 0.0225 m^2 ) / (454 kg* x 170 m/s) = 5.2 seconds. Not sure where 10.4 seconds is coming from. He may be assuming a narrower impact cross section. (454 kg = 1000 lbs; 170 m/s = terminal velocity he used).

            This encompasses the time for the falling bomb to come to a complete stop from 170 m/s: to stop bouncing, skipping, and rolling–thus transferring all of its kinetic energy to the ground. All of this motion reduces the chance of cratering. To impart this KE as violently as possible, in a way that maximizes the chance of cratering, would require a perfectly inelastic collision. That’s why I said that, “Your assumption has been that the bomb impacts the pavement and comes to a complete stop immediately.”

            You made this assumption from your discussion of deterministic changes in energy rather than a discussion of force, pressure, and impulse. 26 MJ is a fine number, but your strategy for is inadequate.

            A bomb does not need a significant horizontal velocity component to skip. I just dropped a few objects (pencil, spoon, permanent marker, eraser for dry erase board) on the ground and noted their displacement from their point of impact. They bounce up, rotate about their center of gravity, and re-impact horizontally. A crude experiment, but Newtonian mechanics are broadly applicable to objects in every day life.

          • Bubslug

            @DDTea:

            “This encompasses the time for the falling bomb to come to a complete stop from 170 m/s: to stop bouncing, skipping, and rolling–thus transferring all of its kinetic energy to the ground”

            The correct answer is not 5.2 seconds. And when you figure out what it really is, then also tell me the answer to my question back to somone. As for your skipping, bouncing bomb, somone was not using that model if you understand what he was trying to do. He was thinking all energy was absorbed in the initial collision between bomb and concrete.

            We know from watching car crash testing that while most energy is absorbed by deformation of the car, some energy is dissipated in “springback” of the car, plus some energy is noise etc. That’s true for bombs, and the ground they hit too but keep in mind that the Israeli bombs you presented had no significant deformation so all the energy was in the impact area, not the bomb itself.

            However, not all bombs bounce and skip, some just dig themselves in like in this photo:

            https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/unexploded-bomb-crater-warning-signs-set-17819845

            This photo is closer to the somone model. In this particular case, the energy was all dissipated by making a crater, although we can’t see the nose of the bomb, so some may have went into deformation of the bomb casing. To be fair somone was calculating only the max possible force on the concrete, i.e. the bomb does not deform since if the bomb deformed the area would spread out (i.e. > 0.02 m^2) so his calculation was the conservative one. While a bomb hitting concrete would likely deform, as Paveway pointed out, the Israeli Mk34s you showed photos of had likely punched through some concrete floors or cinder block wall before they came to rest on the pavement, and those bombs still looked fairly intact.

          • Somone

            I ran the calculations on Windows Calculator, so yes, just finger trouble.

            @bubslug

            Feel welcome to solve for s instead, with s giving the depth of penetration(including the concrete into the bomb and the bomb into the concrete – both entirely feasibly Hooke’s law reversible elastic compressions). It’s not terribly complicated.v=0 (when bomb stops), u = terminal velocity, a = force / mass = stress x area / mass, and v^2 = u^2 + 2 x a x s. so s= -u^2/2a

            Note that due to drag which increases with square of velocity vertical terminal velocity of 170m/s is probably overestimated [I assumed free fall as in vacuum. In reality acceleration = g – Cd x 0.5 x atmospheric density x cross sectional area x (integral of acceleration) squared]. I just ran it in excel and come up with terminal velocity nearer 140m/s

            Contact area depends very much on what angle the bomb hits at. An important qualification is failure of concrete is very sensitive to the angle of the bomb. If it hits at 90 degrees, clearly the contact area is minimal – just the tip of the nose cap – and failure of concrete is almost inevitable due to very high localised stresses. As the collision progresses, the contact area of the collision increases.

            If you want to know what happened to the rest of the energy dissipated by drag, it has been dissipated as thermal or vortex energy into the atmosphere.

            I did assume contact area is far less than that of the cross sectional area of a bomb due to the narrowing nose cap – as I noted the actual geometry is detemined by the angle the bomb hits at, and this is critical to determining whether a crater will form.

  6. DDTea

    Did you seriously misread that statement to deduce that I learned chemistry in the past 3 months?

    With reading comprehension as poor as that, what can you possibly have to contribute here?

    Reply
    • DDTea

      First time I’ve been asked so directly, “Do you know something we don’t??”

      I gave an honest answer, as I always do.

      Reply
      • DDTea

        No it doesn’t. You won’t improve your reading comprehension by blaming everyone else for your shortcomings.

        Reply
  7. Avryl Densy

    Azriel – July 4, 2017

    “Avryl Densy.

    He’s given his explanation to his claims.”

    I didn’t ask him for an explanation. I asked him for evidence which he hasn’t provided. I could give you an explanation as to why I think I’m gorgeous but that doesn’t prove i am or provide evidence of my claim.

    “Also, if you’re being insisitent on using the “burdon of proof”-rhetoric, l would ask you a couple of questions.”

    Yes I’m an old stickler for proof and those making claims to prove their case. I know that evidence gets on the way of conspiracy theories and call me old fashioned if you chose but proof and burden of proof are important tenants in science. I kind of like them, they make me feel all warm inside.

    “The Assad and Russian both claimed that they attacked a compund that had CW. Thats a claim they made which should mean, according to your logic, that they should provide evidence to back this up. Have you any? If you do not share the view of the russians and syrians, whats your position on that?”

    You need to ask them for their evidence as they made the claims, not me. Just as Mr DDTea here has made claims and I have asked him for his evidence. That’s the beauty of burden of proof because unless you make a claim you don’t need to prove anything! But to meet you halfway here’s my position on ANY claims; If they’re not supported by evidence they may well be incorrect or at worst, lies.

    Reply
  8. DDTea

    Except ~100 dead and ~200 acutely exposed to Sarin; a crater that matches eyewitness testimony of the attack origin; and chemical analyses by independent bodies–including the Syrian government/SSRC–confirming the presence of Sarin at the locations identified by eyewitnesses.

    Reply
    • Avryl Densy

      Finding Sarin at the location of the crater is not evidence of how the Sarin got there. With no fragments of the alleged bomb uncovered or at least presented to the OPCW then we don’t know it was a bomb that delivered the Sarin. One can believe it was a bomb, hell one can even have had an apparition from the Virgin Mary telling them it was a bomb but in the absence of physical evidence it’s an unproven allegation (ps just as long as that apparition didn’t happen in Khan Sheikhoun or those nice trustworthy jihadists might just cut the heads off both you and poor we Mary).

      If there’s no bomb then there’s no evidence of a Syrian airforce Sarin attack. If there’s no evidence of a Syrian airforce Sarin attack then the whole opposition, western, US narrative falls apart. If that happens then we must ask, how exactly was the Sarin released? This also opens up a line of questioning that some may find uncomfortable such as, was it a rebel faction? So no bomb, no evidence.

      Surely you must ponder why there has been no remnants, no particles, no fragments, nothing at all from this bomb that has been recovered or handed over? If the rebels have any then why are they being shy with them? Can a bomb just simply simply vanish leaving no trace at all? Where is the bomb? Come out, come out wherever you are!

      Reply
      • DDTea

        Bomb fragment: “Here I am!”

        OPCW report S/1510/2017, page 47, Table 2, No. 7:

        ” 01SDS / Two metal objects from crater / DL#2 detected Sarin, DIPF, DIMP, TPP, hexamine, pyro. ”

        Annex 4 / Table 1 / Entry 75 / 01SDS … Evidence source: SAR (Syrian Arab Republic) .

        Reply
        • Avryl Densy

          “Bomb fragment: “Here I am!”

          You’re referring of course to the 2 “metal objects” the OPCW were handed, allegedly, from the crater. Interesting that you have no problem believing the validity of evidence presented by the Syrian government when you believe it suits your narrative but any other time you advise they are not to be trusted.

          That said, these two metal objects could be absolutely anything. At no stage does the OPCW suggest these fragments of metal could be remnants of the invisible bomb. I believe the OPCW report and I trust their experience & expertise. Had they felt they had evidence of a bomb they would have said so. Had they felt these “metal objects” were bomb fragments they would labelled them “bomb fragments” rather than trying to play word games with people.

          So we’re back to your conspiracy theory again of a big bomb, filled with Sarin, being dropped from a Syrian SU-22 fighter jet, on the orders of Assad, on Khan Sheikhoun. Where the hell is it hiding?

          Reply
  9. Avryl Densy

    The OPCW report yesterday has done more damage to the official narrative than supporters of said narrative would have wished for. The reason for this is that the OPCW is a professional team of people who try and get to the truth in difficult circumstances. In this instance they came under tremendous amounts of political pressure from all sides, the US & Russia, and were forced to carry out an investigation in a manner they weren’t entirely happy with. Indeed this investigation broke with many norms the organisation places at the heart of its integrity such as being able to visit the scene of an alleged crime, collecting samples from the site and interviewing witnesses they selected themselves.

    Instead they were forced to contract out the chain of custody of collected samples from the scene to opposition forces and their supporters therefore are not able to stand over their authenticity. They have also had to make do with preselected witnesses in Turkey who had been brought there after contamination in Khan Sheikhoun. Thus were not able to select their own witnesses. In the end they concluded, based upon all forms of evidence, that Sarin had been released in the town but could not confirm or theorise how that Sarin had been released even after witnesses saying it came for an airforce bomb. There just wasn’t any evidence they could find to support that claim. Thus they concluded: (going to steal this from a poster above as it’s correct and saves me the trouble)

    -“the FFM was unable to retrieve any items from the site which would indicate the means of dispersal of a chemical.”

    -“the FFM could not establish with a great degree of confidence the means of deployment and dispersal of the chemical.”

    What does that tell us? That Sarin was released. What does it not tell us? How it was released. Why is this damaging to the those who support the official/rebel narrative? Well they claimed from the start it was a bomb dropped from an SU-22 fighter jet that was filled with Sarin. The Whitehelmets confirmed this, as did the US military, as did all of the western media, as did HRW and so on….. But it looks like they all confirmed this method of delivery based upon no proof and only claims.

    I’ll say it again, where is the evidence of this bomb that was dropped from the SU22? Others have also asked for that today on here and elsewhere and nobody has yet been able to present the evidence (to my knowledge). Yet this conspiracy theory is still be propagated as fact with the help of BellingCat and Eliot Higgins.

    The victims serve the truth and the culprits brought to justice swiftly before they strike again, and they will if not caught. Ask yourself is what you’re doing and saying helping them find the truth and justice or protecting your own narrative for your own selfish reasons? Let’s find that bomb or start looking for other methods of dispersal. Peace.

    Reply
    • DDTea

      6.22 “When taken together, the number of casualties, the number of fatalities, the
      topography, the identified chemical, the likely point of initiation and the likely
      weather conditions all point to the deliberate release of a toxic chemical in sufficient quantity to cause death, incapacitation, and harm to humans and animals. ”

      6.23 “The FFM emphasises that it has interviewed a greater number of witnesses than would typically be expected for this type of mission. This relatively larger number has enhanced the corroborative value of different testimonies and provided a means to cross-check the evidence provided. This has therefore imparted greater confidence in the narrative and any resultant conclusions.”

      What does this tell us? It tells us that the OPCW’s FFM is truly an objective, professional, and independent body. They have done the best investigation possible under the cirumstances, with a team comprising a broad spectrum of expertise. They have presented their most confident conclusions while also being honest and forthcoming about any shortcomings in their investigation. This tells me (and Russia too, it seems) that there is no reason to doubt their findings.

      And indirectly, it tells us that the rebels/white helmets/al-qaeda/bogeyman has been more honest to the world than has Assad and his defenders, with their ever-changing, self-contradictory stories.

      Reply
      • Avryly Densy

        “And indirectly, it tells us that the rebels/white helmets/al-qaeda/bogeyman has been more honest to the world than has Assad and his defenders, with their ever-changing, self-contradictory stories.”

        I think what you mean is that it “indirectly” tells you what you want it tell you. It’s call “Confirmation Bias”.

        If I haven’t already been clear enough (with my several clarifications on my position) then allow me another opportunity to set the record straight as you continually attempt to smear all and anyone who disagrees with your narrative as somehow supporters or apologists for Russia or Syria.

        I loathe each side equally as much, well maybe I loathe al-Qaeda, ISIS and the bogeyman slightly more than the Russian side, but that said I think each side is as crazy as the other.

        I am on the side of facts and evidence and by extension truth. I am not interested in beliefs, innuendos, conspiracies or distraction. I don’t waste time with personal insults or personal attacks. I debate the facts and only the facts. Time to move on.

        Have you found the bomb yet?

        Reply
      • Bubslug

        @DDTea:

        “And indirectly, it tells us that the rebels/white helmets/al-qaeda/bogeyman has been more honest to the world”

        Do you have a comment on why these “honest” rebels were faking hospital rescue scenes with children who by the point they were rushed into hospital had been dead for 4 hours?

        Reply

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