the home of online investigations

You can support the work of Bellingcat by donating through the following link:

Amines and Sarin – Hexamine, Isopropylamine, and the Rest…

May 3, 2017

By Dan Kaszeta

Translations: Русский

(Revised edition, May 2017)

One subject that keeps coming up in ongoing debates about Sarin chemical attack in Syria from 2013 to date is the nature, role, and presence of possible additives to Sarin. A molecule of Sarin is pretty much the same molecule however and wherever it was made. However, even in the best laboratory settings you don’t ever get truly pure Sarin. Relatively pure Sarin, with some additives, is the best for long term storage and the engineering needed to get pure Sarin is usually a level of expense and difficulty greater than anyone wants to expend, or is even capable of doing. The “other stuff” that ends up in Sarin – byproducts, impurities, contaminants, residue, additives and whatnot is often what gives away the most useful information. The purpose of this article is to explain in general terms the roles amines can play in the manufacture or storage of nerve agents.

The issue of amines in Sarin has been a peripheral part of the Syria debate since shortly after the Aug 2013 attacks. First, there was the discovery of Hexamethylenetetramine, commonly known as hexamine, in a large number of the field samples taken at the August 21st impact sites examined by the UN/OPCW team. Second, there were various amines reported to be in the inventory of the Syrian government, including hexamine and isopropylamine. These chemicals are on the inventory lists in the OPCW’s released document because these amines were judged by somebody, somewhere, to be part of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons production program. Whether that was an assessment by the OPCW, an admission by the Syrian government, or both, remains to be seen. However, a thorough discussion of the history and role of amines in the production of nerve agents is necessary in order to understand the Syrian situation.

What is an amine?

Amines are a chemical family of compounds. In broad terms, amines are chemicals with a basic nitrogen atom with a “lone pair” – a valence electron pair which is not shared with another atom. Amine compounds contain one or more nitrogens attached to carbon or hydrogen. That leaves an unbonded electron pair on the nitrogen atom, one chemical definition of a base. Those electrons will attract and bond with compounds or atoms that are deficient in electrons, like H+ (hydrogen ion, proton), which is characteristic of common acids. H+ is missing a pair of electrons. These definitions of acid and base are those in general use in most elementary chemistry textbooks. There are many amines in widespread use in for scientific, medical, and industrial uses.

Why would you use amines in Sarin production?

While amines have a role to play in some other nerve agents, the nerve agent Sarin was involved in the a number of chemical weapons attack in Syria. For this reason, this article focuses on Sarin. However, amines have uses in other nerve agents as well, so where applicable, this will be noted.

The production of Sarin can be accomplished by a number of different production paths, about twenty of which are known to me. My own ethics and conscience, as well as various legal and regulatory issues, prevent me from providing an exhaustive listing of these various production paths. However, I can summarize by saying that all of the production paths end with either hydrogen chloride (HCl) or hydrogen fluoride (HF) as a by-product. The second to-last step of all of the production pathways is one of two reactions:

1 mol DF + 1 mol Isopropyl Alcohol = 1 mol Sarin + 1 mol HF

1 mol DF + 1 mol DC + 2 mols Isopropyl Alcohol = 2 mols Sarin + 2 Mols HCl

The resulting acid is bad for a number of reasons. HF is worse in general terms than HCl, but both are bad for the following reasons:

  • The production of acid in an exothermic (heat-creating) reaction, such as the reactions that produce Sarin, can rapidly cause an unsafe situation in the production lab or factory. A sudden arrival of a hot corrosive gas requires special chemical engineering measures to handle and can destroy equipment or kill people. Earlier in my career, I interviewed technicians who claimed that the production of HF in US binary shells (the M687 project) was enough to cause those shells to explode in flight on their way to the target, an obvious design flaw. These test reports remain secret, so I cannot confirm this.
  • The acid by-product can make the Sarin-acid mix unsafe to handle – for example, acids can easily destroy most of the standard types of protective clothing and equipment that a soldier or technician would wear. HF in vapour form will not be stopped by military chemical protective equipment, for example. There is anecdotal information from the Iran-Iraq war that Iraqi chemical soldiers suffered injury or even death from combining the binary components, as their Soviet-designed mask and suits, while adequate for protection from Sarin, did not resist the corrosive effects of HF.
  • The resulting Sarin-Acid cocktail will have a very short shelf-life. Sarin does not last very long in either high or low pH levels. The shelf-life of well-made Sarin can be very long under correct conditions. However, the shelf-life of Sarin with residual acid can be greatly reduced. Saddam Hussein’s Sarin had a shelf life of only a few months, in part or in whole due to residual acid.
  • The acid will corrode weapons and storage containers.  By weight, Sarin produced from the DF + Isopropyl method will have 140 g of HF for every kilogram of Sarin produced. This is a level of hydrofluoric acid that will be very corrosive to nearly any conceivable storage container or munition. Indeed, such a corrosive mix may, over time, interfere with fuzes or bursting charges, or leak out of the munition.  Saddam Hussein’s Sarin-filled rockets had serious corrosion problems, largely due to acids.
  • Mechanical and thermal methods of removing the residual acids are very difficult to achieve. The US and the USSR had to devote an extremely elaborate and expensive engineering effort to solving this problem, and it resulted in a very large infrastructure. The US and USSR had developed different methods for acid removal, but both are very expensive and require significant effort as well as specially designed apparatus.

Amines, in general, are useful as acid scavengers. Depending on the structure of the amine, the amine molecule will latch on to acid molecules, such as HCl or HF. In layman’s terms, the “lone pairs” in amines are, in effect, like parking spots for acid molecules. This means that if you add an amine in at the correct step of the manufacturing process for Sarin (or Soman) a lot of acid can be removed from the mix. Amines have a long history as acid reducers and anti-corrosion additives for basically the same reason.

Various Amines in Nerve Agents

Some commentators have recently claimed that only isopropylamine is used in Sarin production. This is patently untrue, as any basic research on the subject will indicate. None of the thousands of tons of US unitary Sarin produced at Rocky Mountain Arsenal use isopropylamine for acid scavenging. The assertion in various documents that this is the “standard US method” are misleading.

Numerous amines have been experimented with in nerve agent production, for various reasons. As the open literature on nerve agent production represents only a tiny fraction of the total body of knowledge on the subject, I cannot claim by any stretch that the following list of chemicals is comprehensive.

Tributylamine (CAS 102-82-9): Tributylamine was used as an anti-corrosion inhibitor in Sarin produced by the US Army at Rocky Mountain Arsenal in the 1950s. It was added after Sarin was produced and the vast majority of the acid removed by the US’s secret refining method. Pure Sarin has a slow corrosive effect on steel over time, and any residual acid exacerbates this problem. Tributylamine was needed as an additive to prevent corrosion in the bomblets for the Honest John missile and was added to much of the Sarin arsenal in order to prevent corrosion in steel containers or munitions. Unitary Sarin in the US inventory had an average tributylamine content of 1.95%.

It appears that tributylamine was used in quantity by the Libyan chemical weapons program, as quantities of it were destroyed as part of the chemical demilitarisation effort there.

Triethylamine (CAS 121-44-8): This substance is used in many commercial acid reduction processes. A declassified document from Porton Down in 1956, now available online through the US government, discusses that triethylamine was used in the United Kingdom as an acid-reducer in Sarin. This document indicates that triethylamine was considered the standard acid-reducing additive in UK Sarin. The same document also notes certain problems with triethylamine. UK-produced Sarin had shelf-life problems and, based on the production rate of the UK’s pilot plant at Nancekuke, Cornwall, which produced Sarin at a small rate to replace Sarin that had degraded, it seems that UK Sarin had perhaps a shelf life of a year or two. This is only an estimate, however.

Iraq is known (through revelations from UNSCOM) to have attempted to use triethylamine as an acide scavenger and additive. It is also known that the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan experimented with triethylamine as a Sarin additive, but without success. In Syria, 30 tons of triethylamine were declared in Syria’s OPCW declaration.

Isopropylamine: (CAS 75-31-0):  Isopropylamine is another useful acid scavenging amine, with a history of use in nerve agents. It’s primary documented use was in the US M687 binary chemical artillery shell.  (See my reference on binaries for greater discussion of binary Sarin.)  This substance is highly soluble in isopropyl alcohol, giving it utility in binary formulations wherein the materials are mixed inside the weapon system. The prime example of this is the US M687 155mm binary Sarin artillery shell.   One component of the M687 binary shell was a canister containing a cocktail of isopropyl alcohol and isopropylamine. It would appear that isopropylamine is actually less efficient at scavenging acid than many other amine compounds, and I can find no use for it outside of binary applications. The Syrian OPCW declaration includes 40 tons of this chemical.

N, N-diethylaniline: (CAS 91-66-7) The Aum Shinrikyo cult used N, N-diethylaniline in their Sarin formulation.  This was apparently done after their experiments with triethylamine failed.  The Aum cult acquired 50 tons of this chemical.  The overall effectiveness of this approach is not known, as we have very little idea about the overall shelf-life or corrosive properties of the Aum group’s Sarin.

Hexamine: (CAS 100-97-0) Up until the war in Syria, the chemical hexamine had not been noted in the manufacture of or post-manufacture storage and handling of nerve agents.  It was not considered a precursor or relevant chemical in any of the schedules of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) nor was trade in hexamine of particular interest to people studying chemical proliferation.  However, hexamine appears to have been incorporated into the Sarin produced and used by the Syrian government in at least three different Sarin incidents: April 2013, August 2013, and April 2017. In all three incidents, hexamine was found in environmental samples.  In the case of the April 2013 attack, the French government obtained an intact grenade-type device which contained Sarin and hexamine.  The joint UN/OPCW report in late 2013 provides a high degree of detail about the various places in which hexamine was found in the environmental samples from the Aug 2013 Ghouta incident. It should be noted that the report uses hexamine’s alternative name hexamethylenetetramine.  French intelligence services report that hexamine was also found at the site of the April 2017 attack, in the same report referenced above.

In the UN/OPCW report, hexamine was found in a wide number of places in and around the Moadamiyah and Zamalka impact zones, wherein rockets containing Sarin were used to kill over 1000 people.  I have produced this table to summarise the locations where hexamine was found, and what it was found alongside of.

After the Aug 2013 attack, Syria signed he CWC and allowed the OPCW to dismantle and dispose of its declared inventory of hardware, weapons, and chemicals.  The declared inventory of precursor chemicals given to the OPCW show a substantial stockpile hexamine.  80 tons of hexamine were declared in the inventory, a quantity indicative of industrial-scale use.  As it was not a scheduled chemical, there would have been no reason nor any requirement to disclose this stockpile unless it was part of the Syrian chemical weapons programme.

The role of hexamine as an acid scavenger in the production of Sarin was alluded to by members of the UN/OPCW mission that went to Syria in 2013 in a briefing to the press in December 2013.  A number of references (see references 1, 2, and 3 below) point to the fact that a molecule of hexamine can bind with up to four molecules of HF.  A patent from the Soviet Union points to the use of hexamine to remove HF from gas.  Much comment has been made in various comments and documents about the solubility of hexamine in isopropyl alcohol.  This is basically a red herring.  Dissolving hexamine in isopropyl alcohol makes engineering sense if you are trying to make a binary weapon that mixes in flight (like the US M687). However, none of the weapon systems used in Sarin delivery to date in Syria are such a system.  Use of hexamine by some other means, such as a slurry of finely powdered hexamine, have already been alluded to in comments by at least one chemist in the comments section of other Bellingcat posts.  To date, no viable technical objection to the use of hexamine as an acid scavenger has survived scrutiny.  And we are left with the very appropriate question – if it cannot be done, how is it that hexamine is all over the environmental samples AND was in the declared inventory of the Syrian CW programme.  Several commentators have pointed to the lack of specific literature stating this particular use in Sarin. However, many aspects of manufacturing modern chemical warfare agents, particularly nerve agents, are not widely documented in open literature for understandable reasons.  This should not be taken as a reason that it couldn’t be done.

There are other uses for hexamine, and some of these uses have been posited as alternative explanations for its presence in the environmental samples.   It is used as a medicine for treating urinary tract infections,  in some types of medical laboratory procedures, as a food additive, as a heating fuel (tablets of hexamine have been used as a cooking fuel in many militaries), as an anti-corrosion agent (such as an additive to paint), and for the manufacture of various kinds of explosives.    Several of these bear additional comment.

Paint Additive: Theoretically, hexamine could have been added to paint as a corrosion preventer.  This might have been a viable hypothesis if the environmental evidence was one or two fragments of a device and nothing else.  Indeed, one cannot rule out (on the basis of evidence in the public domain) that hexamine may have been added to the paint on the ordnance used.   Hexamine was found in a lot of places that seem to not have any paint, but also have either Sarin or its distinctive hallmarks.  However, the quantities would be quite small, and certainly not enough to account for an 80 ton inventory.    Furthermore, Sarin mixed with hexamine appears to have been found in the intact grenade-type device recovered by the French.

Cooking Fuel: Use as cooking fuel could, theoretically, account for a small portion of the samples, particularly debris from inside buildings. However, cooking fuel does not account for its presence in a crater in the road, or soil samples from Ghouta, or on the residue of different devices from three separate incidents.

Explosive manufacture:  Hexamine is used to manufacture the explosive RDX, which is, in turn, incorporated into other types of high explosive, for example C-4.  Some commenters have latched onto this as an explanation for the prevalence of hexamine in environmental samples.  Discussing this with chemists as well as EOD technicians who do post-blast investigations, the easy way to say this is the Hexamine goes into the explosive as an ingredient, but it doesn’t come out as a byproduct. The chemistry does not appear to work that way, as explained in references 4 through 7 below.  I can find no reference to hexamine as a decomposition product or residue relevant to explosive incidents, having conferred with several experienced post-blast investigators.  (Indeed, the author would be happy to hear from one who has found it, in the cause of thoroughness. Please contact me.)   Hexamine left over from the production of RDX is another proposed theory, but established methods (example here) wash away the leftover hexamine for re-use, and it would appear terribly wasteful and inefficient for a modern manufacturer to leave excess hexamine in their RDX, reducing the purity of the RDX.   Furthermore, has it been established that RDX or RDX-based explosives were the disseminating explosives in these incidents?  This is certainly plausible but I do not see where this has  been clearly established.  Indeed, one of the environmental samples showed TNT, not an RDX-based explosive.  Finally, hexamine is flammable.  If explosively disseminated some of it would surely combust. Signs of this are not in evidence.   Finally, we get back to the 80 tons declared to the OPCW.  It was declared as a component of the chemical weapon programme, not as a component in explosives manufacture, which is beyond OPCW’s remit.

Other Relevant Appearance of Amines in Nerve Agents:

Thickening agents:  At least one declassified study refers to the use of various amine compounds in order to thicken G- and V- series nerve agents.

Decontamination: Not every amine is useful in the presence of a chemical warfare agent. Some can be quite destructive to some chemical warfare agent substances, some on their own, others in solution, e.g. dissolved in water or another solvent. The use of amines for decontamination of chemical warfare agents, has been well established in available literature for some time.  For many years, the US military used a substance known as DS-2, which contained 70% diethylenetriamine.   Monomethylamine, mixed with water, is a very good decontamination agent for G-series nerve agents. The older versions of the US Army’s decontamination manual FM 3-5 refers to dichloramine and hexachloramelamine as possible decontaminants for Sulfur Mustard.  Isopropanolamine was investigated as a possible decontaminant. Numerous other amines may have utility in this regard.

Byproducts:  Diisopropylamine is a commonly found impurity in VX. It is a possible decomposition product after decontamination of VX by decontamination involving hypochlorites. See ref 9.

Pyridostigmine:  The drug pyridostigmine is a quaternary amine. It has some applications as a pre-treatment before human exposure to nerve agents, to improve the efficacy of oxime-based antidotes.  It is of great value in protection against the nerve agent Soman, but of dubious value for protection against other nerve agents.

 

The author would like to thank the commentator “DDTea” for the references, which are previously published in comments sections for other Bellingcat posts.

References

  1. Ennan, A. A.; Brazovskaya, O. M.; Chopotarev, A. N. Products of the reaction between hydrogen fluoride and hexamethylenetetramine. Zhurnal Obshchei Khimii, 1975, Vol. 45, Issue 3, p. 706.
  2. Ennan, A. A.; Chobotarev, A. N.; Brazovskaya, O. M. “Hydrofluoric acid-​hexamethylenetetramine-​water system,” Zhurnal Neorganicheskoi Khimii, 1975, Vol 20, Issue 3, pp. 786-790
  3. Ennan, A. A.; Lapshin, V. A.; Brazovskaya, O. M.; Grishuk, N. S.; Mikhailovina, S. K. “Corrosion of steels in aqueous solutions of hydrogen fluoride containing urotropine,” Izvestiya Vysshikh Uchebnykh Zavedenii, Khimiya i Khimicheskaya Tekhnologiya, 1975, Vol.18, Issue 5, p. 840.
  4. J. D. Cosgrove and A. J. Owen. “The Thermal Decomposition of 1,3,5 Trinitro Hexahydro 1,3,5 Triazine (RDX)-Part 1: The Products and Physical Parameters” Combustion and Flame, Vol 22, Issue 1, Feb 1974, pp. 13-18
  5.  A.C. T. van Duin, J. Oxgaard, and W.A. Goddard III. “Thermal decomposition of RDX from reactive molecular dynamics” J. Chem. Phys. 122, 054502 (2005).
  6. T.R. Botcher and C. A. Wight. “Explosive Thermal Decomposition Mechanism of RDX.” J. Phys. Chem. 1994,98, 5441-5444 .
  7.  R. Behrens. “Thermal Decomposition of HMX and RDX: Decomposition Processes and Mechanisms Based on STMBMS and TOF of Velocity-Spectra Measurements” Chemistry and Physics of Energetic Materials
    Volume 309 of the series NATO ASI Series pp 347-368
  8. Munro NB, Talmage SS, Griffin GD, et al. The sources, fate, and toxicity of chemical warfare agent degradation products. Environmental Health Perspectives. 1999;107(12):933-974.

 

Dan Kaszeta

Dan is the managing director of Strongpoint Security Ltd, and lives and works in London, UK. He has 27 years experience in CBRN response, security, and antiterrorism.

Join the Bellingcat Mailing List:

Enter your email address to receive a weekly digest of Bellingcat posts, links to open source research articles, and more.

121 Comments

  1. RobTN

    You have offered nothing to support the rebels HAVING sarin.

    “And I think it’s clear that relatively high purity or potency sarin can remain that way for years , rather than months.”

    Bssed on?

    4% strength?

    13% strength?

    You imply a 40% but it’s not backed up by the link you cite.

    Yes, better turn to calling names……

    Reply
  2. duplicitousdemocracy

    All of this technical and scientific debate is a distraction. The rebels, immediately after the attack, could have could have guaranteed the safety of impartial investigators. They didn’t and they haven’t since. Absent any real evidence, with verifiable chain of custody assurances, all that is remaining is witness testimony. The credibility of these people is zero and are all from pro-rebel associates (even though they have tried to hide it). Despite all the condemnation from the usual suspects (US, UK, France, etc) there isn’t one shred of evidence that connects this crime to the Syrian or Russian governments. Keep updating and revising these articles until you are blue in the face, it won’t change the fact that there is no credible case to answer, certainly not at this point in time.

    Reply
    • stranger

      That is true. There are no evidences to put the responsibility on any side. The technical discussion and the theory of chemical weapon here is abstract and completely disconnected from what actually happened. The “open source investigation” is based on the rebels version of events which might have been intentionally falsified. In this case the “open source” doesn’t help to reveal the truth, but rather turn into a tool of promoting a position of one side. We need significantly new information from independend sources. Specifically we need an independend international investigation at the site of the attack. The official Russia said OPCW has difficulties with sending investigators to the place of the attack, the Russian proposal was declined, whatever it was.

      Reply
      • Woody

        Well, technically the message has reached the vast audience – take a survey around Piccadilly Circus or at Checkpoint Charlie – people tell you that that Syria made a gas strike. Given the elapsed time it is ever easier for any media to refer to the strike as “Syrian government” committed it as there is ever growing consensus among the audience that being the case. In the journalistic world one always checks the source of information but as this is so well penetrated, there is no need to that.

        So – case lost – no matter what we think here. Actually, irrespective that Dick Cheney and aluminium tubes are my favourite, very very very few people will condemn the attack of the sovereign state of Irak by that excuse. Kiss goodbye to the UN Charter. And the International Law.

        Reply
      • Mad Dog

        Where is the warehouse stranger. How about we start there. Keep diverting away from that topic by spouting the RT line, but the fact still remains Russia and Syria both said it was a strike on a warehouse that let the genie out.
        With all of the assets Russia has in Syria, it would not be difficult at all to show where that warehouse or the remains thereof are, but we have zero evidence. So, until proven otherwise, that remains a fairy tale and all the Russian Trolls and anti-US bedfellows can come up with the silliness seen here without having to prove Dan wrong. Diversion is the name of the game, but the song remains the same…..where is the bloody warehouse??

        Reply
        • stranger

          Mad Dog, the investigation should show where is the “bloody warehouse” if it ever will be held. Dan is not exactly wrong, Dan is completely irrelevant since he describes the theory absolutely disconnected from the particular picture we have in our case.

          Reply
          • DDTea

            There doesn’t need to be an independent investigation to show where suspect warehouses may be. All Russia/the SyAAF have to do is reveal the locations of the targets they bombed. Surely they know what they’re bombing, unless they’re carrying out indiscriminate and wanton attacks…

          • stranger

            Do you have the original record of what and how it was said on the Russian press conference about the warehouse? How would it help to investigate in anyway – how would you determine if there were any chemicals there by the sat images? The independend investigation even though the rebels leaders said they support it have a high risk indeed that the investigators would be shot by the uncontrolled rebels groups if they find something not fit into their legend. It is understood nobody wants to go there, but that would not allow to objectively find or just try to find the answer.

          • stranger

            I can tell in the same way: let’s have US to reveal their data suggesting that Assad is behind the gas attack. There were some too secret to be shown materials mentioned. You can also recall the satellite images allergedly showing the missile which shot MH17. You can also recall Russian hackers with no any evidences again. No way to have them to show the evidences. One may think that no evidences actually exist and the special services are bluffing to play in politics.
            The modern politics unfoturnatelly doesn’t need any investigation and any objective evidences. The decisions are made based on the political or economical benefits of the sides and the population is brainwashed by such fairly tales in the mass media, with pseudo-investigators like bi/cats under disguise for special geeks, claiming of Assad the butcher, Putin dictator, Russia evil country which is looking to invade Europe and fighting with the west, etc. Since the population doesn’t really care about politics, and as long as the majority are satisfied with the legend that works fine. Then the politicians and analysts are rationalizing those decisions, Libya was bombed because we were looking for democracy but those Libyans screwed everything up, Syria was bombed because Assad is the butcher, Yugoslavia was bombed by radioactive shells because those aggressive Serbian christians conducted a genocide of the peaceful calm Muslims, so aggressive Christian religion against so peaceful Islam who can imagine, Iraq was invaded because we have found a tube with the white powder, which later appeared to be a detergent … etc etc The majority of population simply doesn’t care, so it works just fine.
            The western press recently went crazzy , we in Russia though that anyway some high standards of journalism are expected from the most prominent respectful mass media and have never ever expected that they would be flooded by the so much dirt and lies, especially during the mud-fight between Clinton and Trump for the presidency, where they tried to pull Russia in their mud too. All have changed for the last three years, illusions are gone.

        • stranger

          What diversion are you talking about? The request for the investigation is a diversion according to you? Good coming out, good, so we have to listen to the b/cat’s propaganda based on the images supposedly falsified by the rebels and should not divert by asking to send the investigators to get some independent evidences from the site of the attack? Right? So you mean we should not divert from narrow minded propaganda the b/cats are spreading here. Did I understand you correctly?

          Reply
          • Mad Dog

            Not sure why you see it as propaganda. Guess you have a different definition since the word originated in your homeland. Dan must be laughing in his coffee when he reads your posts.
            So, where is that warehouse again?
            Oh, I know, it is located inside the crematorium.

          • stranger

            No, you are wrong, the word propaganda is NOT a Russian invention as well as the combat PsyOp, offensive phycological operations, is NOT a Russian invention. Google more by Stratcom COE for the combat anti Russian propaganda center in Latvia affiliated with NAT0.
            I’m glad if I gave Dan some joy, but I’m afraid that is just your fantasy, so Dan wouldn’t even read our nice conversation and wouldn’t even smile. Nobody actually cares about Dans mood as well as Dan doesn’t really care about our opinions.
            But again, Dan gave a great material, but it was not connected to our case, in other words, it wouldn’t help to identify who is responsible for the attack. So using your terms, i could even call Dans articles a distraction from the major question. But adding a lot of fog and irrelevant details the b/cats are trying to push the version of guilty Assad. That is their agenda to promote here. They always push the narratives which their governments decide. That is their propaganda.

          • stranger

            “Not sure why you see it as propaganda. ”
            The propaganda is in their narrative they try to push despite the absence of solid evidences. The propaganda in how they preselect the topics for their articles. See how they presented prof. Postol view, they didn’t mention his rational argument, but laughed at him only when he made a mistake, etc, etc.
            I guess they are trying to play good boys and think that would bring them fame and money. That’s why they always push the narrative of their governments. Otherwise if they ever were critical to their governments, they would have to go living in Ecuador embassy next to Assange. That is definitely not the destiny they are looking for, that’s why they play this game and try to build their business on selling propagandistic materials and looking for sponsors who can pay for that dirt.

          • stranger

            “Oh, I know, it is located inside the crematorium.”
            I bet the next bi/cats propagandistic piece of sh1t will be about Assad’s crematorium! The sarins smell has already driven away, the gray crowd needs a new fairy-tail to chew about the demonic Assad. The degree on demonization should not fall, otherwise people may start thinking on their own, that would be a catastrophe. Crematorium is a nice try. What will be next? Let’s imagine what else they can invent…

          • stranger

            Sorry for dup, stuck in moderation:
            “Not sure why you see it as propagnda. ”
            The propagnda is in their narrative they try to push despite the absence of solid evidences. The propagnda in how they preselect the topics for their articles. See how they presented prof. Postl view, they didn’t mention his rational argument, but laughed at him only when he made a mistake, etc, etc.
            I guess they are trying to play good boys and think that would bring them fame and money. That’s why they always push the narrative of their governments. Otherwise if they ever were critical to their governments, they would have to go living in Ecuadr embassy next to Ass@nge. That is definitely not the destiny they are looking for, that’s why they play this game of good boys of their govs and try to build their business on selling propagandistic materials and looking for sponsors who can pay for that st1nky dirt.

        • duplicitousdemocracy

          It would be incredibly naive to think that the Khan Sheikhoun terrorists would have an open day to show anything contradicting their propaganda. Perhaps you and I could go and examine the site as independent investigators, Mad Dog? Only a mad dog and an Englishman would trust Shajul, Hadi and the ‘Sarin defying’ White Helmets to guarantee safe passage. Shajul in particular is very adept at swapping his scalpel for an automatic rifle – ask John Cantlie.
          With regards to ‘troll’ and’ bedfellow’ insults, do grow up. I’ve seen no evidence to support Syrian government involvement but if I did, I would be the first to condemn them. Furthermore, I’m not an apologist for suicide bombers that entice starving kids with sweets prior to detonation.

          Reply
          • DDTea

            Assad is trying to save his people from terrorists? Then why is he indiscriminately bombarding his cities with vacuum bombs? What does destroying hospitals have to do with “fighting terror?” What does burning crops have to do with “fighting terror?” What does attacking a refugee camp with warplanes have to do with “fighting terror?” What do forced population transfer have to do with “fighting terror?”

            Because when I think of counter-terrorism, I think of the SAS response to the Iranian embassy crisis: kill the terrorists, not the hostages. Apparently Assad and his supporters think of the destruction of Guernica as the optimal “counter terrorism” strategy.

            Say what you will about “resistance to imperialism,” but the fact is that not even Gaza has experienced the barbarity dealt upon Homs (2012), Aleppo (2016), or (more recently) Latamnah (2017) by Assad’s forces.

            Little surprise that folks who’ve been involved in actual resistance in the region have spoken against Assad: Khaled Meshaal (HAMAS), Muqtada Al-Sadr (Mahdi Army), Subhi Al-Tufayli (fmr. Secretary General of Hezbollah).

            Suicide bombers and kidnappers aren’t Syria’s biggest problem. Assad is.

          • Woody

            But Sir,
            Lets assume there was a civil war in your country of origin, The USA. Are you seriously saying that the government would not respond by violence against those hiding in Chicago and being constantly resupplied by Canada and those hiding in Houston that would receive endless refills from Mexico – where there was armed separation going on?
            The trouble here is that none of us gives a shit if a free Syrian man goes and shoots Assad in a Damascene haymarket. But we do care about the USA, UK, France, Israel, KSA so on arming an opposition that would “repair” the country to meet their needs.
            For what benefit does the UN exist if the USA can when ever it pleases chainge the regime in any country by whatever claims?

          • stranger

            DDTea,
            “Suicide bombers and kidnappers aren’t Syria’s biggest problem. Assad is.”
            There are a lot of ins@nes here who have called me a Russian troll. I’m not a troll, but at least I’m from Russia, so I don’t tolerate any l1e which is being told against Russia here all the time.
            But why are you pushing this narrative of always guilty Assad? You are not from jhikhadists, are you, by chance?
            I know that sounds terrible to blame somebody to be a troll. And I was blamed to be so hundreds of times. And the major-cat E1iot H1ggins himself publically lied that he was attacked by Russian trolls.
            But really, you behave like a NAT0 or whatever anti Russian or anti Syrian or whatever troll, trying to push the questionable official narrative without any convincing enough arguments.
            WHY? and FOR WHAT?

    • duplicitousdemocracy

      I don’t know Woody, it’s no less compelling than much of what is regarded as ‘convincing evidence’ around here. 🙂

      Reply
      • Woody

        Indeed this kind of highlights the issue of veritable evidence. For the Postol report on KS for White House – that was turned down by many yet it was a rare document unearthing the issue. I wonder where that beaten piece of tube is today – only Syrian Army would benefit from an analysis on it so it must be scrapped by now…what a pity

        Reply
    • DDTea

      This story doesn’t offer any insight into how the rebels could manufacture Sarin.

      Reply
  3. Mark Thomason

    Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the residue has characteristics of Sarin gas produced by the Syrian government.

    Where would the rebels get any gas they have? From Syrian government stocks or factories.

    Where would rebels get any expertise they might have in the production and use of Sarin? From Syrians who used to work for the government.

    That the stuff is like Syrian government stuff does not tell us it was used by Assad. It tells us it came from Syria, the country in which they are all fighting, from which many rebels and their captured weapons come.

    Knowing it is not Russian or American or French or British gas does not tell us much. We would not expect any of them to allow use of gas identifiably their own, in any scenario proposed by anyone.

    Reply
    • Mr White

      All the rebels need is a small sample of Sarin or more likely Sarin degradation products with which to contaminate some samples. This doesn’t even need to be done in Syria.

      All the youtube videos of the ‘aftermath of the attack’ are highly suspicious and can easily be faked.

      The White Helmets are as dodgy as they come.

      Reply
      • DDTea

        “All the youtube videos of the ‘aftermath of the attack’ are highly suspicious and can easily be faked.”

        Why do you say they’re suspicious?

        “All the rebels need is a small sample of Sarin or more likely Sarin degradation products with which to contaminate some samples”

        Explain what you think happened in Khan Sheikhoun.

        Reply
        • Mr White

          they murdered some hostages themselves and made some fake vidoes,

          they salted some samples with small amounts of Sarin, or maybe the salting was done outside Syria.

          it’s really not complicated.

          Reply
    • Louis Proyect

      Where would the rebels get any gas they have? From Syrian government stocks or factories.

      They should have picked up some MIGs while they were at it.

      Reply
        • RobTN

          Which flight paths?

          The Russians/Syrians certainly SAY they bombed the town on the day in question.

          Reply
          • Woody

            Please explain why the flight path data is so low in resolution? You do know that in order to lay the foundation for the claim that the flightpath crossed that particular position the US – if it really happened – would have the hi res image from which you could yourself observe it. This low res picture has been released because of a particular reason – that being that the flightpath DID NOT cross the crater. See for example DigitalGlobe etc services for what an image looks like when you want to present it clearly. Unless there is a reason to not to show it clearly. Estonia and Finland dispute with Russia constantly on Russian aircraft incursions, so does Sweden. In all these cases – NATO Estonia excluded – these countries (Sweden&Finland) don’t have satellite services as for their military ops. And still they provide “meters” precision. Now US has radars on Syrian, Turkish, Iraqi, Jordanian and at least with access – in Israel soil. So you tell us that they did not manage to present an image showing the precise location of aircrafts?

          • RobTN

            The flight path did not cross the crater?

            The one about 3 ft wide?

            Do you know what a trajectory is?

            Do you know what parallax is?

          • Woody

            Apparently you know this so well that now you can advise the rest of us:

            Did the flight path cross that 3 ft wide crater?
            Do you know the guidance system of Syrian SU-22s arms – they are not capable for delivering guided bombs of the size that leave a 3ft crater to that road. Trajectory – well – the higher the plane was the better the US radars spotted it. The lower the plane was the less there is room for your speculation of trajectory.
            Parallax? But Sir, you talk about parallax in the same message that you acknowledge that the bomb left 3 ft crater – yet the bomb “vanished” totally but the sarin in it killed some 80+ people?
            I would like to eat the same cereals that you are having for breakfast.

          • RobTN

            Why assume it’s guided rather than a dumb bomb.

            Vanished completely? You must be looking at some different photos.

            Do you know what parallax is?

          • Woody

            As this discussion moves to semantics, I have attached wiki-link for the definition that we could possibly agree upon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallax
            Now is this considered as progress when we can agree on the definition or what?

            The eyewitnesses stated they saw missiles. Later it was interpreted as being rockets. Then it turned out to be a bomb. It does matter if it was guided or not for it to carry the amount of Sarin discussed it should have been a large bomb. Now the fragments in the dig refer to a small cylinder that has been bursted with outside force. There is no tailfin. There is no explanation of the release mechanism and more importantly, no explanation how the Sarin escaped the detonation. The crater does not match the impact of a bomb with required Sarin load+explosion that dematerializes the bomb. The tube in the dig does not match the dig size/Sarin caused deathtoll – or was it a rocket/missile then? This goes on and on – no man/woman with any sense on projectile impact and explosion impact can prove the case you try to deliver.

            It does matter if the bomb, rocket, missile etc was guided or not – that would in the case of bomb tell us something of its size. See, the Syrian SU-22 bomb selection is narrow.

            One thing we know is that the US has the hi res radar data so how come they are not releasing it?

          • RobTN

            Ah so we are getting away from ” yet the bomb “vanished” totally” as you are now describing it.

            But do tell how BIG a bomb would it have had to be to release enough Sarin?

          • Woody

            Sir – if you say it did not vanish – that the squashed cylinder is a fragment of bomb – lets call in your homie DDTea. DDTea calculated that there was initially 100 to 200 kg of Sarin – this was in another discussion here on Bellingcat. The community recognizes DDTea as the grandmaster, T Postol washes DDTea’s feet. the low boiling point and the explosion considered – maybe DDTea is right – this I cannot prove.
            If you have a projectile with 200 kg CW warhead, I suppose the gross mass is greater – you agree with me? So what are we left with? KAB 500? Is that a matching pair with SU-22? how do you “abolish” a 300-500 kg bomb so that the result is a 3ft crater? David Copperfield, anyone?

        • Black Star

          Wow, this article really activated the putintrolls. Guess it is as the saying goes: where there is smoke, there is fire.

          Reply
          • Woody

            Black Star,

            you were left behind alone when your homies realised that there is no envelope (the crater, amounts of Sarin, the squashed tubular structure in the dig, hesitation in between a bomb, a missile, a rocket…) that matches the visible facts.
            So yes, of course we are Putintrolls when we ask you to fill the gap in between the missing evidence that otherwise points to something else but the aerial attack.
            Just stay faithful to your agenda and try to be a loud as possible even when you don’t have a faintest clue of issue at hand – just because the rest of the group does the same.

          • Black Star

            Sorry, comrade, it is you who is forced to invent new explanations every day in order to divert from the proven facts. How is weather in Moscow today?

    • RobTN

      So Mark I take it you are now completely dismissing the Zuesse/Hersh

      It came from Libya
      Or
      “It came from Turkey
      Or
      The rebels made it!
      Or
      It does NOT match Syrian stock

      Arguments?

      Reply
      • Woody

        Well bus since you have an answer to all issues that explain that Assad did it, you must also possess the greatest of all answers: Why he did it against predominantly civilian position(s)?

        Arguements?

        Reply
          • Woody

            You were calling for arguements by simply stating that whatever science based arguement is delivered here, it does not qualify as long as it stands to challenge the idea that Assad is behind the attack.
            I am alright with a proven fact that Assad did it but as a resident of an independent democratic country I am quite alerted of the fact that this bomb issue is being wiped under the carpet in a full daylight by even western democracies and their institutions. The hit site leaves far too many issues open. And the loudest critics for any consideration are apparently people who have never served in any army – be that war or peace time – who clearly have no idea what a bomb carrying that much Sarin is in sheer size factor. This reminds me far too much of Cheney’s tubes. On the other posting you spoke of trajectory – here are people that argue it was mine, torpedo, rocket, bomb, arrow, dart…the list is long. There is some desperation in all these arguements. But yes – no scientific factor can show to a bomb that hit that spot, so obviously you cannot have the answer to all questions. But before you lay the first rock to the foundation of the theory, think. DDTea has been writing here meiles about Sarin composition. For what does that stand as long as the bomb crater and obviously lacking flight path data do not support the concept of Sarin bomb?

          • RobTN

            No.

            What I am saying is that we have for several months been ‘treated’ to the argument put forward by the likes of Hersh and Zuesse that the sarin in these attacks doesn’t match Syrian sarin – therefore it wasn’t the Syrian government. Now it seems that the argument is shifting to “Well OK it does match Syria’s Sarin – that must mean the rebels stole it from Syria!!”

            So ignore the previous arguments?

          • Woody

            If you take a look of the Syrian map – with some glance on the historical evolution of the civil war during the last six years, you can easily see that the country has been run by several factions+the government. There was a civil war in your home country 150 years before the Syrian civil war broke loose. You asked about parallax – I usher you to look for definition on “civil war”. The country has been under a state of non-constitutional management in areas that are not under the government control. It is specifically this issue why the UN chapter prohibits foreign interference to other sovereign states’ internal issues – see ICJ Nicaragua vs USA for example. In such state it is the people of that state that often suffer from the uprising.
            You are still with me? Good! So all of this results looting. Do the factions need 6th class math books – I doubt. Do they fancy the herds of camels from a Vadi – I don’t know. Do they need elder male persons with christian/alawite faith – well, this you already guessed! Would they like whatever arms left behind by the government or other factions – BINGO!
            If Assad was to use CWs, he would do it big time, and as part of the army strategy / tactics in locations that would pay off. Concentrations of whatever troops of the enemy in the desert etc. I don’t have data enough to say whose the sarin is.
            You don’t have the data to show that Assad ordered the use or even gave consent to its use.
            Why does someone gas kids and women but not your AK47 bearing opponents?
            Paramountly – why does Assad use gas always when US issues strike-back claim like in Ghouta? Makes sense? Arguements?

          • RobTN

            Nice change of subject away from the history of “It wasn’t Syrian Sarin”

          • Woody

            So you are out of arguements? Are you able to read? Admittedly, English is my third language, but what are you missing? I told there is no chance for me to comment the origin – maybe it was produced by Assad.
            You argued here for the bomb – So do I take your word that you are steering the conversation away from its origins?
            Please grow up. That tube in the dig is something like 120 mm in diameter. It sure was one heck of a long bomb/rocket/missile that carried the 200 kg of Sarin.

            Next time you reach for a large Coke bottle at Walmart – 67.6 US fl oz US Customary conversion – try to imagine what the projetile would look like with all the 100 bottles filled into it, added with a massive explosive that – against the odds and the laws of physics – compresses the cylinder flat instead of exploding it to pieces.

            Good night with that.

          • RobTN

            “I told there is no chance for me to comment the origin – maybe it was produced by Assad.”
            Where did you do that in our conversation?

            Ah so now it’s 200 KG of Sarin. Where did that number come from? Your imagination?

            Because? MW sarin is 140 approximately. 200 kg is, therefore > 100 Kmol. 1 kmol at STP occupies 22.4 M3. So you are positing a sarin cloud of 2200 m3?
            That’s about a 13 m on each side cube. Now dilute that down to the lethal dose…..

            “compresses the cylinder flat instead of exploding it to pieces”

            Look up the other sarin delivery devices that have been seen.

          • Woody

            You are right – I wrote:
            “Would they like whatever arms left behind by the government or other factions – BINGO!” – I left the door half open but made a reference to the fact that the rebels might have been interested in CWs.

            But back to the matter at hand:
            200 kg is a number that your homeboy DDTea calculated after realizing that the heat would offset a lot of the Sarin in explosion. But hey – I am not saying DDTea has it right, its one guess – would you like to give your own estimate?

            So your calculation does not take into consideration the heat in Sarin release, but hey, who is counting because we already know who is guilty! The detonation impact of the torpedo that hit the street would take place at what…3000 C? Or maybe there is a “vapo-parallax” – an illusion of boiling of something that in realm does not boil?

            So because you obviously know how it was delivered, please share the fact with us so we don’t need to be guessing here any longer. Kinder surprise eggs?

          • RobTN

            No 200 Kg would be YOU on April 27.

            DDTea disputed it if you check. Try to at least keep your story straight.

            OH and the calculation is mole based, moles don’t change with T. Once the Sarin mixed with air it would be back down around ambient.

          • Woody

            BTW – do we still argue of the 200 Kg that DDTea said 9th April. In your world, does 9th occur before or later that 27th – for this is truly a difficult issue around. But You tell us.

          • RobTN

            So you are going to ignore his later post which gave kg figures much lower?

          • Woody

            You Implied that 200 kg is my imagination. Here is your 200 kg:

            https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2017/04/05/chemical-realities-russias-khan-sheikhoun-chemical-warehouse-attack-claims/comment-page-1/#comments

            DDTea – April 9, 2017

            Sarin would be dispersed as a liquid or aerosol. It boils at 158 C; water boils at 100 C. At 30 C, it has a vapor pressure of 400 Pascals; water is 4239 Pa at 30 C. So it’s going to evaporate more slowly than water.

            To become an aerosol requires either a) a pressurized cylinder attached to an atomizer, which was not seen here; or b) an explosive burst. You’re right: the quantity used here would have been far, far greater than the 900 mL used in the Tokyo subway (where there were 12 killed, 50 severe injuries in a confined space with limited ventilation). I’ve been estimating between 200-500 lbs (as much as 200 liters), a typical payload for an aircraft bomb.

            OF the other delivery devices – why would I look up something that you haven’t discovered? Nothing fits the envelope that someone has build by placing an on-ground explosive to mark as a false flag detonation.

            But yeah, please keep on posting of the molecules when you can’t tell about the metrics.

          • DDTea

            Woody: 200-500 lbs = 90 – 225 kg. I estimated the higher end of the range on the basis of the population density of Khan Sheikhoun and by making the assumption that every one of the injured victims had received a lethal dose (see a useful quoted passage below). I needed to draw an upper limit somewhere, so that was the best way I could think to do it. That range was a *starting point* to frame future estimates. I’m not looking for a pinpoint number accurate to three significant figures–I’m just trying to narrow down possibilities. 1000 kg is unreasonable, and so too is 10 kg (i.e., a Grad rocket with an explosive charge large enough to produce the crater).

            A more reasonable range is 60 – 100 kg of Sarin. Using the examples of the US MC-1, US Weteye, and US Mk94 bombs described by Dan in an earlier post, we see a Sarin-to-burster weight ratio range of 5:1 – 7:1. Based on the size of the crater and literature correlating crater size to explosive yield, we can estimate that the burster size was about 10 kg. So this works out to a range of 50 kg Sarin to 70 kg of Sarin. This is supported by a) the number of casualties (leading me to say that 100 kg is the right order of magnitude), and b) comparisons to American and Soviet chemical bombs whose details are public knowledge. For comparison, the KhAB-200 carries a payload of 70 kg chemical agent; the MC-1, 60 kg; the Mk94, 49 kg; the Weteye, 159 kg.

            @RobTN: While it might be a useful starting point, I’m not sure how relevant ideal gas models are for Sarin dispersed by high explosive. The Sarin payload is certainly not going to reach its equilibrium gas volume within the time frame of an attack: some of it will condense as liquid, some will decompose, some will absorb onto surfaces, some will be absorb into crater ejecta..

            Of interest:

            “A U.S. Defense Department model illustrates the problem. Releasing ten kilograms (22 pounds) of sarin into the open air under favorable weather conditions covers about one-hundredth of a square kilometer with lethal effects. Since population densities in U.S. urban areas are typically around 5,000 people per square kilometer, such an attack would kill about 50 people.
            Releasing 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of sarin into the open air affects about ten times as much area and therefore would kill approximately 500 people. Releasing 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) into the open air would cover several square kilometers, killing about 10,000 people. ”

            (“Terrorism, Asymmetric Warfare, and Chemical Weapons,” Anthony H. Courdesman, published by Center for Strategic and International Studies, Feb. 14, 2001.) ”

          • Woody

            THANKS for the clarification.
            Though I feel that the more we discuss of this matter the more distant he idea of Assad being behind the bombing of Khan Sheikhoun. But aren’t we all here to compare info and in pursuit of finding truth rather than arriving to a predestined conclusion?
            US MC-1 has diameter of 40 cm, the Weteye seems to have a similar diameter, judging from pics – I could not find quickly any data.
            the tube-form residue in Khan Sheikhoun crater is nowhere near 40 cm diameter, let alone the other fact that the picture of the residue does not fit into the idea of an explosion from inside of the tube.
            Heat being one facter – which you already elaborated, but with MC1 and Weteye – type bombs. Khab-200 has a diameter of 30 cm, so that brings no help to understand the tubular shape in the dig. The Khab-200 has a tailfin that is distictive and should have been found somewhere near as well.

            Safe to assume by now that the Sarin was released by someone operating on the ground as gas delivery by airforce has no logical explanation.

            The crater does not fit to a bomb that becomes obsolate yet the crater being only of the size we have seen in the pictures.

    • H

      Sarin has a half-life measured in hours, days if purified extensively. It rapidly destroys any container it is put in due to acidic byproducts. Its also extremely hazardous to handle. The idea that rebels could get dozens of liters of this stuff unnoticed is ridiculous. And the Syrian government has Always maintained none of their chemical weapons fell in to rebel hands.

      Reply
  4. DDTea

    I’ve posted this elsewhere, but people are repeating the same, tired claims that, “this seems suspicious.” Yet nobody can offer an alternative theory to explain the evidence, so I’ve gone ahead and proposed one myself. You will see it is far more plausible than the specious notion that a government aircraft dropped a bomb of Sarin. This theory is based on the reports of experts who should be trusted without further thought.

    The Syrian regime bombed an Al-Nusra warehouse full of sarin, which was being delivered to and used by ISIS in Iraq [1]. However, this sarin did not poison anybody: instead, a cloud of burning plastic may have disseminated in the air [2], which caused symptoms remarkably similar to Sarin poisoning—especially the foaming mouths. Simultaneous with this air bombardment on a warehouse, Al-Nusra detonated a bomb on top of a pipe full of Sarin [3] to create a crater, thus giving the illusion of an airstrike that didn’t actually happen. They chose not to recover the tube to conceal their evidence when they went back to “tamper” with the crime scene–while recording it from multiple camera angles and releasing footage online, no less. As others have speculated (even here on bellingcat), this tampering may have involved spreading sarin and degradation products around the crater to create the illusion of a sarin attack, even though they already dispersed sarin.

    But this Sarin didn’t poison anyone either! Instead, Al-Nusra took a bunch of Christians and gassed them with carbon monoxide or cyanide or other “rubigenic toxin” [4] in a basement. They then drove their victims to the hospital, where they were drugged with something to cause miosis [4]. Simultaneously, a bunch of collaborators were sent to Turkish hospitals to convey a false flag cover story about a regime airstrike with poison gas. To this date, they are still repeating the same false story–conspiring down to the finest details of their story when questioned separately. The OPCW was in on it, and agreed to falsify evidence together with the Turks—providing false witness to compromised blood samples. Then the rebels went back and tampered [5] with the crater and Sarin tube. The crater has since been filled in so that nobody would find the evidence they planted to frame the regime.

    And everyone who disagrees with this version of the truth is a neoconservative imperialist NATO troll who supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    (For the record: Bhopal was caused by methyl isocyanate, not plastic combustion products)
    [1] https://www.rt.com/news/383522-syria-idlib-warehouse-strike-chemical/
    [2]http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/russian_explanation_of_the_mass_poisoning_in_syria_could_be_true_20170426
    [3] https://www.scribd.com/document/344995943/Report-by-White-House-Alleging-Proof-of-Syria-as-the-Perpetrator-of-the-Nerve-Agent-Attack-in-Khan-Shaykhun-on-April-4-2017#from_embed
    [4] O’Brien, Denis. “The Apr04|17 incident at Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. A series of inquiries. KS Post #1: Analysis of the Shajul Islam video .
    ” April 5, 2017. http://logophere.com/Topics2017/17-04/17_015-BLA-ShajulIslam.htm
    [5] http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/04/addendum-dr-theodore-postols-assessment-white-house-report-syria-chemical-attack.html

    Reply
    • Swein

      Well, this is what I think happened in Khan Sheikhoun.
      In face of a growing acceptance of the Assad regime and military setbacks, the rebels (probably some HTS faction) stage a carefully prepared false flag operation.
      Using Sarin taken from the regime during some earlier stage of the rebellion they wait for early warning reports about Syrian aircrafts coming in over Khan Sheikhoun. In the morning a single aircraft approaches and they activate their plan. Rockets are fired against the city. Either one of them is loaded with sarin, or a stationary device in the city is triggered. Perhaps the sarin isn’t of a good quality or they throw in other stuff to get better effect. The result is anyway that of a dirty bomb with mixed effects on the victims. The PR machinery starts with filming of victims and alleged victims and are being spread.
      The reports are starting to appear in media and an unprepared Syrian government can just deny that they made any attack, but more and more evidence show up that there are people exposed to Sarin and they put forward the explanation that a conventional bombing run they did in the middle of the day did hit a CW factory or storage. This was wildly ridiculed. Not only should a blown up factory not release any sarin. Also they got the time wrong as the sarin was released in the morning. But why did they get the timing wrong? Because they knew that they didn’t do any gas attack and the bombing of a CW factory seemed like a probable reason. And the only time they bombed Khan Sheikhoun that day was in the middle of the day. When it became clear to Assad that the gas attack was in the morning he changed footing and claimed that the whole gas attack was a big hoax. Which seems reasonable if he knew that there was no Syrian air raid at the time.
      The single plane the rebels talked about and that showed up on the US radar tracking then? Probably a reconnaissance before the mid day bombing I would guess.
      So what in my version doesn’t work?

      Reply
      • Woody

        Your theory does not match WH and French intelligence report and because of that you are wrong.

        Reply
      • H

        Well for starters there is zero evidence al-Nusra actually had Sarin. How would they create such a large volume without drawwing the attention of intelligence agencies? There is a sophsticated monitoring system for precursor chemicals in Syria giving the US advanced warning of chemical weapons preparations. And how would they produce it? The Aum Shinrikyo cult spend 30 million dollars, employed skilled scientists, a top grade lab and a factory to produce a much smaller quantity over a period of several years. This is not the kind of stuff you make in a kitchen lab. You need an inert atmosphere, the byproducts are highly volatile, acidic and toxic and extremely hard to handle, etc. Because of the short shelf life it must be made shortly before use. And we would have to assume that the rebels somehow came up with the same innovative method involving hexamine as the regime uses, a method that was possibly introduced to Syria by Yugoslavian chemical weapons experts. Iraq never managed to find this method but somehow al-Nusra did?

        Reply
  5. RobTN

    Actually in fairness it’s 1.2 KMOL, not 100.

    So a pure sarin cloud of 22.4 m3 only a little under 2.8 m x 2.8m x 2.8m. of sarin. Dilute that and….how big a cloud?

    Reply
    • Woody

      Is DDTea you brother/sister?

      You guys calculate micrograms of fluid/gas yet give a s..t for the heat in detonation causing the sarin to boil?

      Reply
      • RobTN

        Well if it’s hotter the cloud will be bigger, are you arguing in favor of that idea?

        However if the sarin mixes with enough nearby air to get it down to around lethal strength the T will come down to around ambient. Not a tricky concept really.

        Reply
        • Woody

          I AGREE – If…then if and after that maybe.
          If someone could explain the dig for the starters, then we could go to the next if.

          Reply
  6. Sean Lamb

    I think we are in the old dual-use sleight of hands that was used to such good effect in the glory days of Iraqi WMDs.

    Why did Syria declare Hexamine? – we would need to look at the disclosure requested by the OPCW to determine that. But it looks like that virtually every nation on the planet probably possesses industrial scale stocks of hexamine, so the fact that Syria possesses them is not really particular probative.

    Was all the sarin manufactured with the assistance of hexamine? I have no idea but it certainly looks plausible.

    Did Syria manufacture its sarin stocks using hexamine? I equally don’t know and there is nothing in this article that indicates it did. However, since the OPCW destroyed large quantities of Syria’s sarin, then surely they must know whether Syria did or not. And the fact the OPCW has been conspicuously silent on issue tends to argue that Syria did not.

    There is simply no need to draw inferences from the fact Syria, as many other countries do, possessed industrial scale stocks of this chemical, when the exact chemical make-up of Syria’s sarin stocks must be an indisputable part of the OPCW knowledge base.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

You can support the work of Bellingcat by donating through the following link:

TRUST IN JOURNALISM - IMPRESS