October 20, 2015 local activists reported that Russian air strikes on the Syrian town of Sarmin in Idlib province that killed at least 12 people. According to these reports, the Russian Air Force bombed the field hospital Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS). According to the group, it was the ninth such bombing since the beginning of Russian air strikes on September 30. Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation (RF MoD) published on Twitter and on its website a statement that the hospital «does not have any damage.» In support of this statement the Russian Defense Ministry released an aerial photograph of the area, allegedly shot after more than a week after the announcement of the air strike, October 31, 2015.
Increased air photo element, which indicates the position of the hospital building and other distinctive elements, the Russian Defense Ministry compared with screenshots from the video released «Radio Liberty» (RFERL), which, as described, are the ruins of the hospital:
This statement — that the picture of «Radio Liberty» represented not a hospital — true. However, with the help of open source we have been able to establish that the Defense Ministry has once again presented incorrectly dated images to hide the fact of the destruction of the school, about 60 meters from the hospital during an air strike on October 20 and which is depicted in the picture «Radio Liberty».
First, the Defense Ministry have correctly entered the hospital for an enlarged section of an aerial photo. Analysis of the video, carried the Russian Defense Ministry and the following next to the enlarged member is faithful:
However, this place Oct. 20 yet undergone two air strikes, the first was in school, which is purely by chance was on the edge of the enlarged image element Defense Ministry. We managed to find a few elements of the image of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense, do not correspond to the real picture of the devastation that day.
In this video report, which, according to the journalist, was recorded in just half an hour after the air strike, there are pictures of its consequences:
Two buildings (red) is clearly destroyed, but the Russian Defense Ministry on the photo they are safe. Moreover, after the air strike left standing only the two pillars of the three (in green), but the Russian Defense Ministry on the photo clearly shows the four shadows:
It is much easier to see the destroyed fence of the school. The picture shows the Russian Defense Ministry, he looks intact.
Here the fence after the first air strikes marked in yellow. Also note the building, highlighted in green (the source):
But the fence and adjacent buildings after the second airstrike (frames which can be viewed here):
Once again, the Russian Defense Ministry in the picture, these objects look completely intact, which proves that this picture was not made on October 31 as the Russian Defense Ministry said, while an air strike on 20 October.
Shooting time can be specified with the help of satellite images of Google Earth. The most recent available snapshot was taken August 25, 2014 Since then, to the west of the hospital were built new buildings that can be seen in the photo Russian Defense Ministry. Thus, it was made after 25 August 2014 but before the day of October 20, 2015
Finally, although the airstrike and did not come directly from the Hospital SAMS, it clearly got damage, as evidenced by footage from the scene:
Thus, the statement of the Russian Defense Ministry that the Russian Air Force has not destroyed the hospital in Sarmin, true, but this is true in the statements of Defense ends. Russia’s Defense Ministry has provided aerial incorrectly dated to hide the destruction caused by air strikes on October 20, during which, according to local residents, killing at least 12 people.
Author: Nathan Patin with the participation of a team of investigative Bellingcat and Conflict Intelligence Team.