Evidence of a staged chlorine attack in Douma.

Date of alleged incident: 1 Feb 2018


The study of this incident happened by accident. I set out investigating the Douma attacks of 7 April 2018 when I was drawn towards earlier claims of similar attacks in the town. I noticed them being used to lend credibility to the alleged April 7 attacks. After spending several hours mulling them over I began to see a pattern emerge of unverified claims passing as verified facts, with unrestricted ease.

When examining the four alleged chlorine attacks in the run up to the alleged April 7 attack I noticed a pattern emerging. Firstly, the claim was made by “activists” on Twitter and picked up by Bellingcat. Once a yellow cylinder was presented Bellingcat quickly took charge of the narrative and did its best to help propagate the claim to a western audience. Not all of these incidents made it to public attention but as each alleged attack became more impressive than the previous the more they begin to be noticed by the outside world. Was the Syrian military upping the ante on each occasion in an attempt to shift the rebels out of the area or was it the rebels who were upping the anti each time until they staged an attack that got the world’s attention? I wanted to try and find out.

The Claim:

On the morning of 1st February 2018 at approximately 5.30 a.m. local time it is alleged that the Syrian Army launched three chlorine laden rockets into Douma. The rockets landed on the western outskirts of the town on land known locally as “The Farms”. Upon impact, the payload bodies [otherwise know as the “warhead” as I shall refer to them in this document] fractured thus releasing chlorine into the atmosphere resulting in several causalities being brought to a local hospital.

The allegation originates from an opposition activist under the name of Firas Abdullah.

Casualty Claims:

Firas Abdullah claims there were “3 patients” from the attack:

The Syrian American Society (SAMS) reported 3 victims; 2 of which were women and the third was a 16-year-old (they don’t mention the sex of the teenager).

Note the partially embedded warhead on the left image presented by SAMS.  I will come back to this later.

Eliot Higgins expands on the above tweet on his Bellingcat blog by adding a report of a 4th victim – a Syrian White Helmet;

SAMS-USA reported that “a SAMS-supported hospital in East Ghouta received 3 patients suffering from suffocation, a dry cough, and vomiting, all of which are consistent w/ the use of chlorine gas. Victims include 2 women & a 16-year-old.” Ghouta Media Center reported that one civil defence member was injured in the attack.

Following the link to Ghouta Media Centre’s Facebook page brings up a post that when translated doesn’t mention anything about “one civil defence member [being] injured”.  There is no information anywhere that I can find that supports this claim. On the face of it may not like seem like a major issue getting this wrong but I suggest the small inaccuracies like this, added together, go on to form a much larger narrative, as you shall see. The tweet mentions that “civil defence volunteers…were injured..[between] 24 air raids and 70 land-land missiles” but not that a White Helmet was injured in the the attack in question.

Yasser Al-Shami, who is introduced in the joint Bellingcat/STJ report as “the director of the medical office in Douma, though he began his career as an “activist”, claims ‘many cases had been transferred to the medical centres’ but only 3 casualties were reported.

 He goes on to say:

At 5:45 am February 1, 2018, we received three cases of toxic gas inhalation, including women, suffering from dyspnea, irritation and sweating in spite of the cold weather. It was clear from the smell of their clothes that they were exposed to a gas attack similar to chlorine smell. These cases were treated by sprays and bronchodilator, and stayed under medical observation for two hours and then we released them. 

The joint Bellingcat/STJ report claims “three civilians” were injured but speaks of only one woman.

Preface: On February 1st, 2018 Duma city[1] was shelled with poisonous gases for the third consecutive time in less than one month, and according to many testimonies STJ obtained through its network of field reporters and Bellingcat’s analysis of open source material, five rockets, loaded with chemical substances believed to be chlorine gas, landed in the densely populated area in the western neighborhoods of Duma, resulting in the suffocation of three civilians, including a woman

Digging deeper I found this reference from the “Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic” report of 9 August 2018 (we will come back to this report later)

The first attack on 22 January injured six children, seven women, and eight men, while the second on 1 February injured three women.

What is clearly being alleged is that there were 3 causalities. The makeup of this figure is far from as clear.  Here’s a summary of the claims:

  • Firas Abdullah: 3 patients
  • SAMS: 2 women & a 16 year old
  • Yasser Al-Shami: 3 cases, including women
  • STJ/Bellingcat: 3 civilians, including a woman
  • IICISyria: 3 women

You may say, ‘well 3 people were injured, does it really matter the gender makeup of that figure’?  Reasonable question to ask at this stage but as the investigation unfolds you will see how inconsistent and fact free the claims become.  I highlight this aspect because if 5 separate entities, including a UN panel, cannot agree on the gender makeup of a group of 3 people then just how clear is the evidence they are working from?

The Evidence:

Video evidence was presented by Firas Abdullah on his Twitter feed when he visited three sites in Douma that he alleges chlorine munitions fell on. These sites are a short distance from each other as denoted in the imagery below.

The Farms

Google Satellite Imagery on the area as gathered by myself
Imagery provided by Firas Abdullah and used by Bellingcat (I rotated the image 90° anti-clockwise for comparison with the imagery I presented)

Location 1

The locations are in a wasteland on the outskirts of Douma known as “The Farms”.  Firas’ narrative is, as stated above, that at 5:30 AM on the morning of the 7th April 2018 the Syrian army launched three chlorine munitions on the town which fell in farmlands on the western outskirts.  I have numbered the sites 1-3 as represented in the Firas videos.

Analysing the 1m 30sec video shows Firas on waste-ground holding the rocket motor of a 107mm IRAM (Improvised Rocket Assisted Munition) at approximately 8:56 Damascus time on the 1 Feb 2018. He is kneeling beside, what would seem to be, a fragmented payload body and a small crater in the earth.  

First thing that struck me was just how shallow the crater is in relation to the destruction of the alleged warhead. We will see later at impact “Location 3” a very different set of circumstances yet using the same munition and the same earth density.  Note the lack of debris in the alleged crater along with parts of the warhead that are absent, which I highlight in location 3.

2 Douma Location1

Of the three alleged impact craters, this is one that Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat doesn’t offer an opinion on in terms of attempting to geolocate the launch site or ascertaining its trajectory. I would suggest there may be a few reasons for that which I lay out below. If you look at the impact crater in the image above you may be able to see the shape of an arrowhead pointing towards the rocket motor or a V pointing away. If you can’t, bear with me and I will try and highlight this to make it clearer.

Here are two of the same images taken from the Firas video and pasted side-by-side. The left image is untouched and the right includes a drawn in white arrowhead to depict what I was referring to before.

There are several methods used by the military for analysing craters to ascertain the azimuth to the launching weapon but these rely on the munition exploding thus creating a side spray soil pattern. They are as follows (method – usage);

  • Fuze-Quick Craters – Low angled artillery rounds
  • Low-Angle Fuze Delay Craters -Used for ricochet artillery rounds or underground mines
  • Mortar Craters – High angled mortar round

In this scenario, without a fuze and explosive charge, we are dealing with a dumb cylinder, if you will. In other words, the characteristics of the crater can be taken ‘as is’. However, we must allow for crater deformation but generally the sooner an investigator gets to a crater after its creation the better the characteristics are preserved. Firas, has gotten to the alleged craters 2-3 hours after he claims the attacks took place. Trusting the evidence he presents on face value then this crater should retain it original characteristics in that short time thus giving us a more accurate reading.

Firstly, whatever caused that impact crater I don’t believe it comes from a westerly direction but from the east. This can be determined by doing some basic crater analysis and looking for the patterns in the soil. [At this point I should inform you that I am not an expert in crater analysis but more of an ‘intermediate hobbyist’. I stand to be corrected on the analysis I offer.]

Here is the same image as above but with added markings to highlight various aspects of the crater. I have supplied an image legend explaining the markings.

Screenshot 2019 06 24 at 14 20 51
Blue = The downward recess in soil suggesting entry angle.
Black = Denoting packing of soil on the left and right sides. The earth is higher between the white and black lines. Suggesting an object was introduced in the direction of the blue arrows and pressed towards the point of the white arrows.
Yellow = Centre of crater and entry path.
White = “V back” suggesting Point of Origin (POO)

It took a while but I eventually found a crater allegedly caused by the same munition (IRAM) which also allegedly carried Chlorine and was also found in eastern Ghouta.

Once again the warhead is missing from the crater. This was a reoccurring theme throughout my analysis of the data surrounding allegations of chlorine attacks. There is either physical munition evidence absent and/or the munition remnants have been neatly placed beside the crater, not in situ. You will see this time and time again.

Now to add a compass to try and determine the direction of this alleged chlorine rocket.  (See next image for info on green arrow)

Screenshot 2019 06 24 at 14 1 41 05

The left image is very grainy but it was the best I could get from the Firas video of location 1 which also shows the wall. I believe the angle of both images to be the same and I’ve circled a small stone on the left image so you can match it with the right. How I ascertained the direction of the wall is from the satellite imagery and alleged impact site as per Firas and Eliot.

Screenshot 2019 06 24 at 13 22 54 copy
I determined north from Google satellite imagery . This image also includes the 3 alleged rocket craters and the distance Eliot Higgins claims the rockets travelled at locations 2&3.

The wall we’re looking at, at location 1 (blue arrow) runs West to East.  The green arrow points to where the wall turns 90° in a southerly direction where you will also note shrubbery. I propose that is the same shrubbery/trees as in the top image with the green arrow pointing at them.

So what does this tell us? If the evidence is genuine and hasn’t been tampered with then the trajectory of the location 1 cylinder is most likely from the east thus ruling out a Syrian military launch location.

Here are the front lines as of the 29 January 2018 from the very reliable “SouthFront“. I have depicted a rough north on the map. If the location 1 munition came from the east then it didn’t come from the Syrian military.

I have added a very crude compass arrow pointing roughly to the North

To conclude on location 1: I am not arguing that the rocket remnants came from the east. I am, however, arguing they didn’t come the west and make the alleged crater. Whatever caused that crater came from an easterly direction.

Location 2:

This is a quite interesting video. Firstly, I’m not sure how authentic the eye squint and gasping sound of Firas are as he points to the crater – as if he is being overwhelmed by the gaseous emittance of chlorine – all symptoms disappearing as quickly as they came. More importantly, the crater is absent ANY warhead. For all intents-and-purposes, this looks like a randomly dug hole with an IRAM rocket motor laying beside it. That is certainly what the evidence suggests as I will explain.

Here is a better quality image.

6 Douma Location2

Here are stills taken from the Fiaras video.

Screenshot 2019 06 23 at 19 18 04

Notice the almost perfect 90° angle?

Screenshot 2019 06 23 at 18 54 16

I have used blue arrows to draw attention to how smooth and almost rectangle the shape of the soil is above the crater. Is this what you would expect from cylindrical warhead and cylindrical rocket motor?

Another angle of the location 2 crater:

5 Douma Location2a

Now with 90° angle marked out;

5 Douma Location2a copy

For context this is what one of the rockets should look like, including warhead:

4 IRAM Image

You may ask; How does a perfect circle make a 90° angle?  So do I.  I’d also like to know what happened to the warhead and why Eliot Higgins, Firas Abdullah, STJ, the UN and all who reported on this didn’t ask these questions when investigating the matter? Surely, the first thing you do in an investigation is take the claim, look for evidence and then see if the evidence matches the claim? Does the evidence match with the claim at Location 2?

The lack of warhead, however, doesn’t prevent Eliot or Firas concluding that this is the second location of a chlorine cylinder launched by the Syrian military.  Indeed Eliot goes on to geolocate the location of its launch:

It is also possible to establish the likely trajectory of rockets used in the February 1 attack. In one geolocated video, Firas Abdullah films the impact crater of one of the rockets:

He continues;

The shape of this crater indicates the rocket would have come from the west, from the direction of the Syrian government positions around 1km away.

How does he reach that conclusion? He doesn’t explain his workings and given, as you are about to learn, he predicts a 2km distance to the launch location of the rocket at location 3 it is more important than ever he shows us how he reached these conclusions. I also can’t help wonder why Eliot didn’t mention the missing warhead or lack of fragmentation in the crater?

Location 3: 

Of the three alleged chlorine impact sites that Firas Abdullah claims happened on the 1 Feb 2018 in Douma, Location 3 is the most interesting for the following reasons.

  1. It is the only location that is being presented with its alleged evidence in situ. At the other 2 locations the evidence is presented as standalone from the craters.
  2. The density of the earth at this location is quite similar to the density of the earth at Location 1 yet there it is said the cylinder left an unremarkable crater before the warhead shattered. Yet here it is suggested the warhead fell into its footprint and remained completely in tact.
  3. Most interestingly of all about Location 3 is the alleged warhead is buried in an almost perfect vertical fashion – thus pointing to a complete vertical trajectory. Bellingcat determined a westerly trajectory. How and why?

Let’s take a closer look at the alleged crater.

9 Douma Location3

Notice the aft endplate circled in red?  This is missing from location 1 and as already discussed the complete warhead is missing from location 2.

In a blog post on Bellingcat on the 1 Feb 2018 Eliot writes:

In another video, we see an impact site where the warhead of the chemical munition is still embedded in the ground:

He then links to the tweet from Firas showing Location 3. Eliot concludes:

Based on the height of the north-south wall, and how close the warhead is to the wall, it would be extremely unlikely the munition could have come from the east, again indicating the munition would have come from government positions in the west. Further to the west, the 41st Regiment military base can be found 2km away from the impact sites.

The “north-south wall” that Eliot refers to is the wall in this picture;

Screenshot 2019 06 23 at 19 32 19

Satellite imagery shows the wall more clearly. Although Firas’ and Eliot’s’ geolocation of the impact crater are mildly off.

Closeup L3

I have marked a close North on the map.  Eliot suggests the launch came from the west in the direction of the small red arrow

The red dot denotes the alleged impact site as per Firas and Eliot. The video would suggest it was closer to the point of my arrow beside the wall.

I’d like to offer another image which is a screenshot I took from Firas’ video as I believe gives an overall better picture of the scene. Eliot Higgins assumes the rocket came from 2kms west of the impact site. I would draw your attention to the alleged warhead and ask that you also note it’s resting trajectory. The base appears to point more towards the wall (east) thus presuming the nose is pointing slightly westwards. Yet the allegation is it was fired from the west.

8 Douma Location3 Wall copy

For an object to land vertically implies it was dropped vertically. Any accelerated launch will continue on its trajectory at a constant speed. So the rocket wouldn’t just suddenly stop in the sky and drop in a straight line downwards. The horizontal velocity of a projectile remains the same regardless of its vertical motion so as a projectile loses velocity and begins to succumb to gravity it continues travelling horizontally until it meets the ground. To clarify that point with an equation, horizontal velocity is calculated as [velocity = Horizontal Distance over Time]. The laws of physics don’t simply stop being because it’s Syria. They are universal laws. Yet Eliot believes this rocket was fired 2kms away to the west. He came to this conclusion “Based on the height of the north-south wall, and how close the warhead is to the wall, it would be extremely unlikely the munition could have come from the east..”

I agree with him on that point. But he doesn’t explain why he feels it came from the west and why he feels the launch location was 2kms away?

*To add further confusion, in a blog post on the 23 January 2018, Higgins notes the use of the “heavier warheads” on the modified IRAMs and concludes these ‘reduce the range’ of the rockets. By how much he doesn’t say. A distance of 1km for one rocket yet 2kms for a neighbouring rocket without explanation simply serves to add further concern over the findings of Bellingcat in this investigation. Philip 2/7/19

It would appear that he began his attempt to geolocate the trajectory of the rocket from a set of conclusions which were; that this scene was genuine, that it depicted a chlorine cylinder as claimed and that it must have been the government who fired it. The high wall close to the crater has forced him into concluding the rocket must have come from the west. But why not from the north or south as both options are as ludicrous as suggesting it came from the west? I feel the reason for that is that the government’s closest front lines were to the west. So presuming Eliot started from a conclusion of government guilt it is plausible he worked in reverse trying to make the evidence fit the crime. But how did he miss the vertical footprint? How does he explain it? And did he ever consider the scene being staged given the evidence of a westerly launch is non-existent?

I throw this back to Eliot Higgins and ask him to explain how a westerly trajectory ends up with a vertical impact? How does the warhead remain fully intact even though it was buried in its own footprint yet at Location 1 a similar warhead, hitting similar soil density left a minor crater and broke into pieces?

Recap on Physical Evidence:

Before proceeding let’s take a quick recap of the evidence provided thus far at the alleged three impact sites. I have numbered each according to their alleged site locations as per Firas Abdullah’s videos

Screenshot 2019 06 22 at 23 48 23

I wanted to match this evidence up with a picture of the evidence as presented by STJ (Syrians for Truth and Justice) via Bellingcat. I have therefore attempted to match the munitions by numbering. I’m presuming the warhead denoted as “3?” is the vertically embedded warhead that was buried beside the wall at location 3. Again, note the missing warhead for munition 2 that was located in the field.

بقايا أحد الصواريخ المحملة بغاز سام 1

So far it can be said that the all remnants match up with what Firas Abdullah presents as evidence in his three Twitter videos.  Again bear in mind that the claims emanated from Firas.

SAMS US 4th Cylinder

So now is a good time to revisit the image from the SAMS tweet at the beginning of this document. Here’s a refresher;

Here is the specific image:

Screenshot 2019 06 23 SAMS on Twitter
AGAIN missing munition parts. Where is the rocket motor and tail fins?

In the absence of any other supporting evidence I believed that SAMS was attempting to link this warhead with that of Location 3 given the close proximity to a wall. But Eliot Higgins suggests that SAMS is introducing a 4th rocket to the equation. He writes;

Using videos posted by Firas Abdullah on the day of the attack it is possible to geolocate the impact sites of three of the rockets used in the February 1 attack to farmlands on the west side of Douma. The warhead of a fourth rocket was photographed but not geolocated.

(emphasis mine)

Just to be clear, the walls from both locations are quite different as are the warhead remnants so there is no way they are the same should SAMS have been claiming so.

Screenshot 2019 06 23 at 19 32 19
Wall at location 3

The warhead in the SAMS photo has 2 threaded cylinder ports protruding from its aft which are missing from the alleged warhead at location 3 (image below). These ports appear to have several purposes depending on munition variant, for example if the munition is carrying a HE (high explosive) payload these may act as detonating fuses. I’ve also seen the HE version without any ports. In the chemical variant it is hypothesised by some they are pressure releasing valves but I am inclined to believe they are filling ports.

3 Douma Location3a

Yet Firas Abdullah doesn’t mention a fourth impact location – just the three.

Interestingly SAMS themselves don’t mention a location count either. It is Eliot that is assuming that as SAMS tweeted a picture of an IRAM warhead embedded in the ground that it must be a fourth location. He doesn’t seem to have made any effort to confirm this with SAMS and if he has he hasn’t written about it. Did it ever occur to Eliot that the photo may have been supplied to SAMS in error? Or a photo of a different location was intentionally supplied to make it seem like a fourth site? Or that it was staged? Or that SAMS were indeed trying to suggest this was location 3 using a fake image? All things any impartial investigator would consider.

The date of the above article on Bellingcat was 1 Feb 2018. This would have been post Firas Abdullah’s tweets early that morning obviously. The same Firas who declared “three chlorine missiles were launched”. On the same day Eliot would appear to take control of the narrative and from his interjection it goes from three rockets to four in a matter of hours. He makes NO mention at this stage of further alleged impact locations or rockets. Not until the joint report with STJ does he introduce further warheads to the narrative. That report is analysed below.

Using several reverse imaging searches for the SAMS-warhead it seems they are the originator of the image and the few sites that use the image do so after the first use by SAMS. One website even claimed it was an attack on an underground hospital.

I have found no other source for that image before 1 Feb 2018.

We now move on to the joint Bellingact/STJ (Syrians for Truth and Justice) report on the alleged incident.

The Bellingcat/STJ Joint Report Analysis

In the second to last section of this investigation on the alleged 1 Feb 2018 Douma Chlorine Attack I will focus on the joint effort by Bellingcat and Syrians for Truth and Justice or STJ. In this report, new and alarming evidence is introduced that isn’t noted anywhere else along with two added alleged impact locations.

Let’s begin; (link to the report)

The ‘Report’ was released on the 12th of February 2018 as far as I can deduce from internet searching. Almost two weeks after the alleged attack.


On February 1 2018 Douma city was shelled with poisonous gases for the third consecutive time in less than one month, and according to many testimonies STJ obtained through its network of field reporters and Bellingcat’s analysis of open source material, five rockets, loaded with chemical substances believed to be chlorine gas, landed in the densely populated area in the western neighborhoods of Douma, resulting in the suffocation of three civilians, including a woman.

Here we have the introduction of an additional two alleged chlorine filled munitions and with the three Firas alleges that take the total to 5. But what about the 4th cylinder Eliot points at from the SAMS picture? Should that not make 6 in total then?

So let’s take a look at the claim of the extra two munitions used.

Eliot shares a video on Bellingcat’s YouTube page. The video is entitled “Munitions used in the February 1, 2018, chlorine attack in Douma, Damascus.”

In the video we see new warheads being presented as evidence. I’ve taken a few stills for analysis.

Screenshot 2019 06 23 at 00 00 31

I’ve circled in red what I feel these two cylinders have in common. They both have a missing port and one port intact. In the next images, the two cylinders both have an intact port and a cylinder threaded canister (circled in blue) so I feel they are a good match based upon the evidence.

Screenshot 2019 06 23 at 00 05 50

What’s missing? Have you guessed? Their rocket motors, tail fins, and related debris with no explanation by either Bellingcat or STJ for these abnormalities. Also missing are their alleged impact craters. They appear to be just randomly placed in a baron land. I do wonder why Firas Abdullah, the source of the original claims, never mentioned these additional cylinders, recorded them or took pictures as he did of the others? And why didn’t STJ or Bellingcat attempt to geolocate them?

The UN IICISyria or Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic Report.

As we wrap up this investigation we take a quick look at the UN report which was and has been cited by almost all those looking to solidify their claims of Syrian army culpability in this alleged attack as defining evidence of the charges. I’m not so sure this “Independent” UN report is anything like “Independent” given that they appear to take the word of the groups I’ve mentioned in this report and repeat them almost verbatim, unquestionably and without attention to detail.

This is from the UN report:

Screenshot 2019 06 23 at 01 05 06

This is from the joint Bellingcat/STJ report:

Screenshot 2019 06 23 at 01 01 45

Who is Hasan? How was his testimony verified by the UN? What fact-checking did they employ and how did they confirm his claims? What evidence has either Bellingcat or STJ put forward to verify his identity?  I believe it to be important that any witnesses are validated as being authentic rather than it being alleged that someone said something whom it is alleged is a resident.

After analysing the evidence they UN Independent panel concludes:

While munitions of this type have been employed by a range of actors across the Syrian Arab Republic, the particular design of the munitions observed during the two attacks indicated a type known to have been used only by government forces or, rarely, by affiliated militias.

Given that all the indicators, at least in this alleged attack, point to the staging of scenes one wonders why the IICI didn’t consider the possibility that evidence was placed to make it appear there had been an attack using IRAMs? Especially given how weak and suspicious the evidence presented is.


The evidence points to the allegations of a chlorine attack on Douma Farms on 1 Feb 2018 originating from Firas Abdullah who, a few short hours after the alleged attacks, went to the scenes with his camera. They are noted as Locations 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

At location 1 he records a rocket motor and warhead remnants but a rather unremarkable impact crater. Eliot Higgins doesn’t pass comment on this location and doesn’t try to estimate the launch location.

At location 2 he records a crater in the soil underneath a tree along with a rocket motor. The warhead is missing as is any debris resembling an impact of this type. Firas ignores the lack of a warhead as does Eliot who proceeds to attempt to calculate a launch position. He predicts a 1 km travel distance. Why? We aren’t sure as he doesn’t offer any calculations to support his conclusion.

At location 3 Firas records a rocket motor and what he alleges is an embedded warhead. Bizarrely the alleged warhead is fully embedded in similiar density soil as location 1 and in an almost perfect vertical position thus pointing to a vertical drop, if the evidence is genuine. Bear in mind that at Location 1 the cylinder allegedly skimmed the surface of the ground with the warhead disintegrating and falling apart above ground. At location 3 it is being alleged that the same type of munition, hit the same type of earth only landed vertically and embedded itself into its footprint, fully intact.

At location 3 Eliot calculated a 2km launch location from the west without explaining why.  At location 2 he predicted 1km westerly launch location again without explaining why. No calculations or mathematical evidence was offered. I would, however, welcome further clarity on how he reached these estimates and will, without hesitation, alter my writings accordingly.

Screenshot 2019 06 24 at 13 22 54

I also take this opportunity to invite Eliot to explain how a rocket launched 2kms away to the west lands in a perfect vertical footprint.

What about the new warheads added to the mix by Bellingcat and STJ? As said before, it’s odd they didn’t try to geolocate where these munitions allegedly fell.

On Firas’ videos. I will leave that to the viewer to decide. Do they seem realistic? How about the evidence, does it match up? What about the missing warhead at location 2 in the soil? What about the unremarkable crater at location 1 compared to the fully buried alleged warhead at location 3? Is Eliot Higgins attempting to make the evidence fit the crime rather than applying due diligence to all claims?


It is my opinion there isn’t enough evidence to conclude the Syrian military launched a chlorine attack on the town of Douma at 5:30 AM on the morning of the 1 February 2018. The three alleged sites of the impact craters look fake with vital evidence missing.

At location 1, a cylinder left an unremarkable indentation in the soil and the alleged warhead broke up upon impact. The munition was not recorded in situ and vital pieces of the remnants are missing. A short analysis of the crater suggests it was formed by an object approaching from the east. What that object was or what caused the crater can be speculated upon.

I believe Location 1 to be staged.

At location 2 we see a 90° angle in soft earth that could not have been made by a cylindrical warhead. A warhead that is completely absent from the evidence with no explanation given by the activist or sought by the OSINT investigative group, Bellingcat. They ignored the lack of evidence yet concluded a likely launch location.

I believe Location 2 to be staged.

At Location 3 we have an alleged warhead buried in soil with similar density to that of Location 1. It is buried fully into its footprint in an almost perfect vertical fashion. The investigate website Bellingcat concluded that it was fired from a westerly direction approximately 2kms away. They offer no supporting evidence of this claim or show the workings on how they reached that conclusion. Nor do they explain how a westerly trajectory ends with a vertical imprint.

I believe Location 3 to be staged.

I believe the image to have been offered by SAMS of a location 4 to have been intended to misinform. Whether it was supplied to them with that intention or they supplied it with that intention.

In the absence of any corroborating evidence, the missing rocket motors and no other mentions of the Bellingcat/STJ munitions anywhere else, I believe that STJ used Bellingcat as a willing conduit in helping them disseminate fake information. I believe Bellingcat didn’t apply due diligence in any of their investigation into the alleged 1 Feb 2018 chlorine attack and are therefore either willing or ignorant accomplices in the spreading of fake information in this example.

Philip Watson

27 June 2018

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