Warning

Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

How UN-OPCW Falsely Fingered Syria for the Ghouta Attack

Ghouta Chemical Massacre
How UN-OPCW Falsely Fingered Syria for the Ghouta Attack
August 20, 2017 
incomplete

It's now been four years since the infamous Ghouta chemical massacre of August 21, 2013 killed a reported 1,400-1,700 people. By visual evidence, it killed at least 3-400 people, and was clearly the single deadliest incident of the entire war, even up to now. Confident blame was widely and swiftly set on the Syrian government, despite the obvious negative motive they would have, and despite many serious questions.

Now with four years of time to consider it, the best evidence has been established to  suggest that blame was falsely set. There are different notions of what truly happened, but as I see it, the best explanation remains what I settled on within the first months of study; Ghouta was a false-flag incident, with hundreds of civilians held hostage by rebel/terrorist forces, murdered en masse for the event in improvised gas chambers, using a variety of poisons that generally doesn't seem to include sarin. (best single link to explain this)

As it happens, I'm in the middle of a review of the rocket firing directions. I'm still not convinced the "volcano" rockets really had anything to do with any sarin, or with any of the mass casualties. I still suspect they were used as fuel-air explosive weapons (see initial reasons here) with the sites contaminated later, leading to the sarin-positive environmental samples taken more than a week after the incident. But the rockets still matter in at least some regard, and in the time since, I've gotten better at reading clues like where each one impacted, and from what direction - things we never did cover very well. 

That analysis is ongoing (with sub-posts and overview collected and developing at this masterlist), with some revision of accepted estimates. The latest draws on six gelocated impacts, carefully placed on the map, (mostly just now in recent weeks) and 3 other sites unplaced (two of those just now added).  With the new findings thus in the works and their implications unclear, I'll mark the date with one important finding that helps expose the fraud behind perpetually blaming Assad.

This comes from what irked me into re-examining this; stumbling across a bad error or a motivated lie "buried" in the UN's first report in September, 2013. Just as the U.S. and others were pushing the idea the Syrian government must have launched the sarin rocket attack, as alleged by science-impaired Islamist activists, the supposedly impartial UN quietly "confirmed" that, with supposedly science-based findings of the OPCW investigators. But the celebrated findings turn out to be totally bogus. I hadn't noticed at the time how problematic or annoying this was until recently, and so now I'm writing about it.

Pointing "Precisely" at Syria
United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, report released Sept, 16 (UN PDF link - alternate):
Of the five impact sites investigated by the mission, three do not present physical characteristics allowing a successful study of the trajectories followed by the rockets involved, due to the configuration of the impact places. However, Impact site number 1 (Moadamiyah) and Impact site number 4 (Ein Tarma) provide sufficient evidence to determine, with a sufficient degree of accuracy, the likely trajectory of the projectiles.
It seems they actually claim 3 of the five impacts do show a direction, with two of them in the distant Moadamiya attack in West Ghouta, using M14 artillery rockets instead of the larger rockets used in Zamalka. They specify only one: "Impact Site Number 1" but go on to mention an "Impact Site Number 2" nearby, with a similar and consistent reading, both pointing north to Mt. Qassioun about 10km distant.

site #4, looking along wall, rocket tail: nowhere near parallel
So... this is impact sites 1 AND 2, besides #4, for a total of three that show direction, of the five sites total they looked at. This leaves only three sites possible in the East Ghouta area, out of a supposed 12. These would be the rooftop impact (must be site 3, visited at the same time as #4, and just 170m away, on August 28), and another home interior they're seen examining (not placed, must be site #5, visited Aug. 29). 
All 5 sites they visited:
  • Sites #1 and 2 in Moadamiya (details not relevant here)
  • Site #3 Ain Tarma, rooftop: UN 8/28: no reading. My #3: current reading app. 315-320°  (see firing directions part 3)
  • Site #4 Ain Tarma field - UN 8/28: "precisely" 285°. My #1: current reading app. 320° (see firing directions part 1)
  • #5 Interior, Zamalka? - UN 8/29: no reading. My #7: current reading: none yet (not placed, directions unclear)
That's only one field site, which they're also seen at. They're clearly seen at no other sites except going to or from their vehicles or driving around.  So there can be no confusion which rocket they refer to here - the one I and most others have listed as #1.

It's relatively easy to place, but the suggested firing direction is more flexible: taking it as relative to the almost E-W running wall, I and others have estimated in the range of 60-70 from parallel (or 30-30 from perpendicular to it). but with some help from Michael Kobs and his carefully set-up scene analysis, I now feel around 40 or 45° from parallel is correct.  

But the UN's report - widely accepted as factual - suggests it would be about 8 degrees from parallel with the wall (red line runs 285 degrees on the compass). 
The projectile, in the last stage of its trajectory, hit the surface in an area of earthy, relatively soft, ground where the shaft/engine of the projectile remained dug in, undisturbed until investigated. The said shaft/engine, presenting no fonn [form] of lateral bending, pointed precisely in a bearing of 285 degrees that, again, represent a reverse azimuth to the trajectory followed by the rocket during its flight. It can be, thus, concluded that the original azimuth of the rocket trajectory had an azimuth of 105 degrees, in an East/Southeast trajectory.
It seems this really is their reading. Elsewhere in the report, they say the rockets appear to have come from an unspecified "northwest," which seems accurate enough. But the 285 only direction they published is barely northwest, just 15 degrees north of due west. Anyone can see, once it's mapped out, how drastically wrong that is. All reasonable readings with visual explanations involved are in the range of 315-347°, broadly and accurately, if not "precisely." If any of us had been there to measure it, we'd have a more exact answer almost surely in that range.

But the UN-OPCW folks seem to have a different kind of science less related to the 3D world we inhabit, and so they failed to do that. They measured it as nearly parallel to the wall and assure us if we had been there, we could see that plainly from the way it was aligned. We can see how you can't see it on a video of them being there, so I guess it's simply being there in person, with Islamist minders looking over your shoulder and NATO folks, Turks, Saudis, and Israelis breathing down your neck. It seems a special and privileged kind of science emerges in such conditions. It's this kind of science that seems to matter to all the powerful folks who matter. Untrained outsiders cannot understand it nor, obviously, can they challenge it.

Finger-Pointing Accepted as "Not Pointing Fingers" 
In fact, it stretches the imagination that they would honestly err by such a margin - some 30-40 degrees. I see no good reason, except to point at a Syrian military base - approximately anyway. This line followed out intersects with the southern part of the Republican Guard's 104th brigade base on Mt. Qassioun. That's about 9.6 km from the Zamalka impacts, and 9.5 km to the Moadamiya impacts, as Human Rights Watch maps it. (right). (The same UN report claims impacts there also showed direction clues pointing to the same base).

The report isn't explicit on this point (that is, it doesn't specify a distance of flight), but the direction was taken, by HRW and others, as meaning the Zamalka-Ain Tarma rockets flew from that base almost 10km away. But no one has shown from the visuals of the scene how that's a good reading, because of course they can't, even though they would like to. And as noted expert "Sasa Wawa" at the Who Attacked Ghouta? blog pointed out at the time:
"There are 2 major problems with the trajectory assumed for it: The range of a rocket with such poor aerodynamics, a large 60kg warhead, and a relatively small engine could never reach the 9km implied here. (Update: the UMLACA is now reliably estimated to have a range of 2.5 km).
This refers to the famous Lloyd-Postol report,  as first published by McClatchy News in January, 2014. These findings stand unchallenged as far as I know, and were soon accepted by Eliot Higgins (his turnaround explained here) and anyone else following the case. No one of any credibility would any longer claim these things flew any further than 2-2.5 km. The original, widely-accepted, and never-retracted implications place the firing spot 4-5 times further away than these things could possibly fly. The UN and its helpers were ridiculously out-of-range with their finger-pointing. And the second big problem:
The report states the rocket points at azimuth 285. However, as shown here this implies a 5 degree angle to the wall, which the screenshots below show cannot be the case:"
I get 8 degrees, which is still about as far off - around 30 degrees or more - from all reasonable readings.  

But before these and other problems were known, the direction claim and its implications were hungrily swallowed and defecated by the mainstream media's presstitutes. They all knew the investigators were supposed to just follow the facts and not to pin blame, letting them credit the numbers as factual and not political. But instead, it seems the investigators, or someone interpreting their findings for this important report, strayed from the facts and wound up leaving a pin right next to the blamed party, ready for anyone else to notice and pin in place.

So just as the U.S. and allies were using that pre-decided blame to exert leverage on Syria, along came these "precise" bearing apparently based on the science of falsely assigning blame. Then the unexplained specifics "buried" in the report were dug out easily and interpreted as implicating the government. The pin was jabbed in repeatedly over the following days by a number of useful idiots.

Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, Sept 17
The report doesn’t try to affix blame for the attack, but the facts it provides make it vanishingly unlikely that it was launched by anyone other than the Assad regime.
Drum cites a map by BruceR who was quoted concluding:
The chances of this being some kind of attack by someone outside the Syrian government, already slim, basically have to drop to zero now, assuming you trust the UN’s facts as presented. That sounds about right. Added to all the other intelligence pointing in the same direction, there’s really no longer any case to be made that this was some kind of false-flag rebel operation. It was a chemical weapons attack mounted by the Assad government. Sorry, Rush (Limbaugh).
Human Rights Watch's Josh Lyons was able to write on the 17th:
The UN inspectors investigating the chemical weapons attack on two suburbs in Damascus last month weren’t supposed to point the finger at the party responsible for the killings. But even so, the Sellstrom report revealed key details of the attack that strongly suggest the government is to blame, and may even help identify the location from which the Sarin-filled rockets that killed hundreds of people on August 21 were fired."
And HRW was there to notice it and pin away and to produce the widely re-used graphic. And now they'll never retract it, even though it's a baseless claim with a range that's scientifically impossible, and an angle that's plainly contradicted by the visual evidence.

At the New York Times, C.J. Chivers on the 18th heralded: "some of the strongest findings to date that suggest the government gassed its own people"  were simply "buried" (not planted) in  the report from investigators "instructed to investigate the attack but not to assign blame." Still, they "listed the precise compass directions of flight for two rocket strikes that appeared to lead back toward the government’s elite redoubt in Damascus, Mount Qasioun..."

It's not a real compass heading, we now realize, but some other kind of line they decided to draw. But a retired Lebanese general, Elias Hanna, told Chivers it pointed to "the center of gravity of the regime, "... the core of the regime." That sounds like John Kerry's "the heart of regime territory." Remarks, Sept 4: "We are certain that none of the opposition has the weapons or capacity to effect a strike of this scale – particularly from the heart of regime territory."

At first, they said this was based on "satellite detections" suggesting small rockets, but no big missiles, were fired from inside government areas about 90 minutes before anyone mentioned a chemical attack. (WH press office, Aug 30) When you think about it for a moment, that's not very convincing cause to think the ones responsible for the attack were also launched from there. They don't even mention seeing those. Or did everyone really wait 90 minutes to start suddenly pouring out reports by the minute? 90 seconds I would easily believe, and maybe even 9 minutes. But 90 minutes?

But later, these "precise" but grossly wrong readings were provided by UN investigators, and used to widely reinforce the false claims that Assad was to blame. How and why does this happen?

Special Attention on Al-Jazeera's Help 
Who else was there to help? The US, the UN, HRW, and no surprise, Qatari propaganda outfit Al Jazeera. In a November, 2013 documentary (Youtube posting), they claim to show two rocket trajectories that bear out that reading. I had missed this at the time, but Higgins' Brown Moses caught it as 'new key evidence'). "Thank to the UN report we have an idea of the direction the rockets came from," he said in error (their angle is not based on the actual evidence, and he knows the suggested origin is far out of range). "... a recent Al Jazeera Arabic documentary about the August 21st attack might even provide more information," that, he did not note, is at least as sure to be misleading. 

As he noted, this program shows two rocket strike spots that are otherwise unseen (that would be nine sites total with visual supports - Higgins knew of 8, including these). The program claims both had similar heading to the UN report's 285°, which the Assad-blaming Qataris seem enamored of: one site read 290°, and the other one 307°, it's reported. But the impacts are not placed on the map anywhere in the program, which is probably convenient. (they also don't seem easy to geolocate by the short snippets of footage.)

It's in Arabic, and if there were English captions, I didn't notice. So I won't consider what's verbally said here and focus on the visuals, which are interesting. We see some kind of Arab investigators in their own hazard suits, not OPCW folks, at each site, measuring the rockets and/or the damage and using some kind of protractor and compasses. 

There's no guarantee the readings mean anything, but let's just say maybe, map them out, and see how it fits. Here's the presenter showing these carefully-derived angles: 307 and 290° to firing spot, with an opposite direction of flight of 127 and 110°. 

The program - apparently working closely with the UN investigators - suggests these two rockets flew on those lines the full 10km from the 104 brigade base. Presumably they drew their own conclusions in this regard, like other Assad-blaming media have.

Higgins, reviewing a couple months later, after the Lloyd-Postol report, knew better. He only took the direction, not the distance, as likely valid: responding to a comment criticizing the unreliable source and its errors, Higgins said "it's possible for their range calculations to be wrong, even if the azimuths (direction to launch spot) are correct." And that's true. I suppose there were no "range calculations," just a desired distance on a fake line that was chosen. It's not just possible but necessary that this will be wrong. Still, the compass work could be valid.

As for how it maps out - they don't show this, but doesn't come out very well. The spot indicated by the UN, as read by HRW et al. (9.6 km from impact 1/site #4, bearing 285), would be in the southern part of the sprawling 104 brigade base (depending: HRW's map shows it extending past what Wikimapia does, but the latter has random military areas there, with a brigade 104 "bus assembly" area within it - also, the military residence area and nearby shooting range at the base's SW corner are on the right line, but about 11km from impact site #4).

Now, if we take that spot at 9.6 km, other rockets fired from there and hitting at the given angles must have landed roughly along the black lines here. Note that this would put them well outside the area of 12 impacts mapped (not very well) by Human Rights Watch, marked roughly in orange here. The same basic area contains all 6 actually geolocated impacts (just the three furthest out are shown here, to frame the area without cluttering it). None are remotely far enough south or west to be on these lines, especially the far-off 307.

And of course, this is just if the rockets could fly 5x further than they could, which of course they couldn't. This Al-Jazeera's help, with their well-researched and carefully-framed nonsense.

Not that the angles they give are at all impossible. In fact, readings even right around 285° come up - at the northern edge of the impacts area (impact 6, dud/wall), not at its southern edge, where the UN's widely-misread site #4 is. Angles kind of like 307 actually seem to predominate.

All the NW angles vary over space in such a way that they seem set to converge, probably in or fairly near the black circle here (app. working area per Michael Kobs, and it seems pretty good to me, at least for impacts 1, 3, and 6, likely for #4 and 5, but maybe not for #2). If we take these two new headings and have them originate here, it makes a lot more sense - both lines run right through the established attack area. That would be at least 5 of the rockets fired from around that spot (which seems to be very near the front lines at the time, but probably in insurgent hands - for my part, this will take a little more review).

The fact that these do not line up with the Mt. Qassioun story suggests they weren't made up for that purpose. Therefore, I find it likely these are real readings, maybe incorrect but logical. What's misleading is how they're presented in a placeless context that makes them almost meaningless as supports for the UN report's unsupportable fake angle.
So 290 and 307 might be real damage lines for two scenes we don't yet have placed. If one could find fresh damage along these lines, that might be the locale of the impact. I looked briefly, and found no obvious match. But I did notice a spot of interest almost on the 290 line; about 1.5 km from the possible highway firing spot, is a patch of ground possibly darkened between Feb. 20 and Aug. 23, 2013, with a new black dot added, in an open lot next to a mosque. But it's not the clearest, and doesn't seem to fit with either scene shown (both seem to be in or at structures, not in an open lot).

However it could be another impact on about the same line, so I'll show it here. Consistent with patterns so far, it's encouraging that HRW's map does not include this spot, but does have an impact mapped quite nearby to the east (bottom: my spot in the red circle, theirs are red dots.

In time, we may have these spots identified, and in the meantime, I'll add them to the masterlist as impacts 8 and 9, unplaced, but already with alleged directions attached.

Conclusion
While this post is titled "How UN-OPCW Falsely Fingered Syria for the Ghouta Attack," the method outlined and exposed here isn't the only way.

As noted, they got similar readings in Moadamiya (Western Ghouta) that I haven't analyzed, and that could be correct. But by being falsely lumped with the wrong reading into a neat story of one government-held firing area for the whole attack, it would be deceptive. Even if those Moadamiya shells were fired from that base (as a different weapon with a different range, as far as I know that could be), the "volcano" rockets used in East Ghouta (Zamalka and Ain Tarma) could not have been. So we're dealing with two different firing areas, with one having to be around the front-lines, where the government allegedly used these crude weapons to launch their sarin attack for no logical reason. 

The investigators also made other errors and questionable decisions I don't have a full cataloging for (comments open for anyone who wants a point noted). But one stumper is how they chose not to sample a single fatality of the attack. AS UN disarmament chief Angela Kane explained it, “there were so many victims who are still alive that there was really no need to exhume bodies.” Her bizarre and completely incorrect reasoning: “a dead body can’t tell how the person dies … a living person can tell you that.” (see "sarin myth"

On video, the dead do not look like sarin victims, but rather like folks gassed with chlorine or carbon monoxide, depending. An autopsy or a sampling of their tissues could perhaps prove that it was sarin anyway. But the UN investigation decided they were all killed by sarin, in contradiction of the visual record, with no biological samples to back it up. They took samples, and those did show sarin. But those came only from alleged survivors, people who were screened and provided by opposition sources, who could be misleading stand-ins, who brought unproven stories about the events, and who seem to have been exposed to low doses, perhaps on a voluntary basis.

It's far from proven that the UN-OPCW were completely faked out with the sarin results by area-contamination and voluntary low-dose propagandists. But it can't be disproven either, because the investigators chose a shoddy method for discerning the truth. Considering how they also managed to mangle the rocket forensics to the same end, it seems to me they did that to avoid learning or helping to spread the truth, in favor of sticking to the script and blaming Assad like always.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Dead Sheep Impact

Ghouta Chemical Massacre:
Firing Directions 
Part 5: Dead Sheep Impact
August 18-19, 2017
(but incomplete)


We turn now to my impact #5, the scene with about a dozen dead woolly sheep, allegedly killed in the sarin attack, that were piled up and partially burned. (Just why isn't clear; out of worry that sarin was contagious, or just to prevent disease or - see last section here).

I didn't even realize until recently that this scene was also an apparent rocket impact site. Eliot Higgins had a look at it (Brown Moses blog) as "third volcano", Jan. 30, 2014), thanking Chris Kabusk for "for help finding the impact locations of this rocket." Kabusk's analysis of it back in 2013/2014, and accurate  geolocation are explained here in images.

That place was set with a little-seen view facing east. With this, I verified the match with some key features highlighted at right (east photo at bottom). This is a pretty undeniable site match.

Coordinates: 33º31'27.64”N 36º21'34.37”E

A long video with a host I've seen in other videos, taken to this spot, then from into this east view, left up that street to the north, and around the area, where he's shown several places where livestock was said to die in the attack. Some scenes are used below help establish the attack site details.

Notably, the famous HRW map of 12 impacts does not include this spot, at least not accurately.


The Impact "Crater"
The actual rocket impact is hard to place exactly, but it must be somewhere in that dirt lot. The apparent "crater" here is little more than a dent, not unlike other areas. The alleged rocket is gone, with just minor scraps left behind and freely re-arranged. One piece is perhaps a detonator? (more images via ITV news, including scraps from impact 6, but all taken as one scene).

There's no proof in that of a rocket impact, but the surrounding details suggest there was one. Nearby is a hole in the large building's north face. Quite likely, this rocket hit at a steep angle, bent forward on impact like with impact 2 and 6, with the heavy engine-tail end bending forward, then breaking free and flying through that wall.


One video shows the crater up close and, by panning left, the hole and sheep pile, in one continuous view. Chris Kabusk made this good montage of panning frames to try and assemble the space between. His result puts the crater almost due north of the hole, or about on a line with the building's west wall. He also notes a possible second hole inside it would have to line up with.


Just where is the impact?  My first effort just took a dark spot as possibly it (outlined in red below - it's visible in Aug. 23 satellite images of the area, while the crater isn't) But Michael Kobs showed me how it's apparently a little bit west of there (black circle below). Here, stills from the long video were most useful (on the left), with a couple of other views on the right.
So the impact is a meter or two west of the west wall's line, which instead lines up with the edge of that more visible dark smear near it. I estimate this as roughly 1/5 of the way between the green line and the wall behind it, roughly on a line with the white line marking the middle of the extruded section.

So I would place it like so - somewhere in that black circle - or maybe it should be a little east, closer to the red area, or they should both be a bit further west. I probably under-did the offset of the purple lines here (to mark building edge at ground level, not roof level - but it should be a bit further back - this building is about as tall as the larger one, and we can see its height from the blue line to the roof). This is still inexact and debatable, and I suppose the graphic I already did below is a bit off, and the notes. I'll be revisiting this.

Firing Direction
under review...

FAE Clues:
Again with impact 5 we see clues that the rocket used was a fuel-air-explosive (FAE) weapon, or ...whatever it is, something with a sort of ring of fire effect and varying degrees of explosive or pressure-wave damage (usually mild). See early ACLOS discussion on this possibility, and note I'm no expert and still haven't even found a good image of a weapon with such effects to compare. But whatever it is, if it creates fire or intense heat and explosive pressure, it would of course destroy any fragile sarin vapor the weapon tried to release. It would mean the rockets couldn't have delivered sarin, as almost everyone so far believes. The reason it would turn up in tests by the UN-OPCW a week later is because the rockets and/or their surrounding were contaminated with planted sarin prior to the testing.

Here we see even less damage than in some cases, but then it's an unusually wide, open area. This big stitched panorama by Kabusk shows the overview, to which I've added marks and notes. In orange are apparent burn marks.  Considering its suggested angle, it makes sense we would see lower and more distinct scorch marks in the back (towards the N-NW). I don't know why it would or wouldn't form into discrete, regularly-spaced little columns likes this. And it makes sense that to the south/SE, in the direction of travel, we'd see a higher, wider, and fainter burn mark across the building's facade. With heat tending to rise, but with this whole thing starting at ground level, it also makes sense the ground should be lightly scorched gray all over (interrupted by that reddish spray of impact dirt, from the crater to the S-SE). Red marks the largest apparent shrapnel damage; closer, clearer views show a larger number of smaller marks.


It's not clear where these sheep were at the time of the incident, but probably near, and perhaps right here (no clear signs of any pen, and if that's their shed, built into a residential building, and their little door was coincidentally damaged, as some wonder, well... it's got no access ramp anyway.) It's quite possible some of the sheep were nearby and were affected by the blast,  killed by the blast wave directly, or by its suffocating ("vacuum") effects, and likely burned by its fire dome. That could be why they were piled and burned a bit, to explain why some were burned.

If so, they would try to bury the injured ones more in the middle to make them less obvious. In fact, some of the sheep in the middle seem to be badly damaged; two, or one in two pieces, seem to be a single pair of legs and tattered parts of a body (see beneath the half-burned slat of wood added to this part of the pile), in the area Kabusk circled in his graphic above. 

This was to note "ground and dead" animals that seem "dry from agent dispersal." Of course sarin isn't known to dry animals any more than it's known to rip them up, and they seem to have dried by burning, perhaps via the dispersal and ignition of the agent (some kind of fuel) carried in that rocket's tanks. That might actually have been what he meant - anyone who looks at these site should start to notice the little burn marks and such, and start to wonder.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Rocket 197

Ghouta Chemical Massacre:
Firing Directions 
Part 2: Rocket #197
August 13, 2017
(incomplete)


Part 2 in this series of six is for East Ghouta UMLACA/volcano impact #2, as I'm numbering it, though its makers stenciled the number 197 on it in red. This is the famous one that burrowed into a field, with its back end apparently bending forward. The location is easy to set and agreed by everyone, about 130 meters east of impact #1.

Coordinates: 38º31'14.7”N 36º21'26.6"E
It's probably the most widely seen rocket on video, being freely tampered with by activists, handling the bent tube and moving it around. (see photos at The Kurdish Cause, Brown Moses). This open tampering with the evidence is probably why the UN-OPCW investigators looked at a field impact nearby, but not at this one.


While this rocket is seen in different positions, the real bend and the surrounding damage clues suggest the bend seen at right is about how it impacted, and so can be read for direction clues; the view is roughly east, and the tube points roughly south. That's not hard to read as for general direction. Eliot Higgins decided at the time (Aug. 26):

The munition itself appears to have buckled over on impact, which seems reasonable as the center section of the remaining warhead is a hollow metal tube.  This would seem to strongly indicate the munition was fired from the north, where 6-8km away you'll find a number of military installations, connected by a 2km road to the 155th Brigade missile base.  In one version of events, the Syrian National Coalition has claimed the rockets were launched from bases housing the 155th Brigade.
Later, he came to agree these rockets had a maximum range of about 2 km, and started looking for regime-held areas that close (none identified for sure, but it remains possible)

"Sasa Wawa" at Who Attacked Ghouta also finds north. At impact site analysis, he notes how photos "clearly show the crater is oriented at a right angle to the plough lines," which run about east-west. So this "gives us another northern trajectory," in addition to impact #1.
Northwest readings agreed it appeared way more north. Our early assessment at ACLOS was a hair west of north. Resho Bistuyek at the Kurdish Cause blog agreed with my friend Petri Krohn that "the impact was slight off from a perfect northern origin, picture #2 "slightly favoring a NW origin."

FAE clues:

burn ring analysis - imprecise -  burn are extends further north into the field on the east side, as well as extending further along the facade to the east - damage uniform across the building, extending to the one east, suggesting a north-northwest trajectory similar to the rocket's apparent angle. However the building stops quickly to the right, so we can't see how far burns and damage there would go, and ground burning is harder to read, so the picture isn't complete. As noted below, a building 30 m to the west has high-level facade damage, sugg. the upper dome expanded quite a bit wider than the ground level burn marks (rising as it expands makes sense, and it would do both very quickly). In fact is seems to expand at least 40 meters in each direction.

The building facade damage is worth analyzing. Here's a start. The damage is worst low and in the center, with lighter damage extending clear across the neighboring building to the left/east, and middling damage to the central building's upper floors, and even to a building facade about 30 meters to the right/west. So far this isn't clear enough to add much; it seems like the worst damage is ahead, on a basic trajectory from the north.

North Consensus Challenged:
Sasa Wawa at Who Attacked Ghouta had seen two northern firing angles for impacts 1 and 2 but he seems to have misread #1 a bit, as it clearly came from further west. (see part 1).


Analysis by Michael Kobs in particular has established this. Seeking one firing location, which is the most logical, what everyone so far, including myself, has looked for - and finding angles to further  northwest (readings gathered here on Twitter). This considers 5 impacts, not so far including this #197, and some unclear spots pinned by others, with a black circle about 1.5 km away where all NW angles might converge. That's intriguing, and I largely agree; "embedded" (impact 1) seems to be on a line almost that exact, while I'm not sure sure about "garage door." (will be impact #4 here) and "sheeps" (will be #5). The others  (roof, wall) seem like decent ranges. Below is that Kobs map, to which I've added impact #2 and a direction range for how it seemed, and still visually seems to me.

So the Sasa Wawa conclusion - "The rockets were launched from a location north to Zamalka" - was premature, but also seems partially evident. This rocket 197 really does appear to point north, to the extent that the angle for impact 1 may not apply - they could be fired from two different spots, even though that's not the most likely scenario. At the moment, this north angle seems the odd one out, but so it is.

All the visuals aside, it's possible likely this too came from a bit more northwest than it seems, maybe even some 20-30 degrees. But otherwise, it's also possible, as it always was, that there were two or more firing directions involved, and maybe one is almost north, as it always seemed. If so, this rocket 197 would be fired from there, along with possibly those at the garage door and dead sheep sites (still reviewing, see parts 4 and 5) , besides possibly some of the unseen impact areas.

More Detailed Analysis
But all this is imprecise - the plow lines run a couple of degrees counter-clockwise from true east-west, so a line perpendicular to them would run a hair northwest. And then, is it exactly perpendicular? From a side view, it seems to angle a bit to the left,though it's hard to gauge, even with this sort of grid drawn on.


...from behind we see its back end angles a bit left from the middle part, which itself points a bit right, and angles however with the buried forward part. To me it looks like it flew in from behind and a bit from the right (in this view), but aiming about straight for the building, roughly in the middle of the span seen here. Then it snagged into the ground, and the engine's inertia bent the tube forward and a bit to the right - hence pointing a bit more south than its actual trajectory - a bit from the northwest. - straight-on appears almost due north. 
What might explain this triple bend is an unstable and spiraling rocket coming in on a yaw, as I try to show below. Yawing means flying on the gray line (not the actual angle, but confusingly similar - sorry - just for illustration), but bodily slanted a bit to the left on that line - that is, flying a little bit sideways. When the tank comes apart (releasing sarin or fuel droplets to ignite, depending) and the rocket impacts, it's tilted a bit right rather than exactly straight. So it would bent as the tail prtio tried to keep flying, before the forward bend. If it's anything like I sketch here, the tail end's orientation is more representative of the original trajectory than the middle bend or even the buried nose section. But at any rate, all angles are fairly close to each other , so these details only make a minor difference one way or the other.


This would take some more work, and maybe a better set-up than I can manage, to get a clear answer. For now, it may have been worth the rambling re-consideration, but it just looks about like it always did, even though that's now a bit of a problem.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ghouta Firing Directions {Masterlist}

Ghouta Chemical Massacre
Firing Directions {Masterlist}
last edits August 20, 2017

There has been a lot of confusion of where the alleged sarin rockets of the 2013 Ghouta attack were fired from. The emphasis has been (and will remain here) on the larger East Ghouta portion of this, with a reported 12 or so impacts of improvised 330-mm short-range rockets. This post will rather some basics and overview, and link to 7 sub-posts for 7 studied impacts (which is all we can visually verify so far). These are ordered partly by location, south and west to north and east, with the famous field impacts numbered 1 and 2, as others have done.

The posts, as I get them published:
* impact/part 1: Ain Tarma field, OPCW visit, impact #4
* impact/part 2: Ain Tarma field, rocket #197

* impact/part 3: rooftop, OPCW visit, impact site #3? rocket #153 

* impact/part 4: garage door 

* impact/part 5 sheep pile

* impact/part 6 dud through wall 

Total so far: 6 mapped impacts: #1-3 in Ain Tarma, #4-6 in Zamalka - here in red, along with partly incorrect HRW sites in pink.


* impact/part 7 (unplaced): just one clear impact spot that isn't placed: home interior, OPCW visit, impact site #5? (of 5 total). No rocket seen, just minor damage.

To move there when created:
Interior, photos:
https://twitter.com/MichaKobs/status/892692233442529282
video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5XCDvxhDHE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRR1ftLt2RM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwGoWoA9q4o&index=8&list=PLO_vQ_Y4lJ5AEko1PAuDDRt2-m4_1Y82u
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biuts_KLjm4&list=PLO_vQ_Y4lJ5AEko1PAuDDRt2-m4_1Y82u&index=9
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n97uMNpvqtc
same https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwGoWoA9q4o&index=8&list=PLO_vQ_Y4lJ5AEko1PAuDDRt2-m4_1Y82u

Sasa Wawa seems to refer to this site (but exact video is now removed), to have decided it was the north wall of that place that was hit, and that the direction of fire was, roughly, from the north. And he seems to have it on this street, where investigators are seen exiting: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KYSCRBqa9A
same https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AcdS4FmRyQ&index=12&list=PLO_vQ_Y4lJ5AEko1PAuDDRt2-m4_1Y82u
driving from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcA_dnjCzWo
visit timed at 1:35 pm (sampling said to run 1:10-1:50 pm,  samples taken from 1:35-1:46). So leaving would be closer to 1:50-2pm. Sun somewhat up the street from behind the camera, but more across it from the right, at around 2 pm, gives us an unusual street orientation - nearly all possible fits are in this small area in the north of Zamalka (Wikimapia)
8-28-2013 solar noon 12:35 -  1:35pm in Zamalka az 213 - el 62.46 (8-29, the actual day: about the same)

Whatever the street, a north wall on such a street should face about 5 degrees east of north. (is it northern wall? Unclear but seems likely from window views - lit surfaces nearby, but no direct light entering. If so, a west window also has no light coming in, but if we're 5º clockwise, that's no surprise - it's not much past noon.
nearby building suggests this was a steep descent angle
seems fairly perpendicular to the wall, which should face, at least partly, north
so firing direction would be ... or left or right angle? rebar could be studied from this video ...
other? As far as I know, only these seven have enough details to say ... HRW maps 12, largely wrong, and there could be that many or more -

* Impacts 8 and 9 (unplaced) - see here for now

Unplaced rockets:
rocket #165, triple bend but intact, laid on street - hit where?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16qFgAfM5jg

compared to HRW mapping: 12 claimed, some placed wrong or not mapped, so crossover between their 12 and our 7 is unclear.


firing directions considered
single firing spot is the most logical presumption, but it's not certain. One direction clearly prevails, but two others seem possible in the seen strikes. What any others show is obviously unknown.

North?
Initial take, 2013-present: based on 4 points, I was pretty sure the rockets came from just a little west of north, about 350º depending on the site.
a) Sasa Wawa impact #1
b) ...#2
c) ...#3 unplaced home with damaged north wall
d) Petri Krohn analysis of dud through wall scene

Northwest?
But more careful analysis managed to question that by clearly disproving 2 of these readings (a and c), apparently disproving d (though I have questions) and possibly disproving b, which remains the best case for any north firing. Otherwise, those and other scenes appear to have had rockets fired in from the northwest, around 310-320º on the compass.

1 nw (app. 315-325º)
2 n (app. 345-350º) or nw?
3 nw (app. 310-320º)
4 nw or n?
5 nw or n?
6 nw  (app. 280-300º) or se?
7 n or nw?

A Different northwest?
* How UN-OPCW Falsely Fingered Syria for the Ghouta Attack


rough material to organize:
Just from that distance, it was famously shown impossible
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article24761710.html
Jan 15, 2014
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1006045-possible-implications-of-bad-intelligence.html
By then, the rocket blamed was still never declared by Syria as part of its CW arsenal, and no one had apparently asked after it or found any - either because they were hidden, or because they didn't have the things.
In the report, titled “Possible Implications of Faulty U.S. Technical Intelligence,” Richard Lloyd, a former United Nations weapons inspector, and Theodore Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argue that the question about the rocket’s range indicates a major weakness in the case for military action initially pressed by Obama administration officials.

This finding has of course been questioned, but I don't believe this has been seriously debunked. It seems to be accepted now. Even UN investigation team head Ake Sellstrom...

This flew in the face of statements from several parties... before the above was known, and people might feel more free to make things up - hungrily swallowed and defecated by the mainstream media's presstitutes.

Kerry: "We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods. And we know, as does the world, that just 90 minutes later all hell broke loose in the social media."
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/transcript-of-john-kerrys-remarks-on-syria-chemical-attack/
"We are certain that none of the opposition has the weapons or capacity to effect a strike of this scale – particularly from the heart of regime territory."
https://geneva.usmission.gov/2013/09/04/kerrys-opening-remarks-at-senate-hearing-on-syrian-crisis/

WH press office: "Satellite detections" showed "rocket launches from regime controlled territory early in the morning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in social media."
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/08/30/government-assessment-syrian-government-s-use-chemical-weapons-august-21
This itself is possible - it might be a different firing. 90 minutes is quite a while to presume it must be related. 

So this is what U.S. intel was saying in late Aug. early Sept. - distance vague, but from maps at the time,  app. 10 km from the true heart, 5-6 km from the edge, and whatever from any specific missile site  ... proven impossible.

Questioned but not disproven - accepted by Eliot Higgins (looks only in range 2-2.5km), http://brown-moses.blogspot.com/2014/01/fourth-chemical-volcano-rocket-used-on.html
head of UN investigative team Ake Sellstrom, in basic principle (cite report).
WhoGhouta simulation http://whoghouta.blogspot.com/2013/09/umlaca-simulation.html

But in between, when no one realized it ... someone at the UN issued findings consistent with the U.S. claims, with impossible implications, and based on a provably flawed reading.
Not knowing, or not caring, the finding was heralded so ...



trumpeted in the following days  - C.J. Chivers, New York Times 9/18:heralded "some of the strongest findings to date that suggest the government gassed its own people."
“It is the center of gravity of the regime,” said Elias Hanna, a retired general in the Lebanese Army
and a lecturer on strategy and geopolitics at the American University of Beirut. “It is the core of the regime.” It sounds like John Kerry's "the heart of regime territory."

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/09/syria-un-report-ghouta-sarin-rocket-attack/
Kevin Drum, Sept 17
cites map: http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit/archives/2013_09_16.html#006904
2x 140 mm rocket, Moadamiya, 1x 330m rocket to Zamalka
BruceR’s conclusion: “The chances of this being some kind of attack by someone outside the Syrian government, already slim, basically have to drop to zero now, assuming you trust the UN’s facts as presented.” That sounds about right. Added to all the other intelligence pointing in the same direction, there’s really no longer any case to be made that this was some kind of false-flag rebel operation. It was a chemical weapons attack mounted by the Assad government. Sorry, Rush.

HRW report and graphic...etc.
https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/syria_cw0913_web_1.pdf
HRW 9/17, Josh Lyons
https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/09/17/dispatches-mapping-sarin-flight-path
Citing UN report:

Mount Qassioun, Rep Guard 104th Brigade base - 9.6 km to Zamalka, 9.5 km to Moadamiya 


Checking, Mount Qasioun is a bit northeast of  the presidential palace, with its middle about 7-8 km from the rocket impacts in Zamalka, and probably a bit further to hit Moadamiya (exact target spots still unclear to me). Someone at the UN was giving compass directions, from field evidence to support the U.S. claims, specifying what "heart" means, and the distance - about 3-4 times as far as the blamed rockets could possibly fly.

"a 330-millimeter rocket landed on what investigators described as “earthy, relatively soft ground, where the shaft/engine of the projectile remained dug in, undisturbed until investigated.” The rocket’s shaft, the investigators noted, “pointed precisely in a bearing of 285 degrees.” As it so happens, this points "precisely" to Mount Qasioun. 

However, I doubt that precision is from the attack site details, and more like the exact direction to the place they wanted to finger, simply written in with no regard to the science.

What luck! Another pretty exact-sounding direction was found, apparently, in Moadamiya, the other theater of the alleged attack in west Ghouta. "At one impact site, investigators found both the place where the rocket had passed through a “vegetal screen” above a wall just before it hit the ground, and the small impact crater itself. They noted that “the line linking the crater and the piercing of the vegetal screen can be conclusively established and has a bearing of 35 degrees.” Bearing usually means compass direction, and 35 is way different from 285. That reading that seems to be the Zamalka theater is specified as "in another section of Damascus" from this "vegetal screen." . So this almost has to be Moadamiya, and guess what? Mt. Qassioun: 35 degrees from Moadamiya center, distance 8.8 km. The northern half of the mountain is suggested. Exact impact spots unknown to me, and a different munition used, with different issues I'd need to brush up on. But I'd wager there's no more sign there of this publicized firing direction than there was in Zamalka. Whoever made those estimates was probably just pointing at the Syrian government based on a political reading. Because like the motive, the physical evidence never did point to them on its own. 
The supposed basis isn't spelled out, and it's not certain which site they refer to, so it's impossible to compare findings -but more than likely, they refer to one of the famous sites they visited, as labeled impacts 1 and 2. Here, all 12 impacts (not fully verified, from HRW map http://mm.hrw.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/media/stories/zamalaka_map.jpg?itok=2ijV_2RJ)
Numbering: the most-seen and best-placed ar #1 and 2, the rest by l-r order, radially from the apparent firing direction. Made sense to me...

So let's look at the original source:

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article24761710.html#storylink=cpy

UN report, Sept, 16
http://info.publicintelligence.net/UN-SyriaChemicalAttack.pdf
United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic
Of the five impact sites investigated by the mission, three do not present physical characteristics allowing a successful study of the trajectories followed by the rockets involved, due to the configuration of the impact places. However, Impact site number 1 (Moadamiyah) and Impact site number 4 (Ein Tarma) provide sufficient evidence to determine, with a sufficient degree of accuracy, the likely trajectory of the projectiles.
Wow...
Impact Site Number 1
The munition linked to this impact site, by observed and measured characteristics, indicatively matches one of the variants of the M 14 artillery rocket, with either an original or an improvised warhead (not observed at the impact site). In the final stage of this trajectory, the projectile hit and pierced through a vegetal screen existing over one of the adjacent walls, before impacting the ground producing a shallow crater.
The line linking the crater and the piercing in the vegetal screen can be conclusively established and has a bearing of 35 degrees. This line represents an inverse azimuth to the original trajectory of the rocket, that is to say, the original trajectory of the projectile, as it hit the ground, had an azimuth of215 degrees.
Impact Site Number 2 is located 65 meters away from number I and with an azimuth of 214 degrees. Both relative positions are fully congruent with the dispersion pattern commonly associated with rockets launched from a single, multi-barrel, launcher.

So... this is 1 AND 2, for 3 that show direction, and only 3 sites visited in Zamalka. rooftop, another home interior, and the one field site.
Impact Site Number 4 (specified as in Ain Tarma, which only the two field impacts are, that we know.)

Impact Site Num ber 4
The munition related to this impact site by observed and measured characteristics indicatively matches a 330 mm caliber,
artillery rocket. The projectile, in the last stage of its trajectory, hit the surface in an area of earthy, relatively
soft, ground where the shaft/engine of the projectile remained dug in, undisturbed until investigated.
The said shaft/engine, presenting no fonn (form) of lateral bending, pointed precisely in a bearing of
285 degrees that, again, represent a reverse azimuth to the trajectory followed by the rocket during its flight.
It can be, thus, concluded that the original azimuth of the rocket trajectory had an azimuth of 105 degrees, in
an East/Southeast trajectory.

Based on the orientation of the impact craters, orientation of certain surviving munition components and other damage
in the areas, the rockets are believed to have arrived from the northwest.



Rebuttal

Sasa Wawa at WhouGhouta - Moadamiya site details:
First, a detailed analysis of the Moadamiyah site indicates that, (a) unlike Zamalka, there was probably no chemical attack at this site, (b) even if we assume there was one, there is no evidence tying the M14 to a chemical attack, (c) the UN trajectory calculation is based on a dent in the floor that is unlikely to be a rocket impact site, and (d) the UN speculate that the rocket has previously hit another building before reaching the site.
http://whoghouta.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-un-report.html
Sasa Wawa, Sept. 19
However, they cite two impacts nearby with the same basic  bearing, so unless they both deflected at the same angle, this is either valid, or made up. Since the relevance of this site is extremely unclear, I won't bother deciding.

The investigators state that only one site in Zamalka provided trajectory evidence. This was a rocket dug into the ground which they believe was undisturbed since. This is analyzed here as Impact Site 1.

There are 2 major problems with the trajectory assumed for it:
The range of a rocket with such poor aerodynamics, a large 60kg warhead, and a relatively small engine could never reach the 9km implied here. (Update: the UMLACA is now reliably estimated to have a range of 2.5 km).
The report states the rocket points at azimuth 285. However, as shown here this implies a 5 degree angle to the wall, which the screenshots below show cannot be the case:
http://whoghouta.blogspot.com/2013/10/impact-site-analysis.html

Sasa Wawa maps the firing trajectory by site damage and they consistently point more to the north., though neither he nor I would say our estimates point "precisely" in any direction.  To the extent I can read it, I agree.
http://whoghouta.blogspot.com/2013/09/mapping-source-of-attack.html

It is interesting to note that the 12 impact sites seem to form an arc around the southern part of this area, which may indicate a series of launches made from the same point at different directions.
(as observed more clearly in the 2015 Douma Market attack, by the same Douma-based tactical geniuses)

pretty modest, really. Two trajectories, one a range and one inexact -
http://whoghouta.blogspot.com/2013/10/impact-site-analysis.html
"Drawing a 60-70 degree angle to the wall on a satellite image gives us a northern trajectory (The red trajectory is what the UN mistakenly reported)."


http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Thermobaric_weapons#Zamalka_Field_2:_.23197
location: impact 2, SW of impact 1 - direction: from the north (straight tube)
http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Thermobaric_weapons#Zamalka_Rooftop
location unclear - direction unclear
http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Thermobaric_weapons#Zamalka_Dud
location unclear - Petri decides fired from the north (by sunlight)

another site visited by Monitors Sasa Wawa used sunlight to establish that it's the north wall of a building that seems hit about straight on, suggested that it came from the north, if not any specific angle. The video is now gone, and Sasa didn't draw a line for this one. It's worth re-visiting if we know the spot, and can assess the damage. I'd like to see a third line here someday.The dud impact and a rooftop impact also might yield trajectories some day.
http://whoghouta.blogspot.com/2013/10/impact-site-analysis.html








Friday, August 11, 2017

Rooftop Impact

Ghouta Chemical Massacre:
Firing Directions 
Part 3: Ain Tarma Rooftop Impact
August 11, 2017
incomplete
edits Aug. 12

This is one of three Zamalka-Ain Tarma impact sites inspected by the UN-OPCW investigators on August 28. It was investigated at the same time as impact site #4 (see part 1), apparently a few minutes earlier (all between 2 and 3 pm local time). As they saw two spots previously in Moadamiya (August 26, listed as sites 1 and 2), this roof area must be impact site #3. (and #5 is an unplaced home, numbered impact 7 in my roster, which they visited on Aug. 29)

In the views at right (from this video), we're inside a room at roof-level, looking west or northwest across this and other rooftops. The rocket apparently blew through this west wall, and smashed through the reinforced concrete floor just inside, on roughly the camera's line of sight. It's also, apparently, sort of pushed out a mostly intact south wall panel, which seems strange (and so we're looking at an angle through two breached walls). To me, this scenario makes sense, although I'm no expert, and questions can be raised. We'll come back to these impact details.

Analysis of the actions in this video seems worthwhile for an expert - it seems the investigators warn the rebels off the roof, based on dangerous reading they're getting of ... something, here about a week after any surface or floating sarin should have been evaporated away. Is that perhaps suspicious, suggesting it was planted more like the day before? He seems to show them his reader to emphasize the point, and the less-Islamist looking "FSA" guy makes a show of covering has face off and on, and trying to shoo the cameraman away. The more bearded one seem completely unworried, just watching the investigators collect their samples.

Another video shows the OPCW crew in the room below examining the twisted remains of the rocket next to a coffee table. That's less clear and harder to correlate, so it won't be analyzed here. The state of the rocket may be of some interest, but I've nothing to say on it right now.

However, briefly, here's a new tidbit: researcher Chris Kabusk tweets that a photographer "who went there" later (for the photo in 2016?) and that that he's in contact with " also found the rocket sitting just below the rooftop, still." He provided this comparison of 2013 video stills and a Reuters-stamped photograph I've never seen. It shows a red rocket ID#, only the second one I know of from this incident: #153. (
8/13 note: one other #165 has emerged, but location unclear)


But back to video analysis and geolocation, and then angle of fire.

Geolocation
The site was initially hard to place, with little visual information to go on. Researcher Chris Kabusk had in 2014 decided on a spot that now seems incorrect. Coordinates: 33º31'17.5” N, 36º21'8.2” E (Mapped with 3D analysis here, along with a nice 3-D model of the impact site to help us visualize). It seems possible he took a shortcut here and took one of HRW's identified spots (on the map below, the one closest to "garage door"), and found a roof very nearby with a little structure in the middle he took to be this one. That's reasonable enough as a guess, but for one thing, I noticed right off (when I caught it recently) that the surroundings never did match, even the immediate rooftop shapes and details.

The UN's report (PDF via publicintelligence.net or UN PDF ) specified the site on a roof of a 5-story building was visited by one team (samples taken from 2:14-2:40 pm on the 28th) at the same time another investigated impact site #4 in a "nearby open field," taking samples from 2:34 to 2:51 pm. (see page 25-26)  When Kabusk returned to this in recent weeks, he found a 2016 photo of the same site, said to be in Ain Tarma  (where the field impact was), not in Zamalka. (this is included in the graphic below).

We all looked for a match, searching for similar roof shapes exceptionally close together, and locating a nearby minaret and a distant mountain, to find a basic line-of-sight. But in the end it was Kabusk getting coordinates and a photo from the photographer who had been there that provided the site match (Twitter), about 175 meters southwest of the investigated field impact.
Coordinates: 33º31'09.4” N, 36º21'17.3” E.  

The Spot is a basic visual match, with a strange darkness appearing on that roof and the one just west of it, sometime between Feb. 20 and August 23, 2013 (the dates of the Google Earth imagery closest to the incident date), matching the video in suggesting something ... (fire-related?) happened here, singeing the roofs, or some dark-colored mass of sarin fluid stained it? Anyway, I quickly verified this with select matching features noted (on Twitter, and see below) and, just before me, Michael Kobs verified it with other features. All relevant roof details, the bigger satellite dishes, the two little pillars to the west (green box), the raised walls on the building to the northwest, everything comes through where it should.
Now that we can place it, it's clear that this site was either not mapped, or mapped grossly wrong, by Human Rights Watch in their widely-cited map of 12 Zamalka-area impacts.
tally:
- dead sheep, and this, are verified as not mapped, or not mapped well.
- the two field impacts everyone agrees on: we agree there.
- the wall scene, w/some reservations, placed in that blue box - HRW may have it close by.
- garage door by Kobs, not verified by me, but likely right. HRW again isn't close, but two semi-close dots could be attempts based on flawed coordinates they got. The southern one of these is what Kabusk may have taken as a close mapping of his incorrect rooftop impact placement (a bit off in the other direction).



Direction of Fire
So, location being important to set it, we turn to the main point here - estimating the firing angle. In the end, the west wall faces almost due west, so the angle could have been set pretty well without the location, But where that angle of lines to is also important. 

Here's the scene again with some basic markers for reference. The red line marks the maximum width of missing wall. The impact center line is presumably around the center of this (red vertical) or maybe, my guess, on the line marked in purple. To me it seems low-centered on the wall; with impact likely on or near purple line extended up less than halfway, to a little below that odd jutting brick. Lots of upper wall gone could be just from the initial shock wave and then lack of support. The loss of so much lower wall is harder to explain without a low-centered impact. (that's a vertical angle clue, not as important here)


From there the rocket must have traveled towards the camera and left, besides down, into the floor at about the purple box, causing the wider damage marked in red. The purple area is a bit fudged between indicating the worst of the rebar damage (bars torn free and pushed far down) and the area at non-distorted prior floor level. 


Within the red area, the initial hit would be centered well left of middle, closer to the left-hand wall. Considering foreshortening in the video view, the center of damage is clearly a greater distance in from the west wall. Consider also: exterior photo from UN report, at right.

Mapping this on the satellite view: the raised part we see through in the videos is just at the northeast corner of the building, with the west half just open roof. The southeast corner is walled off, as the UN photo above shows, but seems to have no roof (it's full of sunlight). It seems the roofed corner is divided into two rooms, with the southern one impacted, and the entire width of its west wall knocked out. The small part remaining is at the southwest corner by the hole in the floor. So I map it like this:
This yields a suggested direction back to firing in a possible range of 299º to 323º, with a middling best estimate of 313º. This comes out right in the middle of a broad range Michael Kobs set, and puts it clearly in the set of northwest-origin rockets (see working draft of angles study here). Any direction closer to 350º, as we had been taking as the lone firing direction, is all but excluded in this case. This is an estimate; presumably all northwest firings converge on one spot, so likely the direction out is a bit more to the north, maybe like 318º. Considering the UN photo, I likely put the hole too far in; if so, the angle would point a bit more north, like 316 or 318º.

Note that while this is fairly readable, the OPCW investigators didn't get a direction reading here, at least according to the UN report that said only one of the 3 spots visited - the nearby field - gave a readable and "precise" direction of 285º. But that was grossly wrong, as anyone can easily verify (see part 1). This nearby spot would have been better to cite, with its direction a little more flexible. I can see the direction being as low as 299º, but as it happens, I doubt is could be quite what they need either. At the implied distance to regime missile base of about 10km, the difference in heading between here and the filed is nil. This would be 285 as well if it matched, and that's just a bit too low to be right.