Syria Sarin Allegation: How UN-Panel Report Twists and Omits Evidence

By Adam Larson.

A Meaningful Report from Independent Experts?

On September 6, the latest report of the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (hereafter CoI) was released for public review. [1] First circulated on August 8, the report focuses on many incidents in Syria over the reporting period (March 1 to July 7). But all the news reports place emphasis on the findings of clear government guilt for Khan Sheikhoun sarin attack that killed nearly 100 civilians on April 4. It was herald as a solid, if not surprising, report by informed and unbiased experts. [2] But the reality of the “independent” label on this commission is highly questionable.

The CoI was a three-member panel until the frequent dissenter, Carla Del Ponte, resigned prior to news stories of August 6, two days before this report was first circulated. [3] A former Attorney-General in Switzerland, Del Ponte is known to accuse Western-backed forces of grave crimes (organ harvesting of captured Serbs by Kosovar forces in the former Yugoslavia, [4] and more relevant here, chemical weapons use by opposition forces in Syria. [5] ) Her statements suggest Del Ponte endorses the commission’s current direction, but that’s the public face.

Besides Brazilian legal scholar Paulo Pinheiro, the other remaining member is American Karen Koning-AbuZayd. She’s a Washington insider, a director of the Middle East Policy Council. [6] The MEPC is one of the many think tanks that hatches strategies to further U.S. interests in the area, and is clearly favorable to the opposition side.

Regardless of potential bias, such professionals might produce quality work assembled from solid evidence. If so, it should appear in this report. But upon review, this looks more like a sloppy exercise in subjective re-assembly of cherry-picked evidence to justify a preconceived position. In fact, its coverage of the incident is particularly and conspicuously flawed. It should be noted the report has no cited authors. This is unusual, and could suggest a lack of confidence or consensus.

The Commission says it asked for input from the Syrian government and got no response in time. As it is, the report cites alleged witness accounts almost entirely, but also selectively cites the opposition-supplied video evidence. And, as we’ll see, it ignores important evidence that undermines the claims they chose to accept.

Why Syria is to Blame: The Short Version

The CoI cites alleged witness accounts of a Sukhoi 22 (Su-22) attack jet carrying out the attack, and notes how it’s a distinct and easy to recognize craft. It’s just as easy to make up, but they’re sure it was really seen, and seen in the act of bombing the town. From there, the blame is just this easy to set:

 “The Russian Federation and the international coalition do not operate this type of aircraft. It is therefore concluded that the Syrian air force carried out airstrikes on Khan Shaykhun at around 6.45 a.m. on 4 April”

This is their central point; for some reason it’s now certain that jet existed and conducted the sarin strike, and only Syria has those jets. They go into some details that are supposed to support that, but upon analysis, they pointedly fail to do so. For the reasons highlighted in the rest of this long article, this central claim fails.

The Reality of the Attack Jet(s)

The July OPCW report includes two witness accounts differing from the otherwise-accepted narrative. In these versions, a chemical warehouse was damaged, releasing toxins, but there were no jets. Both agreed in claiming, as the OPCW report put is: “there were no air raid warning put out until around 11:00 to 11:30 and no aircraft were observed until that time.” [7]

The claim was sidelined by the OPCW, and the CoI found it not credible. While it remains worthy of consideration, the claim could in fact be wrong somehow, and doesn’t constitute proof there really were no jets. Consider:

  • There’s a possible jet engine sound trailing off at the start of the post-attack smoke plumes video of ~6:47 am (this could easily be faked, but could also be genuine). [8]
  • There’s a radar track that, as explained below, does not fit the opposition story, and so was probably not faked for that purpose. There being no other clear reason to fake one, it should be considered as likely authentic.
  • Being the first daylight available to see what’s new in rebel turf, where Syria’s Air Force can’t operate at night, a simple reconnaissance mission is likely to happen at this time, and to appear on various radar screens (alleged jet takeoff: ~11 minutes after dawn).
  • Syria denies any attacks at the time, but does not deny, as they probably would, that they had any aircraft in the area. They haven’t confirmed that they did, but it seems likely. [9]

Finally, if one wanted to launch an effective false-flag incident on a large and important scale like this, the best time would be when jets could be observed nearby. Terrorists could potentially predict there would be a dawn surveillance flight, or find a way to provoke one. They could have everything ready to spring when the jets appear: some blasts caused, a bunch of people ready to show dead and dying, and the cover story tying it all together ready to sow.

So while there may have been no jets, it’s clearly important to consider this as if there were, since it’s both central to the activist claims, and seems likely to be true. The crucial questions will be whether they launched an attack that could connect to the morning’s events, or simply passed through the area.

The Claimed Bombs Vs. The Radar Track

The CoI cites “interviewees and early warning reports” for the following narrative of the alleged attack, which they seem to accept as factual:

Two SU-22s took off from Shayrat airfield near Homs at 6.26 am (Syria time). Then, “at around 6.45 a.m., interviewees recalled seeing an aircraft flying low over Khan Shaykhun,” which fits for known SU-22 speeds. One of these jets “conducted four air strikes” as it “flew over the town” in two quick passes, “in the span of a few minutes,” dropping a total of four bombs. These were three conventional explosive bombs, and one chemical, with the order unclear.   (While there’s no absolute consensus, most other sources say both jets were involved, with one dropping the chemical bomb at 6:37, and the other unloading three conventional bombs at 6:46.) [10]

The cited “early warning reports,” as far as we can see, are just claims lodged in the form of a report. Between these and the verbal accounts, all their flight-tracking information comes from activist claims. This is unfortunate, as the flight paths they have reported vary from one account to the next, collectively making no sense (it’s been said the jets came from the east, the west, and the south, and it’s difficult to line all bombing spots up into one realistic run). Notably, the CoI’s report ignored all these specifics.

The muddled accounts also lack supporting evidence. There is no known video of this jet in the sky, despite many people claiming to see it, and despite activists having some ten minutes warning it was on its way. This doesn’t prove anything, but it might mean the visuals did not support their claims.

That’s not to say there was no jet. As the BBC reported, that takeoff of two SU-22s was monitored by “US military radar systems,” that saw the jets “fly over Khan Sheikhoun” at 6:37 and 6:46 am, local time. [11]. A rough graphic rendition of this flight track, included in that BBC dispatch, was first published in an otherwise brief and vague report the White House issued after its missile strikes against Shayrat airfield. [12]

But this wasn’t cited in the CoI report; they glossed over it as they used only activist claims as their basis for tracking the jets. Evidence that could bear out the claims are clearly worth citing, but this was left off. And perhaps not coincidentally, it does not support the claims from the activists, the BBC, or the White House.

The lines suggested in the radar track make a lot more sense than what activists report, but they never pass over the city. Here’s the shown track correlated to the map: from takeoff onward, no map distortion is evident. The jets are seemingly tracked north from Shayrat, turning west at Latamnah. and looping back. One jet seems to approach Khan Sheikhoun from the west and pass well south of it, arcing around the town to the north at some distance, and returning the same way. A red line marks the apparent closest pass to the city and the bomb sites.

The next image shows how that red line roughly maps out. The verbal claim again: the jet(s) were directly above each of the dark blue dots here, and dropped their bombs straight down. But the jets were never caught over any of these spots, let alone on any flight track connecting two or more of them. Either this U.S. Radar data is somehow wrong, or these “bombs” cannot have been dropped as alleged and for once, “Assad’s jets” seem to have a documented alibi.

 

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were more measured, as they also ignored the radar track in their July report. They didn’t specify the munition used (while some claimed “that the release was due to a munition dropped from an aircraft … the FFM could not establish with a great degree of confidence the means of deployment and dispersal of the chemical.”)

[13] So by their report, it could have been missiles fired from a distance, which might fit the radar track, depending.

But the CoI chose to be more specific and say, as most activists have from the start, that bombs were dropped. Specifically, they think the three conventional blasts were done with OFAB high-explosive fragmentation bombs, in the 100-120 kg range (small, gravity driven, with no propulsion or guidance). This is based on assessing the damage, with no remnants cited.

However, some attack site evidence suggests weapons of moderate power were fired from the north, not dropped from above. [14] Further, this remnant from one of those impact sites looks crudely welded and lacking paint or coatings, so most likely not a part of a factory-assembled military bomb. Open-source researcher Michael Kobs notes it could be from a rebel “Hell Cannon” shell, for one example. [15]

 

The Sarin Bomb

Besides the three OFABs, the Commission decided that the other munition used was “a chemical bomb” that “landed in the middle of a street” near the central bakery and grain silos, as all other opposition-citing sources have decided. They give this description:

   “Photographs of the impact site show a hole, too small to be considered a crater, and the remnants of what appears to have been a Soviet-era chemical bomb. … Although the Commission is unable to determine the exact type of chemical bomb used, the parts are consistent with sarin bombs produced by the former Soviet Union in the 250kg-class of bombs, which would have approximately 40kg of sarin, depending on the munition used.”

Here the Commission revives the debunked Human Rights Watch claim that a Soviet-made KhAB-250 or similar was used. HRW cited a green band taken as a painted stripe on the main scrap that was shown sitting in the hole (but seeming to run the wrong way on the wrong part of the bomb), and the presence of some sort of filler cap on it that was “similar to” that on the KhAB-250. [16]

Critics rightly noted that match was based on looking at the scrap inside-out. Michael Kobs explains this in a tweet responding to Timi Allen, a member of the Bellingcat investigative group (frequent sources for HRW analysis). Allen had no response. [17]

 

Kobs and others managed to establish that a larger standard explosive weapon is a much better fit for the exact fragment, which seems to be be a “charge well plug,” not a filler hole cap. It’s not definitive, but the OFZAB-500 (standard HE-frag bomb) may be the best fit, as proposed by Kobs. [18] But either way, it’s clear that HRW’s call was bogus. It’s similar to many things, and the favorability to some specialized “sarin bomb” was apparently repeated by the CoI without double-checking.

If an OFZAB-500 had gone off at the bakery impact site, there would be far more damage and a large crater. So either it was a dud bomb, or the scrap was planted (maybe in hopes it would be found consistent with some sarin bomb, as happened). That would suggest the planers didn’t have any KhAB-250 bomb fragments to use. It seems few people besides Russian museums have these things anymore, and few if any have been used since WWII. As Gareth Porter finds, the Soviets never exported this KhAB bomb that anyone knows of. [19]

But the CoI are confident Syria had one, or something similar, and decided to fill it with “sarin or a sarin-like substance.” By the evidence, that was caustic, yellow in color, and foul-smelling, suggesting it was impure, “kitchen grade” material – perhaps used in hopes terrorists would be blamed. [20] Then they took this bomb only they could maybe have, and dropped it on Khan Sheikhoun from a jet only they have, to be photographed by opposition activists. Why? Just to test President Trump’s response to Obama’s “red line” threat?

Disappearing the Wind and Elevating of Topography as the Agent Driver

The Commission gives credit to the fact-finding mission (FFM) of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), whose findings were helpful in assessing this incident. In their own report released in July, the OPCW ignored the US radar track as the CoI would do and, among other things, they neglected the best evidence for the prevailing wind.

The wind, usually, will determining where a sarin cloud will spread, so it’s important to understand. There are several videos that can be analyzed to get a best direction, as I did, consulting with Charles Wood (who is, as I understand it, a former micro-meteorologist who spent 7 years in studying small scale weather and dispersion of toxic gases). He explains that aside from mechanical measurement, observation (from on-site, or by video if necessary) is the only sure way to get a proper reading of the wind. [21]

That only makes sense, and yet, the OPCW don’t seem to have even thought about using their eyes. Instead, the Commission used airport reading from the three nearest available cities (Hama, Idlib, Latakia), none of which is close enough to reflect clearly on the conditions right around Khan Sheikhoun. From this, they tentatively decided on a most-likely wind direction of southeast to northwest. [22]

Evidence that could that bear out the claims are clearly worth citing. But the video record was shunned, and it may be no coincidence that it contradicts the opposition story. Activists and alleged survivors have always claimed, and the OPCW and now the CoI have accepted, that most deaths and poisonings were in a defined area to the southwest of the one sarin release point.

But the video shows a breeze that would push any sarin fog northeast, into a less populated area where no one was reported as affected. As Charles and I agreed after considering all video views, the prevailing wind is from the southwest to the northeast (30-45º on the compass), at a speed probably in excess of 6mph (9.7 kph) at upper levels. At ground level, the direction seems about the same, but the speed would be slower. In fact, the shape of two fields of mysterious fog – said to be the very sarin in question – suggest they’re spreading northeast from their two origin spots. This has been publicly explained in detail, with ample visual aids. [23]

 

When it’s mapped out, we can see the real wind is perhaps exactly 180º opposite from the suggested one. This is an interesting margin of error because it’s easy to achieve; a direction reported as blowing from is misread as blowing to, or vice versa. This would require a central error by some story planner that no one double checked as they decided where to claim deaths happened, where to walk the film crews and pour tears “recalling” the scene. That may be too much to accept, and some other random error is to blame, but the story is backwards from the reality when it comes to the wind.

 

Activists at first claimed that the sarin cloud spread southwest on the prevailing wind, as one would expect. But the video disagrees on what that was, and the OPCW disagreed with both of them, finding to the northwest most likely. But then, in a separate questionable decision, the OPCW decided it was extremely slow and left the story with “no discernible wind.” [24] Activists reported this to them (they mention “witness testimony in relation to the weather and topography”). And so, coincidentally or otherwise, it was a slight down-slope they were also told about that drove the cloud’s spread.

They included this graphic in the report to show the topography, which seems accurate but exaggerated, making all slopes appear far steeper than they are (the blue box is the alleged release point). This, they decided, caused the sarin to roll into the yellow area shown beneath, that’s the same as the purple area above.

 

In the absence of wind, a sarin plume would roll downhill. But this wouldn’t be neatly to the southwest; as the topographic maps show (even theirs). Rather, it would roll slowly to the west in general, or more likely to the northwest. Any wind to the northwest, as the OPCW decided was likely, would all but ensure the fog would spread that way even more than southwest. If that were so, that yellow area – plus other areas not reported – would be affected.

 

And topography doesn’t matter much anyway, there was a wind that visibly pushed the mystery fog northeast, despite the fact that it’s slightly uphill.

With the OPCW’s example considered, the CoI decided to use “data based on historical weather forecasts” to decide the following conditions were “indicated”:

“…the wind speed was just over three kilometres per hour from the southeast, that there was no rain and practically no cloud cover, and that the temperature was around 13 degree Celsius.”

They get less than 1/3 the speed Charles Wood and I estimate, besides the same wrong direction the OPCW guessed. And their temperature guess is clearly wrong: peoples’ breath is visible on video. This happens fairly near to freezing; maybe up to around 40-45 º Fahrenheit at the warmest (in my experience, and of course it varies). That would be ~4-7º Celsius. Charles Wood ran calculations suggesting it should be 7.6º at the time. [25] It clearly can’t be anywhere close to 13 in the place and time where all those people died.

In the made-up paper place where Syria’s guilt is obvious, visible winds to the northwest move smoke and fog exclusively to the northeast, and breath is seen at 13º Celsius (55.4º F). It’s not correct, but it helped them declare, with authority and leading specificity, “the weather conditions at 6.45 a.m. of 4 April were ideal for delivering a chemical weapon.”

The CoI cited the OPCW’s low-wind argument, and decided their own 3kph estimate is slow enough to go ahead and agree with that and its implications. “Under such conditions,” which didn’t actually exist, “the agent cloud would have drifted slowly downhill following the terrain features at the location (roads and open spaces), in a southerly and westerly direction. This is consistent with the observed locational pattern of individuals becoming affected by the agent cloud.”

That spread matches the activist story (leadingly describe as “observed”), and that may be just why the slope theory was decided on. It’s probably why some activists mentioned the lack of wind to the OPCW, and told them about a down-slope to the southwest. It may be just why the OPCW chose to accept that. But it’s not quite consistent with the topography, and it clashes 180º with the observed wind.

So two esteemed groups of investigators chose to rely on observed winds in other places, or on some guessed data based on historical trends, acting like this was the best they could do. Both groups chose not to establish the wind clearly from the actual video of events, and thus avoided seeing this fatal contradiction in the opposition’s narrative. And so, they were able to confidently blame Syria for an attack that would have to defy the laws of physics – besides failing to appear on radar or video, and failing to have a rational motive.

Victims Display No Injuries: Wrong

Among the “extensive information which, in the aggregate, strongly supports the claim that the victims were exposed to sarin or a sarin-like substance,” the report lists “consistent” symptoms, and “the fact that none of the victims was observed to have wounds or visible injuries.”

First, the symptoms are not very consistent with sarin, nor between all victims (and “sarin-like” is too poorly defined to bother comparing). [26] But leaving that to others, there are two more serious problems here.

First, a .lack of visible injuries is consistent with some chemical poisoning that could be sarin, but disease, suffocation, or fatal but unseen injuries (for examples) could also be the cause. To say the gas victims they showed us weren’t injured by weapons is just to say if it’s a false-flag event, the killers were reasonably disciplined as to method.

And the main problem with this claim is that it’s untrue. An unusual number of alleged sarin victims do show serious and possibly fatal wounds to the face, head, and neck (and hardly anywhere else on the body). The graphic below compiles the eight clear or likely cases identified so far –  one woman, and seven children. Two of these were apparently injured after they were seen on video “rescued” by the lauded “White Helmets.” [27]

These 8, of a reported 80-100 victims is 8-10% of the total. Many others, including several men and at least one baby, also suffered strange but less serious scrapes on the face.  With other injuries included, probably 10-15% were visibly wounded, as opposed to the “none of them” claimed by the CoI.

Children especially were shown alive but paralyzed and gasping before they died; this may have been planned for just the emotional effect it had, and could also lead to some non-fatal under-dosing. That might in turn lead to execution, likely done unusually to be less obvious, including extra random wounds so shelling or accident could be blamed if it ever became an issue. But thanks to the CoI and others, the issue has remained quiet and so they haven’t even had to try and explain it.

Alternately, it’s possible these injuries are from some mix of shelling and accidents or rough rides in trucks, etc. But at the very least, the neat claim that only gas (or invisible methods like suffocation) could have harmed or killed this entire body of victims falls apart.

As For The Rest of Them/Mass-Abduction Reports Ignored
The other 85-90% of victims show no wounds, and most likely died just from a poison. But we should wonder what that made-up jet attack story conceals. The toxins could well have been released in the town by terrorists, or even delivered by them in basement gas chambers. For a reported 500 affected people, there are no photos or videos of any of them dead in their homes, in the streets, or being rescued; they only appear in trucks arriving from locales that we were not shown.

To display supposed balance, the CoI’s report passes on some of the most undeniable recent crimes by opposition terrorists (not limited to Daesh/ISIS) against Syria’s religious minorities, including cases of hostage-taking. But one event they fail to mention was the claim that some 250 civilians were kidnapped from villages near Hama during the late March occupation of the villages by fighters led by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS, formerly Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front). [28] These hostages were said to be taken north to Khan Sheikhoun when the Islamists fled on March 31. [29] By the usual patterns, these would be minorities (Alawites, Christians, etc.) and Sunni Muslims seen as supportive of the government, especially family members of military officers or government leaders.

This mass abduction – if it happened – came just five days before the incident under study, where Islamist activists showed us dozens of civilians dying in still-unclear circumstances in Khan Sheikhoun. It’s entirely possible this is a portion of them that the Islamists gassed and hid under false names and contrived back-stories. (However this hasn’t been confirmed with any published victim matches. In fact, it’s likely those recent captures were deemed too obvious, leading the terrorists to use other hostages they had nabbed more quietly from within their own areas.)

Maybe these kidnap reports are inaccurate propaganda, but the CoI didn’t do anything to help illustrate that. In fact they seem unaware of the claims as they note how the HTS-led forces “successfully attacked Government positions in Hama” in late March, committing no mentioned crimes but sparking reprisals, thought to include this sarin attack.

As For The Rest of Them/Mass-Abduction Reports Ignored

The other 85-90% of victims show no wounds, and most likely died just from a poison. But we should wonder what that made-up jet attack story conceals. The toxins could well have been released in the town by terrorists, or even delivered by them in basement gas chambers. For a reported 500 affected people, there are no photos or videos of any of them dead in their homes, in the streets, or being rescued; they only appear in trucks arriving from locales that we were not shown.

To display supposed balance, the CoI’s report passes on some of the most undeniable recent crimes by opposition terrorists (not limited to Daesh/ISIS) against Syria’s religious minorities, including cases of hostage-taking. But one event they fail to mention was the claim that some 250 civilians were kidnapped from villages near Hama during the late March occupation of the villages by fighters led by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS, formerly Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front). [7-27] These hostages were said to be taken north to Khan Sheikhoun when the Islamists fled on March 31. [8-28] By the usual patterns, these would be minorities (Alawites, Christians, etc.) and Sunni Muslims seen as supportive of the government, especially family members of military officers or government leaders.

This mass abduction – if it happened – came just five days before the incident under study, where Islamist activists showed us dozens of civilians dying in still-unclear circumstances in Khan Sheikhoun. It’s entirely possible this is a portion of them that the Islamists gassed and hid under false names and contrived back-stories. (However this hasn’t been confirmed with any published victim matches. In fact, it’s likely those recent captures were deemed too obvious, leading the terrorists to use other hostages they had nabbed more quietly from within their own areas.)

Maybe these kidnap reports are inaccurate propaganda, but the CoI didn’t do anything to help illustrate that. In fact they seem unaware of the claims as they note how the HTS-led forces “successfully attacked Government positions in Hama” in late March, committing no mentioned crimes but sparking reprisals, thought to include this sarin attack.

Children especially were shown alive but paralyzed and gasping before they died; this may have been planned for just the emotional effect it had, and could also lead to some non-fatal under-dosing. That might in turn lead to execution, likely done unusually to be less obvious, including extra random wounds so shelling or accident could be blamed if it ever became an issue. But thanks to the CoI and others, the issue has remained quiet and so they haven’t even had to try and explain it.

Alternately, it’s possible these injuries are from some mix of shelling and accidents or rough rides in trucks, etc. But at the very least, the neat claim that only gas (or invisible methods like suffocation) could have harmed or killed this entire body of victims falls apart.

Russian-Syrian Time Line Deception: Wrong

The CoI’s report states that “Russian and Syrian officials denied that Syrian forces had used chemical weapons, explaining that air strikes conducted by Syrian forces at 11.30 a.m. that day had struck a terrorist chemical weapons depot.”

They imply this is the explanation for the sarin attack allegations, as it came from Russia and Syria – some accidental release around noon, triggered by a Syrian airstrike, explains the events that clearly unfolded around 7am. They imply this is the best these villains could come up with, and they didn’t buy it. Point 76 relates several reasons to reject this “explanation,” including that such a violent explosion would essentially destroy the sarin, mooting the important part of that story (a valid point). These are capped with the sinker:

   “Third, the scenario suggested by Russian and Syrian officials does not explain the timing of the appearance of victims — hours before the time Russian and Syrian officials gave for the strike.”

That obvious disconnect could mean it’s not their real explanation, but the CoI apparently didn’t think of that. Russian officials did propose just this scenario, and still haven’t retracted it. That’s unfortunate and adds to the confusion the CoI is furthering. It’s likely the Russians were guessing this, being unsure when the incident really was, but knowing of a Syrian attack there at 11:30. If they were pushed to say what Syria did at the attack time, they’d probably say something like “nothing we know of.”

Whatever the Russians said, Syria’s take matters more. They explained at the time that they conducted no air strikes before 11:30. [30] They deny they used any weapons on Khan Shaykhun at dawn, and reiterated their running claim that they’ve never used chemical weapons anywhere. They do not, however, deny that they had any flights in the area at the time, just that if there were, they didn’t attack anything (as noted, a simple reconnaissance mission is likely).

The CoI can doubt the claim of no dawn attack all they want, but instead they ignore and obscure it beneath the flawed Russian claim and some sloppy lumping-together. They suggest the Syrians admit to a strike linked to the gassing, but jammed some rebels CWs in the middle of it, and then altered the time, perhaps to be extra deceptive or confusing.

To claim that was their explanation suggests the villains here just aren’t thinking straight as they mass murder with impunity, just because they’re evil, besides stupid and smelly. It’s good propaganda but it’s not very realistic. Responding to the CoI’s report in September, President Assad reiterated, as Press TV quoted him: “we did not launch any attack at that time.” [31] It was always a straw-man argument. As investigative reporter Robert Parry noted in his review of the CoI’s report:

   “U.S. mainstream media accounts and the new U.N. report cited the time discrepancy – between the dawn attack and the noontime raid – as proof of Russian and Syrian deception. Yet, it made no sense for the Russians and Syrians to lie about the time element … Instead, the Russian and Syrian response seems to suggest genuine confusion, not a cover-up.”

   “For the U.N. commission to join in this attack line on the timeline further suggests a lack of objectivity.” [32]

Conclusion

In contrast to the fawning news reports, in the end we have an unprofessional and biased UN panel whose findings, when put together with the better evidence, portrays this perplexing scenario:

A Syrian jet no one was able to film evaded US radar and left exculpatory false tracks, as it dropped a special Soviet chemical bomb that left no credible debris. That was filled with caustic, terrorist-grade sarin that had magical properties like spreading almost exactly against the observable wind. Many victims who were badly wounded or perhaps even executed just weren’t. Oh, and the Russians and Syrians are terrible liars with no grasp of time and with illogical, self-defeating motives.

“Accountability” is demanded over this impossible crime.

The OPCW and CoI’s activist sources on flight tracks, bomb-dropping, wind direction and speed, topography, and sarin symptoms managed to get all that wrong, and yet they remain the central sources. It’s worth wondering if this arises from random incompetence, or was more calculated. It seems all too likely the investigators wanted desperately for us to believe the Islamist story, but had to twist and ignore the other evidence to make it appear borne out.

After this report, the objectivity and independence of this “Independent Commission of Inquiry” are in deeper question than ever. They and their findings lack real credibility, and should not be trusted. Neither can they be entirely dismissed, but careful double-checking is called for before anything important is invested in their often-absurd findings.

Editors Note: This is the second analysis by author Adam Larsson published in The Indicter Magazine about the allegations on chemical attacks in Syria. The first article, of April 5, 2017, can be found via this link, “Analysis of evidence contradicts allegations on Syrian gas attacks“. Opinions in these articles are the author’s solely, and do not necessarily represent those of The Indicter Magazine./ Dr Lena Oske, Acting Editor, The Indicter Magazine.

References

[1] Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic

A/HRC/36/55 – General Assembly – Distr.: General https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G17/234/18/PDF/G1723418.pdf or https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/UNHCR%20Syria%20PR%20AR.pdf

[2] “The commission’s report marked first time that a U.N. body has explicitly accused the Syrian government of using sarin” Washington Post, September 6 https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/united-nations-accuses-syrian-government-of-april-sarin-attack/2017/09/06/086ec6e6-92ec-11e7-b9bc-b2f7903bab0d_story.html

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/06/world/middleeast/syria-war-crimes-del-ponte-resigns.html Aug, 6 – most other sources are from Aug. 7 and 8.

[4] barred from discussing it in 2009 http://www.newsweek.com/prosecutor-barred-discussing-her-own-book-82651 – 2010 EU report lends more credibility to the charges http://www.reuters.com/article/us-kosovo-thaci-organs/report-details-kla-organ-snatching-ring-in-albania-idUSTRE6BE42Y20101215

[5] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-22424188 – it seems she was referring to the March 19, 2013 sarin attack on Khan Al-Assal, Aleppo

[6] http://www.mepc.org/board-directors (noting her commission work since 2011 has been “pro bono”)

[7] https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/Fact_Finding_Mission/s-1510-2017_e_.pdf

[8] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYOMEDK_uVs

[9] http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/06/middleeast/syria-idlib-chemical-attack/index.html

[10] see [1] – point 74, Annex II

[11] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39531045

[12] https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3553049/Syria-Chemical-Weapons-Report-White-House.pdf

[13] see [7]

[14] http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/06/idlib-chemical-massacre-blasts.html

[15] https://twitter.com/MichaKobs/status/874229943366037510

[16] https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/05/01/death-chemicals/syrian-governments-widespread-and-systematic-use-chemical-weapons

[17] https://twitter.com/MichaKobs/status/861244519068688384

[18] Some media tweets contributing to the discussion: https://twitter.com/elemcee69/status/849535658280484864


https://twitter.com/MichaKobs/status/879072794436390912

[19] https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/what-really-happened-khan-sheikhoun

[20] http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-sarin-evidence.html

[21] “Wind under an inversion at low surface temperature and low synoptic wind flow is essentially random at 10+ kilometre scales. Actual wind speed and direction at a specific location at a specific time requires direct observation and can’t be inferred by regional observations”

[22] see [7]

[23] http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/05/4-4-17-wind-direction-explainer.html – see especially “The White Fog Shows the Wind” for the most relevant clues, and also http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/05/idlib-chemical-massacre-white-fog.html

[24] The OPCW’s no wind theory (Citations, explanation, and criticism) http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/07/idlib-chemical-massacre-4-4-17-wind.html

[25] http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Alleged_Chemical_Attack_Khan_Sheikhoun_4_April_2017/Location#Weather_.26_gas_extent

[26] Denis O’Brien: http://logophere.com/Topics2017/17-04/17_017-BLA-Sarin.htm – and consider how quickly the star witness recovered and became harmless to people touching him: http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/09/abdelhamid-al-yousef-speedy-recovery.html – compared to this dead family hosed for some 45 minutes, re-loaded in a truck, and hosed again: https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/907582459188879360

[27] http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/07/two-smoking-gun-head-wounds.html

[28] https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/jumping-conclusions-something-not-adding-idlib-chemical-weapons-attack/

[29] https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/jihadist-rebels-kidnap-civilians-fleeing-village-northern-hama/

[30] see [9]

[31] http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/08/534483/Syria-denies-UN-report-accusations-involvement-sarin-Khan-Shaykhoun-chemical-attack

[32] https://consortiumnews.com/2017/09/07/a-new-hole-in-syria-sarin-certainty/

The author

Adam Larson is an independent investigator in Spokane, Washington, United States. He studied history at Eastern Washington University. He has since 2011, on a volunteer basis, studied events in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine following Western-backed regime-change operations, often under the screen name Caustic Logic. Using open sources, with an emphasis on video analysis, Mr. Larson and research associates have often deconstructed or disproved alleged “regime” crimes from shooting protesters to sectarian massacres. He’s the co-founder of Citizen’s Investigation into War crimes in Libya (and Syria, Ukraine, and beyond – CIWCL-SUB – website), a core member of the wiki-format research site A Closer Look On Syria, and runs the site Monitor on Massacre Marketing. He can be contacted at adam@ciwclibya.org.