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Simulations, Craters and Lies: Postol’s Latest Attempt to Undermine the Last Vestiges of his Reputation

September 13, 2019

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

In the beginning of August 2019, the Tulsi Gabbard campaign published “Reports on Chemical Attacks in Syria”, expressing Gabbard’s views on the allegations of chemical weapons attacks in Syria — and based mainly on the work of Dr. Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

Aside from various errors, contradictions, and misleading statements made on that page, links to the work of Postol on chemical weapons attacks in Syria were included. With this came what was believed to be a previously unpublished report, Computational Forensic Analysis for the Chemical Weapons Attack at Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017, published by Postol and other contributors, that used computer simulations to make the allegation that the crater formed in Khan Sheikhoun was not formed by an air-dropped bomb as claimed by the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), but, in fact, by the impact of a 122 mm rocket impact. 

Summary Of Postol & Co.’s  Allegations

The main argument of Postol report focuses on the crater that the OPCW-UN Joint Investigation Mechanism report on Khan Sheikhoun stated “was caused by the impact of an aerial bomb travelling at high velocity”, specifically a chemical bomb. According to Postol et al’s report, computer simulations demonstrates this crater was in fact created by the impact of a surface to surface rocket. 

In an October 25, 2017 letter discovered on The Russian Center for Policy Research (PIR Center) website, Postol describes the results of his report to a “Ms. Grebenkina”, requesting help with passing his “document on to the Russian delegation at the UN”. The PDF’s metadata states the original file name was “Note2Sputnik_(October25,2017)_”  — meanwhile, a Sofya Grebenkina works for Russia’s Sputnik News

On October 30, 2017, Sputnik published an article based on the contents of the letter, but did not include Postol’s request that the document is passed onto Russia’s UN delegation. It is unclear why the document is on the PIR Center website. Postol summarises his report as follows:

“Forensic computational analysis performed by two of my colleagues, Professor Goong Chen and Dr. Chung Gu, at Texas A&M University unambiguously explains how this crater was actually created.”

“Our calculations speculated that the crater was formed by a standard 122 mm artillery rocket explosive warhead of the kind that is ubiquitously available for purchase around the world. An example of this standardized warhead is shown in the image below. This particular variant of the warhead weighs about 18.4 kg and has a 6.35 kg explosive charge. The exact weight of the charge in these easily purchased warheads varies somewhat but the explosive effects of charges of slightly different weight is essentially irrelevant to the findings shown in our calculations.”

The image referred to by Postol is shown below. The original source of this image is a slideshow by Tohan SA, a Romainan arms manufacturer:

Image of 122 mm warheads used in Postols’ October 25th 2017 letter

Postol then goes onto state, “Our results show exactly what is observed in the photograph.”

In his letter, Postol then moves on to the rocket motor used. Rather than being a standard 122 mm rocket motor, as used on rockets launched by the regular  platform for launching 122 mm rocket — i.e. the BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher — i.e. Postol says the rocket was “almost certainly fabricated locally and a purchased warhead and igniter and nozzle assembly was attached to each end of the improvised rocket.” 

Despite extensive imagery from the conflict in Syria documenting improvised weapons used by both sides in the conflict, Postol does not present a single example of an improvised rocket motor armed with a factory manufactured 122 mm warhead. The authors of this piece are also unaware of any existing examples of this.

Postol finishes the summary of his work thus:

“It is therefore unambiguous that the crater was created by a standard 122 mm explosive warhead of the type that can be purchased anywhere in the world. There is absolutely no evidence of any sarin containing vessel. The split pipe that has been inaccurately identified as evidence of the container filled with sarin is simply the casing of the rocket motor that propelled the purchased warhead to the location of the explosion.”

Comparison Of The Khan Sheikhoun Crater To 122 mm Warhead Impacts

Postol clearly states that the result of his investigation shows how a standard 122 mm explosive warhead formed the crater at Khan Sheikhoun, and that “the exact weight of the charge in these easily purchased warheads varies somewhat but the explosive effects of charges of slightly different weight is essentially irrelevant to the findings shown in our calculations.”

122 mm rockets are used widely in conflicts across the world. The craters formed by their impacts have been filmed and photographed. As Postol himself states the charges of different weights are “essentially irrelevant to the findings shown in our calculations” we can assume that if Postol et al’s calculations are accurate, then there should be many real world examples of craters formed by 122 mm warheads that are comparable to the crater seen in Khan Sheikhoun. 

One particularly well documented instance of 122 mm rocket use is the January 2015 attack on Mariupol, Ukraine, where an urban center came under fire from multiple 122 mm rockets. The remains of rockets documented at the site indicate 122 mm rockets launched from BM-21 Grads were used, and these would carry the “standard” warheads Postol refers to. If Postol et al’s calculations are correct, we should expect to see craters on road surfaces that are a close match to the crater at Khan Sheikhoun.

However, this is clearly not the case when the Mariupol craters are compared to the Khan Sheikhoun crater. The Khan Sheikhoun crater is shown below:

The crater in Khan Sheikhoun (Source:  Aleppo Media Centre)

Forensic Architecture was able to measure the crater, establishing it was 1.61 m wide at its widest point, and up to .49 m deep:

 

We can compare this to multiple craters on different surfaces in Mariupol. This graphic from Human Rights Watch show multiple craters, one of which shows the remains of a 122 mm rocket embedded in it, all of which are much smaller than the crater in Khan Sheikhoun:

Human Rights Watch graphic showing 122 mm rocket craters after the January 2015 Mariupol attack (Source)

Bellingcat investigated the 2015 Mariupol attack and put together an extensive collection of videos showing the moment of the attack and the aftermath, with many 122 mm warhead impacts documented. None of these impacts look anywhere near to being the same as the crater at Khan Sheikhoun. Simply put, Postol et al’s claim that the crater at Khan Sheikhoun was created by a standard 122 mm warhead does not match real world evidence, regardless of what their simulation shows.

It is even possible to find 122 mm rocket craters in Postol’s own work, and they — surprise! — do not match the Khan Sheikhoun crater. In Postol’s “An Explanation of the Evidence of Weaknesses in the Iron Dome Defense System” he uses a number of images to explain his conclusions. Figure 16, titled “A rocket exploded near a road in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, causing damage to the road but no injuries. (July 2014)”, shows the remains of a rocket motor next to a small, shallow impact crater.

Figure 16 from Postol’s “An Explanation of the Evidence of Weaknesses in the Iron Dome Defense System” (Source)

A clearer image of the rocket motor can be seen here, while a close up of the motor is seen here. This is the rocket motor of a 122 mm rocket, used widely by Hezbollah, and it would be armed with a “standard” 122 mm warhead. It is unclear how, despite Postol’s extensive work on the Iron Dome system and the rockets it intercepted, including 122 mm rockets, he was unable to see the significant discrepancies between his simulation and real world examples of 122 mm warhead impacts.

Comparison Of The Khan Sheikhoun Crater And The Postol Et Al Simulation

The Postol et al report relies heavily on claims that the remains of the munition inside the crater belong to an improvised 122 mm rocket, with manufacturing defects and with a “standard” 122 mm warhead. There is no reason stated for this measurement being selected, beyond the statement that it fits the simulation. The simulation includes the moment of impact, with the remains of the rocket motor coming to rest in the crater, as shown below:

There are two major discrepancies between this simulation and the actual crater documented at Khan Sheikhoun. 

The remains documented inside the crater do not match the simulation results. Postol et al state that this debris is the remains of an improvised rocket motor, and that this cylindrical rocket motor split due to poor quality manufacturing. According to the simulation, the front end of the rocket motor splits as a result of the warhead detonation, as shown below.

Screenshot from Postol et al’s simulation of the detonation of the simulated munition shortly after the warhead detonates (Source)

After the rocket comes to rest, the split section of the rocket is embedded in the crater, with the cylindrical rear of the rocket still visible:

Screenshot from Postol et al’s simulation of the detonation of the simulated munition after it comes to rest (Source)

In multiple images and videos of this fragment, we can see that what Postol et al believe to be the external side of the rocket motor is covered with what appears to be some kind of textured layer. This layer evenly coats one side of the fragment.

In these images the rough surface of the “rocket motor” is clearly evident (Source)

For anyone who has a basic understanding of how tube-launched artillery works, it is very clear that this coating makes this fragment very unsuited to being part of a rocket motor. This kind of coating would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fit this “122 mm rocket motor” into a launch tube. It would also make it very inaccurate.

Postol et al also suggest that this “122 mm rocket motor” had a “weld” with a “strengthened edge”. Their simulation “assumes the preexistence of structural weakness along a generatrix of the cylinder, due to possible welding in the fabrication of a pipe”.

Illustration from Postal et al’s paper showing their modelling of the rocket

However, a closer examination of this “strengthened edge” does not appear to support the conclusion of Postol et al. Although said “edge” does appear to be a weld, after having modelled this fragment, we believe it is in fact part of the casing of a much larger munition. 

Close up photograph of the fragment in the crater

Using a large number of images and videos of the fragment in the crater we have modelled what we believe this fragment could look like, both in its folded shape and once it has been unfolded. 

Top: fragment in its folded state. Bottom: fragment in its unfolded state

One significant feature of the metal fragment is a curved metal bar attached to the fragment, which, according to Postol’s claim, must have run the length of the improvised rocket motor. The simulation does not appear to account for this feature, or how it would have been bent inwards by the detonation of a 122 mm warhead at the opposite end of the rocket motor. In Postol’s letter, published by Accuracy.org, Postol describes the metal fragment as follows:

“The OPCW report never identifies the metal “object” in the crater as a pipe of roughly 120 mm diameter. It instead describes the pipe as an object that the investigators assess was produced by the impact of a bomb of roughly 300 to 500 mm diameter. There is no explanation for how a sheet of metal could be rolled into a uniform diameter pipe of 122 mm diameter. The object that is a pipe is never described as pipe in the reports while the other object is identified in the report as a filler cap.”

What is claimed to be a “122 mm pipe” in the Khan Sheikhoun crater

It is difficult to understand how anyone who had taken the time to review the images of the metal fragment would come to the conclusion it was “a uniform diameter pipe of 122 mm diameter” as claimed by Postol. This claim simply doesn’t stand up to the most cursory examination of the images in question. 

Inconsistencies between simulated and actual crater

Not only does the simulator crater not match any other 122 mm rocket craters we have observed, it doesn’t even match the crater seen at Khan Sheikhoun. 

In Postol’s simulation, the rocket impacts a road where the tarmac is simulated as being 10 cm thick, with soil underneath. In the simulation we see that outside the bowl of the crater, the tarmac suffers extensive damage across a wide area. This damage is localised to the northern side of the crater bowl, and ranges from 1 cm to 10 cm in depth.

Damage seen in simulation. Note the extensive damage to the tarmac to the left (north) of the crater.

Nothing like this kind of damage is seen in the actual Khan Sheikhoun crater. The tarmac on the north side of the crater is almost completely undamaged, saved for several cracks. If the simulation was accurate, the area highlighted in yellow below would display significant damage, with lacerations going down at least 10 cm. 

Comparison of damage seen in Postol’s simulation to actual crater (Source)


In fact, the kind of damage seen in the simulation is not seen in any direction around the crater. 

Note that no area around the crater displays anything like the level of damage seen in the simulation (Source)

This type of damage, which is part of the simulation, is consistent with other examples of 122 mm rocket impacts. During the detonation of the warhead shrapnel is blown outwards, and, when on flat surfaces, can leave a distinctive fan pattern. 

This is something Postol should be well aware of. On May 22, 2019, Accuracy.org published New Assessments from Leading Scientist Accuse OPCW Leadership of Rigging on Alleged Syrian Chemical Weapons Attacks Used to Justify U.S. Bombings, based on letters and articles submitted by Postol to various bodies in relation to his report. In a covering letter, addressed to the “German Foreign Ministryl (sic)”, Postol reiterates his positions based on his latest analysis, including the following statement:

“The supercomputer calculations show that the geometry of the charge and its orientation relative to the ground produce a classic crater that has a tear-drop shaped perimeter (that is, a perimeter that is not circular). Craters with this shape are known to be produced by artillery rockets, as is documented in the UN manual for peacekeepers in the document, Introduction to UN Peacekeeping Pre Deployment Training Standards.

“Section 1.2, titled, Verification of Minefields, Explosive Remnants of war and Crater Analysis contains the basic information on crater recognition used by UN peacekeepers in the field. Similar discussions can be found in US Army Artillery Officer Field Manuals. These characteristics of artillery rocket craters are therefore very well known to true professionals who deal with these matters.”

The document he refers to includes diagrams of impact craters from various munitions. The following image shows the impact crater from a low angle fuze crater, created by munitions such as artillery shells and 122 mm rockets:

Image from UN Peacekeeping Pre Deployment Training Standards showing a low angle fuze crater

At Bellingcat, we are quite familiar with these craters and the measuring methods described in the UN Peacekeeping Pre Deployment Training Standards document. In 2015 and 2016, Bellingcat published two reports using a combination of satellite imagery showing crater impacts and the measuring methods described in the UN document to identify dozens of sites of cross border artillery attacks from the Russian Federation into Eastern Ukraine. 

It is clear from the diagrams in the UN document that the craters described do not match the crater visible in Khan Sheikhoun, most notably for the lack of side spray from the detonation of the 122 mm warhead Postol et al have simulated.

In the video below, the simulation has been overlaid with an image of the real crater, showing where we would expect to see this damage:

The following comparison of the real crater and the simulated crater clearly shows the lack of damage in areas the Postol et al simulation indicates there should be damage — i.e. to the north of the crater:

Although the crater bowl is superficially similar in shape, the damage outside the bowl itself cannot simply be discounted, as it provides vital information about the nature of the munition and its direction of travel. It seems incredible that the authors of this paper could claim that “the computational mathematics and mechanics calculation essentially predicts most or all of the observed features of the crater at Khan Sheikhoun” because, as we see above, this is simply not true. 

In the above video, it is notable that the warhead remains modelled in pink cross a space occupied by a metal cabinet. This is significant, because while Postol et al’s simulation shows this pink spray clearly damaging the floor around the crater, they have not modelled anything in the location of the metal utility cabinet. 

Based on the simulation, it would appear there should be significant damage to this cabinet, but images from the scene show this is obviously not the case. The following video clearly shows no shrapnel damage is visible on the metal cabinet:

 

However, in the text of the report, Postol et al argues that this cabinet should be undamaged:

“Another argument made by the experts engaged by the JIM cites the scarcity of “visible signs of damage caused by fragmentation or overpressure, especially on the metal cabinet located 3 to 5 m away from the crater” [3, para 54]. Although it is not clear from the report, it appears that this observation applies to one of specific scenarios considered by the JIM, namely the one in which the crater was created by an explosive charge placed on the ground. In this scenario one indeed would expect to see a certain damage to the metal cabinet. However, in the scenario considered here, it should be taken into account that a cylindrical explosive charge, such as a 122-mm warhead considered in this analysis, would not produce a spherically-symmetrical blast wave or a debris cloud. For munitions with a high length-to-diameter ratio most debris would be distributed in an annular pattern that is perpendicular to the munition axis (pointed forward if the motion of the munition is taken into account). This effect, in fact, can be seen on the second panel of the explosion sequence shown on Figure 3.1. The location of the metal cabinet placed it in the solid angle that is unlikely to be affected by the explosion debris.”

At best, this demonstrates the simulation should have included some representation of the metal cabinet. This, combined with the lack of damage around the crater that’s present in the simulation, calls into question the accuracy of the claim made in the report that the simulation genuinely recreates the crater seen at Khan Sheikhoun, and certainly not as Postol claimed showing “exactly what is observed in the photograph.”

Problematic Methodology

Although Postol et al chose to simulate Postol’s previous, discarded theory, that a container of Sarin was blown open on the ground, they chose not to simulate a liquid-filled, air dropped munition. This is especially strange considering this hypothesis is the one proposed by the OPCW-UN JIM, regarded as the authority on the matter of chemical attacks.

Despite the wide and extensive range of evidence examined by the OPCW-UN JIM, the authors simply decided that they wouldn’t simulate it, a rather bizarre decision.

Publishing 

Postol et al’s paper is written in an academic format as if it has been published in a journal, however we could not find any reference to it in any peer reviewed publication. The only sources for the paper appear to be Tulsi Gabbard’s website and Accuracy.org. According to Accuracy.org, “This manuscript has been accepted for publication by Science and Global Security, a refereed science-based journal published out of Princeton University.”

At the time of writing, the journal in question has not published this paper. We struggle to see how a peer reviewed journal could publish a document with so many grave and self evident errors, especially since said document already appears to have been used by a state party in an attempt to undermine the OPCW-UN JIM.

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53 Comments

  1. Rob

    Has Postol been right about ANYTHING about the Sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017 ?

    So far I see that :

    1) He admitted “I misinterpreted the wind-direction convention which resulted in my estimates of plume directions being exactly 180° off in direction”.

    2) He claimed a “French Intelligence Report of April 26, 2017 directly contradicts the White House Intelligence Report of 11 April 2017” but the next day admitted “he had confused the date and location for a different chemical attack four years earlier”,
    and now

    3) He first claims that the Khan Sheikhoun attack was caused by an IED, and Tulsi Gabbard still has that on her page, but now claims it was a 122 mm rocket.

    Please Postol, make up your mind, or get out of the way.
    You are just making a drooling fool of yourself with these self-contradicting statements.

    Thanks, Bellingcat, for exposing this fraud for what her is.

    Reply
    • Ghost Ship

      I suppose that you’ve decided that come what may, the alleged attack was the SAG using sarin. How scientific of you. A scientist unlike a “true believer” like you recognizes mistakes and corrects them and changes her position if new evidence turns up.
      Talking of evidence, what happened to the “tube” found in the “crater”? Disappeared as far as I can make out, so it now has zero evidential value. As for the “crater”, if it’s so important to justifying the western narrative, I would have thought that some one would have paid to have it bagged and tagged. That neither the “tube” nor the “crater” has appeared in the west, tells me that nobody of importance really believes there was a sarin attack on Khan Sheikhun by the SAG. Just like the Box on the Euphrates, what people don’t do is just as eloquent as what they actually do.

      Reply
      • Rob

        Interesting that you have NO argument AT ALL against my statements about Postol.

        And regarding “what happened to the “tube” found in the “crater”” please show a picture of which “tube” you are talking about.

        Reply
        • Ghost Ship

          Because it’s the “true believer” approach you seem to have. All evidence is cast in stone and anyone who changes their mind is unbelievable. In reality, that Postel has changed his views doesn’t mean he’s wrong now.

          Personally, I think Postel is barking up the wrong tree. I think it far more likely that the whole incident was set up by the local terrorists as part of the black propaganda operation known as the White Helmet and that all the evidence is fabricated although it wouldn’t surprise me if someone in western intelligence (probably MI-6) told the terrorists what to do

          The “metal fragment” found in the hole. Looks like a part of a welded tube to me.

          Reply
          • Rob

            Thank you for your opinion.
            Have fun with it.

            If you find evidence to sustain your beliefs, please present it here.

  2. Servus

    Congratulations to a thorough analysis of the dr Postol’s paper.
    One can also congratulate dr Postol for his competent and honest simulations that really matches the real life examples of the 122mm warheads’ craters. It is also obvious that the 122 mm simulated and real craters do not match the Khan Sheikhoun attack.

    And that dr Postol does not believe his own research, well, it’s a different story. Historically, there are many examples of scientist, even Nobel prize winners, that did not believe their findings, Michelson-Morley continued to build better en better instruments to prove the existence of ether…

    Note of the margin:
    The standard warhead’s fuse has 3 delay positions and there are also different types of warheads. The fuse position or the depth at which the explosion happens is essential in the crater formation. If it was a scientific paper, simulation with different explosion delays would be required to show the range of possible craters, dr Postel just chosen one of them, and this is not well documented in his report.

    Reply
  3. kraaiiii

    First is was 3.5 kg HE is the source of the crater, now 6 kg HE doesn’t make a dent in the tarmac.

    Neither scenario is really proven, and none take in account the fusing of the device

    Reply
    • DDTea

      The crater is from the impact of the weapon and subsurface detonation of the charge. It goes without saying than an aerial bomb weighing hundreds of kg’s is going to leave a bigger dent than a 122mm rocket weighing tens of kg’s. So the latter detonates with an above-surface detonation, resulting in a smaller crater even when a higher mass of HE is used. You are correct that the fusing is relevant to this discussion.

      The only reason we are even discussing 122mm rockets, by the way, is because TP misidentified a piece of debris in the crater. This is scenario is not only unproven, it is entirely baseless.

      Reply
      • Servus

        “TP misidentified a piece of debris in the crater.”

        TPs paper has a link to a picture that shows the metal debris in an interesting angle and detail, unbelievable anybody could take it for a pipe and swear its 122 mm in diameter.
        http://img.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2017-04/militaerschlag-syrien-donald-trump-giftgasanschlag-luftschlag-opposition-3/wide__1300x731

        TPs referenced UN report explains also in detail why the crater is primarily created by falling heavy object and not explosion (asphalt cracks, edges form etc).

        Syrian government provided samples from the crater and environment that contained sarin, so this crater is a source of poisoning. Nobody questions that but TP simply ignores it. The possible chemical 122 mm warhead would have much less explosive that the 8.1 kg TNT used in the simulation and thus crater would be at least order of magnitude smaller .

        Looking more into TP report and UN report I’m simply shocked by T Postel’s intellectual dishonesty, what looked to me as an exaggeration by ideologically blinded scientist (happens) now looks more like an intentional attempt to deceive.

        Looking at the list of TP paper’s authors, one thing stands out, there is no explosives or forensics expert in the team, most likely, nobody was willing to have his name associated with this blatant cheat. Have seen that couple times before, in a context of other politically stained accidents’ analysis…

        Reply
  4. Rob

    Postol is really one arrogant idiot.

    Even after he makes so many mistakes (some highlighted above, and by Bellingcat in many prior posts) Postol still has the audacity to write a letter to the “German Foreign Ministryl” (sic) :

    http://accuracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Document-1-of-4-Cover-Letter-to-UN-on-Khan-Shikhoun-Investigation_April152017_.pdf

    arrogantly claiming things like this :

    “The OPCW report shows no evidence of real expertise on munitions, explosive effects, and on delivery mechanisms. We have no idea how such glaring shortfalls could have occurred.”

    and even :

    “We believe that the OPCW report on Khan Sheikhoun needs to be corrected so as to protect the credibility of the UN and its supporting agencies…”

    Postol already left a trail of contradictions, inaccuracies and lies on Tulsi Gabbard’s web site. That apparently was not enough and now he is challenging the UN and OPCW alike while having ZERO evidence to sustain his arguments.

    Postol made himself an emperor (bla bla emeritus bla bla MIT etc), convincing people like Tulsi Gabbard, and Aron Mate, but Postol has no clothes.

    At all.

    Reply
      • Ghost Ship

        So where is the “pipe” from the “crater”? Perhaps the terrorists who organized this scam won’t release it for forensic examination because that would show that it’s not what the terrorists and Bellingcat claim it is. All the “evidence” so far presented was, as far as I know, gathered by the terrorists or their supporters, so that is hardly reliable. As for the video with a terrorist wearing a “press” vest, there are a number of errors.
        1. The Russians never disclosed the site they claimed to have bombed but many assumed it was the area of grain silos in northern Klan Sheikhoun. However, true believers have established that location was damaged well before the alleged incident. So where is the additional bomb damage?
        2. The United States published route of a single SU-22 fighter bomber flying about five kilometers away from Khan Sheikhoun at the time of the incident – the “reporter” claims there was more than one aircraft.
        BTW, now that Khan Sheikhoun has been liberated from HTS head-choppers, I’m surprised the OPCW hasn’t put together a team to examine the “crime” scene and asked the SAG to allow it access to Khan Sheikhoun, but then again the OPCW has compromised itself with such investigations and the investigators might find evidence that contradicts the information, mainly supplied by “activists” acceptable to HTS, that is used in the existing report.

        Reply
  5. Ahmed Sakkal

    Tulsi is trying to justify her support to a war criminal, whose track record is clear in using violence,torture, destruction, attacking civilian neighborhoods, he crossed all the redlines , including the use of chemical weapons as well bombing schools and hospitals .
    when you find a theory that can safe her neck she will use it no matter how flawed it is .
    Instead of apologizing foe her trip and meeting a war criminal, she is trying to cover it up, as a peace mission .

    Reply
    • Ghost Ship

      Haven’t you heard the phrase “War is hell”. Assad and the Syrian Arab Army have been fighting a major war for the survival of Syria and its people against a bunch or religious nutjobs funded, armed and supported by Saudi Arabis, UAE, Qatar, United States, United Kingdom, France and a few other fuckwits in the west.
      You only have to look at the casualty figures to see that this is not your standard civil war but is something more complex,
      What kind of government do you think Syria would have if the religious nutjobs won.
      You’d have thought that the United States, United Kingdom and France would have learnt from 9/11 that these religious nutjobs hate the west, FUKUS in particular and that the last thing anybody would want to do is establish a safe haven for them so c;lose to Europe.
      As for war criminals, you need to add Obama, Hillary Clinton, Kewrry, Cameron , Sarkozy and all the Gulf despotic usual suspects to the list because without their intervention this would have remained a civil war that would have been over within weeks with a few thousand dead. Nah, it wouldn’t have been a civil war it would have been a few “disturbances” and nothing more.

      Reply
    • James Charles

      Some other ‘war criminals’?

      From the horses mouth?
      “You can’t understand the conflict without talking about natural gas
      By Maj. Rob Taylor
      Much of the media coverage suggests that the conflict in Syria is a civil war, in which the Alawite (Shia) Bashar al Assad regime is defending itself (and committing atrocities) against Sunni rebel factions (who are also committing atrocities). The real explanation is simpler: it is about money.
      In 2009, Qatar proposed to run a natural gas pipeline through Syria and Turkey to Europe. Instead, Assad forged a pact with Iraq and Iran to run a pipeline eastward, allowing those Shia-dominated countries access to the European natural gas market while denying access to Sunni Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The latter states, it appears, are now attempting to remove Assad so they can control Syria and run their own pipeline through Turkey.”
      http://armedforcesjournal.com/pipeline-politics-in-syria/

      Reply
      • AlexRuss

        That pipeline was never feasible. There was no preliminary study and nobody was going to pull the pipeline Asad or no Asad.

        Reply
  6. Mr.Bushkin

    In any case, the 122 mm pipe in the image attached to or being part of whatever has caused the crater contradicts the version about a chemical air to ground bomb, which simply lacks such a 122 mm pipe.

    Reply
    • Servus

      Did you read the base posting ? There is an analysis of the metallic debris found inside the crater and it’s difficult to see it as a pipe, even with worse intention and bad faith…

      Reply
        • Servus

          So, did you read the base posting and seen the pictures and reconstruction of the metal debris? And several close up pictures of it?
          Are you not allowed to read this site?
          Maybe you should reconsider your presence in here if you simply ignore the basis of any discussion.

          Reply
          • Mr.Bushkin

            You must be kidding me. That’s what your article contains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=138&v=-XiW-m5f-Hw#t=2m15s

            And it’s a pipe. It even has nothing in common with your “folded and unfolded” object, which most likely does not even originate from the impact site, as you can see by comparing the constitution of the ground in your video and the constitution of the ground behind your “folded and unfolded” object.

          • Rob

            Hey, Servus, if Mr.Bushkin says its a pipe, then it’s a pipe, OK ?
            That how that works in Postol’s universe.

          • Servus

            Good Bushkin, so you read the article, maybe not to the end, because at the end, it had a link to the full video that you have referenced to.
            And check the 4:57 for a close up of the bent metal part, it can be taken for a pipe at first glance but father analysis and photos taken from different angle show rather a bent sheet of metal. Professional analysis and modelling confirms that.
            My admiration to a sharp eyes that measured the bent as that of a 122mm pipe.

            My patience, well trained by teaching maths to 12 year’s old is running out, I’ll leave you the last word.

          • Mr.Bushkin

            Servus, don’t you also want ten white camels and three Ferraris in addition to my attention, which you beg for by popping up at my comments?

  7. Servus

    I tried to understand the volume of the Khan Sheikhoun crater and compare it with the T. Postel’s simulated one. The volume of the crater should be somewhat proportional to the amount of used explosives.
    The crater can be modelled as a spherical cap with a radius and height using the data from the measurements and the TP simulated crater picture..
    For the KS crater I used r=.8m h=.49m and for TP r=.6m and h=.2m
    Of course this is not a precise calculation, but rather a way to get some rough feeling of the volume of the displaced material and possibly get a feel for difference in the used explosive quantity.

    For KS the volume estimation is .55m^3 and for TP .12m^3 , the ration of 4.5

    Lets say the ratio is 4 . TP uses 8.1 kg HE in his simulation, so, if the crater volume is linearly proportional, then in the KS case 32kg of HE was used. But IMHO (I’m not a specialist but have a good physics education) the relation between the craters and HE mas is not linear, but rather of the 3 or 4th order .
    So the KS crater is formed by the use of at least 32kg of the HE while the typical estimation should be 64kg to 128kg, which of course rules out any 122mm warhead.

    TP could easily make a simulation to match the KS crater volume and thus find the amount of HE necessary to create it. BUT… chances are that it will only result in digging up the IED hypothesis or creating a brand new fantasy.

    (I’m aware of the literature treating explosives forensics, but did not study the subject, any correction and “drinks and laughs are on me”)

    Reply
  8. Michael Weber

    My entire life, military and civilian has been in the EOD, ordnance and WMD field. Not blowing my own horn, but I have don’t more crater analysis and frag studies in VietNan then this guy has seen craters. When his first chemical rocket paper first came up I contacted him in a professional manner and explained why some of his assumptions and rocket identification was wrong. Needless to say he did not appreciate it. A year later at a conference on chemical warfare he made a presentation, when he asked for question I stood up. And again explained why his rocket determination was wrong. I received a small applause. Now I have no doubt a chem rocket as reported is true, just the technical data in is reports were flawed. Cant believe he is still trying to prove his point.

    Reply
  9. Gerhard

    So the big question behind Postol’s insistence on Russian talking points is to what degree he is an active or passive Russian intelligence asset. Gabbard is probably just an unwitting pawn in Russian disinformation operation. I’m surprised Russian intelligence hasn’t created its own “peer-reviewed” journal with an academic sheen for propaganda purposes. With his lack of pedigree, sloppy research and execution as pointed out here, express intent to undermine multinational institutions supported by Western governments, and almost word-for-word adherence to Russian orthodoxy with regard to Syria, why would anyone consider Postol or his ilk anything but essentially Russian spies?

    Reply
  10. concerned citizen

    So bellingcat will need to publish a peer reviewed scientific report of their own to answer Postol et al’s peer reviewed scientific report.

    Anonymous blog posts on bellingcat aren’t going to cut it any more. Good luck guys.

    Reply
    • Gerhard

      TPost states: “At the time of writing, the journal in question has not published this paper.”

      Who are these “peers” outside of the GRU or Russian intelligence apparatus or those in the academic community whom they’ve compensated to propagate their narrative?

      Postol’s line of reasoning follows the Russian intelligence modus operandi to a T:

      1) Concoct theoretically possible but logically unlikely, conspiratorial narrative focusing on esoteric technical aspects of a story to deflect from reporting from a broad range of internationally verified reporting

      2) Official Sources: Spread this narrative package via partner outlets under direction of Russian intelligence apparatus (Sputnik, RT, Pravda, etc.) along with partner country’s media (SANA, Maram Susli, et al.) simultaneously with disparaging comments woven throughout designed to create uncertainty regarding internationally verified reporting

      3) Weaponizing Opinion: dispatch intelligence officers (usually posing as various classes of Westerners) to plaster the comment boards of news outlets and sites like this one with talking points complementary to Moscow’s official position

      4) Successful Infection: Hope Western outlets take the bait. The Holy Grail is when a US politician like Tulsi Gabbard or Donald Trump parrots Moscow’s line — double-down and continue to pay Postol, et al. even more to get more exposure to exploit media’s interest

      All of these characteristics are germane to Soviet and Russian open-source, public-focused intelligence operations since at least the 1930s, but their difficulty lies now in the fact that they can’t simply invent a “peer-reviewed journal” to bolster their assets’ claims because the Internet allows for simply too much transparency. Therefore they must concentrate on the shadows, i.e. conspiracy-minded fringe sites outside of mainstream coverage, wholly manufactured DCLeaks-esque operations that are designed to look like Western-produced media, and more boldly partisan platforms that cater to those who already agree with many of their talking points. One thing you will not see is any independent verification of Moscow’s claims from any international body, because most of the time they are patently false.

      Flush out the rat with the poisoned [vodka-scented] cheese.

      Reply
      • Black Star

        Along intelligence officers (a quite expensive commodity) they use cheap paid trolls to spread their propaganda.

        Russia’s problem is lack of money and effective resources. Actually they would have both, but the rampant corruption and stealing inside Russia destroys their resources.

        They try to get around this by creating cheap fakes instead of expensive research and causing chaos instead of order to reach their objectives. Creating a lie is much cheaper than researching a truth and while chaos hurts everyone, they seem to believe it hurts West more than is hurts Russia.

        So the same people who steal all the resources give people cheap lies instead of real good. Offering real good would make people happy and make them naturally support their leaders… and so even advances in democracy would be possible. But these people want to steal the resources for their personal good instead of using them for common good. So corruption is eating the country from inside out. People are unhappy, leaders are corrupt, and since the leaders do not want to give up either power or corruption, they keep on producing destructive lies.

        The Western way is to use truth and order to support their opinion, but russians simply do not have the resources for that. So cheap lies and chaos will have to do.

        While sowing lies and chaos works for a short while, eventually it will (already has, mostly) totally destroy the Russian narrative and cause damage at a very deep level. People will stop believing anything they tell you, even if it was true. So Putin’s Russia is digging its own grave. But they know that if they kept on truth, their game would be over even sooner.

        After the lies have been exposed, the last way of denial is to resort to violence. This is what we see in Syria and elsewhere.

        After the Russian political leaders have lost all their credibility, all that needs to happen is for new politicians to appear, ones that people actually believe in. This is of course happening already, and the corrupt leadership is fighting them using more lies, and then they do not work anymore, violence. But violence is only a temporary solution: once millions march on the streets, Putin will know game is over. We’ll see when that happens.

        Reply
        • Gerhard

          Here here..that sums it up. Contribute value to the human condition and civilization, Russia, and you will be rewarded.

          Reply
    • Servus

      Concerned comrade, why would anybody bother to do such a peer review of a paper that is not published anywhere?

      Reply

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