The UN Mission has issued its report and conclusions regarding the Aug. 21st attack in the Eastern Damascus area. The reports concluded that a number of rockets investigated contained Sarin. First, let me say that I do not doubt the UN Missions findings or their conclusions relating to the finding of Sarin (GB) in environmental samples. While I thought that the physical evidence in the open source videos supported the theory that these weapons were fuel air explosives, I published my blog with the theory on Aug. 23rd. At that time, I do not believe any open source videos existed of the three rocket impact sites that the UN mission wrote about in their report. If they did exist, I had not seen them. The videos of the UN inspectors at those sites show much less damage and burning that in the other videos that I previously examined. In addition, one is of a completely different munition than in my analysis (a 140mm artillery rocket), which I immediately said I believed was a much more likely candidate for a chemical munition.
I still think it is possible that some of these rockets (not the ones in the UN report but the same type) are fuel air rockets intended to cause destruction by explosion. Of course, I could be wrong. I am only analyzing open source videos and pictures and that is a extremely limiting factor. For example, the narrators and witnesses in the videos of rocket #197 could be lying or misinformed.
Here are some general observations as well as questions from the report:
1. I understand the need to issue the report quickly given the impending US attack at the time . However, given that this report is being read around the world and is of critical importance, I wish it contained more information and details. I hope that the UN Mission will add to the report as time allows.
2. The report on Page 25 describes five impact sites that were investigated, yet I only see environmental samples from four sites. In addition, I reviewed the open source videos of the UN inspection team on site and it certainly appears that they inspected other impact sites or possible munitions that are not mentioned in the report. I wish the report contained information on these sites as well. These videos can be found on YouTube and I think most if not all have been listed on the Brown Moses blog. I wonder if there were other sites where environmental samples were taken that did not show Sarin and therefore were not included in the report The implication in the report is that the report lists all the samples taken and the results, although I am not sure it specifically states that as fact.
4. The UN Mission team wore helmet cameras and in videos you can see them pointing to record certain scenes. I wish they would release all of this footage unedited for viewing. It would extremely helpful for others to see this video footage.
5. The UN investigated a rocket that impacted near or into a wall in Zamalka that tested positive for sarin. There is evidence of significant burning present near the this rocket, on both sides of the rocket. I wish the report would have noted and discussed this physical finding and attempted to explain the cause of this finding. The other impact sites (the roof site and the balcony site) do not show the burning or destructive force present in some other videos of these rockets.
6. Laboratory 1 and Laboratory 2 had conflicting results with a significant number of environmental samples. I am surprised by this but the report does not provide any possible explanation for these discrepancy, such as different testing equipment, etc.
7. I have previously said that the 330mm rockets (for lack of a better term) were likely used by government or groups supporting the government. I based this on the fact that there are videos and pictures of pro-government troops using rockets of a similar unique design in the conflict. However, people have challenged this conclusion by asking if this precludes the possibility of a capture of these munitions by rebel groups. It of course does not as there are many videos of rebel groups capturing all kinds of government munitions throughout Syria. There is a video of rebels capturing a smaller version of this type of rocket with a similar design (fill unknown but presumably HE), but I have not seen a video of rebels with these exact rockets. The rebels also obviously have the expertise to manufacture copies of these rockets on their own.