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Open Source Survey of Alleged Chemical Attacks in Douma on 7th April 2018

April 11, 2018

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Translations: Русский, العربية

On April 7th 2018 reports began emerging of alleged chemical attacks on the city of Douma, in the rebel held pocket of Eastern Ghouta, Syria. Reports indicated that a significant number of people, including children, had been killed by these attacks. This report will assess and verify the open source information regarding these attacks, and draw conclusions from the available evidence.

All times are local.

Summary

  1. A large compressed gas cylinder of a type used in previous aerial chlorine attacks was filmed on top of the building where a large number of fatalities were documented.
  2. The number of dead bodies that can be established through open source data is 34+.
  3. Aircraft spotters reported two Mi-8 Hip helicopters heading southwest from Dumayr Airbase, in the direction of Douma, 30 minutes before the chemical attack in Douma, and two Hip helicopters were observed above Douma shortly before the attack.
  4. The Syrian Government has previously been identified as using Mi-8 Hip helicopters to drop chlorine cylinders on opposition held areas.

Reports of a Chemical Attack

Reports from the documentation group the Syrian Network for Human Rights indicated that there were at least two separate attacks involving chemical agents on the 7th April: one at 4pm near Sa’da bakery in Omar ben al Khattab St, which injured 15 people, and a second attack at around 1930 near al-Shuhada Square in Nu’man that killed 55 people and injured 860.

The Violations Documentation Center also reported two chemical attacks took place on April 7th 2018. As with the Syrian Network for Human Rights reports, the first attack was reported at 4pm near Sa’da bakery, with the VDC reporting claims from witnesses that chlorine was used. The VDC also reported the second attack at 1930 near al-Shuhada Square, and reported witness statements on the symptoms:

Dr. Jamal Rafie (pseudonym), told the VDC that the symptoms that he saw on patients “do not resemble chlorine attack symptoms. Chlorine alone cannot induce such symptoms because while it does cause suffocation, it does not affect the nerves. There were symptoms indicative of organic phosphorus compounds in the sarin gas category. But the smell of chlorine was also present in the place.”

Dr. Mohammed Kuttoub from the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) told the VDC that his colleagues in Eastern Ghouta saw symptoms on people that include: “pinpoint pupils, slow heartbeat, slow breathing, heavy foaming from the mouth and nose, and the burning of the cornea in some cases.”

The VDC also published the following graphic showing the locations of the attacks:

VDC map of attacks in Douma on April 7th 2018 (source)

Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, reported that a chemical attack at 1945 on the 7th April killed more than 43 people and injured over 500. They reported the dead victims displayed signs of cyanosis (a bluish discolouration of the skin), excessive oral foaming and corneal burns. Six living casualties were reported to have pinpoint pupils and convulsions. The report concluded the casualties had been exposed to “toxic chemicals; most likely an organophosphate element”.

Footage and Images

Footage and images posted on social media after the 1930 attack appear to depict a significant number of casualties, with many dead bodies located in a single building. Many of these bodies displayed symptoms consistent with the claims made in the Syrian Civil Defence statement and the VDC report.

Video 1, which is extremely graphic, was posted at 0020 on 8th April titled “#2018-4-7 Al Assad is shelling Duma with Chemicals. Horrifying massacre against civilians in Duma”. It depicts a large number of dead bodies spread across several rooms in what appears to be the ground (first) floor of a residential building.

Video 2, which is extremely graphic, was posted at 0346 on 8th April titled “2018-4-7 Witness the foaming from the mouth of the injured due to the exposure of civilians to sarin gas”. It documents more dead bodies spread across the second floor and stairwell of the same building as Video 1, as well as what appears to be a hole in the roof of the third floor.

Certain distinctive commonalities can be seen between Video 1 and Video 2, indicating they are filmed in the same building.

A bicycle with a white pannier – Top: Video 1, bottom: Video 2

A old woman with a single sock pulled down, sprawled near the entrance to the building – Top: Video 1, bottom: Video 2

A doorway and the body of a child wearing a distinctive red and white striped top. Faces obscured – Left: Video 2, right: Video 1

Multiple other videos and images posted on social media appear to show the same building and the same casualties.

In total, at least 34 unique bodies appear across the two videos: 23 on the ground floor, 10 on the second floor and one on the landing of the stairs between the second and third floors.

Geolocation

Video 3, which is extremely graphic, was posted at 1748 on 8th April by the SMART new agency, an opposition media network. It shows bodies being removed from the same building that Videos 1 & 2 were filmed in, and taken out into the street during daytime.

The same doorway seen in Video 1 & 2 can also be seen in Video 3. Faces obscured. – Left: Video 3, Right: Video 1

A window cage next to the doorway can be seen in both Video 1 and Video 3 – Left: Video 1, right: Video 3

A doorway with the same design can also be seen in both Video 1 and Video 3 – Left: Video 1, Right: Video 3

Video 4, filmed by a local activist and posted on Youtube by Aljazeera at 2044 on 9th April, depicts what seems to be Russian military personnel visiting and entering this building. This event appears to be corroborated by a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) which claimed “representatives of the Russian Reconciliation Centre have explored areas of Douma… Results of inspection refuted all reports of chemical weapons use in the city” (archived)

The same doorway the Russian personnel enter can be seen in both Video 3 and Video 4 – Top: Video 4, Bottom: Video 3

By analysing Video 4 and Video 5, which both depict Russian personnel entering the same block, we can geolocate this building to 33.573878, 36.404793. This location is immediately South West of al-Shuhada Square, which matches with the reports from the Syrian Network for Human Rights and VDC.

Geolocation of video 4 and video 5

Video 6, posted by Syrian Civil Defence at 2106 on 10th April, claims to show a “chemical gas canister… Same location as video of casualties”.

Taken from the top of a building, it shows a hole in the roof with a yellow compressed gas cylinder. The cameraman then swings the camera around, allowing the position to be geolocated, identifying it as the roof of the building at 33.573878, 36.404793.

A still from video 6 (bottom) compared to satellite imagery of the location, demonstrating the viewpoint is from the roof of the building at 33.573878, 36.404793

A distinctive building can also be identified in both Video 6 and Video 5

We can therefore conclude that Videos 1-6 were all filmed in the same area. All videos featured the same building which contained the large group of bodies depicted in Videos 1-2. Video 6 shows that this same building appears to have been hit by a compressed gas cylinder which broke through the roof.

Examination of munition

Following the attack, the remains of two yellow compressed gas cylinders were filmed and photographed. As described above, one gas cylinder was filmed on the roof of the building where a large number of fatalities were documented. A second gas cylinder was also filmed at a yet unidentified location:

The external modifications on the above cylinder are particularly interesting as they are consistent with modifications seen on other gas cylinders used in other reported aerial chlorine attacks. Very similar modifications can been seen in the following video from August 2017 in Khan al-Assal:

Yellow gas cylinders of the same type, with and without external structures, have been documented at the site of alleged aerial chlorine attacks since 2014, and were used on multiple occasions during the siege of Aleppo:

Human Rights Watch graphic showing yellow gas cylinders used in multiple attacks in Aleppo in late 2016 (source)

The most recent attack where yellow gas cylinders were documented following a reported aerial chlorine gas attack was the February 4th 2018 Saraqib attack, where two cylinders were photographed after being recovered from the attack site:

The two gas cylinders used in the Saraqib attack. Source SN4HR

The OPCW has also investigated some of the attacks where yellow gas cylinders were used in aerial chlorine attacks, confirming they were dropped from helicopters. Aircraft observers that are part of the Sentry Syria network observed two Hip helicopters heading southwest from Dumayr Airbase, northeast of Damascus, in the direction of Douma, 30 minutes before the chemical attack in Douma, and two Hip helicopters were observed above Douma shortly before the attack. Hip transport helicopters have also been linked to previous aerial chlorine attacks.

With allegations of Sarin use, it is important to note that these yellow gas cylinders are not associated with the use of Sarin, and as Sarin is a liquid a compressed gas cylinder seems an unlikely method of delivery for Sarin. Possible explanations for the allegations of Sarin use may be a result of the severity of the symptoms presented, of an undocumented munition being used, or another chemical agent being used that presents symptoms that could be confused with Sarin use.

Conclusion

Based on the available evidence, it is highly likely the 34+ victims killed in the 1930 attack on the apartment building near al-Shuhada Square were killed as a result of a gas cylinder filled with what is most likely chlorine gas being dropped from a Hip helicopter originating from Dumayr Airbase.

Bellingcat’s research for this publication was supported by PAX for Peace.

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187 Comments

  1. nicholas

    Any one here ever heard any half convincing explanation about how exactly these cylinders are supposed to function as part of a weapon system delivered from the air or why the Syrian Government forces would be using such visibly ineffective weapons improvised from standard industrial chlorine gas cylinders?
    Weren’t they supposed to have factories where these weapon were being manufactured – you would surely expect something more military grade by way of bomb and delivery system than a standard industrial tank fitted with flimsy metal fins of dubious aerodynamic functionality.

    Reply
      • nicholas

        That’s a rocket launcher isn’t it – what’s that got to do with a heliocopter delivering these industrial grade yellow cylinders from the air
        – that’s the claim

        Reply
        • DDTea

          You were arguing that the Syrian regime does not use improvised weapons. I provided one piece of video evidence (among hundreds or thousands more) that they do use improvised weapons, as recently as the past week.

          In other words, the crude nature of the chlorine gas weapons is no reason to doubt their SAA-origin.

          That’s my counter-claim.

          Reply
          • Frank

            And the “pristine” state of the cylinders after being dropped from helicopters is my counter argument (and no, you haven’t explained that, although you claim to).
            Plus that boy depicted in the WH hosing down vid speaking out now.
            This was most likely a false flag, and the bombing by F-UK-US was a violation of int law in itself.

        • Mike Tutt

          You must be living under a rock if you have not seen and heard about Syria’s use of “barrel bombs” dropped by helicopter. These yellow chlorine canisters are one such weapon, but they have also dropped conventional and improvised explosives in this manner.

          Also you claim that the chemical attacks are ineffective. This is simply not true. The Douma rebels surrendered to the regime hours after the April 7th chemical attacks. They are a potent tactical weapon.

          Reply
          • nicholas

            I still don’t understand how dropping a standard yellow industrial cylinder is supposed to work as a weapons system?

        • muchandr

          Helicopter story is inconsistent with them dropping thin end / pressure regulator first. The taller ones are very bottom heavy, otherwise dropping one would tumble neighbors like dominoes. You are welcome to suggest how chlorine being there in liquid form might affect the center of mass.

          If they are really EU-spec as solid yellow color scheme suggests, possible sufficiently overbuilt against rupturing from freewill even at terminal velocity. Close enough to point mass, so mv^2 converted to Joules is the energy involved. They are supposedly sufficiently sturdy to resist exploding while standing in burning gasoline filled with propane. How many Joules is that? (the direction of force is of course opposite to intended one)

          Reply
      • Simon

        You use the term regime, dont you mean democratically elected government. Just priot to the war starting NATO published a report showing that 70% of the country supported the Government. Should we call the UK government the “Regime”?

        Reply
        • DDTea

          Syria is not a democracy by any serious definition. Election theater is not the same as the rule of law (rather than fiat), checks and balances, or genuine politicaly pluracy.

          That 70% number is as fake as the 99.7% that appointed Hafez Al Assad. Show me one Syrian who voted against Bashar.

          Reply
          • Frank

            Saudi Arabia is not a democracy by any definition either. And still, it is deemed fit to run a proxy war for Western democratic powers.
            Double standards are the problem here.

          • muchandr

            The point of this discussion is moot.

            There is no international law in sight that allows some nations to affect regime changes in other nations on the account of their perception of the later as insufficiently democratic. Neither does any of you have voting rights in foreign countries that you are no citizens of on individual basis, so what gives you the right? May I nominate myself to be the sole and lawful heir of Bashar Al-Assad then?

            Everybody knows that, so bringing up the democracy issue is a) Newspeak for something else b) red herring distracting away from such b) plain demagoguery

            What else did I miss?

      • muchandr

        There is nothing crude about conventional heavy machine gun mounted on some civilian truck chassis. The offensive properties of the weapon are the same as elsewhere and it is not self-made at all.

        I suspect many of those come from dismantling old AA turrets where they were bundled in bunches of about four. Those are unlikely to be of much use in their original flak role these days anyway.

        Reply
    • Mark

      In the spirit of full disclosure I am British and I trust in our intelligence and security services. I do not expect them to have some smoking gun that proves one way or another, just as this article in my opinion does not prove so. But rather that an array sources and evidence paints an overall picture to them that what occurred was what they state. So consider me biased in the matter should you want.

      “Weren’t they supposed to have factories where these weapon were being manufactured – you would surely expect something more military grade by way of bomb and delivery system than a standard industrial tank fitted with flimsy metal fins of dubious aerodynamic functionality.”

      The Taliban and Irish Republican Army each had factories that built bombs. But those factories were no more substantial or technological than our own kitchens. And the devices built were almost no more technological than an flashlight stuck into some explosive. The word “factory” being used does not mean that items that an location produces have to be sophisticated in any manner.

      Also I assume Syria might not have its own arms industry that you could expect “something more military grade by way of bomb and delivery system” from. As I believe for everything else they arm their armed forces with they rely upon purchasing foreign equipment. Were they able to produce something with the traits you describe you would also expect that they could develop their own service rifle or aircraft, they have not as far as I am aware, everything is foreign or improvised.

      “How exactly these cylinders are supposed to function as part of a weapon system delivered from the air?”

      How about just being dropped from an height and relying upon the deformation and buckling caused when they impact the “ground” releasing the, maybe compressed, chlorine gas. For the layman consider what occurs when an coke can has been shaken up and thrown to the ground. That combined with an helicopter as an delivery platform and you then have an chemical weapon system. That’s one explanation when you assume they are nothing more than an standard industrial tank.

      “Why the Syrian Government forces would be using such visibly ineffective weapons improvised from standard industrial chlorine gas cylinders?”

      In essence the reason is the same as the justification for using the Atomic Bomb upon Japan in 1945, to force your enemy to capitulate and avoid the casualties that other options might cause you. But going more specific about chemical weapons and the reasons you would use them in this circumstance;

      Firstly remember that chemical weapons scare the absolute f*****g s**t out of people and that attacking an enemy in urban terrain using conventional means is rather hard, so one reason is that through scaring your enemy into leaving the area with some chemical weapons causes you less casualties than clearing them out using your conventional forces.

      Secondly remember that chemical weapons do relatively little damage to infrastructure compared to conventional weapons, so another reason is that once the conflicts over rebuilding your infrastructure is going to be cheaper, given that its just some holes in ceilings and etc rather than buildings that are turned to rubble.

      Reply
      • nicholas

        That building and much of Douma looks pretty much destroyed already so I don’t think anyone was trying to protect infrastructure.

        And the whole point is those canisters in the pictures don’t look at all deformed or buckled from any kind of impact from being dropped from the air or by any kind of explosion to release any gas. That’s what I don’t understand ?

        Reply
        • Mark

          That might not have been an consideration for them indeed. But that’s an reason you would use such weapons over others, reasons to state that rather than “visibly ineffective” their usage is “tactically effective”. I dare say the morale effect these weapons have was their main consideration, esp considering what was going on with the negotiations with those in the area.

          The ones in the pictures look deformed, the one in the video with the gas masked man indeed does not though and struggle to trust for some reason. But you asked “how exactly these cylinders are supposed to function as part of a weapon system delivered from the air” and my answer was one for just that presuming they are no more than canisters (which these latest might not be).

          Reply
          • nicholas

            Which ones look deformed ? Neither of the two in the Douma videos does – the pictures at the end of the report are from earlier dates.

          • Mark

            I realise the pictures are from earlier dates. Your original question was querying how such canisters in general could function as an weapon. And you said “those canisters in the pictures don’t look at all deformed”.

            But if you are now saying its just those canisters in the two videos that you are confused about and querying. I also struggle to take them seriously for various reasons. But then again we cannot see them in great detail and only from one angle and could be more than just canisters now and have some improvised single shot valve on them to release the gas on impact.

  2. Stefan Pecen

    You stated wrong year in conclusion:
    Conclusion

    Based on the available evidence, it is highly likely the 34+ victims killed in the 1930 attack on the apartment building near al-Shuhada Square were killed as a result of a gas cylinder filled with what is most likely chlorine gas being dropped from a Hip helicopter originating from Dumayr Airbase.

    You probably meant 2018?
    Stefan

    Reply
  3. Ben

    I work in construction. Let me clarify that a standard industrial gas canister would not penetrate a concrete framed apartment blocks reinforced concrete roof. It would burst on impact no matter what height it was dropped from. Ive seen this first hand. The image showing the alleged bomb resting complete with stabilising fins resting on a wooden bed after penetrating a standard 150mm reinforced with steel concrete roof is a clear fabrication or staged photo

    Reply
  4. Paul Williams

    Ben – April 19, 2018
    I work in construction. Let me clarify that a standard industrial gas canister would not penetrate a concrete framed apartment blocks reinforced concrete roof. It would burst on impact

    Of course it would. It’s a thin walled pressurised cylinder.

    Reply
    • DDTea

      “It’s a thin walled pressurised cylinder.”

      This is completely false. They are very thick walled. Thick and strong enough to contain 130 atmospheres of pressure. An unfilled cylinder weighs 60-70 kg.

      Reply
      • Dilbert

        Nope. The pictures above show bursted gas cylinders that are just in the range of not more than 5mm ‘tin cans’, I would guess it’s 2..3mm at most.
        This complies with typical LPG gas tanks, which would clearly not being able to penetrate a standart concrete roof. These are not high pressure, rather in the 30bar range.
        These cylinders would only make sense if droped in open steets or if dropped into roof tops already cracked open from bombing.

        Reply
        • DDTea

          I stand corrected on the cylinders. I had cylinders for permanent gasses like hydrogen, helium, and argon in mind. Stupid mistake. Chlorine can be liquified at 5.9 bar at 20 C. Propane, for comparison, requires 10 bar to liquify at 20 C.

          Checking airgas’s catalog (http://airgassgcatalog.com/catalog/P15_Chlorine_Pure_Gases.pdf) their chlorine cylinders have a delivery pressure of 85 psig (5.9 bar) and a weight of 40 kg or so. These can be taken as points of reference.

          Using this online calculator, https://www.angio.net/personal/climb/speed.html , together with one that factors air resistance https://keisan.casio.com/exec/system/1224830797 a 40 kg object should be moving 38 m/s at impact from a height of 300 m. This doesn’t factor in the shape of the cylinder; I’m using thr default drag of 0.24. Can concrete provide the force to stop that? Depends on how long the collision lasts. If it’s under 1 second, then no way will the cylinder stop. Again, a karate chop can go through concrete.

          But also, is there any footage showing the view from the roof of the bedroom? How do we know that it is even made from concrete?

          Reply
        • muchandr

          Where I live in the EU, the largest cylinders are pretty much identical, regardless whether gas liquefies or not. If it does, the pressure is “vapor pressure of equilibrium” at temperature or some 220 atm for compressed gases. Likely a lot more, those are built like tanks are are only available for rent, not for sale. The buffest regulators I’ve seen are for cryo CO2 with manometer dials going no further up then 250 atm. The buffest pneumatic joins are at 600-660 atm. Dunno where they are used, but if there are flammable gases or vapors involved, leak-profaneness at given pressure is validated with helium, which also comes in a can o’220.

          Reply
  5. Hefaistos

    There are rebars in the hole, so should be concrete.

    “this place was hit with a projectile or small bomb some time ago. It was fairly small and heavy, probably smaller in diameter than this gas cylinder. It fully entered, bending the bar where seen, tearing the cross-bars free there, ripping that long segment of material down and to the right with its main force, and a smaller segment to the left. That doesn’t happen when the object just hits it from above and then stops.

    The grid of reinforcing bar was pushed down or projected shockwaves, causing the lines we see like scratches: concrete disrupted along the grid lines. The material shaken free of the rebar cage fell all over the floor, leaving that concavity in the ceiling, including the proper hole all the way though. Then later, someone placed these domestic items here for no particular reason, and started the fire, and placed the gas cylinder.”
    See photos and detailed discussion:
    https://libyancivilwar.blogspot.se/2018/04/cw-barrel-bomb-that-wasnt-there.html

    Reply
    • DDTea

      There are two gas dispersal sites and two cylinders. There is one cylinder resting on a reinforced concrete roof, with a small hole. Then there is a second that came to rest in a bedroom after creating a much wider hole in thr bedroom ceiling.

      Regarding the second cylinder, what is the evidence that the bedroom ceiling is made from concrete?

      Reply
      • rkat

        Second cylinder with metal structure around was for sure staged.
        Not possible to get through the ceiling with that wings practically untached, just little bit bend. But this does not matter.

        Dust is whats count: Whole cylinder is covered with dust. But the bed is covered by dust in completely different pattern. There are parts almost without dust.

        Everything on video is consistent with staged scene. Metal wings and structure slightly bend when it just made hole in ceiling ( no matter wheter it was reinforced or not ) It is made low cost metal with basic welding. Dust cover cylinder in consistent layer, but bed had parts even withou dust.

        You just do not want to see the truth, because it would mean, that you were wrong.

        Reply
  6. Hefaistos

    German public TV ZDF says the Douma attack was staged by the jihadists.
    “The scene of the attack, which allegedly took place on April 7, was in fact the “command post” of a local Islamist group, the reporter said, citing the witnesses he was able to speak to at the refugee camp…. according to the locals, the militants brought canisters containing chlorine to the area and “actually waited for the Syrian Air Force to bomb the place, which was of particular interest for them.”

    As the Syrian forces eventually struck the place, which was apparently a high-priority military target, the chlorine canisters exploded. The locals also told Gack that it is not the first such provocation in Douma that was staged by the militants.

    According to other witness accounts, the militants deliberately exposed people to chemical agents during what they called “training exercises” then filmed it and later presented as an “evidence” of the alleged chemical attack in Douma.
    The reporter then said he could not verify the people’s statements and cannot say if they are all true but called them quite “convincing” ”
    Interview in German:
    https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/heute-19-uhr/videos/zitat-sgs-gack-syrien-100.html
    Article:
    https://www.rt.com/news/424832-douma-attack-german-media/

    Reply
    • DDTea

      But you can verify the statements. The site of the attack has been geolocated. Do you see recent high explosive bomb damage? I don’t.

      These supposed eye witness statements were made under duress, in the presence of Syrian and Russian soldiers with the power to imprison, as part of a regime-sponsored tour for journalists.

      Also, that’s a stupid explanation that only stupid people could believe.

      Use your critical thinking skills.

      Reply
      • Frank

        “These supposed eye witness statements were made under duress”

        Then you’d have to apply same standard for witness statements under Jihadist control. Which BC doesn’t. All WH helmets are regarded as bone fide “open source intel”.

        Reply
  7. Apate

    No time stamps, no confirmation utilising the position of the sun / shadows etc. The screen grabs barely pass the audition as fully compliant evidence, still sketchy at best and compelling at least. Old mate wearing the gas mask beside the cylinder yet everyone on the ground walking around without any protective gear on whatsoever. ( remembering the weight of chlorine et al ) and they show no irritations from residue gases lingering.
    A good effort but far from convincing in my books.

    Reply
    • DDTea

      Chlorine is not persistent. At all.

      It’s a gas. It mixes with air and dilutes itself per the second law of thermodynamics.

      Reply
  8. muchandr

    Fellow conspirologists! This place seems to be treated as an expert source of something or rather lately, so let me pitch in.

    There are a couple of important points about those pressurized gas can you guys missed so far. A few of clarifications I have come from a report of Russia’s TV Zvezda that is available in Russian only, so I’ll try to explain what they found in my own words to you, to be verified via “original” video everybody has maybe?

    Look at the infamous video with the canister in a bed and a guy in gas mask. To the right of this bed, there is a tall cupboard. On top of it, there is a pile of small objects. It turns out this is a rather delicate-looking china set. It is hardly possible that a heavy object punched through the roof and dropped into the bed without dropping any of the pieces off the top of the tall cupboard immediately to the right. You might be able to get a good shot out of original video, which makes this one the best argument they found. Heck, those things could drop from the cupboard if anyone as much as jumped on that bed from taking a closer look at them.

    The building is supposedly an apartment business and has people living there, none of whom are supposedly dead. The guy on the ground floor grows chickens. This can be faked, but chicken farm is more difficult then most.

    They showed chips and cracks on the stairs where the heavy canister was dragged upstairs. Can be arranged of course, but such track are there now one way or another.

    They think the holes through the concrete roofs were punched not by canisters, but by some kind of crude unguided rocket of similar size, of which wracks are plentiful all over the place locally.

    It is unclear from the video whether the rockets are supposed to have warheads or were simply duds. Either way, canister size hole appears when the things don’t explode. One of the holes with canister in it has a largish water collector or tank right next to it, which ought to have burst if there was ever anything exploding in that hole. This is only visible from the rooftop, not from the room.

    The last two points are at least informational, there is no particular point to fake them or try really hard to refute.

    Now take a look at that

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottled_gas

    According to coloring convention, solid yellow color appears to be mandatory for a European sourced can, as opposed to US sources, where it is possible, but not mandatory (might just have a yellow shoulder or something)

    This makes things considerably easier. All the largest euro cans are intended to ship pressurized to some 220 bar (call it 220 atm give or take) if the gas does not liquefy and are insanely overbuilt. Rumor has it, those are supposed to survive a filling with some LNG fraction, crashing a truck’s worth into concrete wall and survive the ensuing fuel fire without bursting. Can’t pinpoint the exact EN where it says so, but there is something to that, because there is a specific exception for acetylene, which is the only gas carryed in some kind of acetone-filled foam inside a canister. I presume they could not ensure a similar safety standard for acetylene and acetylene only, it being the mother of all things explosive and flammable. Every other flammable gas they stuff in as much as they can without a worry. Interestingly, there appears to be no difference between cans used for flammable and explosive gases vs inert ones except that the first variety has levo-rotary threading instead of regular dextro. This makes mostly no sense to me, with a small exception for helium which permeates through metals under pressure (so does hydrogen, but it is also flammable) This gives another reason to make the cans really thick-walled not directly related to burst resistance.

    In short, it appears tremendously likely that it is impossible to really crack a can like that by using freefall, even if it reaches terminal velocity.

    There is at least one can shown which has only the top part with pressure regulator twisted off. This is impossible to achieve on the longer cans. They are tremendously bottom heavy and will invariable orient themselves bottom forward in freefall! This is likely to also be a design feature, so that people don’t accidentally get them to tumble like dominoes. Note that this does not apply to the most famous „bedroom“ canister, which has its regulator intact. (TV Zvezda said it was set to slow bleed)

    You are not supposed to be able to refill the largest and sturdiest cans yourself. At least around where I live in EU, the cans are not for sale. You rent them and bring them in for refills. You also need to be a company, not a private individual. Other then that, there seems to be no particular restriction on chlorine.

    Summary. New evidence the bedroom scene a fake. The Euro-sourced 220 atm bottles are not likely to either rupture when dropped off a chopper, nor necessarily penetrate reinforced concrete roof. It ought to be fairly easy to calculate their kinetic energy at terminal velocity in freefall.

    Lets open a new line of inquiry. There is another Russian video (from Vesti News) which does have English subtitles, so I link it here:directly

    https://youtu.be/ddGi_HIK3dg

    It involves a Russian journalist touring some kind of underground chemical facility elsewhere in Ghoutta / Douma. RT showed a snippet slightly over a minute long and I think TheGuardan journo tried to report but ran away because it reeked of ammonia too horribly, according to the wimp.

    Most important observation is likely that the operators left even the lab notes (containing a mixture of regular chemical formulas and handwritten Arabic) This part is most incriminating and likely gives away what exactly they were cooking there. It is also highly portable. Should those notes be real, everything starts making a lot more sense. However suddenly did the lab operators have to run, they would’ve taken that notepad with them. Moreover, they would have a procedure in place specifically requiring them to remove or destroy the lab notes ahead of anything else. Any two-bit drug cook would try to do just that. The only explanation how they would’ve left the notebook behind is if they suddenly experienced conditions incompatible with life, me thinks.

    This is what likely transpired is that the Russians knew, likely because there was someone on the inside, The last warning that there will be chemical weapons false flag in Douma from the Russian MoD was on the 6th., one day before Assad’s troops took over the town and the presumed attack happened. So, the Russians likely knew and at the last moment sent some sort of spec ops team, simply whacking everybody in the lab, leaving all the evidence intact. The rest of organization behind this then proceeded with just the propaganda smoke&mirrors part of the original plan on inertia, making the videos without them being backed by any actual release of toxic chemicals.

    Exhibit B. There is yet another yellow chlorine pressurized canister just like the ones supposedly thrown off a chopper. Just one, fully intact. It makes sense if chlorine was used as one of the precursors in what they were actually cooking. If it is implied they were “manufacturing” those, it is likely a plant. Because there should be a lot more then one for meaningfully-sized chemical attack and if they did have the capability to refill, why would they meticulously follow EU color coding conventions for chlorine, which have something to do with harmonization of transporting and storing hazmat? How exactly does this improve the jihad? Seems like unrelated objectives to me 🙂 Previously I explained that, with the exception of the color scheme, the cans happen to be completely identical with all the other cans intended for others non-flammable gases and differ to flammable gas cans only in chirality of the treading (dextro- and levo-rotary respectively) Why would anyone care for a can going one way? From that alone can we infer that all the yellow chlorine canisters we see are actually diverted from regular industrial sources if not in Syria then in a neighboring country and ought to be traceable! Because the Euro canisters are intended to be rented and refilled, are valuable commodities and likely to have all kinds of manufacturer specific trace codes and SKUs and whatnot. It is neither in the interest of anyone actually trying to kill someone with chlorine for canisters to be traceable to the source, nor anyone imitating such an attack. In the first case there seems to be no logical reason whatsoever to keep the obvious yellow color, in the second case only if the perps are sufficiently clueless to not know the cans are traceable. Then they could’ve gone after better / simpler picture for TV, because solid yellow amounts to clearly labeling it as a chlorine or at least some non-specific gas that is simultaneously toxic and corrosive.

    Before we get to the next argument. Observe

    Exhibit C, A rather large chemical reactor. As large or larger as the one in „Breaking Bad“ This is an industrial-scale device. It is very difficult to explain how they got the thing into a basement even if they had a forklift. Indeed, a chemical reactor that size is not completely an off-the-shelf item, but is usually commissioned from a specialized engineering contractor. Ie, it was likely assembled and welded in situ. Having to make one out of stainless is a tremendous disadvantage for chemical lab geeks doing research. Glass is much better, because you can look inside and stir using magnetic stirrer. The discipline of chemical engineering is all about porting a new process from labtop glassware kit to unpleasantly large batch sizes. It is possible, but rather unlikely that the setup of this size was used to cook some kind of illicit drugs, because it would require a massive organization to distribute the product all the way to retail customer. Think „Pollos Hermanos“ and Juarez cartel. More often then not are actual drug labs busted a lot smaller then the one we observe.

    So, somebody goes through all the trouble of setting up a chemical production plant in pretty much permanent fashion, yet they did not bother to procure a seemingly trivial other piece of large machinery. Nowhere in sight is there a large compressor or a liquid pump that could be used to fill new canisters. This is because this is easier said then done. Various active chlorine carriers are tremendously more destructive to common metals then they are to people. This means that if even a little bit seeps into your lubrication, the mechanism will inevitable seize and break. This necessitates usage of esoteric materials (for example parts machined from solid block of PTFE (aka Teflon)) and mechanisms (for example displacing volume by bendable membranes rather that rotors or reciprocating pistons) Such equipment tends to come from specialist manufacturers and not exceed laboratory benchtop size. I don’t even know off the top off my head how one procures a compressor capable of pressuring such corrosive gases as chlorine. This opens a whole new line of inquiry yet again.

    As you may notice from the picture of ruptured cans, they are severely rusted inside as if they spent a year or two at an outdoors junkyard. This is not your regular rust. From browsing the web briefly I see that what I am about to describe is applicable to both pure chlorine as well as mustard gas, which releases hydrochloric acid upon contact with water (or lipids of human skin) I am most immediately familiar with action of Hcl. In a pure form, hydrochloric acid is also a gas. Its much wider known solution in water is significantly more benign, with maxim fraction of the actual acid dissolved at mere 37% or so. A piece of regular iron or steel exposed to pure Hcl will experience severely accelerated rusting not restricted to metals surface causing iron-containing parts to lose all structural integrity in a day or two (ie rusting through) Your IKEA grade stainless kitchenware will be affected the same. Copper and bronze parts will acquire the amount of patina characteristic of bronze statues that have been standing around since antiquity. This hypothetically enables someone to always be able to determine past exposure to chlorinating agents indirectly by observing the behavior of common metal parts over period of time. Note that the effect persists long after there is any detectable trace of original gaseous substance containing active chlorine left, because the metal salts thus formed are conventional oxides, not chlorides. Active chlorine merely sets off some kind of self-catalyzing process of forming oxidizing radicals continuously. This means none of this happens while the gas is still in the canister with no contact to oxidizer!

    This falls into category of metalworking and electroplating, so I am pretty positive on the OPCW geeks who are organic chemists by training inevitably missing that one. In general, it ought to be possible to compile specific profiles of accelerated corrosion in reference parts, for example steel screws and copper gun cartridges, telling which gas it was. I would guess that actual mustard gas is closer to pure Hcl in corrosive action then chlorine.

    All of this brings me to one of my pet peeves and the fun part that is entirely optional :Lets return the good name of chemical warfare as a weapon of non-lethal mass destruction harmless to people, yet a tremendous equalizer of force between armed forces of oppressive governments and underdog guerrillas or even non-violent opposition. In the first approximation, one needs to turn good old hydrochloric acid into a viscous goo, or „napalmizing“ it (with napalm approximately understood as liquid gasoline thickened into some kind of sticky goo) In this form, Hcl presents nearly no danger to humans. We are surprisingly resistant to liquid-phase Hcl formulations on the account of our own bile being about 0.5% Hcl solution, electrolytically produced by our bodies from table salt I tried a few experiments, with results vastly exceeding my wildest expectations, with formulation getting to iron junk underneath HDPE coating remaining intact itself. How about we rust the iron junk?

    Among potential targets of sneak attacks are conventional firearms, police vehicles, main battle tanks, aircraft carriers and maybe even brass trinkets they decorate generals with. Any hardware made of any kind of steel short of 18/8 „surgical grade“ stainless formulations, among which mileage varies a lot. Interestingly enough, there are some private firearm enthusiasts out there that swear by stainless gun barrels they retrofit their AR-16s with. Those might survive. Not likely to happen in any GI Joe equipment any time soon. Too expensive to mass produce, they say.

    What does everyone think? Could this make the world a better place in which bizarrely, armed forces would have to keep their choice equipment the heck away from any potential contact with disapproving non-combatants 🙂 So it doesn’t accidentally develop rusting gaping holes. I am withholding the exact recipes for now, but they are actually trivial once you grasp the broader idea.

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  9. muchandr

    Industrial gas cylinders are attacked for several minutes using a thermal lance. No damage whatsoever with a standard regulator. Only modding the regulators to disable the emergency bleed valve causes the cylinders containing propane to eventually explode. Doing this to butane still only caused about half the cylinders to explode. Source.

    https://www.icheme.org/communities/subject_groups/safety%20and%20loss%20prevention/resources/hazards%20archive/~/media/Documents/Subject%20Groups/Safety_Loss_Prevention/Hazards%20Archive/VI/VI-Paper-18.pdf

    That makes it pretty obvious that there is no meaningful way to get a gas as casual as chlorine to develop sufficient pressure to completely burst the canisters inside-out like in some of the pics. Since it neither explosive nor flammable, there is no particular reason for a small fault to propagate. More likely will it serve the role similar to pressure release valve.

    The only plausible versions IMHO involve mechanical damage by force acting on the cylinder from outwards in, most likely on the bottom end. Are there any like that?

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