Alleged Chemical Attack Khan Sheikhoun 4 April 2017

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7 of the children allegedly killed by the gas attack
Several children allegedly killed by gas attack at Khan Sheikhoun. Several have bleeding head injuries
A schematic illustration of what the US claims to know, distributed through media outlets

On April 4, 2017, reports emerged of an alleged Chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, in Idlib province at the border to Hama province (wikimapia) that morning claiming dozens killed, including several children. Victims were said to suffer fainting, foaming at the mouth, and eventual asphyxiation. (the symptoms described and shown aren't clearly those of sarin, but definitely not those of chlorine)

Within a day, the reported death toll was at least 70 people. This makes it at least the third deadliest alleged CW attack in Syria so far. It's reported the dead are all or mostly civilians, and include at least 43 children. The majority of photos show infants and youths, and a few adult males.

ACLOS analysis has begun, as usual working out initially on the discussion page.

What happened?

There are four possible explanations to the alleged events in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017

  1. The Syrian air force dropped chemical weapons on Khan Sheikhoun, as claimed by Syrian "activist", the White House and Western media.
  2. The Syrian air force hit a rebel or al-Nusra weapons warehouse storing chemical weapons or other lethal chemicals. This is the position of Russia and is also endorsed by some Americans.
  3. Rebels staged a false-flag attack, releasing lethal chemicals into the atmosphere, in an attempt to get the U.S. overtly involved on their side in the war against Syria. This is the position of much of the pro-Syria and pro-Trump community. Some even say elements of US government or Deep State were involved.
  4. No real attack happened, but the video evidence was staged by the White Helmets using actors or hostages that had been gassed in some confined spaces. This is the position of some ACLOS members who have reviewed the alleged video evidence. It is also inline with what we believe happened in 2013 in the alleged Ghouta CW attack.

Reactions

  • French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for an UNSC emergency meeting.[1]
  • Erdogan called Putin over the event, "said such inhumane attacks are unacceptable".[1]
  • The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement denying having conducted any strikes near the town.[2]
  • Syrian Army sources told Al Masdar News that they have flown an attack with an SU-22 on a missile factory in Khan Sheikhoun, without using chemical weapons or knowing about any stocks in the targeted factory.[3]
  • Syrian Deputy FM Mikdad told Syrian TV that they had a few weeks ago submitted data to the OPCW and the UN about transportation into Syria and storage of toxic substances by Nusra.[4]
  • In a statement on the morning of April 5, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Konashenkov states that the Syrian attack "targeted a militant-held ammunition depot on the eastern outskirts of the city Khan Sheikhun. [...] Workshops for the production of land mines stuffed with poisonous substances were on the territory of this warehouse.”[5]
  • John McCain on CNN
  • BBC and Hamish DeBretton Gordon try to dismiss Russian version of events
  • Kremlin spokesperson Peskov says that Russia will provide evidence for their version to the UNSC.[6]
  • MSNBC decides to support ISIS. Interviews 4 warmongers pushing for Trump to attack Syria (Video)
  • CNN Anchor Speechless After Congressman Questions Syria Chemical Attack Story
  • In the night of April 6-7, US media reports that two US warships fired 50+ Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in south-eastern Homs province in retaliation for the alleged attack they say originated at that place.
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry issues an extensive statement on the Syrian chemical dossier on April 7.
  • Assad in an interview with AFP published April 13 said that he thinks the story is 100% fabricated by "the West" hand in glove with Al-Nusra.
  • Bashar al-Assad interview with RIA Novosti and Sputnik Alrossiten Published April 21. Reiterates no attack at 06:30 to 07:00. Too considered by now to be fog of war so what's the actual story?

Sources

Activist claims

Photos

Video

Reports from site

Other

SAAF airstrike on Khan Sheikhoun

Note: These outlets are all sponsored by direct "regime" opponents, be it wealthy Syrian expatriates (Orient News and Zaman al-Wasl), Saudi-Arabia (Al-Arabia) or Qatar (Charles Lister)

Alleged false-flag event filmed by Aljazeera

US sources

Intelligence

US claims

The White House released a declassified four-page report that details United States intelligence on the chemical weapons attack, asserting that the Syrian and Russian governments have sought to confuse the world community about the assault through disinformation and “false narratives.”
Direct link to report PDF, 220KB
Press briefing where document was presented, questions asked

Assessment

Counterclaims

Russian involvement

  • Official: Russia knew Syrian chemical attack was coming - AP Top News, April 10, 2017
    But the official said the presence of the surveillance drone over the hospital couldn't have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment.

French evaluation

See also /Chemical agent

Human Rights Watch

Russian sources

  • Как «бармалеи» взрывали зарин в Сирии: глубина воронки, анализ проб и скорость ветра — расследование, also published here. This is presented as an independent journalist investigation + reporting 'from the incident location'. Authorship is not provided, but quite a lot is claimed.
    • Crater: created by explosives places on the ground, under 10 kg of explosives (no excavation, shallow depth noted, nearby electrical box not damaged). Fig 6: It is said that al Nusra cemented the crater on 19 Apr.
    • Chemical released. According to report, diisopropyl methylphosphonate, active sarin and hexamine were detected. Fig 7 claims to show sample collection. It is not explained who and how was collecting samples, but Fig.1 shows an area where samples were collected (as claimed). According to report, traces were detected at a distance of up to 100 m. It is estimated that 15 to 25 liters were released, with under 40 % of that airborne (30 % decomposed, 30% remained in the crater). Fatal dosage estimated to be at a distance under 55 m, secondary area up to 220 m; those areas are shown on Fig. 8.
    • Weather/wind. According to this source, Wind speed - 1 m / s; Temperature - plus 13 degrees; Wind direction from west-southwest.

Investigation

The OPCW, the Commission of Inquiry, and the two teamed up as Joint Investigative Mechanism.

OPCW report

Released July, 2017

UN CoI Report

Released September, 2017

  • Briefing «SYRIAN CHEMICAL DOSSIER: THE RUSSIAN VIEW» by Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov Head of the Russian delegation in UNGA First Committee, Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control of the MFA of Russia on the margins of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, 13 October, 2017 transcript, video (see quotes, etc in talk).
News
  • Syria govt behind sarin gas attack in April: UN probe - AFP News, September 6, 2017
    They determined that a Su-22 fighter bomber, which is only operated by the Syrian air force, conducted four airstrikes in Khan Sheikhun at around 6:45 am on April 4.
    "The Commission identified three of the bombs as likely OFAB-100-120 and one as a chemical bomb," the report said, adding that "photographs of weapon remnants depict a chemical aerial bomb of a type manufactured in the former Soviet Union."
Critical reviews

JIM Report #7

Released October, 2017

Discussion

On page 29 of the OPCW report, the OPCW states it received the medical records of 247 victims from Khan Sheikhoun. Of those 247, 57 were registered as admitted to hospitals before the attack took place. Another 52 patients were admitted to hospitals between 30 and 125 kilometres away within minutes of the supposed attack time, a total of 109 patient records which are false if the purpoted attack time is true. "The Mechanism did not investigate these discrepancies and cannot determine whether they are linked to any possible staging scenario, or to poor record-keeping in chaotic conditions."

The admission times noted in the records range from 0600 to 1600 hours. Analysis of the records revealed that in 57 cases, patients had been admitted to five hospitals before the incident (at 0600, 0620 and 0640 hours). In 10 of those cases (official version; in the leaked version, such cases) , patients appear to have been admitted to a hospital 125 km away from Khan Shaykhun at 0700 hours, while another 42 patients appear to have been admitted to a hospital 30 km away at 0700 hours.
This makes it 57 cases, with further details on 52 of those, not a total of 109 --Resup (talk) 13:45, 5 November 2017 (UTC)
Sorry but I am confused, I do not see this on page 29 of the report linked above, or that quote in the document or by googling. Is there another published doc?(If so can you add the link pls?) --Resup (talk) 21:55, 28 October 2017 (UTC)
It (the link provided below by Withnail) is apparently a leaked version of the new, confidential report. I found the same link skimming CL's latest piece which I had no time to read yet. CL, can you please update this section and then delete our comments (thanks for checking, Resup). --CE (talk) 22:28, 28 October 2017 (UTC)
+ to request to CL, There was some talk that sarin was used 5 days earlier (e.g. here, 5 Oct 2017; we got a separate page on earlier events )--Resup (talk) 22:41, 28 October 2017 (UTC)
It's in page 29 here

There was some talk that sarin was used 5 days earlier (e.g. here, 5 Oct 2017; we got a separate page on earlier events too)

Alleged Chemical Attacks, March 25-April 3, 2017‎ March 30 section. --Caustic Logic (talk) 00:46, 30 October 2017 (UTC)

Also:

  • Based on its review of open source material showing first responders in the hours immediately after the incident, the Mechanism observed several methods and procedures that appeared either unusual or inappropriate in the circumstances. In particular, the Mechanism noted that fully equipped hazmat teams appeared at the scene later that afternoon and reported early detection of the presence of sarin, seemingly using a Dräger X-am 7000 ambient air monitor, which was not known to be able to detect sarin.
  • Of further concern to the Mechanism was the relative unprofessionalism by which certain environmental samples appear to have been taken, e.g. sampling from a muddy puddle.

Russian Foreign/Defence Ministries briefing

The most detailed English-language summary of the Russian briefing is this report on Sputnik

https://sputniknews.com/russia/201711021058749517-russia-opcw-un-report-syria/

They confirm that the jet could not have dropped a bomb on KS.

This tweet shows a slide from the briefing, with the Pentagon's flight track and detailed calculations of the range from which the Su22 could have dropped a bomb.

https://twitter.com/mashant/status/926040356147351553

Samantha Power has helped to publicize it on her Twitter account

Can anyone find these slides, and a transcript of the briefing, online? The briefing was given only in Russian. Ruptly uploaded a video, but without any of the slides. Resup: can you help? Pmr9 (talk) 10:07, 4 November 2017 (UTC)

E.g. here . (Skimming through it, looks overall reasonable. First item is saying that, from reported plane trajectory, if it dropped the bomb landing there, even with the fastest possible turn it will not avoid getting closer than 2 km to the target (not sure how tight is it, needs accurate enough trajectory. A later point, cylinder detonating on the ground will send some 70% fragments perpendicular to the the cylinder axes-yes, but I do not see very clearly such marks on pavement. The rest--that crater does not look like airbomb, --no, it does not --Resup (talk) 11:03, 4 November 2017 (UTC)

(copied over) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDPAXkf8WjQ Presentation, Ruptly 'live' feed. From their explanations, these slides have limited use, and aren't even worth uploading. 3 slides (at that Tass link) show (I think):

1) The jet approached no closer than 5 km (citing JIM report and, in error, witnesses). Shown is 5 km radius from city center. But we know it's 5km south, or maybe less or more. My measure is 3-4 km south of the bakery crater.

2) This is what the JIM's expert meant about a bomb traveling 5 km before hitting, "depending." This would apply if the jet was flying north towards the target, as the expert explains is how you do attacks. This can go over 5 km from 4km altitude at ... given speed, if it were flying at the crater. But here it's flying almost perpendicular to that, so that big drift can only be from and ideal wind and lots of it. I don't know how well they got back to that central point

3) also if if it were flying at the target, its path would pass right over the target or close, considering its wide tun axis, so even if it's dropped earlier (it will be) a jet that's bombed a spot will always pas over or near the spot, not passing perp. 3-5 km away. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:13, 5 November 2017 (UTC)

Crater

As for the crater - I could see a dropped non-exploding bomb, or the same fired from a rocket and falling - more device weight needed for the latter to explain this much displaced material. Consider this: competing versions would have little or no directional damage (if falling from above), damage directed north (if blowing in steeply from the south to match the radar track), or no direction is it was a ground engineered explosion like the Russian military guys say. 2 image analyses I posted on Twitter for now - black fluid splash, asphalt damage - both suggest the object was traveling south from a northern launch spot. Roughly up the highway, maybe a bit east or west of that, unclear. Bomb sites 1 and 2 already looked as if hit by rockets from the north. There might be 2 different firing spots, but they're both north (that is, consistent and clear). So I still like this option I called early. Don't know if the black stuff is actually sarin, but similar stuff appears in connection with other attacks (like 3-30 Latamnah) where sarin turns up. Enhancement suggests the stuff's inherent color is blue/indigo. Don't know what that means. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:35, 5 November 2017‎ (UTC)

Usual 'dumb' bomb, without parachute, exploding on impact, will dig itself much deeper (unexploded), excavate lots of stuff out (exploded). Haven't looked carefully what they assumed (parachute, exploding above ground, etc options), but above grounds will not produce small yet well-formed shallow crater either, so it does not look as a bomb scenario. Unless they are doing something unreasonable like dropping small soft metal IED pipe bombs with a bit of explosive, but this is pointless (unless the point is to cross the known red line and get themselves bombed). Crudely, among not-on-the-ground explosions, the closest shape match appears to be artillery crater, it is typical for them to have sideways-going cracks (perpendicular-and-somewhat-forward) apparently noted in CL graphics; see eg pages 40-44 + here, and those sort of pictures are elsewhere too. --Resup (talk) 16:06, 5 November 2017 (UTC)
This would be a non-exploding bomb or rocket - should huit about like a heavy object with little or no blast dynamics. Couldn't easily find a reference picture, but I think the scene looks right - just material displaced. And we should ignore the pipe-looking scrap which is probably just set there. Original remnants seem to have been picked up. --Caustic Logic (talk) 00:25, 6 November 2017 (UTC)
Using the latest Russian analysis figure of 277 m/s and a 500 kg bomb you get 19 megajoules kinetic energy. That's equivalent to 4.5 kg of pure TNT or 3kg of the usual 9M22 missile mix of TNT and RDX. Given 9M22 series missiles have just under 7 kg of the good HE we are looking at the energy of half a 9M22 missile explosion. i.e. naff all on a paved road - just a bit of denting. See 122 MM BM-21 MULTI BARREL ROCKET LAUNCHER (MBRL)
If you take the JIM claim of a 'heavy' 'mostly liquid' bomb, the actual damage will be less because it will be less dense than an ordinary iron bomb and the impact spread over a larger area. Charles Wood (talk) 02:40, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
I think iron bomb will do more digging into ground than equivalent in energy explosion, because it transfers all momentum down (+spends energy breaking things directly under it). While blast is undirected, goes everywhere, breaks pavement less. Liquid bomb is probably similar to explosion of equal energy. Also noted: photos seem to show that one wall of crater is vertical and rough, the opposite one smoother and shallower; goes a bit into coffeebean guessing but looks more like missile/artillery rather than a bomb (especially liquid one) --Resup (talk) 03:28, 7 November 2017 (UTC)

Analysis

Critical

This extensive, German language analysis deals mostly with the media productions and the producers, relying on long-term observation of the scene and actors in Idlib province. It finds that the "citizen journalists" presenting the videos of this event are the same that are frequently on scene, and in not so prominently distributed videos in arms with the leaders of the terrorist groups Jabhat al-Nusra/Jund al-Aqsa (aka al-Qaeda) who control the region.

Location

Main article: /Location

Alleged bomb location

  • Christiaan Triebert on Twitter:
    Pentagon's location of impact crater linked to the Khan Sheykhoun chemical attack is the same as the one geolocated by @Bellingcat.

Whora Hora

This is the place. (Google Maps)

The ACLOS earth digging and cataloging commissary Petri Krohn has decided to name the White Helmets cave hospital and the likely al-Nusra Front command center centrally shown in activists videos and not unlikely geolocated to the right as Whora Hora, after bin Laden's more famous cave hideout and hospital.

Timing

According to US military, as reported by BBC, US military radar systems monitored Syrian Air Force fixed-wing aircraft take off Shayrat and fly over Khan Sheikhoun on two occasions - at 06:37 local time (03:37 GMT) and 06:46, 4 April, 2017 (Zulu=UTC, Charlie = UTC+3). Low-res map and Syrian planes flight path at those times was published by multiple media sources, quoting Pentagon (reproduced on this page).

Attacks on two prior days were also alleged. Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of State:

As you’re well aware, Bashar al-Assad has carried out chemical attacks this past week on civilians, including women and children, and carried out attacks earlier this – last month, March 25th and 30th, in Hama province as well. We have a very high level of confidence that the attacks were carried out by aircraft under the direction of the Bashar al-Assad regime, and we also have very high confidence that the attacks involved the use of sarin nerve gas. At least the past three attacks, we have fairly high – we have high confidence on that.

Victim Images

Main article: /Victims

September Hospital Attack Allegations

On September 19, it was reported Syrian or Russian warplanes bombed three hospitals in Idlib province, including Al-Rahma (the famous cave hospital, aka Whora Hora). UOSSM France tweet mentions Rahma and Orient hospital in - later tweet adds a maternity hospital in Al-Tah.] Shajul Islam lists all three. At least one bombing is shown, appearing to be quite a massive blast.

As for Al-Rahma, its outbuilding (a garage?) was shown with its roof knocked down in two spots and billowing black smoke as from an oil fire. The fire must be new, but researcher Qoppa 999 shows, the damage isn't, at least that's evident; "all destruction was already there in April" ([view from inside the compound - corroborating view from street side) It seems to be in the same state it was after the noon bombing on April 4, with the roof slabs at the same angles, not even visibly jumbled by the new attack.

Video of alleged attack aftermath White Helmets Video

References