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Goat Capture in Khan Shaykhun
“Thus, the big news in Khan Sheikhoun was apparently, Dead Goat Drags Its Own Carcass to the Upwind Scene of the Alleged Sarin Attack!” — Theodore A. Postol (Source of image and caption: Page12 of 13 pages)

The Human Rights Watch Report of May 1, 2013 (sic)
Cites Evidence that Disaffirms Its Own Conclusions About the Alleged Nerve Agent Attack at Khan Sheikhoun in Syria on April 4, 2017

Theodore A. Postol
Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


This note discusses evidence cited in the Human Rights Watch Report (HRW) of May 1, 2017 that claims to prove that the Syrian government used an airdropped munition in an alleged nerve agent attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria on April 4, 2017.  The report only shows forensic evidence that disaffirms its conclusions.  I will focus on the Report’s claim of evidence for an alleged airdropped munition since that is central to the entire HRW analysis and demonstrates the near complete lack of forensic proof and professional standards of analysis in the overall report.

Based on the data provided in the HRW report and the extensive news videos and photos of the same crater referred to by HRW, it is possible to reach solid forensic-based conclusions about the claims put forward in the HRW report.  These conclusions are as follows:

  1. There is no forensic evidence presented in the HRW report to support the allegation that the munition used to deliver sarin was a KhAB 250 or 500 “standard” Russian munition.
  2. There is no forensic evidence of any kind of debris in and around in the crater that indicates any form of airdropped sarin dispensing munition.
  3. There is no forensic evidence of a calamitous killing of a large part of the population of a densely populated area immediately adjacent to the alleged crater where massive amounts of sarin were supposed to have been released.
  4. Interviews described in the HRW report were not verified in any way. One of the most striking omissions in the panoply of claims put forth in the HRW report is the lack of any video evidence (or verbal accounts) of mass casualties and chaos in the densely populated area immediately adjacent to the crater that would have had to be the alleged sarin kill-zone.Instead, as shown in this report, the only indication of a death near the crater is videos of a goat carcass that was obviously dragged across the ground to the location.  The same people who took these videos appear to be among the “reliable” sources of interview evidence cited by the HRW report.  These same journalists showed a dead carcass of a goat supposedly adjacent to the crater rather than the area where mass casualties would have occurred an equally short distance away.
  5. Although there are pictures of victims that indicate poisoning by sarin or other organophosphates that act as nerve agents, there is no forensic indication that these photographs are actually victims of sarin poisoning in the alleged nerve agent attack of April 4, 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun.  If the victims could be connected with an event in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, their symptoms could easily be the result of poisoning from organophosphates pesticides and from gases and smoke products generated in fires that often occur in industrial accidents.  As such, there is no basis to rule out a claim made by the Russians that an ammunition dump that was adjacent to a heavily populated area was hit using a conventional explosive bomb.  While this certainly is not proof of the Russian claim, neither is there any proof in the HRW report of a sarin release at the crater.
  6. Given that there is substantial evidence that groups other than the Syrian government possess sarin precursors, indications of sarin poisoning do not alone indicate that the Syrian government was the source of the sarin, assuming the observed medical effects were from sarin.

Read the note in its entirety (in .pdf): The Human Rights Watch Report of May 1, 2013 Cites Evidence that Disaffirms Its Own Conclusions About the Alleged Nerve Agent Attack at Khan Sheikhoun in Syria on April 4, 2017 — Theodore A. Postol [Norm’s note: there is a ‘typo’ in Dr. Postol’s title.  The HRW Report is obviously not that of “May 1, 2013,” but of “May 1, 2017.”]


When the Trump administration claimed that Syria launched a chemical attack on civilians, in April, Dr. Theodore Postol conducted an investigation that debunked the official U.S. version of events. Postol is professor emeritus of science, technology and national security issues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, the corporate media ignore Postol’s findings. “The facts don’t seem to matter at all to anybody,” he said. “It looks to me like a complete collapse of any kind of journalistic standards within the mainstream press.” — Source: here