September 15. Kurdish Peshmerga killed three Syrian terrorists on border. They found cell phone in pocket. Night bombing video there. Terrorists on video wear gas masks. Video was shot August 21. One terrorist name it Storm operation.These videos struck me as highly dubious for a number of reasons, including.
- They were uploaded to two totally new LiveLeak and YouTube accounts, which is unusual for any video coming out of Syria, and in line with the way in which other dubious videos were uploaded.
- Everyone but the cameraman was wearing a gas mask.
- People were wearing gas masks, but also short sleeves that exposed their skin, which would readily absorb any Sarin in the air.
- They've gone to a lot of trouble to make it clear it's August 21st, Liwa al-Islam are launching the rockets, and have gone to the trouble of hanging banners everywhere and lighting the launchers with the truck. Having done all that they fail to use a decent camera, and don't even hold it the right way up. Considering Liwa al-Islam's experience in producing videos it seems unlikely they'd make that mistake.
- You have to question why they would do an operation under the cover of darkness, only to light up the launcher with a big spotlight that would make it stand out for miles around.
There's various other issues that make these videos seem very suspect (which there's an on-going discussion about on Storyful's Open Newsroom), but one thing I was very interested in is the source of the videos. As the description says, "Kurdish Peshmerga" supposedly took this from the mobile phone of "Syrian terrorists" on an unspecified border (likely Iraq as it talks about Kurdish Peshmerga), so they seem like the people to ask. I contacted the journalist Hozan Ibrahim, who has many contacts with various Kurdish groups, and asked if he could ask his contacts what they knew about the video. After a few days he came back to me:
I've called many sources from the Kurdish PYD, and they do not have any idea about these videos. They denied their forces have arrested people who had these videos. Also today I contacted some people in Iraqi Kurdistan who are close to the Kurdish Peshmerga, they also denied having any knowledge of the videos. Most of PYD media sources said that these videos are fake.The question is, how likely is it that no-one in those groups would know about a video they captured from dead "Syrian terrorists" that would be solid proof of Liwa al-Islam's involvement in the August 21st attack, especially if they went to the trouble of uploading them to two YouTube and LiveLeak accounts? Unless a source from the Kurdish Peshmerga comes out and says they knew about these videos and who uploaded them, it seems these videos are more likely fakes created to blame Liwa al-Islam for the August 21st attack, and judging by the presence of the rocket launchers only seen in government hands (see here) it would appear to point to the Syrian military being the ones doing the faking.
More posted on the subject of the August 21st attacks can be found here, and other posts on chemical weapons and Syria, including extremely informative interviews with chemical weapon specialists, can be found here.
You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.