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

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.

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

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 UPDATED: Activists blame 'chemical attack' for 58 deaths in Syrian city, Rudaw, April 4, 2017
  2. Russian Defense Ministry Denies Claims of Airstrikes in Northwest Syria's Idlib, Sputnik, April 4, 2017
  3. Details of Syrian military attack on southern Idlib town - Leith Fadel, AMN, April 4, 2017
  4. Mikdad: We provided OPCW and the UN with documented reports on transporting of toxic substances into Syria by terrorist organizations, SANA, April 4, 2017
  5. Syrian aviation airstrike in Idlib targeted chemical arms lab — Russian Defense Ministry, TASS, April 5, 2017
  6. Russia to submit data to UN Security Council on chemical incident in Syria, TASS, April 5, 2017