I'm pretty sure that the Syrian Army has artillery and rockets capable of delivering chemical warheads.
Sarin, Sarin, Sarin.
Go to any news website and you'll find talk about how the Brits and the French and others as well as the UN are recovering evidence of a Sarin gas attack which John Kerry is saying caused the deaths of 1429, a curiously specific number. What I haven't been hearing from any news source is the manner in which the gas was delivered.
I decided to read up a bit on three of the well known sarin attacks in recent history, the delivery methods used, and the numbers killed: one in Iraq and two in Japan.
1. Iraq, Saddam used against the Kurds. Sarin, along with other chemicals weapons (tabun, mustard, and VX), were delivered by several sorties of multiple aircraft. 5000 were killed and others affected, but how many of those attributable exclusively to Sarin cannot be determined.
2. Matsumoto incident, Japan, cultists release an impure version of Sarin into the open air late at night. After five hours of exposure, eight were dead and many more suffered long term effects. Dissatisfied with the effect of the open air attack, Aum Shinrikyo chose a more enclosed area.
3. Tokyo subway, Japan. Cultists release a similar impure version into the underground, enclosed spaces of five different subway routes. Thirteen are killed and others suffered long term effects. Delivery method was by low-pressue plastic bags punctured on the subway car floors (not a lot, but it doesn't take much to kill).
So we have our death toll in Syria, 1429. The rebels say Assad did it. Assad says the rebels did it. My question is this: what was the delivery method? Getting enough gas to a location to kill that many people, using only Sarin, would take considerable resources. There would be flights, or trucks, or evidence related to the movement of large liquid-bearing containers. I believe that far more meaningful intelligence could be derived from knowing that than from a precise bodycount or a chemical analysis.
I'm pretty sure that the Syrian Army has artillery and rockets capable of delivering chemical warheads.
The delivery method is believed to be rockets. I thought I saw more specifics from a PDF file detailing evidence that was released, but I have been unable to turn up that document so far. The following is from an article in the New York Times dated 4 Sep, I would post the link but don't feel like waiting for it to be moderated:
Rockets in Syrian Attack Carried Large Payload of Gas, Experts Say
A new study of images apparently from the Syrian attack last month concludes that the rockets delivering toxic sarin gas to neighborhoods around Damascus held up to 50 times more nerve agent than previously estimated, a conclusion that could solve the mystery of why there were so many more victims than in previous chemical attacks.
The study, by leading weapons experts, also strongly suggests that the mass of toxic material could have come only from a large stockpile. American, British and French officials have charged that only the Syrian government and not the rebels was in position to make such large quantities of deadly toxins.
Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress, in hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, that the United States believes the Syrian military was responsible for the attack, and in classified briefings officials have pointed to Unit 450, which controls Syrian chemical weapons.
The new study was conducted by Richard M. Lloyd, an expert in warhead design, and Theodore A. Postol, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They based their investigation on scores of online videos and photographs posted since the Aug. 21 attack sent thousands of sick and dying Syrians to hospitals in the Damascus suburbs.
In interviews and reports, the two weapons specialists said their analysis of rocket parts and wreckage posted online suggested that the warheads carried toxic payloads of about 50 liters (13 gallons), not the one or two liters (up to half a gallon) of nerve agent that some weapons experts had previously estimated.
“It’s a clever design,” Dr. Postol said of the munitions in an interview. “It’s clever not only in how it was implemented but in the effectiveness of its dispersal. It accounts for the large number of causalities.”
Shortly after the attack, some analysts said they doubted if the identified rockets could have carried enough nerve agent to have caused the mass casualties. Mr. Lloyd and Dr. Postol say their analysis explains how the misidentification of a central rocket part resulted in the excessively small payload estimates.
In an interview, Mr. Lloyd said the manufacture of the rockets, if not the deadly nerve agent, appeared to be within the capabilities of both the Syrian government and the rebels.
But Stephen Johnson, a former British Army chemical warfare expert who is now a forensic expert at Cranfield University, at Shrivenham, said if the estimate of a 50-liter payload was correct, only the Syrian government could have achieved such a large volume of production.
“That’s a fairly substantial amount to produce yourself and beyond the opposition in its wildest dreams,” he said. Suggestions that the Syrian rebels seized or secretly obtained such amounts, Mr. Johnson added, lacked credibility. “It’s more supportive of the argument that it was the government,” he said.
The Obama administration has charged that the Syrian government fired rockets carrying warheads filled with sarin, a liquid nerve agent that vaporizes into a deadly mist that human skin can quickly absorb. The toxin throws nerves and muscles all over the body into overdrive, resulting in lung paralysis and death. The pupils of victims are often tiny because the iris, a muscle, contracts so much.
In their analysis, Mr. Lloyd and Dr. Postol said experts analyzing pictures of the rocket debris in Syria had misidentified thin tubes found sticking out of the ground as the payload canister. Instead, they say, the tubes made up an inner explosive device that, when the rocket slammed into the ground, caused a much larger container to burst open and disperse large volumes of gas.
Photographs of impaled rockets, the weapons experts say, often show the crumpled skin of the larger canister lying nearby.
“This design explains the evidence on the ground,” Dr. Postol said. The cloud from the impacting rocket, he added, probably rose to a height of 10 or 15 feet.
Dr. Postol is a professor and national security expert in M.I.T.’s Program in Science, Technology and Society. Mr. Lloyd, in two decades at Raytheon, a top military contractor, wrote two books on warhead design and now works for Tesla Laboratories, a military contractor in Arlington, Va.
Raymond A. Zilinskas, a senior scientist at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a former United Nations weapons inspector, said the analysis of the two weapons experts seemed plausible. He said that deadly rockets that Iraq fired at Iran in the 1980 held nine liters of toxic chemicals, and that the Syrian rockets involved in the massacre looked like those but with an added secondary canister.
“I can’t say if it was 50 liters,” Dr. Zilinskas said, “but it would certainly add to the payload.”
Last edited by RFScott; 09-05-2013 at 06:38 PM.
Here is the intelligence report that I believe was released over the weekend, taken from the White House website:
Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013
The United States Government assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. We further assess that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack. These all-source assessments are based on human, signals, and geospatial intelligence as well as a significant body of open source reporting.Our classified assessments have been shared with the U.S. Congress and key international partners. To protect sources and methods, we cannot publicly release all available intelligence – but what follows is an unclassified summary of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis of what took place.
Syrian Government Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21
A large body of independent sources indicates that a chemical weapons attack took place in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. In addition to U.S. intelligence information, there are accounts from international and Syrian medical personnel; videos; witness accounts; thousands of social media reports from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area; journalist accounts; and reports from highly credible nongovernmental organizations.
A preliminary U.S. government assessment determined that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical weapons attack, including at least 426 children, though this assessment will certainly evolve as we obtain more information.
We assess with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. We assess that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely. The body of information used to make this assessment includes intelligence pertaining to the regime’s preparations for this attack and its means of delivery, multiple streams of intelligence about the attack itself and its effect, our post-attack observations, and the differences between the capabilities of the regime and the opposition. Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation. We will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place.
The Syrian regime maintains a stockpile of numerous chemical agents, including mustard, sarin, and VX and has thousands of munitions that can be used to deliver chemical warfare agents.
Syrian President Bashar al-Asad is the ultimate decision maker for the chemical weapons program and members of the program are carefully vetted to ensure security and loyalty. The Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) – which is subordinate to the Syrian Ministry of Defense – manages Syria’s chemical weapons program.
We assess with high confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year, including in the Damascus suburbs. This assessment is based on multiple streams of information including reporting of Syrian officials planning and executing chemical weapons attacks and laboratory analysis of physiological samples obtained from a number of individuals, which revealed exposure to sarin. We assess that the opposition has not used chemical weapons.
The Syrian regime has the types of munitions that we assess were used to carry out the attack on August 21, and has the ability to strike simultaneously in multiple locations. We have seen no indication that the opposition has carried out a large-scale, coordinated rocket and artillery attack like the one that occurred on August 21.
We assess that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons over the last year primarily to gain the upper hand or break a stalemate in areas where it has struggled to seize and hold strategically valuable territory. In this regard, we continue to judge that the Syrian regime views chemical weapons as one of many tools in its arsenal, including air power and ballistic missiles, which they indiscriminately use against the opposition.
The Syrian regime has initiated an effort to rid the Damascus suburbs of opposition forces using the area as a base to stage attacks against regime targets in the capital. The regime has failed to clear dozens of Damascus neighborhoods of opposition elements, including neighborhoods targeted on August 21, despite employing nearly all of its conventional weapons systems. We assess that the regime’s frustration with its inability to secure large portions of Damascus may have contributed to its decision to use chemical weapons on August 21.
We have intelligence that leads us to assess that Syrian chemical weapons personnel – including personnel assessed to be associated with the SSRC – were preparing chemical munitions prior to the attack. In the three days prior to the attack, we collected streams of human, signals and geospatial intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess were associated with preparations for a chemical weapons attack.
Syrian chemical weapons personnel were operating in the Damascus suburb of ‘Adra from Sunday, August 18 until early in the morning on Wednesday, August 21 near an area that the regime uses to mix chemical weapons, including sarin. On August 21, a Syrian regime element prepared for a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus area, including through the utilization of gas masks. Our intelligence sources in the Damascus area did not detect any indications in the days prior to the attack that opposition affiliates were planning to use chemical weapons.
Multiple streams of intelligence indicate that the regime executed a rocket and artillery attack against the Damascus suburbs in the early hours of August 21. Satellite detections corroborate that attacks from a regime-controlled area struck neighborhoods where the chemical attacks reportedly occurred – including Kafr Batna, Jawbar, ‘Ayn Tarma, Darayya, and Mu’addamiyah. This includes the detection of rocket launches from regime controlled territory early in the morning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in social media. The lack of flight activity or missile launches also leads us to conclude that the regime used rockets in the attack.
Local social media reports of a chemical attack in the Damascus suburbs began at 2:30 a.m. local time on August 21. Within the next four hours there were thousands of social media reports on this attack from at least 12 different locations in the Damascus area. Multiple accounts described chemical-filled rockets impacting opposition-controlled areas.
Three hospitals in the Damascus area received approximately 3,600 patients displaying symptoms consistent with nerve agent exposure in less than three hours on the morning of August 21, according to a highly credible international humanitarian organization. The reported symptoms, and the epidemiological pattern of events – characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers – were consistent with mass exposure to a nerve agent. We also received reports from international and Syrian medical personnel on the ground.
We have identified one hundred videos attributed to the attack, many of which show large numbers of bodies exhibiting physical signs consistent with, but not unique to, nerve agent exposure. The reported symptoms of victims included unconsciousness, foaming from the nose and mouth, constricted pupils, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. Several of the videos show what appear to be numerous fatalities with no visible injuries, which is consistent with death from chemical weapons, and inconsistent with death from small-arms, high-explosive munitions or blister agents. At least 12 locations are portrayed in the publicly available videos, and a sampling of those videos confirmed that some were shot at the general times and locations described in the footage.
We assess the Syrian opposition does not have the capability to fabricate all of the videos, physical symptoms verified by medical personnel and NGOs, and other information associated with this chemical attack.
We have a body of information, including past Syrian practice, that leads us to conclude that regime officials were witting of and directed the attack on August 21. We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N. inspectors obtaining evidence. On the afternoon of August 21, we have intelligence that Syrian chemical weapons personnel were directed to cease operations. At the same time, the regime intensified the artillery barrage targeting many of the neighborhoods where chemical attacks occurred. In the 24 hour period after the attack, we detected indications of artillery and rocket fire at a rate approximately four times higher than the ten preceding days. We continued to see indications of sustained shelling in the neighborhoods up until the morning of August 26.
To conclude, there is a substantial body of information that implicates the Syrian government’s responsibility in the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21.As indicated, there is additional intelligence that remains classified because of sources and methods concerns that is being provided to Congress and international partners.
Antes de que vengas a juzgarme por que escribo el inglés con errores te pregunto: Cuantos idiomas tu hablas?! Solo uno? Y vienes a juzgar mi inteligencia?! Por favor mirate en el espejo y veras en él reflejo la imagen clara de la estupidez...
Last edited by Rainmaker; 09-07-2013 at 05:51 PM.
The inside word I have is that the chemical agents involved were actually used by the rebels(the report said "unknowlingly", but I have my doubts there). These chemical agents were reportedly supplied by the Saudis, but an additional source I have indicated that those weapons ultimately came from the Israelis. What we're seeing in Syria is FACTIONAL fighting among the global "elites" being played out. And as usual, the little guy bears the brunt of it all.
***edit. Just so I have this straight Israel is manufacturing chemical weapons. Channeling them via the Saudis on to another country they have fought wars with? One who shares their border within artillery range? A country that no matter the side most likely does not like them?
I don't know what inside your source is in. I would wager an opium den.
Last edited by Vrake; 09-12-2013 at 11:41 PM.
Reminds me of a relative who asked me after Desert Storm if I had seen the Israeli fighter jets while deployed. I reminded him that I was in Saudi Arabia so no, I hadn't seen any Israeli jets. He replied "But that's where they were, all painted black". I asked him where he got that information and he went and got some newsletters he subscribed to which had all sorts of articles like that. Funny stuff actually. A little like the Duffle Blog only funnier because the authors were serious.
Last edited by TJMAC77SP; 09-13-2013 at 08:50 AM.
Read carefully, think, then write thoughtfully……………………………..
I don’t have any quotes……you can pick one for yourself here.
My "inside source" says it was a vaginal delivery....
“I say, imagine in your private life, if you decided that I’m not going to pay my mortgage for a month or two—first of all you’re not saving money by not paying your mortgage. You’re just a dead beat. “
You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not
Lord of the Pings
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