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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.

Witnesses

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. 

Auto-Refrigeration

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. 

Conclusion

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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179 Comments

  1. Jeroen

    One could easily think such a remark would be normal for a person whose primarly own or expected reaction to such would be to block?
    So some are posting here only and with love for true debating?
    Of course a person with academical background eagerly longing to participate in academic debate here would present him or herself either as “SorryViennese” or as “SooryViennese”, how convincing is that?
    And are all gathered here just for loving the truth or are some here merely to undermine because ordinary citizens at home found out convincingly that the Russian state and military were behind shooting MH17 and the killing of its crew and passengers?

    I would be very surprised if no army of Russian trolls would be prepairing their jumpseats and fire their volley’s (not 122mm or BM-21 rockets at the Ukrainians this time) but loads of whataboutisms and for sure some of them will ask:

    Could it academically or theoretically have been a false flag?

    MH17?

    Could all these bodies have been piled at the crash site by some false flag?

    Could these aircraftparts have arrived there manually instead of dropping from the air?

    Any Russian or other troll should feel very ashamed of him/herself!
    Really feeling nothing?
    What is wrong with you?
    Is becoming a shitposter really what you always dreamed of?

    Anyway we will see those seem people suddenly “needing” to comment when the MH17 trial hits the headlines. For sure.

    Reply
  2. Feodor Mihailovitch

    It’s really incredible how much the Kremlin is capable of lying ! However when one remembers that the NKVD/KGB/FSB base their existence on lies then nothing is surprising ….

    Reply
  3. Sean_Lamb

    Just a comment on Bellingcat’s claim that Ian Henderson’s work is invalidate because he assumed a minimum of 500 meters altitude for the cylinder drop.

    Here is a real life Syrian helicopter in action, dropping the kind of bomb that the British airforce dropped 965 000 tonnes of on Germany during WW2 (that is unguided, however in fairness to the Syrians a helicopter does allow more accurate targeting than a high altitude Wellington medium bomber)

    https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/1220293627680829442

    I am counting 34 seconds from release to impact – online calculators suggest that is probably a drop of 1400 meters. You can quibble a little about some of the parameters used in that calculation, but in general I think we are safe to conclude Mr Henderson was conservative in his assumptions.

    I should add I understand why people aren’t happy about the Syrian government using WW2 era munitions to target the jihadists. But shouldn’t the complainants be lobbying their respective governments to supply the Syrian Arab Army with precision weaponry so they can root out AQ with a minimum of collateral?

    I don’t remember the liberation of Mosul being exactly a Sunday-school picnic either.

    Reply
    • Servus

      Saschka,

      There are many videos of Syrian helicopters dropping bombs from high altitudes, there are also videos of low altitude ground attacks.
      So what does that says about this particular case?
      Not much, we don’t know what was the dropping height but simulation of aerodynamics of this event could shed some light….
      Assumption of high altitude for day time bombings sound reasonable , but Douma attack was carried out just after or during sunset. So a night bombing with helicopter likely equipped with night vision equipment makes perfect sense , with darkness protecting against any light arms fire.
      In any case, even during the day , low altitude helicopter attacks did happen.

      But of course, none of this discussions justifies Henderson’s conclusion that Flying Spaghetti Monster is the guilty one.

      Reply
      • Sean_Lamb

        ” So a night bombing with helicopter likely equipped with night vision equipment makes perfect sense , with darkness protecting against any light arms fire.”

        I thought it was sunset or just after? Generally the street lights don’t come on for at least 30 minutes after sunset and you would easily spot a helicopter in the twilight sky at 500 meters – it isnt remotely difficult. The crew would be sitting ducks for rifle fire even.

        Anyway, are you know suggesting this was a precision attack on a random building with women and children?

        I guess you have to get from A to B and don’t much care how.

        Reply
        • Servus

          Saschka,

          street lights in Douma ? A bombed out city with infrastructure devastated by two days of heavy bombardment ?
          It was night, says Henderson’s hidden voice.

          Reply
      • altitude

        Because of the low speed (30 m/s) assumed in the FFM final report to ensure that the canister only penetrated one floor, a low altitude drop would need to very low (less than 15 stories above the building). I was wondering what the noise reports in the area were like at the time of the attack because the helicopter would have been very loud at the altitude it was flying. Did the FFM come back with any witness reports of the aircraft–like people who might have been out or woken up by the sound at the time of the drop?

        Reply
        • altitude

          Also, forgot to ask, could you share your model for calculating wind resistance and terminal velocity for the canister. I’m interested in seeing what cross-sectional area and viscosity coefficients you used. The whole altitude thing has been a puzzle for me that I’ve been wondering about for a long time. Thanks!

          Reply
          • Servus

            The Henderson’s report uses apparently 500m drop resulting in 100m/s impact velocity, which corresponds to terminal speed in free fall in vacuum.
            This has also caught me eye and I did some simulations but it does not seem to have any bigger impact and I lacked several parameters so I don’t think it’s worth even talking about my numbers.
            The cylinder has a 35 cm diameter plus harness, fins and wheels. (35×140)
            The size does not seem to be an industry standard, it’s either made locally (doubt it) or it’s Chinese or Indian made. There is one vendor of chlorine cylinders in Syria in Aleppo SYSACCO buy their catalogue is not online.
            .
            The 30m/s its L2 ? I think it was after hitting the roof and initial impact velocity was round 60 m/s. To be verified.

            FFM calculates initial impact velocity “backswords”, from damage to velocity so there are no assumptions about drop height made.

            The city was under heavy artillery and air bombardment for two consecutive days, people were in shelters. I don’t know if there were any testimonies estimating helicopter heights.

            BUT I suppose there should be plenty of people knowing that; Syrian, Russian, US, GB, France air forces operate in this theatre and they should have radars , AVACs or satellite coverage. Israeli also monitor this air space. Now that OPCW rules permit to attribute the attacks, OPCW could request this information from western air forces and maybe even get it.

          • altitude

            Hi again, responding to Servus’ answer to my question. I’m assuming Servus is the moderator but unsure.

            30 m/s is the impact velocity for the cylinder hitting the roof in the finite element analysis impact simulation pictured in the FFM final report. This value does not comport with Henderson’s 500 m/s drop–and Henderson shows in his material analysis that the 500 m/s (his expected flying altitude) mean that the roof would not have slowed the vessel sufficiently.

            So, assuming the cylinder wasn’t going this fast, it must have been dropped from quite a low height–maybe less than 15 stories above the building for 30 m/s impact shown by the damage and slowing of the cylinder.

            Even if the impact velocity was 60 m/s–which I suspect would mean floor penetration, the altitude drop would have been pretty low–maybe 30 stories above.

            Given the number of deaths (i.e., people in the vicinity affected), and the fact that a canister hit an apartment complex reportedly occupied on multiple levels it seems like they should be able to find people that heard the Syrian helicopter, I would think. I think I read that the apartment complex attack was around 7:30 pm. Did the FFM go out and ask people about it?

          • Jeroen

            About the altitude a helicopter flying above ground or buildings at day or night a Syrian transport or combat helicopter could easily be heard at 500m 1000m or even 1500m or more.
            For lay people it is difficult to guess at with height a helicopter is flying, either visually or by sound, very very difficult.
            About FFM it is/was not within its mission in 2018 to establish responsability, but to find out if a chemical weapon was used or not used. So no I think they would not ask wittnesses what “altitude” they think aircraft fly at night in darkness just by the sound of their engines, propellor blades or sounds related to aerial weapon launches like for example rockets.
            But good that you thought about that opportunity!
            With a special microphone it could probably be recorderd.

          • Servus

            Hi,
            I’ve looked that up in the FFM final

            Figure A6.6 , the damage to the cylinder due to hitting terrace’s roof, impact at 50m/s.
            Figure A6.7 , cylinder hitting floor after being slowed down by the first collision with the roof, 30m/s.

            50m/s corresponds to 130m free fall in vacuum, one should look at it as lowest possible height.
            All these simulation results that we see don’t show error margins.
            With 10% error margin we have (55,45) possible impact speed velocity.
            Real fall simulation should estimate impact of drag or air resistance.

          • altitude

            I feel like the answers to my question are misreading it. I don’t expect that the FFM would try to assess an exact altitude of the helicopter by what witnesses heard. I do expect that the FFM would interview witnesses to confirm that people did hear the helicopter, as the assumption in the FFM Douma final report is that it was flying at a very low height–one capable of producing the impact velocities noted in the report and shown in the FEA sim. I’m an engineer and I understand that numbers are not exact and that air resistance plays a role. I just want to know why we have not heard from any witnesses or about any other data of a low flying helicopter because that would be some of the strongest evidence that you would want to put in the final report. So someone must have tried to find witness accounts, no?

          • Servus

            « as the assumption in the FFM Douma final report is that it was flying at a very low height« 

            Hi, no, this is not an assumption of the FFM final, it does not assume anything and works only with observed facts, as explained by Jeroen, see also a copy of the OPCW answer in my replay to David .

            Douma has been under assault for months, look up photos and videos. People were mostly living underground or in provisional shelters inside the buildings, this was a second day of heavy bombardment, streets were full of roubles, houses were in ruin.

            The witnesses’ accounts and identities are not public, maybe they saw and reported something about helicopters, maybe not.

            Helicopters were observed by plane spotters, maybe they reported the estimate altitude
            here BC could help.

            In my previous answer one should add the building’s height to the the estimated lowest drop altitude, maybe 15-20m.

            Ps. I’m not a moderator, just an interested reader.

          • Jeroen

            Yes it is a good question to ask wittnesses if they have heard or seen or recorded or filmed a helicopter or aircraft.
            But we do not know if it is or is not in the policy of OPCW (FFM) interviewers to ask such specific questions do we?

      • altitude

        Also, forgot to ask, could you share your model for calculating wind resistance and terminal velocity for the canister. I’m interested in seeing what cross-sectional area and viscosity coefficients you used. The whole altitude thing has been a puzzle for me that I’ve been wondering about for a long time. Thanks!

        Reply
        • Jeroen

          Syrian army might also be very interested in these calculations, it might help drop cylinders more accurate!

          Reply
          • altitude

            Came back to comment for a last time because I forgot to comment about a figure that was probably miscategorized by accident in one Servus’ posts above. For future discussion, it should be clear that Henderson’s figure of 100 m/s cannot be terminal velocity for free fall in a vacuum. There is not terminal velocity in a vacuum, as terminal velocity is a result of fall through a fluid.

            In response to the response by Jeroen to my comment, I don’t understand why the Syrian army would need any of that information, or not have it if they needed it–it shouldn’t be special or very exact information. I’m probably not going to check much more for answers to my comments after this but if you could clarify what you are saying, that could be helpful for future posters.

    • Jeroen

      Russia is supporting Assad with enough ordnance rather precisely dropped by its Sukhoi fighterbombers to perform double taps hitting also hospitals and rescue workers. Did they already ran out of iron bombs, and ask you to request for more (precise) ordnance through the BC comment section?
      We appreciate that you understand people are not happy when objects fall on their living quarters.
      You misses though one small detail.
      It were not two “WW2 era” bombs, but two cylinders most probably filled with liquid chlorine that were dropped from Syrian helicopters, either flying above or lower than 500m.
      There is something odd about the logic you did apply but Servus pointed out that one clear enough, if not for sure “SorryViennese” will explain you the basics of logic at academical level, he/she must be by far better at it.

      Reply
  4. 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.

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

    Reply
    • Servus

      Vienia,
      Google ´forensics’ before you use the word, you are a Russian Olgano troll,
      BTW is your borsch vending machine working? Do you still need to bring toilet paper from home?

      Reply
      • SorryViennese

        Dear Servus,
        I called and call on you, since mid of December to answer my very specific questions, regarding the evidence regarding the balistics of one of the gas cylinders, as demonstrated in the FFM (Henderson) report.

        You never .. I repeat never … answered specfically. You obfuscated, diverted. So as you do just now, your intentions are clear now.

        You attack now again ad hominem.
        Just one comment on that attack: you have little idea about other European languages. Perhaps you only master Russian and English, what funny combination, though in my arrogant western eye. What are your credentials then, I ask you also, as I asked Jeroen before? Please guys answer.

        Reply
        • Servus

          Comrade Inginir ,

          Understand your frustration, your pompous imposture went pooofff, your Pavlik Morozov camardes will certainly denounce you.

          You said you ask questions since mid December, what was your false identity then ? I dont recall any miserable ´viennes’ nonsense, otherwise I would not be able to find your question, give me a chance Biennia

          Poka

          Reply
          • SorryViennese

            Dear Servus,
            your attacks ad hominum are missplaced.
            Just turn on your browsers “search” function, and you will find my repeated questions to you in the comments sections of the Douma case by using the search word “SorryViennese”. I did not change my identity, as you presume.

            You seem not to have done so, please do so, before raising wrong statements like the one above signed with “Poka”

    • Jeroen

      So you claim to be a member of the scientifical community or one or more circles of it, provide us with riddles about your identity, academical status, achievements and works, “identify yourself” as “SorryViennese” and request a serious debate, or simple yes or no answers to your questions?
      Very very convincing dude!

      Reply
      • SorryViennese

        Dear Jeroen, so you do not want to show your credentials as I requested. Which educational institute did you pass successfully?

        Above you give a diverting answer.

        Do you have any (academic) credentials? I ask you now directly once more again.

        If you do not answer my questions now, then it is clear, you are afraid of any transparency here.

        This is not discussion, not a debate. Do

        Reply
        • Servus

          Camarade Bienia,

          Yes you are transparent and have no hidden identity, an RF troll , your imposture is in shambles as your ´academic’ merits, you are on the ropes,

          Sincerely
          Duke & Duchess of Yorkshire

          Ps. No sane person would ever reference to talking potato heads.

          Reply
        • Jeroen

          Dear anonymous with lots of prestige (academic) degrees and “credentials”, probably more then I will ever earn or may wish for, thank you for your kind and continuous interest and offers of friendship. You must know druzhba means a lot to me, I am rather moved by such sincere gestures.
          You are most welcome to read my written comments.
          Like anyone else

          Reply
  5. Monty

    Just as a side-note, but the auto-refrigeration can be achieved by filling a cannister with any liquid that vaporizes under normal atmospheric pressure, including common available gasses like butane. This would require some selection since at least some common available gasses have an added scent for easier detection, which can travel over air over a kilometer for detection by the human nose.

    Reply
    • kraaii

      just pouring liquid gas onto a object is all thats needed to achieve auto-refrigeration, it doesn’t even has tot contain and release the gas

      Reply
    • Servus

      Nope , not ´any’ , the one with boiling point below 0 C.
      And you would need to use a lot of it to induce freezing of a roughly 6 mm steel cylinder, my estimation 10kg of steel ( top 1/8) at maybe at least 50C or higher, with NO environmental spill, no freezing of the environment around ut observed.

      Elementary dear Watsons.

      Reply
    • Jeroen

      Please do share us those pictures people filling both cylinders with butane, or pooring liquid gas on them.
      We just need lots of more whataboutism.

      Reply
      • Monty

        Hi Jeroen, no, I do not want to spark a discussion; the whole picture is clear and I find it hard to find logical and/or scientific errors. Just pointing out a little weakness in the logic of the sentence:

        “In short, when canisters of chlorine discharge, they get very cold: cold enough to freeze water.”

        The cylinders seem to have gotten frosty, but that fact alone does not imply that they contained chlorine. It implies that it contained something recently that has vaporized and during that process cooled down the cylinders sufficiently for the water in the air to condense and freeze.

        It supports that the cylinders recently contained something like chlorine gas, but it leaves an opening for alternatives, like a mixture of gasses or another gass.

        When someone solved the magic of placing the cilinders with the correct damage and impact effects to persons, environment and cilinder, creating the frost would have been easy. Just use any other gass.

        Reply
        • Jeroen

          It est, you are convinced theoretically the spagettimonster could have done the magical trick, that’s the very point, you find the most important to adress here?
          That is rather consoling to the victims of this vicious air attack, is n’t it?
          To acknowledge the content may have been possibly a mixture of liquid gases instead of a single gas?
          Chemicals hinting at previous presence of (liquid) chlorine were detected though, not butane.
          Assad is a ***** and what to think about all who support him continuing to lead some of these (war) “criminal gangs”?

          Reply
          • Monty

            Thanks for your reply, and I understand emotions, but I think most scientific proof is inherited from logic (“bewijs uit het ongerijmde”) and this includes challenging a statement with opposites and prooving them to be wrong. This leaves out the Brouwer logic model, but with multiple statements being proved the composed statement becomes stronger. Since I feel some emotions I for me best leave this discussion continue without my pressence.

      • kraaii

        Just by some lighter fluid (liquid gas) and do the experiment yourself on small scale, there no argument it can’t be done, creating frosting ain’t a challenge.

        Reply
          • kraaii

            what’s frothing to do with auto-refrigeration of an object ?, you’re becoming completely unhinged

          • Jeroen

            Frothing in itself has no direct relation with frosting, but the content escaping from the cylinder may have caused both.
            Which chemicals can do both?

  6. RussianTroll

    Syria: Americans clearly won the war. The US secured the oil and nobody cares about Assad or Douma or OPCW anymore (as long as Assad stays out of the oilfields).

    Libya: war will be over soon. France sided with Russia to secure the oil cutting off Italy. Whatever dictator will rule Libya will be left there, as long as he gives at least half of the oil to France (who initiated the war in the first place and needs to recover costs). The remaining half of the oil can go to Russia or remain in Italy’s hands. If the dictator will not agree with the terms, he will be disposed of.

    Ukraine: Russia is winning. Russian gas started to flow in Bulgaria from Turkey and nord stream 2 will be completed in a few months. New transit fees were negotiated without issues (against all forecasts) and Ukranians and Russians are best friends again. Pompeo made it so elegantly clear today: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/24/mike-pompeo-ukraine-npr-rant

    Next on our screens: US always financed and armed Sunni, and will continue to do so. Shia will fight back, and slowly loose terrain against superior western weaponry. Terror attacks will continue, and so will the energy industry, because we go to work and heat our homes and bring electricity to our hospitals every day. Someone will secure new oil and make a ton of money in the process. Sad.

    Reply
    • Servus

      Gerhard Schröder was overheard singing:

      My North Stream has sunk in the ocean
      My North Stream has drowned in the sea
      Bring back, bring back, brink back my North Stream to me to me
      Bring back, bring back, brink back my North Stream to me !

      Reply
    • SorryViennese

      Dear Jeroen,
      Thank you for the clear statements here.

      I agree with your first statement “People do care!”

      I oppose strongly your second one. I, and some others here in this comment section (I could name them) want to save OPCW from manipulations and distortion of evidence reporting, for political aims.

      Facts found, have to be made public, the arguments exchanged in debates should follow “western style” of reasoning also in the comments here.
      Any shelfing, and then making disappear of reports of the OPCW own FFM experts is inacceptable. This has happened with the Douma report. Do you deny that? (1)
      Liberal Democracy can survive only live with utmost Transparency, and clear and open processes, able to be scrutinized by citizens. I hope you agree on that (2), dear Jeroen. Do you?

      Reply
      • Jeroen

        All efforts to strengthen the work of the OPCW are most appreciated.
        I disagree with you, some people try to weaken western democracies, sow distrust, dislike citizens finding the truth about corrupt people, truth about hidden state activities, governement or compagnies wrongdoings, and so on.
        Some dislike journalists doing their work, try to set up people against each other, oppose democratization.
        Some do that being paid for on the internet and social media and some are very active here at BC.
        Citizens nowadays have to learn the difference between real people and people running “fake accounts”, fake “identities”.
        The difference between who is really concerned and who is pretending to be and is trying to “reach other goals”.
        So people do read carefully and make up your own minds what to believe or what not to believe.

        Reply
      • Servus

        Nice you put “western style” of reasoning in quotes as opposed to ?

        The facts are public, read the FFM final report.

        You are repeating pure nonsense and fabrication about OPCW, nice you guys are afraid of it !

        Reply
  7. Sean_Lamb

    “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.”

    I think they did speak out. There was footage of an extremely distressed man trying to tell one of the earliest TV crews there his family had been killed by the jihadists. They, of course, just told him was lying and a Assadist. Unfortunately the Russian journalists weren’t interested either because they were determined to report every thing was hoaxed. Russian media is only slightly better than Western media in the fake news department. Still, at least they aren’t gassing anyone.

    If the news media refuse to report Ian Henderson addressing the UN Security Council, what makes you think they will report what the relatives of the people who were killed say?

    Reply
    • SorryViennese

      Dear Sean_Lamb,
      I could not agree more. Of course Russian journalists may well be employed in the war-propaganda-departments of their government (or outsourced-PR-departments).
      And Russia is at war in Syria, as is the USA, France and Britain. And in every war the first which dies is the truth. Even before the war starts. Propaganda is cheap, when compared with missiles, be it Tomahawks or Kalibr. Journalist are quite cheap, when compared to army officers employed. So every somehow neutral observer has to consider that. If he/she does not, is can be assumed he/she is on the payroll be it past, present or in a hoped future of one of the war parties (and/or their allies).
      So le´t see what Jeroen und Servus comment on our civilized conversation, dear Sean_Lamb. Thanks for reducing the hysterical confusing tone of conversation here!

      Reply
    • Jeroen

      I can not make a reasonable comparison about Russian media and or versus non Russian media (be it Chinese, Korean, African or “Western”), simply as I do not have the time to follow Russian (or Korean) language news all day, who does that?
      So me making general remarks about their general quality would be just showing you my prejudical thought or me “following some scripted message to the people” would not it?
      Though I have seen some Russian hate speach anti Ukrain TV transmissions that made my stomache turn. But that does say nothing about quality of some good other Russian journalists. Unfortunately some of them were killed.

      So some here want you to believe all journalists and press are “bad” in some way, and there is no “real difference”, and it is “impossible” to discriminate between them.
      That is one of the messages they want you to believe.
      I do not.
      I read and read critically, compare and find what is more thrustworthy and what is less.
      Do you?

      Reply
      • SorryViennese

        Dear Jeroen,
        I do!
        I am happy that we now find a common ground, also. We both read critically and do not believe just what some journalists, or other media-outlets just said. It is not about being bad, or a good journalist. And it is not about: 3 journalists said X, 15 said Y, then Y must be true.

        And fact is, Bellingcat is placed in Britain, Britain was one of the attacking countries after Douma, sending missiles in. Higgens just got a medal for his achievments from the vice war minister of the netherlands (indirectly of course), responsible for communications in this minstry. So .. is NL in NATO? …
        Do you deny that (Q1)?

        So how can we come to the reality of things, which happened on the ground (including the airspace up to 2 km ) in Douma in 2018, few days before the Assad army conquered it?

        I think understanding the facts when reading original documents and intpreting processes that had happened, is the way to establish the key facts. And these exist, Mr. Servus has presented them here just a few days ago. I will come his key facts in the near future, just give me some time.
        KR dear Jeroen, yours SV

        Reply
        • Servus

          Dear Vienua

          Will it be development of your peculiar scenario of the first cylinder being dropped from a helicopter pretending to be carried in by rebels, and the second cylinder carried in by rebels pretending to be dropped from air ?
          Fascinating, please take your time.

          Reply
          • SorryViennese

            Dear Servus,
            thank you for your understanding and your kind advice!

            Yes it will include this logical riddle, you created in your own mind ( “…peculiar scenario….”, see above).

            Logic helps to remove such a riddle from confused minds.
            It is done by the help of a kind of Boolean logic, if you have heard about that. The logic construct will go as such (to keep it simple):

            A false flag operation can(must) be excluded, if all cylinders were clearly airdropped.
            … and so on…

            The problem with such formal statements is, that the scientist language is misleading lay persons. When this logicans say “can” they actually mean “must” (see above) … so I will put this common language meaning in brackets .. for the non-boolean-logic-users, the normal readers.

            Again just give me some more time, to summ up our exchange of arguments (with references to evidence included).

          • Servus

            ” kind of Boolean logic” – never heard of it but just Boolean is fine with me.

  8. Jeroen

    Bellingcat did win the Machiavelli 2019 prize, Mr Higgins will accept the prize probably himself February 12th.

    Reply
    • M

      Is it because Bellingcat has an attitude characterized by cynicism and a lack of scruples in pursuit of the goal – just like Machiavelli? 😉

      Reply
      • Servus

        You obviously have not read Machiavelli and thus stick with popular and primitive interpretation of this fascinating and complex personality.
        Read the ´Prince ´, its easy and beautifully written.
        Why this price is called after him is a bit of a puzzle for me, have not yet read the explanation.

        Reply
        • M

          Omniscient Minion 🙂 You probably won’t believe (because you usually don’t believe me) but I read the Prince in high school.

          Reply
          • Servus

            I’m afraid that perhaps there is a remote possibility of a slight and not entirely different interpretation from an juvenile and very distant one , not advised by experience of compromises of late middle age.

          • Servus

            « He has a weak spot, pretentious advice giver, try with some flattery and ask him for a book advice! »

            Shouted excited social manipulation adviser in Masha’s phone.

            … and yes.. true… I have a book advice, little sweet thing by your collègue Maria Butina, entitled
            ´How to gain power and influence by sleeping with morbidly obese Americans over sixty’

          • M

            RE Minions first answer: at the University in political law doctrine classes we analyzed not only Machiavellianism but also the doctrines of Spinoza, Hobbs, Lock, Rousseau and many others 😉 also Marxism – Leninism.
            Re second vomiting from Minion : I don’t need any advisor, curator, liaison officer, special contact or sugar daddy, but it’s true that you are a pretentious bouffon.

            PPS I know you hate socialism and communism but Lenin was partly right:
            phrase”the kitchen made can/will rule the state”
            look at Wałęsa – electrician from the shipyard became president, Zeleńsky the actor – comedian playing the president became president.
            Look at your Eliot H. – who, without higher education (but with great achievements in Xbox games) can become the most outstanding expert in military, chemical, ect. and is “smarter” than a group of professors with scientific achievements.

          • Jeroen

            It seems to me thpugh Bellingcat will not make it on the short final list of both the Lenin Peace Prize (for foreigners) and the Lenin Prize, last awarded 1990, though the later one was revived in the Ulyanovsk region in 2018 for Art, humanities and so on.

        • Servus

          There is one personality in the current Russian political elite that IMHO could be compared to Machiavelli, an honest person with a civic qualities serving as an adviser to brutal Prince, thief and assassin, it’s mr Kudrin.
          As finance minister during good times, when oil money was floating and Putin and friends were busy stealing billons. Kudrin managed to create an infrastructure fund, against oligarchs’ and bosses opposition. It saved Russia from bankruptcy when world’s sanctions were put in place. Putin asked Kudrin to assist Miedviedev in a sale of 7bn USD of Gazprom stocks owned by RF, Kudrin soon realized that the financial sale structure was such that all money would disappear while passing long chains of intermediary companies… So Putin was informed and suggested that Kudrin talk with Medviedev and was told that Putin was in the loop from the start. So Kudrin resigned but Putin convinced him to stay as advisor.
          If requested, Machiavelli would help the Prince to organize a theft of public money but might advice to save 5% for a grain store for the bad times.

          Reply
    • Jeroen

      The Machiavelli Foundation (Stichting Machiavelli) gives a prize each your for “excellence in communication” one can read about it in English on their site.
      stichtingmachiavelli.nl

      Reply
      • SorryViennese

        Dear Jeroen,
        yes again I agree to you completely on your last statement above!.
        I am happy that we have enlarged our area of consensus.

        Stichting Machiavelli: When you look up the Dutch Wikipedia and the foundations own site, you will find as very important board member (I remember him to be the secretary) this respectful gentlemen, belonging to the Dutch war ministry – aka Department of Defence – , leading/stemming from the communications department there.

        Thus is the evidence to support my statement ( see above) on Higgins and his latest award.

        KR yours SV

        Reply
  9. Jeroen

    I am always touched by the people who have grown up in admiration of the wundefull ideas of Marxism Leninism, collectivism and living in Kommunalkas.
    Some of them still have not understood Bellingcat is not person with a character but a collective of independent individuals, they must have learned about it in theory but never really understand the concept.

    I myself also never understood why some dislike other places so much but send their own children to schools and universities in those places of evil, and take their own and their taxpayers money and hide it in such evil banks abroad.

    Reply
    • Servus

      Yes, until recently, both Putin’s daughters were living in London and Amsterdam. They just don’t understand that they try to destroy the system that they like because of it’s legal protection of their property and peaceful cities where their children can live and study in security.

      Since couple of years one can see a clear trend, emigration of Russian professional middle class, not the very rich, dissidents or people in danger of their lives, but just regular well educated, intelligent middle class aspiring to normal peaceful life for themselves and their children.
      They first buy a small flat in an inexpensive neighbourhood, spent holidays, look around and eventually children will change school to local one and stay with their mother while husband will stay in Moscow for business, and move slowly to the West.
      They see no future in Russia in the observed growing brutality of the military-religious system. Russia is loosing it’s competent, hard working middle class.

      So, Russian Trolls working for an FSB affiliated company, this is not an innocent temporary work until you find something better, your emigration dreams are i na serious danger.

      Reply

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