Photos of devices allegedly used to carry Sarin gas show they appear to be homemade and are clearly incapable of accurately reaching targets 5-10 miles away. That is crucially important because the State Department report asserts that the gas barrage was launched from gov't controlled territory. But the map (below) that accompanied that report shows that several of the targets were miles away from the area in pink shown to be under the control of government forces.
These rockets have only the crudest stabilizers, no guidance systems, and would be highly inaccurate at any significant distance, which is why they are unlikely to have been the weapon used in the attack of 8/21, if the US target map is accurate along with the statement that they were launched from government-held territory.
Here's the State Dept. map of the 12 alleged targets in the North Damascus suburbs. Note the distances of some of the targeted neighborhoods from government-held territory (in pink): [CLICK IMAGE TO EXPAND TO SEE FULL MAP WITH ALL TARGET AREAS]
[CLICK IMAGE TO EXPAND TO SEE FULL MAP WITH ALL TARGET AREAS]
Something is clearly wrong either with the State Department report or accounts that say that these types of rockets were used to deliver the Sarin gas that night.
NOTE: I am the OP. I am relying on this information contained in the State Dept. report:
Multiple streams of intelligence indicate that the regime executed a rocket and artillery attack against the Damascus suburbs in the early hours of August 21. Satellite detections corroborate that attacks from a regime-controlled area struck neighborhoods where the chemical attacks reportedly occurred – including Kafr Batna, Jawbar, ‘Ayn Tarma, Darayya, and Mu’addamiyah. This includes the detection of rocket launches from regime controlled territory early in the morning, approximately 90 minutes before the first report of a chemical attack appeared in social media. The lack of flight activity or missile launches also leads us to conclude that the regime used rockets in the attack.According to a Foreign Policy article:http://killerapps.foreignpolicy.com/...
(T)hese rockets have now became a cornerstone of the West's case that the Syrian military was behind the nerve gas massacre of more than a thousands people in the Damascus suburbs last week. U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice tweeted earlier in the week that only the Assad regime "has capacity to launch CW with rockets." An American intelligence official told Foreign Policy on Tuesday that the rockets found at the scene of the attack on the East Ghouta region were a strong indicator that the strike involved chemical weapons. The rockets were largely intact -- rather than completely destroyed, as they would be if they been carrying high-explosive warheads.An initial report by the Guardian on 8/22 claimed that witnesses had identified two launch sites: the Al-Mazzah military airfield south of the city and a military museum in an area of central Damascus that was identified as being "government controlled." http://www.theguardian.com/... There's a couple problems with that: 1) the airfield is at least 15 miles from the easternmost target of Duma and 2) the location of the military museum is shown on the State Department map as not within "regime-controlled" territory; furthermore, that second location is at least six miles from Duma and the other eastern and southeastern target areas. [The museum is located where the second "s" in "Damascus" appears on the State Dept. map] The observed range of this type of rocket is about 2 miles, as shown in the sole existing video of one being fired and impacting at the western edge of the city: see, http://brown-moses.blogspot.ca/
There has been some conjecture that these devices are shot from the same launch tube as the Iranian-made Falaq-2, a modern artillery rocket with an advertised range of just over 10kms (6 miles). The larger of the two versions of the Syrian rockets appears to have roughly the same outside diameter as the Falaq, about 300mm. However, they are very different in design and performance. It is highly implausible that these devices have anywhere close to the same range as the Falaq-2, as their shape is highly unaerodynamic and they lack the spin-stabilized propulsion system of the much more sophisticated Falaq-2 rocket. Here is the Falaq-2:
Why is range, accuracy and sophistication of the rockets and delivery devices important? Sarin is not very effective over a large area unless the liquid is delivered in an aerosol form at just above ground level.* With crude rockets and warheads, that means that large numbers (many hundreds) of such weapons would have had to have been used in massed barrages to produce the level of mortality claimed. Because they are inaccurate beyond a short range, and cannot be aimed for mass barrages at long distance, these rockets may not have been effective for use in the way described in the report. We have not yet seen any evidence produced by the US government that these weapons are even capable of being used at relatively long distances as the State Department claims.
*The best detailed treatise on Sarin, its manufacture, characteristics, and its effects and forensic details, is by Dan Kazseta, a US Army Chemical Corps veteran and consultant, available here (fairly long, but all informative): http://newsmotion.org/...