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Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Sarin Evidence

Idlib CW Massacre 4-4-17
The Sarin Evidence
From Khan al-Assal to Khan Sheikhoun: "Syria's (Other) Sarin"
April 16, 2017
edits April 20, 23/24, 26, 27...

So Sarin Was Found?
Claims of sarin use in the recent Idlib chemical attack have been accepted from the start, first based on reports and videos describing consistent symptoms. Soon there were also said to be positive test results from samples sent to Turkey. This is presumably accurate and suggests at least some victims, if not all of them, were exposed to that deadly nerve gas.

As I explain below, there's a lot that this wouldn't explain; it's already been widely argued that sarin might have little or nothing to do with the videos shown or the dozens reported killed. I agree with that line of questioning, so all this below matters to the extent sarin actually does, which at the moment is uncertain. But if sarin  is involved, centrally or otherwise, it's best to acknowledge it.

It's of course possible there was sarin, and it was dropped by government forces as alleged. But we're watching for the nightmare scenario: it was slipped in to a terrorist false-flag event, pro-rebellion investigators and their bosses refuse to acknowledge that, and they insist on blaming the Syrian government, encouraging more such terrorist crimes.

Yes, terrorists in Syria - and not just ISIS - have sarin, besides other poisons and a whole lot of blank checks written by the "world community." Here are some ways they could work that into the evidence chain:
  • Low-level exposure in survivors could be voluntary - people can be paid or persuaded to sip on a weak dilution, with pauses to metabolize, which would give positive results with minimal discomfort. These volunteers, selected for their pro-jihad stance, could also use their status as supposed survivors to describe the government attack in full detail, along the rebel script.
  • Fatalities, obviously, would have to be expendable people, even enemies held hostage, poisoned with it at full concentration (these can't be trusted to tell the right story, so they wind up dead with others speaking for them.)
  • Soil samples can be contaminated after the fact, or by sarin vapor actually dispersed by terrorists, using various special rockets and mortar shells they have on hand.

What Kind of Sarin?
Some important details, not widely noted, suggest any sarin that was used in the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhoun is probably a terrorist-produced variety. There are two broad kinds of the agent to consider:
  • Military grade sarin: professionally-produced, this appears and behaves just like water (it's dispersed as a vapor, not a gas). It has no color or smell, and no irritating properties, besides a long shelf-life and high killing power.
  • Low grade "kitchen" sarin: less stable and perhaps less deadly, it usually has impurities not filtered out at each stage of production. Therefore, it can have a variety of colors and usually unpleasant odors (Wikipedia says “impure sarin can smell like mustard or burned rubber” and we'll consider other possible smell descriptions below),  and may also have contaminating irritants that can burn the lungs and eyes.
Now, we've heard physiological samples tested positive. But with the hyper-speed metabolic processes at work inside the human body, the actual agent is long-gone by testing time, just leaving secondary chemical after-effects. These cannot say which kind of sarin it is, military grade, Syria's, or some low-grade "kitchen" sort.

However soil samples don't have that problem - the molecules lay there, only breaking down slowly. If the samples are genuine and not tampered with, this could show the kind used. Soil samples were reportedly taken, and the UK's ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft stated something has "tested positive for the nerve agent Sarin, or a Sarin like substance." This ambiguous statement leaves it open that it might not even be sarin, just something chemically similar (maybe some other organophosphate poison). It definitely doesn't say whether it's a match or a mismatch with Syria's stocks (more at ACLOS).

So we don't yet know what the tests say, or even if the results are honest. And even if we did have a sure finding, considering the unknowns, it's important to mention this - neither kind is certain proof for who deployed the stuff. Naturally, the military-grade poison suggests it was used by the Syrian military. Even though they supposedly gave it all up years ago, that seems easy enough to get around by claiming they must have kept some. The other kind points to opposition forces.

Hypothetically, rebels could make or acquire the pro kind, possibly even from Syria's own seized stocks, with the right help from any of their powerful allies. And the government could, without too much hassle, synthesize or seize the cheap kind and have it to toss around and frame the rebels. But otherwise, we should tentatively presume the indicators point the normal way. Let's see what they are.

April 4 Sarin Reports
In the April 4 attack, in the absence of clear test results so far, we have reports. These we also can't trust, but they're worth considering.

Two AFP journalists in Syria, Mohamed Al-Bakour and Omar Haj-Kadour, spoke on their reporting in a special piece. Bakour, from Khan Sheikhoun, said "When I get to the hospital, a foul smell hangs over the place. I can’t quite put my finger on it." Haj-Kadour was in Binnish and headed south upon the news. "When I get to the main hospital in Khan Sheikhun, the first thing that strikes me is the smell. There is a strange smell. I can’t put my finger on it." They both note the lack of fingerability a little too clearly. Perhaps they talked with each other first, one said that, and the other one liked this English phrase and copied it. But they agree there was a smell that was strange in a bad way one calls "foul." 

A Telegraph sourced wire story at SMH.au Some interesting detail e.g."The smell reached us here in the centre; it smelled like rotten food. We've received victims of chlorine before – this was completely different."

Foul, strange, rotten food, vs. mustard, burned rubber - all have organic elements that might be from one organophosphate poison (like sarin), with a central smell or cluster of smells that's somehow between these, hard to "put your finger on" and easy to describe differently from the next guy.  Some other cases of different descriptions are listed below: "pungent," perhaps like sulfur, like rotten eggs, "like burning nylon," and "very foul."

That same SMH.au article also notes "victims had vomit from the nose and mouth, a dark yellow colour, sometimes turning to brown." Vomiting is a sign of sarin poisoning, among other things. An extra yellow color could be from yellow-brown-colored impurities, or just yellow, with the brown from added blood, if corrosive irritants were involved....

A 14-year-old girl "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. (New York Times)

Why it didn't kill her at such a short distance is unclear. And even if she's a legitimate witness, there may be visual confusion here - the actual "fog" is shown on video and appears just white, possibly like military grade sarin (though it's not certain this is the same thing referred to), while the attack plumes (seemingly caused by conventional high explosives) are sort of gray and beige, or arguably yellow. (though sunrise has a similar color of light tinting it - see Graphics at ACLOS, this section and the one below)

Mohammad Nejdat Yousuf, a farmer mildly poisoned, spoke to the New York Times from Turkey with his pregnant wife and nephew, alive but seriously affected. It's said "ran headlong into what he described as “a winter fog — not quite yellow and not quite white.” He started to lose his balance, he said. His eyes began to sting. His nose started to stream. Finally, Yousuf said, he started to foam at the mouth." 

A Zuhair Abu Abdo spoke to the media saying he heard a "very loud" explosion, which was followed by "yellow dust" and a "really disgusting odor," smelled from far away. Still,  "we thought it was a normal airstrike" but he saw may people just laying on the ground, and driven off in cars. He describes later symptoms: light-headed, tight chest, and later burning eyes.

An al-Yousef son, aged 23, says in this video "it was a strange smell," people vomited, foamed at the mouth, and fainted. A cola-dipped rag over his nose kept him safe.

In another video, survivors in a hospital (where is unclear - not Khan Sheikhoun, not Turkey) a man, older woman, and doctor all add bits:
* Man (not credible): massive bomb, dust covered the place, 50 people laying outside his house, he treated some before the second strike. He had no clue it was chemical, he got dizzy but kept helping, and then the third strike, and a 4th, and he felt dizzy, fell down. Miracle he survived 4 delayed strikes all around him... No mention of smell.
* older woman: a barrel bomb landed, the stench covered the place, we were fast asleep, "all of us altogether" lost consciousness, woke up here.
* medic: mentions the usual symptoms: miosis, "constant shivering," and "yellowish foam coming out of the mouth."

Clearly - if this is the sarin they're talking about - it's the "kitchen" variety with irritating impurities that, as I explain next, terrorists have used in the past.  And if it's not, then ... what is it, and who released it?

Add 4-27: The Visual Case for A Caustic Fog
While witness accounts are never to be taken as obvious truth, it's likely that a noxious gas like they describe was released in Khan Sheikhoun that day. not only plausible but seemingly supported by visual evidence.

Below are two panoramic composite views from two videos associated with the attack, taken from north of the city. They both seem to share the same exact point of view (features line up the same in both), so we can make a direct reading - if this is all the same day.  I'm presuming so, but noting it might not be.

Video 1: Left to right: (off-frame, unseen) the space above the White house crater cited as "the" sarin release point - smoke plume from a high explosives blast southwest of that - another the same way - a strange white cloud, apparently originating just NE of the tel (big flat hill) - the tel, continuing ... - blurry minaret in the middle - another standard explosives blast from a bomb or rocket, roughly geolocated to the southwest of the tel (new graphic upcoming) - (off-frame) a smaller black plume rising from a located spot in the town's southwest.

Bellingcat did a good line-of-sight analysis for this scene, which I copied (roughly) to make a rough map (ACLOS) of where these 3 plumes and a white cloud might be. Better map based on my own findings forthcoming. 

Wind: seems to be blowing to the left and towards the camera, so north and east, ratio not decided (see video, and just the shape of the plumes).

Video 2: Something like a winter fog, white, or maybe not-quite, almost yellow, or yellow seen up close. seems to spread from the location of that white cloud, and a spot southwest of town, perhaps other spot. That's a lot to pour out of perhaps just 2 spots. What it is, we don't know. Wind direction: arguably still, or slightly to the left (east)

Time note: I tried reading solar azimuth (direction to the sun) from how it wraps around circular things (minarets, dome). I could only say it's between 82 and 113 degrees, so anywhere from sunrise to 9:30. I cannot even see a time difference between the views, unless mmmaybe ... the fog scene is a bit earlier. It should be later. But visually, it seems to all be the same basic time, so - if this is really all from the same day - those blast plumes disappeared and that fog spread out - or vice-versa? - very quickly. A strong wind could help, maybe the one seen. The direction seems about right for that.

For contrast, the White House has jets overhead at 6:37 and 6:46 at the latest, early reports said 6:30 attack, most now say 6:55 or so. Initial confusion which pass they had lined this event up with, corrected to second pass (perhaps) That could line up well enough: blast timed with jet's pass at 6:46, reports of casualties and toxic gas 5-7 minutes later, group getting reports notes it 2-3 minutes later as "6:55." (for example)

First time-able visual of victims is at the White Helmets cave hospital, in scenes I time visually by sunlight angles (several cases, consistent) as starting around 8 am or shortly before, and continuing to 8:30 and beyond (I only looked at the longest-shadow scenes - not sure how long it runs past 8, but not far before). Anyway, there seems an odd delay here. I'm pretty certain I have all the time zone and DST issues correct - it is about an hour off from what it should be. It doesn't just seem that way. Or, since reaction can't be instant, it just seems a bit slow, and a bit late for people to still be struggling at death's door.
<end add 4-27>

Prior Cases
Adding notes on the sarin findings and the victims, four examples of prior incidents involving sarin with smell and color issues:
* An apparent opposition sarin attack on the Shia-majority village of Khan al-Assal, Aleppo, on March 19, 2013, targeted Syrian soldiers and civilians, killing at least 20 (ACLOS). People reported, in a December UN report, that the chemical released from the rocket formed "a yellowish-green mist in the air," and had "a strong pungent smell, possibly resembling sulfur." They mention it caused itching, besides breathing and heart problems, foaming at the mouth, confusion, pupil constriction and vision problems, and loss of consciousness. (UN report) Death or paralysis tended to be instant, as with sarin. Later tests by Russian scientists showed sarin - an impure, improvised sort - was the main poison, delivered with a locally-made rebel rocket (ACLOS). The UN report credited rebels with the attack, but was unable to confirm sarin, while the poison was confirmed by the OPCW and the United States, both of which attempted to blame the government for what they presume to be a mistaken regime strike on its own forces. (ACLOS)

* The same day as Khan al-Assal, rebels reported a regime CW attack in Otaybah, Damascus suburbs: apparent rebel fighters described a rocket impact that dispersed “something like water, but it was dark. It emitted a very foul smell,” and killed 7 people who mostly seem to be hostages. Symptoms are not a clear match with sarin, but possibly. Yellow vomit appears, as reported in this latest incident. Within a few weeks, samples were said to test positive for some kind of sarin, or at least an organophosphate (the class of chemicals sarin, some common pesticides, and other chemicals belong to). Questions remained: were the tested samples from Aleppo, or Damascus, or neither? Were they soil or blood samples? Stories differ. (Monitor)

* August 21, 2013: Witnesses to the Ghouta incident reported varying smells: "something like vinegar and rotten eggs" or "like cooking gas," along with "redness and itching of the eyes." (Guardian) As we've found, the hundreds of victims largely seem to be hostages (Monitor). Initial claims trying to prove government guilt fell apart (Lloyd and Postol). Circumstantial evidence and claims lodged to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh suggest Western tests showed the sarin found did not match Syria's stocks. (LRB) In general, sarin doesn't seem to be responsible for the hundreds of dead anyway, and many at least are clear in dying from something else; the found sarin may have just been planted in the soil that was taken, and at low-levels (likely by sipping, as described above) in the survivors who were tested (none of the dead were tested).  (Monitor). But still, sarin may have been released, and affected and killed some, and that may or may not be what people smelled.

* A smell "like burning nylon" was reported by gassed soldiers in Daraya, February, 2015, who tested positive for sarin, though none died. (OPCW report) It was clear that the rebels, who had the soldiers pinned down under gunfire, launched that against them.

In these cases the victims are either government soldiers and the civilians they protect, or it's in a rebel area and the victims seem likely to be hostages. This April 3 attack fits the latter profile (Monitor). Despite these and other precedents, Western and UN officials blandly assure us the non-ISIS opposition has no sarin capability and can be ruled out. But that's not the case, and so we watch for that  nightmare scenario.

Where There May Be No Sarin
Whoever's sarin appears wherever in the picture, there seems to a big part of it where the stuff doesn't feature at all.

As widely noted, rescue workers handle the patients without any protective gear for the skin, even gloves (sarin spreads on contact and is extremely potent - a gas mask or surgical mask, like some have, might protect the face, but that simply isn't adequate to handle real sarin victims). Some workers in hazmat suits are seen in the background. It's said some workers suffered exposure (the White House claims to believe this and uses it as evidence to decide of sarin). But we don't see that on video among those handling the supposed victims, so the claim is likely untrue and at best unproven. 

Next, sarin has specific observable symptoms besides miosis (constricted pupils) and seizures/paralysis, which is all they show, other than some kind of "foam" around the mouth in some cases. 

Misosis is highlighted as the "telltale" sign, but it actually has several causes, some of which are alternate poisons of some interest, like opiates. And misos is only the M in the standard sarin symptom acronym SLUDGEM. The other letters stand for Salivation (drooling), Lachrymation (tears), Urination, Diarrhea/defecation, Gastrointestinal distress, and Emesis (vomiting). (Wikipedia, SLUDGE syndrome). The excretory systems go as haywire as everything else, with these parts being visible on the outside. Yet, I don't think I've ever seen this with any of the alleged Syria CW attacks. In those against government soldiers or government-secured areas, the victims aren't shown. In those against rebel areas, they are, and no one displays the SLUDGE syndrome. The same applies here: many victims are stripped to underwear, and as far as we can see, they haven't soiled themselves. They don't seem to vomit that we see, etc.

Sarin also tends to cause cyanosis (a deepening blue shade to the skin, especially visible in the lips and beds of the fingernails.) This isn't universally, but common, and it's not exclusive; it has many other causes - but it should appear. Yet we see little if any cyanosis, and in fact lots of rosy cheeks. this red-faced rhythmically gasping kid both seems realistic, likely suffering pulmonary edema, and a clear mismatch with sarin. The extra red could just be from the cold drawin blood to the surface, but it's all red, not purple-blue shifted in  the slightest.  It's hard to say if that excess red is just from being cold or might be a poison clue (pointing to hydrogen cyanide or carbon monoxide, perhaps). But either way, it argues against sarin. 

Another important note: Sarin kills very quickly, and the body also breaks it down very quickly - it's a race in microseconds. Survivors of severe exposure describe total paralysis, inability to breathe, their vision going black, and an overpowering sense of doom enveloping them within seconds, followed by loss of consciousness. Almost instantly you'll know how bad it is - if you survive the first minute, then most of the sarin is broken down and you'll probably survive and improve rapidly. If you don't, then it's too late anyway (something to that effect, I'm not sure on exact times - it could take a few minutes to decide - but not tens of minutes - and then maybe a few hours to recover).

So I don't buy people exposed to sarin were trucked to this place, at the cave hospital on the east edge of Khan Sheykhoun, and were still laying in the mud and wiggling and gasping an hour or so later. (They say the attack was around 6:30-6:45 am, and these scenes seem to be a bit later, mostly between 7 and 8:30, by sunlight angles - see ACLOS section with handy list of shadow-length to time translations one can use to visually time a scene. The scene at right is probably around 8:00).

So they say some type of sarin appears in the people and soil tested, and that might be. If they find it's terrorist-grade, I predict they'll never announce the findings, and leave us guessing it was "the regime." But if they find it's pistine military-grade stuff or even matches Syria's formula - and they'll announce that - then we must note... while it shows up in the chosen samples, it was probably not in that foul-smelling, caustic yellow sarin cloud or anyone poisoned by it, or in anyone poisoned with something else - it probably wasn't in the children apparently executed by Islamist blades, or in the apparent fakers acting out a sarin story.

Basically, it almost seems it wasn't in this attack at all. But we don't know what there is and isn't - even if there's no outward sign, maybe a special batch of pure sarin was smuggled in and opened up on some people in a basement off camera. Maybe their supply was limited, so the killers placed it where it would be found, where it would matter in solidifying their new Assad CW myth.

Otherwise, so far, everything simply says impure terrorist sarin was used, if any was. Again, this could possibly be used by Syrian forces, but that's obviously "not a slam dunk" when terrorists have the same, and motive clearly favors them. As John Wight notes at Sputnik, "The Assad government has nothing to gain from launching chemical weapons attacks in Syria — and never more than now when it is winning the conflict, both on the ground and diplomatically. Indeed, launching such an attack now would be tantamount to insanity." 

But then, so would launching the 2013 Ghouta attack exactly a year after Obama first offered his "red line" threat/offer, and just a day after UN-OPCW "inspectors" had arrived next to the planned crime scene... The "Assad" of opposition myths like these has always been this insane, and always will be, as long as there are armed fanatics out there willing to realize and document his supposed evil plans.

Further Developments
Added 4/20: UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said the other day
"We know from shell fragments in the crater that sarin had not only been used, but that it was sarin carrying the specific chemical signature of sarin used by the Assad regime. Given that samples from the victims show conclusively that they had been exposed to sarin gas, there is only one conclusion to be reached: that the Assad regime almost certainly gassed its own people, in breach of international law and the rules of war." 
This confirms what I said - biological samples only shows it was sarin, or in fact only that it's that "or a sarin-like substance" (as reiterated by the OPCW chief), while environmental samples show the chemical "signature" identifying a specific type or formula. In our discussion at ACLOS, Pmr9 notes this is presumably based on tests by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), and postulates three explanations. It's possible this is pure fiction, or that the match is with Syria's surrendered stocks, as taken away by the USS Cape May. But in either case, Johnson would likely say it matched that known profile most clearly implicating Syria (but again, not with certainty, as explained above).

Instead, he calls it a kind they've used. This would include what are in fact several terrorists uses of impure sarin, since March, 2013, falsely blamed on Syrian forces, even though they're the targets half he time. The DSTL probably matched the Khan Sheikhoun samples to the samples from the Ghouta attack of August 21, 2013. But evidence suggests that never did match with Syria's stocks. And, as noted above, the event has massive indicators of being a false-flag massacre carried out on hundreds of hostages. That's a pitfall of relying on prior allegations ...

Add 4-24: David Habakkuk asks UK officials for clarification on this question at Pat Lang's blog, Sic Semper Tyranis. About the questions raised here, put carefully, alongside a more vague gist of the implications.  Recalling the first reports on coming tests explained "samples" taken by spooks from "the Syrian military stockpile when it was withdrawn from the country in late 2013" had "are known to have particular properties" scientists would look for. If they found that match, they're being just as unclear about it as they were after the Ghouta attack.
 It may be an exact match to the Ghouta samples, from the same big batch of sarin, widely used for four years now. But quite likely, it's just a similar type with some of the same impurities - it might have a yellowish color, smell horrible, and burn the eyes - this we already heard from the witnesses.  So, Boris seems to be saying ... this is Ghouta 2.0, as it was already seeming to us. (Denis O'Brien (Pierpont) at ACLOS noted early on: "Khan Sheikhoun looks like Ghouta II to me," and it keeps looking that way.)

Add 4-23: Speak of the devil, Denis O'Brien weighed in with LogoPhere's Top Ten Ways to Tell When You're Being Spoofed by False-Flag Sarin Attacks and I didn't notice it. With a PhD in neuropharmacology, a good B.S. detector and his engaging and irreverent tone, this is awesome - an exploration of science vs. images, showing what's wrong with the alleged sarin victims of April 4, as far as we've seen. He clarifies that foaming at the mouth is actually a bit of an anti-symptom (victims can't breathe enough to really bubble up that mucous). He cites the old baking soda and Pepsi trick to cause "foaming at the mouth" of a kind we see. Here's my favorite example of an alleged sarin victim from the April 4 attack.

He might overstate the universality of cyanosis or other signs (as a comment points out, low-dose victims or those who die instantly may not display all the signs clear enough to see). But I agree (as less of an expert) he's right that people struggling with a serious dose after a minute or two will not possibly be a healthy pink, but pale or turning to blue.

O'Brien helps re-cast Dr. Shajul Islam's video showing the obvious signs of sarin poisoning - he's no expert. He puts the spotlight on a patient's eye to show a constricted pupil, but that's not even miosis if the bright light is causing it. O'Brien adds that we see no tears in this eye - it even seems abnormally dry. Miosis is just the M in SLUDGEM, and the L is lachrymation, profuse tear production. So this likely proves a non-sarin cause - just the flashlight he uses to show it, or perhaps an alternate drug that causes miosis but not profuse tearing.

Also noting on that eye: no redness to suggest irritation (this is reported as a first sign), but possible yellow-brown discoloration on the right side, (some iris distortion?) and dried yellow-brown crud in the tear duct corner (the gas is said to be yellow, and secretions yellow-to-brown) - mixed signs, no theory at the moment.

4-23: Autopsy Results (see ACLOS) suggest a problem consistent with everything above: the victims who tested positive for sarin or similar also suffered serious lung damage, leading to edema and suffocation. Sarin doesn't do this in itself, and is likely to kill a victim before anything else could cause this much damage (in a serious case, it makes breathing work poorly, then usually stops it in a swift death). So maybe this is very impure sarin that burns like hell before reaching the fatal point, or a primary poison used in addition to the token sarin, or sarin-like substance. For simplicity alone I'll guess it's all one thing, very nasty impure sarin. That's not something you casually waste. It would be administered efficiently in some enclosed space (gas chamber).

4-24: Dr. Theodore Postol, who helped debunk the 2013 Ghouta attack claims, has been very active on this case. His most recent piece (TruthDig) fixes a basic error (wind direction backwards, as ACLOS noted) in the last piece. The directions he now gives may not be exact, but they seem at least pretty close to what videos show at attack time, moderate breeze from east-to-west.
(add 4-17: Any visual reading will trump the predictive models he cited ... it was to the east, and somewhat to the north by video)

I didn't read this all yet, but noted the part with a dead goat next to a frayed rope some meters east of the white house crater - presumably a stray dragging his or her chewed rope. Postol notes the animal would be upwind and probably immune if stationary or, if mobile, would have died from the sarin too quickly to walk this far, "as the sarin dose within the plume would have killed it very quickly."

He also notes foam from its nose and mouth, and I'll note that's pink with blood. As O'Brien explains and I pretty much agree, strong sarin exposure will prevent foaming by preventing functional breath. But a lower dose might allow it. And blood means irritants. So I'd guess, like I have, a weak improvised sarin (or sarin-like substance...) with high caustic impurities, that burns like hell and suffocates animals with edema before the fatal sarin level is even reached. That's time to wander upwind before keeling over. This matches findings in Turkey (lung damage) and reports that it was yellow, smelled disgusting, and burned the eyes and lungs. (however, the bloody foam from has no sign of a yellow color, as reported - or, I'll have to look closer - I've seen this goat before but, like many things, haven't had time to study it yet)

Add 4/26: Now France, more clearly than anyone, affirms what I've been saying here, and it seems everyone is. The Independent reports French Foreign affairs minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said they know Syria did this, with a "singature" sarin  "because we kept samples from previous attacks that we were able to use for comparison," not because it matches the stuff Syria surrendered. That means it doesn't, like the Ghouta sarin never did, and this matches that in not matching Syria's. As Petri Krohn and I and others explain here at ACLOS, "The French statement reveals the circular reasoning behind the allegations. The samples are similar to those from the Ghouta CW attack in 2013." (4:27: Though actually they cite an earlier CW attack that was always equally dubious)

And here are some victims said to be of this attack, by the Syrian-American Medical Society (via ACLOS). Military-grade sarin does not cause blooding from the nose. Bleeding from the nose and not the mouth can be caused by an unseen head wound. It could also be caused by caustic gas, with no blood out the mouth for some reason. The girl also seems to have purple lips, a rare glimpse of apparent cyanosis, but with signs that contra-indicate sarin. No eye damage to suggest chlorine or the like. The woman has swollen lips, but they don't seem irritated, and has possible white residue around the eyes. But no serious blood to suggest head wounds either ... As I note, they might have had their clothes changed after death (see dust on the girl's palm - as if crawling in the dirt - but clothes are all clean).

Anyway, it's all a clear indicator of known regime process signatures and blah blah accountability blah blah.


  1. Looking through all available videos there is one with a fake attack including Hadi Abdallah - so the whole incident might have been planned around this 'attack' with the real airstrike being an unexpected incident.

    1. Sorry, I don't even get what you're saying here.

    2. Friedemann Wo is saying that the bombing of the White Helmets cave compound may have been a staged event. I have the same suspicion, the White Helmets blew up the garage themselves. I have discussed the issue on ACLOS here. The video clip used by NBC Nightly News is fake, it is put together from two separate sequences. If so, one must ask if the sound track with the blast sound is also fake.

  2. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former British Army colonel who focuses on chemical weapons in Syria cast doubt on the Syrian and Russian claim, saying "Axiomatically, if you blow up sarin you destroy it".[29]

    @BowenBBC says it's impossible that the chemical attack in Syria was fabricated as Assad suggests - he's seen the uncut footage.




  3. It is “a strange coincidence” that both OPCW fact-checking missions investigating the alleged chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib are headed by UK citizens, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, adding that it “runs contrary to the principles of an international organization.”

    Brig Gen Sakat has had several attempts on his life since defecting and has given few interviews since leaving Syria.He now works documenting chemical attacks from outside the country, sharing evidence and information from local activists with the OPCW

    By Richard Spencer, Amman 7:00PM BST 21 Sep 2013

    April 4 2017 A statement by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons did not apportion blame and noted it "is in the process of gathering and analysing information."
    In Reyhanli, a town on the Turkish side of the border, I met a Syrian doctor named Ahmed, who had established a network of paramedics and a field hospital in Syria for wounded rebel fighters and civilians. With him were two brawny young men, with long, jihadi-style beards, whom he was smuggling over the border. They looked Pakistani but spoke English with a British accent,
    and said that they were from the United Kingdom.

    Security Council Elected Members’ Initiative: 6 April 2017

    The bio-medical samples collected from three victims during their autopsy were analysed at two OPCW designated laboratories. The results of the analysis indicate that the victims were exposed to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance. Bio-medical samples from seven individuals undergoing treatment at hospitals were also analysed in two other OPCW designated laboratories. Similarly, the results of these analyses indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance.

    Director-General Üzümcü stated clearly: “The results of these analyses from four OPCW designated laboratories indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance. While further details of the laboratory analyses will follow, the analytical results already obtained are incontrovertible.”

    Syrian Mahmut Mansur, 14, receives treatment at Reyhanli State Hospital in Hatay, Turkey, after the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, a town of the Idlib district of Syria

  4. It seems that the White House has folded under pressure from the British, who are determined to preserve at any cost the jihadist system that they have created [2].

    US president Donald Trump called the chemical attack a 'heinous' act that 'cannot be ignored by the civilized world'. 
    Speaking as he hosted Jordan's King Abdullah in the Oval Office, on Wednesday, the US leader also described Tuesday's strike as 'a terrible affront to humanity.'

    US, Britain & Jordan planning “safe zone” along Jordan-Syrian border up to Golan

    The officials said the idea of establishing a buffer zone between Syria and Jordan — which would be enforced by Jordanian forces on the Syrian side of the border and supported politically and perhaps logistically by the United States — had been discussed. But at this point the buffer is only a contingency.

    The Muslim Brotherhood organized a large demonstration in Amman, on Friday, 5 October 2012

    Chemical Weapon Attack on Syrian Soldiers, Daraa Syria Tel al-Jabiya near Golan Heights 2014

    Jun2016 BRITISH special forces are secretly aiding CIA-backed insurgents in south-western Syria, it emerged yesterday.
    Troops from an unspecified unit have been aiding the New Syrian Army (NSA) at the al-Tanf border crossing with Iraq, close to Jordan, according to the Daily Telegraph.

    31 Jan 2017 We’re also seeing indications of a similar shift in Turkey following the bouts of terror that took place on its soil

    New ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley seems to feel that “to be concerned about chemical weapons use,” one must push
    further sanctions Syria, as she complained about a blocked resolution to that effect on February 28. [59]

  5. No serious steps have been taken to investigate into the alleged chemical incident in Syria’s Khan Shaykhun, Director of the Armaments Non-Proliferation and Control Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Ulyanov said.
    The text of his address to the special session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), held in The Hague on April 19, has been published on the ministry’s website on Thursday.

    "Reports (about the alleged chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun) started coming 15 days ago but no steps have yet been taken in order to investigate into this incident," he said. "In any case, we did not hear about representatives of the OPCW visiting the Khan Shaykhun area."

    The Russian Defense Ministry wants the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to explain how members of the White Helmets (an organization positioning itself as a human rights campaigner - TASS) managed to stay unharmed by sarin in Khan Shaykhun, Defense Ministry spokesman said.

    "If it is true that sarin was used in Khan Shaykhun, how can the OPCW then account for the fact the charlatans from the White Helmets organization were hustling and bustling inside sarin clouds with no protective gear on? Everybody could see that. Ahmed Uzumcu should provide comprehensible answers to these questions as soon as possible," Konashenkov said.



  6. With many in the U.S. foreign policy community backing both the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the defeat of the Islamic State group (ISIS), a new report could raise some cause for concern. The report says Assad's military has been the most engaged faction against ISIS over the past year of Syria's conflict, making it an extremely risky target for a U.S. foreign policy that is intended to stop the jihadists' advances.
    The report published Wednesday by the London-based IHS Jane Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, one of the world's leading security analysis agencies, says 43 percent of ISIS's battles between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 were fought against the Syrian military and its allies, which include Russia, Iran and pro-government militias. Meanwhile, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a majority-Kurd coalition of Arabs and ethnic minorities, accounted for 17 percent of the action against ISIS.
    .."It is an inconvenient reality that any U.S. action taken to weaken the Syrian government will inadvertently benefit the Islamic State and other jihadist groups," Strack said, according to the report. "The Syrian government is essentially the anvil to the U.S.-led coalition’s hammer. While U.S.-backed forces surround Raqqa, the Islamic State is engaged in intense fighting with the Syrian government around Palmyra and in other parts of Homs and Deir el-Zour provinces."


    Chinese jihadis fighters on the rise in Syria, and they’re organizing
    Many don’t speak Arabic and their role in Syria is little known to the outside world, but the Chinese fighters of the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria are organized, battled-hardened and have been instrumental in ground offensives against President Bashar Assad’s forces in the country’s northern regions.
    Thousands of Chinese jihadis have come to Syria since the country’s civil war began in March 2011 to fight against government forces and their allies. Some have joined the Al-Qaeda’s branch in the country previously known as Nusra Front. Others paid allegiance to the Islamic State group and a smaller number joined factions such as the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham.
    But the majority of Chinese jihadis are with the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria,
    whose vast majority are Chinese Muslims, particularly those from the Turkic-speaking Uighur majority native to Xinjiang in China. Their growing role in Syria has resulted in increased cooperation between Syrian and Chinese intelligence agencies who fear those same jihadis could one day return home and cause trouble there.
    The Turkistan Islamic Party is the other name for the East Turkistan Islamic Movement that considers China’s Xinjiang to be East Turkistan.

    Not yet designated terrorist by a Western country
    Base of operations: Syria
    Background: Long War Journal
    Katibat al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad (Jihad & Tawhid Battalion) is a primarily Uzbek jihadi battalion operating in the northwest of Syria, having worked closely with al-Qaeda's official Syrian wing Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as other jihadi groups like the Turkestan Islamic Party
    and Junud al-Sham in the 2015 Idlib province offensives.
    The affinities with al-Qaeda were always clear, and the group eventually pledged allegiance to Jabhat al-Nusra following on from Jaysh al-Muhajireen wa al-Ansar's pledge of allegiance to Jabhat al-Nusra.

  7. At the outset of the Syrian Civil War, Baghdadi sent AQI member Abu Muhammad al-Julani

    April 6 2017
    On the political side, Assad enjoys a privilege position today, experiencing international support he never had in 6 years of war in Syria: the US, France and the UK all announced (prior the Khan Shaykhoun attack) that their objective is no longer to remove Assad from power

    The first news came from Reuters, framed accusingly: “Syrian government chemical attack,” and quoting, as usual, rebel sources.
    Several weeks ago, the al-Qaeda (under the name of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham) Emir in Syria, Abu Mohamad al-Joulani,
    supervised the advance of his forces – along with other jihadists and US vetted groups under Al-Qaeda command – on Jobar
    (the Damascus outskirts) and Hama. Al-Qaeda and its allies managed to occupy considerable territory, surprising the Syrian Army. Following weeks of fighting, Damascus and its allies not only recovered all the lost territory in Jobar, but also advanced further in Al-Gabone, an area never reached for over 4 years.
    In Hama also, the Syrian Army managed to absorb the shock wave of the first attack and counter-attacked, recovering almost 90% of the lost territory.

    As in Aleppo, Joulani supervised the offensive to break the siege of the Syrian northern capital, supervising the military operations room and finally losing the battle, leaving behind hundreds of his militants dead on the battlefield.

    At the outset of the Syrian Civil War, Baghdadi sent AQI member Abu Muhammad al-Julani to the country to create a Salafi cell to operate against Bashar al-Assad. Julani established al-Nusra, and received funding and personnel from both AQI and Al Qaeda

    It has been further revealed that all of the Syrian groups operative in Aleppo had recently declared Ba’yaa (loyalty) to the Ahrar al-Sham emir Abu Jaber.

    June 7th, 2016 As the Jaysh al Fateh (“Army of Conquest”) coalition, which was cofounded by the Al Nusrah Front, continues its renewed offensive in southern Aleppo, two Uzbek jihadist groups are also taking part. The groups, Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad and Katibat Imam al Bukhari, have long been integrated with Al Nusrah, Ahrar al Sham, and other allies on the battlefield.

    2016-02-26 Islamic State seized tons of toxic Hydrazine material after seizing control of Lafarge Cement Syria in Aleppo province in September 2014, the material that might had been used later in the ISIS explosives-laden vehicles.

  8. http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-syria-intelligence-idUKKBN17S0RU?rpc=401&

    Wed Apr 26, 2017 |
    French intelligence says Assad forces carried out sarin attack
    Among the elements found in the samples were hexamine, a hallmark of sarin produced by the Syrian government, according to the report.

    It said the findings matched the results of samples obtained by French intelligence, including an unexploded grenade, from an attack in Saraqib on April 29, 2013, which Western powers have accused the Assad government of carrying out.
    The six-page French document - drawn up by France's military and foreign intelligence services and seen by said it reached its conclusion based on samples they had obtained from the impact strike on the ground and a blood sample from a victim.

    "We know, from a certain source, that the process of fabrication of the samples taken is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories," Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters after presenting the findings to the cabinet.

    "This method is the signature of the regime and it is what enables us to establish the responsibility of the attack.
    We know because we kept samples from previous attacks that we were able to use for comparison."
    Among the elements found in the samples were hexamine, a hallmark of sarin produced by the Syrian government, according to the report.



    1. Among the elements found in the samples were hexamine, a hallmark of sarin produced by the Syrian government, according to the report.

    2. Antoinette DhoogheApril 26, 2017 at 1:04 PM

      French government is probably the most active governement in the search to remove Assad, it is quite visceral. The French journalists Malbrunot en Chenot published a book in 2014 called Sur les chemins de Damas, where they bring the information they received from French diplomats and members of secret services that these were forced to act according the policy of the French governement and that they had to manipulate the rapports on the use of chemical wapons concerning the Goutha attack. I did not read the book but I can think that evenso these journalist would not be supporters of Assad, on the contrary. Concerning Syria the French governement is the last one one should believe.

  9. http://fs5.directupload.net/images/170426/oietb35o.jpg
    March 27 2013

    French intel were forced by Hollande to "trim" their 2013 report because they said it is plausible the rebels had those CWs.

  10. Antoinette, Anon(s): Indeed, the flag the FSA 'rebels' used to fly was the French mandate flag, I think. Anyway, that's what they're looking back to, besides weakening Iran, etc. like all the other drones are programmed for.

    Hexamine - I don't know much, but it came up in the Ghouta attack, perhaps in Sareqeb that I didn't notice. It's likey related to the dispersal charge I hear, and not part of the sarin at all. Some chemistry questions about that whole claim ...

    Saraqeb match over Ghouta is odd.
    * Maybe that's the case France has access to samples from (I don't know of them having samples, but maybe - they say they do). Maybe other governments are comparing to their own samples and also finding matches. Maybe not.
    * Maybe they think mentioning Ghouta is a bad idea considering the questions. But mentioning Saraqeb (4-29-2013) is maybe worse - one of the stupidest CW stories so far, with clear gov. allegation the victims were, as I usually suspected, hostages gassed by terrorists.
    * Or maybe that sarin had the most specific similarity to the KS attack kind. If so, note Saraqeb is the closest of the high-profile sarin attacks to this new one. Why would Assad use a special type of sarin in inner Idlib province, as opposed to, say, the terrorists operating there?
    * That last seems most interesting, but I suppose it's more likely to not be the case. It's probably the first option.

    1. Hexamine not unique to chemical weapons. Found in possession of terrorist, in 2013, by police in Northern Ireland.

      On 29 April 2013, Saraqib in Idlib’s countryside was attacked by a helicopter with missiles carrying chemical weapons. A number of victims were transferred to Turkey in order to provide samples for labs in the USA and UK.
      SHRC has been informed that their test results were positive and that chemical substances were found in the samples.

      by Bernard-Henri Lévy
      You find everything in the alleyways of Zintan, where we were taken by Colonel Mokhtar Khalifa, second-in-command and charged with defending the city. He moved around all day with the Koran in one hand and a Colt in the other. There are empty ammunition cases piled up in a stairwell.

      A tin cylinder, 50 centimeters high, 20 centimeters in diameter, labeled, “1 igniter for napalm bomb,” found in Gaddafi’s fort at Bir Ghanam (indicating, as well—and this too would be a real piece of news—that Gaddafi is using or preparing to use the dirtiest of dirty weapons).


    2. http://jerbanews.blogspot.com/2011/07/bernard-henry-levy-ultime-notizie.html
      Libye : à la rencontre des insurgés armés par la France ( un texte de Bernard-Henri Lévy, Le JDD, 24 juillet 2011

    3. napalm Saraqeb , 29 April 2013 photo SHRC

      Urum al-Kubra/Aleppo’s countryside massacre committed on 26 August 2013:the use of napalm,

      On 26 August, five days after the chemical attack on eastern Ghouta, MiG fighters launched an attack on Ma’jad Iqra’ school ion Urum al-Kubra, south west Aleppo at approximately 5.00 p.m. when the children were still at school.
      This led to the death of 38 people, mostly school children and inflicted 100 others with severe burns.
      The victims’ tests have revealed that the burns are
      a result of the use of napalam,
      an internationally banned incendiary.

      Urum al-Kubra

  11. VT Provides Key to Busting Gas Attack Phony Intercepts

    Unit 8200: Perhaps the most formidable weapon in Israel's anti-jihadi arsenal isn't explosive.
    It's digital. Unit 8200 is the Israeli military's signals intelligence (SIGINT) unit, Jerusalem's equivalent of the National Security Agency. For a small country of 8 million people, Unit 8200 gives Israel a huge global capability for tapping communications and conducting cyberwarfare across the Middle East and on a global basis. If suspicions are true that the Stuxnet virus at least partly originated from Israel, then Unit 8200 was probably involved.
    SIGINT may not confer a decisive advantage, but it will enable Israeli commanders to monitor jihadi movements and—like the United States—identify key leaders for targeted assassination by aircraft or drone.

    On April 27, the Israeli Air Defense Forces launched a Patriot missile at an alleged drone that penetrated the Israeli airspace coming from the Syrian airspace.  It was not clear that if the missile hit the target.
    The Patriot missile launch came after Israel targeted an alleged arms depot with weapons sent from Iran to Hezbollah at the Damascus International Airport.
    Several rockets were fired by Israeli warplanes at the Damascus International Airport and one of them hit the main fuel tanks at the airport causing a massive fire. This raises questions about the validity of the Israeli claims.

    April 22, 2017 Two missiles were fired at 06.45 p.m. when government forces were repulsing Al-Qaeda’s attacks in the vicinity of the city of Quneitra.
    There are reports that Al-Qaeda terrorists infiltrated Quneitra from the Golan Heights occupied by Israel with the aim to strengthen the front in Madinat al-Ba’ath.
    Apparently, Israel had prepared and launched a missile strike in order to provide artillery support to Al-Qaeda terrorists.
    The Israeli drones recorded in the province of Quneitra make it possible to conclude that Al-Qaeda is provided with reconnaissance information from the battlefields with Israel help too.

  12. HUMINT


    The U.S. also learned that the MIT, Turkey’s national intelligence agency, and the Gendarmerie, a militarized law enforcement agency, were working with al-Nusra including in efforts to develop a chemical weapons program for the jihadist group. The MIT handled political liaisons while the Gendarmerie handled logistics and military training – including in the use of chemical weapons. In 2013, this dark alliance would prove how desperately President Erdogan wanted the U.S. to interfere in Syria and overthrow the Asad regime.
    The Thin Red Line
    There are reports that President Erdogan secretly supports Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qa’ida affiliate in Syria, and may have coordinated with the group to launch chemical attacks in 2013 that the U.S. publicly attributed to the Asad regime.
    According to a former senior U.S. intelligence official, “We knew there were some in the Turkish government who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.”

    In late May 2013, the CIA had briefed the White House on al-Nusra’s sarin weaponization program.
    IS was also working on a chemical weapons program.
    Al-Nusra was operating in areas close to Damascus including Eastern Ghouta.
    An intelligence report distributed in mid-summer 2013 profiled Ziyaad Tariq Ahmed, a former chemical weapons expert
    with the Iraqi military who moved his operations to Syria.
    There, he reportedly joined al-Nusra.

    He has experience producing mustard gas and was implicated in making and using sarin.
    Ahmed is a high-value U.S. military target.
    A four-page report delivered on 20 June 2013 to DIA Deputy

    Director David R. Shedd indicated that al-Nusra indeed had the ability to produce chemical weapons.
    In late July, Shedd spoke of al-Nusra’s chemical capabilities at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.


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