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26 September 2016


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Chris Chuba

Devil's Advocate
The only possible theory is if the bomb was a dud. If the bomb exploded there would have to be some sort of visible damage to the currently pristine, white walls that look to be a mere 10 ft away from the tail fin and crater.

I found one comment on Southfront that gave a rather spirited defense to the dud theory, "You [replying to someone else] stated correctly that it had a 92kg explosive that should have destroyed the building but it didn't. Bellingcat had another photo with fragments from the casing. The explosive should be a yellow/yellow white material and the photo clearly show a white granular substance. A 250 lb bomb hitting a industrial floor and decelerating from 500+ miles an hour is not going to leave very much, but the picture shows a compressed tail section. It was a cold war dud."

His claim is clear, in short, the bomb was a dud, the tail fin survived and the front of the bomb including the explosive turned into powder. I would think that if that if there was enough energy to create a crater of that size and disintegrate the front of the bomb that there would have to be some serious fragmentation damage to the walls which are still in perfect condition. What do you guys think of the dud theory?

b, the twitter post you linked to is gone

Is Malinka one of the Borg? Perhaps he/she realizes that the picture undermines the case that the bomb crashed through the roof because of the visible crossbar. Pity. I hope that the picture showing the crossbar is somewhere around the net. If anyone finds it, please save the image locally.

Chris Chuba

1. Would the hole in the roof be perfectly circular or would it be elliptical reflecting the angle of the bomb? (I agree that the hole would be larger than the bomb)

2. I actually do think that tail fin is from a dud, I am certain that there is a plentiful supply of duds available in Northern Syria at this point.

3. Why would the bomb form such an impressive crater but leave not marks on the walls that are just a few feet away?


As with Moon of Alabama, this site is an invaluable resource not only with the information / opinions voiced in the main article but also with the variety of comments & the time taken to read through the comments is rarely, if ever, wasted. A prime example of this is the back & forth between David Habakkuks & "b" - 26 September 2016 at 10:28 AM - (for those that aren't aware, "b" IS MoonofAlabama.org)laying out information on the Porton Down "investigation" of the sarin attacks in East Ghouta I had been unaware of this & yet consider myself fairly au fait with the monumental injustice visited upon the Syrian people.

As someone above mentioned - Patrick Lancaster I think - this is rather sloppy of BellingCRAP, but the alphabet agencies are on a pretty short time frame playing catch up with releases from the Russian & Syrian govts of FACTUAL information.



1. We can't tell if the hole is perfectly circular given the angle of the pictures but it looks pretty close. Given the steep angle of impact, I would expect the hole to be mostly circular. The rule of thumb for penetration openings is they are about 2 inches larger than the bomb diameter.

2. Probably, a lot of these bombs have been used by both the Syrians and Russians. Back in my weaponeering days we planned on 5-10% failure rate, so there are likely a lot of unexploded bombs out there if the failure rates are similar.

3. The angle of impact is away from the wall and most of the boxes of aid are between the impact and the wall, so I wouldn't expect any visible damage to the wall. Additionally, in a kinetic impact, most of the kinetic energy is absorbed into the ground so there isn't much "blast." The effect on the surround area is limited.


IMO it most certainly was a dud or the tail section was a plant. There are photos on the internet of 500# WWII era UXB's from Europe, they are rusted but still intact. Disintegration, IMO, is unlikely.



So IYO was this a helicopter delivered barrel bomb or a Russian air strike? pl



I always delight in your updates on the "peasants revolt" in various UK publications. That growing numbers of everyday people are reaching the "hang on a minute" stage is in an odd fashion profoundly reassuring.

It also strikes me as a truly revolutionary development. Has there ever been an historical equivalent? I don't think so, at least not on this scale.

The "transformed attitude" you mention is likely to be permanent. Once one has come to see that the "news", let alone "analysis" and opinion, are not only deeply unreliable but also often designed to deceive, there's no way back. As you say, it "turns the whole "Borgist" ideology on its head.

The Russians appear to be following the opposite tack. After observing their words and actions for a long time, intently so since the Ukrainian crisis blew up, it seems to me that at every level they work very hard at saying what they mean and then doing what they say. If my reaction is any indication, this consistency and straightforwardness builds serious credibility.

Charles Mackay suggested "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." Could there nevertheless be a tipping point somewhere ahead, a time when all us "peasants" individually recovering our senses (in this case perhaps for the first time) reach a critical mass? When the sort of ridicule Patrick so nicely dished out to Bellingcat spreads its wings far more widely?


Colonel Lang -

Not sure if you are asking me (mike from Long Beach) or the other Mike who posted at 10:32 in response to Chris Chuba?

If you were asking me, I do not yet have an opinion on how that convoy met its destruction. I am not smart on doing forensics on images no matter whether still photography or video. I do not believe that Brown Moses (or Belling Cat or whatever his name) is either. And I am unaware of the degree of competence of anyone here in that field. Unfortunately with the onset of cell phone photography, too many in America have automatically become so-called experts.

I would like to know if NSA has anything to say about the attack, but we may never know that.


Look no further:



Suggest you change your moniker and tell us the new one. pat


I had some fun with those Ammar al-Salmo pieces here:

The guy was a Jihadi until he got a job with the U.S./UK propaganda shop White Helmets. There are photos of him carrying weapons and in the mids of other Jihadis.


If it's the image I think it is, you will find it was taken from this video at the 56/57s mark:
Dominic H, a big, big, big, fan of Bellingcat posted this by way of comment
Ammar al-Salmo (see my comment above abd b's post on the id convoy for more) should be well known if not by name:


This is what seems to happen when what looks like a dud OFAB 250-270 crashes through a reinforced concrete roof onto a concrete floor:

mike allen

Make it 'mike allen' then. No relation to george felix allen, the former Senator from your fair state, even though my father was a Virginian. But I don't think george felix was born in Virginia anyway, wasn't he a Californian?

One person commenting here on photo forensics that I think has an understanding is 'Andy' who posted above at 7:06pm and again at 10:04pm regarding the OFAB250. I hope he will comment again regarding the photos of the burned out convoy trucks.


From Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon's(*) bio:

"He has also worked with US networks and British newspapers to smuggle chemical samples out of Syria for verification in UK and France."

So there is absolutely no credibile custody trail for these samples smuggled out of Syria. They serve purely PR purposes, which is consistent with the primary involvement of western MSM in the exercise.

* I just love the names the Brits come up with. My fave is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.


Can't answer that. It would be a WAG on my part.

Chris Chuba

Clearly this was a genuine DUD. The question remains did it fall through this ceiling or is it one of the many DUD's in Syria that was then later carried to this location?

B's twitter link worked that last time I checked it. There are two intact crossbars in the ceiling. It does not look like there is enough room for the bomb to pass through them.

Look, I'm not an expert on munitions or anything military and neither is Bellingcat. I'd like to see some actual experts on that seen.

Also, even if the Russians bombed the warehouse it doesn't mean they bombed the trucks, does it? Those would be two different investigations.


The second picture is very informative. From the back towards the camera it shows i) dispersed groups of small items smeared with residue the same color as the floor ii) a sloping wall of a small crater possibly ~1 m wide at the apex iii) a badly mangled tailfin consistent with an OFAB 250-270 along with oddly shaped metal(?) protusions of the same color possibly representing the extended fins or tapered rear of the bomb canister iv) a closed packed group of clean small items wedges tightly into the space between the front of the tail fin and the front edge of the crater v) no covering cardboard boxes.

Given the rom is intact, we can be certain that it there was an OFAB, it didn't explode. However if the dud bomb did simply embed itself in the floor, it is unlikely that the tail fin would be deformed as badly as it is.

If an OFAB-250 had been dropped, the front of the bomb would be buried in the crater. The film crew and others seem to be incredibly relaxed about the presence of an unexploded 250kg bomb which could go off at any time.

My hypothesis for the visible evidence is as follows: It is possible that some small projectile came through the roof creating a small crater and smearing adjacent goods with residue.
The presence of intact rebar in the roof weakens this so alternatively, the hole in the roof was created by a small projectile which did not penetrate fully into the building. Then a small ground charge, e.g. buried hand grenade was detonated to produce a small crater in a suitable position with respect to the hole in the roof. Either way, a tail fin from a real exploded OFAB 250-270 was placed in the crater, and extra small items were jammed in to keep the fin at the 'correct' angle.

Later images show cardboard boxes around and partially over the tail fin. It might be argued that these clean items were in the cardbox that was removed and just happened to fall into place. However, they would not end up densely packed as they appear in the photograph. Similarly, if they were claimed to end up there as a result of an explosion. Further the putative explosion would have covered them with residue.

The presence of the cardboard boxes in some of the photographs and their absence in the video is unambiguous proof that the physical evidence has been manipulated (in the neutral sense of the word) in an undocumented manner.


There is evidence of an airstrike. See following footage showing missile strikes and aircraft cannon being used. You can hear the aircraft and the distinct burp of the aircraft cannon.

Aircraft cannon fire at 1:05, 1:40. 2:21 missile strike?


Very similar to cannon used on the Syrian Aero L-39 Albatross. Video from earlier in the Syrian conflict.


David Habakkuk


No. The implications of de Bretton-Gordon’s claim are quite different, and much more devastating to the conventional wisdom on Ghouta.

A key to the whole affair is that the developments in mass spectrometry which have made it possible for analysis of ‘environmental’ – as distinct from ‘physiological’ – samples to establish not simply whether sarin is present but crucial information about how it was produced are relatively recent.

If – in the spirit of a ‘citizen investigative journalist’ such as Higgins is supposed to be but isn’t – one follows up the ‘Military Speakers’ entry, and looks at a range of materials by de Bretton-Gordon, including several contributions to the ‘Brown Moses Blog’, some interesting facts emerge.

It is important that there are four incidents prior to Ghouta where there is reason to believe small quantities of sarin were used: Khan Al-Asal, Aleppo, and Uteibah, Damascus, on 19 March; Sheikh Maqsood, Aleppo, 13 April, and Saraqib, Idlib, 29 April.

It is I think virtually certain that Porton Down tested ‘environmental’ samples from Khan Al-Asal, and Saraqib, and probable that they also tested such samples from Uteibah and Sheikh Maqsood.

The ‘chain of custody’ issue is only relevant, if the evidence suggests that the results of these tests were different from that of the tests carried out by the Russian OPCW-certified laboratory on samples from Khan Al-Asal, announced by Vitaly Churkin at the UN on 8 July.

The Russians called it ‘cottage industry’ sarin, which matches Hersh’s term ‘kitchen sarin’ for the results of Porton Down’s tests on the samples from Ghouta.

A key point is that, in the initial reports of tests carried out at Porton Down, ‘environmental’ samples are mentioned. Then, suddenly, between mid-May and early June, they fall into an Orwellian ‘memory hole’, and the references are all to ‘physiological’ samples.

A plausible hypothesis as to what happened is that at the outset, only the scientific experts were aware that ‘environmental’ samples might establish who had used the sarin in these various incidents.

The BBC report from Saraqib from 16 May 2013, which is the last instance in which such samples were mentioned before they disappear from view I have been able to trace, and in which de Bretton-Gordon features prominently, provides further evidence that this was so.

(See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22551892 .)

The hypothesis to which ‘Occam’s Razor’ points is that key people had become aware some weeks before Churkin presented the Russian results both that Porton Down could and had produced crucial evidence about how the sarin had been produced – and knew that it did not support the indictment of the Syrian Government.

If this was the case, certain puzzles raised by Hersh’s version dissolve.

David Habakkuk

kao_hsien_chih, Ingolf,

A lot food for thought in both your comments. These are matters about which I need to think further.

However, for what they are worth, a few ‘off the cuff’ thoughts.

I think the internet, and the networks it creates have very ambiguous implications. They can lead to people, essentially, reinforcing each other in their various ‘groupthinks’ – some of which are plain barmy.

But one does also find a lot of people, of very diverse backgrounds and views, who do take a critical attitude to evidence. And, up to a point, I find the ‘recommended’ comments not just on the ‘Financial Times’ but also the ‘MailOnline’ indicative of a move towards a more sober, rather than more hysterical, view of things.

In regard to the ‘FT’, an interesting development is that one of the commenters who regularly gets the most recommendations, who uses the name ‘MarkGB’, has created his own blog, which reproduces his comments, with elaborations.

His latest piece is entitled ‘Martin Wolf on “How the west might soon be lost”’’ – it is a response to yet another in a long series of diatribes in the paper which denounce Trump without displaying any serious indication of any attempt to understand why a lot of people might not think Hillary Clinton an ideal candidate.

(See http://www.markgb.com/blog/2016/9/28/dfk0cbiodm2zqbuouge2oxr6t9sxtt .)

This piece by ‘MarkGB’ features some interesting responses to his main comment, together with his responses to these.

As to his views on specifically economic issues, at the risk of revealing my misconceptions, I think these have a good deal in common with what Ingolf or indeed ‘Jack’ think.

Also interesting, to my mind, is the way in which, in the exchange he reproduces with a commenter calling himself ‘Tempus Fugit’, ‘MarkGB’ links arguments about economics with arguments about language:

‘I appreciate your honesty TF. Apart from the fact that it makes a difference personally, “honesty” is almost completely lacking from our culture of political economy. “Politics” has become the art of BS rather than the formation of policy. So “speaking out” is the antidote to corruption, and we will not go forward healthily from here without it. It matters little how “clever” we are – our problems breed in the dark.’

In a piece in April last year, entitled ‘Politics, Bullshit, and Ukraine’, the Russian émigré literary scholar made use of a pamphlet by the philosopher Harry C. Frankfurt entitled ‘On Bullshit’.

(See http://original.antiwar.com/vladimir_golstein/2015/04/08/politics-bullshit-and-ukraine/ .)

His argument is informed by his personal experience of Soviet ‘bullshit’.

However, in my view one of the things which was happening in the late Soviet period was that a very significant number of Russians, not simply outside the system but inside, came to grasp the point that ‘MarkGB’ is making: that one cannot run a society effectively if one’s language has lost touch with reality.

So, as Golstein brings out, Putin can certainly lie – but he does not ‘bullshit’.

A problem is that, as indeed the collapse of the Soviet Union illustrated, a problem with a ‘bullshit’ world is that too many of those involved may have too much to lose by restoring some kind of contact with reality.

And, as ‘MarkGB’ suggests, this is the case with people like Martin Wolf.

However, it is a quite new experience for such people to be, as it were, ‘called out’ in the comments to their own articles.



" . . . one cannot run a society effectively if one’s language has lost touch with reality."

Yes, exactly. Nor can one remain sane. Coming across others trying hard to extract clarity from this egregious muddle always feels like a gift. So, thank you for the link to MarkGB; based on that piece his thoughts do indeed seem broadly congenial.

Even more important, however, as you suggest, is his attitude. "Honesty", staying open enough to take in and, where justified, absorb new or even contrary perspectives is the key. That, and the related willingness to admit error, however painful.

We all know, I think, how difficult it is to get clear, and stay clear, about what's really going on. Voices that have proven themselves over time are pure gold. That some of them are gathered here at SST is what makes it so special.


b and David Habakkuk

I get the impression its more likely to be Gulf money channeled through a third party. A PR firm perhaps? There's no end of institutions such as Bell Pottinger or the Henry Jackson Society that would be a convenient conduit for Saudi money. Its so wretchedly partisan its embarrassingly clumsy.

H de B Gordon, you mentioned, is more open and has been funded by UK government since 2012 at least to develop a network of people in Syria to work on collecting samples among other tasks. His past as head of the UK's CBRN training base for the army alongside his involvement in Syria has given him a platform that allows him 'authority' to write leader articles in the Daily Telegraph among other papers, calling for more effort to oust Assad.

David Habakkuk


I think questions to do with funding, with so many individuals and organisations, are often very obscure.

As you obviously know, the ‘Henry Jackson Society’ had provided the secretariats for the All Party Parliamentary Groups on ‘Homeland Security’ and ‘Transatlantic Security’.

These apparently both ceased operating after an investigation by ‘Spinwatch’ into the funding of the HJS led at the end of 2014 to requests to for it to disclose its donors to the Commons’ standards watchdog that it failed to meet.

So, as with so many of these organisations, it could receive from and transmit funds to all sorts of people.

As to de Bretton-Gordon, it had seemed to me likely that he was operating on behalf of the Government – in collecting samples, among other things – not least because his professional expertise and activities ideally fitted him for the role.

However, precisely this fact makes me concerned about the way in which not simply the ‘Telegraph’, but other MSM organisations, including the ‘Mail’, the ‘Guardian’, as well as the BBC, treat him as an independent expert.

This is not how we would have behaved in my time in television and radio current affairs, back in the ‘Seventies and ‘Eighties.

(We thought we were a cut above ‘Radio Moscow’. Those were the days.)

Moreover, among the somewhat alarming elements in all this is that a discussion by de Bretton-Gordon on the ‘Brown Moses Blog’ of the 16 May 2013 report from Saraqib by Ian Pannell suggests that he was apparently producing material in cahoots with the BBC, while they presented him as an independent expert.

(See http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/responses-to-final-un-report-into-use_14.html .)

In that discussion, de Bretton-Gordon explains: ‘I covered the Sarin attack with the BBC’s Ian Pannell and concluded without doubt, that the Regime was responsible, and we didn’t have any detailed chemical analysis kit with us.’

But in the original report, Pannell tells us that ‘Samples of soil, blood, urine and hair have been taken. They hold the best clue as to what happened in Saraqeb. What it will not do is determine who is responsible.’

This is all frankly bizarre. For one thing, the appropriate procedure was not for ‘on the spot’ testing to be done with a ‘field kit’ used by people without proper scientific expertise – it was for the samples to be taken back to Porton Down.

And, in a ‘Guardian’ article in April 2015, de Bretton-Gordon made clear that this is precisely what happened.

Moreover, the suggestion that ‘environmental’ samples could not determine ‘who is responsible’ is simply false.

As a result of – relatively recent – developments in mass spectrometry, of which de Bretton-Gordon at that point could well have been unaware, tests carried out at Porton Down were potentially capable of doing precisely that.

Moreover, in another contribution to the ‘Brown Moses Blog’, de Bretton-Gordon makes confusion worse confounded, by suggesting that the sarin used at Saraqib was ‘probably of a low quality.’

But the Syrian Government had developed its chemical weapons programme, not for ‘battlefield’ use, but as a ‘poor man’s deterrent’ against Israel: so it could be expected that the sarin would not be ‘probably of a low quality’.

And it seems virtually certain that the tests carried out by UN/OPCW experts, and also from the U.S. Army’s OPCW-certified laboratory, when the arsenal was being dismantled on the MV ‘Cape Ray’ in mid-2014, confirmed that it was not. The ‘precursors’ were high up the process of synthesis from more basic chemicals, and there were stabilisers.

All this is part of an accumulating body of evidence which strongly suggests that, weeks before the Ghouta atrocity, there was ample evidence, which ought to have been available to the JIC and Cameron, that the earlier small-scale attacks were ‘false flag’ attempts.

(Although Khan Al-Asal, where the victims were on the government side, remains an outlier and in some ways a problem.)

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