Analysis of new alleged chemical rocket videos

Numerous new videos have appeared of the alleged chemical rockets and the surrounding areas of their impact.  Before analyzing those videos, I have read some misconceptions about Fuel Air Explosives (FAE) that I would like to address. For example, numerous observers have noted the lack of burning as a sign these weapons are not FAE warheads. In a FAE weapon, detonation is the goal rather than deflagration, or burning. It is a fundamentally different weapon than an incendiary device such as those containing white phosphorus. The goal of a FAE device is a detonation that will cause intense and long lasting pressure waves. A FAE will have a high heat output, but the goal is detonation, not deflagration, or burning. However, even an FAE weapon that deflagrates rather than detonates can generate intense pressure waves.

We are thankfully getting closer to a point where the UN inspection team will hopefully be able to resolve this issue and tell us conclusively what the exact nature of the munitions seen in these videos.  My hope is that the inspectors have broad enough expert experience in weapons beyond just chemical warheads to be able to accurately identify the type and purpose of the munitions in question.  I have some concern that the UN inspectors will have seen so few FAE weapons in any context (they are very rarely deployed in Western militaries) that they will be less knowledgable about FAEs.

Examining more videos of these weapons, we see more clues that they might be FAE weapons. First, thanks to Elliot Higgins and his Brown Moses blog for locating and sourcing most of these videos.  The first video is long and is a copy of an Arabic Al-Jazeera feed.  The first part of the video is more people describing rocket #197 (red lettering), the one that I extensively described in my first blog post two days after the attack.  I believe it is consistent with a FAE explosion rather than a non-explosive chemical warhead.  This video is potentially important because it appears to show different individuals than in the other videos of rocket #197 that also claim that the warhead had cleared the field of vegetation and done extensive blast damage to the nearby building.  Note: No editing was done to any of these videos or photos whatsoever to darken any areas.

At the 6:11 point, the report moves to a different location.  Here, the street appears to be blackened.  Some observers in other videos have ascribed this black color to liquid or liquid stains which could certainly be the case. It could also be blackening due to high heat.  There is evidence of burning on the wall behind the dog allegedly dead from a chemical attack.

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 3.53.58 AM

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 3.53.14 AM

Note the man in the video is looking down at the dog in the top frame.

For reference, here are two frames from rocket #197 in Eastern Ghouta showing blackened areas.  Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 6.36.06 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 6.38.15 PM

Next is a video from Zamika and it shows the UN inspectors examining a rocket that impacted just past a wall.  

To the right:

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 3.56.44 AM

and to the left:Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 3.58.14 AMScreen Shot 2013-09-07 at 3.59.08 AM

Below we have another video of UN inspectors looking at a different rocket. Again, we can only speculate on the damage caused by this particular rocket. The rocket apparently passed through the roof of the apartment building into an apartment below. Here is a video of the inspectors on the roof:

Here is a screen grab of some blackened area on the rooftop area.

Note that the rocket has apparently blasted through two concrete block walls and penetrated the steel reinforced concrete floor/roof and into the apartment below.

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 4.18.01 AM

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 4.18.52 AM

The next screen shot is from a video that I discussed in my initial blog post, but showing just a frame makes the evidence of  the blackened area easier to see.  It is from the alleged chemical attack on August 5th in Adra.

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 4.26.45 AM

This August 5th Adra video above is also where we see a dog twitching.

The next frames are from a video of another alleged chemical rocket filmed in Adra on August 5th.  Note the heavily blackened walls right, middle, and left background.

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 4.29.31 AM

Note the blackened ground.  Here are two more frames from the same video:Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 4.30.42 AM

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 4.31.09 AM

Note the blackened wall from the same video.

Significantly, looking at every video of munition linked in the Brown Moses blog’s exhaustive summary of these munitions that have been found, all videos that show the surrounding area show blackened areas.

The following are all the individual videos of alleged chemical rockets (along with the above already discussed).   In every area where the surrounding area is visible, there are significant blackened areas.

January 4th, Daraya – appears to show high heat blast to ground but landed in dirt and difficult to determine due to ground surface.

June 11th – Adra- rocket only, does not show surrounding area.

August 5th, Adra – shows blackened surfaces.

August 5th, Adra – rocket only, does not show surrounding area

August 5th, Adra –  shows blackened surfaces.

August 21st – Eastern Ghouta, blackened and damaged walls, plants cleared

August 21st – Zamalka – rocket near wall – significant blackened walls and ground around rocket

August 21st – Zamalka – rocket through roof –  building damage and blackened area.

presumably August 21st – unknown alley – dead dog, no rocket visible, blackened areas

It seems clear that given the intact nature of these rockets, a small burster charge is splitting the thin walled warhead section of the rocket.  This bursting charge is not strong enough to even destroy the walls of the steel rocket section within the warhead, so it follows that is is unlikely strong enough to destroy concrete walls.  The force or kinetic energy of the rocket impact could do some damage and certainly destroy a concrete wall.  However, it appears possible that either an explosion (caused by a charge or by a reaction with air) or burning has caused these blackened areas . It is also possible that a chemical weapon agent like cyclosarin is burning in each of these attacks but that seems less than ideal for a chemical attack.


One thought on “Analysis of new alleged chemical rocket videos

  1. It really does seem pretty clear, doesn’t it? I’m following this, finally, and appreciate you following it. Others aren’t wanting to follow it, I suppose? From what you know, if there was – as it seems – a dome of igniting heat-pressure expanding out from these things, knocking over walls and burning ground, and pressing the life out of nearby animals… in each of these cases, what point would there be also trying to disperse Sarin (causing non-Sarin symptoms BTW) as alleged? Not very, it seems to me, as it would have to be a liquid vapor.

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