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Friday, August 18, 2017

Dead Sheep Impact

Ghouta Chemical Massacre:
Firing Directions 
Part 5: Dead Sheep Impact
August 18-19, 2017
(but incomplete) 
last edits Aug. 24

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
Aug. 19 note: 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.

Aug. 24 add:
This might be a barn inside. That could be a preexisting door to let them out. It seems to be a vacant building. I wondered if that was a big blood smear on the rolling door around the corner. I still do, but it's probably not. May be related anyway. Air holes seeming pre-punched in the walls, raising questions about the few external holes.

Mapping the burns: Whatever all this means could be debated, but here it is sort of mapped out, and compared to my two earlier "FAE" analyses.

Clues, north and west:

Clues, south side:

Sketched on the overhead

compared to the others: 

I still don't really know what I'm doing here. but it remains pretty consistent. 

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