Bellingcat

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Are These The Munitions Used In Today's Alleged Chemical Weapon Attack?

Today, there have been a large number of reports of a chemical weapon attack in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, with dozens of videos of the victims posted online (here).  Large numbers of victims have been reported, and the following pictures have been posted online claiming to show two of the munitions used in the attack


[Source]

Update August 22nd Videos have now been posted online showing the above munitions, as well as a third munition linked to the attack, and  a gallery of photos showing one of the above munitions





What's extremely interesting about these devices is they match with devices previously recorded in the conflict, reportedly launched by government forces, with it's first appearance in Daraya, south-west Damascus on January 4th


With photographs of the munition taken elsewhere in Daraya on the same day



Adra, northeast of Damascus, on June 11th, described as a "chemical missile"


Adra, on August 5th, linked to an alleged chemical attack on the same day


Khalidiya, Homs on August 2nd.  This video gives us a sense of the size of one of these munitions, early in the video it's lined up against a car, and would be around 3-3.5 meters along, with the payload being around 1-1.5 meters long


It's interesting to note that the example from Homs appears to have an explosive fill, that would have likely destroyed much of the munition if it had detonated, while the other examples appear to have used up their payload without any damage to the munition, perhaps implying there's multiple payloads.

The obvious question is, what are these? What's very interesting is these appear to be a design that's unique to the conflict in Syria, and it seems likely these munitions have been manufactured inside Syria.  It's hard to be 100% certain these are linked to the chemical attacks today, but local activists certainly seem to think they are related, and that means they are certainly worth keeping an eye on in the future.

Update August 22nd More information on these munitions can be found here.

Related Articles
DIY Weapon Linked To Alleged Chemical Weapon Attack in Adra, Damascus
A Mystery Munition - Syrian Army DIY Rockets?
Collected Chemical Weapon Posts

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmoses@gmail.com

14 comments:

  1. I've belatedly realized that the "black oil" you described in a previous article on this munition, would have been a nerve gas simulant: something with the same viscosity as liquid Sarin, say, which allows the dispersal of the agent to be assessed. If firing it into a rebel area was deliberate, the government forces might have been relying on someone posting images on the internet, for them to determine how well the liquid would disperse.

    The simulant oil doesn't evaporate like sarin: it's only the dispersal of the liquid prior to that, that's being measured.

    I think they've been building up to this, quite carefully.

    The pictures on the Daily Mail website look like a sarin attack alright, and the numbers of dead are beginning to look like the sarin now being used isn't as degraded as before.

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  2. Given the angle of the projectile and the distance from the wall nearby, it looks awful like a staged picture. To be at the angle it would have had to come through the wall, but the supposed projectile sure doesn't look deformed enough to have come through a concrete wall and then stike the ground staying as inteact as it looks.

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  3. Dan Kaszeta,https://twitter.com/DanKaszeta ,a former White House employee and expert on CBRN warfare doubts that it's sarin or any other nerve gas.

    He also compares the shown effects with other types of gases. The conclusion is that the substance is unknown which makes this look like a false flag op.

    pdf
    http://strongpointsecurity.co.uk/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/If-not-Sarin_then-what.pdf

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  4. I think the projectile came down the alley, from where you can see bright sunshine.

    I agree that it wouldn't get through a wall: there's no point in a chemical munition that penetrates and buries the chemicals deep in the ground, which will be why these have been developed.

    These things do not spin for stability: the only stabilsation is aerodynamic, so they will tip on impact.

    I'm not sure I would take the word of any former White House employee, in circumstances where the President of the United States is in a desperate battle to deny the bleeding obvious.

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  5. Given that Dan Kaszeta is a former officer of the U.S. Army's Chemical Corps I'll go with his evaluation over your gut feeling.

    Experts like that do have an advantage in knowledge and insight.


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  6. My gut feeling is precisely what the current staff at Porton Down are telling the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary.

    What the American experts are doing, is choosing the more ambiguous videos and other evidence to analyze. American media has shown a fraction of the material seen elsewhere, too.

    There are three bodies, now in Jordan, and analysis of those should bring a measure of clarification.

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  7. Hmm, and my gut feeling says that the staff of a Foreign Secretary who has been arguing for military intervention is under political pressure. One recalls events before the Iraq invasion in 2003.

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  8. @ Rune

    Foreign Policy magazine suspects that Assad might be mixing Sarin with CS-gas and other agents in the payload, to make sure the victims doesn't have clear Sarin symptoms.

    I seriously doubt that the recent attack in Adra wasn't gas though, no matter who was responsible. Medecins Sans Frontieres says it and when a couple of thousand people goes to the hospital with small pupils, it's not because they've all been staring at the sun.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/medecins-sans-frontieres-says-355-dead-in-syria-chemical-attack/article13943067/

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  9. Krtek

    Your article doesn't shed any light on events. MSF had no people on the ground so we once again have the problem of biased information.

    Foreign Policy is an excellent biased source of information. They have been lobbying for intervention. My guess is that there is a good chance they will get it this time. And once the bombs start dropping no one will care if it was right or wrong.

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  10. The rockets are clearly rebel made. Or maybe not? Let's put it in context.

    Maybe Damascus did this, not two days after the UN investigators arrived, at Damscus' request, after months of wrangling, to look at Khan al-Assal with as few distractions as possible. But they couldn't resist the urge to gas a thousand all around Damascus, so they'd have to struggle to keep that from distracting Sellstrom's team, let alone from getting them bombed by tossing an elephant across Obama's line, one year old almost to the hour, BTW.

    So, anti-logical motive. As for proof, people were apparently gassed, and Assad is the bad guy, so...

    For a rebel false flag, the above anti-motive is their pro-motive. As for capability, seems unlikely. But one of probably several rebel CW factories was discovered in Jobar three days later. Chemcials, protective gear, atropine, bomb-making parts, mortar shells, grenades, metal tanks and canisters. http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Alleged_Chemical_Attack,_August_21,_2013#Rebel_CW_Tunnels_Found.3F

    Jobar was initially mentioned by this rebel doctor as one of only two areas gassed. Later on, it wasn't even one of the eight. "Jobar was gassed, no it wasn't, don't mention that place, oops."

    Citizens there, damn fools, made it worse by hiding in their basements, he says, perhaps gender-segregated and blindfolded. And then they made matters worse by starting fires down there, including burning tires. The dumb hicks!

    See also:
    Basement victims in Daraya massacre a year ago
    Burning tires to choke Alawite captives in Aqrab, December

    I suspect no rockets were involved in the majority of gassing deaths - just grenades tossed in doors and windows, then sealed, or something similar. The Jobar rebel doctor recommends an education campaign - for civilians, not military - how to survive gas attacks by not suffocating yourself in the basement like that. I recommend cleansing the area and all Syria of captive-taking, basement-controlling, takfiri terrorists.

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    1. With regards to the "rebel CW factory" how do you know it has anything to do with chemical weapons? You've no idea what's in those containers, the ANNA report who was at the scene required no protection to handle them, so they obviously aren't deadly chemical agents. The two gas cylinders are blue, and black witha white collar stripe, indicating CO2 and Oxygen. The atropine is widely distributed to the opposition, and then you've got a variety of grenades, including DIY pipe bombs, fragmentation grenades, and even a couple of cluster bombs. Then a mix of various metal containers that look just like the IEDs widely used by the opposition. Really there's no evidence in the video to show these are chemical weapons, just State TV claims and the hope of the government supporters that it's true.

      Of course, the government could have easily have asked the UN inspectors to investigate the scene, if they could get the ANNA News crew there safely then it seems logical the UN team could have easily reached there, so the most obvious question to ask is why weren't the UN inspectors given access to evidence of opposition chemical weapon use?

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    2. chems unknown, not exploding in anyone's face here. But clearly something explosive was being made, something chemical, and protective stuff together. I suspect that are severalof these around, not just the one. But maybe unrelated to the regime anti-logic chem attack.

      They should and might take the team there to Jobar, check into that rebel doctor's claims and this facility. I hear they're going to Ghouta, now a week into their 2-week mandate, this is top priority. Cessation of hostilities first, and if someone launches a chem rocket at them while there, I wonder who?

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  11. Adra, northeast of Damascus, on June 11th, described as a "chemical missile". what the hell is this ? the people are the real innocent and children also . who ever may be did this . please stop this and live others to live in peace. the view scenes are clearly given.

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  12. Without wishing to offend anyone, obviously these are not any kind of chemical weapons dispensers. It would be absurd knowing that everyone is watching you. Their widespread use can not go unnoticed by neighboring countries.

    If you wish to know what they are have a look at these old photos and you will see that they are copies of English demolition ammunitions, updated, increased in power and propulsion assisted. But after all, mere demolition munitions, which have been used at least until the Korean War. In addition, its design and production are accessible to anyone with knowledge of engineering and design military.

    -AVRE (Armoured Vehicle, Royal Engineers): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobart%27s_Funnies#The_Menagerie

    -Spigot HE ammunition fotographs: http://www.war44.com/allied-motorised-weapons/1803-churchill-tank-petard-mortar.html

    http://www.lonesentry.com/manuals/armored-special-equipment/flying-dustbin-avre-spigot-charge.jpg

    -To learn more: http://www.lonesentry.com/manuals/armored-special-equipment/

    It is possible that in the absence of ammunition in good condition and with the type of urban warfare prevailing in the area, have been developed locally (Middle East) to clear large areas of buildings, for which seem highly effective weapons.

    I apologize for my English, but it is not my native language. A greetings to all.

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