Date of Incident: 10 October 2012
Location: Karam al-Baik, Aleppo
Date of Report: 17 August 2019
During my investigations into the alleged chlorine munitions used exclusively in Ghouta in early 2018, I have stumbled across quite a lot of interesting information that will form part of future reports. In this supplementary report, I will draw attention to a staged rocket attack in Aleppo in 2012 that used the High Explosive (HE) “version” of the 107mm Improvised Rocket Assisted Munition (IRAM). I place the term, version, in inverted commas because I haven’t uncovered any proof a chemical variant of the 107mm IRAM exists. The opposition has said it does and have provided images of what they claim shows the chemical variant but given the evidence I have uncovered on this blog of the staging of these events by the opposition more proof is needed to support their claims.
On the Brown Moses blog (former blog of Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat) Eliot points to a playlist he created showing various opposition videos of the alleged use of IRAMs. On the very first video, I spotted a HUGE oddity. I explain below…
The “Aleppo Media Center” (AMC) released a video to YouTube on the 10th October 2012 with the caption:
قذيفة غريبة لم تنفجر سقطت على حي كرم البيك
When translated via Google comes out as:
A strange unexploded shell landed on the Karam al-Beak neighborhood (al-Baik is common spelling)
The video was brought to my attention whilst reading through the Brown Moses Blog.
In the video, it is claimed the rocket smashed through a concrete roof of a building, whilst leaving the rebar intact, and somehow slipped through the gaps in the rebar, rotated itself 180° and landed on the floor in perfect condition, without a dent or mark.
Here is an image of the rocket on the floor inside the building. Note the undamaged payload and fuze, bearing in mind this was supposed to have penetrated solid concrete, slipped through rebar, hit the floor then turned to point the other way.
This is not just highly improbable but highly impossible.
You will also note from the video the activist had water to hand to wash the dust from the payload, which appears odd under the circumstances. If he was aware of important scribing on the warhead then one would assume he would have washed it off before starting to record. A minor point arguably though worth mentioning in passing.
This type of modified 107mm Rocket was first recorded in the possession of insurgents in Iraq with the exact type of warhead and matching fuse.
The warhead is attached to the nose cone then they’re welded together. You can see the welding mark here:
The explosive content, such as TNT, would then be sealed inside the payload container.
The fact that the activist in the video was in the possession of an undamaged and fully intact example would suggest that the opposition had access to these munitions either from ISIS supplies in Iraq or from elsewhere. Whilst I am aware of the Syrian NDF and Syrian military using IRAMs, I have thus far been unable to find an example of them using the one shown in the video complete with same nose cone and fuse. I will continue looking into this though and will update this post should I find anything.
What do we draw from this episode? Bizarrely this claim shares similarities with the claims I have investigated which have shown staging of the alleged chemical “variant” of this munition such as, lack of damage to the overall munition given it was supposed to have hit the concrete. An example being the “Rooftop Cylinder” from my 22 January 2018 report.
This munition was supposed to land on this rooftop in almost perfect condition bar a slight indentation to the head of the cylinder.
It also shares a similarity with the 7 April 2018 Douma incident with regards to the bed cylinder. That too was alleged to have smashed through a concrete ceiling only, in this instance, it is claimed to have broken through the rebar, continued to it hit the floor then bounced off the floor and landed on a bed relatively unscathed.
Before you begin to think these warheads are made of the same stuff airplane black boxes are made of I must stop you. Look what happened to this warhead upon hitting unsolidified earth;
What is also interesting is that either Brown Moses (aka Eliot Higgins) didn’t spot the obvious staging evidence or did and ignored it. Either scenario should be equally as concerning to the reader. That was as far back as 2012. Had he been advised of his incompetence back then he may have adjusted course and started to apply due diligence and impartiality to his work. Instead, his ignorance went unchecked and the results of that mistake speak for themselves.
These two images are the same and both from the Bellingcat website. The difference? They both claim to show very different alleged chlorine attacks. On the left, Christiaan Triebert’s report was from December 2016 when he shows the munition as being claimed to evidence an attack in Aleppo in December of the same year. In January of 2018, 13 months after Triebart used the image, Eliot wrote a report entitled “Despite Trump’s Threats, Chemical Attacks Continue in Syria” in which he used the same image to claim evidence of a chlorine attack in March 2017. If that isn’t evidence enough of Eliot’s incompetence then maybe this will help prove my point.
Here is an image of an alleged chlorine IRAM impact crater in Douma Farms in early 2018.
Note the perfect 90° angle. It was alleged by the activist on the ground, Firas Abdullah, that a cylindrical warhead caused this crater. Yes, a cylinder hit the soil and left a perfectly angled footprint. But then the warhead just vanished. When Eliot got his hands on the video, not alone did he offer this crater up as proof of a chlorine attack using a cylindrical warhead, he also decided to guess where the rocket could have come from and decided it came from 1 km away to west. How did he reach that conclusion? He guessed based upon the distance to the nearest government positions. Proof that he had concluded in advance the attack happened, that chlorine was used, that a cylinder caused a perfect angular footprint and that Assad-done-it. Yet the vital evidence of the missing warhead and crater abnormalities were simply ignored.
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.Eliot Higgins
Can you see a pattern evolving? This pattern began in 2012 and has continued unchecked thus leading him to publishing reports filled with inaccuracies, guesswork, and mistruths.
Take Away Points
- Further evidence the opposition stage attacks
- The opposition were in possession of intact 107mm IRAMs as far back as 2012
- Eliot Higgins shows complete disregard to opposition staging and has verifiably done so for a long time
As always if anyone notices any inaccuracies in my report please feel free to point these out to me here or on Twitter. All constructive criticisms are welcome. – Philip