Talk:Alleged Chemical Attack Khan Sheikhoun 4 April 2017

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This is a talk page for discussing Alleged Chemical Attack Khan Sheikhoun 4 April 2017. For sources, claims and narratives see the main page. (To see what is hot, see recent changes)


Initial Story

Maybe the incident was today? 4 April? Need confirmation. I assumed it was yesterday because of the quantity of images and media dissemination in essentially only a couple of hours. I just saw one report of an ambulance service driving from Idlib at 06:30 local time --Charles Wood (talk) 10:56, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

Low sunlight in some photos suggests it's near sunset on the 3rd or sunrise on the 4th. Whatever is specified - if the date's wrong, probably worth an early move to new page, but no panic. We'll figure it out soon. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:38, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
This NY Times Report says the attack occurred at dawn on 4 April 2017. Another report I saw had a private ambulance service start driving to the scene from Idlib at 06:30. Sunrise in the area is 06:17 and it's starting to get light 30 minutes before say 05:47. One consequence is the victims especially children should be in night clothing. --Charles Wood (talk) 20:31, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

Reports on Twitter show images branded with White Helmets / Syrian Civil Defence logo. The images are obviously screenshots of video. Images appear to show predominately youths and infants dead. There are also images of WH personnel spraying bodies (alive or dead?) with water.

Symptoms are consistent with Sarin in that there is profuse white foam on the mouths of some victims. However there is no sign of incontinence or vomit - most victims are in their underwear so it would be obvious.

More images at Twitter Thomas Van Linge However he is not a primary source and is repeating images provided ultimately by the White Helmets. --Charles Wood (talk) 08:27, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

More tweets:

  • Thomas Van Linge: local sources are now reporting 70 dead and 500 affected by the chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun
  • Thomas Van Linge: Video(18+): 43 children that have suffocated to death in alleged chemical attack targeting civilians in #Idlib
  • AEJKhalil: (photos, noting mostly children)
  • AEJKhalil: (bearded man with foam that's perhaps too white and too copious to be genuine)

--Caustic Logic (talk) 09:37, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

Death Toll

Report by Idlib Health Directorate and White Helmets from April 7 claims 89 dead (37 men, 33 kids and 19 women) and 541 injured

... (currently reported at 70, and perhaps rising) ... ... Now 100+ and 400 injured ... ... (earlier it was dozens, 38, 54, etc.) ...

  • The SOHR cites at least 72 dead, including at least 20 children. (tweet - tweet)
  • The VDC so far lists 69 killed including 69 civilians and zero rebel fighters. 27 men, 16 boys, 19 women, 7 girls. There are 19 named Yousef (9 men, 4 boys, 5 women, one girl), 8 named Qadah, 5 named Khaled, etc. It says most from Khan Sheikhoun, several from Morek, Marzaf, Latamna, blank. None is listed as from Khattab.
The Yousefs should normally have other women attached, with their fathers' names as usual for observant Muslims. Five women to eight men (and one girl, and just 4 boys) is just high enough to wonder if these are married couples. That would suggest Christians, or at least secular-leaning "modern" people. In fact VDC says Malak Turky al-Yousef is married to Nihad Alyousef, but Safia is Wife of Najeeb al-Jawhar, and the others are marital status unknown. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:23, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
    • Later on, VDC lists 79. 8 men were added, 1 boy, 1 girl. Still 19 Yousefs. They're not done counting, and even when they are, they often stop short of the largest (and sometimes most likely) tallies (see the Dec. 12 sarin attack) --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:57, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
      • 92 now, and I suspect the final tally is over 100 like they said. How much over remains unclear. --Caustic Logic (talk) 03:33, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
      • The 92 seems final (same search as above), plus at least one: Ibraheem Hasan Abodia from Khan Sheikhoun, died from regime's CW (story change) in Turkey, only on April 10 (or he was listed then, or whatever). 93 including zero militants, 40 civilian men, 20 boys, 21 women, 12 girls - an unusually balanced group. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:33, 14 April 2017 (UTC)
    • All between 4-5 and 4-22 = 3 total dead listed later, which adds to the 92 for 95 listed. --Caustic Logic (talk) 03:46, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
  • Some reports say 43 children were killed, suggesting an overall death toll more in the 100+ range. I'm sure rebels could scrape up at least that for something important enough. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:23, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

In Context

At 70 and perhaps still rising, this would be the third largest alleged death toll from an alleged CW attack in Syria so far. For reference:

  1. 21 August, 2013, Ghouta, Damascus: regime sarin rockets blamed, min 420, max 1,429 killed
  2. 12 December, 2016, near Uqrabiyat, Hama: reported 93 or more killed, Russian sarin bombs are blamed
  3. this - likely to be the same story as above.
At 100+ it'll be #2, but that's how I made the list. The April 2014 JaN attack in Nawa, Deraa, killed about 70 soldiers and almost belongs. --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:32, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

No one much heard of the December incident, but it might rise again now as 'a shamefully-ignored precedent'. That was in 3 towns in rural Hama run by ISIS. Russian bombing, probably with sarin, was blamed. Now that it's in the turf of the overtly foreign-supported Islamists, the claim has a much, much higher chance of serious and even sustained media coverage (people care, or are supposed to care, just as little about ISIS claims as they do about Syrian government claims)

Also for context on how the rebels encounter these high death tolls in these top 3 cases:

  1. evidence suggests it was hostages killed in gas chambers with a variety of non-sarin chemicals, sometimes finished off with neck wounds)
  2. evidence is extremely sparse, so the picture isn't clear, but it seems likely to be the same kind of scenario
  3. evidence is fairly copious, likely to yield some good clues (that may reflect back on the above precedent case) --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:24, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

Preceding Reports

30 March 2017, Latamina, Hama Chemical Weapons Attack in Latamneh, Hama Injures 70. The source is UOSSM. More links on HDBG's twitter feed, including a video showing miosis and a link to a report in which a doctor attributes the attack to "organic phosphorus". Possible motive is to draw US into supporting a safe zone in NW Syria --Pmr9 (talk) 12:43, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

Ok, that's odd. March 25 was the chlorine attack that killed Dr. Darwish at the cave hospital. I think that's Dr. Islams' video on that day where he said chlorine, but then said in the tweet they thought it was sarin. Or was that from March 30? Then March 30 and mixed claims including sarin signs and chlorine reports - and now sarin overtly claimed ... I guess the regime trying to sneak it back in under cover of their "accepted" chlorine use? Wouldn't that just shame us all for our silence? --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:30, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

Hazmat team

Hazmat team member taking oxygen.
Hazmat team seen in the back, rubber gloves hanging on the clothes line on the left.

Although most of the "rescuers" seen at the White Helmets cave compound in the early morning hosing scene are poorly protected against sarin, there is also a better equipped hazmat team on the site. They wear white overalls and yellow rubber gloves.

The hazmat team seems to spend most of their time in the caves to right side or eastern side of the rock facade. They are seen in the back in the Reuters / Ammar Abdullah photo. In other photos and video they are seen inside resting and taking recreational oxygen in between what they are actually doing. The room to the east also seems to be better equiped to handle chemical weapons, than the green colored treatment room to the west. The video also shows some kind of laboratory table with two women seen working on it. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 10:56, 17 April 2017 (UTC)


Moved to /Timeline#Timing

Possible kidnapping cues

(See #Whora Hora below for the #Location.)
A White Helmets photographer carrying a dead child around at a al-Nusra field hospital and communications center.

Just out, a piece by Leith Fadel about civilians, who were kidnapped in Khattab (the closest to Hama the offensive went) on the weekend before the army took it back, and "all taken to Khan Sheikhoun". Number unknown, allegedly reported by a family member. No connection to this event alleged (by Leith). --CE (talk) 13:17, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

Yes, this has the signs of hostage massacre. Typically in history rebels and other less civilized combatants have killed their hostages right before they have been forced to retreat from a town. Were the people killed in their home towns or where they transported before the massacre. Maybe the adults had been killed earlier and the children moved to Khan Sheikhoun. But why kill them now? Revenge? -- Petri Krohn (talk) 14:25, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
Antonopoulos has now written that it had been around 250 people kidnapped, from Khattab and Majdal, and that "local sources" claim to have identified some from the dead. He also points out that on the video material there are openings seen carved into rock. A "missile factory" with enough room to host 250 hostages and maybe stocks of some chemical junk material? Maybe worth to take a look on the map. Later. --CE (talk) 14:40, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
Thomas van Linge tweets, using Aleppo Media Center photos:
  • Syria: warplanes also struck a @SyriaCivilDef center in Khan Shaykhun, further hindering rescue operations in the struck city
The three photos show the same compound as in the CW victim photos. I am now more convinced that this is the Lataminah cave compound.
So what happened first? Did AssadPutin bomb the place before or after the dead CW victims were brought over for treatment? Update: The bombing happened later, the building is still intact in the chemical victim videos. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 21:05, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
His next tweet shows "Turkish medical workers" in Turk-oise shoes "wearing fully protective suits when transporting the victims of the chemical attack to #Turkey" Huh? Where is this coming from? --CE (talk) 21:18, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
Just put this to the news - Turkish Health Ministry says 31 victims were brought to Turkey, three of them died, the autopsies point to exposure to Sarin. Justice Minister says "it has been determined that al-Assad used chemical weapons". *sigh* --CE (talk) 15:46, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
P.S. - Here is a video by Hadi Alabdallah of the compound after the alleged attack. This should be enough for geolocation. + three more videos -- Petri Krohn (talk) 21:24, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

The photo of the guy w/ the Canon strap carrying the kid wrapped in blue plastic is a Reuters photo by Ammar Abdullah. It is part of a vid of which I have found only a 3 sec snip. There is another pic of the Canon guy w/ the kid walking out of a door, presumably from the same vid. Would love to find the whole vid.

And the reason I raise it is the grey van in the background, parked in the opening. Grey w/ scarlet design on the side. It's an ambulance, and "AMBULANCE" is painted in English on the window. Number "13" can be seen adjacent the tail-light. The same or identical van is seen in the image of Canon-guy walking out the door, but you can't see the number on that van, so it may be a different one.

Then hop to the Shajul Islam vid, featured in the "Shady Doctor" section below. An identical van is seen twice in that vid. Once at 01:04 and again at 10:15 -- different visits, different patients, different time of day. But almost certainly the same van. That van does not have "13" on the fender, so there may be a bunch of these ambulances operating in this area -- at least 2 for sure. Same vans show up in vids #42 and #44 in Petri's playlist. So the presence of the same or similar ambulances ties a number of locations together, and if that's a Nusra compound in the photo above, it suggests these may be Nusra ambulances. Pierpont (talk) 17:32, 11 April 2017 (UTC)

Shady photographer

The photo linked by Petri, taken by Ammar Abdullah for Reuters and reproduced in the Guardian, shows that this is some kind of quarry with passages in the rock wall. Whether this is the Lataminah compound I'm not able to judge, but it doesn't make any sense for the children to be in a place like this unless they were captives: it's not where their homes were, and it's not a hospital. I think serious consideration should be given to Petri's suggestion that the massacre was carried out on 30 March in Lataminah, reported by UOSSM at the time as causing 70 casualties but no fatalities, and that the videos recorded on that day were uploaded today as showing a chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun. Are there any videos of the 30 March attack? Pmr9 (talk) 18:31, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

If you look at the old videos you will see that the cave compound was also a field hospital. On the Guardian photo you see two ambulances. I think this cave is a White Helmets compound. (This does not exclude it being a al-Qaeda compound at the same time.) -- 18:53, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
Unsurprisingly there are some pics on Ammar Abdullah's Reuters page that show he's deeply embedded with Nusra. Here family photos with a commander of a Nusra subdivision, there right at the place to film the green buses go up in flames during the Aleppo evacuation. --CE (talk) 19:49, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

Shady doctor

Some shady "doctors" (and Mohammed Alloush) in this twitter thread linked in the Antonopoulos article. Connections? --CE (talk) 18:44, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

Dr Shajul Islam, apparently in charge of the hospital in Khan Sheikhoun, is definitely shady, and is no longer a doctor, at least in the UK. Some commentators have noted that in the middle of a mass casualty incident he was more concerned with tweeting and making videos than with attending to patients.
Shajul Islam, who qualified in London, was struck off the UK medical register in 2013 ( He had been arrested on returning to the UK from Syria in 2012, and charged with kidnapping two journalists: John Cantlie, and Jeroen Oerlemans. However the trial collapsed when the two victims failed to appear as prosecution witnesses: Cantlie had been kidnapped again alongside James Foley. It's not clear what happened to Oerlemans. This didn't stop the General Medical Council, which is not bound by the same rules of evidence, from striking him off. Pmr9 (talk) 22:00, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
Thanks, fascinating. --CE (talk) 06:06, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
Ditto - this (or all personnel) deserve a section. --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:37, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
Further material on Shajul Islam, based on following up Petri's reference below to SI's tweets. SI has a website or medicalaid4syria on which he describes himself as a British-born doctor, and for which he is listed as the registrant with an address in east London, established 8 Sep 2016. This appears to match a charity named Medical Aid and Support for Syria registered on 11 Aug 2016. To be struck off the medical register is far more than having a license to practice revoked - it is a permanent expulsion from the medical profession, based on the finding that the offender is not fit to be a doctor. Someone with this status should not be in charge of a charity, and should not be receiving funding from the UK government as SI implies he is. Pmr9 (talk) 20:50, 7 April 2017 (UTC)
Dr. Islam today thanks everyone for one hundred thousand pounds donated in one week. --CE (talk) 17:15, 10 April 2017 (UTC)

Bellingcat says Dr Shajul Islam from Binnish hospital" ... "At 6:24am UTC Dr Shajul Islam, based in Binnish, 50km north of Khan Sheikhoun tweeted “OUR HOSPITAL GETTING FULL FROM THE SARIN ATTACK TODAY. ANYONE THAT WANTS EVIDENCE, I WILL VIDEO CALL YOU.” So that's in Binnish, north of Sarmin, not a place of that name in K.S. For anyone trying to geo-locate it (a decent view at the very end of the 10:30 video) or make sense of the story, he might be there, not in Khan Sheikhoun. --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:54, 9 April 2017 (UTC)

Elsewhere in the clip he talks about victims coming from Khan Sheikhoun. I got the sense he wasn't in Khan Sheikhoun, and certainly not in the underground bunker. Being in Binnish is plausible, but there is about an hours drive getting patients between the two locations. Assuming the usual stuffing around It's unlikely the first victims hit Binnish much before 08:30 local time --Charles Wood (talk) 22:30, 9 April 2017 (UTC)

Water triage

Moved to /Timeline#Water triage

Chemical Questions

Moved to /Chemical agent

Rescue and recovery operations

A White Helmets member marks a building in Khan Sheikhoun with spray paint after checking it for victims or survivors of the sarin gas attack. No?

If dead children are paraded in front of cameras, it does not show a chemical weapons attack. It is proof of murder, someone massacred these children and their families. To claim a gas attack, you have to show photos and videos of the attack site; dead families inside or outside their homes. Dead animals. Rescue workers breaking into houses and discovering the bodies. The White Helmets are an Oscar-winning film crew, with GoPro action cams attached to their signature helmets. They film each and every real and fake rescue operation they take part in. So why no video of the Khan Sheikhoun rescue and recovery work?

How were the victims taken from the place of the attack to the place where they were first filmed? Who did the rescue work? Where where the White Helmets and their camera crews when this happened?

If this was a real rescue operation, the White Helmets would have to go through each house to check if there are any occupants in need of help or any bodies to be recovered. Basic urban search and rescue teaches that each house or apartment be marked with spray paint after being checked. I am sure the White Helmets would know this, they have received the best hazmat and chemical weapons training from the leading Western experts. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 07:49, 7 April 2017 (UTC)

I do not think any rescue work ever happened. No video of it exist or will ever show up. We can however get some insight into the events preceding the scenes at the field hospitals. Look how the victims are clothed. Many are seen in their underwear. Who undressed them and where? -- Petri Krohn (talk) 08:04, 7 April 2017 (UTC)

The woman in this video describes a busy scene, ongoing rescue operation at 9:30, almost 2 hours after the attack. --Q (talk) 12:55, 21 April 2017 (UTC)
This is not a description of Search and Rescue. Someone kidnapped the woman's four children while she was away, took them to some White Helmets compound and gassed them to death. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 19:17, 21 April 2017 (UTC)

White Helmets tell their story

Finnish state broadcaster YLE had a 50 minute special on the "Gas attack." A White Helmet named Ismail al-Abdullah is interviewed. He gives hoax testimony, that he could as well learned from watching videos (section starts at 10 minutes). The same guy is interviewed here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

From the testimony it is clear he knows nothing of what happened to the victims before they arrived at the White Helmets base. He woke up and heard people screaming. He rushes to the "location", but he is evidently speaking of the White Helmets location, not location of the alleged attacks. He then pours water on the victims and coordinates with ambulances to take survivors to Turkey. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 11:42, 7 April 2017 (UTC)


Moved to /Location

Bombing video

I find nothing out of the ordinary in the HAQ News Agency bombing video. It is typical for Syrian planes to drop four bombs at once. The blasts are just like ones of 250 kg or larger from Soviet of Russian thermobaric bombs. Here is a video with a collection of "parachute bomb" strikes. The Khan Sheikhoun strike could well be on this list. Update: More video of thermobaric parachute bombs. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 19:31, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

Weather & gas extent

Moved to /Location#Weather & gas extent

Russian Version of Events

Russian spokesman Konschenkov made a statement to the effect the gas was released from a weapons factory. Second-hand source at Al-MAsdar news (can we get a better source?)

The BBC has now weighed in quoting Hamist DeBretton Gordon dismissing the claim.

A chemical weapons expert, Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, told the BBC that the Russian version of events was "pretty fanciful". The idea that a nerve gas like Sarin could spread after a weapons manufacturing process had been bombed was "unsustainable", he added.

The HDBG objection apparently includes the assumption the chemicals are being manufactured on the site - rather than being assembled into weapons for shipment using shipped in precursor materials.

Sarin is usually delivered as a binary weapon with in-flight mixing, though immediate pre-launch mixing is possible. In either case precursors are kept in close proximity and accidental mixing by nearby explosion is quite feasible.

Further, the main precursor ingredient of binary Sarin is either methylphosphonyl difluoride or a mix of methylphosphonyl difluoride and methylphosphonyl dichloride. Both chemicals are extremely toxic and produce nerve-gas symptoms including death in sufficient concentration.

A plausible inference is containers of one or both precursor chemicals was ruptured in the raid and produced the symptoms. --Charles Wood (talk) 11:24, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

I've sourced the Konashenkov statement now with TASS on the frontpage. The biggest remaining (see my observations on the Khazanat video Petri found) problem to make sense of this, in any way, seems to be the off timing you pointed out, with the admitted Syrian strike around noon while the videos show and have been released much earlier (at least the latter on the same day). --CE (talk) 18:49, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
NY Times article puts it variously before 7am and before first prayers (quote text may have changed? I'm sure it said Mariam was being examined at first prayers) -
A 14-year-old resident of the attacked town, Mariam Abu Khalil, said she had left home for her examination on the Quran — scheduled for early morning because fewer bombings were expected then — when the attack took place. On the way, she saw an aircraft drop a bomb on a one-story building a few dozen yards away. In a telephone interview Tuesday night, she described an explosion like a yellow mushroom cloud that stung her eyes. “It was like a winter fog,” she said.
Quite what a 14 year old girls is doing being examined on the Koran remains to be explained. --Charles Wood (talk) 19:38, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
First Prayer, Fajr, 04:47 am. Sunrise 06:14 am - see Syria Prayer Times --Charles Wood (talk) 19:45, 5 April 2017 (UTC)
FWIW and because I love the guy and don't know where else to put it, here's a just released video from our old friend Texas from Donbass. He's in a bar with a very french Frenchman who says he fought in Singal with the Kurds (where they liberated the Jezidis) and twice witnessed ISIS using poison gas against them. Texas doesn't know about the timing problem and therefore takes this as an example why the straight-forward and logical Russian/Syrian version (including the claim that the stuff was produced to be used in Iraq) is correct. --CE (talk) 19:30, 5 April 2017 (UTC)

This Chemical Weapons expert says a damaged CW weapons store is quite feasible. Channel 4 interview with Jerry Smith. NB Smith interview starts at 2:20 after old-mate Tennari who actually sounds on the ball and accurate for once! --Charles Wood (talk) 06:16, 9 April 2017 (UTC)

Time Problem: I didn't note this here yet? Russia suggests the poisoned people - seen around 8am, were hit by chemical released in this SyAF attack. But Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said their first strike of the day was at 11:30 a.m., as CNN reported. Elsewhere, they agree it was a CW depot they attacked, five hours too late to explain the earlier reports and videos, but don't say if it caused any deaths. So we have a time issue; is Syria denying their morning strike, or is Russia's explanation that flawed? --Caustic Logic (talk) 14:31, 15 April 2017 (UTC)

Konoshenkov also stated 11:30 to 12:30 local time. This is consistent with the underground bunker raid (the same as the 'hospital' raid also mentioned?)
The US published a flight track of one aircraft (I thought they operated in pairs?) in the 06:30 - 07:00 time window. There isn't actually any video of an aircraft dropping bombs in the 06:30-07:00 time window. Only bomb mushroom clouds. However it seems likely there was an aircraft and it did drop bombs just after sunrise as generally reported.
The question then arises, why did Moallem and Konoshenkov both omit to mention the early morning raid? One possibility is they didn't know about it when they spoke. This could indicate the raid was locally ordered without reference to higher command - a Syrian version of Jack D. Ripper (جاك د الكسارة)? However to counter this, there is video of some very high ranking General Staff officer later congratulating the pilot believed to have carried out the warehouse raid.
So either it was a Jack D. Ripper moment and the General Staff (and Bashar) had no idea about it, possibly not even now. Or, we simply don't know why. --Charles Wood (talk) 14:50, 15 April 2017 (UTC)

Whitehouse Dossier

152 mm shell showing baseplug

Bloomberg has published a sneak preview of an upcoming Whitehouse Dossier on the Russian version of events What Reset? White House to Call Out Russia's Fake News on Syria

Of immediate interest - out of many possible item - is the 'refutation' of the Russian timing of the raid of 11:30 to 12:30. As discussed here on ACLOS there were in fact two raids, one at 06:30-07:00 and a second one including the hospital at 11:30-12:30. If The Whitehouse doesn't know these minutae - and they really should - then what value the entire dossier?

Stand by for an exciting series of smears. --Charles Wood (talk) 15:49, 11 April 2017 (UTC)

So there it is (as linked by NYT), four pages. No offical markings of any kind, just plain text. I'm at paragraph four which says that social media accounts "indicate" that the attack began at 6:55 am. Apparently they didn't read that circulated flight path thing with 6:37-6:46 timing. But scanning further down they time the first hospital attack reports to 1:10 pm. Will read later. EDIT: Apparently the four pages are a summary of this "background press briefing", or the briefing based on the summary. Questions are asked (yet to read as well). --CE (talk) 20:33, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
Finally, time to give the Whitehouse some marks. They managed to publish a pdf of a scan of a printed document - rule 101 in publishing electronic information without too much embarrassing metadata. --Charles Wood (talk) 01:22, 12 April 2017 (UTC)

Reading the transcript of the associated briefing I see the spokesman focusing on the single bomb crater by the grain silos as the chemical weapon site. Mysterious mention of 'leakage' - possibly related to white discolouration on early photos?

Many people have made suppositions about the round object in the crater. No-one has really mentioned the long tube like object - about the same diameter as a 122mm rocket but squished. With regard to the round object, various people have said it's a filler cap for a (very large) CW bomb - obviously not used here.

(Editorial follows): My best guess for the round object is it's a base-plug for 152mm artillery shell of the type used in Iraq for CW, specifically Sarin. We have evidence that some shells survived the invasion and at least one Sarin shell was used in an IED to attack US troops - Deadly Nerve Agent Sarin Is Found in Roadside Bomb See Examining a Rare Nerve-Agent Shell That Wounded American Troops in Iraq. I suggest it's quite plausible that a 152mm Sarin shell was detonated on the road during the bombing attack to incriminate the Syrian Government. --Charles Wood (talk) 02:47, 12 April 2017 (UTC)

There is a photo, I guess you mean this. +Some other parts are visible too. --Resup (talk) 03:07, 12 April 2017 (UTC)

Postol Assessment

Round object seen in crater.

File:Postol assessment 041117.pdf, good idea to upload a copy, Charles. Well, most interesting is certainly that he's "almost certain" that the thing in the crater was detonated on the ground, not dropped from a plane. Noticed the different wind direction from your data as well, but he agrees with you on the tube. Pretty damning quick analysis. Will it make it to people's hypnotube? --CE (talk) 18:47, 12 April 2017 (UTC)

152mm shell? 122mm rocket casing? Same difference but I like his story better. Asides from the wind direction I can't really fault it. --Charles Wood (talk) 18:56, 12 April 2017 (UTC)

There are 2 circles visible on the round object in the crater and the ratio of their diameters don't match well with those on the 152mm shell cap. It would be a better match with a smaller diameter shell, asuming it has about the same mantle strength. --Ms19 (talk) 23:25, 12 April 2017 (UTC)
Agreed on the not-a-152 mm cap. Visually comparing the flattened tube in the crater and the cap make it quite likely the cap was originally on one end of the tube. Further, the cap in the crater appears still fixed to a cm or 2 of the body/tube it was originally attached to. It seems likely the cap and a bit of (weaker) tubing was blown off the main body/tube when it ruptured, but didn't travel far. --Charles Wood (talk) 03:43, 13 April 2017 (UTC)

The crater looks like it was caused by a GRAD rocket, where the warhead burrowed itself into the pavement before exploding. The green color is typical for Grads and would never be used for any type of airdropped munitions. A GRAD rocket consist of several parts that are screwed on to each other: the warhead, one or two engine sections and the engine nozzle. Photos of the section and the assembly process were seen when we studies the UMLACA / Vulcano rocket, that consisted of GRAD parts. It is likely that the rocket engine part would have an end cap. It is also typical that the engine tube sticks out of the ground after the warhead has exploded. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 05:27, 13 April 2017 (UTC)

P.S. - See here my photo of a GRAD rocket almost totally burrowed in into the pavement. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 05:41, 13 April 2017 (UTC)

There are numerous images of spent 122 mm rockets. I have yet to see one where the damage is more than the first 500mm of the motor casing nearest the warhead. None I have seen have been completely longitudinally crushed and had the end-cap neatly blown off as though by internal pressure from the motor tube. If anything the end-cap is pushed back into the motor tube. --Charles Wood (talk) 07:25, 13 April 2017 (UTC)

(Tube): His theory, crushed by a charge placed outside/on a side, "like a paste tube hit by a mallet", seems quite convincing in explaining rupture along the side of the tube. Pressure inside and shell flattening/crushing created by such blow causes a crack in the shell which spreads longitudinally and splashes the liquid sideways. Doing something else (firing a Grad normally , or detonating a bomb ) will shatter the shell into pieces, flying out radially. Maybe it can be engineered for 'paste tube crushing' to occur inside a bomb, but there is no history of this been done or no other fragments indicating it was inside something else.

(Dosage/timing): apparently what matters is total quantity inhaled (for an average size person ). 15 liters per minute is exchanged in breathing; and some 70 - 100 mg per m^3 concentration for a 1 minute exposure is lethal (wiki gives such concentration 35 mg/m^3 for 2 minute exposure which will kill in 50 % of the cases). in Postol report, Fig. 9, he takes 100 mg/m^3 per minute of exposure as lethal (that is, 1.5 mg consumed), so it's 10 minutes exposure at 10 mg/m^3 concentration, 20 minutes exposure at 5 mg/m^3 concentration, etc. But exposure time and concentration dependence on distance is hard to figure, cloud is spread by the wind , so exposure time is roughly duration for cloud fume to pass, with concentration, whatever it is near ground in the fume when it arrived. Cloud will drop some droplets which will evaporate, making exposure somewhat longer at lower concentration. So unsure, with all this going on (drift by the wind, buoyancy, diffusion, drops) whether his numbers in Fig. 9 can be literally trusted, or how he actually arrived to those numbers. Can be modeled, like a weather forecast simulation, but pretty complicated; unsure how he actually did it. --Resup (talk) 11:53, 13 April 2017 (UTC)

I remember researching this last time. Sarin is one of those toxins where cumulative dose over a longer period of time is less lethal than the same cumulative dose in a short period. The difference is not great though.
As for modeling - I used to do that professionally and even wrote my own computer models in Fortran! These days it's easier to use an EPA approved model and in the case of Sarin, one optimised for heavier than air vapour. You can download SLAB which is public domain and easy to set up. I used that in research on the 2013 Ghouta gas event. In this case, there is so little data available I'm not sure it's worth it other than plug in a few guesses and see what happens. Uncertainty at present is the quantity of liquid, the initial area it is initially dispersed into as liquid or mist, and the actual wind direction (reports vary). --Charles Wood (talk) 13:06, 13 April 2017 (UTC)
I see that SLAB has a manual describing their model, I gather fluid dynamics of a rectangular fume, both moving and resizing. If you know and can post references to open -source papers on modeling (like different or better models), that's appreciated. --Curious to see how it is done. Thks!--Resup (talk) 20:11, 13 April 2017 (UTC)
It's got a lot more complex than when I did it. For instance my models (and SLAB) are statistics based while some of the newer models are fluid dynamic based. The older models are plume based with statistical dispersion from the plume centreline in vertical and horizontal axes on a time and distance basis. Or they are puff based where you approximate the dispersion by breaking up the source into many individual puffs of gas over time and moving them around the model field under the influence of wind. Each puff expands in the X,Y,Z direction with a Gaussian concentration in each axis increasing over time. For time T you sum up the effect of all the puffs at each XYZ point in the model space. Start at the wikipedia article and chase up some of the models that take your fancy to learn how this really imprecise science works. --Charles Wood (talk) 03:26, 14 April 2017 (UTC)
By the way, SLAB is a 2.5D model - that is it generates values down a plume and on either side of the plume and in the air above the plume. Its input is a single wind speed, and atmospheric stability value. It's up to you to then apply wind direction to come up with exposure on an actual map. Puff models with time varying spatial wind data and time varying gas introduction are much more accurate but obviously need much more data to run. --Charles Wood (talk) 03:50, 14 April 2017 (UTC)


An update of Postol's assessment entitled "Addendum to A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report" has been posted on SST by Publius Tacitus, who appears to have received it directly from Postol. In this addendum, Postol suggests that the people excavatng the alleged impact site "knew that the area was not seriously contaminated". This sounds as if he is shifting from his earlier proposal that a sort of sarin IED was placed at the alleged impact site, causing casualties downwind, towards something more like the ACLoS working hypothesis that no CW agent was released Pmr9 (talk) 15:07, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

Found a PDF of the addendum at ACLOS copy here. --CE (talk) 18:50, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

So after three preliminal reports, Postol apparently posted a summary (pdf at MoA) entitled "The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur". In it, no mention of the most "explosive" claim of the initial assessment: that the load cannot have been dropped from a plane; instead rather weak claims based on the wind direction (again not sourced where he got the data from, contradicting what Charles Wood dug up). Anybody seen the good Prof alive lately? --CE (talk) 23:02, 19 April 2017 (UTC)

The wind table he used in the final document is sourced from World Weather Online Khan Sheikhoun 04 APR 17
Of note, the table lists wind direction FROM not TO as Postol seems to have assumed.
Of even more note, World Weather Online doesn't use observations, it uses outputs of computer models. Local variations won't be handled at all well, especially in low wind-speed conditions. In the Khan Sheikhoun case WWO list wind *from* SE. i.e. towards NW. This is in disagreement with actual regional observations.
However all is not lost. As referenced elsewhere, the regional wind observations are essentially from the North at very low speed and with some ambiguity about the East or West component. Plus the KS video evidence shows a West to East component at least at altitude.
Conclusion: if Postol correctly used better quality weather sources he'd still come to roughly the same conclusion. --Charles Wood (talk) 04:58, 20 April 2017 (UTC)

Here is the latest from Postel, published on Washingtonsblog on April 18. Postel seems to be seriously behind us in his analysis. He still does not have any idea of the #location of the events on the videos. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 15:25, 20 April 2017 (UTC)

He totally acknowledges the wind error, citing it in the title of a correction-expansion follow-up at TruthDig: With Error Fixed, Evidence Against ‘Sarin Attack’ Remains Convincing Apr 21, 2017 By Theodore A. Postol. Seems to have a good idea of the one locale anyway, I agree now wind appears e-w at attack time (how exactly right the directions he gives are, I don';t know, but probably close and not backwards anyway). I add my thoughts on his dead goat analysis here (and sent some thoughts by e-mail) --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:55, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

I have to disagree. He has almost zero evidence to say where a potentially toxic cloud blew. The winds are far too light for one - normally at that speed they are recorded as 'variable' with no direction assigned. His data source is a generalised global computer model with no actual observations involved. The regional winds from multiple independent sources show very light winds substantially towards the South and with a slight West to East component - this is supported by the videos. The nearest actual observational data is Hmeinim airbase about 70k due West where the wind at 7am local was blowing due West at very low speed - but this is likely a coastal effect.
The model is questionable, but these videos seems to show east-to-west wind - plmes seen from the south, blowing right to left 1 - 2. Another isn't clear. Later fog scene as we discuss basically still. What shows opposite direction? --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:39, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
Being resolved (?) in the #Weather & gas extentsection. --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:50, 25 April 2017 (UTC)
Syrian METARS Latakia and Damascus
Of far more use is to locate where people actually died and work backwards. That means locating the Al-Yousef and Amash houses. Any ideas? --Charles Wood (talk) 13:20, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
One site with a family said to die in the basement (a nuclear family, not extended) is geolocated - someone on Twitter asked and I agreed - it's W-SW of the crater, FWIW, in Postol's red zone, southern edge, just a bit off-frame in his graphic. So it fits, if that's the wind direction, not that they really lived there. (details later) --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:39, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
Via Andrew in first comment here: video and location pic I agree with (but not rotated to true north). But I wouldn't even work backwards from this - they likely picked the places to identify based on the wind. Which ... would work, but not for the right reason. So... if we did, this would mean a wind to the southwest, more-or-less. --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:50, 25 April 2017 (UTC)

ACLOS Criticism

Suggested we gather the various critiques we all come up with here, in advance maybe of some news article, using news I guess loosely, since that could take a while. From the report mainly, citing other sources --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:44, 13 April 2017 (UTC)

Not so big as to cover all points here, but at least some of the most important ones (I had a few ready to paste but lost my work, and will do more when I have a text version...). --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:20, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

Outline I'm using: page.paragraph with section headers, and points within denoted by letters:

The Assad Regime Syrian Army's Use of Chemical Weapons on April 4, 2017


  • 1.1
  • 1.2

Summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community's Assessment of the April 4 Attack

  • 1.3
  • 1.4
  • 1.5
  • 1.6.a:
  • 1.6.b: "… the absence of other visible injuries."
"… the absence of other visible injuries" is hard to prove unless you know what all there was and wasn't. [They missed some. And some more. But these might skip "conventional strikes" and go deeper into human traditions and lower on the technology ladder. --Caustic Logic (talk) 15:02, 15 April 2017 (UTC)
  • 1.6.c:
  • 1.7

(page 2)

  • 2.1
  • 2.2

Refuting the False Narratives

  • 2.3
  • 2.4.a: “Moscow has since claimed that the release of chemicals was caused by a regime airstrike on a terrorist ammunition depot in the eastern suburbs of Khan Shaykhun. However, a Syrian military source told Russian state media on April 4 that regime forces had not carried out any airstrike in Khan Shaykhun, contradicting Russia's claim.”
They may have said this to Russian media somewhere, but that means little when they also said to global media they did conduct a strike, just about five hours later: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said their first strike of the day was at 11:30 a.m., as CNN reported. Elsewhere, they agree it was a CW depot they attacked, but don't say if it caused any release or deaths. If one insists on seeing the allies contradict each other, one could take the un-cited statement as definitive and ignore what CNN reported. If one takes the logical track, they agree Syria struck a terrorist chemical stash, but we do have a time and relevance issue - if Syria carried at no strikes at the time of the gas attack, then Russia's story that this was its cause can't work. While it's possible Syria denies a genuine early strike, it's possible they're being honest and all blasts and gas release that happened then was something else (rebel rockets, or maybe even a coalition jet out of Turkey). This would mean the White House is outright lying about the 6:30 flight track, perhaps using the 11:30 one re-labeled. --Caustic Logic (talk) 14:54, 15 April 2017 (UTC)
No, it wouldn't prove they're showing the wrong track... perhaps that was a real flight thatn just didn't launch an attack - like a reconnaissance flight before a planned strike. In that case, terrorists expected it or were tipped off, and launched their false-flag event as the jet was overhead. --Caustic Logic (talk) 06:19, 16 April 2017 (UTC)
  • 2.4.b: "An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video."
  • 2.5
  • 2.6

(page 3)

  • 3.1
  • 3.2.a: "Russia's allegations..."
  • 3.2.b: "Last November..."
  • 3.2.c: "In May..."
  • 3.2.d: "In October, 2016, Moscow also claimed terrorists used chlorine and white phosphorous in Aleppo, even though pro-Russian media footage from the attack site showed no sign of chlorine usage. In fact, our intelligence from the same day suggests that neither of Russia's accounts was accurate and that the regime may have mistakenly used chlorine on its own forces. Russia's contradictory and erroneous reports appear to have been intended to confuse the situation and obfuscate on behalf of the regime."
Word salad. One claim is cited but neither is true. There's no proof of chlorine, but the WH thinks it was used anyway, just by the regime, even though soldiers were hit. It must've been a mess-up. And Russia helped, with their one conflicting story and no proven chlorine, to shift the blame onto the desperate cornered "terrorists" with plenty of chlorine, facing their end in Aleppo. What manipulations! --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:44, 13 April 2017 (UTC)
Presumably this refers to an incident I have listed (Red Flags report) as somewhere in Hama province on Sept. 28 - Al-Masdar reported 18 soldiers affected by an apparent chlorine attack - none were dead yet, but that often takes a while. --Caustic Logic (talk) 14:46, 15 April 2017 (UTC)
  • 3.3.a: "Moscow's allegations ..."
  • 3.3.b: "Moscow has also ..."
  • 3.4

International Condemnation and a Time for Action

  • 3.5
  • 3.6.a: "The United States ... we must demonstrate that subterfuge and false facts hold no weight, that excuses by those shielding their allies are making the world a more dangerous place, and that the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons will not be permitted to continue."

(page 4)

  • 4.1.a: ...

Al-Yousef Family

Abdel Hameed Alyousef

moved to Talk:Alleged Chemical Attack Khan Sheikhoun 4 April 2017/Victims#Al-Yousef Family

Sample collection and lab tests

Moved to /Chemical agent


I'm putting this here for now but it will probably need to be moved. The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) appears to have a key role in this operation: it reported two previous alleged organophosphate attacks in this region, and the chlorine attack on 25 March.

I'm beginning to think that UOSSM may be, like the White Helmets, an information operation that doesn't actually do any humanitarian work.

The news postings on their website appear to be more or less politically neutral, and focused on humanitarian issues until April 2016, when the stories suddenly become overtly pro-opposition and begin running stories about barrel bombs, destroyed hospitals, and the "last pediatrician in Aleppo". This appears to coincide with the first statements from Hamish DBG that he is working with UOSSM and an article in which he reports a meeting of UOSSM with him, David Nott and Ghanem Tayara on the Syrian border. This suggests that UOSSM was effectively hijacked at around this time for strategic communications and narrative development. The first UOSSM story about about a chemical attack is dated 11 August 2016. Pmr9 (talk) 16:15, 16 April 2017 (UTC)

Some clues from Hamish DBG's talk to the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group Friends of Syria:

  • UOSSM is an amazing predominantly British charity that goes with virtually no funding here

but there's no registered charity of this name, or any similar name, on the UK charities register.

  • UOSSM which is an international medical charity, a British, French, Canadian charity, and US charity, and we run a number of hospitals across Syria. Sadly that was two years ago, we had 1,200 doctors. Today 32 of our hospitals are still running, but most at 25%. In Aleppo today, we have 16 doctors still working in our two hospitals. Twelve months ago there were a hundred.

This implies a huge operation, employing 1200 doctors. The website says “operates 16 field hospitals, supports 120 hospitals. On a map on their website under "research" it appears that all these hospitals are in opposition-controlled areas, mostly Idlib. But the website states that "UOSSM provides free medical aid to the people of Syria regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion or political affiliation." --Pmr9 22:19, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

Key personnel

  • Dr. Ghanem Tayara, Chairman of UOSSM International
  • Avi D'Souza, Global Director Of Communications, address in Paris
  • Douaa Alhariri, Marketing Coordinator UOSSM Intl, Turkish phone number
  • Hamish DBG describes himself as an adviser,
  • Raphael Pitti, HDBG's French equivalent, is a board member.
  • Ahmad al-Dbis, [Safety and Security Director] also described as "regional hospitals and trauma director". This may be the "Dr Ahmad" trained to collect CW samples by Hamish DBG
  • Dr. Anas Al Kassem [chairman of UOSSM Canada, described as a trauma surgeon in Canada]

Previous reports of chemical attacks on the UOSSM website include

  • 12 Dec 2016 - Chemical agent attack was reported today in the eastern suburbs of Hama in the Aqeerbat area.
    At least 93 civilians have been killed and over 300 wounded. The attacks happened at approximately 6:30 a.m. on December 12 Damascus time amidst heavy airstrikes which lasted over an hour.
  • 25 March 2016 - Syrian Doctor Killed By Chemical Weapon While Operating On Patient
    A barrel bomb with a chemical agent hit the front entrance of the Latamneh Hospital in Hama and entered causing severe respiratory and neurological injuries to many staff members. The gas attack killed Dr. Ali Darwish, a specialist orthopedic surgeon, while he was in the operating room.

Oddly, the 30 March organophosphate attack reported by ReliefWeb and sourced from UOSSM does not appear on UOSSM's website --Pmr9 22:19, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

Had to look up what that acronym stands for and added the long version for others. Googling it I found this report about their response to the event, published today. They were "among the first responders" and apparently they delivered the people to Turkey who then died and their autopsy revealed Sarin use. --CE (talk) 01:07, 15 April 2017 (UTC)
UK trauma doctor David Nott works with UOSSM and has been an active media figure on the BBC and others describing (exclusively) regime atrocities including hospital bombings. The BBC produced this emotive film of one of his trips to Syria. -- Withnail (talk) 06:43, 15 April 2017 (UTC)


See /Victims

Bodies of the Child Victims

Moved to /Victims#Bodies of the Child Victims

Head Wounds

moved to /Victims#Head Wounds


French National Evaluation

French National Evaluation seems to be a basic rehash of Bellingcrap conspiracy theories. Nothing new except the claim KS 'samples' showed traces of Hexamine. Even if Hexamine claims are true they are easily the result of the dispersal explosive.

In my view the report is not significant. "They would say that - wouldn't they?". However it will keep Kaszeta frothing for weeks. --Charles Wood (talk) 11:22, 26 April 2017 (UTC)

See /Chemical agent#French claims. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 11:27, 26 April 2017 (UTC)

Of note in the report (or the annexe?) is the claim IS weren't in the area. It was only very recently they vacated Khan Sheikhoun - after topping a couple of hundred opposition fighters and dropping their bodies in the fuel storage tanks.

IS certainly didn't take green buses to Raqqa. There is every possibility they kept irregular forces in the area and supported/supplied them from their area of control a bit to the East.

One scenario is that IS did the CW attack to blame the Government as well as kill some more of those pesky AQ types. It would have been as easy as driving into town during an air-raid and dropping a 'package' on the road with a short fuse and skedaddling. I have zero evidence for this, but it is certainly not impossible given IS may well have CW capability. --Charles Wood (talk) 11:41, 26 April 2017 (UTC)

Yes, it's far from clear if any actual scientists were involved in this French report. None are named and no actual lab results are presented. Seems to be cobbled together from rebel social media/blogs. Carries the taint of Bellingcrap for sure. Withnail (talk) 11:52, 26 April 2017 (UTC)

"Intelligence", by definition is something between information and disinformation. The main difference between intelligence and research is that research always includes an extencive section on Sources and Methods, while intelligence never reveals its sources and methods. "Investigation" is a dual-use term. It can mean intelligence or research. When OPCW investigators turn into "inspectors", then you can be sure their investigation has turned into "intelligence", i.e. disinformation. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 12:38, 26 April 2017 (UTC)

Body language

(Mainpage): This body language expert says Assad is telling truth about Syria chemical weapons, while McMasters is lying Alex Christoforou, The Duran, April 20, 2017

Pretty fascinating stuff. But it can be trained, and good politicians (+actors and secret service agents) likely will come across pretty convincing body language wise (like some Bill Clinton stuff, maybe). So this assumes that dictators are not supposed to be versed in those arts of deception democracy, even second generation British-educated dictators, with charisma on, and a lot at stake. I don't think he is too worried about his pending reelection campaign at the moment, and if he steps in from of the camera, he is in pretty comfortable state doing it at the time, or otherwise would not do it at all. Appears pretty convincing, but it is also similar in appearances to his other interviews, and could be personal style, or just that he is pretty good at it. While that other military folk just habitually grinds his teeth all the time, and for the first time on camera. (More video studies of dictators may be in appropriate)--Resup (talk) 03:45, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
Your body language when you're happy to get rid of a Samantha Power, just to be hit by a General McMaster. Like WTF?! ;o) --CE (talk) 04:03, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
In my professional work I get to meet a lot of consummate liars - people charged with crimes with years of punishment ahead. I know they are lying because I see all the evidence - most of which a jury will never see. I doubt I could pick their lies on body-language alone asides from their effort to appear cruelly mistreated, shocked, anxious to help allay any suspicions, and especially overt friendliness towards me as their only possible hope to escape their due justice. They range from boobs who became 'accidental criminals' to serious professionals who appear to be psychopaths.
Based on this fleeting exposure to criminals, I'd say in general Bashar is relaxed and on-message and not knowingly telling major lies. The only times he's been obviously stressed are the interview before the Russians intervened and he'd just lost most of Idlib, and this interview where he looks truly shocked and quite ragged at what's happened.
In all his interviews he is doing a simple job to provide PR and cover for the Army. Not much else. He does this job reasonably smoothly except for the two horror interviews. He remains on message whether or not that is fully justified. He is also pretty rational and pragmatic and leaves buffoons like Johnson and Trump for dead in the authority stakes.
Is he lying? I doubt he thinks so, which is more than half the battle. Is what he says 100% true? History will decide. --Charles Wood (talk) 05:13, 23 April 2017 (UTC)