Chemical weapons Syria

Eastern Ghouta and the miraculous chemical bombs

According to Syrian rebel sources, amplified by the usual suspects in the propaganda campaign against Syria, the Syrian Army launched a chemical assault on the Douma pocket in Eastern Ghouta on Saturday. However, it was widely predicted that Jaish al Islam, cornered and facing imminent defeat, would launch such a provocation in order to provide a pretext for air strikes against Syria and as we outline below, the evidence suggests this is what happened.

1. One of the weapons allegedly used in the attack is shown in the video attached to this tweet:

This weapon has been cited as “proof” of the Syrian government’s guilt in the matter by media outlets as only they have access to helicopters.

Clearly the gas canister, in this instance, had no explosive but it would have been travelling at high velocity and is heavy – being made of metal – and has fins attached, allegedly to speed its descent and penetrative power.

We are being asked to believe that this canister in Douma smashed through the concrete roof and then landed across the room, on the bed, unscathed, with its fins intact and brass valve apparently undamaged. However, if the concrete roof was sufficiently strong to slow the canister down, the canister itself would surely have been deformed or split by the impact. If the roof was easily penetrated by the canister, the missile would have continued its downward momentum and gone through the floor below. It is highly unlikely (to say the least) that the canister would have made a jump onto the bed and that its force would have been absorbed by the bed (however strong the bed springs!)

Nozzle of bed video

Still from video showing brass nozzle intact.

If that miracle weren’t enough, in a similar incident in August 2017, another rigged up gas canister apparently smashed through a steel reinforced roof, also without any sign of damage.

Video of the “clean-up” from this incident comes via a White Helmet (a propaganda / rescue effort funded by the UK government for whom the ubiquitous Hamish de Bretton-Gordon provides an advisory role) video which shows another undamaged canister and where it supposedly landed.

Regarding this video, it is worth asking:
1) Why does the photographer not wear the chemical equipment Hamish de Bretton-Gordon provides?
2) Why at the beginning of the clip is the White Helmet photographed without chemical protection equipment?
3) Why, after presumably moving the canister from the inside of the building to the outside from where it is winched into the lorry, does one of those wearing the protection suits use the outside of his sleeve to wipe his face, potentially transferring any chemical residues into his eyes?

Here is the video:

The most credible explanation in the case of the Douma incident is that the canister has been planted on the bed in a house with a preexisting hole in the roof (of which there are of course many in Douma).

What is more, given the earlier similar miracle in Khan al-Assal, it looks likely the practice of rigging up gas canisters to look like aerial bombs is a modus operandi of the Syrian rebels.

2, The videos of the victims of this incident, which show up to 20 people dead in an enclosed space, contain nothing to suggest those pictured were gassed by an aerial bomb by the Syrian air force, as opposed to being killed by the rebels or by conventional bombs elsewhere and then having their bodies staged for the camera. The scene is discussed in detail by Adam Larson.

3. Evidence the Russians had picked up intelligence that such a provocation was planned include an article in Tass published the day before the attack in which it is stated that “Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army are planning chemical attacks with the use of chlorine in areas under their control, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.” It is also noted that two days before this incident Al-Masda published an article in which it stated, “This is not the first time reports about possible mitilants’ provocations appear. In March, the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation announced that Syrian terrorists were preparing provocations involving chemical warfare agents in Eastern Ghouta, which would be used by western states as a pretext for accusing Damascus of the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilian population.”

This from Reuters on 13 March:
“Valery Gerasimov, head of Russia’s General Staff, said Moscow had information that rebels in the enclave of eastern Ghouta were planning to fake a chemical weapons attack against civilians and blame it on the Syrian army.

He said the United States intended to use the fake attack as a pretext to bomb the government quarter in nearby Damascus where he said Russian military advisers, Russian military police and Russian ceasefire monitors were based.”

Jaish al-Islam – using civilians as human shields

4. Jaish al-Islam had very easy access to 1,000s of hostages they have been holding. Glad to say, they are now reportedly being released thanks to a deal which frees Eastern Ghouta in its entirety from their rule.

Article updated 12 April

Please note:

  1. The analysis of the gas canisters referred to above remains extremely valid to this investigation.
  2. The White Helmets have released another video, which shows a canister, this time on the roof of the building where the bodies were found:

This video was released by the White Helmets just as the narrative around the first canister was starting to collapse.

Wedged canister2

This canister appears to be tipped over a hole in the roof, with an rectangular hollow section bar in place to support it which strongly suggests staging.

Its worth mentioning:

  1. The cylinder looks relatively undamaged considering it supposedly smashed into the concrete roof from a height.
  2. It seems unlikely the cylinder would have created the hole and then not gone through the roof.
  3. The White Helmets claim the video was made at 7.02pm on the 9th.  The alleged attack on this location took place at 7.30pm on 7th.
  4. The front of the canister nearest the hole is discoloured.
  5. There is a plastic sheet on the roof.
  6. The RHS bar is not part of the structure of the roof – but put there to stop the canister slipping through the hole. An RHS bar would not be used for structural support of a roof.
  7. The video of the house from inside, showing the victims, taken on the evening of the 7th shows the hole from below..

8. A deleted tweet by Eliot Higgins contains a screen shot from an unpublished video of the other side of the canister. This confirm:

a) The scene has been interfered with.

b) The canister is largely undamaged on both sides:

Higgins deleted video

Update 14 April

There is a hole in the floor below the hole in the roof which may indicate the hole over which the canister in the White Helmet’s video is wedged is from a previous missile strike.

Death room hole

Update 17 April

Swedish TV has published a report from the crime scene

Here are some stills:

Showing the hole and canister from below:

Close up of the canister:


The nozzles

The nozzles of the two munitions are telling. No one has been able to explain how the supposed chlorine bombs are supposed to work.

This still from the BilalAbuSalah  video (tweet above) shows the fully intact.

The same valve is shown in Russian footage, a few days later:

The best view of the balcony valve to date is:


This appears quite similar to the valve shown in Al Jazeera footage of a similar cylinder from around 7 March:

The footage this still comes from was published by Al Jazeera on 18 April:


Staining on the bed

Bilal video start:

Bilal video later part. – Notice how position of the pillow moves and curved stain is absent:

Russian footage:

Chlorine reacts with iron to form iron chloride. 2Fe +3Cl2 -> 2FeCl3

If the valve was opened on the bed chlorine would react with iron to form a rust-coloured substance possibly explaining the staining.



Russian footage:

15 April – changed featured image to still from published White Helmets rooftop video – removed references to communication with Eliot Higgins pending clarification.

16 April – added detail on RHS bar – thanks Charles Wood.

16 April – added new image of canister.

17 April – added stills from Swedish TV including view of hole from below – removed previous image – it now appears the canister was in place on the night of the 7th.

19 April – added still of brass nozzle.

3 May – added valve section

4 May – added stain section. Added link to Russian footage.

6 replies on “Eastern Ghouta and the miraculous chemical bombs”

Great piece as a starter. The chlorine scene I guess is peripheral to the alleged chlorine-nerve agent mixed in a barrel bomb attack that killed people later on. But it’s a fake scene. I agree with your point on resistance vs/ speed vs. damage. It just bounces into bed like your pet dog might do?

We can add that chlorine doesn’t stain things chlorine gas color like this bed is. It bleaches, rusts, or whatever it does on contact, leaving no kind of dye behind like this. Anyone try to find one legit example where that happens in a chlorine release. This is a fake scene with some chlorine color pigment placed in an innocent bed, with a chlorine cyliner illogically placed on top. Not because it makes forensic sense, but because it’s a bed where families sleep. etc. It’s a good photo op. All fake.

Also, it’s not ruptured or leaking, as far as I can see. If this had chlorine in it, it probably still does. If it ruptured now, it might bleach away that yellow stuff.

One point on lack of protective gear: it’s a red herring, or could/should/might be, in relation to chlorine. When active, it can cause burning and itching like bleach if it gets on you. It doesn’t re-float or re-aerosolize to any degree. Later on, the danger decreases. the rust might give you a mild itch. Not an issue.

Hi – good work as usual. A touch off-topic, but I recently re-read the Khan Sheikhoun JIM report and I can’t work out if the OPCW were ever actually provided with the bomb fragments that the FFM were assured had been ‘secured’.

It’s not actually clear from the JIM report that they actually ever received them – all their ‘analysis’ appears to rely on the pictures.

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