French Intelligence Released Report Blaiming Assad For April 4 Chemical Attack In Idlib. No Evidence Provided (Again)

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French Intelligence Released Report Blaiming Assad For April 4 Chemical Attack In Idlib. No Evidence Provided (Again)

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. Source: @francediplo_EN/Twitter

Following Washington’s failed attempt to provide some evidence of the Syrian government’s involvement into the chemical attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, France repeated the move… but also failed to provide some evidence.

The six-page document – drawn up by France intelligence services and seen (!) by Reuters said Paris was able to conclude that Assad forces were responisble for the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. The conclusion is allegedly based on samples that they had obtained from the impact strike on the ground, and a blood sample from a victim.

“We know, from a certain source, that the process of fabrication of the samples taken is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories,” Reuters quoted French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. “This method is the signature of the regime and it is what enables us to establish the responsibility of the attack. We know because we kept samples from previous attacks that we were able to use for comparison.”

However, it looks Paris decided to avoid revealing the full text of the document. Interesting why?

UPDATED (12:25 CET): The full text of the report in English could be found here (LINK).

Let’s just recall the story with Wanishton’s “declassified” report on the same issue:

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  • Bob

    Publicly released, western, ‘intelligence reports’ are increasingly just in-house public relations and marketing statements to justify their lock-step pro-US foreign policy positions.

    • Barba_Papa

      Any government report is basically an in house PR statement and is therefore automatically suspect. Any report by anyone with an axe to grind is basically automatically suspect. With that in mind though any news being reported here on SF is also automatically suspect. One therefore has to be able to read between the lines of all news providers. I’d love to check more news about the day to day combat in Syria from other sources, including the MSM. But they don’t seem to pay any attention, unless there’s another mass civilian killing happening at the ‘hands’ of the government/Russia. In which case there is no actual news being reported, only OUTRAGE!

      • Bob

        Just of note – R & U Videos on You Tube often has recent tactical level footage of Syrian conflict, video compilations made from both Militants and SAA press sources combined that try to give overview of tactical action and response.
        Sure R & U has own bias but is good material and R & U posts are often reused by others on You Tube totally unaccredited.

  • digital82711

    It is such a disgrace as a retired US military officer to know that all your government does is lie as it supports groups like ISIS and al Nusra. Our government has betrayed all Americans and is illegitimate. But, one need not attack it as it is already destroying itself. All one need do is stand back and laugh. Anyone who now fights in the armed forces for the zionazis is an idiot.

    • John Whitehot

      as a veteran, I guess you are still connected with your fellow soldiers; I believe you can make a difference if you all stay in touch with the current military men and help them understand how this shit work, and for what they are really putting their lives on the line.
      A person that is serving will listen, above all, to other people who is serving, or who has served.
      I have never lost my respect to US servicemen as to those of other countries in these years of oil wars and Wolfowitz doctrine interventions. It’s outraging how a bunch of zionist criminals, bankers and wall street clowns are manipulating the US (And west in general) politics to suit their agendas. Anybody still having a glimpse of love for justice and freedom will do whatever possible to stop them, before they destroy every single fundamental value our societies are built upon.

    • Peter Moy

      Sir, I can also feel the pain concerning the present political, foreign policy and military status of our country. I was only a junior US Army officer back in the 1980s and could see the negative changes slowly taking place which have turned the Army into one big social experiment. It started in my Officer’s Basic Course, to jump school, to my first permanent station and then to the “real Army” in Germany. We had rotten, self-serving idiots commanding then but now this current generation is just downright pathetic. I could not and never would want to serve with these losers. Their record shows that they are losers and only after a government paycheck, promotions and a pension. How long has this country been at continuous war and hasn’t won any of them????? Fortunately there are still some knowledgeable, well-read Americans capable of independent thought and reason who are not apathetic about the current world, but they are in the minority.

    • Ronald

      I must give John Whitehot a thumbs up on his reply to you . American soldiers are by and large , patriots , but uneducated . If you have reached the knowledge that the government has failed not only America , but the world . The creation of Wahhabi Sunni Islam (religion as a weapon ) by the British and Bush senior, is a problem that will require a huge education in the west . Honor your past , by educating the young braves .

  • andre m

    I read the report in french and they are speaking about a grenade wich explode with sarin inside? Then how could they explain the launch of a missille with sarin. ???

    If it’s a grenade then it’s someone on the ground who throw it.

    • Douglas Houck

      The French contend that the sarin used in the recent Khan Sheikhoun attack was manufactured (using hexamine) the same as the sample they took from inside an unexploded “grenade” found at the 2013 Sarqib site.

      • Ace

        I don’t grasp the tactical purpose of such a grenade. It would be extremely dangerous for a non-specialist trooper to use it in the field. It could not be thrown far and I for one would not care to make an estimate of which way the wind is blowing or assume it won’t shift. If I had protective clothing I would think otherwise. But why would I have such clothing merely to dispense such a small quantity of gas? And I presume many more nearby friendly troops would not have such clothing. The danger to them would be very great.

        A very limited, special use might be cautious use by one specialist in a building, aircraft, cellar, tunnel complex, or other confined area. Then care would need be taken to prevent accidental entry to the space making it a weapon not suitable for one man to use. It would have to be big deal to use.

        The idea that such a grenade could be dropped from a chopper seems silly. In a moving chopper it”s hard to judge speed, height, and direction at anything faster than 20 mph, if not less. Knowing ground wind conditions is difficult and even if there’s smoke out good luck hitting what you’re aiming at even if you’re the pilot. Why go through all that for one or a few dinky grenades? And is the pilot of a chopper going to want some guy on board handling such munitions?

        I was willing to drop a CS grenade from a chopper in Nam once for a lark. I sure wouldn’t have been willing to handle let alone use Sarin as a troop. That grenade just looks like an accident waiting to happen and of very limited use.

        • Douglas Houck

          Good points. I see no tactical use of such a device, really just a small box.

          The purpose of the Syrian’s sarin and other WMD was to counter Israel’s nuclear weapons. It was meant to be used in mass quantities. As such they made 100s of tons of the binary components in the 70s. It was going to be delivered in large scud missiles.

          What this small box is I have no idea. It has enough sarin to kill one person, and that assumes most all of it is absorbed. It’s highly doubtful it killed one and injured 20.

          A final point is the Syrian’s never had actual sarin as it’s too unstable and corrosive. They stored it in it’s binary components.

          Thanks for the post.

          • Ace

            My pleasure. Your commentary is interesting. I’ll have to claim it as my own.

            I am curious about how wind affects dilution of the Sarin gas. Twenty pounds, say, of liquid vaporizes to achieve a nearby concentration of X. After 100 yards, what is the concentration and what does the concentration need to be in order for the dose to be lethal? How does wind speed affect dilution? With huge quantities I suppose these are academic questions in the radius of a mile or so.

            No doubt there are tables of such data out there. Crop dusters and fuel-air bomb designers could probably provide the links.

          • Douglas Houck

            I’m not sure I’m knowledgeable enough to correctly answer your question.

            There are a number of factors at play here, but for a general approach, sarin is highly volatile (it’s half rubbing alcohol with the approximate evaporation rate of water), so the higher the wind speed, the higher the temperature, the sunnier it is, the quicker it volatilizes and disperses and becomes benign. You also need to know what are the boundary conditions (buildings, plants,etc.) as friction, eddy currents, dispersion coefficients, initial droplet size and uniformity all come into play. You would need a computer model with some assumptions on factors (nobody is going to use actual sarin to gather these coefficients and values) to see what actually would be expected to occur.

            Sarin acts via the lungs, eyes and skin. As a vapor (gas) it works via the lungs and eyes, and as an aerosol (liquid) it works via the eyes and skin. Inhalation (vapor) effects begin within one minute of exposure and peak effects occur within five minutes.

            from OPCW:
            https://www.opcw.org/about-chemical-weapons/types-of-chemical-agent/nerve-agents/
            the LD50 lethal dose via skin is 1700 mg per individual

            From Sarin/Wiki:
            “The lethal concentration of sarin in air is approximately 35 mg per cubic meter per minute for a two-minute exposure time by a healthy adult breathing normally (exchanging 15 liters of air per minute). This number represents the estimated lethal concentration for 50% of exposed victims, the LCt50 value.”

            So for two minutes exposure and assuming perfect conditions, it would could take as little as 1.05 mg of sarin via inhalation.

            You can see that the toxicity is much greater through the lungs than the skin. Due to it’s volatility, inhalation is the main concern even with secondary exposure. The route of exposure is liquid sarin on the skin and/or clothes volatilizing and being inhaled.

            From a published paper on the Tokyo subway sarin gas attack:
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1269427/
            where no primary (at the initial place of exposure) decontamination occurred, 10% of the firefighters and police experienced secondary exposure effects while transporting the victims to the hospital. Additionally almost 25% of the hospital workers and 40% of those working in the ICU suffered secondary effect. No fatalities occurred because the purity of the sarin was only 30%. It was felt that fatalities would have occurred if the sarin had been military grade (as far as I can tell this means >90%).

            The very low secondary exposure effects from all the White Helmets, medical staff, ambulance drivers, etc. in the recent Khan Sheikhoun attack supports the position that this was not “military grade” but low quality sarin. Most likely, the source of this sarin was not from Syria’s original stockpile, but made recently, not particularly well, and not by the Syrians.

            To give you an idea of just how limited an area is toxic with even “military grade” sarin (unless you use tons and tons of it), in the 1994 Japanese Matsumoto sarin attack where 12 liters (13 kg or 28.7 pounds) of nearly pure (military grade) sarin was heated in a truck and then blown with a fan towards a neighborhood, almost all the casualties occurred within 150 meters of the point of release. Eight people died, 200 were injured.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matsumoto_sarin_attack#cite_note-7

            All of this points to the Theater-of-the-Absurd (ludicrousness) of accusing the Syrians of using 100mg of poor quality sarin (60% purity and part of it solid) in some weird device from a helicopter. The Syrians would have done more damage if they had thrown rocks out of the helicopter.

            Anymore questions and let me know.

  • chris chuba

    I heard from a molecular biologist that it is impossible to determine how Sarin is produced from a blood sample because all Sarin metabolizes in the same way once it poisons someone. The only way to determine the origin of Sarin is from soil samples before it reacts biologically. It will decay in the soil but it doesn’t metabolize.

    • Douglas Houck

      I assume (maybe incorrectly) that the blood samples simply showed exposure to sarin and it was the soil sample taken from the single crater to show hexamine was used in its manufacturing, similar to the 2013 sarin used in Saraqib.

  • Douglas Houck

    I’ve only briefly read the French report so think of this as a draft.

    It shows the problem with individual nations giving out their own analyses. It would be useful to give this data to OPCW for a more formal, objective assessment.

    There is some data here. The sarin was manufactured with Hexamine. Similar to what was used in a very weird April 29th 2013 attack. Three small munitions (“grenades”) where only 100mg of combined solid and liquid sarin of poor quality (only 60% pure) was inside and supposedly drop from a high altitude via a helicopter.

    What is weird about this incident is beside the total lack of any military value of such an attack, is the small amount used and the fact some of it was solid. The LCt50 value (half the exposed people die with 2 minutes exposure) for Sarin is 35 mg/m3 per minute exposure for two minutes. How do you weaponize (turn it into a mist of small droplets) such a small amount, some of which is solid and then get someone to be exposed to almost all of it? You would have to be standing right next to it to get a lethal dose.

    To me it speaks more of someone (jihadists) trying to determine how to weaponize sarin than the Syrians trying to terrorize or kill anyone by using such a small amount. To ascribe this attack to Syria is almost Theater-of-the-Absurd. And what is all that white stuff around the impact zone of crater 3 as shown on page 3? If the munition (grenade) did not explode from dropping from such a high altitude it was obviously not much of a weapon.

    I’m assuming that this type of sarin is different than the sarin Syria gave up to the Russians/OPCW as the French make the unsubstantiated claim that this was manufactured by the Scientific Studies and Research Centre. Who ever made it is not that good at it. I would think that the Syrians told the OPCW how they manufactured DP even if no one analyzed a sample of it.

    Can we say it was newly manufactured sarin or did they cheat and keep tons of it from their original stockpile? Based on the omission of any statements to being old stock, I’m assuming that what we have is newly manufactured sarin.

    “c) According to the intelligence obtained by the French services the process of
    synthesizing sarin, developed by the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) and
    employed by the Syrian armed forces and security services, involves the use of hexamine as
    a stabilizer. DIMP is also known as a by-product generated by this process. “.

    But hold it, along with the “Trust me, I know” bit of intellingence, there are numerous ways to synthesis Methylphosphonyl difluoride, in this case with the use of Hexamine, but anyone can use that or any other process. Also the secondary chemical diisopropyl methylphosphonate – DIMP) is produced in most all cases of binary sarin where DP is mixed with Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol and not just with the use of hexamine. (See Sarin-Wikipedia), so nothing of use there.

    The basis of the French position is similar to the Americans. Only the Syrians have the Means to produce and weaponize sarin (but based on weak arguments) and since we found sarin the Syrians (and President Al-Assad) are to blame. There has never been a rational, military (or any other) Motive given for the attacks noted in this or any other supposed attack as given in the Appendix. The Motive given in this assessment is vague and meaningless. All it says is there was fighting going on in the Hama governorate during this time period. The Syrians were winning at the time of the attack and had push back the jihadist almost to the original starting point. To effectively use sarin you need tons of it, or exposure inside an enclosed space.

    There is much still to ask and answer. I’m willing to wait for the UN OPCW formal report.

    • NeoLeo

      The most important question is: who gave them these ‘samples’?

      • Douglas Houck

        While it would be useful to know, I’m willing to concede that the samples were taken from the one crater with the one section of pipe in it that everyone uses as the source of the neurotoxin which was indeed sarin.

        I believe that the French samples show it was not the Syrians who have been using sarin all this time but the jihadists. The French simply can’t get beyond trying to support their “Assad is Evil” bias.

        What the data shows is that relatively small amounts of poor quality sarin was used in 2013, before the Syrians gave up their 100s of tons of methylphosphonyl difluoride, and again small amounts of the same type of sarin was used in 2016.

        If the Syrians have access to tons of sarin, why use such small amounts like the 100 mg used in the 2013 Saraqib supposed attack or the 10 liters used in the 2016 Khan Sheikhoun attack? And why such poor quality? Surely the Syrians can produce better than 60% purity sarin.

        I haven’t read anything to the contrary so I’m assuming that the reason the US sanctioned 271 employees of the Scientific Studies and Research Center is because they believe the sarin was recently made. Otherwise, shouldn’t the US be sanctioning all the retired chemists who made up the tons of original methylphosphonyl difluoride?

        The sarin used in 2016 utilized the same process (hexamine) as the poor quality sarin used in 2013 neither of which seems to have come from the Syrian’s huge stock kept in underground storage until they gave it up in late 2013.

        The West’s narrative that President Al-Assad decided to terrorize civilians (WaPo said it was to depopulate towns), and/or push back the jihadist fighters from taking over land (neither of which is factual) but only used small amounts is ludicrous.

        If you take the small amounts of poor quality sarin used (which the French data shows, meaning just about any halfway good chemist could have made it), and add the timing of each attack along with who has the better Motive, then the jihadists did it.

        If the old Syrian stockpile of methylphosphonyl difluoride did not use hexamine in the manufacturing process then its a slam dunk the jihadist did it.

        Bring all the data together and I think it will tell an interesting story. It already is.

      • Douglas Houck

        I deleted my original posts as I read a bunch more.
        As there are few to no objective participants in this and the finding of hexamine has been used as the “smoking gun” in the 2013 attacks, I would agree with you.

        In trying to find more information on the 2016 attack, I came across this long article:
        http://necpluribusimpar.net/chemical-attack-syria/
        on the chemical attacks in Syria and found this pertinent as regards the finding of hexamine and the long list of allegations that Turkey supplied the sarin to Al-Qaeda in the hope that someone would remove President Al-Assad.

        “Higgins was soon joined by Dan Kaszeta, a self-proclaimed expert in chemical weapons, who claimed that the presence of hexamine on the scene after the attack in Ghouta was a smoking gun of Assad’s involvement. But Postol had a long correspondence with him, which he published with comments, which in my opinion shows conclusively that Kaszeta is talking out of his ass. In particular, he claims that Åke Sellström, the head of the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic (UNMIAUCWSAR), agrees with him that the presence of hexamine proves the involvement of the regime. But since Postol wasn’t able to obtain any technical evidence for the claims that Kaszeta made, he contacted Sellström directly who told him that hexamine “is a product simple to get hold of and in no way conclusively points to the governement [sic]”.

        Here is Prof. Postol response/refutation to the issue of hexamine being a smoking gun.
        https://cryptome.org/2014/08/postol-debunks-kaszeta.pdf

        What data we do have are several attacks with small amounts of poor quality sarin of no military or political advantage for the Syrians/Assad occurred.

        There is enough information to make a convincing argument that either Al-Qaeda acquired sarin from the Syrian stockpiles or Turkey gave it to them for the purpose of a false-flag so that President Al-Assad would be removed that makes more sense than the Syrians used such small amounts for no advantage.

        The best hope is a thorough and transparent investigation.

        • NeoLeo

          All valid poins…. I’m not a chemist but I think this entire premise about syrian ‘unique’ sarin is totally flawed. If I remember correctly so-called rebels captured a few Syrian military bases with chemical weapons stockpiles (*including pre war sarin made in Syria), it was back in 2012/2013. and so did ISIS. Now back to april 2017.: they knew syrian airplanes were bombing that area for days, so they had more than enough time to prepare everything, cameras, white helmets/’doctors’, all staged in advance, they only need to wait for an airplane attack, then after 5 minutes, 30min, 2 hours, doesn’t matter really, THEY released sarin (mortar or artillery shell/s, or just released it on the ground). Who’s gonna tell the truth? Civilians? They are dead, scared or just their supporters; they don’t even know what happened, just one more explosion among so many others. Turkish/terrorists cameras show only what they’ve planned. It’s that simple….

          Now I doubt France has their own experts in Idlib. So these samples were presented by Turkey (or their jihadi puppets from Idlib). US and France blindly accept these samples and the entire “Assad did it” narrative, not because they are naïve or stupid but simply because they are in this together with Turkey. Their intelligence agencies at least. Yes it is a ‘conspiracy theory’, still 100x better and more logical then their mainstream conspiracy theories about Assad. Cui bono is the best first question. There is no military explanation, there is NO logical reason for Assad to use gas and kill a few irrelevant civilians and risk all out intervention against him. Terrorists did it. Means, motive, and opportunity – they had it all. And the west knows it, and just play along…
          There will be no transparent investigation. Ever. They won’t allow it.

          • Douglas Houck

            “I’m not a chemist but I think this entire premise about syrian ‘unique’ sarin is totally flawed.”

            You are correct, there is nothing unique about Syria’s sarin.

            What bothers me the most are all of these arguments were raised and answered in 2013, and here we are four years later and they are trotting out the same BS as before. If the system worked (an independent and honest press), I wouldn’t have to spend hours searching and reading all of this stuff.

            I agree with Prof. Postol. The American press is no longer independent but merely a mouthpiece for the powers-that-be. Is the system that close to failure/collapse that they can’t abide by an independent press?

            I understand why governments do what they do. I get that. I just wish they would be honest about it. The part that really bothers me is that governments (especially the democratic ones) treat their citizens as stupid, and I hate being thought of as too stupid to think for myself.

            Thanks for your reply.

          • NeoLeo

            Completely agree: a free press is the cornerstone of democracy… and there is nothing free about (mainstream)media in America and Europe right now, this level of propaganda and bias is just insane. No different opinion, no questions asked: ‘Assad eats babies, if you disagree then you are a Russian spy.’ Pure madness and totalitarianism. I just hope this is not a prelude to a war, world war.

  • goingbrokes

    “Proof” by a combatant against their opponent is all but worthless.

  • NeoLeo

    So I guess the white helmets provided them with the ‘samples’…