Friday 30 August 2013

Video Showing The High Explosive Variant Of The Chemical Attack Linked Munition

Thanks to @7oriaWBas who sent me the following video

This shows what I believe is a high explosive variant of the same munition linked to alleged chemical attacks in Damascus.  The group in the video, Environs of the Holy House [Jerusalem] Battalions, claims this was fired by government forces, landing in Camp Sbeineh, and contains 200kg of explosives.  They also took a photograph of the munition

In the video they are disassembling the munition, and here we can see them scraping out the yellow high explosive that fills the warhead

This matches to an example of the explosive variant of this munition that was recovered in Homs.  Local fighters in Homs claimed these were used widely, and caused massive amounts of damage.

One key reason that I believe this munition is a different variant to the type linked to alleged chemical attacks is whenever we see the type linked to the alleged chemical attack, the payload is gone, yet the rocket it in good condition.  A large, high explosive warhead would destroy the warhead section, and damage the rocket as well.  However, when we see the munitions linked to the alleged chemical attack we repeatedly see them in comparatively good condition, as the below video demonstrates

You also might have noticed something about the numbering.  On those munitions linked to the alleged chemical attacks, where the numbers are still visible, they are always written in red

Yet in the Homs video and the new video the numbers on the rocket are written in black.

This may indicate a coloured numbering system used to identify the payload of the munition.

What also interesting is the base-plate of the warhead.  Here's a clear shot of the base-plate from the munition linked to alleged chemical attacks

You'll note two holes, possibly used to fill the warhead.  Now look at the example in the new video and from Homs

In both these pictures we see only one hole, possibly a fill hole.

This appears to show there's certain consistencies between the two variants of the munitions.  I've now been sent photographs showing the munition linked to the chemical attack that has shown the tail fins are around 320mm wide, which would mean they'd fit with the theory these are munitions manufactured locally, or by an ally of Syria, designed to fit the Iranian Falaq-2 rocket launcher.  I also suspect the munitions have different length rockets, with the heavier high explosive munition having a longer tail section, something I hope to confirm when I have more details of the munition.

For more information relating to the recent alleged chemical weapon attacks in Damascus, go here.

Thanks to Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi for translations. and additional information.

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at


  1. Yes... two holes, as it's a thermobaric warhead and thermobaric warheads, as per weapons experts survive mainly in-tact.

  2. The first video shows an unexploded rocket. It has a black band on the warhead. It is in great shape, with the narrow section unbent and the deformity at the front of the warhead as the only sign of impact.

    The second video shows a rocket with both black and yellow band on the warhead. It shows a hole at the back of the warhead, but it's not visible if there's another symmetric hole. There's no info that I can find on whether the rocket is unexploded or not. Reports of massive destruction are consistent with expected effects of thermobaric weapons.

    Someone has already mentioned that yellow band could be a mark for FAE rockets, and the new video seems to prove that theory.

    To be honest, both rockets that have been confirmed not to have carried a chemical payload seem to be in better condition than the ones linked to alleged chemical attacks. What stands out is that the narrow part of the HE rocket in the first video is not bent, even at the base where it connects to the warhead. I always assumed that the bend in the rockets in other videos and images is from impact, and it could be, but now I think that it could also be from the vacuum effect created by FAE explosion. Also, concerning the holes, two holes could be part of FAE mechanism, with one hole releasing the gas and other releasing the small explosion to set the gas on fire. Theoretically, even a small flame would be enough, so there's no reason to burst the warhead neither to release the gas nor to detonate it.

    I have no idea about the colour of the numbers, but I've noticed that red numbers are much higher than the black ones. It could be a simple change in design or maybe result of rockets being produced at different sites. Third-world countries aren't nearly as standardized as the western ones.

    1. Regarding coloured bands, markings, etc, it should be kept in mind these can be rubbed of for a number of reasons, from storage to launch to impact.

    2. In the 2nd part of the 2nd video it clearly shows an unexploded HE type with a yellow band and black lettering. I think yellow band with black lettering indicates an HE type.

      I believe the FAE type disperses the fuel with a primary explosion from a charge at the core of the payload, when the payload can explodes along the pre-grooved lines. That is how the US patent FAE works. I think the larger hole is just a plug to fill up the payload, and the smaller hole is the detonator needed in the FAE and HE types.

    3. "Third-world countries aren't nearly as standardized as the western ones."

      Syria is not a third world country. The weapon could be made in a third world country or in any reasonably equipped light engineering venture.

      There is nothing about the weapon system, the projectile itself, that is particularly difficult to manufacture. The quality of the projectiles doesn't appear to be high. In other words, no brochure for foreign sales was anticipated.

      There are many dozens of factions fighting on both sides or sitting on the sidelines. The projectiles could be made and separately used by different groups.

      If it was originally conceived as weapon against Israel it could not survive long enough to be used. It is a cheaply produced junk weapon of very limited application and mobility.

  3. Hum.
    Not sure why a thermobaric warhead should have two holes.

    I have not yet heard any accounts of anything that landed and exploded in a thermobaric warhead kind of way.

    I am not sure why this simply has to be a thermobaric warhead, except that this is a technology that the Russians made a big thing of at one stage -and it's not a chemical warhead, banned under international law.


    A sarin warhead would be a dangerous thing to fill with sarin, and as soon as sarin is made, it begins to degrade.

    It would be a thousand times safer to fill the warhead with the two separate sarin precursors, shortly before launch, and allow fresh sarin to form inside when it was sealed up. You need two holes, so that the residue of the first fill isn't on the hole when the nozzle to fill with the second fill is applied.

    Like a binary, but mixed prior to launch rather than in flight, though I daresay that the flight would mix things up thoroughly if it hadn't happened before. The necessary reaction doesn't take long.

    In fact... if you did the first fill, through one hole, floated a layer of engine oil on the top of that, then did the second fill through the other (clean) hole, sarin wouldn't form at all fast until the warhead was then tipped or rolled. At least, it would delay sarin formation long enough to plug the holes!

    Couldn't that clear up quite a lot of the outstanding anomalies noted in various posts?

    1. The impression I get from your blog and similar sources is that it absolutely has to be chemical weapons. Most of the evidence points towards thermobaric warheads. I'm not saying there's enough evidence for either conclusion or that conventional rockets couldn't have been converted to chemical weapons in limited amounts.

      There are comments in other posts on this blog, by Daniel S, linking to a US patent for what seems to be very similar to the rockets discussed here. If those are copies of XM130 being fired in Syria, the holes would hold ignition charges. It is logical to assume that whoever made those rockets would start producing them without the redundant charge at some point which would explain the one-hole version.

      As for the use of thermobaric weapons, their main purpose is anti-personnel, especially in case of FAE weapons. Unlike HE explosions which might get blocked off by an obstacle it doesn't destroy, gas used in FAE weapons spreads around obstacles and then gets ignited. The use is very logical if one wants to eliminate the enemy with causing as little damage as possible to the surrounding buildings, which I would assume for all sides in the conflict.

      I would also point you to the simple wikipedia article
      To quote, under Effect: "If the fuel deflagrates but does not detonate, victims will be severely burned and will probably also inhale the burning fuel. Since the most common FAE fuels, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide, are highly toxic, undetonated FAE should prove as lethal to personnel caught within the cloud as most chemical agents." This seems to be in line with the latest and largest incident where 350 of 3500 people who reported symptoms were killed. 10% efficiency would be quite bad performance for a chemical weapon as deadly as sarin, don't you think?

  4. With 200KG of TNT or very similar, I can't for the life of me see the need for a thermobaric version in urban warfare, as 200kG of TNT is enough to bring down several buildings.

    This is roughly as much explosive force as a 1,000lb MC bomb of WW2, though in a much lighter metal casing.

  5. Sorry, but this very blog has already documented thermobaric bomb usage in Syria:

    1. Yes, that's a bomb however, not a rocket. There are thermobaric rockets as well. In fact this rocket is a copy of one.

    2. Okay, I missed that, because it's a different kind of munition entirely, and posted longer ago than I was looking.

      However, the warhead fill weight is very similar to the 200KG HE version of the rocket, above, which may be significant.

      American versions of the same thing used a self-igniting fuel, ethylene dioxide, if memory serves. An obvious problem if munition damaged in storage!

      I think the non-bending of the unexploded HE ones may be because the extra weight at the front keeps it all straight on impact. Remember, that nearly all the "chemical" ones seem to have had a small bursting charge detonate at the front on impact, whereas the UXBs have, quite evidently, not detonated at all.

      It's quite apparent that none of the rocket components has any strength more than the minimum needed, and that what stops the rocket tube bending during launch is probably the solid fuel inside it and the outward pressure as it begins to burn.

      I still don't see evidence for the ROCKETS, with the red numbers on, being anything other than chemical weapons.

      And I'm not sure that anyone would be bothering with the HE version if a thermobaric one was available. HE produces more concentrated pressure on armoured targets, and to hurt a buried bunker you have to couple a shockwave into the ground, and many of the virtues of a thermobaric weapon in terms of blast radius stem from NOT doing that. But armoured targets, hardened bunkers and buried bunkers, would all require much more accuracy than the HE rocket seems likely to have.

      So i think the massive HE rocket is a sign that either a thermobaric weapon doesn't exist, or that they've run out of suitable fuel to make it work. A regime under fire runs out of all sorts of things, which is why things are constantly re-designed.

      I think the real message here is that the regime is seeking ways to maintain the supply of munitions with a dwindling supply of money. I presume that if they still have stocks of the air-dropped bombs in the video you gave me the link to, they must be using them sparingly or we'd be hearing much more about it. The lethal radius of the air-dropped bomb seems to be hundreds of metres, though the only articles I could find describe the effect of weapons one size up and a few sizes down, so it's hard to say.

      Since the debate about the sarin attack is now about who did it, rather than whether it happened, there must be a sarin delivery system somewhere. And I think if it had been available before this year, it'd have been used.

      It looks to me, as if the evidence is telling us that the regime's recent military success is coinciding with looming economic extinction. That might bring with it an imperative to use otherwise unthinkable weapons, to achieve victory before bankruptcy.

      Some of the replies to my comments read as if I am the author of this blog and I am not.

  6. Some more info...
    indicates that XM130 was actually adopted as M130 with HE charge. It details the presence of a colour band but doesn't specify the colour.
    is about the warhead used in XM130. It mentions yellow band as indicating explosive charge.
    seems to be a handbook about US colour coding. Now, I have a problem telling if the main colour of those rockets is Gray, White or Silver. Gray with Yellow band would suggest chemical warhead. White or Silver would make no sense. If we assume that primary use is indicated by a band and not by the main colour of the rocket, Black only would indicate anti-armor rocket, Yellow only would be HE, and both would be anti-armor HE. In case of rockets with red numbers, those could be used to indicate primary use if there are no bands and in that case it would mean incendiary rockets.
    also has similar info about colour coding and links to official documents. It also has some examples.

    Of course, this is all purely speculative. Those rockets don't have to be US-manufactured at all so they don't have to follow US colour coding despite striking similarities with XM-130 and M-130 design.

    1. I have to agree with Nameless One, I would focus on finding out what the yellow band designates - I would think it indicates the type of warhead on the projectile.

    2. I'm not sure that these rockets, launched as in the video in the previous post, would be accurate enough for armour?

      Though I suppose an American original, in a less basic launcher, might be.

      It seems a bit confusing for the Ordata article to refer to "high explosive" when a 38KG fill of Propylene Oxide sounds to me like a FAE. But, anyway:

      FAEs produce about five times as much blast effect (over a wider area: the peak pressure in the middle is never as high) than solid explosives like TNT.

      5 times 38 is nearly 200, and the claim is the TNT-filled HE one has 200KG of TNT.

      That sounds like an attempted substitution to me.

      NB, Propylene Oxide is likely to be another self-igniting fuel, so the FAE version would be likely to work, eventually, even if the bursting charge didn't fire, providing that impact smashed the container open.

      That presumes that the Syrians can acquire and handle propylene oxide, which might not be the case, so there could be a more basic fuel that needed ignition after dispersal.

      38KG of Sarin would be an awful lot: the sarin round for the BM14 contains 2.2KG.

  7. This is the silliest debate, on all sides, possible.

    The M130 was a FAE rocket system, intended to clear minefields, but also capable of demolition and, probably siege-engine work.

    It carried 38kg of a liquified volatile hydrocarbon (propylene oxide)to a point a few feet above the ground, and dispersed it, till it mixed with the air and self-ignited, causing a massive, and fairly long-lasting, pressure wave.

    Apart from the self-ignition, and sarin doesn't self-ignite, though it can burn, this is EXACTLY what you want a sarin round to do. The only mechanical differences are the density and vapour pressure of the two liquified gases, and those differences are not very big.

    It is not a case of "thermobaric weapon" or "nerve gas weapon": it is a delivery system that will deliver either equally well, needing only to be filled with the appropriate material. Though I do think they would actually fill with sarin components and let sarin form inside after the plugs are in.

    It is probably that ease of conversion which partly explains why the US Army never actually adopted the M130 rocket system for service: it would have compromised the US Government's attempts to move away from chemical warfare and negotiate a few treaties banning CW. Instead, they actually used, and still do, a rocket which drags a tube of plastic explosive across a minefield, then detonates. This also has the advantage of clearing a path, rather than a patch. Path is what you want to get troops across a minefield.

    The main point of using the FAE (not quite the same thing as thermobaric) version in urban warfare might be to detonate the rebel's own munitions over a wide area.

    The point of using Sarin would be to kill rebels, over an even wider area still, for each rocket.

    The M130 was designed to clear minefields, but would also have been a significant CW asset, at a time when it was policy for US forces to move away from those in the interests of getting a global ban.

    These things only become nerve gas weapons or FAE weapons when filled. That could be a last minute thing, and it could be determined by whether or not propylene oxide was actually available or not, and whether or not the objective was to detonate rebel munitions as well as kill people, or just to kill people, which is something sarin will do more efficiently than any FAE.

    You can tell the difference, afterwards, by how intact surrounding structures are. In many of the pictures which the blog author suspects to have been CW rather than FAE strikes, surrounding structures are still there. If these were all FAE strikes, the structures would be mostly piles of rubble.

    The basic weapon might be used either way, but in the instances where there is a RED number on the rocket tube, CW, possibly sarin, seems the more likely thing.

  8. About 6 to 9 months ago I saw a video of one of these munitions that had not exploded. The video showed that the payload which had been damaged was leaking a clear fluid. The fluid was not toxic as there were people around the munition.

    I believe this was the FAE version of this munition.

    So they come in three flavors: HE, FAE, and CW where the FAE version is drained from the 2nd hole/plug and refilled with a diluted solution of the nerve agent. The fuze is possibly a delay timer where the CW content is dispersed somewhere along the flight path by the dispersing explosion in the core of the payload.

    The first hole is possibly the detonator as can be seen in the previous post entry in this blog. The detonator is used in both the HE and FAE versions, but has no function in the CW version.

  9. It should be noted that in the case of the scorched potato field with partly damaged building in the background, which indicates that the round was of the FAE type, the number on the rocket is in red.

    So the red indicates that the munition is of the FAE type and that is why the CW version is also in red - because in the CW version the fuel of an FAE type is drained and replaced with a solution of the nerve agent.

    1. I think I would concur with that.
      It would certainly explain why the US Army decided not to deploy the original M130 rocket.

      There is known to have been a sarin version of the BM14 rocket, and one of the inspectors was looking at one of those. But 38KG of Sarin sounds more like what we saw last week than 2.2KG. People described orange smoke, too, which sounds like a marker round and nobody has described a marker round for the M130, so that was probably a BM14, if not a heavy mortar. (You usually fire marker smoke from something accurate!)

      BM14s usually fired in great salvoes of 14 or 8 rockets, depending on whether the launcher is the Russian design or the Polish paratrooper's design.

      The serial numbers must get painted on at a much earlier stage than the warhead fill with any sort of volatile hydrocarbon, because Propylene oxide may be less dangerous to handle and store than sarin, but it is a lot riskier than solid TNT which won't go anywhere of its own accord.

      So, both CW and FAE fills are a greater handling and storage hazard than solid TNT, which is as safe as explosives tend to get.

      I think red NUMBER doesn't mean something specific like "sarin": it just means "dangerous" or "special handling" and black NUMBER probably means "standard".

      A yellow band tends to mean "Solid High Explosive" in most armies, and it's because TNT and Picric Acid, the oldest standard shell fillings, are yellow/orange solids.

      Purple or violet often means "nuclear" in some way.

      In Germany in WW2, red often meant "waterproof" or "sealed" and this emerged when German commandos found with red-banded small arms ammunition were charged with using "poison bullets" by their American captors. The prosecutor accepted in court that these were simply water-proofed rounds for frogmen to use after a prolonged swim.

      Again, we know that the munitions with red numbers on need to be sealed, whether they are CW or FAE.

      The people who found the leaking FAE round were probably quite lucky, if the stuff leaked too slowly to form a self-igniting cloud in the air.

      Nobody should smoke as they approach one of these things!

    2. I don't think they would load the munition with 38 kg of sarin. It must be a diluted solution of sarin.

      So first they drain the propylene oxide from the canister. Then fill it up with the solvent and put that in storage.

      When a CW is to be deployed, the plug is opened and the freshly made pure sarin is carefully poured in the canister where it will mix with the solvent. The munition is then delivered to the theater.

      Would the people firing the round know that it is CW? Not necessarily as the appearance would be identical to an FAE type. The fuze may have to be set differently though.

    3. As well as possibly diluting the sarin, they'd want to end up with the same weight, rather than the same volume. That avoids having to have different range calculations.

      I wonder if the fuse would be a proximity fuse? The Americans have "influence" fuses even for 60mm mortars. These aren't like the proximity fuses on air to air missiles, but are enough to set a charge off just before the munition strikes the planet Earth.

      It's basically a weak radio transmitter and a receiver tuned to a slightly higher frequency, to which the return signal shifts as the round approaches a large mass, dead ahead, at speed.

      This kind of thing would be in the nose of the munition.

      I am sure there are Russian and Swiss equivalents.

    4. Medawar, it is possible that it is a proximity fuze, however I think 8 ft is too close to the ground. Why not explode it in flight a second before impact which would be about 100 m above ground in a horizontal trajectory. The fuze will be much simpler and the round will be more effective.

      The cloud will have more time to disperse and then settle on the neighborhood.

      It also has the benefit that the exploded canister remnants will drop somewhere else and the rocket minus payload will land somewhere far and hence difficult to tie into the actual CW attack.

  10. To address some points raised by Medawar and Khalid...

    There's evidence of both HE and FAE weapons all around, as well as evidence of a lot of trial and error and adaptation and improvisation by all sides in the conflict. The unexploded HE rocket in this post has been recovered in a refugee camp. I dare suggest that someone tried to hit a target in the camp or close to it and didn't want to use FAE warhead because it would certainly cause a lot more civilian deaths and woundings.

    I agree and I think anyone would agree that Syrian government is under a lot of economic pressure. Using cheaper short-range low-accuracy rockets is logical in that situation when enemy has been forced to withdraw to bunkers and urban strongholds. The rest is just stretching it to provide a motive for chemical attacks which you so badly want to have happened and to have been made by Syrian government or their allies.

    When I say "your blog", I mean your blog, not Brown Moses' because you can click on a user who posted the comment and see a list of their blogs and check them out. No confusion there if that's what you're referring to.

    Content of the original FAE M130 seems to have been ethylene oxide which is produced by Iran and Saudi Arabia, so both sides could easily have access to it. Propylene oxide seems to be produced even more widely and is a racemic mixture, like Sarin, which might make it possible for it to be used in binary warheads as well.

    I agree that 38kg of Sarin would be a lot, especially since the M130 clone is linked to smaller incidents and the 2,2kg M-14 rocket to the larger incident. I believe that the cause of the larger incident is simply heavy shelling which has already been reported by rebel activists as the government moved to liberate suburbs of Damascus. It is plausible that heavy shelling including FAE explosives would cause a lot of get killed and a lot more to report to the hospital.

    (X)M130 was abandoned because it was short-range and inaccurate, requires a SLUFAE vehicle to venture too close to the minefield to launch the rocket. There is no mention about concern because of ease of conversion to chemical weapon. Other FAE weapons have been adopted and I'm sure the same could be said about those. For example, the BLU-73/B bomb which was used as wearhead for M130 was adopted and used as part of cluster bombs. It is logical that the lack or range and accuracy was a valid reason and that the technology found a viable application in Syria.

    The claims that intact structures prove that rockets were chemical weapons are of no relevance. The recovered warheads could have been moved to any place before photos or videos were taken. The unexploded HE rocket is being dismantled inside a building. What seems to be FAE rocket with number 900 in Homs can be seen next to a small building, then we see seemingly the same number next to a car with the front of the warhead burst open. The remains of a rocket next to a green plastic bottle was on a balcony.

    Finally, I think that the fact that chemical attacks took place needs to be proved as well as who is responsible. I'm no expert, but all the symptoms recorded in videos seem to be consistent with effects of both unexploded and exploded FAE weapons. You can also notice that BBC tried to push the latest incendiary bombing in Aleppo as chemical attack even though it should be clear to everyone following Brown Moses' blog that incendiary and sarin do not mix.

    1. Nameless - The fact that CWs have been used is incontrovertible. 5,000 people twitching in the hospitals with no other signs of injury, all nauseating and the more severe ones having pinpoint pupils are all definitive results of a nerve agent attack. Plus the fact that in previous smaller scale attacks, nerve agents have been found by analysis in a laboratory. Then finally people who come in contact with exposed objects and people also show the symptoms is enough to convince any court beyond reasonable doubt.

      This is a regime that has shelled and bombed 100,000 people and is badly losing the war. It cannot make any advance in Damascus, and in the north is is losing towns and bases and armaments by the day.

      The regime is losing about 6 tanks a day with the newer anti-tank weapons. In about 8 months it will run out of tanks. It lost the Mennegh airbase and Ariha just last week and is now posed to lose Idlib a major population center. Aleppo is beyond redemption.

      This is the time for the regime to use CWs - it is on its back foot and major fronts such as in Damascus are not advancing. Time is running out and the economy is in shambles.

    2. I'm not even going to discuss that 'evidence'.

    3. Nameless - even the Syrians and I believe the Russians have admitted that this is a chemical attack. You are welcome to your opinion, but it is quite bizarre.

      Assad is feeling the heat and that is why he is resorting to desperate criminal measures. He got stuck in Homs, and has been so for a long time in Damascus. He is running out of time.

    4. Here's the problem, yet again.
      There is no actual proof of chemical weapons, there is no admission of chemical weapons, and until tests come back, there is nothing but pure speculation and inconsistent accounts of what happened. The doctors and witnesses can't even manage to get their stories straight on the effects. "pinpoint eyes" miosis doesn't count if a flashlight is using to create the effect, and it's not a SERIOUS effect, it's a universal established effect that hits all those exposed. It also lasts a few weeks.

      That's really what it boils down to here, there's no proof of anything, despite the wild allegations made by BM. If there actually was, the US would have presented them. There isn't though, so while the chemical released may have been neurotoxic in nature, that does not mean it was intentional, nor does it mean it was sarin.

      Actually, let's play the game "least possible leaps of faith".
      In my version of events:
      Thermobarics based on the SLUFAE were released and they were effectively duds. This could have been from faulty timers, bad charges, anything really. Deflagration occurred sans detonation and the oxides were released. Most likely ethyl oxide AND/OR propylene oxide. This accounts for the scorching exhibited, as well as the chemical symptoms.

      My assumptions: Syrian forces used a weapon they have, as intended, and it was a dud

      Brown Moses' version of events:
      Syrian forces modified a rocket to hold sarin gas. Despite the fact that they have proper, more effective and proven delivery systems, they went this route. This was some magic sarin too, which had colors and smells associated with it, and inconsistent symptoms. Several of which resemble sarin usage.

      Modifying rockets way beyong their spec... on the fly. Providing units with modified rockets without their knowledge or safety gear, indiscriminate use of chemical weapons, access to chemical weapons that are under lock and key

      Wanna know what that panicked call that was intercepted was about? It was a government official hearing odd reports and wanting someone's ass on a platter and an explanation.

      For sarin gas, you don't dump that much all at once in one place. For ground bursts you use mortars. For air bursts you use capsules that scatter and then release.

      From this very blog:
      At the other end of the spectrum, a sustained bombardment/barrage in an urban area during a period of no wind and no sustained periods of sun would be more likely to create a scenario where pockets of exposed Sarin would last for days, unexposed Sarin could last for weeks and CW UXO could remain in the area for years.

      So, we are to assume then, that tons of people died in their basements, where there is no ventilation, no sunlight, no wind, and people are just wandering around hours later. Yep, sounds totally like sarin .

      So another assumption to add... not only did they modify warheads covertly (which if you see how the warhead is assembled is NOT easy), but they diluted the sarin that they somehow accessed without the knowledge of the commanders.

      So objectively, it's rather obvious to see that there was no sarin. There was a batch of thermobaric duds that killed with their unexploded fuel. Due to the weight of the vapor cloud, it missed the targets and drifted where it was not intended to go.

      The first step, before assigning blame to who released what, is to determine what was actually released. But it seems as if no one is all that interested in actual facts anymore. Nor does it seem that anyone has learned their lessons from Iraq.

    5. FAE fuel is not neurotoxic, and the vapor does not disable, injure, or kill people. It can be handled like any other nauseous chemical. The exposure has to be longterm for it to have a serious effect.

      Assad has been using thermobaric rockets for ages. The fatalities are modest. You are saying if these don't detonate, then their impact is at least 100 times more. So why bother detonating the cloud of propylene oxide?

      Thermobaric cloud is released very close to the ground. It cannot affect 10,000 people and send them to the hospital. It does not kill or even disable a person on contact.

  11. And in advance to the "breaking news" from the word hole of Kerry about positive tests...

    I direct your attention to... this very blog.

    organophosphate pesticides, according to all the chemical weapon experts can give false positives. The "positive" samples from hair are meaningless, as there's no time for it to grow out, and unless it was taken immediately for gas to evaporate into an airtight container, it's meaningless. The blood samples from victims, also meaningless, as organophosphate pesticides produce the same effects.

    The only credible method of testing is from the UN inspectors who took samples from the alleged weapons and areas. Soil tests are rather conclusive, as are residue tests from alleged weapons.

    And why could there be these false positives? ethylene and propylene oxides, which are both organophosphate pesticides, and curiously enough, are the fuels used in thermobaric explosives.

    1. From US Environmental Protection Agency:

      Obviously, both agents can cause most of the symptoms observed in videos of alleged chemical attacks, with exception of constricted pupils, but that can be caused by great variety of effects other than nerve gas.

      Analogous to the constricted pupils, you can notice that victims whose eyes were recorded has severely irritated eyes, which is consistent with exposure to ethylene or propylene oxide, but then again, this too can be caused by a variety of effects other than those two compounds.

    2. Daniel, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide do not contain the element phosphor. They are a very simple organic molecule, and they do not disable upon simple contact. Please stick to the facts.

    3. This is what the EPA says about propylene oxide at that link:

      "Propylene oxide is used in the production of polyethers (the primary component of polyurethane foams) and propylene glycol. Acute (short-term) exposure of humans and animals to propylene oxide has caused eye and respiratory tract irritation. Dermal contact, even with dilute solutions, has caused skin irritation and necrosis in humans. Propylene oxide is also a mild central nervous system (CNS) depressant in humans. Inflammatory lesions of the nasal cavity, trachea, and lungs and neurological effects have been observed in animals chronically (long-term) exposed to propylene oxide by inhalation. Propylene oxide has been observed to cause tumors at or near the site of administration in rodents, causing forestomach tumors following ingestion via gavage (experimentally placing the chemical in the stomach) and nasal tumors after inhalation exposure. EPA has classified propylene oxide as a Group B2, probable human carcinogen."

      The toxicity is mild even when the exposure is acute and requires chronic exposure. The 1400 people did not die of cancer in a matter of hours.

      You two grasping at straws?

    4. Did you read past the first paragraph?

      "Acute exposure of humans and animals to propylene oxide has caused eye and respiratory tract irritation. As a respiratory irritant, coughing, dyspnea (difficulty in breathing), and pulmonary edema may result from inhalation exposure and possibly lead to pneumonia. Dermal contact, even with dilute solutions, has caused skin irritation and necrosis. Propylene oxide is a mild CNS depressant. Acute exposure to high concentrations may cause headache, motor weakness, incoordination, ataxia, and coma in humans."

    5. Grasping at straws. "Eye irritation, resp. tract irritation, and pulmonary edema" does not lead to instant death in a matter of minutes or hours.

      ExO is widely used for disinfectation. A small does of ExO is benign. For a large dose, you have to be confined in an air-tight room for at least one hour with heavy vapor which will give you a massive headache. Hard to believe that anyone in such a circumstance would not want to exit the room and get fresh air.

  12. Sir,

    thank you for the analysis, I intended some myself, but I
    didn't had the guts to watch any of the videos a second time.

    One remark as for the holes would be, that for CW munitions with a "wet" (=liquid agent) type
    fill, there are several options as to how to disperse the agent.

    The obvious one is a bursting charge, built since the WW1 (if you
    want to come accross the "original original", surch in old(est) german
    sources for the keyword "CLARKLABORIERUNG".
    it was in fact the first central synaxial burster type munition,

    but in my humble opinion these were a later type of invention,
    a "aerodynamic dispersion" type warhead.

    It functions throug a small "cutting charge of HE" or a simple mechanical
    apparatus, opening an airsoop (can be as well a frontal hole big enough, exposed to the air pressure through the flight of the warhead) just over the target area,
    as well as a disperser siphon on the opposit end of the warhead.

    Now the dynamic air pressure in/through the airscoop/front hole
    forces the agent through the "aft nozzle" to be sprayed just over the target. It is generally also a more effective target delivery since the fill isn't exposed to the burster charge explosion impulse.

    Such a warhead doesnt need a destructive burster charge and in fact
    didnt as far as I know.

    A more advanced type of this kind of munition was the US Navy/Air Force BLU-80/B "Bigeye" binary VX bomb, if you look documentation/drawnings of the binary glide bomb.

    Other than that, most WW2 timeframe air spray tanks for attack aircraft functioned on this principle.

    It would +- plausibly explain the warheads not being fragmented apart by a central burster.

    Cheers and... keep it up. I hope that whoever poisoned children in Syria will be drawn to his just punishment as soon as possible, so that akin sociopaths take a notice.

  13. Khalid, ethylene oxide is fatal within 10 mins at concentration of 320 ppm. A failure of an FAE of the dimensions described would create a cloud at much higher concentrations over about 8000 square metres and be toxic over a much greater area. It is still disabling at 80ppm. It would cause similar signs and symptoms as a nerve agent including neurotoxic ones. Although it evaporates quickly it is heavier than air and will collect and persist longer in enclosed areas. The UN Inspectors will confirm the agents used in the barrel rockets if the US gives them time to report.

    1. Low M oxiranes such as ethylene oxide and propylene oxide are (compared to many other petrochemicals) quite toxic, being alkylating agents. Upon high enough exposition, they do cause acute intoxications somewhat similar to inhaled mustard agents, along neurotoxicity of a mixed narcotic-alkylant type. However, low M oxiranes are not nearly as potent poisons as the nerve agents and their respective toxidromes are distinctly different from those of irreversible AChE inhibitors.
      Some degree of acute toxicity, even a quite high by the industrial standard, doesn't suffice to qualify a chemical for a CW agent, let alone something near comparable to any of the nerve agents.
      Let alone the question how probable it would be for a whole salvo of FAE rockets to malfunction instead of the salvo being loaded with a CW agent functioning proper.
      Let's see what the analyses of probes taken by the UN inspectors yield as a result. If GB or some other alkanephosphonic acid derivative with a leaving group was the payload in those warheads, the cause of the toxicity will be quite clear and congruent with the observations of MSF staff on the ground in that night.

  14. The two holes are small rocket motors to make it spin when launched for greater acuracy. Thay are not 'fill holes'.