Syria chemical attack evidence may have been destroyed: Hague
Source: France 24
British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Sunday warned that any evidence of a chemical attack by the Syrian regime may have already been destroyed.
"The fact is that much of the evidence could have been destroyed by that artillery bombardment," he cautioned during a press conference after Damascus gave its green light to a mission by UN inspectors.
Read more: http://www.france24.com/en/20130825-syria-chemical-attack-evidence-may-have-been-destroyed-hague
I figured that much out when Syria said/ blamed the rebels saying they were hiding weapons in tunnels. The evidence was already cleaned.
It just disappeared.
All those canisters that would have been necessary to carry out a bombardment like that just vanished.
Did the "rebels" have citywide clean-up?
Last edited Sun Aug 25, 2013, 11:06 PM - Edit history (3)
While some designs have enough explosive to efficiently disperse the chemical agent, pieces of the rear part of of the shell are likely to found in the area of the barrage,and that shell fragments will be coated with significant residue.
A. Here's a cross-section of a typical chemical artillery shell:
B. Meanwhile, below, is a high-explosive shell. Note the tapering, relatively thick walls of rear shell casing (extra wall thickness required for strength to contain the initial blast so it can build up burst pressure). Quite different:
C. Shell casing fragment (105mm HE round from WW2)
(Note the tapered shape of the rear body)
The "extra wall thickness required for strength to contain the initial blast so it can build up burst pressure" is needed in BOTH types of shell. The blast being referred to is the blast inside a Cannon's tube to send the shell down range. You do NOT need that protection when the shell itself goes off.
Your problem is you have two different drawings of shells, and each drawing was made to show something else. The top drawing is to show the general outline of the typical chemical shell, the bottom drawing is the show a detail drawing of the inside of a shell. It would be nice to show the same TYPE of drawing of both shells, but that is NOT what you did.
The difference between shells filled with High Explosives or Chemicals is NOT how the shell is made, but what is inside. Both types of shell has the same restrictions, how the fuse fits the top of the shell, and how the bottom can react to the powder used to send it down range (and if the shell is fired from a brass case, as in a 105 mm round, of a bag charge, as in 155 mm rounds). Thus the top and bottom of the shells tend to be the same. The main difference is in the middle. Your first drawing shows how a chemical shell is made. Chemicals fill most of the shell, but in the center is an explosive charge to disburse the chemicals when the fuse sets off the shell. The first set of drawing is NOT intended to show the exact construction of such shells.
On the other hand . the second drawing is intended to show more details (including the "Supplementary charge" . Thus you see the hollow cavity that is filled with high explosives. That drawing shows how shells are actually shaped to take the blast from inside a cannon's tube. That shape rarely varies between types of shells for it is driven by the need to address the forces of the shell being pushed out of the tube. Chemical shells tend to have a thin explosive charge in the center of the Chemicals inside the shell. In High Explosives shells, the shell is filled with nothing but explosives.
Side note: Supplement Charge. The"Supplementary charge" came about with the introduction of Proximity Fuse in artillery shells towards the end of WWII. Proximity Fuses were longer then conventional Point Detonator and Mechanical Time Fuses and thus shells had to be made with a longer area for the proximity fuse to fit. The problem is that, the same added space also made it a longer distance for the blast from Point Detonator or Mechanical Time Fuse to the rest of the shell. To make sure the fuse would set off the explosives a small amount of TNT was put into that extra space, the purpose of the TNT was to make sure the blast from the Fuse would reach the rest of the shell. It was discarded if a proximity fuse was being used. When I was in the Field Artillery we rarely used proximity fuses, mostly because they were more expensive then Point Detonator and Mechanical Time Fuses AND only marginally more effective except in certain circumstances (i.e. you did not know the distance AND the target was in the open).
Side note: 105 mm round. The 105 mm round is a "Semi-fixed" round of ammunition. The term "Semi-fixed" referred to the fact the 105 mm round comes to two parts that are connected, the Shell and the brass (or aluminium) case that contains the powder. When the shell is prepared to be filed, the shell is removed from the case. The #1 Cannoner installs the fuse to the top of the shell. #2 Cannoner reaches into the Brass case and removes any excess bags of powder inside the Brass Case (when I was in 105 mm round had Seven bags of powder, today they have eight, during WWII six). The Cannoners then put the shell back into the brass case and handed it to the assistant Gunner. The #2 Cannoner took any excess powder bags to the powder pit at the end of one rear leg of the Cannon. The assistant gunner loaded the Cannon, the Gunner closed the breached and fired the cannon.
If you read the the above, you would have read that a 105 mm round has to fit inside its brass case but be easy to remove and put back together. That requires it to have a slightly smaller base then the case or the rest of the shell. Thus the shell goes into the case only so far, then the shell becomes to wide. This is the give the powder space to expand when the round is fired.
to any knowledgeable investigator - which is why I'm calling BS on this ridiculous claim by the Brits that there won't be shell fragments found, and if so, one could not tell if chemical rounds were used. Simply not true - the cases and internals are very different. Chem shells don't have much explosive, so you'll find big pieces of them in the area where they've been targeted.
You should illustrate your points, BTW, so everyone knows what you're trying to say.
else - it would be very easy to repaint chemical rounds so they look like regular high explosive rounds. The loader might not even notice.
We go by what is marked on the shell to determine HOW to fire that Shell. When I was in, we were still using mechanical "computers" for our calculations (Computers were coming in as I left the field Artillery) but those mechanical Computers were dependent in knowing what you were firing (as are the computers being used today).
Furthermore, Chemical rounds, tend to be "Liquid", much like White Phosphorus (Which I did fire and handled). We had to be careful when hauling White Phosphorus, for it was liquid and thus had to be stored standing up. If you laid it down like a high Explosive round, the liquid would flow to one side and unbalance the round. The biggest problem would be the people firing the round could not know where the round would land and thus would NOT fire it. Could it be fired? Yes, but given no one would know where it would land, not worth firing.
Sorry, no one would fire a repainted round. Furthermore, given the special handling such liquid rounds require, it would be almost impossible NOT to know what you are firing.
Particularly if the crew were working for a long time and was fatigued?
Thanks for all your well-informed responses.
We like to say we have top notch quality control, but it is known that each BATCH of ammunition made can have different firing characteristics. Thus if you have to go from one batch to another batch, new firing tables come with the new batch. If re-painted that hides the lot number for the batch and thus, unless, disparate, artillerymen will not fire the repainted shells.
You also seem to miss the second reason I gave, such shells have to be handle differently then High Explosive shells. Chemical Shells, like White Phosphorus shells, must be stored and transported standing up, not on their side like High Explosive Shells. That difference in handling is the main reason such shells are marked as they are. Remember if these shells are mishandled, i,e, Chemical Shells handled like it was an High Explosive shell, the shell will no longer be balanced, instead would be heavy to one side. That difference is weight would make it impossible to fire such shells AND KNOW WHERE THEY WILL LAND. Some will be short, i.e. land on your own troops.
Sorry, one of the reason such shells are MARKED, is because any shell with Liquid inside (even if a semi solid liquid in White Phosphorus or chemical Shells) require special handling. Due to the need for such handling for the shell to be useful, you paint the whole shell an different color to make sure Fatigued soldiers quickly see that it is a different shell then what they had been firing.
P.S. Shells are color coded in addition to what they are marked. Thus you would have to repaint the whole shell AND then re label the round to make a Chemical round look like a High Explosive Round. That is just plan dangerous given shells are used in indirect fire missions most of the time (i.e. a fire mission is called in, and fire is given to the area where it is requested for). It is rare to have a direct fire opportunity in today's combat environment.
The Soviet Army seems to have a greater emphasis on direct fire opportunities then we in the west (this is probably due to that Russia is a huge FLAT terrain and thus such direct fire opportunity occurs more often then in the rolling hills and mountains of Central and Western Europe) but even is such situations, most artillerymen will want to use only one type of ammunition if at all possible. Mixing between batches will shift the impact area, let alone differences between type of shells being used.
look like HE shells, how long would it take for the crew to notice? Would they notice in a sustained mass bombardment?
Is there any readily apparent way to tell by the appearance, weight, trajectory the type of ordinance contained in identically painted shells? Would the crew necessarily notice? How many rounds would that take, if say the repainted shells were randomly mixed in with regular ordinance - let's say one in five or one in ten rounds?
I hate to say this, but we PREFERRED TO store shells on their SIDE. Shells on their side are easier to handle. Thus if Chemical Shells (Which can not be stored on their side) are painted as High Explosives, the first or second shell would tell the Artillerymen something is wrong (mostly by the infantry they are supporting yelling at the Artillerymen to stop dropping shells on THEM, for some of these shells will drop short). This error being the result of NOT storing the shells correctly for they are miss-marked.
In training, if you have something go wrong in a firing missions, everything shuts down till it is determined what went wrong. This tendency carries over to actual combat, you just quit firing till you see why you are NOT hitting the target. The Infantry gets a little upset when their own artillery hits them, and yell at lot when that happens. Thus all efforts are made to make sure that does not happen, even if that means cutting off the artillery support.
We are discussing Syrian Artillery, not US Artillery. I suspect they are not that far behind US Artillery, but still trained to fire and adjust. In Fire and Adjust, the Artillery fires one round. The forward observer who is attached to whatever unit the Artillery unit is supporting, calls in adjustments to the fire till the shells are hitting the target. Then the whole battery opens fire.
If the chemical shells were mishandled, then the forward observer will not be able to adjust the fire, for each round will land is a different place. If the Forward Observer says "Right 1000, up 1000", the next round will not land where he expected it to fall, but someplace else. maybe even BELOW and to the left where the first shell hit. How can you adjust fire when the rounds are landing all over the place? Thus the fire mission would be called off, for what ever unit that is being supported would have not faith where the shells will land (and they do not want the shells to land on them).
Side note: From what I have read, most US Artillery is no longer doing "Fire and Adjust" to the extent I was trained in, in the 1980s. GPS based firing systems has basicly replacing it for most fire missions. The gunner put in his coordinates into the Computer, and where the unit being supported what the shells to fall. The Computer does the rest. This reduces how much "fire and adjust" is needed fr Modern Western Artillery, but we are dealing with Syrian Gunners and I suspect older technologies, which require a higher amount of fire and adjust to get the needed rounds onto the target.
midst of a massed barrage? If say, one in ten shells were mislabeled chemical munitions? How long until someone actually figured out the reason why random shots were occasionally landing away from the target - at night, while a bunch of guns were firing?
Seems unlikely to me that they're not going to stop the barrage, even if that sort of occasional miss were noticed. This isn't a training exercise at some U.S. base.
Anyway, an unnamed source at the WH claimed last night the chemical munitions were delivered by rocket, and not by artillery. Why would the Syrian Army use homemade rockets, when the military is known to have plenty of chemical artillery ordinance?
Most Artillery fire are short affairs, hit the target to soften it up from any subsequent ground attack. The days of dropping ordinance round after round on a target is long gone. If it is a heavily defended position, chemical warfare generally is a waste of time. If the defenders just have minimal protections from Chemicals, High Explosives shells would be more effective (and this is the primary reason Chemicals were not used in WWII, both sides did not think using chemicals would be worth it).
Chemical Warfare is most effective against enemies who have no protection from Chemical attack (i.e. Civilians, or troops without chemical protections, like the troops in the first years of WWI). As to troops with just minimal equipment (i.e. a Protective mask i.e. "Gas Mask" it is more effective to drop High Explosives on them then Chemicals. Iraq found this out the hard way during its war with Iran. Iran had little protection from Chemical Warfare, but what it had was enough to stop any gains the Iraqi tried to achieve with gas. Iraq's best success with gas was against unprotected civilians that opposed the rule from Baghdad as opposed to even the poorly equipped troops of the Iranian army of that time period (in operation Desert Storm, Iraq used no Chemicals for Saddam knew it was a waste of effort against an enemy equipped to fight in a Chemical environment).
Sorry, mass artillery fire is used only against heavily defended areas, and more to defeat the defenses set up then anything else. Ideally you blast away at a defensive position till your own armor and/or Infantry is within a couple of hundred yards, then you cease fire and leave the Armor and Infantry do their job (Ideally within 50 yards or meters, then stop the fire and leave the armor and infantry do their job).
If a round falls short or long, the forward observer will see it and if you have proper artillery discipline, know where that round came from. Either do to where it landed OR the lack of something landing where it should have.
Remember these rounds are NOT falling every which way, but in controlled areas of impact. If you have more then one Cannon firing you can tell by the gap in the impact. If you have more then one Battery of Artillery firing,. each battery would have its own part of the line to hit and again you can tell by any gap in the impact. Thus the Forward Observer will see what is NOT landing where it should be. A artillery fire is six to eight round landing 20 meters apart. It looks like one line of fire. If you move the line forward or backward, the line moves forward or backward.
I know in the movies, artillery fires look like blasts all over the place, but in real life it is not. Except for ranging fire, artillery tends to fire in lines. All Six pieces in a battery firing at the same target line, each cannon 20 meters apart so each round is 20 meters apart when it hits the impact area:
Last edited Mon Aug 26, 2013, 08:56 PM - Edit history (1)
I asked about how effectively gun crews track individual shots in massed artillery barrages at night because that's what the WH statement made it seem was going on. The Admin. spokesman said that it might be impossible to assess the evidence because it might have been "obliterated" (s)he claimed in the sustained barrage that followed.
If the gas was delivered by artillery shells, I doubt whether subsequent high explosive bombardment would obliterate the shell fragments, unless the barrage was truly "massed" and went on for a very long time - that does not seem to conform with other reports, including what you've been saying, so my suspicion is reinforced that the anonymous WH official was merely making sh-t up.
Remember to be effective a Chemical attack must be concentrated. If the attack is to spread out, the Chemicals are dispersed by the wind to quickly and causes minimum injuries. In many ways Rockets are idea, if fire in mass. Each rocket carries much more chemical then an artillery shell and thus more fire on target then an artillery shell. If fired in a mass launcher, the shells will land in one spot, maximum concentration. The down is that rockets are more difficult to re-load, but once loaded capable of mass firing and hitting a target with a massive amount of fire all at once:
I agree, a lot of them would have had to be used to carry out this level of casualties.
It appears that the nerve agent is Sarin, which is highly toxic in small amounts, but the reported delivery devices are not particularly sophisticated. This means that it may well have been within the capability of the opposition (and its sponsors) to have manufactured and carried out this poison gas attack without any particularly high level of expertise or infiltration of the Syrian military, which the stealthier alteration of gas artillery shells to make them appear to be normal High Explosive rounds might require. Therefore, if evidence of rockets with Sarin residue are found, instead of fragments of gas artillery shells (as discussed above), in my opinion that makes this more not less likely to have been a false flag attack.
As for the ability of investigators to determine with a certainty who manufactured and launched these particular devices, that may never be determined. The same goes for provenance of the nerve agent, itself. The best detailed treatise on Sarin, its manufacture, characteristics, and its effects and forensic details, in Syria is by Dan Kazseta, a US Army Chemical Corps veteran and consultant, available here (fairly long, but all informative):
It takes a good bit more to penetrate the skin. Thus a Protective Mask (What the US Army calls a "Gas Mask" is all that is needed if the concentration is not to heavy. You need a Chemical suit if the concentration is heavy. Regular clothes can prevent Sarin from being absorbed into the skin. A complete Chemical suit would be better, but only needed if the Sarin is truly concentrated.
Home made rockets are NOT accurate enough to provide the needed concentration. One Rocket may have enough chemical to kill off all the insects in the area, but most humans will have no short term effect if they have some sort of mask to prevent the Sarin from getting into their lungs. You need many rockets and these home made rockets will tend to spread the Sarin around to much to be effective.
Side note: Do you know what is the main difference between Nerve gas (including Sarin) and Insecticide? Concentration. There are technical differences, but not enough to make any real difference if the concentration is to low or to high. The reports on Nerve gases say there are important differences between the nerves of Mammals and Insect, but that is poppycock, it is all the same nerve endings. Mammals being larger can withstand a larger dose, that is the big difference.
As to fragments, that is a different story. Given the LACK of explosives in Chemical Shells, when we were trained in chemical warfare defense, we were told to listen for shells that sounded "Weaker" then a normal artillery shelling. The Explosives in such shells are just powerful enough to rip open the metal case, unlike high explosives shells that are design to rip those shell cases to pieces, for each piece became a weapon in itself.
Thus there should be a lot of evidence of the use of Chemical shells, the shell casings and parts of those casings would be everywhere. Unlike High Explosives where you may only find some very small parts of metal 20-100 yards away from the impact point.
rounds had been used on target. Those fragments wouldn't likely be obliterated by other HE rounds, unless the HE round hit virtually ontop of the chemical shell fragments.
Here's a source for my assertion that the wall thickness of chemical shells is generally thinner, and a trained eye can easily spot the differences between the two types of fragments, even if the unexploded round is virtually identical (except for painted markings) on the outside. http://cartridgecollectors.org/?page=introduction-to-artillery-shells-and-shell-casings
Chemical shells include smoke shells, teargas shells, and poison gas shells. Typically chemical shells are the same shapes as explosive shells. However, chemical shells tend to have thinner walls. They also, typically, have a central tube containing a bursting charge that is surrounded by the chemical payload. Smoke shells are used to provide smoke screens. Smoke shells may be the burning type such as HC smoke shells or the bursting type such as white phosphorous (WP) smoke shells. Gas shells may also be either burning or bursting types. Teargas shells tend to be the burning type. Poison gas shells are normally the bursting type. Poison gas shells deliver poison to kill or incapacitate troops. Early versions contained the actual poison gas as the payload; later shells contain two separate nonpoisonous chemicals that are mixed upon the functioning of the shell and create a poison. Figure 33 shows US WWI period markings for chemical shells. Figure 34 shows photos of chemical shells.
There is a more recent post about over 300 people in the hospitals with signs of neurotoxic poisoning That is some \evidence, as well. If you go to the links, there are numerous stories linked to them.
find the corp who sold that crap and look at their payment info.
edit- yes, I know that doesn't prove who did it.