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, May 28, 2017

Idlib Chemical Massacre: White Fog Explainer

Idlib Chemical Massacre 
The When And Where
White Fog Explainer
May 28-29, 2017
(incomplete - edits 6-10, 7-10)

In the whodunnit debate over the alleged sarin airstrike against Khan Sheikhoun on the morning of  April 4, it seems to me Neither side has given adequate attention to this subject. There's an expanding white cloud at the time of the attack, and later a dense fog over the same area. That's reported by activists as sarin nerve agent, but as I'll show, this is a dubious and poorly-thought-out claim. The other side, so far, has either presumed no connection, or just not clearly thought about the possibility.

This subject might be important, and while it's tedious and took a while, I feel it's worth it to help advance our understanding. My intention here, as it has been, is to propose a "false-flag" attack by local terrorists, in a theory that accounts for all available evidence as possible (unless and until it's proven unrelated or fake). As usual, all verbal accounts are open to question, but not to be ignored, and visual evidence is given preference when it's available. And so I will try to present opposition claims and assess them as carefully and fairly as possible - so in the end, when their story is shown to fail, it can't be said that's from any unfairness on my part. 

I really tried to see how this sarin bomb fog story might make sense, and nothing plausible seems to work. I establish this early on, and then spend some time analyzing the visual evidence to propose in some detail what I think might well have happened.

Re-Introducing the Scene
Below are two panoramic composite views from two videos filmed around 7 am, said to show the chemical attack at that time (both were posted for the first time around 7:20 and 8 am on the day on the 4th). (see also the when and where for details on this and other temporal-spatial aspects)

Top: post-attack "3 plumes" video. Below: the later spread of the alleged sarin vapor across the whole town. Their alleged video order is clear, but the time lapse isn't. The similarity of sunlight angles makes clear it can't be much time; 15-30 minutes seems a good initial guess.
Both scenes are filmed from the same locale, facing south from well north of town, and roughly lined up here. They show (left-to-right)
- blast plume #1 (drifted away later),
- plume 2 nearby (same),
- the white cloud we'll focus on here (green box), which by video is expanding in a billowing manner in the top view, with the later fog seeming densest in about that same area,
- the tel, or low flat hill (with an invisible minaret in the middle in the top view - it's in plume 2's shadow),
- blast plume #3 well to the southwest of those (likewise drifted away later).
- also, dense fog appears further southwest (seeming to flow from the purple box), with no clouds or blast plumes seen there earlier.

The emphasis here is the connection between that white cloud and that fog. Is this, as opp claims, the sarin bomb's payload spreading on the wind to kill random local civilians?

Important note: none of these spots correlates with the famous crater in the street near the grain silos and the city's central bakery in the town's north. This (with Hadi Abdullah, reporting around 1pm that day)  is the only spot so far shown and mentioned as the release point for sarin. But the space above that area is simply not included in either view above, being well off-frame to the left in both cases.

Was there a blast plume there? There shouldn't be, for an effective sarin release as alleged. Was there a low white cloud? Something else? Or nothing? The video just doesn't say. Keep this in mind.

Cloud-Fog Time Interval
First, I need to set a time interval between the video scenes. My initial comparison was unclear, suggesting the bottom view was later in some ways, earlier in others. Solar azimuth (compass direction to the sun) seems about the same, and hard to get a clear and logical reading of. Solar elevation clues, however, show clear and consistent differences, suggesting the fog scene is slightly later in the day.

Trying to measure  part of the clearest-seen minaret, I got the mess at right. Balcony shadows and glare on the domed top both suggest some kind of higher elevation in the fog video.

Two low walls are clearer in having their shaded portions shift downward (below), but these can't be measured. For now I have to estimate the elevation difference is about 4-5°. The best time for the attack video is around 6:47 (the alleged time, and at least very close to the real time, by sunlight angles). A half hour after sunrise, the sun was 5.6° above the horizon (but still a bit below the features of this tall minaret, so still shining up, I guess). The later view would then be 7:07 (9.6°) to 7:12 (10.6°). That's about 20-25 minutes between videos.

So, if these scenes are connected, that's the order they come in, and that's the basic time frame between. That fog has to appear in about 20-25 minutes. That's too much for some to swallow, and so far, here are the four main options I've considered, coming from opposition activists, from my own interpretation of that plus the visuals, and two other options offered along the way.

White Cloud and Fog: Different Possibilities
Two Arguments for Irrelevance
Option 1) the white cloud is irrelevant, and the fog is a natural morning mist. Such a mist probably won't form that quickly, just after a bombing (or dissipate that fast, for those insisting on a different order, although that makes more sense). So this option all but requires they be different day videos, which is unlikely (same basic time of day and year close to April 4 by sun angles, no differences in vegetation or scenery, same wind direction, different and complementary vapor-fog issues, and both never before seen). I could cite the strange similarity to the rebel claims, but I suppose in this scenario where they had fog and/or attack videos from different days sitting around, they crafted the claims to the fake video. Still, I don't buy it.

For those remaining at this point, the rest of this post may seem totally irrelevant. But until a date mismatch is proven (I predict never), I'd argue it's worth considering at least in the sense of "according to the accepted evidence," which may fall apart on analysis.

Option 2) the white cloud is irrelevant, part of seen blasts, and the fog is more attack-related smoke that forms a haze. This is a smarter theory, aired by most of my friends and research associates. Powerful blasts do often eject whitish plumes along ground level, in addition to the rising main smoke cloud (example). The distance is questionable, and probably impossible as I have it placed.So I suspect this is its own phenomenon, but so far, some disagree.

Either way, residual smoke and dust lingering near the surface and drifting on the wind is surely part of the picture; the stuff that rose high with heat would remain there and drift away, but particles that never did that would settle somewhat and form a haze. However, while the  appearance might be about right, the amount of it, and shape of the filled areas relative to a couple of non-blast spots raise questions about this as a complete answer. There may be much more to it.

Option 3) Opposition story: 
Let's spend more time on this one. They claim the expanding white cloud is the, or a, sarin vapor cloud, from a bomb dropped  by the passing jet(s). The fog seen 20-25 minutes later is the same very dense cloud, once expanded. If this is the same scene we see on video, and it sounds like they're claiming it is, this has to be called out off the bat.

Wrong Kind of Spread: I'm not really an expert, but as I gather, a realistic spread from a one-time release following on a sarin bomb drop will have a fairly predictable shape and behavior. Charles Wood did some great theoretical gas mapping for the 2013 Ghouta incident at ACLOS. He knows at least a bit about these kinds of things. I discussed this with him, and he says the kill and danger zones for any sizeable sarin release is larger than I thought, on the scale of a kilometer to kill, and maybe up to 14km for lesser effects. The shape of the affected area will be sort of elliptical or oval. This is caused by the roughly circular initial release cloud, maybe 10 meters wide or so, drifting on the wind.  I suppose really it just diffuses, but with the middle staying stronger, rounding off the fuzz into an oval is fairly close.

That's all it does - get released once, then drift on the wind, expanding as it slowly settles or evaporates, harming as it can along the way with weakening of its effects, especially along the expanding edges. It should take about 2-3 minutes for any visible plume to drift off the distant video's field of view. No more sarin would follow that.

At right, a crude graphic to show this idea - not accounting for amount, exact plume size, exact spread or distance, just the basic idea, and using a polygon instead (limitations). The center line runs one kilometer from each release point we're considering, on a heading of 45 degrees (wind). The true angle could be more northerly.

One km is just the deadly range; lesser effects would go on much further. I also made the main areas probably too wide by a good margin, just to not overdo the point. We'll see some elongated but narrow field just along the wind's direction. Nothing about this will push against the wind and spread in all directions.

Note: All agree they fog came out of the bomb after impact, starting at ground level; it wasn't the more deadly aerial dispersion used in professional sarin bombs were designed with in the Cold War, like the kind Human Rights Watch fingered with almost no evidence at all (Soviet-made KhAB-250, apparently with a non-functioning proximity fuze). And for what it's worth, the alleged radar tracks provided by the US Defense Department show the jets never flew directly over the crater, just 2-3 km south (see the when and where). If so, they'd have to use missiles, not any air-dropped bomb. And this better analysis shows it's more likely a regular ODAB-500 air bomb remains we see. How that all adds up is another story. Let's back to the one at hand.

Two release points are shown here, and I'll explain that soon, as I try here to be overly fair to the opposition claims. So, let's say they have 100 kg or more released by this hypothetical Assad bomb, and there were two of them in this area, and they had an extra-wide initial dispersion, with fat plumes like I show.

Still, I don't think that can explain what we see. The fog is just too massive and widespread, and it's not a match with the white cloud or with the southwest fog spot, which show or suggest a prolonged, massive release of vapor, vigorously pushing in all directions, even against the wind at its origin. Even with the expansion seen with the white cloud, it would have to continue for many minutes to fill the area seen, probably for the full 20-25 minutes (I try to map this below, to clarify the point). What Assad bomb can keep spewing sarin fog for 20-25 minutes? I imagine none of them, and this must be something else.

I could invent them a new type of mass-vaporizing sarin barrel bomb. But I just don't feel like going this far. So far, they've shown debris for something more mundane and incapable instead.

But I will skip overly-literal readings of their claims to let the opposition have a best case scenario, between words and imagery, for a chance at working out. Considering the further problems they present with making sense of their claims, this is the only way to keep their story from dying too quickly, to stay engaged until the deepest debunk is found, so even any improved versions 2 and 3 they come out with will be set to fail before they can even walk.

How Many Sarin Clouds Reported? This Reurters article cites Hussam Salloum, a jet-tracking activist, saying a single Su-22 "dropped three conventional bombs, and a fourth one that made little sound at impact but produced a cloud of white smoke." That left "three columns of dark smoke and the white cloud nearer to ground level," which is linked to the sarin release. Note there's no room here for another white cloud, with just four bombs. And note that conventional high-explosives blasts cannot be sarin release points (the heat of detonation would destroy the fragile nerve agent. That will require a low-heat release of vapor (small droplets in suspension, because it's a liquid, not a gas). And this will work best with night-time or dawn attacks, when it's cooler. This was at dawn, which makes sense.

Referring to this alleged vapor, Salloum said "the smoke was white and thick" when it was a cloud among the blast plumes. But then, as Reuters passed on, it "began to spread out across the town, until there was a layer over the town." It's like he was really there, or saw the videos.

He seems to be describing, as seen, plume 1, plume 2, the white cloud, and plume 3. As noted, the famous crater near the grain silos, the one spot everyone specifies as where the sarin was released, is not included in that view. If that's what he means, this fails too badly for my liking. It misses one of two important points, either the famous crater, or the white cloud. Maybe he just missed something?

As Human Rights Watch reported, activist Ahmad al-Helou definitely "saw the plane drop a bomb and the bomb falling until it hit the ground." It hit "in front of the bakery," which HRW clarifies means the famous crater near the grain silos. It didn't detonate, but "he saw the bomb kick up yellowish smoke that spread in the prevailing wind." (HRW report)

Is yellowish smoke on the wind the same as an expanding white cloud? Or are they talking about two different things in two different places? It's not clear. Perhaps Salloum an Helou both mean the bakery strike, and the video just didn't catch it. If that was whitish and expanding, it's similar to the one we do see near the tel. But then neither mentioned that spot, and it must be something else similar but unrelated.

But this is not the fairest. Because of the established wind direction, that would leave no plausible origin for the sarin said to kill all the victims perfectly upwind of that spot. The crater site is nearly irrelevant - the wind would blow its alleged sarin over the farmlands and very few homes, including none of the ones reported. The people cited must have been (allegedly) killed by sarin from the other spots. That's why I'm leaving all possible release points on the table, to not make it too easy to slay this terrorist lie.

So to be more than fair, let's say there was a second pass, a second jet, or somehow more than four bombs. Let's say there are two white clouds in the town's north, and Salloum and Helou perhaps each reported one and missed the other, or they both missed one of them. 

And then there's the southwest fog area (purple box above), with no visible cloud at first, but later a giant smear of fog from there along the wind. They don't mention this either, and it's possible to just miss it that far out. So between words and images that's at least two and perhaps three alleged release points. 2-3 sarin bombs plus three conventional blasts means at least 5 or 6 bombs/missiles in total. They may claim just this eventually, as their original story falls apart, so let's get ahead of the curve.

As we'll see below, the fog seen could then reach the placed victim locales; the white cloud's portion at least, between expansion and wind, is somewhat likely to coat that area, depending on the finer points. But are we proposing the Syrian air force dropped two or three fog machine sarin bombs? Each must have held... a lot of this sarin, and some unknown mechanism to dispense it in rolling masses for probably 20-25 minutes. If this preposterous weapon exists, then maybe it's how Assad could actually kill all these people with his dirty terrorist-grade sarin. Otherwise, it's just not possible, and something else has to explain this fog.

Option 4) My False-Flag Theory
The white cloud, and at least one other like it, become the fog seen 20-25 minutes later. I propose this, if not as gospel than as worth testing out. It's not clear what the vapor/mist/smoke/fog/gas really was, but it didn't come from the passing jets. It's most likely a visual effect concocted to line up with the false flag rocket attack, which had been timed with the passing surveillance jets.

What this is, I don't know. I was seeing some kind of powerful and capable "fog machine" in each of the two-or-more spots, but people tend to think of a music show or haunted house type of device and scoff at that, so ...

I've though of simple pressurized steam made using boilers and lots of water, that might form a fog in cool conditions. But the high-drifting mist we see might be too light for that, more like the toxic white haze from insect fumigators (video - warehouse fumigation in the US). It's blown out at high pressure, persists, expands, and quickly fills this contained but very large space. Imagine five guys with these, or some giant truck-mounted version. It would be loud, but maybe running indoors or muted somehow, with a solid tube blowing just the vapor and not the noise out over the town.

Unusual chemicals could be used, but consider just the common types used in fumigation scenes like the above and in homes in the United States at least: sulfuryl fluoride (Wikipedia), for example, has an ILDH (immediate danger) rating of 200 parts per million. It's colorless and odorless in itself, but "Inhalation of sulfuryl fluoride is hazardous and may result in respiratory irritation, pulmonary edema, nausea, abdominal pain, central nervous system depression, numbness in the extremities, muscle twitching, seizures, and death." That's quite similar to what's reported.

And then, added later: here's a some machine rebels used in Aleppo, with burning tires as the base material. Areas can be filled with devices like this. This was used back in November to lessen visibility of alleged attack jets, or as the video puts it, as a "smokescreen no-fly zone." It may have also been used to generate the smoke for false air attack reports. And here in Idlib, it could be the same thing used in a smoke-screen operation, to cover a false-flag terrorist chemical massacre, in pursuit of a Libya-style "No-Fly Zone."
Whatever and depending on the method, this could be used to spread a number of substances for a number of effects. I presume it's primarily for visual effect, to be seen on video after the rocket blasts. But other effect they might try for include:
1) actual sarin effect, using pure (or impure) sarin (not likely at all - the volume is immense, and far more would have died)
2) something laced with trace amounts, or something that might test similar to sarin (possible - and they still say what turned up is "sarin or a sarin-like substance," perhaps some common organophosphate pesticide, depending on the kind of test they used.)
3) something to mimic the nasty sarin they're now openly blaming on Assad (see the sarin evidence - it's yellowish, smells foul/strange/disgusting, burns the eyes and lungs, and allegedly causes paralysis and 'foaming at the mouth')
4) something random meant to kill (not likely - deaths were needed, but killings could easily be done somewhere else more controlled, and probably were)

Or it may be no effects but visual; it's just a man-made fog, and all stories to the contrary are lies. That, option 3, and then option 2 are my favored possibilities at the moment. But putting aside just what it is, we can see it's white (or very pale in color), very copious, drifting on the wind, and covering a large area that seems worth mapping out.

Mapping the If
If it's option 3 or 4, and the white cloud and the fog are related, - the time difference estimated at 20-25 minutes for that cloud to expand into that fog be it sarin from a dropped bomb, or unknown mist from an unknown fakery method. We can get a better idea of which makes more sense, as we often can, by making good use of the visual evidence provided.

<add 7-10>The location of the white cloud, and thus what it likely is, remains debated. Michael Kobs on Twitter feels it's part of blast plume #2, and so next to it. To me it looks different, and has always seemed much further south, next to the tel. The details below support that, appearing like the cloud is in the tel's wind shadow (as the breeze blow from the southwest). The most likely area is centered on a possible school or large building with a walled courtyard, and specifically on a small outbuilding at the corner of that. From a scene photo, the corner where I suspect the white cloud originated is boxed in white.<end 7-10>

White Cloud Expansion vs. Fog Spread
I've been asked how can the top scene in my starting graphic can lead to the second scene in the apparent lapse time. My answer has been and remains simple; the expanding cloud would keep expanding in different directions, and smear away on the wind to the northeast. With 20-25 minutes of that, an area of this middling size and beyond could easily be coated.  

Bellingcat member Timmi Allen video trying to claim this shows a wind to the right (on Twitter). The responses didn't agree very well, and all things considered, we're clearly seeing some internal expansion here, not wind. The wind most could see is the same one you can see in general - to the left - and not to the right, as the majority of the expansion would suggest, if that were any clue to the wind (aside from a lack of it, maybe - this is in the hill's wind shadow)

I used a more detailed image with different lines to place this expansion on the map. beige, minaret - orange: app. left edge of seen vapor (stays steady) - purple: app. right edge at start - light blue: app. right edge 17 seconds later - green line (almost on blue): app. start of hill slope. Mapped out, and adding a hair of growth towards the camera, that's decent swelling for a quarter of a minute.

Also we can note if the wind is from the southwest (it is), this is in the wind shadow of the tel. Its north corner near the orange line would be most susceptible to wind smear, as we see, while the inner blue line side can expand with less wind, as we see.  Wind aside, it's probably trying to expand in all directions, but likely more to the right/west at this moment.  Would it keep billowing that way the whole time, or vary it direction? That's not clear.
Rounding 17 down to 15 seconds, that seen expansion is shown below (0 and first box out at 0:15), with possibly consistent 15-second expansions from there traced out up to five minutes (presumptions: some right expansion, random directions mixed, plus the wind to the northeast. Then more roughly I use that to map a possible 10, 15, and 20 minute expansion. The latter would bring this mysterious mist into the zone of affected homes we've placed. I don't really know the volumetrics and stuff, if this doesn't quite make sense, but it seems plausible to me. A good start to a discussion, maybe. At that rate, the areas of alleged victims could easily be reached and the whole north of town (not a big town) coated within the 20-25 minutes between videos. (notes: these shapes try too hard to reach the red dots. Also there should be more right-shift in all the outer rings. The furthest red dot to the left keeps losing out badly at fitting into this picture, and it's an important dot.)

So it could matter ... in a visuals-consistent (reliable) version of option 2 or 3, that fog would reach the victims' homes. But as explained, it's not consistent with option 3 under normal circumstances, since sarin bombs don't just pour the stuff continually for tens of minutes. 

And here's how it looks anyway on video,from a distance to the north - apparent fog density (as much from angle of view as from actual thickness at any spot) considered across the field of view. The 2 green lines mark the densest area of fog in the middle, with the middle minaret marked in blue - 4 yellow-green lines mark middling and thinner zones to the left and right of that. Mapped beneath: heavy white lines for thick area, etc. The west edge at the hill cuts off visibly, but east clearly has copious fog continuing off the northern view's left edge, so continuing an unclear distance to the northeast.

The actual north-south boundaries of this fog area are pretty unclear. The north is what matters, and all we can say is it's on the south side of some ridge we can see in the distance view. That seems to run just north of the curving (Corniche?) street here, traced in purple.

I traced a possible cloud shape in yellow-white, considering expansion, the wind, and the hill's wind shadow. By this, the placed homes would be between the green lines and across the left of the image from there, roughly as shown, and then labeled for relevance. The places, if not the actual people, may have been in that fog. Again to be overly fair, I tried to fudge the expansion north enough to explain the reported death sites and area. It's not that easy. Different versions include some, all, or none of the homes. Effective spread could be more or less than any of the versions shown here. I don't really know.  

But the white cloud site's expanded fog could have reached the reported homes. This is clearly significant, but doesn't prove anything in itself, considering all the unknown factors we're dealing with and the open questions, including:
- how could a sarin bomb in any location do this?
- where are the other dead people closer to the cloud's origin?
- Why are they only reported near - but not at - the far edge of its possible spread, in a strip that's also perfectly upwind from the irrelevant crater?
- again, this wasn't the allegation anyway - they've never shown the site of this possible sarin release or spoken of it. I had to propose this for them in order for their story to even possibly work. Why? Is there something embarrassing at that origin spot, perhaps just inside the fenced courtyard of ... what is that, a school? The kind usually shut down and taken over by Al-Namechange Front as a militant base?

SW Fog area
This is something no one else seems to notice, but there's a whole other field of fog that's appeared in the same 20-25 minute span between videos. There are a few possibilities for what this is, and they're the same as above. It's also has a distinct shape we can see because of the general slope of that area, that includes a good-sized hill on the left here that divides the fog as it apparently drifts northeast (left and towards the camera). Here it splits into more east, and more north, or towards the camera. 
Using Bellingcat's FoV study, placing the green lines to rough proportion - on the left, beginning of the serious hill that divides the fog, and close by, the edge of the tel that blocks the rest of the view. To the right, the apparent edge of this fog field. That app. big building that pops out (above "primary spread" label) would help set the area if we could identify it. Marked in yellow below, this seems to be two large buildings in an area lining up so the right one mostly obscures the left one. That jumble is the furthest things out on an up-slope, with empty fields behind them. Here's a sloppy graphic that shows my work on where to find this place in the gold box.

Having that set, can determine roughly how far south this will be. Next, how wide does it appear across the field of view? Tracing that from the known locale on the right angle - measuring pixel proportions for different spots -

compared to topo map to help set the shape of where it divides, and using that hill to set the origin point to its west - all lines up, and this is pretty close that what we see, if there was a satellite view of it.

All considered, I suppose the actual release point is further upwind than any of the spots I indicate here - further south of the dividing hill, and further west.  So the original fog area would be larger than shown anywhere here.

<add 6/10>Upon closer inspection, the area scribbled on the topo map is almost exactly right. Strange things are afoot at the farmhouse right there - see SW fog area oddities.<end 6/10>

North and South Areas Mapped
Do they have an improved version waiting to come out? If we amend, include implicit video claims - the bakery crater, the 'white cloud, and the spot SW of town, perhaps another - the only spot they've noted so far doesn't matter, but the others they might now mention, belatedly. If it's built-in at the start and latched onto later, but ignored in-between - is that just a goof-up, or a sort of long game they're playing with investigators like myself? In case it's the latter, here we are getting ahead of that possible curve.

Could they coat the whole town like this? The video suggests they did. What's required in between is they poured their fog continually for the unseen span of 15-30 minutes. Do we think this makes sense?

This is a strange pattern to set up intentionally. With two of the three spots primarily covering just the outskirts, and the bakery crater being downwind of the white cloud site, so its plume pretty much continues that same spread. To kill people, or even to cover area where many live, this is a poor use of whatever that is.

A fourth release point would make sense in this context, and a reasonable spot has already come to attention, indicated with a question mark here. That's the mysterious small cloud of black smoke somewhat near to plume 3 (not clear just how far north or south along the line of sight, nor therefore how big the plume is - but most likely north and not big). This is shown below, on the right side from plume 3 (facing south). 

This seems attack-related, but neither a HE blast nor a supposed sarin cloud. Is that the gunpowder-type mini-charge to open a sarin bomb's valve? Or fuel smoke, maybe the generator to run a "fog machine" being started up? This whole area seems to be on a down-slope, as well as mostly hidden behind the tel from the northern views. So a fog field just as large as the others could be hiding in there, perhaps wrapping around the east side of the tel and merging with the mist seen there.

Be it two fields, three, or four, activists have avoided showing us any of the 20-25 minute spread of the stuff that caused them. Their story requires that happening, and it would have kept happening for some time. But it seems no one filmed the growing crisis, from a distance or up-close. They only filmed the very start with the white cloud (because you have to to show the bomb plumes and hear the jets departing to "prove" it was an airstrike), and then what seems the drifting mass after fresh production has stopped. Maybe that's because it looked fake in between, like a couple of fog machines or giant area fumigators on hyperdrive? They cut to the  unnatural amount of man-made fog is just drifting in a more natural way, as if it was just released by those bombs, as if it isn't 20-25 minutes later here before they're done releasing it...

I haven't moved far from my initial impression that these videos matter to the allegations they illustrate - the white cloud is odd, expands - the later video simply shows it expanded, with at least one other area doing the same. And for all my going out on limbs for their story, it still fails with strange lapses of reason that real events just don't have. In summary, some of the problems that stand even after we try for a best-possible explanation:

* The witnesses only talk of the irrelevant spot, showing the crater and weapon debris at the bakery crater, and providing stories of nearby victims. They  do not show what hit near the tel, nor in the southwest area, nor at any other potential sarin bomb site. They don't show debris or a crater, provide nearby victim stories, nor even mention these spots clearly. On that basis alone they could be discounted, but that's not the kind of exercise I'm running here.
* Of all the covered areas, perhaps half the town, still victims are reported only in one strip of a few dozen homes that's still better described as upwind of the one specified release point. Even imagining other versions. it's only possible to include those among hundreds of fog-coated homes all across the town where no one was reported dead. That just doesn't make sense.

* They do not show the telltale fog spread actually happening, missing some 20 minutes of oppotunity to show us. Maybe that's because it was deemed too unrealistic in action. They just showed the after effects, perhaps - once the process of special effects fog creation was stopped, after 20 minutes or more.

* And the main short-version thesis, I guess, is this cannot be a bomb of any known kind, spraying enormous amounts of sain vapor for 20-25 minutes. It's more likely to be a simple concocted visual effect, as pat of an especially big and important allegation that would need supporting evidence like this. (more logical would be better, but Islamists aren't the best in that regard)

If this is their important visual effect, why didn't they show more of it, even after the wrong-looking process was completed? White Helmets with gas masks and suits existed, but aren't seen running in it to save people anywhere, with or without fog. Maybe that's because there were no rescues to show, because, as I and others suspect, the victims were all gassed in some centralized, controlled locales. They would first be loaded into truck at the gas chamber sites, which they don't want to show us.  

This is the core of the story, the murdered Syrian civilians - we can see some were poisoned with something - probably not sarin, or very weak if so - that damages the airways and makes breathing difficult - others, as I noted at the start, were apparently finished off with slices to the skull or holes poked in the throat - Islamist methods - and this happened just days after terrorists had kidnapped over 100 fresh civilian hostages in two nearby towns they briefly conquered. To be seized like that, the applicable rules mandate they should be non-Sunni religious minorities, or from Sunni families identified as supporting the government. It's all reminiscent of every other chemical massacre I've studied. How can I avoid the same conclusion?

As part of this, it seems they had some special effects vapor, lots of the stuff, to prove on video all about Assad's sarin fog machine bombs. They got the airstrike part accepted just as automatically as usual, but they also wanted a dramatic sarin fog we could see. Lucky for us, that same effect all but proves it's a fraud, and part of a criminal deception by the foreign-backed terrorists bleeding Syria.


  1. Fog machines are in use as anti-aircraft defences in Aleppo/Idlib and they put out a good volume - though so do main battle-tanks making smoke.




    1. Very cool, thanks. Just had the smoke machine pointed out. The tank is interesting. All methods so far are loud. All videos are filmed from far enough away you can't hear how loud this fog is ...

      But thinking of screening and noise, I remember white phosphorous also produces thick white smoke thy use for screening. I don't suppose that's a good candidate for this situation, but it's another a reminder of how many possible ways there would be to fake up a scene like this.

    2. A street scene would surely have been their choice had they gone down the smoke machine fakery route: I can just imagine a hazmat wearing White Helmet carrying a child out from a white smoke cloud. The pictures made would have been instantly declared 'iconic'..

      For the record, NYT did in fact label the bakery as the building marked on Google maps https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/04/27/insider/27insider-strikes/27insider-strikes-master675.png

      from -

    3. But, that would require putting some of their victims into some home-like place in the affected area first, and then going there to rescue them. It would have been a good idea, and not that hard to set up, but it seems they didn't go that route. Or they did, but the noise and billowing from the fog machine came through too clearly, and all such videos were considered ruined and never released. Who knows?

      Thanks for the bakery tip - seems we all agree, ad I'll probably keep using bakery crater as shorthand.

    4. The updated satellite photos for the end of April are available on Terraserver for everybody now too - might be worth checking if there are any clues for the black/white clouds and areas you've marked

    5. Thanks. I didn't figure out how to find it yet (tried with coordinates, but nothing came up). Does seem worth a check though. Will try again.

  2. Qoppa 999 encountered unusual difficulties trying to post comments here. Some points collected here on Twitter instead. The essence seems to be more different-day arguments ... will respond appropriately soon. (less than a day)

    1. Responding to Qoppa's points finally, and a final answer (until/unless the picture changes) for all wrong-day theorists. I don't mean the final word on the subject except for my part.. You have to draw a line somewhere when time is limited. I tried a short answer to the wrong-day issue, but it wasn't adequate for some. So ... this will be it.(some links provided)

      tweet, point 1): The same exact scene and very close time of year and day, just a little time gap and no differences except smoke plumes may have drifted off, and may even be seen drifting off, and fog covering everything, after an expanding cloud was seen maybe starting the process ... does not mean we should expect these are different days. Sorry. That's one route to take, that you admit seems "easy." I'm rigorous, not prone to take the easy way unless it really seems to also be the wise way. This call doesn't seem wise.

      Some guy is a presumed liar, and wrong-day video is a type of lie. Sure. But liars can use partial truth for their cases as well. He claims it was filmed on Earth and guess what? I buy that part. I think you'd agree. He says April 4, and... well, nothing proves otherwise and it could be true. So, if you can't just laugh it off as an obvious lie, so what do you do?

      tweet, point 2): If attack claims were tailored to pre-existing video ... that would be interesting to know. But how do you know it? We don't. No proof. These plumes might even have been filmed just when he says. They could use pre-made videos, or they could have done just what I propose here. And I proposed it because nobody else really has, and it could be the real lead no one else has followed. So... shouldn't someone? Just in case?

      So Salloum either fits testimony to videos OR describes the scene. The bakery crater not included could mean different things as well. It's a basis for speculation like anything.


    2. (continuing...)
      points 3) and 4): this needs planning and preparation - you don't just wait for Assad's jets to pass - you fake the right scene on the best day, use natural mist when it happens, and release it on the day of the lucky jet pass. OK, that does make sense. But how uncommon is a morning surveillance flight? It could be daily for all we know. You might also trigger a special flight by doing something shady the night before they'll want to go have a look at in the morning.

      And why wait around for an adequate mist video at the right time of year and day to match an attack video with jet noise from the same time of year and day, that will match the day and time of the unknown lucky jet pass? When you could just wait for the daily recon pass, provoke an unusual scan and use that, etc., and get your fog on cue, starting as jets can be heard departing, without waiting around for mother nature to do it for you?

      Qoppa feels false-flag scenario means "using pre-fabricated material" is "by far the more plausible assumption." Having studied these things for years and found some recycled/misattributed and wrong day videos, I disagree. It's one method to keep an eye out for. But sometimes, yes, they manage to fake things on the same day as their story. Just because there's a possible lie out there to tell doesn't mean they must be telling it. Videos of fake Assad crimes are: Never filmed in the future, sometimes filmed in the past, sometimes filmed in the present.

      And, a reason not to use wrong-day videos: it can be dis-proven that way, usually with ease and within days, and cause problems for their story. Note: that hasn't happened here. If they faked it, it was so well-done that it really could be all one day and that could even be April 4.

      More attempts at an elusive proof of wrong day: image montage to show 2-3 different events. Based only on absence of smoke plumes, which drift away in probably 10 minutes or so, and a supposed difference in the kind or area of the fog in the two bottom views, and maybe the weird, drifting-away smoke plumes in one view... that actually seems to tie it all together. Here's my remix of the same images shows why all one day, if not all April 4, is still the best interpretation.

      (Unless we get videos of victims/WH *in* fog clouds we simply don't need the fog machine for making sense of evidence)
      The evidence is ... two morning videos claimed to be and quite possibly from Aril 4 ... IF SO, as I'm pursuing for good reason, they only have 20-25 minutes to fill that area. Just because I haven't seen any videos of people inside the fog doesn't prove anything (see post, response to Andrew above).


    3. (continuing...)
      ... I've already spent way too much time arguing this point, so I will have to be brief with yet another response that I'll call final.
      sorry but you haven't. You keep brushing away the far easier, simpler & hence better solution, in favour of your deus ex machina.

      It's easier, simpler and better to ignore this evidence as certainly irrelevant? Or as most likely irrelevant, because of some dubious logical construct? That does sound easier than what I'm doing. But I'm doing this for a good reason, easy or not.

      Qoppa can agree to disagree and move on (and barring a mind-change over there, I suspect that'll happen now),
      but suggests I should" give more weight to this alternative." Not that I should give so much weight as to not bother with the exercise of anlyzing them as if linked.

      But that's how it often seems, getting presented as the answer every time I find something interesting in this "deus ex machina" line of inquiry (like, hey, why waste your time and confuse people with obvious wrong day lie videos? And I'm like, how many times do I have to explain this?). I think I've weighted the option about right, but with the well-wasted time I put into this final answer, let's me say I've been more than fair and patient enough to have earned a "moving on with no hassles" pass.

      I will admit, as unsupported as it is and as unlikely as I find it, it's possible these videos are not all from the morning of April 4. And as long as it stays just possible, it's not one I'm going to let get in my way any longer. Because all the time I've now spent debating this subject and defending my course is time I could have spent making progress on that course. I sense that some people I'm debating are unemployed and enjoy lost of free time, but I do not.

      So, any further pestering by anyone who knows this (Qoppa999 anyway) I'll consider an attempt to just waste my time, and obstruct the progress of valuable work. And since I already was feeling like that, let's say now I do it with no apology and no looking back. Bring proof of wrong day if you get it. Do not bring me daily failed attempts.

      - Fin

  3. Alternative scenario:

    1/AQ has inside info when an air raid will take place (it is a civil war, plenty of spies around). This is around the 4th of April. AQ films it (2 POV's filming at exactly the same moment), and they are in luck, there is a morning mist which dissolves very quickly because of the bombing (some mist remnants can still be noticed in bombing video). Overview videos are prepared in headquarters (needs time, can't show too much that would give away fakery).

    2/Maximum a few days later all is ready and the victims scenes are staged. No Sarin used in the field of course, too difficult. Other lethal products will do for the kids and adults they want to get rid of.

    3/For the sampling by OPCW all are prepared. The dead victims were forced to drink DIMP (or something else that would give a Sarin metabolite) which resulted in Sarin or sarin-like markers in blood and urine.
    For the bird and soil, a lab in Trk could easily have contaminated them with a real Sarin sample (this in a controlled environment). That explains the OPCW reporting which is again, just like in Ghouta, very vague in their reporting.


    1. Only problem they may have with filming over a number of days is it runs the risk of being caught out by satellite photos, something they really can't control.

      Question for anyone: there are 6 affected homes marked on the picture but was the el-Qedh family home ever geolocated? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOn5iONS4uA&list=PL796mCAhV1mi2nTefMfzTSGlee3-nkiJV&index=5

      She is a different survivor to the 'Orient News' survivor and the children mentioned are in a Faruq Shami video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_49FXGqHRbo

    2. Postol just replied on NYT report that damage to the houses doesn't match the bomb size in overview videos: http://www.accuracy.org/release/postol-nyt-claims-on-syria-attack-unsupported/

      Anyone any comment?

    3. Same problem with Postol's latest, if the video is from earlier airstrikes then there is no way of knowing that satellite photos showing the related damage don't exist somewhere. Crater, airstrike damage and publishing victim videos would all really need to be on the same day.

      Wondering if Postol is letting all this become too much of a personal fight with Bellingcat.

    4. Can anyone see anything along the line Postol has drawn for his debris cloud #2?

      It does seem to roughly line up with damage (?) on the main road just south of the unexploded bomb http://imgur.com/XWlqyyK

    5. Or a new building maybe as it looks to be casting shadows on April 6?

    6. Postol has used an inaccurate map of the impact points which is why he thinks it doesn't line up. You can tell by the open space (marked in green)


      The plumes do all seem to match up with the NYT video.

  4. Replies
    1. Missed that deadline ... ok

      Orbi's theory: parts are plausible. Little time but one note: the state of the art tests they SHOULD use are clear if its sarin or an imitation. But since they say "or a sarin-like substance," it's suggested they used the old test. Why? Maybe because they used the new test first, and it showed not sarin, so they did it the other way to get a 'maybe' result. Why not sarin, if so? Did they run out? This is the one place you'd out it if you still had any. All in all I suspect it is sarin, but they do leave it open to doubt, so I also doubt it some.

      Postol - what a coincidence he proposes. One some non-April 4 day, there was some attack causing three plumes in certain spots - all of which were also damaged on some other day since Feb. 22, with something else smaller. I'm not buying that. The damage seems less than it should, but I don't think Postol or I can really say there's no reasonable match - something that causes that little damage but sends up that much smoke. My money would be on that option, even though it's undefined.

      His line of sight graphic (and maybe he'll learn how MS paint often shrinks your text block as soon as you're done...) Good call, Andrew. He set it up wrong. That's fine, if you DON'T go making serious claims based on it.

      Even corrected, the plume is perhaps a bit east - and maybe north - of its origin spot. (I'd have to check with the plume and not that black circle) I'd say that's just the wind, but the other two don't seem to do that (or maybe they angle south, then north, cancelling out, while plume 2 behaves a bit different). So maybe it's blast dynamics, and there is an odd set-up. I'm working on a post on these spots, the damage, and stuff. Hoping it's done within a month or two... :)

    2. Until there's a better space ... Postol. I'm getting ready to rant on him. Too many errors, something badly wrong. Fudging lines of sight and stuff. Possible reason: he knows his story is BS and tries to obscure that. He argue the damage is too small for the big blasts seen on video. Those, he says, happened, before but not on April 4, and the spots hit would be totally flattened.

      Problem is, in at least 2 cases clearly, the spots are clearly KNOWN, not lost on a fudged line of sight like he pretends. And even after this pre-April 4 block-flattening attack he's so certain of, there's still one flattened wing, a broken wall, a hole in the roof, and whatever unseen damage inside. Oops!

      BTW I have tried to alert him of his errors by e-mail, as have others I know. Zero response or heed. This is bad.

    3. Yes - I think it has become too much of a personal fight with Bellingcat and it has clouded Postol's judgement; just trying to show things are wrong without considering implications.

      I'm still not sure how much the bombing video matters when it doesn't show anything relating to the alleged chemical attack. It could be fake, a different day.. some activist sold a gullible journalist some videos from another date... but then so what?

      I think if the claim is that a bomb dropped from a plane was in that crater dispersing sarin then for me it all comes down to "where is the bomb?"

      No bomb = no chemical weapons airstrike.

      If genuine, no-one would hide it, no-one would lose such important evidence. The only reason I can see for it being removed is to prevent anyone seeing that it was not something dropped from a plane - or there was never any bomb to remove. Maybe a filler cap from the bombs used to destroy the silos 'found' its way into the crater.. must be a bunch of bomb fragments in that rubble.

      Perhaps the OPCW will be able to find it but the early test results don't seem to mention even the fragment and 'filler cap'


Comments welcome. Stay civil and on or near-topic. If you're at all stumped about how to comment, please see this post.