Russia's explanation for Assad's gas attack is not plausible

There used to be an adage in the sales business which said, in effect, that when you make an offer and the seller doesn’t laugh in your face then you’ve offered too much. The same applies to propaganda, though ideally, you want to walk just to the outside of that line that separates “that sounds like it could be plausible under some set of circumstances” and “you’ve got to be sh***ing me.” In the aftermath of the chemical attack launched by forces loyal to the Syrian regime yesterday, the Russians ended up in smdh country.
The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denies its forces launched a chemical weapons attack.

Russia has acknowledged that Syrian planes did attack Khan Sheikhoun but it says the aircraft struck a depot producing chemical weapons, for use by militants in Iraq.

“Yesterday [Tuesday], from 11:30am to 12:30pm local time, Syrian aviation made a strike on a large terrorist ammunition depot and a concentration of military hardware in the eastern outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun town,” Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konoshenkov said.

“On the territory of the depot there were workshops which produced chemical warfare munitions.”
Unfortunately for the Russians, this failed the plausible lie test. There was plenty of video available from the scene. One of the targets hit was a hospital. On the factual side, bombing sarin, which is the suspected nerve agent used in the attack, basically destroys the chemical. To be used as a weapon it has to be aerosolized or dispersed as droplets. Sarin is a binary munition, which means the two precursors aren’t mixed until the weapon is armed (this is so you don’t have to deal the problem of corrosive nerve agent compound eating through artillery and bomb casings). As one of the two precursors for sarin is isopropyl alcohol, it would have burned off in an explosion without mixing to form sarin.
This explanation is so far from plausible that the Russians will have a hard time selling it to their sycophants.  It also was a terrible strategic blunder by Assad who has managed to alienate the Trump administration after it had indicated a willingness to at least let him survive.  The Russians are going to have to get another person to run Syria if they hope to keep their influence in the region.


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