After determining that the only reliable evidence associating the regime with the chemical attack is the munition analysis by Brown Moses, I will now examine the reliability of using this evidence to determine culpability.
In most conflicts there are significant differences in the munitions used by each side. This may be a result of different budgets, different international allies, different defense needs etc. Therefore, munition remains found at impact sites are a reliable indication of the source of that attack.
This however does not apply well to the Syrian civil war, since a significant part of the opposition arsenal is obtained from raids on Army bases and ammunition depots. This is especially true in the case of heavy weaponry, which is harder to acquire and smuggle from abroad.
Numerous examples of such raids and the loot may be found online, but here are a few examples:
- November 2012 - Capture of Base 46, including artillery and rocket launchers.
- December 2012 - Capture of SA-8 missile
- January 2012 - Capture of airbase, including a rocket launcher, a shell with Cyrillic writing, a tank, an APC and a helicopter.
- August 2013 - Capture of an anti-tank ammunition depot
- August 2013 - Capture of airbase, including tanks and helicopters.
There are also endless videos documenting the use of captured heavy weaponry by opposition forces. I find this one showing a Liwa Al-Islam tank column especially nice. This report from Brown Moses shows a Syrian Army rocket launcher somewhat similar to the UMLACA (improvised rocket, oversized warhead, civilian truck) being used by Al-Nusra.
Did I miss anything? Please share your evidence and analysis and help me improve my conclusions.
Side note: Interesting to see the heavy use of flags on captured weaponry, which goes back to the discussion of flags in the Liwa Al-Islam videos.