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.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Dead Sheep Impact

Ghouta Chemical Massacre:
Firing Directions 
Part 5: Dead Sheep Impact
August 18, 2017

We turn now to the scene with about a dozen dead woolly sheep, allegedly killed in the sarin attack, that were piled up and partially burned, maybe 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, and Chris Kabusk analyzed it back in 2013/2014, and even geolocated it accurately. (explained in images)

That was set with a little-seen view facing east. With this, I verified the placement, as shown at right (east photo at bottom). This is a pretty undeniable site match. The impact - notably harder to place - is somewhere in that dirt lot.


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 Crater
The apparent impact area 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 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 - visible in Aug. 23 satellite images of the area, while the crater isn't) But Michael Kobs shows it's a little bit west of that dark area (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. 

Firing direction:

to map it, adjusted the circle a bit, set up where the hole is on the building - at the start of section 4 -  = poss. range - Me: 321º - 335º with a high-centered best estimate of 330º(in red).
Compared to others:

Kabusk: 346º (impact seems very inexact, too north)
Kobs: big range 285º - 319º with mid-estimate of 304º 

Suggested: we're all trying the same inexact line-up and getting results that are vaguely consistent, but varying widely from a lack of clear anchors. None of these is exact, but I suppose mine is the best yet, nicely between the others but closer to Kabusk. Kobs was trying to flesh out a strictly NW-origin picture, and that may have affected the set-up. 

Kobs has shown there's a NW origin for some rockets, but our impact 2 (see part 2) seems to point more north, and the difference is significant in that this looks more like a north firing than a northwest one. , and so does this – well-placed to line up just south of the cloverleaf intersection, most likely in rebel hands, but I'll need to brush up on this in a separate post.
in this case, between us, Kobs and I have shown either either firing position could be seen from a reasonable estimate - but he still hasn't disputed the apparent north precedent in impact 2, Below is his map of 5 impacts he thinks all point northwest, notably excluding my impact 2. Over that, I added impact 2, and my reading for this site. These tend to converge about where they did first time I tried measuring this impact, just a little closer in.
If this were to pan out, the firing spot would be somewhere in here, as Google Earth showed the area on August 23. Depending where, it's about 1.5-1.7 km from the impact 5 with the sheep, and about 1.8 to 1.9 km to impact #2. 

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. Such a thing would of course destroy any fragile sarin vapor the weapon tried to release. 

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,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 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 a 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. They would try to bury the injured ones more in the middle to make them less obvious.

note: 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," and "seem .  one seems like its body is torn open , others seem partial. Kabusk: ground, seem "dry from agent dispersal." Of course sarin isn't known to dry animals and more than the 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

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 14, 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:
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: 
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 -

Unplaced rockets:
rocket #165, triple bend but intact, laid on street - hit where?

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.

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

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?
for now see part 1
rough material to organize:
Just from that distance, it was famously shown impossible
Jan 15, 2014
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."
"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."

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."
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."

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.
HRW 9/17, Josh Lyons
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
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.
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.


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.
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:

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.

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 -
"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)."

location: impact 2, SW of impact 1 - direction: from the north (straight tube)
location unclear - direction unclear
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.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rooftop Impact

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

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.
- 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.    

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Evidence vs. Bellingcat vs. Khan Sheikhoun False Flag Theories

The Evidence vs. Bellingcat vs. Khan Sheikhoun False Flag Theories

Adam Larson (aka Caustic Logic)
August 6, 2017
(incomplete, rough)
last edits Aug. 7

Lately, open-source investigator Eliot Higgins and others at the Bellingcat site have been tackling persistent "conspiracy theories" about the alleged sarin attack on April 4 in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. Back in July, Bellingcat used an array of tinfoil hats to illustrate Higgins' What a Khan Sheikhoun False Flag Conspiracy Would Actually Mean. As a trusted anti-Syria propagandist, working with Human Rights Watch and the Atlantic Council, and a visiting scholar at King's College in London, he can't be trusted to tell us what it would actually mean. This piece is not entirely bogus, but needs some corrections. Apologies it took me almost a month to notice the piece and decide that.

"Despite the wealth of witness statements, analysis of samples collected from the ground, reports by the OPCW, and other information," he writes, there have been several attempts "to dismiss what happened as being part of a conspiracy against the Syrian government." "Dismiss" is a rather dismissive word. Let's say there have seen multiple tries at supporting the fairly logical suspicion that terrorists are behind the atrocity, or at least that the Syrian government is not.

I agree with Higgins on many points about where these efforts have specifically failed to adhere to the evidence or, sometimes, to even make sense. For example, the extremely common claims based on sarin persistence and danger to people visiting a site hours and even days after the event have no basis in reality. Sorry, he's right there. What he and others at Bellingcat talk about (in this and other recent articles) often is not wrong. As we'll see, it's what they don't talk about that's the real problem.

While it's not pushed by the same undeniable voices, there's a version with much better questions raised. It's been brought to his and Bellingcat's attention, at least in part, and so far they have no remotely adequate answer. I put the top 4 best questions at the end of this piece, hoping to be sure now they have seen all 4, and there's some further explanation and possibly some  follow-up later on.  All told, this is and will be another large post. I had to linger over every point to try and own this discussion, but no one needs to read it all.

So, What Would it Mean?
But first, Higgins asks what a false-flag would mean, and frames the implications in various ways I'll now address.
Any conspiracy theory would, of course, need conspirators, and the scale of the Khan Sheikhoun attack would require a lot of them.
It would probably not require any implausible number. Do we think most local militants would reject helping in some deceptive or sectarian crime that gets Syria in trouble and perhaps bombed or overthrown?

Whole military formations from different groups participate in kidnapping Syrian civilians, mostly women and children, from Alawi villages and other places they overrun, on a routine basis. That's after they've killed all the men, age 13 and up. For one example, Islamist rebels led by Al-Name-Change Front (al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda) overran the villages of Khatab and Majdal, near Hama, in late March, 2017. A reported 250 hostages, including whole families, were said to be taken directly to Khan Sheikhoun, of all places, when the SAA reclaimed the towns on or by March 31 (map at right, some explanation here).

Higgins must be sure there was no such kidnapping, or it's a total coincidence. I suspect there was one and it might be just where the KS Islamists got their hundred or so victims seen five days later, dead and dying in trucks and morgues or gasping in the mud. Enough criminal, sectarian conspirators to seize 250 expendable heretics is a natural formula for a mass slaughter of same, and then a mass deception to shift the blame onto Syria.

Often the involvement of the White Helmets in the aftermath of attack is held up as the key piece of proof needed to show that the attack was a false flag, generally with the usual accusations of them being an imperialist funded Al Qaeda allied (if not just Al Qaeda) organisation that spends the majority of its time faking rescue videos, if not outright murdering and robbing people.
In my own opinion, White Helmets as proof of anything is overplayed by many. I and others may take it as a bad sign, but the general public shouldn't be expected to, so I don't see why it's used as such a leading point. As far as I know, 2/3 of what they do might actually be rescue or humanitarian work that doesn't get filmed. But still, the general picture of Islamist partisans and propagandists seems basically correct - they've been caught in many deceptions, seem to have helped launder many massacres, etc. There's something wrong with them, and at the very least, their presence should not be taken as adding much credibility to any allegations. 

But this is a case that doesn't just draw on prior suspicions, but adds quite a bit to the picture. Consider here: they support the story and details that we now see clash badly with more objective evidence, like the video record and radar tracks (see 4 best questions below, if you don't know about this yet). They also got seen helping sickened children by spraying them with hoses, near-naked in near-freezing weather, but never do we see where they got poisoned. It's on these peoples' word that it was in their homes in a described area (southwest of the sarin crater) rather than in some school's basement rigged up as a gas chamber (for example). (this is question 3)

Several child victims seem to be hacked, perhaps fatally, in the head and/or neck (see here), at least two of them after they had gotten to the White Helmets, Al-Qaeda, and supposed safety. (see Two Smoking-Gun Head Wounds) They're seen unmarked but struggling to breathe (possibly dead, but with other kids who are alive), being saved by White Helmets. Later they're seen not saved, instead finished off with blades. How does that happen? Assad's sarin can't hack the victims when it kills too slowly. Is this analysis wrong? As far as I've seen, Higgins still doesn't know about this.(so it's best question #4)
It’s often claimed (erroneously) all samples from the site and victims were collected by White Helmets, and therefore the samples cannot be trusted.
This is true, but that truth may prove irrelevant in the end. That is, there was an opening for them to taint the samples, but it may not have been needed, if sarin were previously put into the environment, either with the weaponry used on April 4, or planted soon thereafter. This seems to be the case.
Let us assume, therefore, that samples have been tampered with, and the OPCW have tested doctored samples, what would this actually mean?
First, those doctoring the samples would have to have access to Sarin, as samples tested by the OPCW have found Sarin along with other related products from the production process and degradation of Sarin.
"...or a sarin-like substance." But either way, this is no problem for well-connected Islamists in Syria, as Eliot knows. Al-Name-Change Front has the nerve agent, and could taint a sample, spray a bombed area, or hit the area with a sarin-containing weapon in the first place.
They’d also make sure it included hexamine, which was detected in previous Sarin attacks, and claimed by some to link that Sarin to the Syrian governments manufacturing process, ...
Hexamine: This has questions around it that I'm hazy about. It might a residue from the opening charge for the device, or perhaps a key and telltale ingredient as claimed. It might have various meanings. Either way, it's said it turned up in "previous sarin attacks," not necessarily in Syria's known stocks.

Ghouta, Saraqeb, Khan al-Assal... that's the same dirty, kitchen-grade sarin that keeps fulfilling terrorist purposes and getting Syria in trouble, and it apparently NOT the stuff Syria was always known to have, as surrendered and taken away on the USS Cape May in 2013-2014. Samples were surely kept from that and could be compared, and if a match was found, that would probably be announced. Instead, we hear the KS sarin has hexamine, and so it's probably the same as in all the other attacks blamed on Syria. Implicitly, all these attacks use about the same stuff, and none of it matches with what Syria surrendered, and has apparently never used. These clues, circumstantial as they are, could mean this is either Assad's other, undeclared and dirty sarin, or it's the terrrorists' undeclared, dirty sarin.  (see here) This when, for years, experts assured us the agent being used seemed to match with Syria's known stocks of military-grade sarin.
...including French intelligence in their recent National Evaluation of the Khan Sheikhoun attack.
This claimed the Khan Sheikhoun sarin matched the kind used in the Saraqeb attack on April 29, 2013, said to poison several locals and to kill one woman (ACLOS). The government's sources told them terrorists made hostages inhale fumes from barrels of an unknown liquid, and made other locals breathe powder from plastic bags, before trucking the victims to Turkey for sarin testing. As everyone knows, sarin or a sarin-like substance turned up. 

As reported, locals were poisoned by nerve agent dropped from a regime helicopter. How it was dropped varied; a barrel bomb full of TNT and sarin (wherein the former would destroy the latter), or powdered sarin in plastic bags (still dropped from a helicopter, maybe weighted with cinderblocks, for example), or plastic hand grenades linked to Jabhat al-Nusra, dropped in a glowing and smoking "cinderblock" (as shown on video, at right). There was powder on the ground, said to be the remains of the block after impact. I contend this is an unrelated drop of white phosphorous, as screening smoke for some SAA military offensive. But the latter story with the air-dropped hand grenade is the most accepted version.

I brought these problems to Higgins' attention at his Brown Moses blog back in 2013 (see here), and he responded:
To me it seems like two gas grenades were placed inside a cinderblock... and ignited as they were dropped from the helicopter, so you can see them producing light and smoke as they fall. When it hit the ground, the cinderblock was smashed to dust and small fragments (visible both at Sheikh Magshoud and Saraqeb). [referring to an April 13 attack in Aleppo]

Problem is, this doesn't seem to really match with a Sarin attack for a number of reasons, and the victims in Saraqeb are directly linked to one of the two containers dropped, so it's not like there were other munitions linked to those injuries. It's all very confusing, in away made even more confusing by the fact the same sort of attack happened twice.

Also, why go to all the trouble of flying a helicopter over Saraqeb to just drop those two packages? Is that all that helicopter was doing on that day? The more I think about it, the weirder it gets.
They lit their plastic gas grenades on fire? To help release sarin, or what? Just so the video can be related after all? Maybe the plastic bags story is better. Both sides have agreed at times that plastic bags full of powder were involved. ...

It's an evidently problematic story behind that sarin release. And they say this is the same exact stuff we're seeing now. It might well be. Besides hexamine, it has similar hallmarks, like bizarre or impossible dispersal methods ...
They’d also have individuals collecting samples for the Syrian government also doctor those samples with Sarin and hexamine,so tests by the Syrian governments labs and OPCW would show the presence in those samples as well.
This is a fair point and worth heeding; it seems everyone, including Syria's government, has trusted samples from the site in question, the crater by the grain silos and the central bakery, and concludes sarin or similar was present. So sample tampering seems unlikely; it was apparently in the environment. Issue: how did it get there? Delivered by regime dropped bomb? By regime missile? By terrorist false-flag rocket? By later planting (like a sprayed mist)? Is it sarin, or a sarin-like substance? How sarin-like? These points are not fully clear.
Then they’d even have volunteers or unwilling victims expose themselves to Sarin and cross the border with Turkey,...
They wouldn't "have unwilling victims expose themselves." This is too passive in tone. The terrorists would themselves expose the unwilling victims. They would mercilessly gas them to death (or, if they aimed too low in some cases, they would finish them off some other way).

Voluntary exposure would be the case for the talkers who help spin the conspiracy theory that runs against so much evidence. They would be allies, volunteering for exposure. You wouldn't want to make enemies of your sources by dosing them without approval.

Consider Abdelhamid Al-Yousef: for a few days as he made so many video appearances and met sultan Erdogan in Turkey, he was notably weak, sweaty, prone to tears and drippy nose - possibly late effects of a single April 4 sarin exposure, but more consistent with a slower and later exposure to spaced-out token doses. At right, he's sweating, sobbing, and leaking from the nose as he tells implausible stories. (He thought his wife and kids were ok, even though they started feeling ill, as he left them with paramedics and/or had them hide in a basement. Learning there was a deadly chemical about, he ran to his father's house and carried dead people with no protection, then ran to his uncle's house and did the same, before... he passed out for a while, and hence failed to rescue his own family. This narrative is pretty absurd, really. Apparently the key to survival is to visit every attack site and handle as many bodies as possible.)
"... where some would die from Sarin exposure, and where the OPCW would run tests on the living and dead which resulted tests results consistent with exposure to Sarin..."
...or a "sarin-like substance". I would guess this: those killed with chemicals will have caustic lung damage and other unpleasant effects, while the surviving talkers (mostly men who claim no politics but spout rebel propaganda points) will have suffered little in the line of painful damage, and there will be no explanation offered for the difference.
"Then they would ensure that all witnesses told the same version of events, even those exposed to Sarin..."
It would all be by prior agreement, we should presume. So if this were a false-flag event, no one broke script that we noticed. That's not hard to believe at all.
...which indicated the origin of the Sarin was one crater in Khan Sheikhoun.
And most important: they indicated it came from a regime airstrike. That's the core falsehood. Because they have false claims about where poisoning happened, IF the crater is indeed the sole release point as they also claim. Or they have a false release point, if the affected area is correct. (see question 2 below). Anticipating possible story shifts to some spread that makes sense, they still lack a supported link to those distant jets.
This includes insuring that the locations victims were reportedly found were all consistent with a spread of Sarin from the crater in the same direction.
Indeed, but it seems they really bungled that part. He suggests if it's false-flag, they would plan it out right, and I would presume the same - they would at least try to get it right. But here it is, just about 180 degrees opposite from correct (see question 2 below). And it happens that's just the kind of mistake - blowing from read as blowing to - that people can make when interpreting a wind direction. Therefore, I still suspect they "pulled a Postol" and read their wind backwards when they decided where to say people had died. It's not what I'd expect, but it either happened, or some other error to the same effect was coincidentally made. It's a lucky break for investigators faced with ferreting out truth from the fog of war, but Higgins has so far ignored it.(At least one other Bellingcat member has addressed the problem, but poorly. Again, see question 2 below)
This consistency of witnesses telling the same version of events would also be required if the sample tampering scenario was abandoned and instead some version of a device being denoted by some opposition faction, or an attack with a rocket of some sort by an opposition faction was proposed,...
If it was terrorists who dispersed the sarin (or planted it at the site prior to sampling), the witnesses would have to either not know or not say that, because none of them says that. Again, sticking to the script is nothing unexpected for the scenario we're considering (and some are considering it better than others).
... which just happened to be filled with Sarin that contained hexamine to make it look like Syrian government Sarin.
Here again "Syrian government sarin" means the kind used in the 100% dubious CW attacks from 2013 forward. It could be this way: the terrorist plotters had to have the same kind of sarin the plotters of those terrorist incidents had. I'm not calling it "terrorist sarin" as a known fact, but Higgins is calling it "Syrian government sarin."
"Now after all these shenanigans, which the OPCW falls for completely (unless they’re also complicit)..."
Yes, apparently. Do we realize the OPCW is headed by a Turk, Ahmet Uzumcu? He's not known (by me) to be a total puppet of Sultan Erdogan, nor to be a free man of science. He has been Turkey's ambassador to NATO and to Israel. He may also have Syrian opposition contacts from his days as a sort of ambassador in Aleppo. And his OPCW managed to get their Assad-blaming narrative with some impropriety: 
1) Ignoring the radar track of the alleged attack jets: that's been released, and should support their case. But it happens to disprove the common air-dropped bomb theory, and somehow they decided to ignore it. Also, OPCW dropped the bomb claim, never specifying what kind of munition, so it could be a missile. This suggests they were aware of the problem, and managed to downplay and ignore it at the same time.
2) They chose to ignore the best wind evidence (multiple view video record of the events), confused themselves with different unreliable reading and predictions, and wound up deciding there was "no discernible wind." As it so happens, this lets a lucky slope to the west (for the terrorist narrative) be what killed everyone. Open-source and conclusive evidence proves that guess wrong, but they ignored that and put their credibility behind this convenient guess anyways.
3) Most of their information comes from activists and screened alleged witnesses delivering verbal accounts that contradict the evidence they ignored.
4) They accepted environmental samples they couldn't really vouch for, having refused invitations to have their own teams visit the site. Even if it's irrelevant to the outcome (as it seems - they would have found the same thing), it's still improper, or so says former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, and common sense. But having a sample that tested right helped them to clarify it was definitely sarin (or a sarin-like substance) rolling against the wind after coming out of that unknown but clearly jet-delivered munition... they also cannot vouch for how the sarin or "sarin-like substance" was gotten into the human cases. Their surviving patients - the talkers, likely exposed only to token amounts - will have claimed it was from a passing regime jet. But of course the best and ignored evidence suggests that's not true.

So I don't propose a gullible OPCW "fell for it" here. They're too professional to accept such blatant falsehoods unless they wanted to be fooled. And unless all these improprieties are coincidental oversights, that all suggests complicity in sowing the opposition's lies while obscuring their massacre. So there's no reason to dismiss the option as an aside and insist we eithe think of the OPCW as simple dupes or accept their biased and deeply flawed report.
"...we have the Russians and Syrians presenting a totally different version of events where a chemical weapons warehouse in the East of Khan Sheikhoun was bombed. Although it happened hours after the attack was first reported and documented,let’s imagine you’re still clinging to this scenario."
That exact scenario is indeed not any kind of answer. Somehow, it was suggested the admitted noon airstrike on terrorist facilities had caused the chemical incident, but of course that happened some five hours earlier, when Syria is clear they launched no airstrikes. This false lead has been frozen and used repeatedly by the opposition's shills and conspiracy theorists as a stand-in for all alternate theories. It may be worth debunking again, for the record, but it affects none of the points in the best questions version.
"The question is then why does the Syrian and Russian government not publish any evidence to support their claim?"
That's a fair question. I would suggest this: they may have some good reason, and there may still be little they really know. Better question: why does the opposition publish so much untrue information in support of their own claim? As perps or as victims, they should know quite a bit about this, and have access to truthful information. Yet they lie. Why?
Even something as simple as publishing the co-ordinates of this chemical weapons warehouse would allow anyone to check April 6th 2017 satellite imagery available on Terraserver to see if there’s a destroyed building.
And I would check it. But without any help, I found a spot they may have bombed at noon, and not earlier. Just southwest of town, there's an apparent farmhouse next to a sizeable water reservoir that seems to have been destroyed at least between Feb. 22 and April 29, that I identified just through video analysis (explained here).  I finally checked the April 6 images (added later), and the damage is there, so it was between 2/22 and 4/6. My guess as to when: around noon on April 4.

Earlier in the day? The video shows no plumes or emerging vapor in the first minute or so after attack (although it as at some distance, about 4 km from the camera). But some 20 minutes later, we can see it's one of two or maybe three sources for a massive outpouring of mystery vapor that got reported as sarin fog, like a faintly yellow winter fog but caustic, foul-smelling, and deadly, spread two meters deep across the town. Here, that now-bombed spot would be at the end of the green area, from which fog rolls east and north, covering square kilometers of the town's southern half. How much sarin do we think these bombs were capable of releasing? And why didn't anyone mention one dropped there?
That's possible evidence for some CW presence on-site, which fits the description. However, it's not a large warehouse, nor on the eastern outskirts (as Russia describes it) nor in the north of town (as Seymour Hersh's source claims). It does seem to have been scoped out by the Syrians, as if it were suspicious - the apparent surveillance flight seen on radar passes almost directly over the site (but again, there's no sign of bombing at the time of the attack)

Likely there were two or more targets hit in the noon strike. This may be one, and another was the White Helmets base and cave hospital complex; an external building was heavily damaged in an apparent airstrike right around noon. Did it have chemicals on site? We saw lots of poisoned people there hours earlier, with no poof they were poisoned elsewhere (they were placed in pickup trucks, but...). But this is all speculative, and a side-issue.
Every piece of open source evidence and the OPCW reports run counter to this claim,...
The exact claim, indeed, so far. But the most credible pieces of open-source information, if not the OPCW report intent on ignoring those, contradicts the opposition's story as well. And I mean it contradicts their best consensus version, not someone's flawed telling.
"...so if it really was a conspiracy against Syria, then revealing this information would expose a massive conspiracy that resulted in the US wrongly bombing Syria, and threatening Syria with further attacks."
Yes and no. It would show what it does, but that would be poorly and dismissively reported, supposedly debunked by the likes of Mr. Higgins, using often-bogus methods, and either blamed on Syria anyway or quickly forgotten.

Then perhaps that stunt would be answered with a new alleged CW attack that gets Syria blamed yet again, to prove how they will always fail to convince the empire and may as well just keep quiet. This is not made-up, but just about what happened with the Khan al-Assal sarin attack and investigation, as anyone who followed it will recall. (a refresher on how Syria's requested probe into the opposition sarin attack was derailed in a few ways, by the West and by the Ghouta attack)
Yet Russia and Syria stays quiet, so what does that mean?
Anything they say can and will be used against them? They're showing their info to investigators behind the scenes instead of to us on the internet? They don't want to spark any more incidents? And, of course, they've wasted some credibility with bogus claims or guesses, and are waiting for better information than they have. I'm not waiting on Russia and Syria to provide an answer, and never have been.
Well it can only mean one thing, that Syria and Russia themselves are complicit in the conspiracy to fake a Syrianchemical attack, resulting in Syria being falsely accused of using chemical weapons by the US, and being bombed as a result.

Or Russia and Syria are simply lying, and Syria really did use Sarin in Khan Sheikhoun.
Well, after failing to narrow it down, that's 2 things it could be, and several others ignored. But it's true, Moscow and Damascus are fairly little help in solving this crime. I'm not waiting for their tips, even if Eliot wants to. There's open source intelligence to gather and analyze. While Eliot and Bellingcat have offered some good analysis of parts of it, it seems they want to ignore other data. I and others have plowed ahead on those points, and now I give the King's College crowd this shortcut to four best questions they could try to answer, or to avoid.

Khan Sheikhoun: 4 Best Questions
Some of these have only been ironed out after the July 4 article in question, so Eliot's missing them at the time might mean nothing. But after this and the proper alerts, they'll have no reason to claim ignorance of these important findings. Here's how we can see a Khan Sheikhoun false-flag attack would mean ... the best evidence and logic are correct. The video isn't lying to us, the terrorists are. Denying that puts one at odds with the evidence, and runs a grave risk of helping absolve terrorists for a hideous crime against humanity. I don't know how to embed tweets like others do, but these questions are/will be posed on Twitter, as linked.

1) Wrong radar track:
Tweet (before I decided on 4-question format): Khan Sheikhoun: "Can @EliotHiggins venture an answer to the problem of the US radar track?" (citing earlier explanatory tweet that culminates with the image at right - the radar track seems accurate, and shows the jets arcing around the town at a distance, never passing directly above the sarin crater to drop a sarin bomb as alleged.) Follow-up: "I predict he could, but it would have to be pretty lame, so he'll leave us with the crickets, and proof of what a stumper this is." He's done just that so far.

But others in the Bellingcat network have tried; Christian Triebert maps it about the same on Twitter; crater well north of flight path, with no comment, and he answers Bubslug in comments about the issue here:
Yes, I agree with you; we noticed. It is indeed interesting, but be aware that the 3D flight path visualisation of the Pentagon consists of what I think are radar blips (and thus does not show the full trajectory),...
I see no "3D visualization," just plotted radar returns (presumably) on a 2D map. And there's no room between returns to fit the needed flight path(s). Maybe it's like this? No, This is a fevered fantasy.
"... and is now projected on Google Earth, so there may be some distortion."
None that I can see. It starts right, lines up all the way, and shows a logical arc around the town, as Triebert should know, having mapped it out.
"For that reason I included a line that the reading the graph may be problematic."
Might be? It's definitely problematic, to the tune of disproving witness accounts of a bomb dropped from right above the bakery crater. Bellingcat will have to amend the story and decide those witnesses were just confused; the regime must have used distance-covering sarin missiles instead (and the very existence of such a thing isn't clear to me).

2) Wrong wind:
Tweet: "Khan Sheikhoun best Qs, 2/4: Can @EliotHiggins or anyone at @Bellingcat disprove this wind reading? See fog drift NE" Citing: wind direction explainer, and  see right, and the image used above for the fog spread. Member Timmi Allen already offered a poor explanation, claiming a roughly opposite wind at ground level affecting the fog movement, as addressed in that post. This is possible, but there's just one very dubious clue for it, and several points against it, like the actual spread of that fog as seen on video.

3) No rescue videos: 
Tweet: "Khan Sheikhoun best Qs, 3/4: @EliotHiggins @Bellingcat Can anyone show a single rescued-from-home scene for the 500+ affected? No. Why not?"Citing: nothing. There are no such videos. I could have cited this at ACLOS to explain.

4) Executed (child) victims
Tweet: "Khan Sheikhoun best Qs, 3/4: @EliotHiggins @Bellingcat  kids seen rescued, later seen dead w/head wounds. Answer?" That's 4/4. Citing: http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/07/two-smoking-gun-head-wounds.html

Overall tweet that links here:
Adam Larson‏ @CL4Syr  Aug 6: @bellingcat @EliotHiggins Khan Sheikhoun evidence vs. Bellingcat and 4 best questions. Anyone?