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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Aleppo Convoy Attack: Did the Russians Slant Gravity?

Aleppo Convoy Attack: Did the Russians Slant Gravity?
September  29, 2016, last edits October 8
moved January 3, 2017 from How we Can Know Russia Did Not Bomb the Aleppo Aid Convoy

Note, Jan. 3: Besides moving this from its original spot, I've decided (back in October) this isn't the best leading argument I thought it was. (see postscript below) But it is what it is, a possible supporting clue. It might be as valid as it seemed - which was pivotal, a smoking gun. And it has some side-issues of importance either way.
Recently I addressed the September 19 SARC convoy attack that killed a reported 31 people (and that might be everyone) with a post How we "Know" Russia or Syria Bombed the Aleppo Aid Convoy (21st Century Wire re-post of version 1) With the West blaming Russia and Russia and Syria blaming terrorists, there are many aspects to the case slowly coming into focus at the ACLOS (A Closer Look On Syria) page Attack on Red Crescent convoy in Urm al-Kubra and its talk page, besides in some spots linked below.

I'll leave most aspects alone here and lead with this clue. It's a forensic argument, but a fairly simple one that clearly illustrates the fraudulent nature of the Russian airstrike narrative. While this point is obvious once you see it, it seems everyone has failed to notice it until now.

First, this regards the same scientific proof the anti-Russia media hordes have already run with. The remains of a Russian-made gravity-driven bomb, of the model OFAB-250, were seen inside a blast crater at the attack site. This 250-pound bomb has a distinct tail section that, if twisted and crumpled, would look just like the thing found inside the warehouse where trucks were unloading. It's under a hole in the roof such a bomb could tear. We've established that the hole wasn't there yet on the afternoon before the attack (Russian drone footage proves this), so it most likely happened during the infamous attack.

A Russian bomb found at the site looked like clear proof, likely to play into any slanted UN investigation, and picked up quickly by some like The UK Independent,  several Ukrainian outfits like UAToday and UNIAN, and the Daily Beast: This Is How Russia Bombed the U.N. Convoy (filed under "GUILTY AS CHARGED" - see right), besides mentions elsewhere.

These all cite Bellingcat, Elliot Higgins' open source investigations group, widely used to lend a science-like sheen to the blatant propaganda claims of the Atlantic community and its local terrorist proxies, in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Others had noticed a distinct shape half-buried under some boxes, at the crater's center, but it's Bellingcat that apparently got the White Helmets to send a clearer image of the tail section, still in situ but with debris removed. With this, they published Confirmed : Russian Bomb Remains Recovered from Syrian Red Crescent Aid Convoy Attack 

How the fragment looks doesn't matter here - everyone agrees on what it probably is. There was such debris and, Bellingcat implies, it was found in a way that "confirmed" the existing claims of Russian guilt. So this is perhaps the best answer to how we "know" Russia did this with aerial bombardment. One of their bombs is in the crater inside the warehouse.

Below is the graphic Bellingcat produced and that's been widely reused to prove Russian blame, as well as to question it. To start with, I don't question anything in this image - this is an accurate and useful tool. We'll refer to it below. It does not confirm Russian guilt: rather, it strongly contradicts it.
Yellow shows match from OFAB to the debris seen - Magenta arrows point from entry hole to the OFAB tail fin in the crater - green box just helps clarify its there, even if not visible from this angle.

There is a decent argument that this tail section is from a bomb that detonated somewhere else, and was simply planted here. If it was un-exploded but buried, as some have presumed, why would the White Helmets half-excavate it like that just for a photo? It's dangerous. And if it detonated and was thus inert, then why are there intact cardboard boxes just inches away, still mostly stacked together properly? (that's part of why some have presumed this was a "dud.") (see ACLOS discussion of the scene)

These are good questions, but to me they seem secondary to the main problem, now that I finally see it.

It's Slanted, Dummy!
The OFAB-250 bomb has no propulsion system. It doesn't fly. When first dropped, it'll have some of the jet's momentum, but once it starts plummeting, that's all it does, for 20,000 feet or so. If one were to punch through this roof as seen, it would do nothing but plunge into the ground directly beneath the hole.

But looking at Bellingcat's proof graphic above, a curious thing - the magenta line of arrows does not go straight down, does it? For some reason the crater is not directly beneath the hole. It's off by a good distance, around a meter.

This might be no bizarre mystery. Consider that any projectile launched from the ground will arc up to a highest point and then back down on a gently curving diagonal track like this, as it traverses its horizontal distance (basic illustration at right - purple is a gravity drop, magenta again shows the slanted descent, traced back into its full arc.)

A mortar shell or rocket will also cause directional damage reflecting both its direction of flight and angle of descent. The pattern of damage on the walls and truck, boxes and people would tell us where it came from. We can already see the basic descent angle  The detonation blast moves radially from the magenta line, perpendicular, so basically its bottom edge runs along the yellow line in Bellingcat's graphic above. Note burn marks on the pillar starting at that line. In fact, the way the magenta and yellow lines meet at 90 degrees in that image is rather helpful to see why this is no Russian-dropped bomb. 

Here's my version (all lines and locations approximate: photo rotation/perspective distortion and 3-D effect are minimal and not considered). As above, purple is an OFAB-250 drop angle (zero), and magenta is the evident angle (app. 25-30 degrees from vertical). (see ACLOS posting with discussion). As we can see, the angle Bellingcat traces to the the crater's center is correct enough.
30 degrees or less off from vertical is fairly steep, suggesting the projectile was fired from nearby. This would be to give it a relatively vertical angle, but it's still not enough to mimic a dropped bomb very well.

What I think happened: some locally-fired rocket or mortar shell * was able to pierce the roof, hit the center of that crater, and only then detonate. This suggests unusual weight and penetration capability (the noted steep descent angle would help with this) as well as some kind of delay fuze.  These features both seem unusual and might be something new (though I'm not the most read-up on weapon trends).

 * The general blast pattern is similar to rocket impacts I've studied, so I feel that's more likely. But some mortar or artillery shells operate on similar principles, and I don't know enough to exclude these.

Whatever its main action, the blast apparently caused a sort of fireball, occupying a space that's hard to explain.  The shape marked in orange is a cross section of the 'forward' half of this. If we take that orange area and extrude it radially around the magenta line, it makes sort of funnel-shaped area that's the best place to look for damage. We can see where a rolling fireball scorched the surfaces at random spots within that zone, including on the back wall just one small patch at its furthest reach. 

Shrapnel marks should occur in the same basic area as the fireball, but with a wider scatter pattern. On the walls and truck (so anywhere in this photo) we see few if any clear marks. The densest band of shrapnel would mark the columns on the right-hand and inner faces, form an arc high along the back wall and/or  across the ceiling, angling down across the truck's side (higher at the back end, lower near the middle-front) and into the boxes. The right-hand wall would be marked near the bottom if at all, and into the boxes there and the ground. 

The resolution on these areas is not the best, as they're mostly a ways across the room, and most of them are smoke-stained too. Only the nearer pillar is sure to show it, and might, partly (a few marks at the top). 

Of course none of this material is made of cardboard or flesh, so lighter shrapnel might leave mark you could see only with a magnifying glass. The people are not here to look at, thankfully. So let's look at the cardboard. Here's the most detailed view I could find of how it gets torn. (new window for fuller view)

Considering the above, low damage along front wall is expected. The picture below is from a similar view to the others but closer to the crater and looking more towards the front wall. The truck is off-frame to the left. I dropped blue dots where I saw a mark or tear like the ones above.

From left to right these start higher, shift lower, get denser, and then get jumbled or no longer there in the immediate impact area. This possible shrapnel is looking light, sharp, and not too energetic (smaller blast than usual perhaps). This seems unusual, and perhaps new, like the delayed detonation after an unusually good roof-piercing. Also, I marked a few small soot/scorch marks of a lesser 'fireball' on this side of the detonation (blue circles). The fire had less space to form here. The wall doesn't seem scorched at all.

Flight Path:
Anyway, this pattern seems to fit perfectly with the other angle of impact clues.

Looking at the crater and the roof hole, it's hard to say which is closer to that nearest pillar line. They both seem fairly close, maybe 1/3 of the way between the rows. If they lines up exactly, the line between them would run perpendicular to the front wall, or straight into the building from across its front lot. But this isn't very exact.

The orange shape cross section in my graphic above marks out a plane, which should be about on the fireball's longest axis. This suggests it's also on the projectile's flight path - it expands more in this direction because it's detonating while moving with kinetic energy, which it got from traveling inside the rocket/shell along that line.

So, tracing that line along the ceiling from the furthest smoke stains to the nearest and then to center of the hole should be the basic trajectory. It's close to straight into the building, with a slight angle from the west. The building's rotation from north roughly cancels this out, putting the source of fire almost due south. This is traced in orange below, and the flight path extension runs back in gold:

The range could be wider, but not by much. The distance out on this line is unsure, but my eye is drawn to that road area (an old airstrip?). That seems kind of nice and open, accessible area to work, just about exactly 800 meters from the roof hole. But I might be biased - in my experience, 800m south is a good place to fire false-flag rockets from. It could easily be closer, or a bit further, but in this direction.

Summary / Whodunnit
There may or may not have been aircraft involved in this attack. But whose that would be remains open to question, despite Western assurances only Russian or Syrian jets could possibly operate there.

Consider: there's no room in the Russian blame story for local artillery (rocket/mortar) strikes as part of it. Most activists say there was jet bombing, jet machine gunning, and helicopter barrel bombing involved. Some also specify surface missiles/rockets were used, all fired by government forces. These could produce such an arc if they were close enough, but they weren't - rather, they were kilometers away to the east in Aleppo. This angle could also come from a jet-fired missile, But this can't be either of those, according to the allegations; there's a gravity bomb sitting in that crater. 

Local rebels covered up this local strike, planting that tail assembly and calling it a Russian bombing, so clearly it's themselves or allies they're covering for. The area all around is reportedly under control of Harakat Noureddin al-Zenki, "moderate Islamists" who formerly received US military aid. They've since been cut-off, but might still cooperate with Washington if asked. Al-Zenki was recently accused of launching a chemical weapons attack in Aleppo (August 2, ACLOS), and earlier had two top commanders openly partake in the abuse and beheading by knife of a captured boy (al-Zenki promised the killers were arrested, but they were seen out with guns two weeks later - again, see ACLOS). Is this another crime to add to their rap sheet? 

So, if there were jets or drones or helicopters coordinating with this, they would be someone on the rebel-terrorisits-NATO-coalition side, not the Russia-Syria side. They would be doing it secretly, to frame Russia and Syria. The official denials fit with that perfectly, as does the information warfare to follow - insistence on Russian guilt and demands for a no-fly zone in response. So if this was, as alleged, an "airstrike" - even in part - it's all clearly part of the same team effort with the terrorists who fired into the SARC warehouse that night. The aim of this effort is, at least, to undermine all efforts to engage the Islamist forces that prevent a return to peace in Syria. At most, it's the start of an all-out effort to put these terrorists in charge of all Syria's land and people.
Postscript, Oct. 3: I left a comment at Bellincat's article, but they refused to approve it. Other newer comments are approved, but not mine. Past precedent already showed Higgins and co. refuse to review or even acknowledge work that trumps their own. Truth-based investigators should have no trouble considering an alternate view, but these guys avoid the truth every time it runs counter the kind of findings they're expected to come up with. This or them is another "open-source" disinformation hit-and-run against Syria.

Postscript Oct. 8: I've decided this isn't the best leading argument I thought it was. It didn't seem to phase Bellingcat's sleuths or much of anyone else so far, and in fact I can't prove that is significant. To clarify, the bomb wouldn't fall absolutely straight down. It would start with the jet's forward momentum, and that would fade  away, but not completely. How much would remain at the end? That depends on the laws of physics (known but difficult for me to measure and calculate), the speed of the jet, and the altitude dropped from.

For reference,  I did a rough measure finally and decided the descent angle we see is around 20 degrees, not 25-30. A good range is 18-22 degrees from vertical. All directional clues (shrapnel marks, fireball spread) remain consistent with this. If that could be an OFAB-250 detonation (it can't) then this could be it coming in at such an angle.

In follow-up discussion, ACLOS member Resup provided this handy chart (can't verify but looks logical) of a model object (cannonball) of the same weight as an OFAB-250 dropped from a jet traveling the speed of sound (measures are in meters - y axis is altitde from 0, drop point, x axis is horizontal travel during the drop). At a standard altitude of 3,000 meters or more, the angle at ground level (-3000) would be effectively vertical, like I said.

But if it were lower, say 1000-1500 meters, the angle could easily be in the range seen. This would raise some logic problems (aren't they worried about Anti-Aircraft fire?). But it could be done, and so even with tons of math to get an exact speed/altitude required, people could just say "fine, they did that then."

So this can only be a supporting point to the multi-point case that this is a fake, staged scene. "And furthermore, there's such an incoming angle that the notion of a gravity bomb is questionable."


  1. I have been a reader of your blog since years. The arguments you present are in most case convincing because they rest on facts & knowledge. When it comes to the bombing of the humanitarian convoy and warehouse with aid I am also in ‘the Russians ain’t guilty” guilty camp.

    Looking at the damage in the warehouse in particular. Keeping in mind that an aerial bomb supposed exploded inside (yes exploded it was not a dud for there are scorch marks as well as blast & frag traces) – an explosion of such a large explosive device (inside a confined space mind you!) would have completely demolished the place inside if not blown the walls out.

    When it comes to the stack of cardboard boxes: there would be only shreds of cardboard all over the places left.

    In other words it was not an aerial bomb for sure. What happened? My guess is that a crater was either excavated with tools or blown with a small amount of explosives. The same goes for the hole in the roof. Next the boxes were placed and subjected to the effects of a small explosive device but one that also produces small fragments (the damage to the boxes is from blast and small fragments) so my guess would be a HE-Frag hand grenade or a bundle (“stick”) of them.

    A less likely explanation is a mortar bomb or some other weapon which fired from the ground flew on a ballistic trajectory to punch through the roof and subsequently exploded after burring itself in the ground. I find it less likely because the hole in the roof and the crater in the ground seem too large for such a weapon, which must have been small considering the limited damage it did when it exploded inside the confined space of the warehouse.

    In either case the tail of a Russian aerial bomb was placed in the crater for propaganda effect.

    In the end I must however say that you err in on important point. Namely unlike what many people think an aerial bomb, in particular one released from a fast jest such as for example a strike fighter, fighter bomber or some such seldom drops down vertically. As a matter of fact a bomb released by a fast jet is more tossed or lobbed than dropped and will “fly” considerable distance before impacting the target – the said impact not being from directly overhead. To see what I mean watch the linked video.


    After watching this you will understand why it would not have been strange for a bomb to punch horizontally through a wall.

    Last but not least: you have produced some great reports in PDF format compiling info, evidence and analysis of a given incident (for example Libyan hospital massacre) in one volume. Unfortunately no such reports were made since considerable time. I know that it is not easy and a lot of work but should you find the time please make them again.

    1. I guess this is the first take. Now we have both versions plus the reason for the redundancy (below). Thanks for some valuable thoughts! If you're around, feel free to add more. (copy from text doc, and I'll try to watch closer)

      And hey, I've made PDFs on the Houla Massacre since, and recently the Hamza al-Khatib myth. I have others in the works on chemical weapons in Syria and the "Caesar photos," but they're all bottle-necked or I'm apprehensive (for some reason).

    2. And I think it was a real missile with fletchettes and a detonation fireball that loos to have flung a person against the ceiling. Seems too elaborate to fake piece-by-piece anyway.

  2. First of all I would like to inform you that something may be wrong with the comments section, for I tried to post a comment several hours ago but it disappeared. Needless to say I am disappointed, also because a lot of work on typing it was lost. For this reason I will only post an abbreviated version of my previous comment.

    1. I essence you are right I was not a Russian bomb.

    2. The hole in the roof and the crater in the ground could have been made with small amounts of explosives or tools or both but this is really a secondary technical issue.

    3. The bomb tail section was added to make it look convincing on first glance but this is secondary too

    4. The primary thing to me, is that the damage done is way too small for the bomb of this size Keep in mind we are made to believe it was not a dud; scorch marks, shrapnel damage etc. everything suppose too look like it went off.

    5. However if it really happened (the bomb exploded) the damage should be massive with the cardboard boxes being blown apart, possibly the wall in the vicinity collapsed outward. Keeping in mind that the bomb was supposed to explode in an enclosed space which makes the effect even greater.

    6. The damage done is in fact minimal. The damage to the cardboard boxes both from blast and fragments is small, like from a HE-FRAG hand grenade or a “stick” of such at the most.

    7. What is disagree with you though is that it was caused by a ground launched weapon such as a mortar, “hell canon”, rocket or some such. The reason is: (a)for a projectile of that kind to penetrate the roof and make such a crater it would have to be of relative large size and caliber but (b) the damage done points to a small size explosive device – since (a) and (b) are mutually exclusive the logical conclusion is that a mortar or some other artillery piece was not involved.

    8. Another thing I disagree with you and in which you probably err is that bombs do not fly but come down vertically. Not always so. In fact a bomb released from a fast strike aircraft (fighter-bomber or such) will literally fly and that for considerable distance. Just watch


    So it would not be out of place if a bomb even went horizontally through the wall.

    Consider some of my remarks as constructive criticism. Overall you do a great job and keep it up!

    1. Anon, hi! Almost two months before I remembered to check the "spam" folder. It's too sensitive sometimes. Apologies. I suppose you're gone by now, but I'll have a look finally.

      There are definite issues with a ground launch, you're right there. I don't have a sure answer, but... you take big and small as exclusive, when big means massive, not voluminous. If it's heavy but narrow, it could fit. And it needs a time delay. It seems to be an unknown hypothetical weapon, so details aren't known.

      I acknowledge the ambiguities of the drop angle, and hence demoted this argument. I don't know the exact numbers, but I stand by my doubts - it's a heavy bomb, should lose forward momentum pretty quickly. Also, it apparently didn't detonate here (or the damage would be far worse, as you note), but something did (because there is some damage). So whatever fell in, maybe it was dropped or fired, from air or ground. It came in about 20 degrees from vertical. Seems hard to be sure or convince anybody that means anything for sure.

      And then maybe it was an air attack. But as I note elsewhere, Russia and Syria have zero motive, so we should demand good proof. So far only Russia and Syria have provided radar tracks for their story. I hear now Russian-made missile fragments were said to be found. Maybe it was a Russian-made jet, armed properly, but flown out of Turkey? (But then why did Russia say it was a predator? Ah, because no one would believe they saw a Russian jet but it wasn't theirs? Mysteries.)


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