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Anatomy of a Sarin Bomb Explosion (Part I)

April 13, 2017

By Dan Kaszeta

Translations: Русский

Part I: The Bomb, its contents, and their likely fate

The recent chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun in Syria is alleged by witnesses to have been delivered by an air-dropped bomb.  The purpose of this article is to systematically break down a Sarin bomb into its components and analyse what happens to them.  This first part addresses the contents of the bomb and how these components interact with the environment.

What’s in an air-dropped Sarin bomb? A Sarin bomb will contain more than just Sarin.

Sarin. The nerve agent Sarin will be in liquid form. However, no chemical reaction makes pure Sarin and no weapon system known to date contained just pure Sarin. Other things are likely to be present in some percentage. They are listed below.

Unreacted Components: It is highly unlikely that any Sarin binary mixing done before loading will be absolutely 100% effective. Bits of unreacted binary components that weren’t mixed properly, i.e. methylphosphonyl difluoride (DF) and isopropyl alcohol

Hydrogen fluoride (HF) : This results from the DF + isopropyl alcohol reaction. Also results from DF reacting with water.
Byproducts: chemicals that are formed by improper DF + alcohol reactions, or are left over in the DF as impurities from earlier stages of production.
Degradation products : Sarin, unless made properly, degrades quickly. And Sarin degrades in the presence of moisture. Degradation products are chemicals that result from degradation of the Sarin, such as isopropyl methylphosphonic acid, which in turn degrades to methylphosphonic acid.
Additives: Anything additional added, such as acid scavengers and anti-corrosion inhibitors, e.g. hexamine, tributylamine, etc. Also, as some additives are designed to react with the residual HF, the presence of these compounds, e.g. salts, may be present.

Fuze and Bursting charge: Explosive material to make the bomb burst open and create an aerosol. This would include the whole firing chain, with fuzing and several different explosive materials, as well as wiring.

Case material: This is the body of the bomb, including coatings and linings.

Design and Intent of the weapon

US “Weteye” Sarin Bomb

Non-persistent nerve agents, such as Sarin are used for immediate production of casualties, as their ability to produce contamination is time-limited. As such, Sarin weapons generally function on the principle of producing as much aerosol (a finely divided mist of droplets) as possible. Persistent nerve agents, such as VX, are designed to contaminate terrain and equipment, and cause immediate­­ casualties primarily by skin contact. Therefore, they are often designed to cause dispersal of larger droplets.

How big an explosive charge?

The necessary “charge to agent” ratio is needed to ensure proper dissemination of the chemical agent contents.   A bursting charge that is too small means that too little aerosol is created and you end up with a large pool of liquid or large splashes of Sarin – extremely deadly in the immediate vicinity, but not good for causing casualties over a wide area. If the bomb uses too much explosive, much or all of the Sarin is destroyed.   Sarin decomposes at higher temperatures. At its boiling point, around 150 deg C, it decomposes rapidly. A large amount of high explosives would easily heat much of the Sarin in a bomb to 150 deg C.

The thickness and structural integrity of the case of the bomb is a key factor in the size of the burster charge, and one of the reasons why air-dropped bombs have a higher ratio of chemical agent to explosive than artillery shells, which, comparatively, have a thicker case.   Data on charge to agent ratios for air-dropped bombs is rare, but some information from the old US chemical arsenal has now seeped into the public domain. These charge to agent ratios were fine tuned with extensive field testing at proving grounds and resulted in optimum formation of aerosol. For example, the MC-1 Sarin bomb contained 100kg of Sarin and had a burster charge weighing 6.8 kg, although not all of the 6.8 kg will be explosive weight, i.e. some of that weight will be wire and casing. The US Mk94 bomb held 49kg of Sarin and had a 7.3 kg burster. The Weteye bomb appears to have contained 159 kg of Sarin and had a large bursting charge, around 27 kg, leading one to deduce that it had a much thicker case. I can find no comparable statistics for USSR-produced systems.

Air-burst versus ground burst

Ever since the development of chemical bombs and artillery shells early in the 20th century, the general consensus among chemical weapons experts is that non-persistent agents are detonated at or near ground level, whereas persistent agents, whose primary purpose is contamination of terrain and equipment, are detonated as air bursts.   Non-persistent agents are designed with production of casualties in mind and keeping the aerosol at or near ground level helps to maintain a higher concentration of the chemical agent than detonating in the air. The latter serves to dilute the concentration a little or a lot, depending on local conditions. With persistent agents, the idea is to have a wider radius of dispersal of droplets to cause contamination of terrain and equipment.   The air-dropped bombs for delivering Sarin developed in the US in the Cold War were all impact fuzed for ground burst.

US MC-1 Sarin Bomb

What happens when the Sarin bomb is dropped

The following chain of events happens when a typical Sarin bomb is dropped in an air strike:

  • The bomb hits the ground
  • The impact fuze causes the explosive bursting charge to detonate
  • The explosives turn rapidly from solid to vapour, at high temperature.
  • The kinetic energy from this rapid expansion causes the case to burst open

This chain of events causes dispersal The Sarin inside the bomb will end up dispersed in a number of ways simultaneously.

  • Aerosol: This aerosol, a finely divided mist of small droplets, is the overall objective of the weapon and its designers hope for this to be the highest % of the Sarin.
  • Vapour: Due to the vapour pressure of the Sarin and both the ambient heat of the environment and the artificial heat of the explosion, some of the Sarin will go immediately to vapour state.
  • Decomposed: The heat of the explosion will cause some of the Sarin to decompose immediately. This effective loss of yield is inevitable with explosive dissemination
  • Crater: Some of the liquid will end up in the crater and its ejecta (the soil thrown out of the crater)
  • Larger splashes and drops: Some Sarin will end up being dispersed in larger splashed and drops of liquid that are too big to be suspended in the air like an aerosol.
  • Fragments: Some Sarin will inevitably cling to the fragments of the bomb

The distribution of the Sarin into these categories will vary heavily based on the design of the weapon and a little bit from local factors, such as weather conditions and the type of surface the bomb hits. For example a bomb dropped into a swamp will behave differently to one dropped onto dry land.

The eventual fate of these dispersed bits of Sarin will vary according to the categories above. Let’s examine what happens to each category:

  • Aerosol: The aerosol will drift in the direction of the wind. The individual droplets will evaporate or deposit onto surfaces. Because of the small size of the droplets, they will not form dense concentrations on surfaces.
  • Vapour: Like the aerosol, the vapour will drift downwind. The further it drifts, the more it will get diluted by clean air. Both the aerosol and vapour are heavier than air so will enter low lying areas with ease and will not rise much without a mechanism to make it do so (up draft between buildings or similar phenomena). High concentrations of vapour may absorb into porous materials. Concrete, plastic floor tiles, sandstone, and gypsum drywall board have all been studied recently and show propensity for absorbing Sarin vapour if exposed to a high enough concentration. In 2013, a rubber window seal was a critical piece of evidence in the forensic investigation.
  • Decomposed Sarin: The thermal decomposition products of Sarin, much of which are longer-lasting than Sarin itself, will be in the vicinity of the explosion.
  • Crater: Sarin in the crater will likely absorb into the ground. Over time it will decompose by hydrolysis (due to any moisture and pH level in the soil), leaving IMPA as a tell-tale sign. Some will also evaporate, at a rate determined by air flow and temperature. However, decomposition due to hydrolysis is the primary mechanism by which the Sarin disappears under most conditions. A US Army study showed that 99% of Sarin would be gone within 2.5 to 24 hours depending on variables.
  • Liquid Sarin: Liquid Sarin, in splashes and drops, will fly through the air from the explosion and come into contact with surfaces. It is easily absorbed into many types of surfaces, like concrete or soil or wood. Sarin on surfaces will evaporate quickly and behave as vapour (see above). Sarin absorbed into surfaces will desorb over time. Temperature is a key variable in that rate of desorption as is the nature of the material. A US government study showed that after 4 hours, about 95% of the liquid Sarin in carpet is gone.
  • Fragments: Fragments of the bomb will fly in every direction, as can be expected. These fragments are likely to have some amount of Sarin liquid on them. The fragments are ejected from the explosion and some may be flying at high speed and could embed themselves in material, such as the ground or into building materials. An fragment that has liquid Sarin on it, embedded in something relatively dry, non absorbent, and of neutral pH would be an ideal piece of forensic evidence and possibly the best way to find actual Sarin around the incident site after a few hours have elapsed.

Part II – Coming soon. How the Sarin bomb and its contents will interact with its victims.  This will address the key issues of how Sarin enters the human body and how and why responders were seen handling victims with relatively little protective equipment.

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.

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80 Comments

  1. Mr.Bushkin

    An interesting bomb, but you are obviosuy dealing with a much thinner 122 mm pipe on the ground with an explosive detonated on top of it, causing the crater and pressing the pipe into it: ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/9975/production/_95458293_d4234a7b-5817-489f-9e09-e986d4cea8e1.jpg

    Reply
    • Bubslug

      If the ID of the rocket tubing is about 118 mm, the tube was 1 m long in the weight of sarin would be 11 to 12 kg (check my math). Calculate the amount of high explosive needed to make a crater roughly 1.2 m diameter and half that deep in compacted road base or asphalt and you have the ratio the rebels might have used to if the Poston theory is correct.

      Reply
    • DDTea

      You’re making an assumption that the piece of the weapon in that photo is the main body of the weapon. This is leading you to conclude that an artillery rocket was the delivery vehicle.

      Dan is saying that that’s a fragment of a larger bomb, whose pieces were scattered over a much wider field by the burster charge. 6.8 kg of high explosive can project shrapnel pretty far.

      Reply
      • Bubslug

        “This is leading you to conclude that an artillery rocket was the delivery vehicle”

        There was no “delivery” vehicle if the Postol theory is correct. The jihadists simple exploded an improvised sarin device consisting of a section of 122m rocket tubing sealed at both ends on the road. It’s rather ingenious of them isn’t it, as the C4 or whatever they laid over the tube of liquid sarin creates a fake “impact” crater from alleged airborne munitions and disperses the sarin at the same time.

        A possible point of contention is that I’m not sure high explosives just laid on the road would create a crater as most of the energy would just go into air blast. Or maybe not, I’ll research further. Postol’s diagram shows the dispersing explosive in the form of a tube with one end laid over the sarin device, but it could have been other shapes also.

        Anyway I would think the rules for the ratio of explosives to agent rules so well described by Mr. Kaszeta in this article, would apply for this improvised device.

        There’s one more point I posted here elsewhere but is still in moderation, which I think supports the Postol theory. The backside of the rocket fragment (convex side) has an odd stippled look, which I puzzled over at first since the front (concave side) of the crushed tube is smooth. Now I can see the explosive would have driven the tube into the “gritty” component of the pavement, prior to fragmenting and blowing out the asphalt, leaving this stippled pattern, but only on one side.

        Reply
        • DDTea

          OK. Then the next thing to do is estimate 1) how large of an explosive charge created that crater, and 2) how much sarin could have been delivered that way, accounting for losses/degradation in explosive dispersal.

          Reply
          • Bubslug

            Here’s an excellent reference to do just that:

            http://www.cimec.org.ar/ojs/index.php/mc/article/viewFile/713/675

            I have some background in soil density and shear strength which would affect the explosive vs crater size, and I haven’t checked their assumptions to see how that would conform to asphalt-compacted soil (which I will do). However, from Table 4 it looks like 4 to 7 kg of TNT (equivalent) was used since the crater size is about 1.1 to 1.4 m. That would make a very “hot” mix since the weight of the sarin is at most 13 kg.

            I don’t think that would leave enough sarin released unoxidized to give the body count that occurred, but they could have done a secondary release, with this one just meant to fake the bombing.

          • DDTea

            OK, at least we’re in agreement about the size of the charge. I’ve been saying < 10 kg. Dan cited a few examples of US bombs and gave a range of burster charge sizes, most < 10 kg. Thanks for that reference, by the way–I know such calculations exist for estimating the yield of nuclear warheads, so I figured they must exist for conventional explosions as well.

            From the figures that Dan cited, it seems that a Sarin:Burster ratio of 5:1 – 7:1 is common. For the estimated 4-7 kg of high explosive for as much as 13 kg of Sarin, we're looking at ratios of 3.25:1 to 1.86: 1. It's hard to say how much of the Sarin will be decomposed in the immediate blast–I suspect this knowledge isn't publicly available. It's also not obvious how much Sarin would be dispersed in the air versus entrained in the ejecta or deposited in the crater. Qualitatively, I speculate that positioning a charge on top of a purported metal tube filled with Sarin would increase the portion of Sarin distributed into the crater and ejecta.

            So taken together, Ted Postol needs to explain how a combination of a large HE charge, small Sarin payload, and inefficient dispersal can cause so many casualties in an unconfined area.

      • Paveway IV

        Dan is making the assumption that it was an aerial bomb because that fits the narrative the west is eager to push. It’s a weak assumption. Just like Ghouta, the opposition is always eager to lead someone (anyone) to a spent munition or impact site that can be blamed on Syrian government forces. And just like in Ghouta, there is absolutely no reason that IF an outside state actor was supplied Sarin for a false flag, THEN it could only have been released from a bomb. In fact, that’s the most complicated and difficult way, especially since nobody is likely to have witnessed the impact. A false flag ONLY requires that (in this case and Ghouta) Sarin is readied and ONLY dispersed in conjunction with a known government bombing. ‘Known’ is easy to predict in both cases – they were almost daily targets of Syrian strikes. The requisite ‘muffled explosion’ for locals to report may or may not have anything to do with the way the opposition dispersed the chemical agent. A grenade under a sandbag or tossed in a barrel of water will produce the required sonic theatrics, but it’s quite unnecessary. Someone will always report that ‘one of the bombs sounded different’.

        Insisting a chemical agent was released at an impact point or munition remains of uncertain origin does exactly what PsyOps guys are paid to do: it leads everyone to endless speculation about what the munition was and how it was employed. It works, because that’s what we’re doing here right now. It deflects all thought from far simpler explanations based on obvious motive and who really benefits.

        Occam’s razor would whittle this down to 1) state actor supplying some Sarin to the opposition specifically for such a false flag, 2) opposition seizes opportunity during government bombing to disperse the Sarin, which requires little more than dumping it out of it’s storage container without killing yourself. A room of recent hostages would be a good place for that, 3) ‘media activist’ theatrics regarding victims – real or staged – must include children, and 4) salting resulting impact sites and/or munitions debris as ‘evidence’ the government used CWs.

        If anyone can come up with a simpler explanation that 1) doesn’t depend on irrational, pointless actions by the Syrian government sure to bring retaliation, or 2) complicated Sarin chem labs and home-made CWs by people that cut the heads off of children for entertainment, then I’m all ears.

        State actors responsible for orchestrating such a false flag? Oh, hell – pick one from the usual suspects that have something to gain by implicating the Syrian government.

        Reply
          • Paveway IV

            Social media ‘evidence’? Pay attention to the sparkly object being dangled in front of you. The rules are that all discussion must be centered on that. Anything not associated with the sparkly object is irrelevant or tin-foil hat speculation. Critical thinking and skepticism are invalid unless they directly involve the shiny object. “Cui bono?” and motivation of far more powerful state actors is a curiosity at best and does not affect the shiny object.

            Colin Powell threw his entire career away by being the fall guy that held the shiny object up in front of the world. Volcano CW rockets were the shiny object in Ghouta. The impact crater (at least so far) is the shiny object being waved in my face today. Christ… they’re not even trying anymore.

          • DDTea

            You sound more like a paranoid schizophrenic than a critical thinker.

          • Paveway IV

            But of course, DDTea. Carry on with your shiny objects and safe spaces.

        • frank

          The other thing it all suggests is that US signals intelligence is complicit in misleading the White House. The USA is politically fragmented, with the neocon oilmen in bed with the Saudis it is no surprise all kinds of nonsense is leaking out of the CIA and NSA.

          Reply
        • zeo

          //It’s a weak assumption//

          Provide evidence. Your comment contains a lot of baseless conjecture and not many facts

          //Occam’s razor //
          says “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected”

          the idea that the rebels secretly smuggled Sarin into Syria in order to launch a false flag attack on themselves and frame the Syrian government requires far more assumptions than the idea that the Syrian Govt (who were known to be in possession of Sarin and were conducting strikes in the area at the time of the Sarin release) launched the Sarin attack.

          next time you try invoking Occam’s razor, i’d actually take the time to read up on the actual text of Occam’s razor.

          Reply
          • Paveway IV

            I rarely invoke it because someone arguing the opposite simply dumbs down their scenario to appear to have less assumptions.

            *”Syria had Sarin at one time, therefore…”* Yeah – is it REALLY that simple?

            Not even a nod to the complexity of how Syria’s prior CW program could possibly stash away 1) hundreds of liters of prepared Sarin for years without maintenance, or 2) even more precursors along with suitable reaction vessels and mixing apparatus. No mention of a suitable munition, fuze and appropriate bursting charge? Some kid of skeleton CW corps to maintain that relatively useless capability all this time without ever being called out by the U.S., Israel or even Russia?

            *”They had… therefore…”* Is that really how simple it is?

            YOUR scenario assumes a grand conspiracy by the Syrian military to maintain a clandestine CW capability with nearly zero tactical benefit and the potential for significant reprisals if they ever did use it. You also assume they have some reason to use this on a target of no particular military significance and they would employ Sarin upwind of a populated city where they are sure to have civilian casualties.

            Honestly, the only thing your ‘simple’ scenario is lacking is bomb fragments painted with the Syrian flag and hand-scribbled messages from Assad himself imploring rebels to *”die by the hand of my Sarin!”*.

      • Mark

        Actually, Dan didn’t address what is in the crater at all. But I would really like him too. I’d also like to know how big a bomb he thinks it was based on the crater.

        Reply
        • Bubslug

          A bomb would make a crater even if it did not explode, with it’s kinetic energy. However, I like the theory that there never was a bomb; the rebels just detonated some explosive draped over a tube filled with sarin. This theory matches the evidence at the “impact” point.

          It’s ingenious isn’t it? Just fill a rocket tube with sarin, wait for the right atmospheric conditions, and a raid by the Syrian Air Force (tipped off by observers at the airbase watching takeoffs), deploy the tube and explosives (not many witnesses around at 6 in the morning, and if there are they end up dead), let the explosives go, and wait for chaos. You end up with a crumpled twisted tube and a crater in the pavement, which of course will test positive for sarin, but might look like an crater from some airborne projectile.

          Obviously the rebels want the ensuing chaos videoed for quick and max impact so they needed their media on standby, but the beauty of the plan is that the fakery is all at the front end, after that it all rolls out as if there was an actual regime airborne sarin attack.

          The advantages of such a plan are that a minimum of people are in on it, and that the fakery is only detectable at the initial sarin release point. After that all the evidence is as if there was a chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces.

          Reply
      • Mr.Bushkin

        Quote: “You’re making an assumption that the piece of the weapon in that photo is the main body of the weapon. This is leading you to conclude that an artillery rocket was the delivery vehicle. […]”

        Really?

        I thought that my conclusion was that somebody simply layed a pipe filled with fluid on a ground and detonated an explosive charge on top and close to one end of it causing what you see here: ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/9975/production/_95458293_d4234a7b-5817-489f-9e09-e986d4cea8e1.jpg

        Reply
        • DDTea

          So why didn’t all of the sarin end up in the crater? This is a really silly dispersal method. You want the charge underneath the tube to disperse the sarin, not above it!

          At this point, it’s fair to point out that while Postol made provocative and interesting statements in 1991 or so, he has since made many erroneous statements about chemical weapons and has adopted unethical practices in research (modifying images, failure to cite, misattribution of some of Dan’s work). He raises interesting points but deserves a lot of skepticism. He has no expertise whatsoever in chemical weapons, and much of his knowledge in the field comes from partisangirl/Maram Susli. She was once a computational chemist, with no direct experience in an organic lab. The best thing in Postol’s document are the weather data and projected sarin paths.

          Reply
          • Mr.Bushkin

            Quote: “This is a really silly dispersal method. You want the charge underneath the tube to disperse the sarin, not above it! […]”

            Because thats precisely what is seen here: ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/9975/production/_95458293_d4234a7b-5817-489f-9e09-e986d4cea8e1.jpg

            And if you manage to get rid of what is blurring your discrimination beween forensics and politics, you will perhaps even conclude that placing an explosive beneath the pipe will obviously lift it into the air together with its content making land still containing most of it, because kinetical energy will be transformed into pressure on the liquid inside of the pipe to much lesser degree.

            Even your claim that the liquid inside of the pipe was a chemical agent is purely your fantasy, since this isn’t visible on the image.

          • Bubslug

            @DDTea:

            Bushkin’s correct. The explosives on top of the pipe act like a sledgehammer that burst the pipe spraying the liquid in all directions (probably most out the burst endcaps) with enough energy to create a fine aerosol cloud close to the ground, which is exactly what you want.

          • DDTea

            “…you will perhaps even conclude that placing an explosive beneath the pipe will obviously lift it into the air together with its content making land still containing most of it, because kinetical energy will be transformed into pressure on the liquid inside of the pipe to much lesser degree.”

            Yeah, exactly. That’s why I’m not even entertaining this notion that it was all a big setup involving a pipe and an explosive charge on top/bottom/wherever: because it doesn’t account for all the observations and eyewitness statements. It must be rejected. It’s not even worth discussing because
            1) it’s not a self-contained hypothesis. It relies on Sarin fairies/secondary dispersal/making-things-up-as-you-go-along.
            2) It would not disperse a meaningful amount of Sarin into the air to cause so many casualties.
            3) There’s a much better theory that the metal fragment is part of the remains of a larger aircraft bomb. This one piece was driven into the ground by the blast (hence the shape, stippling on the back, and presence in the crater), while the remaining fragments were scattered within 300 yards. The crater is a result of the small burster charge (4-10 kg), which dispersed up to 100 kg of Sarin. That theory is self-contained, agrees with the documented air raid, and can explain the large number of victims. You haven’t even attempted to engage that theory: you just fall back on, “Cui Bono???”–a question which have been thoroughly answered, but which you choose to ignore. Like an ostrich with its head in the ground.

            “Even your claim that the liquid inside of the pipe was a chemical agent is purely your fantasy, ”

            Once again, you’re trying to turn clarity into confusion. This is called “muddying the water,” and forgive me if I don’t bury my head in the soil with you. It’s not my “fantasy.” The dead victims were gassed by nerve agent: that’s as clear as day. They started falling dead after an air raid. The jet that launched the air raid took off from Shayrat Airbase. I don’t think a little 122mm tube contained sarin at all–I think an aircraft bomb did. This “tube of liquid with a bomb on top” is YOUR fantasy, parroting the theory of a known charlatan.

          • Mr.Bushkin

            Quote: “[…] because it doesn’t account for all the observations and eyewitness statements. It must be rejected. It’s not even worth discussing because […]”

            Why are you discussing it then?

            I prefer to trust my own eyes ( ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/9975/production/_95458293_d4234a7b-5817-489f-9e09-e986d4cea8e1.jpg ) than some stories coming from unverifyable self-proclaimed eye witnesses considering to propagate agenda fitting own interests.

            Quote: “[…] Once again, you’re trying to turn clarity into confusion. […]”

            Yeah, some nice storry you prefer to spin off suffers from objective evidence. Excuse me for not offering condolences to you for this.

          • Andre

            You want the charge underneath the tube to disperse the sarin, not above it!

            Not if you want the crater to look like it was created by a gravity bomb.

            You keep repeating that argument but it is irrelevant. Even if Postol’s chemical analysis is completely erroneous, his analysis of the explosive cannot be dismissed.

            The problem as I see it is that you have boxed yourself into the assumption that the explosion that caused the crater is what led to the sarin release. If Postol’s analysis as to what created the crater is correct, then that means there was no chemical attack from a gravity bomb.

            That in turn means the crater could be a diversion and that the gas was released from another location by another means.

  2. Andrea

    Thanks for the highly informative article!
    So, as the OPCW investigation still haven’t been on the scene… how long can sarin traces be expected to be found on the part of the bomb/shell visible in the crater?

    Reply
  3. nyolci

    If the White House assessment can be taken at face value, the bomb is very apparently an improvised one. A small container with an external charge.

    Reply
    • Woody

      Not so many days ago it was still a missile. When does WH or the eyewitnesses make their final choice?

      Reply
      • nyolci

        “When does WH or the eyewitnesses make their final choice?”
        Depends on the media 🙂 for ordinary MSM, it was a “regime” “missile”, perhaps with a nuclear fuse. For bellingcat, some scientific sounding BS.

        Reply
  4. grouper42

    Good stuff; Here’s some additional info. When conventional ordnance (projectile/bomb/etc) casings are filled with chemical agents (which is SOP) you will typically see these type modification to the conventional ordnance casings. Note; Generally, these are some of the possible indicators/things to look for when collecting evidence/trying to determine the type ordnance involved in an attack such as this incident (conventional/chemical ordnance?), see steps 1-5.

    – I’ll use the M117 750 pound/MK82 500 pound, conventional bomb casing, as an example of typical modifications used to convert conventional bombs into chemical munitions (M117=converted to MC-1 Chemical Bomb and MK82=converted to MK94 Chemical Bomb).

    This photo of a conventional MK82 bomb (note; the M117 bomb components look the same) cutaway is for reference on how this conversion is accomplished.
    http://64.78.11.86/uxofiles/mulvaney/images/Bomb,GeneralPurpose,500lbs,Mk82.jpg

    Step 1; The internal plumbing/fuze conduit (used for internal fuze arming lanyards/cables that connect to the nose and tail fuzing) is removed from the bomb casing). Note; This helps prevent leakage of the chemical agent when these bombs are eventually filled with chemical agent.
    Step 2; The nose and tail 3 inch fuze wells are modified and a burster tube is welded to both the nose and tail fuze wells (No explosive burster is installed in this tube at this point). Note; This helps prevent leakage of the chemical agent from the nose and tail fuze wells/burster tube when these bombs are eventually filled with chemical agent.
    Step 3; The external lip of the nose fuze well is welded to the nose of the bomb casing and the external lip of the tail fuze well is welded to the bomb base plate. Note; This helps prevent leakage of the chemical agent from the nose and tail fuze wells when these bombs are eventually filled with chemical agent.
    Step 4; The base plate is welded to the bomb casing. This helps prevent leakage of the chemical agent from the bomb base plate/bomb casing seam when these bombs are eventually filled with chemical agent.
    Step 5; Filler plugs/fuze charging well;
    – M117/MC-1 bomb conversion/filler plug; The base plate is modified by adding a filler hole/plug (off center of base plate). When the bomb is eventually filled with chemical agent this plug is installed in the base plate filler hole and welded shut (the welded shut plug helps prevent leakage of chemical agent after the bomb is filled).
    – M117/MC-1 fuze charging well (located between the bomb lugs and connects to the bombs internal fuze plumbing); The fuze charging well is welded shut to prevent chemical agent leakage when the bomb is filled with chemical agent.

    – MK82/MK94 bomb conversion/filler plug; The fuze charging well (located between the bomb lugs and connects to the bombs internal fuze plumbing) is modified by adding a new hole and filler plug. When the bomb is eventually filled with chemical agent this plug is installed in the charging well filler hole and welded shut (the welded shut plug helps prevent leakage of chemical agent after the bomb is filled).

    – Final results of these to conversions; Mk94 see pages 11-12, MC-1 see pages 13-14.
    https://biotech.law.lsu.edu/blaw/dodd/corres/pdf/516065m_0489/annm.pdf

    Reply
  5. DDTea

    This disinformation campaign is just getting silly.

    From the bellingcat article published a few days ago:
    “Firstly, there is Fares Shihabi who tweeted that Hasouri was honoured “for destroying Qaeda’s weapons facilities in Khan Sheikhoun, Edlib”

    Reinforced by news from just yesterday: “Moscow Reiterates Syrian Air Force Struck Terrorist Chemical Warehouse April 4”
    https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201704121052554218-russia-syria-chemical-incident-idlib/

    Today: “Assad says Syria chemical attack that killed dozens is ‘fabrication'”
    He’s denying there even was a mass poisoning.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/13/assad-says-syria-chemical-attack-khan-sheikhun-fabrication

    3 days ago: Theodore Postol claims Sarin was dispersed by a rigged artillery rocket, and it was all a big setup. He’s already established himself as a charlatan, so take it with a grain of salt.
    https://husseini.posthaven.com/ted-postol-updated-assessment-of-us-gov-claims-regarding-the-khan-shaykhun-syria

    Even better today: Russia/Sputnik is fabricating news about a chemical incident in Deir Ez-Zor. Trouble is, observers on the ground in Deir Ez-Zor (who are as harsh in their criticism of ISIS as they are of the regime) know nothing about it.
    http://en.deirezzor24.net/the-assad-regime-fabricates-fake-news-about-deir-ezzor-in-order-to-cover-up-the-chemical-massacre-in-khan-sheikhon/

    So many people rushing to defend Assad with disinformation that they can’t even take time to get their stories straight. Not all of them can be telling the truth, because these claims are mutually contradictory. Why should we believe any of them?

    Reply
    • Paveway IV

      “…So many people rushing to defend Assad with disinformation…”

      You sound more like a paranoid schizophrenic than a critical thinker.

      Frankly, I don’t give a damn about Assad. I’m way more concerned about calling out the chronic lies of my psychopathic US leaders. Why does ‘proving the US is lying’ always exclusively mean ‘defending Assad’ to neocon shills?

      Reply
    • frank

      I think the disinformation here is coming from DDTea. This site is supposed to be about critical analysis, not about undermining reputation, or the logical fallacy of examining the source of the argument rather than the argument

      Reply
      • Azriel

        It’s not lies. Postol is well-known to cooperate with the “partisan syrian girl”, a pro-Assad vlogger. She has been supporting Assad and spreading conspiracy theories since the start of the conflict. Furthermore, Postol as been accused of research misconduct.

        You can read more about it on the Wikipedia page.

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

        Reply
      • DDTea

        It’s not a logical fallacy at all. Considering the credibility of your sources is pretty basic stuff. I gave Postol the benefit of the doubt in 2013. But after reading through his infamous email exchangee with Dan, I changed my mind. Without diving into the details concerning his hexamine argument, I’ll simply state that he had no clue what he was talking about. He had clearly been given bad advice by his sketchy chemistry adviser, never chose to verify it, and ran with it.

        The absurd part is that an academic at MIT has to rely on Susli at all: why not walk over to the chemistry or engineering departments and solicit the advice of the talented students and faculty there? They’re some of the best in the world. Dude, I’ve spoken to more chemists from MIT than he has–and I’m not even at the institute! To me, that’s insane. How seriously should we take him?

        So I dug further. Surely enough, he seems to have issues with conflicts of interest, dubious experimental methods, and improper citations.

        But hey: at least he proposed a theory for what happened. Never mind that it’s equally ridiculous as the “chemical warehouse.” But he’s given us something to talk about.

        On the contrary, I *did* examine his argument in another thread. Bubslug and I estimate the crater was formed by maybe 7-10 kg of explosive, and such a tube contained up to 13 kg of pure sarin. Less sarin if impure. This is a very high ratio of explosive to sarin, and would degrade quite a bit of the agent. Moreover, an explosive on top of the tube would project most of the sarin into the crater and its ejecta. In other words, this is not an efficient dispersal mechanism. It can’t account for the casualties without invoking other Sarin fairies/mass executions/actors/etc. It’s not a self-contained hypothesis, and the onus is on Postol to revise it.

        Reply
        • nyolci

          Huh, I’d rather commit the “logical fallacy” of believing an MIT professor whose reports look really scientific than believing you.

          Reply
    • stranger

      DDTea, you are trying hard to push the narrative of Assad responsibility for the gas attack without enough evidences. What is your motive? Why are you pushing only one side point of view so hard?

      Reply
      • DDTea

        Because one side has been consistent in its claims, the other side keeps changing its story without explanation. One side has provided evidence (radar blips, claims of medical tests, flight times, estimated geolocations of strikes, data about chemical bombs, video footage of victims, details about the progression of poisoning symptoms, estimates and calculations) the other has provided fake news about a chemical attack in Deir Ez-Zor. One side has made plausible, claims about ordnance used for the sarin; the other, after changing its story from a claim about a warehouse, has advanced an equally dubious claim by a (at best) controversial academic. One side wants to consider the evidence, the other wants to deflect the conversation by obsessing over unanswerable “motives.” Yet the world is full of crimes whose motives we will never understand; and understanding motive is not critical to convicting a suspect. One side is trying to find the truth, the other is just trying to deflect, muddy the water, and confuse non-experts until they lose interest.

        What’s MY motive? Not much more than being a nerd with an interest in non-proliferation. That, and I have a lot of down time while I work.

        Reply
        • stranger

          No, that is not true. Nobody provided sufficient evidences at least for the public. The political decision to bomb Syria and further push Russia trying to exploit this incident was made without reasonable evidences at least public. To be consistent doesn’t mean to be true. You are trying to confuse the multiple circulating rumors with the position of the other side. The only position of the other side is to conduct investigation first.

          Reply
        • duplicitousdemocracy

          You need to be a bit more nerdish and look at the white helmets not wearing protective clothing whilst treating victims. If it’s not a death sentence, it’s not sarin.

          Reply
          • DDTea

            “If it’s not a death sentence, it’s not sarin.”

            That’s an exaggeration. The patients may be washed down to remove liquid agent on their skin, which is what we saw the white helmets doing. Moreover very little liquid agent remains on skin anyway. Even VX will evaporate. It’s extremely unlikely for a living patient to be brought to a hospital if they’re soaked in agent. And i’m not so alarmed by the lack of gear. It’s in short supply. Emergency workers will do the best they can even if they can’t find plastic gloves or MOPP suits. Surprisingly for sarin, once a victim is removed from a contaminated area, you can perform mouth to mouth resuscitation on them: they exhale very little sarin. All of this is described in “the medical aspects of chemical defense.”

            With that said, the first team of white helmets were all poisoned.

        • stranger

          “One side wants to consider the evidence, the other wants to deflect the conversation by obsessing over unanswerable “motives.” ”
          Dan and you are giving tons of irrelevant detail disconnected from the picture we have so far. You can discuss the chemistry of zarin and the construction of zarin bombs, but you fail to apply this theory to the actually observed evidences. So who is trying to deflect?
          As for “one side is consistent in its claims”, any simplified model of reality, any lie, always is very self-consistent, even though it is wrong. It contradicts the reality only on external independend evidences.

          Reply
    • aurelien clave

      Typical Russian propaganda.
      Mh17, idlib school, Aleppo, hospital bombing ….
      Same method.

      Reply
    • DDTea

      Ted Postol needs to explain a whole lot more before we can take this claim seriously. Specifically: how big was the bomb (estimate from crater size), how much Sarin was dispersed (100 killed, 560 injured), and whether that amount of sarin (impure, no less) could fit into a 122mm tube. Because what he’s describing is a method to mix sarin with soil and leave it at the impact site. There’s no way >600 people would be affected by this device on an unconfined city street.

      It’s funny: the first message I posted here about the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack included the following lines.

      “Watch their statements: as more information becomes available, they will change details of their story without any reference to previous press releases and contradictory claims that they’ve made. The only consistency will be to blame the chemical attack on anti-Assad forces.”

      Maybe I was a little off. The changing stories (or just “innocent rumors”) are not being delivered by the Kremlin directly, but being launched by sock puppets, pro-Assad lobbyists, and the #SyriaHoax cyber offensive. The usual circle of Islamophobes, neo-fascists, anti-GMO left, and conspiracy-theorist loons.

      Is anybody going to explain why we’re no longer discussing a chemical warehouse?

      Reply
      • Andre

        Specifically: how big was the bomb (estimate from crater size), how much Sarin was dispersed (100 killed, 560 injured), and whether that amount of sarin (impure, no less) could fit into a 122mm tube.

        Not necessarily.

        The one and only issue Postol’s analysis addresses is whether the crater was created by a bomb dropped from the air or by an IED. The issue of sarin (or whatever else gassed those people) is a separate matter. Similarly, the size of the bomb is also incidental.

        While the explosion that created the crater coincides with the gas release, it does not mean that the two are the same event.

        Reply
        • DDTea

          In his report, he specifically describes a 122mm tube filled with Sarin. Why are you assuming the Sarin release occurred separately? And if not by an air or ground bomb, how exactly was the sarin released?

          Tell us exactly what you think happened on April 4. Show your hand. And also explain why your theory is to be preferred.

          Reply
          • stranger

            Why are we assuming the gas was released by this bomb? Obviously, IF somebody wanted to frame Assad, the gas would be dispersed during a conventional bombing. But again, there is all variety of speculations. The only thing missing is hard evidences. There should be an investigation at the site of the attack at least.

          • DDTea

            “Why are we assuming the gas was released by this bomb? ”

            Because it’s actually a good, sensible assumption. Even Ted Postol is claiming the sarin was released by this bomb: did you read his analysis? If you have disagreements with his analysis, make them known. But you can’t simultaneously say that Postol’s analysis is correct AND that the sarin was released separately.

            Hard evidence is *not* missing. You’re just deliberately looking for explanations that disagree with hard evidence, which is leading you to ever more fantastical tales. You remind me of a parent whose beloved child has grown into a mass murderer. “Little Johnny couldn’t possibly commit these crimes! I don’t believe it! All those children in the school must have passed a gun around and shot themselves. It was all a big false flag to ruin Johnny’s life!”

          • stranger

            “Because it’s actually a good, sensible assumption. ”
            You called it “assumption”, not prove so is it. You know what Occam’s blade means, don’t you? That has the only possible simple explanation: there was somebody’s named Occam who had some blade to shave. That’s it, no need to invent any complex explanations. Agree?

          • stranger

            Yes, I’ve just read the Postal’s report.
            https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_Vs2rjE9TdwUE9tam16a3F0Wjg/view
            Are you trying to mislead us again? Postal doesn’t claim sarin was released by this bomb. He claims quite the opposite, first that the bomb crater was tempered with, second that people working in the crater would have received a lethal dose. He refers to this crater as the site specifiedin White House Intelligence reports as the allerged site of gas attack. He concludes that there are no evidences to confidently claim the Assad’s responsibility as the WHR is trying to assert. He also provides the historical parallels with the false accusations of G Bush on the CW in Iraq which was needed as an excuse to start a war, which in turn led to raise if ISIS as current catastrophic situation in Iraq and partially Syria.
            You also tend to appeal to emotions rather than logic, trying to impose on us a simple and not supported by facts accusation. The guilt should have been established first, and the punishment only next. That is called a presumption of innocence.
            But what do we see instead? US violated the international laws and invaded just another country. Ok, they informed Russians two hours before to minimize the risks of any incidents. Russians might have informed Syrians. But what happened next? Just in week the very first visit of the new Secretory of State Rex Tillerson visit was planned to moscow. There were some illusions that the election of Trump would cure the Russia US relationships intentionally destroyed by Obamas administration and the election campaign of their candidate Clinton. Now, after this gas attack, and before Tillerson visit, US with U.K. “poodle” Jonson were lobbying the tightening of sanctions against Russia in G7. And only the disagreement of other G7 members, particularly from Italy didn’t allow the introduction of new sanctions. Tillerson went to Moscow already with the aim to talk Russia over to refuse the support to Assad. Just fotunaterly they failed to support it by new sanctions.
            Don’t you think there are too many political consequences based on unjustified and lacking evidences White House intelligence report? That all political decisions are worked out before any objective data is received or any possible investigation is complete from Syria? Prove to us now that your intelligence has stopped playing political games as it has always been doing before.

          • DDTea

            “first that the bomb crater was tempered with, second that people working in the crater would have received a lethal dose.”

            They would not receive a lethal dose. What makes you think that they would? Sarin is not persistent. It decomposes and dissipates rather quickly, especially once the sun rises.

            Postol’s claims that the site was “tampered” with are in regard to people seen standing in the crater, doing something. If this were “tampering,” as he claims, then there would not be multiple cameras present at the site (as seen in the photos). Local rebel militia would have cordoned off a perimeter and denied access to any cameras. They wouldn’t have published these photos online. The last example of tampering I can think of was the site of MH17, and this is exactly what separatist militants did: cordoned off the site and removed debris, bodies, and credit cards.

            To me, it looks as if they were collecting evidence to send to foreign labs for analysis. This was the role of the cameras: to show where samples originated and to show the chain of custody. And if they were somehow spiking this evidence with fresh Sarin agent, then they would have been poisoned (given that they’re seen wearing only particle masks).

            “You also tend to appeal to emotions rather than logic, trying to impose on us a simple and not supported by facts accusation.”

            Hahaha, good joke!

  6. kraaiiii

    it’s been a week know, a large open place clean of debris with a impact crater and still no shrapnel or tail fin. The shrapnel of CW devices never go far, often big pieces can be found only couple of feet next to impact site there hundred of pictures to proof this. The shrapnel is part of physical evidence. Its missing indicate the impact site is not ground zero of a chemical device. The only big piece found looks like to be subjected to an implosion rather then a explosion this also not adds up.

    Reply
    • DDTea

      Did you even read the article? Because you said, “The shrapnel of CW devices never go far, often big pieces can be found only couple of feet next to impact site there hundred of pictures to proof this.”

      Dan uses the following examples of burster charge sizes: “For example, the MC-1 Sarin bomb contained 100kg of Sarin and had a burster charge weighing 6.8 kg, although not all of the 6.8 kg will be explosive weight, i.e. some of that weight will be wire and casing. The US Mk94 bomb held 49kg of Sarin and had a 7.3 kg burster. The Weteye bomb appears to have contained 159 kg of Sarin and had a large bursting charge, around 27 kg.. ”

      6.8 kg of high explosive will send shrapnel flying much more than a few feet! Shrapnel will fly as far as 200-300 yards. Fortunately, there are plenty of videos of explosive charges of known weight being detonated online. Watch them to calibrate your sense of explosive strength.

      Reply
      • kraaiiii

        the shrapnel has nothing to do with the busters charge. Buster charge is in proportion with the size of the bomb and it’s sarin payload this is a fixed boundary. Buster charge too big and you will destroy the sarin . Bigger bomb size, bigger bursting charge but also more shrapnel coming from the outer container wall. The shape of the shrapnel will be big bended foiled pieces of thin walled steel, aerodynamical horribly and the fly not far from the impact size. The tail fin is the most horrible aerodynamical there is also being further away from booster charge is very likely intact easy to be found close by.

        In the past the haven’t been shy showing us wat the found to proof who dunnit, even if we assume 300 yards where is it ??. The shown us vid making it appear there doing some research around and in the crater but still no shrapnel.
        Probably in a couple of weeks, the will see there mistaken, and come up with some ordnance probably found somewhere else.

        Mass just dampens the explosive force, in this case the mass of the water. Damped explosive force mounts up to big slow flying shrapnel, and yes close by.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTAMC6y-cGw

        Reply
        • DDTea

          That’s a good video, thanks for sharing.

          But two points:

          1) This video shows a half stick of dynamite (in the description) for 50 kg of water. One stick of dynamite [1] weighs 190 grams, which works out to a 95 gram charge in that video. Dynamite is a blend of nitroglycerin and inert “dope,” with a formulation of 20 wt% – 60 wt% nitroglycerin. So in total, this video shows the detonation of 19 g – 57 g of nitroglycerin. In comparison, to a burster charge for a similar payload of Sarin (as in the US Mk 94 bomb), we’re looking at ~7000 g of high explosive. Ok, 5000 grams assuming 2 kg is fusing and other extraneous stuff. In other words, we’re imagining an explosion 100x the size shown in this video.

          2) This video appears to show a blue, 50 gallon water drum. A quick google search shows that these are made from high density polyethylene. Polyethylene does not fragment into shrapnel the same way metal, as in a bomb casing, would.

          So we need to be careful with the conclusions we draw from this video. It’s useful, but maybe not the data we’re looking for.

          ” The shape of the shrapnel will be big bended foiled pieces of thin walled steel, aerodynamical horribly and the fly not far from the impact size. The tail fin is the most horrible aerodynamical there is also being further away from booster charge is very likely intact easy to be found close by.”

          Grouper42, who has experience in EOD, has said that the fragments from an MC-1 bomb (and any foreign equivalent) will scatter shrapnel within 200-300 yards. So I don’t expect we’re looking for pieces of metal miles away, but they probably won’t be in the immediate vicinity of the impact site either.

          [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamite#Form

          Reply
          • DDTea

            One additional comment: looking over several of these videos purporting to show “dynamite,” it seems these are not referring to true nitroglycerin stick charges. Instead, they’re referring to the firework company TNT’s “dynamite” flash powder fireworks.

            These are basically M-80’s, and absolutely incomparable in shockwave velocity and brisance to true nitroglycerin or any high explosive.

            If it were a true nitroglycerin dynamite stick in that video, then it’s 1% of the power of a sarin bomb’s burster charge. If it is flash powder, then it’s significantly less than 1% of the power of sarin bomb’s burster charge.

        • grouper42

          Here’s a couple more videos showing bursters functioning in liquid filled ordnance (FAE Bombs; BLU-95/96). This should give folks a very general idea how internal burster rupture warheads and disperse liquid fillers (Key Words; General Idea). The BLU-95/96 are thin skinned warheads/the MC-1 and Mk94 are conventional bombs (heaver casing) converted to chemical filled bombs but they basically disperse the liquid filler the same way. Disregard everything in the videos after the cloud detonators initiate the ethylene/propylene oxide expanding cloud. Note; I personally did the final hook-up on two large FAE bombs filled with propylene oxide (not the same ones seen in the videos below) on Eglin AFB Range 72 back in the 1980’s (Two static tower shots about 30 feet off the ground/targets-aircraft in protective shelters/structures).

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmRASCHJe2Q

          Reply
          • kraaiiii

            That’s exactly what I meant, big pieces of outer container ripped apart by extreme hydraulic pressure rather than explosive force.

            at 0:06 0:007 sec a lot of impact of big of pieces shrapnel within 50 yards

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmRASCHJe2Q

            the shrapnel is too big and thin too go for miles, too low on speed en thus kinetic energy to pierce thru walls or dig feet deep in the ground
            the shrapnel can’t be missed it can’t hide it’s too big, on a large open place with clear asphalt roads and nothing.

  7. DDTea

    I wrote a comment on the blog “Who Gassed Ghouta” several years ago, and I’m just revisiting it now. The useful bit is as follows:

    “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.) ”

    According to the wikipedia entry on Khan Shaykhun, the 2017 population is about 49,000 people. From Google Maps, the city covers an area of ~10 km^2, give or take. So we’re dealing with similar population densities as the one described in this Dept. of Defense model. A few points:

    1) It’s unclear whether this model refers to people standing in the open or includes people within buildings.
    2) It’s also unclear what area would have injuries.
    3) We also have to consider how many people in Khan Shaykhun were saved from death by medical treatment, which revises the amount of Sarin upward.
    4) We do not know how much Sarin was destroyed by the burster charge or distributed into the crater/ejecta. This also revises the estimated payload upward.

    Nonetheless, it’s another place to start.

    If every person who was exposed to Sarin in Khan Shaykhun would have died if not for rescue (in addition to the confirmed deaths), then ~100 kg of Sarin was used. This works out to about 1 kg for every 5 people in an urban area with a population density of 5000/km^2.

    So if half of those people injured by Sarin in Khan Shaykhun were to die if not for rescue, then about 60 kg of Sarin was used.

    If none of those people injured by Sarin would have died, then about 15 kg of Sarin was used.

    This, of course, makes a 122mm tube carrying 13 kg of Sarin seem reasonable–but it’s on the very lower end of the range of what we’d expect.

    Reply
  8. Mark

    It seems Postol starts by saying:

    “My own assessment is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House.”

    Then he goes on to make serious conclusions based on the photographs. Am I missing something?

    Reply
    • duplicitousdemocracy

      You’re ignoring the fact that attacking this area with chemical weapons or in fact using chemical weapons at all, would result in the US becoming openly involved on the side of the terrorists, which is what happened. Are you telling us you believe the video evidence of a group that the British intelligence created (Le Measurier) and that virtually all it’s members have been found to be supporting terrorist groups on social media? Are we to ignore the countless images of White Helmet activists also being seen with their weapons and known terrorist groups?
      There is a plethora of evidence that ties the White Helmets to terrorist organisations and yet we are supposed to accept their word as if it were the gospel truth? If there were any chance that the Syrian government had committed this crime, the ‘rebel opposition’ would have invited the OCPW to investigate it immediately and guaranteed their safety. The only other named witnesses are Hadi Al Abdullah (filmed hugging his terrorist counterparts) and Shajul Islam, who inexplicably managed to return to Syria despite being under surveillance by UK intelligence and has previously been charged with terrorist offences. If you can’t see that the only witnesses have ‘rebel’ connections then you are indeed missing something.

      Reply
      • Andrea

        Why are you all saying that the use of chemicals would have triggered Trump?
        NOONE had idea he would have responded with military actions! It’s easy to say now it happened… but it’s 3 years that hineous war crimes are being committed. He saw no reactions till now… why would he have expected such a reaction?

        Reply
        • DDTea

          Because they think they can repackage their narrative about Ghouta 2013 and present it as new, all while ignoring political reality on the ground. They believe that 1) the US really wishes to attack Assad, but 2) they need a reason.

          This, of course, ignores the fact that most US actions in SYria have been to Assad’s benefit: drone bombing Idlib rebel leaders, providing air support to besieged Assadists in Deir Ez-Zor, etc.

          If America were interested in attacking Assad, they would have done so by now. A few missiles is not an outright intervention, just a warning shot.

          Reply
          • stranger

            US may be not interested in removing Assad, but US friends and allies in the ME are, from Israel to Saudi Arabia and Turkey. US do support the rebels by supplying weapon and providing mass media tribune. That is their beloved way to act as if on behalf of civil society against the government, even though that society is a bunch of armed head choppers and marginals.

      • Mark

        Your response has nothing to do with my comment, which only asks why does Postol bother with the Sarin tube on the ground scenario at all if the site was tampered with.

        Reply
  9. Mark

    This post cites a study stating that 99% of the exposed sarin in the crater will be gone within 24 hours. So it is possible people were in the crater the next day or two without being harmed.

    Reply
    • Bubslug

      “….next day or two without being harmed.”

      The earliest photo of the crater “inspectors” is from before 11 in the morning (by shadow length), so only 4 or 5 hours after the attack, and at the time where remaining liquid sarin would have started evaporating due to the asphalt warming up. Also, the impact sites at the East Ghouta 2013 attack still tested positive for sarin 7 or 8 days post attack (not just degradation products).

      That said I’m thinking the attack crater was faked by the rebels with only enough sarin for samples to test positive, realizing that the explosive to sarin ratio was high enough to destroy most of it.

      I mentioned earlier that a secondary release of sarin might have been done to get a high body count in more controlled conditions, but it’s a good question of where that was since video of the actual area victims dead or alive were recovered from is conspicuous by it’s absence. The rebels needed to fake the air attack evidence, so the crater is key to their story, but where did the victims reside and why haven’t we seen video of that?

      Reply

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