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The OPCW Douma Leaks Part 3: We Need To Talk About A “False Flag” Attack

January 23, 2020

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

In its final report, the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) stated that there are reasonable grounds to believe that on April 7, 2018, chlorine gas was used in an attack on the Syrian city of Douma. Despite that conclusion, claims the chemical attack in Douma were staged continue to circulate. These claims were further fueled by leaks from “Alex,” who claims to be an OPCW employee, and a leaked semi-independent engineering report authored outside the authority of the FFM. We have previously examined both Alex’s claims, and the engineering report in detail, and found significant problems with both. 

As discussed in Part 2, as well as basing his report on a major assumption, Ian Henderson’s engineering report lacked a huge amount of extremely relevant context. As such, in the following article we will include that required context and examine what it would mean for the cylinders to have been placed at the scene manually. Needless to say, by saying that these cylinders were more likely placed manually, the implication is that what happened in Douma was some form of “false flag” attack. 

It should be noted that the narrative the Russian and Syrian governments propose is simply that there was no chemical attack at all. This position was cemented during an Arria meeting of the UN Security Council. The Russian Federation and Syrian delegation claimed that this entire attack was staged and that there is no evidence of any chemical attack. 

No major actor believes a “false flag” was carried out using chlorine. Indeed, if chlorine had been used, even as a “false flag”, the FFM final report would still stand, as their mandate is only to establish if a chemical weapon has been used or not. We are therefore entertaining the theory that no chlorine gas was present at this location. 

The Context

It is first worth considering the overall context. During the evening of April 7, 2018, there was virtually non-stop shelling, incendiary attacks, and bombing in Douma.

To give an idea of how dire the situation was, the Douma pocket surrendered less than 24 hours after this chemical attack, bringing an end to fighting in this area. The bombardment was so intense that medical workers could not move through the city. Any potential plan that would have included placing these cylinders manually must have been carried out under this intense bombardment and chaos.

Extract of final FFM report

All the proposed activities we describe below must have taken place amidst this chaos of a small rebel pocket collapsing under attack from the Syrian government and its allies. 

The Victims

In order to create the scene observed in open source materials, the bodies of at least 34 people, including men, women and children, would have had to have been obtained — possibly via mass murder. The victims would have had to be killed in a way that left no obvious visible trauma. All these bodies would have had to be fresh to account for livor and rigor mortis. 

Either these people were killed in a way that produced a frothy discharge, or the froth was added later to bodies of people who were already dead. The Russian and Syrian presentation at the UN claimed that bodies were transported in from another location and that nobody in the building was affected by any gas. There are, of course, no images or videos showing any of these 34 bodies being unloaded from the cars they were allegedly transported in. No witnesses interviewed immediately after the attack by journalists or the OPCW reported bodies being transported into this location. 

Slide from UNSC presentation

Some believe that all these people were killed by “dust inhalation”. This narrative first appears to have been written about by Robert Fisk who, although he visited Douma, did not actually bother to find or visit the building where the attack happened. Instead he found a single doctor to interview, who claimed that the fatalities that night were as a result of “hypoxia, oxygen loss” and implies this was a result of a dust storm in the area. It should be noted that there has not previously been a scenario during this conflict where scores of people died in the same building from dust inhalation. Indeed it was not possible to find any example of large numbers of people dying in the same building from dust inhalation in such a manner.

Unlike the final FFM report, the first draft of the interim report splits the witness accounts into those interviewed in Damascus and those interviewed in “Country X”. It is notable that the claims of mass casualties and fatalities from dust inhalation (amongst other causes) appear to originate from the group interviewed in Damascus. Indeed some of the medical workers interviewed in Damascus mentioned not even being aware of any chemical attacks in Douma or Syria. To put it frankly, the idea that any medical worker in Syria is not aware of chemical attacks is naive; chemical attacks have been a continuous and high profile feature of the conflict in Syria. 

Chemical weapon attacks identified by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

The witness statements to the OPCW made in Damascus do not seem to fit either what we know about the Douma attack, nor about the conflict in general. Considering the exceptionally repressive nature of the Syrian government, this is not surprising.

Rather bizarrely, Syrian medical workers interviewed by the Russian Ministry of Defence shortly after the attack said “all those who had received their medical aid had ordinary injuries, fractures and fragmentation and gunshot wounds.” None of these medical workers mention any injuries or deaths related to dust inhalation. This directly contradicts what Fisk reported, and helps to illustrate the confused narratives proposed by those who do not believe a chemical attack took place. 

When you consider the chaos of that night, and the other requirements we’ve explored below, the idea that all these people were killed by a mechanism other than chlorine inhalation and the building was prepped to make it look like a chlorine attack in the course of just a few hours pushes the boundaries of absurdity.


Then there is the question of the witnesses. The perpetrators of any “false flag” attack would have had to make sure that the loved ones and family of those who were murdered or had their bodies used did not speak out. This would have been an incredibly difficult proposition considering immediately after this event there was no way to control the population of Douma, where people immediately became internally displaced or else refugees.

You would have to ensure witnesses who spoke to the FFM described details that suggest a chemical attack, such as victims with respiratory issues, and the smell of chlorine in the vicinity of the attacks. Some would need to recount seeing a greenish cloud in the vicinity of Location 2. The enforcement of this narrative would have had to have happened after Douma fell, in the chaos of a mass expulsion of people from government-held parts of Syria. 

None of the witnesses, not even those interviewed in Damascus, appear to have mentioned anything about any group of people being detained and murdered. None mention any bodies being transported into Location 2. It seems extremely unlikely that this could have happened and not a single witness, in either Damascus or “Country X”, mentioned the capture and murder of scores of people, or the reuse of bodies. The only “witnesses” who claim to have seen the movement of bodies appeared in the Russian presentation to the UNSC almost two years later. 

Journalists who, unlike Robert Fisk, did bother to visit the building where most victims died noted an irritating smell. They even met and interviewed at least one first-hand witness who explained how the attack took place.

“I was sitting in the basement when it happened; the house was hit around seven in the evening. We ran out, and women and children ran into the house. They didn’t know the house had been hit from above and was filled with gas. The one who ran into the house died immediately. I ran out, feeling dizzy”

Once again it should be noted that this witness did not mention anything about anyone having been murdered or any bodies being moved into this building. He only states that people ran into the building. 

Finally, one would also have had to fabricate reports of two helicopters being in the air above Douma during the timeframe in which this chemical attack happened. 

Graphic from the New York Times Visual Investigations Team investigation into Douma

The Munitions

Shortly before the victims were placed and first responders and media arrived, the cylinders would have to have been placed in position. Obtaining and modifying these cylinders to the required standard would have been a difficult task. To our knowledge, this kind of extremely distinctive chlorine cylinder with an external framework does not appear to have been used in the East Ghouta, of which Douma is part, prior to 2018. 

The only reported attacks that these munitions may have been sourced from was a chemical attack on February 25, 2018, in which helicopters were reported to have been involved, and an attack in March 2018. Other reported chemical attacks in East Ghouta that Bellingcat is aware of used a different method of delivery, specifically an IRAM.

Comparison of an IRAM (left), primarily seen around Damascus, with a modified chlorine cylinder (right), which does not previously appear to have been reported in Damascus before 2018

If these cylinders and their framework were not obtained from an earlier attack, there are still two further options: they could have been smuggled in after other attacks in Syria, or they could have been manufactured from an unused chlorine cylinder, which is used to purify water in Syria. If they were manufactured, one must admire the skill and attention to detail of the artisan: the cylinders are, in virtually all respects, identical to munitions used in multiple previous attacks in other parts of the country. The only difference from earlier munitions appears to be the design of the suspension lugs. These modified chlorine cylinders have been used in scores of other chlorine attacks in other parts of Syria, as identified by multiple OPCW FFM, JIM, and other independent investigations.

If cylinders from a previous attack were used, they must have already been deformed in a manner that was consistent with them falling from height onto the buildings at Location 2 and 4. If these cylinders were not pre-deformed, they would then have had to be damaged in a manner which was consistent with them falling several hundred meters. This is not simply a matter of adding a few dents: these cylinders were heavily deformed in a manner that would have been extremely difficult to achieve, if not impossible, using normal tools.

Damage to cylinder at Location 2 seen in final FFM report

Damage to cylinder at Location 4 seen in final FFM report

The idea of constructing a platform several hundred meters high in Douma and then dropping the cylinders off it is comedic — and defies any logic. This damage would have had to be consistent with impacts at both Location 2 and Location 4 in order to fool three independent teams of engineering experts commissioned for the final FFM report. The frame of the munition at Location 2 would have had to be stripped, deformed, and then mixed with the other debris.

One of the biggest problems with reusing a chlorine cylinder from a previous attack is that it would almost certainly already be heavily corroded after having come into contact with chlorine.

When chlorine gas meets moisture it reacts to form hydrochloric and hypochlorous acids, both of which are corrosive to metal. Corrosion on metal parts at Location 2 and 4 was noted by the FFM. This is most clear when examining the cylinder at Location 4. Immediately after the attack the cylinder and frame were clearly not corroded; however, by the time the inspectors tagged the cylinder on June 3, 2018, it was heavily corroded. This makes it extremely unlikely that this cylinders were reused from previous attacks: these cylinders would have displayed significant corrosion in earlier images. They do not. 

1: Still from video by Forensic Architecture, 2: Still from video by Forensic Architecture, 3: Image taken on 8th or 9th April, 4: image from Russian news report aired on 26th April, 5: image of cylinder in FFM final report, 6: image of cylinder in Final FFM report after tagging, indicating it was taken on the 3rd June 2018

Placing these cylinders would have been a more difficult task than it first appears. Similar cylinders weigh around 60-80 kg when empty, depending on capacity. This would have been difficult enough to transport up the stairs at Location 2. However, at Location 4 the mangled framework was present on the cylinder, making it an extremely bulky object to get up the stairs and through the door, apparently without leaving any obvious marks. Even the first hand witness who claims to have been in the building and who blames the rebels, states that these locations were “hit’ and nothing about anyone placing any cylinder. 

In short, there is no believable way these cylinders could have been obtained or manufactured so that they looked consistent with not only the damage, but also the progression of corrosion visible at the scene. 

The Craters

Two craters would have had to be created for the “false flag” scenario. The FFM identified that the craters present on the scene were consistent with the impact of the cylinders. The FFM also noted that the crater at Location 2 does not appear to have been created by an explosion due to the absence of primary and secondary fragmentation. Even Henderson noted that this lack of fragmentation was strange, although he still believed it may have been created by an explosion. Once again, the artisans who supposedly created these craters must have been incredibly skilled, as they were good enough to fool three independent analyses of the impacts.

Whoever placed these cylinders would also have needed almost superhuman foresight to damage the edge of the terrace wall. The damage to both the cylinder and the wall would, yet again, have had to be consistent with the cylinder having impacted the edge of the terrace wall first, followed by impacting the floor. Indeed, the damage would, once again, need to fool three independent analyses of the impact of this cylinder. Syrian media activists, who presumably must have been collaborating with the perpetrators, completely missed this vital detail in all their images and videos. This was first noticed due to Russian news reports from the site. 

Extract from final FFM report

The Chemistry

In the case of a “false flag” attack, samples, as well as the corrosion of the cylinders, and other metal fittings in the room, would also have had to be fabricated. Consistent and believable samples would have been extremely difficult to simulate. 

The compounds found by the FFM at Locations 2 and 4 that are indicative of chlorine cannot simply be dismissed as “trace” quantities, as we have already discussed. Trace quantities are exactly what would be expected in this situation — rather, it is the combination of different chemicals discovered that indicate the presence of chlorine gas. There is also the matter of other chemicals, such as inorganic chlorides (not mentioned by Alex), which were found far above trace levels. 

There is also the bornyl chloride and trichlorophenol found in coniferous wood samples, which are not naturally found in the environment. Bornyl chloride can be produced from the interaction of phosgene or cyanogen chloride (both also deadly gases) with coniferous wood. Trichlorophenol can be produced by the interaction of sodium hypochlorite with coniferous wood, the main component of chlorine-based bleach. However, chlorine gas interacts with wood to create both. 

Without knowing where the OPCW was going to check, the perpetrators would have had to go to extraordinary lengths to fake these samples. Whatever process they carried out would not only have had to produce results that are perfectly consistent with exposure to chlorine gas, but also affect samples from across the two locations, both inside and out. Essentially, it would have been extraordinarily difficult to believably fake a scene resulting in the samples identified by the OPCW. 

By far the most likely scenario to produce bornyl chloride, trichlorophenol and the multitude of other compounds was that chlorine gas was present in the environment. It should be noted this is a simplification of the full process and that a full discussion of bornyl chloride and trichlorophenol can be read on page 13 of the final FFM report. These findings are antithetical to the Russian and Syrian claim that there was no chemical attack at all. Even if there had been a “false flag” attack using chlorine gas, the FFM findings would still stand, as chlorine would still have been used as a chemical weapon. 


Whoever staged such a “false flag” would also have had to have known and solved the problem of auto-refrigeration. In short, when canisters of chlorine discharge, they get very cold: cold enough to freeze water. This results in the container accumulating a of frost on the external part of the cylinder. 

Example of auto-refrigeration on a chlorine munition, courtesy of Al Jazeera

The cylinder at Location 2 appears in a single (extremely graphic) video on the night of April 7, and the bright white appearance of the cylinder indicates it has undergone this process and that it is covered in frost.

Stills of cylinder immediately after attack (Left) and at a later date (Right). The image on the left has been brightened to show details more clearly. 

This could be done by either actually discharging a tank of chlorine, in which case there was a chlorine attack, or by somehow making the tank appear as if it had undergone this process, although how this could be achieved is not clear, especially as the effect would need to disappear within a few hours. The perpetrators would have had to go through the effort of faking this process, only for it to be caught by a few frames of a single video. 


Currently, the Russian and Syrian governments and Alex all believe that chlorine was not used as a weapon, despite the large amount of evidence indicating chlorine was in fact present at these locations.

A “false flag” attack would have been extremely complex to plan and execute, relying either on the murder of multiple people (which not a single witness mentioned), or the discovery of an unprecedented number of people who had died from “dust inhalation”. These bodies would then have had to be transported to the building and unloaded. Unloading these bodies would have had to have happened without anyone taking any pictures or video. Indeed none of the apparent witnesses to this act presented by Russia at the UNSC on January 20, 2020, appear to have been interviewed by any journalist from any news organisation, or indeed any international organisation such as the OPCW, after the attack. This plan would have had to be executed during a period of incredibly heavy shelling, as the frontlines of this tiny rebel-held pocket collapsed. 

The fakery, from the manufacturing of the cylinders to the chemical samples, would have had to be carried out to an incredibly high standard, indeed high enough that it could fool not only the FFM, but also multiple witnesses at the site of the attack. The craters and cylinder would have had to be perfectly consistent with two cylinders falling from height and impacting the roofs in order to fool the three independent analyses carried out by the FFM. 

Or, on the evening of April 7, 2018, in an attack that is entirely consistent with scores of other attacks that have been recorded in Syria, one or more helicopters dropped two chlorine cylinders. These cylinders were modified to make them more effective air-dropped weapons, in a way that closely matched multiple other chlorine attacks. One landed on a building and crashed through the roof. The other hit a roof but did not fully penetrate it, discharging its contents of chlorine into the house beneath, killing dozens of men, women and children.


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  1. Paul

    Here is the full Statement by the Permanent Representative of Russia to the OPCW Alexander Shulgin at an Arria-formula meeting of UNSC member states:

    It is quite clear that the strike carried out by US/UK/Fr in ‘retaliation’ for Douma, was illegal under any sort of ‘rules based order’ and was an act of war. That Bellingcat still refuses to admit the truth of the matter and instead indulges in fakery of its own making, is utterly shameful… but no surprise at all.

    • Servus

      it’s not nice what you are doing, the Bellingvat article makes a lamb chops of the Russian Federation narrative so why do you put a pointers to it, for people to laugh at the RF representative ? Don’t you have a pity for the poor potato-face ? Is it some sort of viscous schadenfreude ?

      (to make it easy for you :”pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune” )

      • oui oui

        again , if you were what you pretend to be you would be doing what you say “schadenfreude” . have you been an active KGB in Berlin ? wait , in the liberated Berlin
        but the most probable is that you are the two clowns shining here to have this kind of pleasure
        this schadenfreude can only be viscous . you appear to be how a pervert will understand perversion and this appears to make your pride . the USSR had very bad fruits , still smelling this bad
        what else could make your pride as you are doing that ? may be being white in this white supremacy

        • Servus

          ´you appear to be how a pervert will understand perversion ´

          Social pathologists understand social perversions without being pervert just like psychiatrists understand mental disorders without being mad.

          But your insight is correct, we deal here with perversion.

  2. Jeroen

    Some parties deliberatly lie, lie, lie and keep on lying, to confuse, to distract, sow discord, disorientate, and so on, despite of all logic and logical reasoning. And will keep doing that, notwithstanding any logic explaination or understanding.
    Part of the Russian governement chose to be one of them. So does Assad.
    And so do some paid (and unpaid?) trolls.
    Thank you BC for all effort to find the truth applying very interresting new and old methodology.

  3. SorryViennese

    I agree that we have to talk about the main result from the leaked and -not a fake it is – ingeneering report of the FFM team whose head Henderson was. Arguments “ad hominem” are always a sign of weaknes.

    So it is more civilized to discuss the physical realities as presented in the ingeneering report.

    I hope many agree with me on that.

    So to bring it to the sharp logic of the title.
    Is it is a false flag attack when at least one of the (4?) cylinders was not dropped “ballistically” to it´s final place by an airplane? (helicopter, etc). But placed “by hand” (of course) with some elevation help, etc like some persons working together with simple mechanical tools..

    So was at least one of the cylinders, where a foto taken and published immediately after the event proves it´s position and condition, “not” – airdropped?

    This logic construct would describe/constitute a “false-flag” operation. Do we agree on that?

    • Adam Larson

      Henderson never claims to be the leader of this team, just involved. Sami Barrek was team leader.

      2 cylinders, at locations 2 and 4 (4 numbered locales including the hospital as loc. 1, and ?? as location 3 they wanted to visit (why?) until they learned (what?) and dropped it.)

      Officially both were airdropped. The outside experts FFM called on say that for both of them. Both are totally contested by parties not beholden to the Western powers one way or another. So some consider it false flag, others don’t (but they’d agree the scenario it’s not WOULD BE called false-flag, as the article does). There’s no one much taking a hybrid position like one real and one fake, and I see no logical reason anyone should.

    • Servus


      In english, engineer starts with ´e ´ and not ´ i ´ like in russian.
      Otherwise it’s obvious that you did not understand the article about the weaknesses and omissions of the Henderson’s report, written out of process and out of ant FFM’d mandate, normal working rules or agreement.
      May i suggest you take it to your english class and do some loud reading of it?

      ( on the positive note, disgusting Internet Research Agency at Olgano has apparently problems recruiting candidates with working english skills)

      • SorryViennese

        Dear Servus,
        you do not answer my questions. You try to teach English, this is not at stake here.
        Ingeneering is well understood as engineering, despite my typo, which I was aware of.

        It is clear now to the readers, you want to obfuscate and distract from the Topic and title of Bellingcat: Could there be false flag operations?

        Please look up again and answer my question from January 23. If you don´t, you avoid conversation, based on logic and discussion of facts.
        KR, SV

        • Servus

          You seem not to understand the last two articles by Bellingcat about the engineering report, be it english or some other reason… never mind.
          Henderson’s report has a fundamental methodological error that makes his conclusion invalid. Decent university education should include some methodology class or maybe even an epistemology one, otherwise it may be difficult to understand what a methodological error means and what are its consequences.
          Let me explain with an analogy.
          A medical study came to an amazing conclusion, cold water baths cure cancer but when the methodology of the study was verified it appeared that some methodological error have been made, so results are not to be trusted or should be simply rejected, forgotten.
          But some people, like you with the engineering report, still ask questions if it is only the bath and if shower is enough and how long it should be. This does not make sense.

          Henderson’s study has a basic fundamental error and his conclusion should not be trusted, any discussion of it is without object.

          What is this error? Let me do an auto-plagiarism.

          Lets try en explanation by an analogy.
          Mr Xsson evaluates two hypothesis, (1) the chlorine cylinder was dropped from a Syrian helicopter flying between 500m-2000m , (2) The chlorine cylinder was miraculously dropped or carried in by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
          When analysing (1), Mr Xsson stumbled over a difficulty he could not resolve so he gladly came into conclusion that (2) is more probable. Without writing a single line about Flying Spaghetti Monsters’ existence probability. Have he analysed (2), he would find (1) more probable but with a reservation for the unresolved issue.

          So by now you should understand the gravity of methodological errors and the actual error made by Mr Henderson.

          The thirds Bellingcat article tries to complement the engineering report by analysing the alternative Henderson ignored; what it would take to do a “false flag” operation and concludes that :
          (1) there is no evidence of it while it’s inconceivable that such a difficult conspiracy could have been hidden (2) mechanics of it makes it physically impossible. For details, please read the article again.

          Incidently also finds source of Xsson’s reservation, unjustified assumptions that helicopters would not fly lower then 500m.

          Hope you get the clear picture now, its difficult to make it simpler.

          • SorryViennese

            Der Servus,
            you do not answer my question directly again…

            But taken your conversation above positively, you implicetly seem to agree my proposal to frame the whole topic as such:
            -> If one of the cyclinders could not have been dropped by an airplane (at high altidude), then it is a false flag operation.

            I ask you again explicit and specifically:
            Do you agree on that narrowing down of the whole issue to that logic pinpoint?
            Yes or No?

          • Servus

            Comrade Inginir

            Village elders in my home bled answer similar hypothetical questions by an ancestral proverb « Ara gourgkih brilakh bribzirkhal ».
            Meaning, with lost popular poetic lyrisme, ‘ if shit could fly, jurts would not have windows’.

            As a scholar, you will certainly understand that no self respecting person engages in a hypothetical discussions with obviously false premises.

  4. Adam Larson

    That wasn’t very hard. I think this covers it all, aside from limited follow-up debate, if this is even allowed…

    “The idea of constructing a platform several hundred meters high in Douma and then dropping the cylinders off it is comedic”

    That’s the only reason I can think of that you invented the notion, aside from pretending it debunks someone. No one has suggested planting BY dropping. No one. Unless I missed it? Most likely the mild damage seen is from the things being lobbed (by admittedly unknown but entirely possible means) a moderate distance up. THEN they were later set at the sites of pre-existing damage from explosive weapons.

    The article claims the massacre managers would have to fake it so it looks just like an air drop to fool any real expert, when the problem is it does NOT look like an air drop to many experts and sharp laymen like myself. A drop from about 150 meters might cause similar cylinder damage and non-penetration at location 2, but then it won’t be flinging steel rebar past 90 degrees and halfway across the room, while passing around some intact bars as a solid object couldn’t do (this is a blast wave now), spalling the ceiling, spraying primary and secondary fragments(see below) with explosive force. Team Bellingcat places a lot of trust in these 3 expert teams that felt that could all line up, but this doesn’t seem to make sense, and their methods have never been shared.

    “One of the biggest problems with reusing a chlorine cylinder from a previous attack is that it would almost certainly already be heavily corroded after having come into contact with chlorine.”
    Wow, that’s not very big. And it’s one of the biggest? They didn’t burst open on this attack, just had vague issues with the valves allowing slow leaks varying from 3+ hours to more than 2 weeks, following an alleged helicopter drop (if not a high one). So why would the fake/prior drop/launch have to be different in that regard? No ruptures means none from this drop OR any prior, so no sure sign chlorine was released the first time around. That makes sense, since the damage is mild, not extreme as you say (you should know what extreme cylinder damage looks like), and the odds of them having the same kind of valve-centered leaks in both deployments seems low. Actually it’s kind of middling, but then as noted, no rust.

    “The FFM also noted that the crater at Location 2 does not appear to have been created by an explosion due to the absence of primary and secondary fragmentation.”
    And that still does not hold up. You never explain or add to what they say, because you can’t. The stuff that looks like a fragmentation pattern IS one. The report just flat denies it, and you cite that as proof of its non-existence. It’s a bit Orwellian, really.

    That is a challenge. Again, my irrefutable and non-refuted explanation, including the total lack of plausible alternate explanations, and an accidental confirmation from an explosive ordnance expert on “your” side:

    “Even Henderson noted that this lack of fragmentation was strange, although he still believed it may have been created by an explosion.”
    No, not the LACK – he noted its possible PRESENCE, but wasn’t certain, since it looked strange. I propose he was a bit confused, having gotten rusty; he was looking for primary marks in the wrong place (the room below impact), and taking some SECONDARY frag marks (hurled concrete) as an “unusually elevated, but possible” (primary) fragmentation pattern, or possibly something else (but no one has suggested what). Somehow, he missed the telltale primary frag marks above, on the upper balcony walls (he wasn’t able to visit location 2, and apparently missed the clues in photos). If he were shown those, I’m sure he’d agree the marks he saw are secondary marks, “possible” could become “probable,” “unusually elevated” would be normal and left off, and he’d add for any expanded rev. 2 of the report clear primary fragmentation marks ringing the balcony above, firming up the initial observations to the point of certainty.

    “Whoever placed these cylinders would also have needed almost superhuman foresight to damage the edge of the terrace wall.”
    No, this is simply where the mortar shell (presumably) hit and then detonated, hence the fragmentation pattern radiating out from there. Superpowers not required, sorry.

    I love how incredibly complex the false-flag scenario has to be for those intent on accepting the opposition narrative – considering all the presumptions one can tack on. But what’s this? For maybe the first time, you don’t make an issue of the cylinder’s weight. Good move. For God’s sake, people have been moving heavy things around for ages. That’s not a fake-moon-landing kind of claim.

    Or was it just because that would distract from the jenga method you invented for giggles?

    They would have to do a few things, including but not limited to:
    – move the cylinders up stairs, etc.
    – do that without leaving marks on the stairs, at the doorjamb, or on the foot end of the bed frame at location 4. Or mark all these spots and hope it’s ignored by OPCW investigators (it was).
    – set the cylinders next to mismatching damage, as they did, and hope that sorts itself out. The OPCW/FFM usually have their backs, so should be/was no problem.
    – murder some of their captives in some vaguely chemical manner, and any implausible death rate or mismatching symptoms would have to be/were glossed over.

    You don’t even try for appeal to the Saudi-backed, sectarian-minded terrorists of Jaish al-Islam being good guys who’d never kill civilian captives, or even “their own neighbors.” Another good move. Instead it’s about what people said and didn’t say: “the murder of multiple people (which not a single witness mentioned)”

    Khaled Nuseir for example: he smelled a gas, felt strange, then got better with some water, end story. Also, he was in the location 2 basement, passed out along with everyone, or escaped and then passed out at the WH center, was out for 6 or 10 hours, but woke up, had a wife and 2young girls die – he just forgot to mention that before. But in neither story does he mention a false-flag murder. And if he did, it would fit strangely with the rest of his lodged stories.

    So it didn’t happen, right? Because who could fool that guy, besides those murky engineering and toxicology experts?

    “In the case of a “false flag” attack, samples, as well as the corrosion of the cylinders, and other metal fittings in the room, would also have had to be fabricated. Consistent and believable samples would have been extremely difficult to simulate.”
    Why? The claims were sarin was used. Fabrication should involve sarin. I reason this was planned, but somehow failed to happen in the chaos of defeat (e.g. the fighters bringing the sarin to plant were killed in an airstrike on their way there, etc.). People claiming no chlorine release do have some explaining to do in this regard. But otherwise, the plotters would fabricate, I guess, to the extent they opened the valves on those cylinders they lugged into place. I don’t see why they wouldn’t. The rest of this supposed complexity follows right on that, just like in a real attack.

    So half this stuff is no problem to me as a believer in chlorine release. The rest of it … pretty weak. Good thing you had that chlorine dispute to take so much space explaining. It still doesn’t explain the deaths very well at all, nor the symptoms like brown stains across the upper face, even if it might explain the foam. And can anyone show where chlorine exposure causes 100% NON-red eyes? I gather it’s closer to the opposite, 100% WITH red eyes. But no red eyes visible anywhere on those victims.

    This mismatch of course raises the question of how then did they die, which is still best answered by: a managed massacre. Other options exist, but they don’t explain much without a lot of special pleading. One of these days, maybe you guys can write up something that finally rules this out, but I suppose that won’t be possible.

    • SorryViennese

      It is very convoluted, and your message is not clear to me… it looks like creating fog and distraction.
      I asked a simple but central logical clear question (see above).

      It can be answered by yes or no.

      If nobody answers it clearly, conclusion, have to be drawn from that too.

    • Adam Larson

      I’ve been checking back for any substantive response to any of the points raised in my long comment above. So far one more merits a response. I’ll check back at least once more in a couple of days.

    • Adam Larson

      Sorry, the one worth responding to was on an earlier post. Nothing here yet.

      I’ll note here as it came up on the page – of course I instead of E is not a very probable typo.

  5. Adam Larson

    “All these bodies would have had to be fresh to account for livor and rigor mortis. ”

    Agreed, and open-source tip: one boy victim, B5 in my system, displays tache noir (of the eye) in later images but not the earliest ones around 10PM. This forms in “a few” or even 1-2 hours after death (sometimes anyway, if the eye is open), so that long or less prior to those images.


  6. Adam Larson

    I know I’m pushing it, but … you guys should approve my other comment. It’s going up somewhere real soon.

    • Louis N. Proyect

      – murder some of their captives in some vaguely chemical manner, and any implausible death rate or mismatching symptoms would have to be/were glossed over.


      Yeah, those Mohammedan Ayrabs will stop at nothing, specially since they don’t value life as much as us Christians and Jews. Last time we ran into such fanatics was back in 1967 when the damned Viet Cong kept killin’ peasants to maintain their Communistic grip on villages we were protecting.

      What are you gonna do with Mohammedans and Commies? They aren’t reasonable like Peter Hitchens and Robert Fisk.

      • Servus

        Agree with you Louise,,

        All these scenarios suffer from a fundamental problem, as pointed out by the Bellingcat article, not a hint of a shade of an evidence.

        And are less probable then Peter Hitchens admitting an error or Robert Fisk finding anything not served at the Syrian press officer’s briefings.

      • Adam Larson

        Louis, thanks for the weird rant. I guess that must hint at the moral defect on my part that must prove everything I said is worth ignoring. And you know what, I think you put your finger right on … your nipple, and giggled in your sleep. Keep up that unrepentant thing. You are just … real … neat. Louise.

  7. Jeroen

    SorryVienesse a smal hint if you leave your corridor and walk one floor up in the Eastern corridor you might find that chap and discuss it all over and over.
    You might be working in the same farm.

  8. Jeroen

    You might even reach to the conclusion that some cylinders were dropped from the fifth floor of a certain office in St Petersburg, Ru.

    • Servus

      Haha, this was funny!

      Watch out Vienia, more nonsense and you will be assigned to snow sweeping or peeling potatoes!

  9. Servus

    Very good article that nicely describes difficulties of the hypothesis that mr Henderson did not bother to look at.

    You mention Robert Fisk’s report from the Syrian official press event .

    Lets give some context:
    – 7/4 , a chemical attack in Douma
    – makes worldwide front page news
    – attack is attributed to Syrian Air Force by locals, some reporters in Douma, by US and French intelligence services.
    – 14/4 USA, GB and France launch an retaliation attacks.
    – round 18-20/4 Syrians organise a press visit to Douma.
    For all foreign correspondents it is a fantastic opportunity; the first time , visit the site that was front page news for the last to weeks.
    The visit starts with this press pool briefing by the Syrian press officer.
    What does he say? Journalists typically don’t report that (any pointer welcome),
    But their propaganda strategy is clear at this stage, as expressed by mr Assad «  rebels did it or it did not happen at all ».

    Western journalists have been there many times and don’t pay to much attention, except mr Robert Fisk and the phrase ´did not happen at all ´ is obediently jolted down .

    Now the pool gets on the bus and after short drive arrives at Douma. Different teams get a protection by an armed soldier and walk into the devastation city.
    It is likely that Syrians will guide them through the ruins to the CW attack sites. Anyway, we know that several teams found the house where the people were gassed to death. Their photos of the house, live videos , live interviews and articles make front pages and prime time news.
    In the mean time mr Fisk goes through the empty backstreets, asks rare passers by about the chemical attack, and nobody knows nothing about anything, and quickly disappear in ruins. But they do see the armed Syrian soldier. Mr Fisk doesn’t find the CW attach sites, really ´nothing to report’ apart from spooky, empty streets in ruins.
    How’s that for seasoned war reporter, being the only one to miss a worldwide scoop !

    Its really said I remember reading mr Fisk’s articles in Al Ahram years ago, it was a piece of fresh air in the raging propaganda wars.


    • Adam Larson

      JUST one small Q as I wait for any serious rebuttals to my own points: the US decision to launch was said at the time to be based partly on biomedical samples affirming the use of both chlorine and sarin, combined with the reported symptoms of sarin and consistently high death toll that was later revised down, unexplained.

      I know you hate to speculate, mr. servo, and there’s little point considering, but I’m curious anyway – how do these samples or claims about them, fit in with no sign of sarin in every spot the FFM checked? Keeping in mind nothing credible ever surfaced to suggest sarin could be scrubbed from a scene in such a manner as to completely vanish, you could suggest that anyway.

      • Servus

        I’ve checked press release from the 7 and 8 of April 2018, and only the first reporting, most likely based on very fragmentary information said “maybe sarin maybe chlorine”, but next reports talked only about chlorine.

        So, you either understand that first reporting was inaccurate or get a hint of a real conspiracy and cover up, and the fact that no sarin was found and nobody talks about sarin any more is a sign of how deep and well hidden is the real story.
        And I have no idea about US or French services.

        • Adam Larson

          “The samples suggested the presence of both chlorine gas and an unnamed nerve agent, two officials said. Typically, such samples are obtained through hospitals and collected by U.S. or foreign intelligence assets on the ground. The officials said they were “confident” in the intelligence, though not 100 percent sure.”

          But turns out they were just confused by initial reports to THINK these samples turned up a nerve agent in some people but not at the attack sites in Douma. right?

          • Servus

            Well… all these ´leaks’ by secret service are nothing else but a carefully written hidden press releases preparing population for coming policy decisions.
            There is no point in reading too much into it.
            We have a competent report prepared for UN Security Council by large team of UN experts that does not find any trace of nerve agents.

            For rational people it means that there were no nerve agents found.
            But this is dull, simple as 2+2.

            For conspiracy morons it means that there is a well hidden network of lies, coverups, less we know deeper is the plot….. one could callit t a Roshash test of social pathologies.

  10. ssb

    A lot of ad hominen attacks on this forum if people disagree with Bellingcat’s narrative. You’re either labelled as a Russian troll or some other form of character assassination rather than taking on board your points for debate. This appears as a weakness against Bellingcat supporters, and undermines your case.

    • M

      Don’t write like that because you hurt Minion aka Servus aka Viennese and … many many more nicknames. He plays tough here but has a very delicate ego and a sensitive soul. 😉

      • SooryViennese

        Dear all, and esp. my “troll” attackers.

        You would be surprised to hear about my background and my academic credentials. Quite Western I would say.

        • Jeroen

          Well “SooryViennese” I am sorry if anybody might have doubted your sincere intentions because of any of my remarks. Of course we do appreciate academical credentials, not particularly western, any respected academy. Please where can we find your thesis you defended to get your degree or the articles, publications of research and academical results of your work? They must be interesting and you must be proud of it?

          • SorryViennese

            You can find my second academic degree in the Harvard School of Public Health records of 1993. So I understand toxicology and forensic thinking (e.g. balistics) at least a little more than lay persons.

            So I have offered part of my identity.

            What do you offer in return? You are free to choose. However, it would be prudent to answer the following: What are your (academic) credentials?
            We should do this acts of increasing transparency in a step by step manner to increase trust. Or what do think?

    • Adam Larson

      Oh, and here’s wladimir from the complaints department loooooooool.

      But yeah, ssb. There’s a reason they avoid debating the issues. They claim to own “open source intelligence” like Saudi Arabia claims to own the Muslim world (and just that for now).

      Or of course, dissenters are by definition such obvious Russian trolls and racist hillbillies that there can literally be no value in considering what they have to say. They suggest this is their valid reason for that disrespect.

      On the plus side, they’re letting that be awkward by not just blocking all unfavorable comments.

      • SorryViennese

        Dear A.Larson, interesting point of view.
        I also, just from my gut-feeling, have the feeling of a kind of “arabic-circle-argumentation” style of conversation here. Not a dedication to scholastic logic, as I have.

        But this may be an arrogant euro-centric, latin-world trained central-european prejudice only. I have learned about my feeling (see above) when I conversed with persons and wider family members, comming from or being in Arab countries.


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