Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Monday, March 16, 2020

More on Al-Lataminah, 30-3-17

Re-Considering the IIT's Nine Unsolved CW Cases
More on Al-Lataminah, 30-3-17
March 16, 2020
typos + cleanup, dated updates, March 19, 2020

There were several lesser points about Philip Watson's M4000 research I didn't finish writing up after three posts dealt with a serious issue and two egregious clusters of error. Among those left off, two at least deserve mention for general interest, and one of them merits this post that could include them both. Both points relate to the 30 March, 2017 alleged sarin attack in al-Lataminah that displayed the alleged weapon best (maybe too well). First the other issue, then the one on unusually rectangular debris.

Sarin in the Wrong "Crater"?
A recent and informative update from the Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media included a positive reference to this claim (I'm a member, but wasn't consulted on this, or I probably would have prevented it):*
"Another commentator has noted anomalies in the published report of the FFM on the alleged incident in Ltamenah on 30 March 2017: no explanation was given for the detection of sarin in samples of gravel provided by the White Helmets that were purportedly recovered from a “crater” containing no munition fragments some 200 metres south of the alleged impact point."

* 3-19: "probably would have prevented" - that's been called petty, as if I'd force a rejection of Watson's valid work. To clarify: If I were asked, I'd point out early on (as I did later and do again below) the assumption behind that point was unfounded. Then I reasoned they would agree the point wasn't as solid as it seemed, and considering just the one specific point was raised about that alleged attack, they would "probably" (as I put it) include a different leading point instead of that inconclusive one, or maybe include no examples at all. If they had picked another finding from Watson that seemed correct, I wouldn't have complained. But "that's not how it went down, man." I just like to get things right, and for those around me and groups I'm in and as many people as possible to get it right. end add.

First, I just noticed he's got the scene wrong, with "withered grass crater" set about 60 meters north of "debris collection area" where "first debris" landed (after some flight, but clustered and landing arguably backwards?). They're actually the one and same spot, as Michael Kobs and I and others had geolocated it (where a truck parks at a faint cross road just south of three taller trees along the edge of the western fields). The following shows this (middle) compared to OPCW FFM (left) and Watson (right). The other location in consideration here is "crater" per FFM, at the bottom of their image, also indicated by Watson, not in those by Kobs and I (smaller area focus).
FFM map and other points cited in this post can be seen in this report: 
S/1548/2017, 2 November 2017

Another set of images to clarify this cross-road is the location of the kicked-up soil, blackened vegetation, and debris recovery - see how it's pretty much in the middle of that dirt road sloping down on the right (and that item boxed in red is the FFM's item 08SDS, apparently the base of the binary weapon's "mixing arm"):

That makes the distance between craters about 140 meters - still too far for sarin to fly. But was sarin found at the other crater?

The “crater” - where one of three conventional bombs presumably impacted - is placed by Watson unclearly "between 160 and 290 yards south from the “impact point” and its associated debris" (146-165m). And he read how "gravel from crater" tested positive for sarin as well, despite it having no sarin bomb impact alleged. That would be interesting, but probably isn't.

Watson cited the OPCW FFM report S/1548/2017, noting how this "is the only location in their report that is referred to as a “crater”" - he thinks without a single exception, and therefore a major deception is suggested in its "TABLE 2: SAMPLES AND ANALYTICAL RESULTS FROM DESIGNATED LABORATORIES." Sarin and common breakdown products found in and near "crater" must mean in the wrong spot, so likely planted! For some realism, they planted it at least to 50 meters out too.

I wouldn't be so sure. In fact, I find it much more likely they got this from the usual spot that's not USUALLY called "crater" - though it is one - and in the assembly of that table, it was given, UNUSUALLY, as "crater." Has that been somehow ruled impossible? As I'll show below, that wouldn't be the only contradiction between the text and the tables in this same report.

A simple imprecision with terminology would mean nothing's amiss on that point, and still the sarin may have been planted there - it won't be that easy to prove.

Add 3-19: One more re-consideration of the suggested ironclad rule that "crater" always means the other spot and the spot w/sarin and bomb parts is always called "impact point," even in the report's tables. "Impact point" appears just once in the full report, indeed relating to the sarin impact point. "Crater" appears just 2 times, in two references to the same sample - in the applicable table 2 and table A3.1. Can the rule be seen there? No. Soil and gavel samples have these given locations:
- "under metal piece" x 5
- "crater" x 1
- "50 m away" (from crater?) x 1
- unspecified x 3
- "impact point" = 0

If that rule really applies, the report would also suggest there were no samples taken at the sarin impact point, or it somehow went unspecified, while the locales proving a deception WERE specified. That's possible, but kind of odd. end add.

Rectangular Debris
= Fake?
On to the more interesting point. Watson on Twitter:
"And those straight, almost perfect, edges! Only bomb explosions in #Syria create them! All part of an upcoming report." This issue emerges mainly with debris found after the same incident - Al-Lataminah, 30-3-17. The debris has been fairly well identified as likely from a M4000 chemical bomb once stockpiled by the Syrian military. That's not a certain ID, and there are differences from a published schematic, but it's still likely enough. And it seems that was designed for binary use (precursors can be held separately inside and mixed to produce sarin just before use), contrary to Watson's assertions. (Since then, officially, Syria has foresworn chemical weapons, given up its sarin-production capabilities, and destroyed its related weapons or - as is the case with the M4000 - re-purposed them to hold conventional explosives, for use in fighting the foreign-backed insurgents then occupying much of Syria).

Watson's tweet noted the rectangularity issue with fragment 07SDS, the one filler cap (of two found) that's on an almost perfectly rectangular fragment. In fact some pieces show multiple straight edges, all parallel and perpendicular, with numerous perfect right angles shown. He doesn't specify what to make of it, but the reader could easily slip to imagining Islamists with hacksaws cutting up the bomb up into squares, maybe just so they can be stacked in a box during transport to the locale, with no care if it makes sense.

I would only be slightly surprised to learn they were this stupid. But here, I don't suppose so. The straight edges coexist with rough ones and with severe bending, as if they had been through the detonation of a bomb with partially self-segmenting skin. First, all the possible illustrations of this among the debris.

Note on dates received: the repot says samples were handed to FFM on 17 July and then 17 August. The table listing them, however, gives no August dates, instead giving 17 and 18 July as the two dates. It's not clear if the 18/7 or 17/8 date is correct, but two consecutive days makes more sense than two days a month apart, and this seems like someone's dyslexic slip, and a contradiction between the table and the report text - where the table seems more likely to be correct.

"Metal piece" received 17/7
"The metal plate to which it is attached is roughly 5 mm thick and is ruptured on all sides. One side has a very straight cut." Fill port cap, seen here from the inside. It's about 19 cm along its straight-cut side (using the ruler from one photo on another), so about 190mm. Width: at least 135mm with an unclear far edge.

"Metal piece" received 17/7
This displays that square-ness to an even higher degree. These generic slats (with traces of app. dark green paint) are thinly connected to each other on one side, and otherwise hanging loose with NINE right angles and NINE very straight sides between them. The FFM report gives a 5mm thickness (as the M4000's skin seems to be), and each piece measured at "approximately 180 to 200 mm" long, with a total width at the connected end of about 320 mm. The outer two slats are 180mm long, while the middle one is longer (200mm) and narrower) - (maybe 120mm for the two and 80mm for the middle one?). This was likely part of the outer skin, wrapping around 1/4 to 1/5 of the bomb's circumference, wherever the blast damage might be lesser (tail end?).

"Four metal pieces" received 17/7 - these are warped, separate, looking perhaps thinner than the usual, but that might be a visual trick, and they all have roughly the same, uniform size. At least 4 notably straight edges are seen between them, with a couple others likely, if too distorted to call.
update 3-19: 10SDS probably doesn't play in. As the FFM's report explains: "10SDS comprises four smaller metal pieces. Less rust is visible than on the other items. Fragments are grey with sharp twisted parts and are made of thinner material than most of the other items. The deformations indicate that explosion has torn them off of a larger system. Although the flat lines on the sides, together with the general shape and thickness, indicate that these items could potentially be a part of the tailfin assembly, the exact origin of this part could not be determined."

(is there a 04SDS(A)?) "Metal piece" received 18/7 (meaning 17/8?).
Taken as a section of nosecone ballast (heavy material, gentle curve of outer surface) "04SDS(B) consists of very thick, heavy metal part and another thinner part, which looks like it is been partially peeled off the main body. The items are heavily corroded with dark discoloration on one side." Seen here from three angles (not three pieces, as I had once thought). It's not as clear if this plays in - the ballast seems to have broken on a clean line, but that's another issue. The small piece of metal peeled back might did the same, but I'm not sure what that originally was. It seemed worth including.

12SDS: received 17/7.
The "curved rail" or "partly straightened ring" has on one side, as the FFM describes it "an attached layer of metal, which is approximately 5 mm thick," meaning outer skin. This - perhaps being small parts of 2 rectangular tiles - is shown below marked in green (the larger one extends past the edge and was bent over). There's also a thin rib of metal down its length where other 5mm thick rectangles of the stuff had torn free from either side, on edges just that straight. Note this image just show the thickness of the plates, not their span over the bomb's surface. And note this curved section seems to be the original shape - less distorted, it retains broken bolts and these outer skin remnants. The straightened part seemingly lost all that in its greater distortion.

= CW Weapon?
To me that makes the issue pretty clear. Chemical weapon munitions are often designed to perforate evenly under low pressure, so the chemicals can be released with a minimal opening charge - some blast is needed to expel and spread out the payload, but too much of a blast would destroy most agents.

I'm pretty sure I read about that somewhere, but I can't relocate where at the moment. And I've seen it.  Even the improvised "Volcano" rockets used in 2013's Ghouta attack, for example, had a huge, undivided, bulk-fill payload tank made of long panels the just peel away upon impact (best example: see entry for Daraya, 1-4-2013 here or cropped at right - I later learned the scene is even earlier, Dec. 26, 2012). The apparent vapor here could be simple steam from residual impact heat in the winter cold, or might be more relevant, I'm not sure.

In other cases (Adra, Ghouta), we see tankless tubes and crumpled slats laying loose, telling the same story. Here following Ghouta 21-8-13 we see some crumpled at the feet of a UN-OPCW inspection team member collecting samples that would test positive. These rockets aere fired fom nearby rebel-held territory, where Syrian troops had been attacked with sarin just three days after the Ghouta attack.

Add 3-19: we should note this rocket was apparently not designed AS a chemical weapon; the less controversial alleged uses of them by Syrian military and allied forces is for conventional high explosives or fuel-air weapons. The latter has a similar principle to CW dispersal, using a lightly ejected cloud of fuel
vapor that's then ignited. I'm still no expert here, but I'd say the slat design goes with that idea that could be useful to deliver sarin. Also note the following is just my limited reading, poorly put as it was ("would" instead of "could" etc.)

In the case of the supposed M4000 sarin bomb, the design, apparently, is to break into rectangles like the ones seen, set at nice rounded 10mm intervals, with 180-190-200 being common plate lengths, 80, 120, 140 being other dimensions, based on where the plate seams came relative to bomb features, like fill port caps. This would, in my limited but decent understanding, make the weapon used a chemical munition, if not the M4000 itself.

And of course it's still likely these fragments were planted, perhaps after being recovered from another use with conventional explosives some time ago This would explain the small size, small number, and melted-twisted nature of the recovered fragments, besides their apparent advanced age-related corrosion, far better than the accepted narrative does.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

At the Greek Border: No Turning Back. Get Out!

Adam Larson aka Caustic Logic
March 8-9, 2020
updates March 16

Using the Migration
From the last days of February, thousands of migrants appeared at the Turkish-Greek border,  with others crossing by sea, over the following week rising to the tens of thousands at least. These are largely young men, but also include women and children. It seems a relative few are Syrians' many or most hail fron Afghanistan, with others from Iraq, Morocco, unclear. In one video clip, several are asked where from, all say Afghanistan. One says "We are waiting until we are thousands, and then we will ty to cross the border all together. This way they will be forced to open their border."
https://twitter.com/john_wayne_gr/status/1235390236806524928 (primary source perhaps in time)

Turkish president Recap Tayyip Erdogan had just suffered a major defeat in Syria's Idlib province, with at least 33 of his troops (and reportedly more than twice that many) killed in an airstrike the night of February 27. Being at night, it's likely that was a Russian strike, not a Syrian one. Between that and a follow-on visit with Russia's president Putin, and the US decision it would not back Tukey in some NATO-invoked defense over this, Erdogan saw something written on the wall. It might have involved the "fall of Idlib" and a massive influx of fresh refugees into Turkey - Syrian and foreign fighters, their families, others who insist on evading Syrian government control would want in. Ankara would be hard-pressed to block them out, but Turkey already hosts some 3-4 million refugees, largely Syrians displaced by the years of fighting Ankara eagerly participated in necessitating (flashback to 1st "refugee crisis" in 2011).

In general, as Erdogan saw it, Europe wasn't helping enough in Syria, hadn't fulfilled its promises on finincial aid, and then more specifically Idlib seemed doomed as of the morning of 28 February. That very day, this activist pesident stated executing a bold maneuver to make room for refugees in a dramatic way - put simply as "opening the boder" to Greece and thence Europe, and flooding it all at once by hook or crook.

"Erdogan claimed in early March the numbers of migrants at the Greek border – who include Afghans, Syrian and Iraqis – were far higher than figures provided by officials and reporters at the scene, saying "hundreds of thousands" were already there. "There will be more. Soon, this number will be expressed in millions," he added."

Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu later explained a million would soon pass the Greek border and then "it will cause European governments to fall, crash their stock markets, and destabilize their economies. And there is nothing they can do about it," he claimed to believe.

After the first tens of thousands found the border closed on the Greek side and suffered a few reported abuses there, including one alleged shooting death (denied, deserves more study), "Turkey is sending elite special operations police to the border to stop Greek officers from driving back people who try to cross over to Europe, Turkish authorities said Thursday." This means, in context, going to enforce their entry, to breach Greece's borders with whatever undocumented people Turkey had flung their way.

This doesn't seem to be going well for Erdogan, who faces stiff backlash from all of Europe, and only their most diehard supporters defending what's being called a dangerous "game" that's gone beyond the previous "blackmail." But early in the ensuing spat with Greece, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu boldly rebuffed protests from Athens: "Look who’s lecturing us on international law! They’re shamelessly throwing tear gas bombs on thousands of  innocents piled at their gates. We don’t have an obligation to stop people leaving our country but #Greece has the duty to treat them as human beings!"

This was early on 29 February, just one day in, these photos show thousands piled near the gate, with a few men in the front barely deterred by tear gas just as close to the police guarding the gate. Later we learn their side is also lobbing tear gas at the police, and Turkish police have come to do the same. Some videos show a whole team firing round after round as people follow with buckets full of tear gas refills, and others try and tear down the fences or sneak off to try and cross at an unguarded area along the river. A Turkish army vehicle tried to pull down a section of fence the night of March 6.


So that tear gas on innocents thing is not a visually obvious crime, and just how do these people get "piled" there so numerously and so quickly?

Facilitating the Migration
Turkish television TRT (Arabic) shows the routes people can now take by land (yellow) and by sea (blue), with no indication of where anyone might try and halt them. There seems no concern about documentation, or any valid obstacles. Erdogan says it's open, and if people find othewise, he can become furious with Greece's inhuman treachery. Also consider this proposed mass-movement at the height of the global coronavirus outbreak, where Iran and now Iraq are badly hit, and one route they were to take is up through Italy, suffering the worst outbreak in Europe.

The blue lines carry their own stories, but this post focuses on that yellow line to the last town, Erdine, at the borders with Bulgaria (no news there that I've noted) and Greece. There were numerous reports and accusations the Turkish state had facilitated driving "refugees" to the border, aside from many who took their own routes, like public transit to the last town and walking the final stretch. Greek state broadcaster SKAI filed a news report on the 28th featuring many interviews with arriving "refugees" who revealed many were from Afghanistan, and among other things that they had been provided free bus rides provided by Erdogan (as they saw it - officials anyway).
Ειδήσεις Βραδινό Δελτίο | Χιλιάδες πρόσφυγες - Έκλεισε το τελωνείο στις Καστανιές
SKAI.gr Feb 28

One man at least says "President Erdogan has arranged for fee bus rides, God bless his soul." This and more from SKAI (w/translated subtitles) and other snippets compiled in a video "The truth about the crisis at the Greek border" posted by Stelios Pestas (Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister and Government Spokesman):

This same video has another man saying "The Turkish authorities drove us to the border and told us to cross," and also shows a brief video of a line of four busses trailed by other, including apparent military, vehicles. Dated 29 February.

Turkish mayor Mustafa Yalcin tweeted an offer by "our munucipality" (unclear which) for free bus rides for "irregular migrants who want to move to European countries,"  giving two daily departure times (11:00 and 21:00) and an application phone number. (same video)

"Free buses to the Syrian migrants who want to go to #Europe, buses taking people from #Istanbul city to the borders with Greece and Bulgaria." One minute video: Many seen boarding a bus, some with backpacks are asking questions of a woman in a tan hijab who knows more. Seveal reporters are on site, including from CNN.

Jared Wall: "If anyone wants a free bus ticket to Greece, the news is reporting there are busses from Esenler bus station. This is all quite...unprecedented."

Many, especially able-bodied and adventurous young men, have gone voluntarily for the economic opportunities mentioned by a man claiming to be from Afghanistan (black hood, SKAI report), but he also says he and others ("we") were jailed in Turkey for one month until "today" when the police not only released them but "police brought us here and told us that the gates are opened."

Forcing the Migration?

There were transparent efforts to deny the official movement of "refugees." For example, Gulnur Aybet, an adviser to President Erdogan is quoted as saying on or before March 2: "we have said people who wish to leave can do so on their free will, we are not sort of transporting them, we are not forcing them to go. They’re leaving on their free will. It’s exactly and entirely up to the European Union as to how they want to deal with people who are arriving on their doorstep on their free will. It’s absolutely rubbish to be blaming Turkey for this when Turkey has actually done so much for refugees.”

She's clear the state is not transporting them, and also not forcing them. But why even bring up the latter - in fact four times? This might be a slip that they were both facilitating and forcing the migration, and she had advised they deny the latter and claim the migration was all by free will, if that issue ever comes up.

Everyone can see Erdogan's regime has weaponized the refugees for political gain, but just how they were so effectively fielded might require further measures, and we may see glimpses of these in action.

Refugees forcibly transported to border, Ankara Bar Association claims
DuvaR English, March 4, 2020

"Around 300 migrants at Ankara’s Akyurt Repatriation Center were transported to the border against their will on the night of Feb. 29" 

Ankara Bar Association’s Migrant Rights Center Chair Sadık Onur Gelbal said “We were informed by colleagues who witnessed it first hand that on the night of February 29, migrants were forced onto buses and involuntarily transported to the border." “The migration management officials emptied out the repatriation center with six buses,” Gelbal said. The force used apparently wasn't absolute - a reported seven somehow resisted and were still at the center. But the effort to clear the center apparently was total; only those few resisted, none were left without resistance, and the total number removed and presumably sent to the Greek border was given broadly as 250-300. 

One example of what could achieve that was an extra-convincing appeal to board the busses - backed with some coercion and a lot of deception - that a victim might later call a "police lie." Keep this in mind.

One attorney reported their client had been forced to depart despite having an ongoing lawsuit. In fact that might have helped the decision to get rid of them.  Another layer "was kept from meeting with their client" during the operation, and found the center virtually empty when they went to complain later. Yet another was called in the middle of the night by a client saying: “they’re taking me away by force.” That attorney said “When we went there that night, no officials came to talk to us.”

A provided photo shows several busses lined up outside what's said to be the Akyurt Repatriation Center on the night of the 29th. I'm not clear if this means the sun would next rise on Feb. 29 or March 1 - it sounds more like the latter, but these might be the same four busses we saw above escorted by military trucks, in daylight and reportedly on the 29th.

So people were allowed to go if willing, directly moved if willing, release from jail and moved, and others only because they were tricked or forced into boarding the busses. Now we turn to how some of them were and weren't gotten back OFF the busses.

March 5, Mekut Mallet: Turkish police military beat and force refugees to cross Greek border at gun point

March 4, Manoto News: Turkish police threaten with weapons #پناهجویان To the Greek border (translated from Persian)

This is a fascinating video we're grateful for and curious about, and we hope the videographer is safe. My guess is these few resisted a bit like the 7 back at Aykurt center and were finally given up on and taken back, where they were able to post this video and stay safe after that and forever.

A young man in black with sunglasses (labeled "policeman"), given yellow quotes, urges "Go on, get off the bus! You are going to the other side!" Another man in black-red sweater described as "military officer" then steps in and urges the people to disembark, explaining: "the Turkish military will take you to the Greek side by boat." Some don't want to go, protest that they have children who shouldn't be forced to go on this dangerous crossing. They don't want to go to Greece, a man says. The officer asks "why did you come here then?" That's either not clearly answered OR answered with "unjust! Police lie!"

The military officer waves the driver off the bus, then loudly insists "everyone is going to get out now. I will beat up the ones who don't," pulling out his pistol as if to make the point. "Out! Get out!" he shouts, smacking their backs like cattle. When they still don't all leave after a few seconds, he shouts louder and cocks his pistol near a boy's head, as if to shift the message. "There is no going back from here on. Get out! Get out!" That boy and some others rush off, but others, including the person filming, remain. An apparent clock at the font of the bus had said 17:42, and the sunlight appears fairly low, later afternoon, of whatever exact day this happened (NOAA solar calculator gives azimuth: 246.68, elevation: 14.03 for this time on March 1st - an hour and 23 minutes before sunset. I don't suppose that matters, but I did look it up).

The "military officer" has the a pistol with a Turkish flag decal on the handle's butt. The  "police officer" holds (a taser?) and has a police nightstick on his side, the word POLIS on his trousers, and "Turk" on one shoulder of his black jacket, a "Grey Wolves" insignia on the other. Both officers appear quite young, probably under 30. They may be part of the new wave of military and police Erdogan has rushed into the field to fill the massive vacancies created in his frequent purges of the security sector for suspected "Gulenists."

The Pestas Truth video includes a Syrian man still on a bus in the dark somewhere and filmed by another with "Advice to other Syrians in Turkey: don't think of leaving through the (Turkish) state, because it is all lies. They throw us in the buses and they throw us in the lands."

Another possibly relevant video was posted by a Αριστερά 2Κ and claimed to show "Turkish soldiers brutally beating up migrants." The poor-quality video is shot at a long distance, largely through the branches of a tree. On-screen captions explain "immigrants who attempt to go back are violently beaten by Turkish soldiers & are pushed again towards the border."

Some five possible soldiers in a uniform light color (green boxes here) are punching and kicking a man in dark clothes (red box), especially when he tries to move towards th left; they want him to walk to the right. At one point they trip him so he falls, but mostly he stands and refuses their commands.  Two people in the foreground are laying down and urged to stay down, until the soldiers are distracted beating the other, when they stand and pick up their bags. The video cuts there and they're gone, apparently having run back to the left. The man the soldiers  were pushing manages to walk and then run through them and off the left side of the fame. Perhaps they had just given up on those few.

A pro-Erdogan reply denied that reading: "Lying became your character. These images are not from Turkey. Taken in Hungary." Even after a couple of requests, that person offered no basis for this claim. And coincidentally, a fake news photo used by the Turkish side was from Hungary, 2015. And why were military men there forcing other people with backpacks there walk a certain direction in a field, at another time with barren trees?

Other Possible Compulsions
Video posted March 1 shows #Erdogan supporters who are mostly from "Grey Wolves" far-right & fascist organization attacking workplaces & homes of #Syrian refugees in south of #Turkey beating them & looting their shops. They attack Syrian refugees to force them to leave #Turkey & invade #Greece!
The militant extremist and Erdogan-supporting Turkish organization "The Grey Wolves" has been put into action.
They are now attacking migrant homes and businesses (vandalizing & looting) across south-western Turkey in an attempt to force migrants to pack up and leave for #Greece

Video includes shouts that include Allahu Akbar, others I don't know. The two-finger Grey Wolves signal is widely displayed. Hundreds of them have converged here, streaming fom at least two visible busses that brought them here in a clearly coordinated campaign. Also note a lot of smoke in the area: something is burning (perhaps businesses?)

Another video from an upper floor shows two people being beaten separately by a small mob in the street below.  Samsun Haber.com video leads to the article going with it - March 2, by Tahir Ömer ÇOKLUK. The video is unavailable there, but preview images match, and it's described: "A group of young Syrian refugees attacked in Samsun İlkadım Zafer Mahallesi. Some Syrian refugees were injured during the incident that citizens tried to separate."

Initial view: a tweet mentioning "the families that recently had their businesses and homes destroyed by the Grey Wolves (extremist Turkish militants) and forced to leave Turkey" among the refugees, saying "Millions of Greeks understand their position." (or should/could understand).

Similar street attack: "They first asked him if he is Turk or Not. When he responded that he is not Turk, then they started beating him!" A previous tweet claimed it showed a man beaten to death, which seems nowhere near true, though it is brutal.
However this seems to be a dated video; people are dressed in more summer clothes, no coats to be seen, as in the other footage. But this is a view of the kind of violence that's happening again.
Similar street attack: They first asked him if he is Turk or Not. When he responded that he is not Turk, then they started beating him!
However this seems to be a dated video; people are dressed in more summer clothes, no coats to be seen, as in the other footage. But this is a view of the kind of violence that's happening again.

In both these scenes, other locals intervene. In the latter, a single older woman tenaciously shields the young man being pummeled; however far they kick him down the street, she's there again, trying to stop them. They try not to hit women, these thugs, but they sure as hell don't let them affect their thugging. This was on display again a few days later on International Women's Day, March 8. In Istanbul, police were sent to shut down the protest, and arrested 34 women who resisted. But the cops did let their shields take a few hits with no overt violence I saw, and it does seem they avoided using that dread tear gas (maybe because the country's whole supply had been sent to attack Greek border guards?)

Update, March 16:
One further support from an article that was published at en24.news, then removed, with no other postings I could find.
 A white fabric, like a talisman. Monday, mid-morning, it was not enough to protect Mohamed Al Arab. This Syrian from Aleppo fled the martyr city five years ago, to leave behind the war and its horrors. His fate caught up with him on the border between Turkey and Greece, which he was trying to cross illegally with several dozen other migrants. … “The projectile, for me a rubber bullet, hit him in the head, sighs Razakhan. He immediately collapsed."
In the early morning, groups form and advance to cross the border together in the woods. This is where Ali meets Mohamed. “He walked in front of me, sometimes at the head of the group, remembers Ali. We were like on an island: the smugglers announced that there would be no possible return.
(After the purported shooting) Confusion has spread among Greek soldiers,” says Ali. In the process, while the soldiers are firing in the air this time, the group backs up. We must talk about ten minutes for the smugglers to agree to make them cross the river on a canoe, as well as to Mohamed. Not without paying 3 euros per person. Some people prefer to swim back.

A March 2 story in The Guardian follows a group led by "young Algerians" that seems to successfully cross the border at night, with this advice "If one of the party fell or was struck down, don’t wait for them, just run, they said." This piece also includes a somewhat contradictory line: "By the evening, it was all too overwhelming for some, who decided to abandon this attempt and to head back to Istanbul." It's not clear if they were able to go back, or if the same standards applied to everyone.

Then later, on March 13, the New York Times reported some of the migrants were being bussed back to Turkey, in a sign that Erdogan was backing off his threatened invasion, or perhaps giving a limited impression before ramping it back up.
From this: "The ordeal was “the first-ever refugee exodus, albeit a limited one, fully organized by one government against another,” Marc Pierini, a former European Union envoy to Turkey, told the New York Times.
“The problem is that because of the blackmail used by Turkey, getting an agreement from the European Council is going to be more difficult,” said Pierini, who is currently an analyst for Carnegie Europe, a research organisation."

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Some Different Opinions on the Return of Mazen al-Hamada

March 4, 2020

As refugees from Syria continue to make big news in different ways, most have ignored the odd story of one former refugee who just went back to Syria to face arrest - voluntarily, it seems but under murky and slightly disputed circumstances. The former prisoner who was willing to go back is Mazen al-Hamada (Hummada, etc. - Ar: مازن الحمادة ) I've written about this guy previously as a star witness for Ben Taub, later for Sarah Ashfar, and others covering the co-mingled allegations dubbed "Assad Files" * and "Caesar Photos." **
* http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2014/11/fail-caesar-exposing-anti-syria-photo.html
** http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2016/04/regarding-those-assad-files.html
** https://21stcenturywire.com/2018/10/11/revolution-unraveled-assad-files-now-an-achilles-heel-for-war-crimes-narrative/

Hamada (reportedly an oilfield worker with Schlumberger) was one of those who filled in the blanks - and there are huge blanks in the touted primary evidence. He claims to have been Air Force Intelligence prisoner #1858, arrested for tying to smuggle infant formula to the besieged people of Daraya (he was from Deir Ezzour, clear across the country, and … infant formula?) He says he was entrapped into even tying that, and was arrested with a nephew in a devious sting, both threatened with death and tortured. Mazen says he witnesses several deaths and killings just like the kinds in the Caesar photos, with numerous random slayings by one guard called "Azrael."

But then Hamada says a judge ordered his release in 2013 when he saw torture scars, which might go to show how "systematic" this torture was. He had to leave his nephew behind, and the poor alleged guy could hardly have survived long. Mazen fled to the Netherlands and started lodging these claims, with great conviction and easily-tapped emotion, and others in the media amplified that signal with apparently zero thought as to its truthfulness. There are apparently official records showing his detention, but then they give the arrest as 15 months later than in his own story, and we're to believe him where he clashes with the supporting evidence? Well, I didn't. I bet all the terrible details he saw were during the disputed 15 months when he probably was NOT in jail with his nephew over smuggling baby formula. 

A semi-iconic image:
I always thought he had an odd look, like a sleep-deprived Indonesian man, or something. Note the only described torture in the prior repots (that I noted) was cigarette burns on his legs. The info I'm seeing is clear he's been "taking drugs" - some kind of heavy downers, I suppose. It's said he picked this up in the Netherlands to deal with the trauma of his torture and subsequent social dislocation. No one suggests this goes back to his infant formula days and prison time, and his flight to Europe and his first reporting of crimes. See his apparent chain smoking and superb calm in this video of his understanding of Kurdish history. I could see this guy having burns on his legs, cuts on his arms, needle tracks, and clearly some kind of scars on his mind and soul, some of it preceding jail, and none it coming from regime torturers. 

I can also see his jailers torturing him for some reason they might have, likely a good one. I'm not ruling that out. But most of his details seem completely fabricated and far out of step with the illustrated reality of official orders and responses as seen in all discovered internal reports.
Most of these sources are auto-translated, primarily from Arabic. Few European and fewer English-language agencies have reported on this ambiguous story. All are from the second half of February and forward.
Petra Vissers
Where is Mazen Hamada? The Syrian activist disappeared from the Netherlands a month ago and popped up in Damascus. Friends and family are seriously worried. "" This proves that Assad's long arm is back, and very active. " #mazenhamada

Suhair Atassi
Let us not forget the case of Mazen al-Hamada: Victim: the Assad regime, despair and loneliness in Europe, luring the regime to him after Mazen found in the drug a way to forget, using only the path of the detainees ’important testimonies, but without following up with their psychological situation .. Mazen may not be the last with The effects of the Caesar’s Law begin on the butcher.

George Sabra:
Mazen Al-Hamadeh has always been missing behind bars, and we know which ordeal he faces with his arrested colleagues. We miss him today with more pain, because he faces the ordeal alone with a tired body and a spirit that has been thickened by the regime's obedience.
 Freedom deserves the effort of those fighting for it.

Ahmed Naji
On the return of Mazen al-Hamada, or his suicide in this manner, is the tragic expression of the tragedy of these survivors, and we may witness other shocking expressions that may not be like his return
(links to...)
article including this unexplained photo of what looks like Mr. Hamada, but older and heavier, sitting in what looks like a jail cell.

It is not news of the "voluntary" return of a former detainee to Damascus Airport, to be arrested again upon his arrival. According to what was reported by the "Zaman Al-Wasl" website, former detainee Mazen Al-Hamada returned to Damascus airport from Berlin last Saturday, after contacting the Assad embassy there, to arrive at night and be taken immediately to an unknown destination. Mazen al-Hamada had appeared on many occasions to expose the torture practiced on detainees in Syria, including human rights and parliamentary bodies, and he is one of the survivors of the fate of the detainees who died under torture within what became known as the Caesar file.

There is no information yet about the details of what happened, except for the affirmation of those who know them "through their pages on social media" that he was not balanced in the recent period, especially, and he was taking drugs because of his severe psychological crisis. Regardless of the negativity that the drug abuse issue might raise among some, what is certain is that the aforementioned was not in a state of equilibrium that would qualify him to make a rational decision, and it is clear that one of Assad's agents in Europe has caught a valuable catch and was able to influence him in some way to bring him back to this As.

"It is expected that Assad's intelligence services will exploit Mazen's return," article continues, put him on TV to recant his earlier claims, and then they would likely kill him. But then, the author admits it's not clear even if he was forced back into jail, and it seemed not: a suicidal impulse was likely at work.

Perhaps the best characterization of Mazen's return decision is that at some degree of consciousness, or subconscious, he decided to commit suicide. He does not belong to a class of the opposition that falls under the temptation of power to seek a desire for gain, and his memory and body are well preserved with the effects of previous torture, so that he is not deluded by a different reception. He has lost family members under torture, and he knows that his deliverance from the same fate only came about by chance, and that delivering from these monsters is not written to a person twice. However, he probably was not able to commit suicide in the Netherlands, where he was staying, unable to understand his desire and implement it on his own, and he found in his old executioner the perfect tool for tragic suicide without taking care of its dimensions that exceed what is personal.

Those are some pretty deep thoughts that make you just hate Assad for so ingeniously warping people.

Informed sources. The complex circumstances of the return of the refugee who spoke openly of "al-Khazuk" in Assad's detention camps

Sources close to the case of former detainee "Mazen al-Hammada" said that the return of the man to the lap of the regime recently is complex and intertwined circumstances, interspersed with material difficulties and psychological pressures as well as temptations presented by the regime through intermediaries.
These sources stressed that the process of returning "al-Hammada" is not the beginning of the hour as many who are not familiar with the status of the man who was a refugee in the Netherlands years ago, but it is a process that began almost since the end of 2018, when al-Hammada reviewed the embassy of the regime in Berlin, asking them to return as a "Syrian citizen" and But they insisted that his situation be "settled" so that he could return.

Al-Hammada visited the regime's embassy in Berlin again, and then a third time, the last time he stayed in Berlin for nearly a week, before boarding a plane to Beirut and then to Damascus.
All of this was preceded by a rumor that he was returning to Syria, which prompted Al-Hammada to appear in a live broadcast denying the rumor, but at the same time he wondered what the surprise of this rumor if true, he is in the end a Syrian citizen and has the right to return to Syria.
The sources reported that during the past years he was talking about the difficulties and problems he encounters publicly through his profile, including the decrease in the balance in his account and the flow of irregularities on him, which strained him financially, and sometimes pushed him to attack the Dutch government calling on him to return him to Syria.
The sources suggested that the "hamda" was subjected in the Netherlands to a psychological trauma added to the trauma he had previously received from the experience of his bitter detention in Assad's prisons, and this "Dutch" shock, so to speak, is not the work of the government, but is the result of the imagination of "al-Hammada" to receive preferential treatment that distinguishes him from the rest of the Refugees, in fact, are known to be treated equally in the Netherlands and across Europe, particularly financially.
Al-Hammada's sense of alienation and need for preferential treatment seems to have been further highlighted by the media and human rights organizations, even as he imagined that he was at the centre of the Syrian issue, especially after he was hosted in the United States.
In all, al-Hammada's image has clearly swelled, and he does not hesitate to broadcast this inflation in his speech, such as his talk that he is the one who stopped the regime's bombing of Deir ez-Zor, and that the coalition will use his expertise to manage the oil fields in eastern Syria.
The sources pointed out that the crisis of the psychological and financial "al-Hammada" was a major impetus in his return to the regime, and supported it and apparently accelerated it, and the authorities of officers from the city of "Mohassan" who are still serving in the army of the regime, who decorated the former detainee returning to his executioner.
Al-Hammada was one of the most prominent and most important Syrian detainees who trusted the voice and image of their testimonies about the detention in Assad's cells, where he spoke boldly and clearly about sexual torture and rape by al-Khazuk, as well as the killings and liquidations at the Al-Mazzah military hospital.

Alaa Ghazal
I'm avoiding talking about #mazen _ Hamada
But there are things in my opinion that can't be overlooked
After the video "Abu Jafar Sifter" (...) a friend and close to him, he started using the term that the Syrian regime kidnapped mazen from Germany to Damascus!!
Away from my opinion with his balance, his statements, his actions, his mental state and his return to Syria...
But the conversion of mazen to kidnapped! This is denied!. Denied to fake things by turning "any opposition / opposition" to a victim!!
We have seen a lot of things and we have lost our credibility in a lot of topics …
"...about the kidnapping in which abu jafar came out with the video and got it! With the same video says Abu Jafar
Minute 9:17: Mazen came to me and said I want to go down to Syria, the opposition is dirty.. I told him that the regime will throw you if you come back.. then convinced
Minute 9:50: when he came back from America He came back to tell me that the Dutch are not giving me a visa to enter Syria I told him baby you are a political refugee The Dutch State cannot give you approval to go down to Syria and you are wanted in Syria
Minute 15:07: I have evidence and evidence that "Mazen" has made a lot of requests to the refugee assistance office in the Netherlands that he wants to come down to Syria and refuse.. and the people who are around him know this topic exactly that they rejected the first time And the second time and the third time and even try "Mazen" to work and communicate with the red cross, red crescent and blackhead we, Syria is an internationally known country that it is not safe, we are selling you as a refugee and you have a Dutch residence
Minute 16:57: why are you going down on deir EZ-Zor? He said I have a political solution I want to offer to the system and stop killing and beating
Minute 18:17: Mazen is a sick person and the patient is possible in two words to laugh at him like the embassy laughed at him and pulled him and kidnapped him. So Mazen was kidnapped and not mazen will be on Syria
Minute 07:44 Mazen from Berlin Airport: I'm going down on Syria

The [confirmed] info so far, that Mazen Humada calls his natives and told them that he arrives to Damascus, but nothing proves that except his appearance. Mazen attacks me a lot before, but I feel bad and sad for him, he have had deal with his psychological situation by taking..2.

..2.taking drugs, which the worse way to handle such a situation, I feel very unfortunate for him, and I hope nothing bad would happens to him, and he will be able to find the peace even if it was at the regime held.

Background videos (just found on the way)

This is # Mazen Al Hamada, and he incites the Kurds on Al Jazeera previously

The full video of a Syrian opposition figure Mazen Hamadeh on the history of the Kurds 2017

Mazen al-Hamada and the meeting with Musa Al-Omar, was he seconded in favor of the regime in the West and what is the secret of returning to the bosom of the homeland?

2015 A message from the heart to the detainee released from the prisons of Al-Assad, the free Mazen Al-Hamada

Monday, March 2, 2020

A Sarin Blame Shell Game: Hexamine to Hex Assad

March 2-3, 2020
last edits March 5

As proof of the Syrian government's responsibility for years of alleged sarin attacks, a cluster of chemical impurities found in field examples is often cited. It's principally Hexamethylenetetramine - aka Hexamine - that's noted, but there are others as well in a package I'll nickname "HexAssad." It's apt in that the chemistry is used to curse and damn the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, in a sort of voodoo sense rather than in reality. But that does strike me as corny, so I'll only use the nickname sporadically.

I've largely sidestepped this issue in the past with a basic view that:
a) I'm not clear if the found formula truly matches the government one, and
b) even if it did match entirely, it could be mimicked, stolen, or even handed over by an opposition-supporting state or agency, besides the obvious option of being Syria's own. Even if those other options rank low in comparison, they must complicate the picture more than HexAssad advocates let on.
c) considering the lack of absolute certainty, the numerous other clues for opposition use of sarin and against government use cannot just be short-circuited and must be considered. So this is what I've focused on over the years.

In the last weeks I finally engaged in a broad - if not deep - review of the many hexamine-related claims and debates from late 2013 forward, and produced a sprawling pile of text I'm not even sure how to organize. In this post, I meant to just share several high (or low) points in the blame game and address these. But in the end I wound up including most of it, and only somewhat organized.

Hexamine for sarin program? 
Establishment CW expert Jean-Pascal Zanders has said: "Since (hexamine's) presence in samples was first reported by the UN investigative team last September in relation to the Ghouta attack and the OPCW later released that Syria had declared 80 metric tonnes of the chemical in connection with sarin production, there has been furious speculation as to its exact role."
(perhaps, since the declaration didn't specify its exact role in anything more specific than "CW-related", partisan thinkers were scrambling to "prove" it related to their sarin process and linked it to all these deadly attacks they need punished for.)

Zanders includes hexamine under "sarin" on this list, either because it was declared that way or because he wanted it there.

Declared chemicals and quantities - 80 tons of Hexamine, here not under any heading to clarify what it was used for:

Reseacher "Unknown" (now) achieved some well-deserved if anonymous fame as "Sasa Wawa" or "WhoGhouta," running in 2013-14 a well-organized blog Who Attacked Ghouta? Hereafter WhoGhouta produced some good coverage of the hexamine issue:

WhoGhouta seems correct to point out the exact use is unclear, establishing that it has been (and likely would be) used as a stabilizer for sulfur mustard, and that seemed a plausible use here where Syria produced that. Some neutralizing agent for general CW cleanup was also noted somewhere, and there might be other intended uses for hexamine all us non-experts just couldn't know of.

That's my quick take on that aspect, left sparse due to open questions - to be refined or even altered if I see adequate reason.

Lloyd-Postol-Kaszeta Debate
I didn't dig deep into the details of this, but a Bellingcat summary of the debate poses as a central issue hexamine's solubility in the precursor DF and whether it could be used as an "acid scavenger" as Kaszeta poposed (or something to that effect). This has been validly argued down IF in-flight mixing was truly central to the Lloyd-Postol argument, as it says there. That's never been part of the weapons I know of; in 2013 two weapons are alleged (grenade, volcano rocket). The volcano at least could only have a unitary fill of pre-mixed sarin, while the grenades are less clear to me. 2017's sain attacks allegations had special binary weapons alleged, apparently designed for manual mixing right before loading on the jet.

But that point's not clear to me, and if Kaszeta's case is that "the use of hexamine as an acid scavenger had not been documented" in any of the "various nations" considered, that would make "the apparent use of hexamine in the Syrian government’s Sarin manufacturing process unique" among states, but maybe common among terrorist groups. So IF terrorist sarin couldn't possibly be fielded in Syria, AND if the hexamine formula was Syria's previously-unknown process and not another state's unknown process, then we could be sure, like Kaszeta, that it's "like a chemical fingerprint linking Sarin attacks to the government."

Anyone interested in that debate: Lloyd and Postol debating Kaszeta's analysis, convincingly show he has no true expertise, and arguing his findings were "fraudulent."

This was debated, but it seems the main controversy from Kaszeta's side was whether Postol's source Maram Susli was correct, or terribly biased, and/or if she was a dangerous chemical terrorist - her take:

Ake Sellstrom and Shifting Methods of Blame
December 18, the New York Times would run the story "Report Detail Could Further Implicate Syria in Chemical Attack, Analysts Say." This cited analysis by CRBN (preparedness) expert Dan Kaszeta, first run 4 days earlier at Eliot Higgins' "Brown Moses" blog, arguing that "Hexamine may be the smoking gun." From here the HexAssad notion was widely picked up and expanded on.

The point was soon adopted by Ake Sellstrom, the chief of mission for the UN-OPCW investigation into the Ghouta attacks. Kaszeta was able, by July 2014, to add this sticker to his latest article on the "chemical fingerprint of Assad's war crimes":
"An appropriate question was put to UN/OPCW mission members in at a U.S. Congressional hearing. Ake Sellstrom, chief of the UN/OPCW mission to Syria and Scott Cairns, his deputy, stated the use of use of Hexamine in the process which produced the Sarin used in the Ghouta attacks is a possibility. It is clearly stated on the video of their testimony from 4:52 onward."

Winfield: Why was hexamine on the list of chemical scheduled to be destroyed it has many other battlefield uses as well as Sarin? Did you request to put it on the list or had the Syrian’s claimed that they were using it?

Sellstrom: It is in their formula, it is their acid scavenger.
Kaszeta adds "although various detractors have claimed that this quote is fabricated, the author has confirmed it generally with Dr. Sellstrom and specifically with Gwyn Winfield, who has a recording of it."

Oddly, we need to be assured there's a recording and also video - we don't get to see or hear them. Sellstrom's lines do sound a bit terse and to the point, as if other words were edited out, like "people are claiming" and "however..." And there don't seem to be any follow-up statements where he clarifies the point. But otherwise, Mr. Sellstrom probably did adopt this idea, then if not still, and would say there was likely proof now. OPCW's Cairns would concur, but the factual basis is not clear.

Note how both men (Sellstom and Cairns) signed off, in September 2013, on the single East Ghouta rocket bearing of 285 degrees, which (as others found) lined up with West Ghouta bearing to jointly point to a government missile base about 10km from each strike zone. But the W. Ghouta readings they gave are quite dubious, as was the alleged weapon and its alleged impact, and other details (WhouGhouta). And the E. Ghouta bearing is clearly dead wrong (WhoGhouta instant notice, my later analysis, my visual below).

That wrong picture helped Human Rights Watch (see at right) and others blame the government, but only until it was proven the volcano rocket's range was at most 1/4 that required, and the cited trajectory was wrong. Sellstrom seems to have accepted both points by the time of a December 13 press conference announcing the release of the UN-OPCW mission second report. As Whoughouta relates: "While probably not too relevant anymore, Sellstrom makes a very significant statement distancing himself from the "trajectory intersection" theory, saying "The flight paths do not seem to meet as may be indicated in the report", and adds that a range of 2km for the UMLACA (aka Volcano) is "a fair guess". (note "may be indicated" puts it softly, and this is still quite relevant 6 years later.)

In a France 24 interview on 18 December, five days later, Sellstrom sounded unclear on attribution. The question was down to who would likely have the delivery weapons; these largely seemed improvised, but it's noted both sides can do that. It's mentioned and agreed that soldiers were attacked, some exposed to sarin, but again both sides can make DIY mortar shells (filled with sarin, and logically both sides are capable of attacking their own fighters in a false-flag scenario). The important volcano rockets blamed for the 21 August attack were another but also ambiguous story. There's no clue of a chemical "fingerprint" yet to rule out opposition delivery. At 3:40 Sellstrom says "I would probably not have proof to name down one side or the other. The evidence isn't there yet to be sure, I would say."

From the "yet" it almost seems Sellstron expected there would be new evidence to that effect, and it seems the first public airing of the HexAssad clue was just at this same time. in fact the same day, December 18, the New York Times would run Kaszeta's theory that Sellstrom would adopt next.

This all occurred between Richard Lloyd's establishing a 2.5km range discussed by HRI Nov. 30, already getting agreement from Higgins - before McClatchy News would report formalized findings by Lloyd and prof Postol, on 16 January, 2014.

That's the rocket convergence method of regime blame failing and being replaced with the HexAssad fingerprint method, which still hasn't been universally seen to fail.

In the same interview, Sellstrom is said to add this supporting criticism of Syrian government claims: "If they really want to blame the opposition they should have a good story as to how they got hold of the munitions, and they didn’t take the chance to deliver that story.” This suggests they were not making up a story but truly did not know. In this thinking, it's suspicious if they don't have a story, and of course it would be at least as suspicious if they had a story with any degree of detail - I mean, how could they know all that unless they made it up themselves?

JIM Report, 2017
Reuters: "Two compounds in the Ghouta sample matched those also found in Khan Sheikhoun, one formed from sarin and the stabilizer hexamine and another specific fluorophosphate that appears during sarin production, the tests showed."
"The same test results were the basis for a report by the OPCW-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism in October which said the Syrian government was responsible for the Khan Sheikhoun attack, which killed dozens."

At the outset, the chain of custody issue must be noted; OPCW personnel were unable to visit the site (reasons are debated), so to accept environmental or most biomedical samples they would have to break the standard rules, which call for direct collection by certified OPCW personnel according to a strict protocol. Here as in most cases, the samples were primarily collected and handed over by opposition-aligned parties with an interest in blaming the government, truthfully or otherwise.

However, that doesn't prove the samples are tampered with, and there was some semblance at least of a verifiable collection process. And unusually, the rest of the samples the OPCW received from Khan Sheikhoun - seeming to match up on the key details, as far as we know - were gathered by other local activists trusted by the Syrian government, and thus not likely to be working on that same script. These might have duped Damascus with some of the same spiked samples, but it also seems reasonable to consider the dual-sourcing as minimizing (if not erasing) those doubts. So we can  proceed, with only a grain of salt, with the analysis of "The samples from Khan Shaykhun." I believe these all the relevant statements are in paragraphs 56 and 84-90.

First, hexamine: samples from the purported bomb crater "confirm that sarin was produced by the binary route, in which DF is combined with isopropanol (iPrOH) in the presence of hexamine" (84) and "a reaction product of sarin with hexamine that can be formed only under very high heat." (56) I'm not sure what to make of that. I hear the reaction process is highly exothermic - it produces a lot of heat, and in a pre-loading mix binary weapon like the M-4000 (see below) it's done under a water shower to keep the bomb cool until the mixing is done. As it turns out the M-4000 is the alleged delivery weapon in Khan Sheikhoun.

Next, the JIM raises a few further matches between the DF (sarin precursor) surrendered by Damascus and the samples taken at Khan Sheikhoun. These matches ARE specifically with what Syria had and would use. But they aren't conclusive in identifying the owner, and may serve only as similarities. But these add some to the rather weak hexamine lead.

Paragraph 88 summarizes how these "marker chemicals" being present in both the KS samples and Syrian stocks "is a strong indicator that the sarin disseminated in Khan Shaykhun was produced from DF from the Syrian Arab Republic stockpile."

Paragraph 85: "The five DF samples from the Syrian Arab Republic stockpile and the environmental samples from Khan Shaykhun all contained the impurity phosphorus hexafluoride (PF6). " The rest explains how this is formed when hydrogen fluoride (HF) is used as a fluorinating agent in the production of DF.

Paragraph 86: "Two of the five samples from the Syrian Arab Republic DF stockpile contained the impurity phosphorous oxychloride (POCl3)." Some other markers (isopropyl phosphates and isopropyl phosphorofluoridates) were found in Khan Sheikhoun that, the JIM learned, would be formed (only?) if the DF had POCl3. Thus: "Their presence is a strong indicator that the sarin disseminated in Khan Shaykhun was produced from DF from the Syrian Arab Republic stockpile." They don't mention that it could also indicate a source with similar DF production.

"87. On the basis of the foregoing, the Mechanism concludes that the presence of the marker chemical PF6 is evidence that HF was used to produce the DF that was the precursor for the sarin released in Khan Shaykhun. HF is a very aggressive and dangerous gas and therefore is difficult to handle. The use of HF indicates a high degree of competence and sophistication in the production of DF and points to a chemical-plant-type production method."

This seems designed to implicate the government, a state with control of territory, factories, experts and foreign help as needed, etc. The opposition had pretty much all the same, at the time running some half the country with enormous foreign support, from both within their Islamist support networks and without. Both sides are fully capable of handling a dangerous substance without incident, or maybe with incidents. Do we know there weren't any? What was the point of this point?

The minor point in paragraph 56 came sandwiched between these claims: "According to information obtained by the Mechanism, the filler cap, with two closure plugs, is uniquely consistent with Syrian chemical aerial bombs." (the only known basis to conclude this would only emerge weeks later, but maybe they had a sneak peek at the M-4000 binary sarin bomb. A likely plug from one wound up right in the crater, with hardly any other debris. Suspicions it was planted are well-founded). And furthermore, "Information was also received that additional metal fragments collected from the crater might correspond to parts of Syrian aerial chemical munitions." (Nothing identifiable I know of. All the distinctive parts aside from the cap wound up in Lataminah a week earlier) These dubious points add to the largely failed evidence for a Syrian air-strike, in case the chemistry wasn't sufficient in itself.

Paragraph 89: "An initial screening of the reports concerning previous incidents of the release of sarin in the Syrian Arab Republic showed that some marker chemicals appeared to be present in environmental samples. This would warrant further study."

90: "The presence of marker chemicals that are believed to be unique is a strong indication that the sarin released in Khan Shaykhun, as well as in previous incidents, was produced using DF from the Syrian Arab Republic stockpile."

They hoped to expand this finding to implicate the government more clearly in the other alleged attacks. These have been followed up on, and will likely expand further with the wok of the new UN-OPCW "Investigation and Identification Team." Of course the JIM itself is long dead, after Russia (at least) refused to extend its mandate, claiming it was using unsound methods to pursue political aims of other states - essentially, they the JIM had been weaponized.

Obvious political motives aside, assuming the chemical findings and reasoning are valid (despite the precedent for skepticism), we can specify this HexAssad package includes these compounds also to be found in the DF produced by the Syrian CW program:
* phosphorus hexafluoride (PF6)
* phosphorous oxychloride (POCl3)

Unless I missed something, that's all they added. I'll leave it to others to say how complete a match that makes, to consider what other compounds might have not have matched, etc. Either it's definitive or it's not. In the latter case, it would be proven a different type - either an unknown Syrian product, or someone else's. If it were a total match, it means someone's using the exact DF or the exact DF recipe as Syria did, so it's either them or a selected ally, or someone else using their stolen stuff, or someone quite well-informed deliberately mimicking their process to frame them. (or using the same fairly-standard DF recipe just by natural coincidence?)

Reuters, 2018
Exclusive: Tests link Syrian government stockpile to largest sarin attack - sources
Reuters, January 29, 2018 / 11:13 PM
in a January, 2018 Reuters article, the HexAssad chemical findings remained - to informed sources - "the strongest scientific evidence to date that the Syrian government was behind Ghouta (and the rest, by extension).
Laboratories working for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons compared samples taken by a U.N. mission in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta after the Aug. 21, 2013 attack, when hundreds of civilians died of sarin gas poisoning, to chemicals handed over by Damascus for destruction in 2014.
The chemical tests were carried out at the request of the U.N.-OPCW inquiry, which was searching for potential links between the stockpile and samples from (the 2017 alleged sarin attack in
) Khan Sheikhoun. The analysis results raised the possibility that they would provide a link to other sarin attacks, the source said.
So looking for a link to stockpiles, they apparently didn't find one that was very clear, or it would be mentioned. But as I'll show, that was never clarified in an article that reads like a verbal shell game, where the focus shifts without explanation to matches with OTHER SARIN INCIDENTS, all of them disputed.

Following this alternate path yielded results: The tests found “markers” in samples taken at Ghouta and at the sites of two other nerve agent attacks, in the towns of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib governorate on April 4, 2017 and Khan al-Assal, Aleppo, in March 2013, two people involved in the process said. “We compared Khan Sheikhoun, Khan al-Assal, Ghouta,” said one source who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the findings. “There were signatures in all three of them that matched.”

The results? HexAssad could not be clearly linked to stockpiles but did keep turning up in attacks the government is blamed for, but which they kept blaming on terrorists - after all Obama's "red line" threat against Damascus was a tempting invitation for the other side.

The Reuters piece cites Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, "an independent specialist in biological and chemical weapons" assuring us there's no chance "rebels or Islamic State were responsible for the Aug. 21 Ghouta attack." But he seems to be an active MI6 agent who coordinates w/opposition on CW investigation and propaganda, so not independent. In fact he routinely lodges politicized and invented claims I've called unhinged (two tweets).

"Amy Smithson, a U.S. nonproliferation expert" was quoted with: “A match of samples from the 2013 Ghouta attacks to tests of chemicals in the Syrian stockpile is the equivalent of DNA evidence: definitive proof.” This doesn't seem to be quite true, nor relevant, as they do not have a total match; all she could specify was the same hexamine finding which was “a particularly significant match,” being "identified as a unique hallmark of the Syrian military’s process to make sarin," the article explains. The match remains unclear, and its uniqueness unknown. But Smithson also cites a "mountain of physical evidence that points conclusively, without a shadow of doubt, to the Syrian government," which "this match adds to" but can also lean on, in case it's not so certain after all. Smithson can overstate it all she wants, but that clear evidence simply does not exist, as so many articles at this blog and even in other places has amply demonstrated.

UN CoI Infographics
6 September, 2017 graphic with notes by me (chronological event numbers, red notes, etc.) - note in the 2 green boxes they've got entry 1 - previously seeming to be a terrorist attack - tied to incident 5, Ghouta, with the same government sarin in both cases. Khan al-Asal, 13-9-2013 has "chemical agents used bore same unique hallmarks as in Al-Ghouta (21 Aug 2013)" and that was fom the "Syrian military chemical weapons stockpile," and implicitly handled by its well-trained owners and not some ill-prepared thieves. The complex irony or cynicism of this linkage is simply astounding, and beyond the scope of this post. But for now just follow that bouncing ball into a 2019 update:

12 March, 2019: "Between March 2013 and March 2019, the @UNCoISyria publicly reported 37 instances of the use of #chemicalweapons in #Syria. The vast majority of these attacks (32 of 37) were perpetrated by Syrian Government forces, including through the use of #chlorine and #sarin. #HRC40 @OPCW"

The other five left at "unknown perpetrators" are pivotal - sarin attacks specified elsewhere as involving the same identifiers. Khan Sheikhoun and Al-Latamneh (29, 28) are clearly on the government apparently because, as mentioned, it was decided to be "air strikes" with air bombs that spread the sarin, where that's not the case or is less clear in these other five cases:
Khan al-Asal, 19-3-13
Uteibah, same day
Sheikh Maqsoud, 13-4-13
Saraqib, 29-4-13 (should be under Idlib, not Aleppo)
Ghouta, 21-8-13

From this, it seems the chemistry wasn't enough to pin the blame; it's not a DNA match or a fingerprint after all, and some of the most important cases of all are left at "unknown perpetrators." But that appearance isn't allowed to hold up long; the same exact sarin said to be used in the 2017 bombings is also said to be used for incidents 1, 4, and 5 on this list; by extension the government did those too. And the same perpetrator is suggested in the other cases: incident #2 seems coordinated with #1 (as was a barely-noted claimed attack in Homs the same day - see here). #3 used the same hand grenade blamed for #4, and both of these were allegedly air strikes as well (the grenades were stuffed into cinderblocks, maybe put in a cardboard box, maybe with bags involved, and other cited sarin-TNT barrel bombs - the accepted version is 2 grenades in a box, dropped from a helicopter so the pins pull on impact. As "proof," video of one was shown, seeming to both glow white and emit white smoke as it fell - or that was some white phosphorous being dropped and someone got confused. But we can see here why it's important that it falls from an aircraft, which "rebels" don't have. There's an Assad regime "fingerprint" in there, so it better not come right from a Jabhat al-Nusra fighter's chest, even though that's the only place they had been seen otherwise.

Also note in both infographics a huge gap of nearly two years from April 2014 to April 2016 not covered (top graphic, see event 9 vs. 10 - bottom, see 13 vs. 14. Several deadly and emotive attacks were alleged in this span and previously considered. But here and everywhere else, it seems official acknowledgment of all those had ended by September, 2017 and remain off the radar, for reasons that remain unclear.

Eliot Higgins/Bellingcat, June 2018: "it was a French National Evaluation about the Khan Sheikhoun chemical in April 2017 that provided the first significant piece of information on the use of hexamine, nearly 4 years after the August 21st 2013 Sarin attacks.
“According to the intelligence obtained by the French services, the process of synthesizing sarin, developed by the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) and employed by the Syrian armed forces and security services, involves the use of hexamine as a stabilizer. DIMP is also known as a by-product generated by this process.”"

To me that reads like a more elaborate way of saying "we think it's their method." They cite who it would be done by as if it were a known fact rather than their politicized claim.

Higgins (same link): "The presence of hexamine at every confirmed Sarin attack shows the hexamine is part of the Syrian government’s manufacturing process."

As I've said all along, they can only tie the attacks to each other, not to the government, even with this touted chemical fingerprint.

see https://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-sarin-evidence.html