The location of these first three videos were verified by Storyful, and shows UN inspectors examining an UMLACA embedded in the ground
All videos show samples being taken from the rocket, but the third video has some additional pieces of information. At the start of the video the UN Inspector C1 tells the crowd:
No mask? No close, okay?We then see the UN inspectors using an LCD 3.3 (Light Chemical Detector) on the warhead section, which triggers an alarm. The LCD 3.3 has a library of chemical signatures it's able to detect, and the screen displays details. However, a number of substances can trigger false positives, so it's only used as a guide where to look, rather than a diagnostic tool. At 1:36 we see another reading being taken, which triggers the alarm again, and a photograph being taken of the LCD 3.3's screen. The munition is measured, and samples are taken from the ground around the warhead section.
Problem var (Turkish?), there's a problem there. So if you don't have a mask, you don't come close.
This mask, it's probably not enough. I'm talking a real mask.
The next videos show an UMLACA that's not been recorded before, taking the number used in the attack to 5 or 6
It appears the second video is filmed on the floor above the location of the first video, with the hole made by the munition visible on the ground, and in the first video you can see light coming in from above. It's interesting the UN Inspectors have to force the door open, which suggests they were the first people to enter the room, meaning that it's likely the room has been untouched since the attack. Both the warhead and tail section are visible in the first video, and the LCD 3.3 constantly beeps it's warning tone. In the second video, the UN inspector seems unhappy the two opposition fighters are with him on the roof, showing them the LCD 3.3's display, and then telling them to leave. They protest, and he says they can stay for one minute.
So what do these videos tell us? The one thing that seems to be clear is that the UN inspectors seem to have been very interested in these munitions, and examined at least two examples very closely, so hopefully we'll see all these details in the UN's final report. As I've written previously, the evidence collected about these munitions points in the direction of them being used solely by the Syrian government forces, so if they are identified by the UN as carrying chemical agents, it seems to point towards the Syrian government forces using chemical weapons on August 21st. Not only that, but these same munitions were recorded at the site of an alleged chemical attack on August 5th in Adra, Damascus, and have also been linked to previous alleged chemical attacks, so the significance of them being linked to chemical agents would go beyond just the August 21st attack.
Of course, if the UN reports these aren't chemical weapons then it'll leave a lot of questions about how the attack was executed.
Elsewhere, the New York Times published claims by researchers about the UMLACAs, who claimed
the warheads carried toxic payloads of about 50 liters (13 gallons), not the one or two liters (up to half a gallon) of nerve agent that some weapons experts had previously estimated.Along with a diagram showing what they believed a complete UMLACA would look like.
I've also being doing a couple of interviews about these munitions, including this piece for Die Welt in German, and France 24 Arabic
More posted on the subject of the August 21st attacks can be found here, and other posts on chemical weapons and Syria, including extremely informative interviews with chemical weapon specialists, can be found here
You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.