Talk:Attack on Red Crescent convoy in Urm al-Kubra/An answer to Bellingcat by PavewayIV

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This is a talk page for discussing Attack on Red Crescent convoy in Urm al-Kubra/An answer to Bellingcat by PavewayIV. For sources, claims and narratives see the main page. (To see what is hot, see recent changes)

Hi, Paveway, looks great so far. An observation at this point (unsure where to put it, so on talk page for now).

Russian MoD at present lacks Western media sophistication; while BC uses some lawyerish/debatish tricks to exploit this. After watching Russian MoD presentation (awhile back) I recall them saying (at some early point) that the convoy has left their area of responsibility, and was not monitored after certain time (13.40). They also said that after that location of convoy was not known to them and only known to rebels. That may be true or false, in fact some initial reports could be that convoy was attacked en-route (I read it somewhere about it though not those reports directly); or it could be a misstatement/presentation error on their part,-- as although they did not have direct observation information, they knew or should have known at least what the planned location would be. Perhaps that part was the weakest in their presentation. It was than exploited by BC, making it, perhaps, into strongest part of their attack. The trick of finding the weakest part and making big meal out of it is well known to those who are good in debates or legal arguments: show that the weakest part is wrong; imply that your opponent should not be trusted and is guilty overall.

Also noted: At some point, as I recall, there was a web debate between Russian FM spokeswoman Zakharova, about MH17. She made some, quite reasonable, objections to BC allegations. Those came under rather sharp counter-attack, using mostly, in my opinion, a fair amount of demagoguery, but it came across, impressions-wise, as perhaps more impressive than Zakharova. Do not recall exact details.

TASS (Eng) "No airstrikes on the UN humanitarian convoy in the southwestern outskirt of Aleppo were carried out by the Russian or Syrian aviation," Konashenkov said. The Russian side did not monitor the movement of the UN truck convoy that came under attack near Aleppo after the humanitarian cargo was delivered to that city, he added. He explained that the Russian center for the reconciliation of warring factions in Syria kept watch on this convoy using drones, because the route lay across militants-controlled areas.
"At about 13:40 Moscow time all cargoes were safely delivered to the final destination. After that the center for the reconciliation of warring factions in Syria stopped monitoring the convoy. The Russian side did not follow the convoy’s further movements. All information about the convoy’s whereabouts was known only to the militants who control these areas," he said (...)
--Resup (talk) 07:36, 6 October 2016 (UTC)
I've been working on this for a while and finished for the night. I just saw your comments here now, Resup. I tried to address that general 'MoD sez' issue throughout my critique before seeing your comment - good enough as is or do you think it still needs to be more explicit somewhere? We could have a 'Bellingcat Demagoguery Patterns' section - I think it's important enough to call out. I'll certainly add the Tass quote - thanks for that. --PavewayIV (talk) 08:59, 6 October 2016 (UTC)
Looks very good overall, was looking before seeing main details. I think priority is on what happened, calling out BC and going into some polemics -perhaps, but it can wait too. --Resup (talk) 09:13, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

Damaged truck-automatic weapon holes. Thought about that too, holes lined up as would be coming from an automatic weapon--Resup (talk) 09:07, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

Great work so far (content and presentation), have a similar view on issues, nothing immediate on substance to add. May be we keep somewhere list of things still to be done or discussed, if this is not yet completed. --Resup (talk) 11:26, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

One minor point, it says 200+ kilos of TNT (barrel bombs); did not know they are that big; Russian OFAB 250 has total weight of 250 kg but a lot of it is body, with 92 kg of explosives according to specs on the web. So then barrel bombs have more (and likely less in body) --Resup (talk) 12:21, 8 October 2016 (UTC)
My observation of so-called barrel bombs dropped from helicopters is they are inevitably filled with ANFO or CANFO, not TNT - this is based on smoke colour
My other observation is most of them are actually locally made rough copies of FAB-250-270 full of ANFO rather than TNT. These types are also dropped by Syrian Jets.
This does not negate the main point of the article as 100+ kg of any explosive is going to make a very big hole - FAB-250 is 250kg complete weapon weight with explosive a significant part of that. --Charles Wood (talk) 05:22, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
There was some reason for them to use mil TNT in the early days, Charles. I think they had tonnes of it stockpiled. It was more sensitive than many of their early (C)ANFO brews, which were often duds. [1] I think they got better at CANFO and fusing and started running out of their TNT stockpiles.
Going back to 2013 I remember General Higgins PhD VC and bar stated that the volcano missiles alleged to have been used in the Ghouta Sarin incident had a longer range when filled with Sarin compared to TNT. This was because Sarin was less dense than TNT. Leaving aside the problem that payload density/weight has zip effect on that missile range, from my observation all conventional volcano explosions have beige smoke rather than black - which is consistent a nitrate based explosive rather than TNT. Following the Higgins theory, Sarin laden missiles would have even shorter range than the 2km seen with conventional volcanos. Sarin being denser than (C)ANFO.--Charles Wood (talk) 23:33, 12 October 2016 (UTC)


Flash size is very big indeed, and it can have a number of explanations, wrong location/huge IED/etc.But also, if this is thermobaric /fuel air sort, where stuff is first dispersed (here, in open air), than blown, that may look much larger than setting it all off near the crater--and does not have to make large crater. Yet overall with many craters around and not much damage, probably more support for rebel shelling. --Resup (talk) 07:44, 11 October 2016 (UTC)

Shallow roadside crater with debris

1) why is the telltale fragment always right in the crater, as if to clarify? Parts would blow all over. 2) Did he know that plate would be there? It's buried but he reaches right for it and grabs it. I guess it could be visible, but ... he might have known where it was set. 3) white prills: they're small, uniform, white and seem a bit too big to be prilled ammonium nitrate (impression, not certain). But at night under headlamps, the glare effect will be greater, so these are smaller than they look - likely the right size, like those seen strewn across the road along with black deposits, in front of truck 1. 4) crater location and filling in: same video, 1:16 standing by truck (trailer) #5, turns to nearby crater, 1:22. Looks to me like a definite crater, but not big. In this day video at 1:47 we see a little front-loader tractor filling it in - just outside the gate (compare to same video scene at 1:07, looking at same wall and building from a different angle). Bellingcat notes "a repaired crater" in this spot, apparently in the middle of the road, right out from the front edge of the trailer, which seems about right. 5) 4 related back to 3: distance between where possible residue is seen (white prills and/or charcoal fill) is app. 30 meters minimum (with truck #1 placed better, across from truck 3, but it's unclear how far NE it spreads from there) That's presumably the long direction of its spread, suggesting a trajectory pretty much right up the road one way or another. If the crater seems too much to expect of a dud spilling so much fill, it may have been two events - one blew the crater, another spread those pellets. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:13, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

Fragmentation damage?

(you meaning PavewayIV) Machine gun holes - huh! Of course they said that, but blamed jets (and/or helicopter?) - suggesting maybe bigger rounds. But ... Round rounds would make circular holes if fired level, oblong holes if fired from a vertical angle. These seem circular.

Image: copy as desired (fair-use, public interest, etc.) Urm al-Kubra Attack truck 2 damage detail.png

A complication: there are at least 3 varied sizes of holes - all roughly circular or even (none seeming oblong). You say it seems shrapnel damaged as well, especially on the far left, and see bullets where they marked yellow on the right. So we'll have various sizes plus one uniform size. Or maybe 2? (A guy with a rifle, then a ratmobile with a heavier gun?)

If we could get a good caliber estimate, that would help narrow it down and help the reader see it happening. Little details like which marks hit only the front, only the side, both, etc. Like the holes in the top railing - did those come from the camera side or the back side? Hard to be sure. A dark ring is seen on some, but that could be a lip saying from the other side, or a visual artifact of light meeting dark. And I see a neat curve of smaller holes on the left. Is that a clue? --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:41, 8 October 2016 (UTC)

Circular holes from shrapnel would happen if the shrapnel was BB-type, spherical. With fill unknown, that can't be ruled out. But of course neither can bullets. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:24, 10 October 2016 (UTC)

I briefly addressed this as the possibility of something like 12mm ball bearings, but didn't think the dispersion pattern looked like that. I didn't want to dwell on that in the critique because their only point was that there was fragmentation damage = Russia was lying about only burning. The holes are still worthy of further discussion somewhere, so I don't mean to be dismissive of your comments, CL. My critiqe is turning into a novel, so I'm trying to be direct in how their analysis is weak rather than introduce too many other possibilities, however legitimate.--PavewayIV (talk) 09:08, 17 October 2016 (UTC)

Audio Analysis

A time delay perhaps suggesting further distance is mentioned - not sure if it matters, but Tornt notes here the sound offset (unspecified) he adjusted in a version of one video.

He thinks this helps clarify the sound is more like a rocket, stopping at the explosion instead of continuing afterwards. It seems like that to me as well. At least for the first two big blasts. The sparkly one (1:40) seems to have a different firing sound on top of a distant jet-like sound. At another point (1:05) it sounds like a jet overhead, but no blasts, just those (flares?) and weird noises. Some foomps and small flashes happen when there are no jet sounds (1:30). In Tornt's edit anyway, jet-like sounds fade in right after, but that's from the next scene the video cuts to a moment later. FB video at 0:52, same edit. Was that to try and link those to a jet when they're really mortar shots? --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:45, 11 October 2016 (UTC) There were a few different versions of video with segments spliced together. When you look at all of it together, it seems fishy. Not even sure if they're all from the SARC 'attack'. Again, worth considering, but I didn't want to dwell on it in the critique - it would have taken another 5000 words and a number of clips. --PavewayIV (talk) 09:08, 17 October 2016 (UTC)I

There is indeed a question on what the audio tells (apart from the distance between camera and explosion). Unsure here (and did not listen careful enough too). Sound at some point is like a jet some distance away, and it may be unrelated-could be jets heading somewhere else, and we know there was an attack some 10 km away, that may well be audible, military jets are noisy. Not a jet at all (missile engine, Predator, etc)? Unsure, but does not seem to be. When something is falling down, is it a bomb a missile?-That may sound roughly the same, missile does not have to fire engine a lot near target, noise may be similar to falling bomb, especially on recording. There were some strange noises and flashes before the big flash, but unsure what was that. --Resup (talk) 08:29, 17 October 2016 (UTC)

Russian statements regarding tracking/location

Inconsistent remarks from Russia: could support their not knowing what happened - if they had done it, they might have prescient explanations prepared, planned out to line up with al-Nusra to the south and Al-Zenki to the north, but we can't show you the proof, etc. ... Instead it seems they're left floundering like this. They're not really floundering that badly, as you show, but to the extent they are, it's not necessarily a sign of guilt and even more likely a sign of innocence and non-involvement.

Good sniff test of the rebel narration - people saying "airstrike" is "audio evidence" of an aistrike, supporting later claims of an aistrike from same people = supporting evidence... or a sign they've remained consistent on that fundamental aspect of their muating narrative.

Comparing Russian confusion with the activists' "night vision" and knowledge of strike initiation plans and so on... that's great. They knew more in minute one than Russia does now. How could that be? As for "tell them ..." I doubt that's a real statement about other actual attackers - it might suggest an obscured awareness these were friendly jets they could talk to maybe (aFreudian slip, sort of) or some general display of pleading, like: "please (who?) tell them to stop this madness! The Russians, don't they know that's just aid?" Could be directed at the viewer, mainly, as this is video propaganda time. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:55, 8 October 2016 (UTC)


and promotion thoughts

PavewayIV, hey! Great work on this. I suggest when it's done (or done enough, can always be edited), maybe note that at top of main page would be good, and I think a signature would be good, since you say I. (usually we don't sign on front pages, but this is special). Best done when done so date says when done.

Not sure what main page you mean - the one for my critique? What kind of signature? The auto one we use on discussion pages? Sorry to be so dense - I blame the cold drugs. --PavewayIV (talk) 09:08, 17 October 2016 (UTC
OK, sorry ... I got sidetracked. I was thinking (and it's just a thought) that would help sort of seal it like a bow, and yea, just the usual signature, by the button or by --~~~~. Mainly, I want to promote this a bit, but not sure if it's done/ready enough. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:50, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

And... done or not, you might want to brush up anything important that can be done in the next few days - I was contacted recently by a person from RT inviting me to speak about the WHite Helmets. I had to decline as I hadn't figured out Skype, was too nervous, and WH isn't really my area. But I now have Skype set up, a few days ahead of one month since the incident I'd like to talk about. Will be pitching this idea today, and I guess if they like the idea, I may be talking with what I know on Wednesday. No guarantees it'll happen though. Might be later, which would be better in some ways, or not at all. --Caustic Logic (talk) 01:00, 16 October 2016 (UTC)

Good for you, CL. I think I'm pretty set on the main critique. I still have the second one to do about Bellingcat's OFAB-250/270 tail-piece 'proof'. I'll do that as a new page an link to it from this (main) one. I'm fighting a cold and feel like death, but I'll give it a shot in the next day or two.--PavewayIV (talk) 09:08, 17 October 2016 (UTC)
Oh, sucky. A week later, hope you're good. There was no immediate word one way or the other from the people, but I think chances are decent in the mid-term, and expecting little notice. And they pick the subject. I just suggested this one strongly. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:59, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
(Trying to look at it with their eyes)-Russians still know better than us what really happened with convoy, radar etc, and interaction with USA on the topic; if they would want to push that story, I guess they could (also) do it on their own, find somebody with credentials looking good on paper, and tell some story in broad audience type format. Perhaps alternative Western media may be a better fit here? With White Helmets, it's a media phenomena, better knowledge does not necessarily help (more about what sticks and what does not in a way, some iconic dusty kids and stuff -whatever you say the image stays. Russian sources use term 'neuro-linguistic programming' , to heard masses somewhere) --Resup (talk) 12:44, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
Skype interview? You can "share screen" with them and show graphics or whatever on screen you want. One of drop down menus on top , under "call" maybe or whatever. Also, a suggestion will be to install some screen recording soft (there are many, do not have practice to recommend, maybe others know?) so that you can record your own presentation in full. And may be re-record and post if there are any regrets/misstatements/whatever. Skype sound usually/often does not play well on tv programs, maybe with own recording it can be fixed. (Also with some practice maybe it can be used to produce youtube videos for whatever later needs). --Resup (talk) 08:47, 16 October 2016 (UTC)
Thanks, possibly handy ideas. I may have to keep it simple for now. i'm just glad I got Skype to work at all (never tried it before) amd will be happy if I cal manage just talking without any major disaster. A recording is a good idea. Maybe just the audio would do... --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:59, 16 October 2016 (UTC)
Brown noses site clearly backed a fake (as discussed). But also similar allegations were repeated in high places, at the US Senate arms committee hearing ('Russia responsible'), and at the UK Parliament (Boris Johnson saw satellite photos in public domain clearly blaming Russia) . Also Kerry at the UN (pointed several fingers in the Russian direction) --(Some of that may be more noteworthy than that the brown nose is brown, I guess; but whatever) --Resup (talk) 11:02, 16 October 2016 (UTC)
One of the points I pitched was how differeing views like these are based on bad evidence or poor analysis, politically motivated, and how we can show that in some cases. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:59, 16 October 2016 (UTC)
And that's the essence of what I was trying to convey in the critique, CL. I did some editing to emphasize the weakness of their arguments. Let me know if you see anything else that needs refining or that will illustrate that point with more clarity. --PavewayIV (talk) 09:08, 17 October 2016 (UTC)