Leading chemical weapons expert and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Theodore Postol, has claimed that the Khan Sheikhoun nerve agent attack in Syria, which was attributed to President Bashar Al Assad’s forces, was staged.
In a three-part report, the professor has concluded that the White House did not base its claims on “concrete” evidence and says that the attack could have been perpetrated by the rebel forces fighting against Assad’s rule.
"I have reviewed the (White House's) document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria at roughly 6am to 7am on 4 April, 2017,” the expert has said.
The US agencies had cited a photograph, that shows a crater containing a gas shell inside, to prove that the attack was carried our by an aircraft of the Syrian Air Force. Agencies had gone as far as releasing the flight path of the aircraft that was allegedly used to drop the gas shell in the city of Khan Shaykhun.
According to Postol’s analysis, the photograph cited by US agencies instead show that the attack was executed by individuals on the ground. The professor says that the damage to the shell casing is not consistent with the damage that a shell usually suffers when dropped from an aircraft. The picture shows that the shell is fractured and is partly inside the ground, something not likely to happen if a shell is dropped from an aircraft.
The professor says that the shell could have been exploded on the ground, using an external explosive placed on it. The explosive, when detonated, would have crushed the pipe, causing a fracture along its length and driving it into the ground.
Therefore, the attack could have been staged by anti-government insurgents as Khan Sheikhoun is in militant-controlled territory and Syrian forces are not present on the ground.
In the report, professor Postol, who was formerly a scientific adviser at the US Department of Defense, also talks about what he calls the “politicisation of intelligence”. He has reported similar inconsistencies in US reports in the past.
“No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded by a munition within it. All of these highly amateurish mistakes indicate that this White House report, like the earlier Obama White House Report (from Ghouta in 2013), was not properly vetted by the intelligence community as claimed,” he writes.
The complete report is available here.
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