Warning

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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How "The Russians"* Covered up the Truth ... Partly, Gradually ... About MH17

How "The Russians"* Covered up the Truth ... Partly, Gradually ... About MH17
November 26, 2014

* The Russians here meaning whoever it was that ran and operated the Buk launcher we're calling 3x2, blamed for the shoot-down of MH17

Shortly after the July 17 crash of the Boeing 777 in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, Eliot Higgins (aka Brown Moses) and the Bellingcat team accurately tracked a certain mystery Buk (SA-11) launching unit across Eastern Ukraine, up to a last point very near a likely launch site for the missile that brought the jet down (while the full implications aren't clear, I concur with their basic findings, as explained here).

More recently, Bellingcat landed another coup in the saga, in early November issuing a new report claiming to link that very launcher, or at least the truck hauling it, to a truck-bound launcher also seen inside Russia a few weeks before the incident, and again just after. If true, it would seem to be a smoking gun. I think it's at least partly true, and the problem is only with the "seem to be" part. And I have no solid alternative at the moment, just verifying part of, and pointing out some puzzling implications of, their findings.

The report and whole site was not coming up when I tried (might be a problem on my end), so I don't even know what's behind their pay-wall. In the interim I checked around. Here's a critical blog article I like that mentions another article praising the report. But what was useful was the Daily Mail's Australian promo article with the cover and a few images from the report as well as a summary. 'There is strong evidence indicating that the Russian military provided separatists in eastern Ukraine with the Buk missile launcher filmed and photographed in eastern Ukraine on July 17,' the on-line report states..."

In this, they identify Buk Telar launcher "3x2," as the report puts it, where the x is a middle digit seemingly painted out for some reason. 3x2 therefore seems a fair name for the thing, and I'll follow suit. From the Mail's graphics, I can see how they link the trucks hauling the launchers by license plate numbers. That looks sound, and minor details support that this is the same truck, apparently in Russia and then in Ukraine. (Or is this not the same famous truck here? It's a side-point.)

The actual launcher link sounds less clear in the Daily Mail report, but in Russia, that truck was hauling a launcher marked on the side with a small, unreadable number and the large number 3x2 (bottom frame in the below comparison). Seeming to have a number painted over, many will note, smells of a mini-coverup - and it's with a machine that then went (back?) to Ukraine for some secret work Russia denies, before going (back to?) about the Russian border, via everywhere...

However absurd the whole story, there's this ... tying things together more yet, the top frame below shows the relevant part of the Paris Match photo (windscreen dots and all, after being skewed to match a much as possible, and lightened a bit). Again the bottom image is from Bellingcat via the Mail. The middle is the top laid over the bottom with transparency to let use compare - not exact, due to some depth differences, etc.)
I noticed earlier the sliver of white paint in that area in the Paris Match photo, wondering if it was a telltale fake painted-out number to blame Russia. It may be. That's consistent with the 2 here, or a couple of other numbers. Earlier, I guessed maybe "4 240" for the smaller number. The new image doesn't seem to help much there. I'm guessing it matches though.

In fact, comparing the two like this, we can also see other points of continuity - the light patch right before the small numbers, and on the lip just below that. Note the white dot left of the white sliver, on the cable shadow, that seemed an artifact. In Russia (if so) we can see it there before - apparently the last part of the first number they also managed to never paint out fully.

It could be a one. I thank ACLOS member Resup for bringing this to my attention. As Resup notes, there's the issue with Buk 312 of Russia allegedly seen going back to Russia, put out by the SBU but then pulled, while Ukraine also has a Buk 312 seen in the field not long before this, that may or may not be accounted for.

(space to expand on this point...)

What all this implies, read as Bellingcat reads it, is that this was once a Russian-controlled unit, and also was seen all around the MH17 crime scene, maybe on loan, or still run by them, whichever. All I can vouch for is the number match - not even a certain vehicle match, but either that or a complex paint job correlation, with consistent bits remaining of number that might have been falsely painted on, by whoever, to begin with.

Read straight, the alleged coverup is plain silly: the Russians wanted to hide this thing's identity, maybe because they were about to do something secret with it. So first they painted out the number in the middle. Except they left one little corner of white visible. Maybe they just got tired. It's identifiable (in both images). Then before it appeared in Ukraine, it was rendered totally unidentifiable: they boldly blacked out the 3, and perhaps at the same time even, the 2 - except for a larger identifiable sliver. Just got tired, maybe. It's next to the other dot. Haha, no way to connect these now!

- "Now has no number on it AT ALL. No one can say what it is."
- "Brilliant, boss. they will think must have been a Kiev fighter jet! And we will make fake satellite photos to prove. The world will stand behind our invasion!"

That's not just sloppy and stupid like people can be. It's more like something someone else would have them do, in a script they wrote for other parties playing "the Rusians." Its purpose seems to expose, illustrate, or imply a crime, not to cover one up. In fact, it's a bit too obvious to even be a good false flag operation. But maybe that we can chalk up to run of the mill Human stupidity (or worse yet, Neo-Nazi psycho stupidity)

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Ghouta Massacre's Sarin Myth, Brightly Lit

The Ghouta Massacre's Sarin Myth, Brightly Lit
Exploring Kafr Batna’s … Rebel Gas Chambers?
By Adam Larson
May 22, 2014 

Note: Originally posted here at the CIWCL site after a fgew tries to get it somewhere with a higher profile. I re-posted this article here November 24, 2014 in the hopes of getting more fresh views; as far as I can tell, this story and the report it's based on have not yet gotten the attention they deserve.
---
(the author acknowledges Denis O’Brien, Dan Kaszeta, Charles Wood, and “Pmr9” for direct input on this report)

As a refresher, the “official story” of the August 21, 2013 Ghouta Chemical Massacre is that the x-hundred fatalities * were killed by the nerve agent Sarin, delivered by Syrian government rockets fired into the rebel-held Ghouta region of rural Damascus. By now, this has been seriously challenged; anti-Assad insurgents clearly had a good motive to get their enemies blamed, and increasingly the evidence suggests they would have the means as well.

* (unclear: 3-500 at least, probably more than that, perhaps over 1,000, 1,429 per the Obama administration, and higher yet by other counts – x-hundred is used here – overwhelmingly civilian)

One aspect generally shared by both sides of the blame debate, at least so far, is that the alleged Sarin rockets actually killed the x-hundred; whose copies of the rockets, and whose type of Sarin, remain the foci of dispute. But while those might be the key questions so many take them for, it's worth a mid-sized pause to consider a recent report challenging the entire debate as it stands.

This possibly crucial twist is based on an unprecedented visual study of one segment of the massacre - about 100 victims in a certain morgue. This allowed focused findings that, here, strongly suggest death by Carbon Monoxide or Hydrogen Cyanide gas, likely in the basement of the same rebel-held building they were later displayed in.

One victim who survived the gas was slaughtered right there in the morgue. That last fact was not quite hidden by a couple of sheets, and yet missed by all researchers until now.

By these findings, it seems the victims here were enemies and captives of the insurgents, cashed-in on a bid at outside military support. If this is true, the same is suggested for the entire massacre - batches like this added up for massive impact. Unless this is just a bit of rebel "exaggeration" tacked onto the regime attack...

But before delving into the details of that startling new material, it's best to review just how solid the "Sarin myth" it challenges really is.

Sarin in Ghouta: Facts and Gaps
Initial “fears” that Sarin was responsible had a political flavor and lacked evidence. But they were soon made near-gospel by the findings of the U.N. investigation led by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom.

His team had arrived in Damascus a day before the Ghouta attack, in part to look into a previous, alleged, rebel gas attack. Their original work interrupted, they were able to visit two sites; the Zamalka district of East Ghouta where several rockets landed, and Moadamiyah to the south, which had a separate alleged Sarin attack at the same time. The Sellstrom team conducted interviews with rebel-selected alleged survivors, collected environmental and biological samples, and then had the samples assessed in OPCW-certified laboratories. As we all know, the “feared” nerve agent turned up, confirmed with science.

But less people are aware of the gap in that science at least the size of the massacre itself; the investigators failed to collect a single sample from any of the x-hundred who actually died.

This was a conscious choice, they said, and not a limit forced on them. UN disarmament chief Angela Kane, who accompanied the “inspectors” to Damascus, explained “there were so many victims who are still alive that there was really no need to exhume bodies.” Her bizarre and completely incorrect reasoning: “a dead body can’t tell how the person dies … a living person can tell you that.” [1]

Angela Kane (right) to RT's Oksana Boyko: "a dead body can't tell you how the person dies."
The real reason for this choice could be speculated on. But obviously the dead didn’t get to do interviews either, and so neither their words nor their bodies were called on. Other people - presumed to be about the same - stood in for them in both regards. This exercise in faith may have an honest outcome, and it may not.

In that light, what the Sellstrom team gathered was circumstantial evidence with many possible explanations. For example, Sarin and its degradation products turned up with the Zamalka rockets and impact sites. This could be from the August 21 impacts, either as a main cause of death (as presumed), or just seeded to show up later. Or, it could have been planted at the insurgent-controlled site at any later time.

The human samples show that some people in the area were exposed to Sarin; there are ways to fake exposure, but the tests used apparently rule that out. [2] But there’s nothing to say just when and how it happened, other than the accounts they gave. These are made of words, delivered by rebel-screened people. Such words might be true, but there is a Jihad going on and lying to infidels is allowed. Their propaganda-to-plausibility ratio merits some scrutiny.

Finally, investigative reporter Gareth Porter recently analyzed the U.N. report and decided the subjects probably had “extremely low” exposure to the agent. [3] If so, that leaves an unexplained gap between the subjects and those who supposedly died all around them. It also makes “voluntary” exposure by Jihadi fakers more plausible than one might think.

The Myth in Action
All these gaps matter when neither common sense nor the visual evidence ever suggested Sarin.

In the first murky days, renowned CW expert Jean Pascal Zanders had said “everyone is saying Sarin ... but not everything is pointing in that direction," and “we – the public – know very little beyond the observation of outward symptoms.” [4] CRBN expert Dan Kaszeta reviewed those and said that the deaths “probably were not caused by Sarin,” noting the indicators “are not widespread or are present in confusing manners." For example, some supposed miosis (pinpoint pupil) victims “are clearly having a bright light shined in their eyes." [5]

But the U.N. team’s findings, flawed as they are, apparently resolved the early doubts. Zanders seems to have said relatively little since confirmation. And Dan Kaszeta has pursued a case that it wasn’t just Sarin, but the kind and quantity only the government could have deployed. [6]

Asked how his current views correlate with his early doubts, Kaszeta said by e-mail: “I always thought Sarin was a possibility. But several things erased the uncertainty in my mind.” He cites three points, two being the UN findings (field, and human). He also saw how “other theories and explanatory narratives began to crumble,” sometimes under his own analysis. Asked specifically for anything in the visual evidence, Kaszeta instead pointed to the limitations of video diagnosis (“telemedicine”), and even of the textbook symptoms to compare them to. [7] His points are technically valid, but limited in their relevance. It’s as fair now as it was last fall to note that it just doesn’t look right.

Even those who question the government’s guilt tend to see through the same Sarin-misted lens. “Sasa Wawa” of the research blog Who Attacked Ghouta, Gareth Porter, Seymour Hersh, and others focus on rockets filled with the stuff, but the rebels’ improvised version of it (which exists) and fired by the rebels (which is the best reading). [8] But in fact those rockets, and both sides’ Sarin supplies, might be largely – or totally - irrelevant to what happened that night.

Consider one case where that’s evident: a set of 9 alleged victims (including at least 5 children) found on the 22nd at an unfinished building, dubbed by researchers “Zamalka Ghost House.” It’s right amongst the rocket impact sites, but the signs say these victims were executed there at least two days before the attack. While they seem mainly intact (potentially poisoned), it appears that the man and one boy were shot in the head, and one woman has a sliced arm at least. And the fluid from some of their mouths, like the rest of the horrible things wrong with them, are most consistent with … 4-7 day’s worth of decay, as seen about 36 hours after the attack. [9]

Even though they landed all around the crime scene, August 21 Sarin rockets probably don’t explain those nine fatalities. But the other small and larger sub-totals, making up the entire x-hundred killed, remain open to question.

Enter the "SunMorgue"
Denis O'Brien is a different kind of expert skeptic - not as renowned as Zanders or Kaszeta, but more tenacious and central to this article. A former attorney and professor, with a PhD in neuropharmacology, O’Brien first laid out his worries with a September 9 letter sent to Congress as they were debating a measure to allow military strikes. His first analysis was thorough, but based only on the “Feinstein package" of 13 videos. He asked the legislators to go ahead and really look, and to "please ask President Obama and his administration to explain how scores of people could be exposed to lethal doses of Sarin and yet not show physiological effects that should be evident." Mass vomiting, urination, and defecation were some of the unpleasant signs that didn’t appear at all. [10]

It doesn’t seem he had much effect with his letter, but he didn’t stop there. In contrast to the other critics, O’Brien dug deeper into a narrowing study of the images from Ghouta. A sub-set of people and places solidified into one, with a defined story he could see emerging. This he developed and relates in a massive (200-page) but engaging report, released April 14, titled Murder in the SunMorgue: A Critique of the Sarin Myth and a Cyber-Investigation of the Ghouta Massacre Mystery (hereafter MITSM) [11]

The study centers on one building in the East Ghouta district of Kafr Batna (or KB), just southeast of Zamalka. Early opposition reports said 150 died here (so at least 10% of the total, likely more). MITSM concludes about 120-125 victims are visible in the complex, with “about 100” seen dead; the total number here could be higher, but not lower. [12] Other researchers have geo-located the apparent building in KB. [13]
Confirming the location: Inside the 4 windows is/would be the SunMorgue. Campared - nighttime arrival scene (panoramic) vs. 2009 satellite imagery. (see here for more graphics and discussion on the location matching) 

The most widely seen video (dubbed SM-a) shows at least 80 children, men, and women laid out in close rows in a simple, white-tiled, sun-lit room. Activists mill about between the bodies, collecting blood samples, saying Allahu Akbar, and making their own videos. [14] O-Brien named this the “SunMorgue” of the report’s title.

The "children's corner" of the SunMorgue (still from Sm-a)
In a basement space beneath that is another area O’Brien dubbed the "DarkMorgue." Videos showed some victims on both levels, and scenery clues connect upstairs to down, and one room to the next. Token medical efforts are seen down here; it’s apparently supposed to be a clinic, but with no real equipment besides gas cylinders – audibly hissing. Children, some women, and several men lay dead or prone across the different floors, most of them wet, some of them bloody from sloppy phlebotomy. [15]

Sarin Doesn’t Slice Throats
"Compared to the DarkMorgue,” O’Brien writes, the SunMorgue seems “almost cheerful,” mostly from the natural light and that “its occupants are past their final suffering." But one man at least – dubbed victim M-015 - seems to have passed it right there in the morgue. His blood across the floor is evident in video SM-a and elsewhere, but just where it’s coming from only becomes clear with the kind of all-sources study O’Brien did here.

Victim M-015 (center) (rotated video still from video SM-a)
The middle-aged M-015 has a larger build, so he’s a good candidate for under-dose. Lying face-up, he has a blue sheet wadded beneath his neck, and a white one across the front. Blood is visibly coming from his neck (left side at least), not the back of his head; it soaks up lightly into the white and down heavily into the blue, saturating it and overflowing across the floor beneath other victims. To bleed this much, the victim was almost surely alive with a pulse, maybe even as the videos were made. [16]

If one has followed his exhaustive run-down of each image and each possibility, It’s hard to disagree with O’Brien on this analysis. M-015 was brought in not bleeding, a white cloth over his face, and laid on a blood-free floor with his hands relaxed, laid cross his chest. Later, the face cloth is over his neck, there’s blood everywhere, and the victim has clenched his fists; his right hand is still where it was, but it’s gripping his shirt now. That was the last grasp on life he tried for, it seems, and it was not a helping hand he got back.

Further, in the same array, O’Brien identifies blood-caked possible victim of a throat-slicing prior to the morgue. That one (another adult male, dubbed M-012) is less clear; either a washed-up neck wound left completely uncovered, or an odd necklace-and-blood coincidence. [17]

From this reminder of Islamist slaughter culture, an upsetting alternate version of the brightly-lit SunMorgue emerges, like a photo negative. This is a place to collect and exploit death, and finalize it if needed. It might not be a massacre site, but could well be networked with one. The basement, for example, might be a good spot. Other signs become suspect. Just what are those hissing 44-liter gas cylinders emitting into the air down in the DarkMorgue? And what about the emptied ones all over? There’s a compelling possibility emerging on the MITSM discussion page; one set of tanks poisoned the air here, and another set with oxygen was used to clean it up. It seems okay at filming time. [18]

Consider now the death toll for the Ghouta massacre: 3-500 at the low end, and as many as 1,700 alleged. The entire range is far beyond the usual toll of an alleged CW attack in Syria, with or without enclosed spaces: from zero to around 30 killed. Something employing gas chamber efficiency is suggested here, and this might be a glimpse of that process as it unfolded on the Kafr Batna front.

What was the Poison?
Despite the dramatic power of victim M-015’s obvious in-situ murder, it’s clear that O’Brien considered the more crucial part of his study to be the challenge it lodges to the dangerous "Sarin myth.”

He’s not an expert in assessing the dead, but he at least has enough medical background to know where to look. The “biological mystery” he follows to the molecular level is related in Part C. [19] It should be noted for the critics that in Kafr Batna, there are high-quality photographs, besides the usual video sources. And in contrast to Ake Sellstrom’s mission, at least this study looks at the alleged Sarin victims that really matter.

One of the first things O’Brien noticed was the overall healthy pink color of the victims. This he first took to mean that they might be alive, and briefly pursued a “Juliet hypothesis.” But upon noticing their Pallor Mortis (the paleness of death) and Livor Mortis (the redness of it), that ended. As the heavier red blood cells settle with gravity in the hours following death, lower parts become red and upper parts pale, in an effect that fades within 10-12 hours. He notes many blood samples drawn are just straw-colored plasma, proving that separation and the absence of life.

Distinct line between Pallor Mortis and deep red
Livor Mortis on an adult male victim
(in the far back of the above image)
What’s remains striking is how totally red both colors-of-mortis are in the SunMorgue victims; drained cheeks are still fairly pink and normal-looking, as he had noticed, while the reddened parts are almost lobster color. O’Brien’s research led him to conclude this “rubicundity” after so much time had passed (roughly 8-12 hours) was unusual and a valuable clue. It clearly pointed away from Sarin – its victims sometimes adopt the opposite (cyanosis, or blue skin) or show no change, but redness like this is “low to nil.”

It then fell into place that a “rubigenic” poison, one that locks the hemoglobin in its red state, was to blame. The two examples that occurred to him were the gasses Hydrogen Cyanide and Carbon Monoxide. While there could be other candidates, research and visual observations bore out the theme. Combining entries from appendix I, table III and IV, here’s the short list of useful Sarin signs vs. what’s seen in the KB morgues:

  • Prominent salivation – Sarin: incidence high – Observed: no examples seen
  • Fecal Incontinence – Sarin: incidence high – Observed: no examples seen
  • Ante-Mortem Skin Color – Sarin: high incidence of cyanosis, low to nil instance of rubicundity – Observed: very high incidence of rubicundity, no cyanosis observed.
  • Pallor Mortis color – Sarin: Exclusively bluish grey - Observed: red/pink consistently observed w/ minor questionable exceptions. 
  • Livor Mortis color – Sarin: exclusively dark blue to purple - Observed: Red/pink consistently observed. [20]

The conclusions, taken together: strongly supports Carbon Monoxide, supports Cyanide, and strongly contradicts Sarin. Nothing here can totally rule out that even these victims - let alone others gassed elsewhere - might have Sarin, trace amounts or higher, included in their engineered last breaths. But this best visual assessment of the KB victims says the basic mechanism of their deaths was of another sort.

A final crucial point is the presence of at least two sorts in this same morgue; an apparent gender difference in the post-mortem color. The color details above apply to the majority of KB victims – all of them men and children. The fewer women are usually covered, but when seen (not terribly well), they seem to have no color issues. This could be Sarin, or a “normal” non-toxic death, but it’s different from what the others received. The report accurately notes that they were likely raped along the way, but in the end the women of the SunMorgue may have just been suffocated. [21]

Who Were the Victims?
If in fact insurgents executed the Ghouta victims themselves, then the records they provide – the only ones available – will not be trustworthy. What these say about the SunMorgue victims, for example, probably gives no direct clue why they and their handlers were on such bad terms. It’s a vague but real impression from the morgue videos, best highlighted by the murder of M-015. That was not a friendly action.

It could be that these corpses in rebel custody were that way when alive. It’s been presumed that the victims came to this “clinic” from elsewhere, and two nighttime videos show a couple of arrivals. But those might be the only arrivals and filmed for that reason, while most people were there all along. The apparent gender-segregation of death is a chilling clue; a cloud of Sarin vapor doesn’t differentiate like that, but jailers and executioners might.

Further, it seems unlikely a mass killing in Kafr Batna would coincide with a government Sarin attack in other areas. More likely, it would be just one point in a massive rebel crime spree across the area, played out mainly on controlled captives. Recall the Zamalka “Ghost House” victims - they were dressed like prisoners, the two women wearing their winter coats in August, all with no other possessions. [9]

Now consider mass-scale execution of hostages in previous massacres that were blamed on the government. In rebel-held Khalidiya, Homs, on February 3, 2012, reports said army shelling killed whole families in their homes. But opposition records show the 138 dead were strictly male and 94% adult – probably hostages executed by the “terrorists,” like the government and locals had said. [22]

Daraya, Damascus, August, 2012: Hundreds of hostages were held by rebels in basement prisons as talks broke down, the Army moved in, and rebels started “finding” sex-segregated people executed by the army - in basements and in the same insurgent-run mosque they retreated to and buried the dead at. Death toll unclear: at least a few hundred – some opposition sources said it was over 1,200. [23]

A year after Daraya and a few miles northeast, the Jobar district of Ghouta claimed hits in the Sarin attack, now discredited. An added cause of death there, a rebel medic said, was people burning tires while they hid in basements. [24] If this bizarre claim reflects anything real, it cannot be good. On December 2, 2012, insurgents from al-Houla kidnapped around 500 Alawite civilians in Aqrab, Hama province. They denied them food and water, and made them breathe heavy smoke from burning tires. Half were freed in swaps, and the other half reportedly massacred on December 9 and 10. One likely victim was shown on rebel video - a young girl coated with smoke, her skull hacked open as if by a sword. Army shelling was blamed. [25]

Considering, then, what opposition fighters in Syria sometimes do with their “human resources,” imagine what they might do with those plus access to Sarin, other poisons, rockets, and many enclosed spaces. Imagine that choice being made on the fringes of Damascus, by the anniversary of Obama’s “Red Line” offer, which came just after the UN’s “inspectors” had landed in the capitol.

Motive, means, and opportunity are all evident in spades. The means included the capability to generate “human resources” on the scale we see. in the first days of August. Islamist rebels in the north of Syria abducted at least 4-600 “enemy” civilians (mainly Alawites and Kurds, including women and children) [26] But any link between these freshly “displaced people” and East Ghouta is only so likely. Claims that child victims have been identified are inadequate for an issue of this gravity. [27]

Initial suspicions that the victim videos were filmed in the north is countered by the geo-location of several in East Ghouta, including the SunMorgue. And so the distance issue is a problem for the northern captures theory. But there are quieter abductions, closer to the crime scene, or longer ago in time, that could easily fill a gas chamber system in Ghouta.

More must be learned, since these shady victim patterns continue with the recent CW attacks now being pursued by Human Rights Watch. [28] Opposition reports say “displaced” civilians from neighboring Morek were under the chlorine barrel bomb that fell on Kafr Zita April 11. Only two of these - a baby girl and an elderly man - actually died, and that was from head injuries caused, activists said, by the bombing. [29] In February, the Alawite village of Maan - right next to Morek - had a reported 80+ citizens abducted, following its second rebel massacre. In both cases, women and children had their heads cut off or at least cut in half. [30]

Conclusion: Settled Lies and Re-Claimed Sunlight
Recall Angela Kane’s Orwellian inversion of the truth-to-death ratio: “a dead body can’t tell you how a person died,” but a living, insurgent-screened person can be trusted to tell you for them. Rather, like the blood settles after death into that striking livor mortis, so too does the ability to lie settle after death, leaving brutal honesty alone on the surface.

The study encapsulated in MITSM reveals the story hidden in plain view, by re-claiming the same sunlight the insurgents used to illuminate these cancelled Human Beings. With the same obvious motive they always had, and evidence of a chemical massacre well within their means, it can't be ethically ignored any longer - the handlers of at least this hundred in Kafr Batna, and their foreign backers, may have lied to us about who and what is to blame.

Again, the American threats of force against Syria last year were cancelled only by maneuvers on the world stage, and did nothing to change the perceived truth. The pretext that pushed us there once lingers, awaiting another push. Truth is the best solution to that, but the Sarin myth may be blocking our view of it. In this corner of Hell at least, we now have one cleared view that is brightly lit and should be widely seen.

Endnotes
(ACLOS = A Closer Look On Syria, a research wiki site the author contributes to)

[1] RT October 3, 2013. ‘No sarin detected in West Ghouta environment, only in human samples' - UN's Angela Kane. RT video, published October 3, 2013. (time-stamp: 12:29) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcfIj6WLqRkNote: The author asked both Dan Kaszeta and Denis O’Brien what they thought of that. Kaszeta countered (see note 7): “you can tell a lot from a dead body. Principally the same protein adducts that would be analyzed by fluoride regeneration as from a live body. It would have been great to get some bodies and do some testing.” The remarks reminded O’Brien of an “old Mickey Spillane quip” that “dead men don't tell lies.” (e-mail message from Denis O’Brien to the author, April 27, 2014) See also criticism here.
[2] ACLOS member Pmr9 cites “fluoride ion regeneration test” (see here). A search indicates that exact name isn’t usually used, but a test like that exists. Dan Kaszeta mentioned “a much newer method, one that forced me back to the library to read up on, called fluoride regeneration or fluoride reactivation.” (see also note 1) Both agreed this rules out the known methods of fakery (like ingestion of IMPA powder) and/or proves actual Sarin exposure.
[4] Syria: Chemical Weapons Expert Jean Pascal Zanders Says Gas Might Not Be Sarin, Urges Caution By Mehdi Hassan, Huffington Post, August 30, 2013. - Is It Possible The Syrian Rebels (Not Assad) Used Chemical Weapons? by Eyder Peralta, National Public Radio, The Two-Way. August 27, 2013. Note: In the latter, he also warned "we need to keep our minds open that the events of last Wednesday could in whole or partially have alternative explanations."
[5] What Happened? If it isn’t Sarin, what is it? By Dan Kaszeta PDF (revised 26 August - original version was Aug. 23)
[6] (for example) Why Nigel Farage Has It All Wrong: Smoking Guns, Hexamine, And Syrian Sarin Dan Kaszeta, guest post on Brown Moses blog
[7] E-mail message from Dan Kaszeta to the author, May 2, 2014. Kaszeta cited the low number of human cases, problems with translating animal studies, unknowns about victim age and health, and unknowns regarding how Sarin interacts with other chemicals in the weapon or environment, or smoke. “Because of these considerations,” he said, “I have to say that what the "received wisdom" in the manuals is about signs and symptoms is an educated guess more than a definitive known fact.”
[8] Gareth Porter: See note 3. - Seymour Hersh December 19, 2013: Whose Sarin? - Sasa Wawa, Nov. 2, 2013: The Conclusion.
[9] ACLOS: Zamalka/Ghost house The house has been geo-located in Zamalka – someone even marked it on Wikimapia The decay reading is the author’s own, informed by prior study on body decay.
[10] Lack of Pharmacological Proof of a Sarin Attack at Damascus: An Open Letter to Congress. By Denis R. O'Brien, Sep 09., 2013. PDF link Note: he also brought it to ACLOS. sparking our early contact. Note: In MITSM (see note 11), O’Brien explains he enlisted the help of congressman Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist, to warn Congress “that before they authorize any bombs, they better have a closer look at the evidence from a pharmacological point of view.” But: “the only thing I got for my efforts was being put on Paul’s weekly Email list, which I have not been able to escape from yet.”
[11] Murder In The SunMorgue. A Critique of the Sarin Myth and a Cyber-Investigation of the Ghouta Massacre Mystery. by Denis R. O'Brien. August 14, 2014. Project page. Report in four parts (A-D), with appendices, and a discussion page where new evidence is still being considered. Part A offers a good overview. Direct PDF link
[12] See MITSM part A, pages A-4, A-13. Victims of special interest, but not all, are given identifying numbers like M-015. Some are given nicknames, like the girl “Bunny” to whom (along with her playmates) MITSM is dedicated.
[13] ACLOS: Kafr Batna hospital. Identified by Petri Krohn 7 Sept., 2013. His “town hall” description is not confirmed; these are buildings. Location-video match confirmed by the author 26 April, 2014 with graphics. The location given in MITSM (p. A-13) is incorrect (points to Zamalka) Actual coordinates,: 33° 30' 55" N, 36° 22' 27" E Google Maps link
[14] Video SM-a, previously listed as Video 011a in the MITSM videos index (MP4 downloadable) (#11 in the “Feinstein Package”),
[15] “Connecting the SunMorgue to the DarkMorgue” MITSM part B, pages B-28-39
[16] “The in situ death of corpse M-015” See MITSM, part D - pages D-11-22 direct PDF link
[17] “Another Slit Throat?” MITSM part D, pages D-25-28
[18] The gas cylinders are discussed throughout the report, with a new video and discussion about the hissing and the theories on the MITSM discussion page This is still nebulous; no one is even sure yet what the two colors (pale green, bright blue) usually mean in this (Syrian/ international) context.
[19] MITSM, part C: Read Their Lips: The Ghouta Massacre as a Biological Mystery. Direct PDF link
[20] MITSM, Appendix 1 - Tables. Direct PDF link
[21] MITSM part C, pages C-34-35
[22] ACLOS: Khalidiya Massacre Part of: Homs Massacres
[24] If rockets only hit Zamalka, and winds were to the E-SE, Jobar (west) would be unaffected. In this video, a “Jobar medical point doctor” describes a CW attack on Jobar and Ain Tarma (S-SE) alone. At time-stamp 3:45, as he explains how victims put themselves in basements and started fires, including “burning tires" - "putting tires on fire added insult to injury." He suggests an education campaign to counter that behavior.
[25] Unverified report that the final 235 (88 of them children and women) were killed then. [ACLOS: Aqrab Massacre
[26] Latakia: Civilians, primarily women and children , were captured by terrorists during the horrifying conquest of 11 small mountain towns. At least 200 killed (confirmed) during a joint FSA-al-Nusrah-ISIS assault. ACLOS: Latakia Massacres. – Kurds: ACLOS: Talk:Tal Abyad massacre Captives taken before and after a massacre (of 70?) August 5. Kidnappings preceded this and continued after: at least 263 by August 11, possibly 400 total. Homs: Aug. 17 raid on Christian Marmarita, apparently turned back; civilians killed, but no mention of abductions. ACLOS: Marmarita Massacre
[27] There have been reports of child victims identified by families in Latakia. If true, these would have weight, but no details are provided and the source (an activist nun) is of sporadic reliability. Amateur attempts are worth trying, but all so far are inadequate for an issue of this gravity. SeeACLOS: Latakia connection? See also the MITSM discussion page. – O’Brien pans some attempts.  
[28] Syria: Strong Evidence Government Used Chemicals as a Weapon Human Rights Watch, May 13, 2014
[30] The first Maan Massacre was Dec. 25, 2012, ACLOS: Maan Massacre The second one was Feb. 9, 2014, ACLOS: Maan Massacre, 2014 Syria News.cc reported "the missings list extends to 80 civilian." Woman’s head chopped in half explained: ACLOS Al-Taman'ah Bus Victims

Fail Caesar part 2: Re-Considering The Victims

November 16-17, 2014
<-- Fail Caesar: Exposing the Anti-Syria Photo Propaganda {Masterlist}

(This incomplete post will be a large-sized one, with some additions expected in time. It might well need to be split-up into a series of posts, but I'm hoping one big, valuable page can hold it all. Already it's huge and I want to post it, and then finish the main first part in-place)
(last edits Nov. 18 (added to "fighting age men" and "starvation timeline")

Intro: Honoring Victims of Genocide?
  The narrative provided by the defector "Caesar" and echoed by so many is quite clear on who the men in his photographs are; primarily or totally prisoners in Syrian government's jails. Specifically, they tended to come from military intelligence prisons in Damascus, especially the ones run by MI branches 215 and 227, and it's quite clear the guilt for all abuses on those jailers alone. All the dead from fighting on both sides, the massacred civilians of Alawi and Christian villages and government loyalist Sunnis, executed hostages simply found by the government, all accidental or natural deaths, were sent elsewhere or at least not included in the thousands of photos "Caesar" claims he smuggled out copies of.

  And so it is the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in October, 2014, displayed images of these dead Syrian men to defame their government and further encourage its overthrow as only fair. The UK Guardian - one original media outlet for the Caesar project and guardian of the story - reports the subjects were "honoured" by the display, because it can be known they were "victims of [the] Syrian regime."

  The USHMM display was titled "Genocide: the Threat Continues," and was explained as meant "to remind the world that genocide didn't end with the Holocaust." A government-led "genocide" has been invoked by "Caesar" and his support team, but which "geno" they and the USHMM speak of remains unexplained. Presumably, it's the standard: Assad the Alawite against the Sunni majority of Syria, or more narrowly those Sunnis who rebel against the state. As a group with a family element, there is a genetic dimension to the crackdown. And the museum did chose to highlight - among a reported 12 images total - one that shows a man with his genitals removed, which sort of captures part of the essence of the crime (I don't believe this one is among those I've seen on the Internet).

  It has always remained plausible, if not considered by the gatekeepers, that this story is not accurate, that the victims were actually selected by the anti-government side for being non-Sunni or for supporting the government. This would classify as genocide at least as well as it does the other way around. This has been the motive in some of Syria's most notorious mass killings - acknowledged in some cases like the August 2013 Latakia Massacres and the October 2013 Sadad massacre, while getting glossed over or denied in others like the Houla Massacre (following the Battle of Taldou) and the Al-Bayda massacre of Sunni civilians related to a government loyalist Imam.

  If this is the case to even some extent in the "Caesar" photos, then to that extent it would be fairer to say the USHMM exhibit exploits the victims - and horribly so - instead of honoring them. It would, as others have already done, use their suffering to defame and destroy the government whose only crime was being unable to protect all its citizens anymore ... on account of the outsider-supported uprising, fed by propaganda like this stretching back to day one.

  All regime prisoners, all rebel/terrorist victims, or some mix ... these are the basic possibilities for what's actually shown in these documents of misery. Here I seek not to disprove but to firmly challenge the blindly accepted first option.

General Points: What can be Seen, What can't be Known

Numbers: Caesar provided a large portion of the vaunted 55,000 total images - perhaps exactly the 26,948 delivered to the FBI. The remaining half, the Carter-Ruck report states, were "similar images" gathered from other sources that don't share the "credible" details "Caesar" provides for his. It's estimated the full 55,000 images show 11,000 victims, as each victim in a smaller pool had 4-5 images taken. So just for Caesar's half, it might be only half that, or likely more. The report is based on close examination of 835 victims from a set of 5,500 images they were given. We cannot yet verify any of these numbers, but can proceed on the presumption that this part at least is probably true.

Mixed Types of Dead: The visual facts of the photos suggest mixed types of alleged prisoners, as the sections below show. The most brutally tortured appear "nabbed" and left in original street clothes, finished off horribly but quickly compared to the others we've seen. Those appear to have been shackled somewhere for weeks and neglected totally until they had starved to death. There seem to be a few visible odd samples of other types, and a fuller review would likely clarify the spread of these differences and offer a more useful view. But from the limited view so far, it seems either the prisons in this system used very mixed methods, or the victims simply did not all come from prisons as alleged.

Fighting Age Men: The Carter-Ruck report says there was exactly one woman (clothed, no sign of injury) among the 835 victims the investigators examined closely. The "vast majority" were men who appeared to be aged 20-40, with a very few elderly men ("up to sixty years old") and "no children." But one victim below (#2 in this list) looks more like 70, and what contitutes "children" might be perhaps arbitrary; they don't mention anyone in the crucial category aged 16-20 category, some photo victims appear to be possible teenagers, and "Caesar says (NPR) "there are pictures of children, there are pictures of the elderly, and there's a picture of a woman," all seeming to be the dramatic exceptions to the rule that the report might have over-simplified a bit. (Note: the one woman sounds like in his whole archive, also appearing in the 5,500-image sample given to the investigators) It's not known if this pattern holds over the fuller catalog, but it seems likely enough to describe the victims here as men, and those being primarily of fighting age.
  The identity of punished fighting-age men in Syria would seem clear to the Western public mind: Sunni activists, rebel fighters or people the authorities thought might become that, detained and later killed in a paranoid prevention policy. Such things are a staple accusation in Syria, and not inherently illogical. But on a case-by-case basis, the accusation often fails to hold water.
  Consider the men that kept turning up in the Queiq river in Aleppo in early 2013 - 110 of them at once on January 29. The victims were locals from rebel-administered Bustan al-Qasr district, right by that stretch of river. But opposition claims were they also crossed to the government side for work, and were abducted there. Then they were killed at a military intelligence prison - a strong parallel with the accusations of Team Caesar - and floated down the river to right where they would wind up if local rebels had dumped them a few blocks from home. A lot of clues there point to rebel hostages or perhaps failed recruitment drives - men they thought could and should be rebels, held until they agreed. Those might be executed when they refused to play along, with the killings clustered for effect and to be branded a regime massacre; everyone knew the number was 110, even when they could only find 80 of them right away. These and others found before and after were used as propaganda with a clear recruitment agenda - explicitly boosting the "moderate" FSA but including a welcome to Jabhat al-Nusra - that can be seen in this Guardian video report. The second-biggest Queiq River massacre, of around 50 bodies at once, turned up in that same rebel repository on March 10, the same day that video was published, as if it was a promotional event!
  Added later, an even better and more undeniable example to help put the below in context: Douma Hostage Massacre (the one we have a page on anyway), August 2012. Douma is a northwestern suburb of Damascus, from which a reported 16 local men (later adjusted to 12, maybe still 16 in truth, only six seen for sure) were found executed on August 17. Dressed in civilian street clothes, they had their throats cut to the point of being half-decapitated, and were dumped at the National Hospital in neighboring Harasta. Rebel videos filming the grisly discovery decried the "slaughter of detainees by Assad's soldiers," where "Assad Regime kills 16 Douma youths with knives" in an "extra judicial execution" that's "evidence of crimes against Humanity Committed by Syrian Dictator Bashar Al-Assad."
  But before they were executed, all six visible victims were seen seen in the same distinctive street clothes they were killed in, with other captives and their "Assad regime" captors. This was on a series of videos made a few days earlier and stamped with a local anti-Assad FSA brigade logo. An armed militant explains, perhaps, how they will punish these men (translation still needed). At this time the doomed are described in video titles (translated) as "elements of the Internal Security Forces Armor Brigade for the Capital," captured. These men don't look military, by their clothes or varied levels of fitness and age; they look like random local men of about fighting age is all. But the Harasta rebels claimed they "killed and captured many of the Assad army" on or before August 14, and these 12-16 prisoners were killed three days later, and then filmed by the same people and blatantly turned into (unidentified) innocents "slaughtered by Assad thugs." That's how some of the victims captured in the photos under discussion have been presented...

Morgue/Garage Locale and Loyalty: The location(s) of the photographs is not proven. "Caesar" is clear it's the place he worked, unspecified. It might be an area next to an official morgue, but it isn't one. Le Monde (via Worldcrunch) heard from Caesar project heavyweight Emadeddin Rachid (alt: Emad ad-Din al-Rashid) former deputy head of the Sharia Faculty at the University of Damascus, president of Syrian National Movement, founder of Islamist "Syrian National Current" part of the SNC, directly financing "moderate" Islamist factions. Rashid had the photos on his computer, showed them some, and said of one scene "this is the garage of the military hospital of Mezzeh. ... That's where they throw the corpses when the morgue is full. .. That is, these are just the overflow of a much larger massacre, even just in the Damascus area! This smacks of politicized exaggeration. Wall Street Journal, in their July video report, specify Hospital 601 as where US investigators believe the photos were taken. The location they show (0:10) is the same as comes up for Mezzeh in Google Maps, so that's "confirmation" - or rather someone who believed the Rashid/Caesar story.
  In the "Caesar" photos we've seen, showing around 100 victims total, the bodies appear fresh, seen probably less than a day after death, and perhaps just minutes after. Only the one (#3 below) is very decayed and perhaps another (#6) just starting to bloat. This suggests those processing the bodies are on the same side as the killers and easily transferring bodies from one branch to another. It's less likely, but plausible, that such fresh bodies were dumped by one side and found by the other in a swift manner.
  Prisoner and prison numbers seem correct and realistic enough they could be true, but it would be a trivial effort to fake these. Needed: an impressively big but believable prisoner number and a recognizable prison identifier, written on an index card and in some cases written on the body itself. This can be done by anyone, easily, anywhere. We don't even know if this mimics official procedures, let alone if it is official.

For all we can tell the site(s) could be:
* a government-connected facility with these photos being part of the system as we're assured
* a random place where bodies in official channels are slipped away by in-place defectors for these photo shoots, using erasable markers and such to avoid detection
* something more like a rebel-held garage next to a controlled building with a big basement full of hostages - where they took these photos at leisure and simply faked their own murder victims as prisoners of "the Assad regime"

Obscured Faces: Most faces we see here are obscured, except where it would hide shocking gore. This has a many possible reasons, but no clear exlanation offered by Team Caesar. CNN reported on a reason to obscure victim numbers - "those numbers are obscured in the report released to CNN to protect "Caesar's" identity and to hide the location of the military hospital where the photos were taken." Identity can only be hidden that way if it can be deduced from where he was working. But Team Caesar's Rashid has been telling people the location was Mezzeh military hospital 601, blowing that cover (see above). Further, any government with copies of the same images could compare to the originals and get the numbers there - besides already knowing just who he is and where he worked - if he ever worked there as he claims. Not even CNN offered an explanation why the victims' faces had to be obscured. This censorship might prevent recognition of a victim by a Syrian citizen with a different and provable story about that man's death. But they would claim a different reason, if they claimed one. Maybe the regime is able to "figure out" who Caesar is by recognizing the faces of the men he photographed at the work site they assigned him to, which again could be found from their own copies anyway just like the numbers, the photographer's personnel file and next of kin, etc.

 Unless ... they never had copies, because the photos were taken in a rebel facility, before the victims were buried in still undiscovered mass graves, for example.

Seven for Special Study
  In this morbid photo album, there are some interesting victims to help illustrate how the truth may be different from the Team Caesar narrative. It could be argued I selected these to poke holes in the story, ignoring others that fit it better. That would be true, but these are from among those 33 top picks selected by the team previously, filtering out tens of thousands, from among those chosen to smuggle out in the first place. These 7 cover more than 20% of the published photos, and the bulk of the rest with more victims in them are covered by the next section anyway.

  I feel like not showing the photos here, generally. But the photo numbers refer to the list of 33 known photos here at the ACLOS talk page. There each has a link so you can see it as presented by media and government sources directly involved in the Caesar project, from their servers for now.

1) A Christian (photo 25):
  This alleged Assad victim is, by his several visible crucifix tattoos, a member of one of Syria's many and often ancient Christian communities - not known for rising up en masse against the government, and not connected to the supposed genocide of Sunnis it's claimed the photos document. Islamist terrorists often abduct and kill Christians, but here, Assad's jailers are allegedly to blame. Perhaps one joined the rebels and survived that to be done in by a regime prison. Perhaps the regime is just killing whoever now.
  Luckily, he's one of the rare seen victims with numbers actually written on his body as further proof of what the card says - regime victim. Hidden in one house.gov view and not in another (WSJ video), these says he's victim #2615 from branch 227, with another number seeming to be B/4624 (with the 6 written first like a 9 - suggesting someone more familiar with the the Perso-Arabic variant system - possible clue, real or fake).
  Aside from an apparent stab in the right shoulder, it's not clear if he was simply starved to death or actually executed. The covered eyes here - in both views - could be to hide his identity, or to obscure the fact his eyes were gouged out, as Islamists often do to captive heretics, and as some photo victims had done to them. If one wants to blame the secular government fighting Islamist fanatics, it would not help to let people see crosses and eyes missing on the same body. Just the crosses alone are eyebrow-raising, if not conclusive.

2) Elderly Man, Gouged Eyes (photo 14)
  This bearded, elderly man has no clear indication of sect, but he was abducted, starved, and exposed to smoke inhalation prior to death (the nostrils of his broken nose are black - see the same with the Alawite civilians taken captive by rebels in Aqrab, December 2012, and at least one victim starved in rebel-held Yarmouk in early 2014 for a couple of examples.
  Closer to the end, it looks like his eyeballs were gouged out of their sockets, but left hanging loose. They want us to see this, but not his face in general. Islamists sometimes do that to infidels, whose corpses the government might later find, and whose family might recognize his face (maybe even with the blur). Or as alleged, the government might do this themselves to avoid the wait. He too seems to have a number written across his chest, obscured here.

3) Decayed Victim (photo 13)
  This is another alleged victim of Assad torture, perhaps believed to be some kind of extreme waterboarding (??). It's so severe the person almost looks like the victim of anything, dumped in a creek face-down, and only found a week or two later. Traffic accident on a remote highway, unpaid ransom, who knows? But allegedly, Assad jailers executed him/her, then ... maybe ... dumped the body somewhere moist and retrieved it later? Signs: badly broken jaw, one eye missing, possible hole in throat. It's hard to divorce any one of these from decay/predation and call it a certain feature of torture/execution, but any of them could be.
  This victim is the one known exception to the rule that the shown bodies tend to be fresh - the photographers and their system with "elaborate" numbers might be aligned with the killers, explaining the swift transfers. Again, this dirt-floor garage could be rebel site for all we know.

4) Punctured and Slaughtered (photo 29)
  This Syrian man in civilian street clothes (white t-shirt now torn and soaked red with fresh blood) was abducted by someone who tore up his flesh horribly and then killed him by slicing his throat wide open (partly visible on the right side). Slicing throats is often an Islamist thing, but here allegedly Assad jailers are doing it too. I'm not sure what causes this pitting of peoples' flesh, but this has been seen in some cases (the Daraya massacre at least, and the Mohammed family in Homs during the first rebel reign of terror). The best clues say the victims in both cases were rebel captives, while rebels with access to the bodies insist it was Shabihha or the army who scooped holes in these people, largely in the belly, the arms, and inner thighs. Here' it's Assad jailers allegedly doing it to this guy, and they did get the body in front of a camera quickly. They also gave him a broken left arm and hand, as mentioned a sliced throat, and possible facial trauma under the cloud of blur there.

5) Burned and Eyes Gouged Out (photo 16)
  Lightly-bearded middle-aged man with short hair, stocky build, shown naked with horrible burns in a neat band around his upper torso. These leave his chest all either red or black (charred), with two apparent holes of different size also in the mid-chest. There are odd blurs to the right on his abdomen (a wound too horrible to see? a small victim number?) and near but not at private parts (off-frame here.) Most notably, they show his right eye socket, now devoid of its eye. The rest of his face is blurred away and unrecognizable. It seems his left eye is also scooped out, but for some reason that one's censored.

6) Tortured Belly (photo 15)
  Someone abducted this obese man in street clothes (a dark sweater) and decided to slice up his fat belly, for unclear reasons aside from it being such a big target - but maybe not this big to start. This could the more common "tramline" injuries (beating with thin rod or heavy cable) but to me it looks more like infected cuts. Then he was apparently found face-down in the dirt somewhere, with some of this swelling probably being the start of bloating (maybe 2-3 days dead), brought here and documented. Method of execution unclear (head intact, neck covered). Clearly not starved to death. Maybe fed to death? (appearing in a list of seven, maybe it's the movie Se7en (pronounced "Sesevenen") influencing me here)

7) Mutilated with a Chain (photo 32)
  This bearded, middle-aged Syrian man in civilian street clothes (striped shirt) was abducted by someone who did something unusual and horrible to him. A chain is wrapped tightly around his torso, where he was perhaps hanged or dragged, leaving his rib cage distorted, swollen upwards. Probably after this, two holes were punched in each side of his chest, maybe with bullets. This is an ambiguous type of treatment is another of the especially heinous ones carried out by the "Assad regime," at whichever prison that is where they leave inmates in their street clothes, no uniforms or haircuts, never keep them long enough to starve them to death, and come up with random and extreme torture methods to keep it interesting.

The Victims Starved in Bulk
  The most potent images combine "starved" and "numerous" victims in the same image. That formula is seen three times among those 33 chosen to lead with. Le Monde's reporters who met Emad ad-Din al-Rashid saw the copies of the photo set on his computer. He pointed to one of these and noted what others have: "All these bodies, all skin and bones: It inevitably makes you think about Nazi concentration camps."

  Such photos show a calousness at odds with the image of sword-wielding Islamist hot-heads, and also a scale that naturally evokes the 1940s Holocaust of Jews and others across Europe - which in context means it probably at least had a government behind it. The scale of death - dozens at a time - and the use of warehouses, and "elaborate" numbers that "follow each other" with chilling predictability, all seem beyond insurgents' beard-choked brains. There must be a "killing machine" behind all this, it might seem, of the type only a national government could operate.

Below: one example put in context - aside from the timeline correction, this is how it was employed by the Facebook page "Stand With Caesar" on October 18.

  Whenever the rest came through, either the Branch 215 photo or a similar group shot was staged towards the end of the two-year documentation period, "at the time “Caesar” was planning to defect," according to the Carter-Ruck report (page 14). The report continues: "The excuse he gave for group photographs to his colleagues was that in case they had missed a body they could go back to the group photograph." But really, "he had someone in his section take photographs of a group of bodies to show that the place “looked like a slaughterhouse”." That is, he did it for effect, for a striking scene that would make good propaganda, for which it was recognized later.

  He in fact took at least three such shots (a different one of them shown above). The narrative here suggests the scene he describes was the first time, requiring as it did an explanation. That in turn means the later repetitions of that also came during this later pre-defection span of enhanced creativity. This might well be in August 2013, the month he stopped taking photos and played dead for a bit. Just when in the month would be really helpful to know (see below), but isn't spelled out.

  As noted above, the overall victim array seems quite mixed, challenging the uniform prison system explanation. But there is an overall majority it seems, if slight, that almost gives one face to the "Caesar" photo gallery. It's not the mutilated victims examined above, but the larger numbers of starved captives that came through in at least a few larger batches.

  The Carter-Ruck report explained in their detailed study of "a total of eight hundred and thirty five (835) deceased persons" 42% - or around 350 - "showed emaciation" to the degree they noted it. (p. 17) Presumably, they did this reasonably and a lot of guys were seriously starved by whoever held them captive, as the publicized photos already suggested. Page 28 shows findings for a smaller-yet "dip sample" of 150 individuals. 93 of these, 62%, were emaciated. We could average these and say somewhere around half of the total victims are of this broad group, with the other half being the acute torture victims and unclear other groups we haven't seen much of yet.

  The next most widespread sign in the dip sample is shin problems. 55% of the sample, some 82 individuals had ulceration there, smaller numbers (perhaps overlapping?) had scars, bandages, non-specific or ligature injuries to the shin. The group photos of starved men we've seen show at least some overlap with those starved and suffering raw, traumatized, infected ankles and shins, some looking gangrenous and black. In the larger pool, there might be a huge overlap to approximate the same group sharing these traits.

  My conclusion: whoever held the bulk of these people captive chained them up with some kind of ankle shackles as they failed to feed or care for them. Depending on the type of shackles used, either side seems capable for pulling this together in an area with buildings that they controlled for long enough. So far, we have the word of "Caesar" and of his support team, and the government-blaming numbers written down, to prove any of this is happening on the dirt of an area secured by the Syrian government.

  Otherwise, again, it could be in one of the many areas under one kind or another of rebel administration. That's a 'where' question we can't answer yet. Related to it is the question of 'when'...

Starvation Timeline
  There's a possibly important question about when these men died. Either side could starve captived to death at any time, so the question is not all-important. But there is one period is known for mass starvation with shady explanations, and it's very close to the last of "Caesar's" photos, per the vague, provided timeline. The possibility of overlap between these times of emaciation is worth probing for.

  It's reported "Caesar" took his pictures between March, 2011 and August, 2013, with the time within August not specified. Of course, on August 21 the Ghouta chemical massacre happened in the Damascus suburbs. Unknown hundreds (X-hundred) civilians in rebel-held areas reportedly died from a government Sarin attack, although detailed research shows that at least one batch of about 100 victims including children was gassed by rebels, probably with carbon monoxide, with one man at least finished off in the rebel morgue with a sliced throat. The simplest explanation for such victims is hostages already in their control, with ransoms foregone in an ambitious bid at outside military support.

  But as reported by rebels, the government attack clearly crossed US president Obama's "red line" - exactly one year after he first described it - and led to serious threats of warfare into September. This might well explain the final time "Caesar" decided to flee, hoping Cruise missiles would be coming down soon but prepared to level a backup allegation if the Ghouta news failed, as it did. It was possibly earlier in the month that he cut out, but not likely to be much after. That is, if August really was his last month, and if he actually worked there.

  Just after the alleged Sarin attack, at the end of August, young children started starving to death in one of the allegedly gassed areas, Moadamiyeh, per records of the well-connected Violations Documentation Center (VDC). The reports came with photos to prove what was most likely a problem with how rebels in charge shared the food there. There being no such thing as a human decency embargo, it was most likely intentional that certain children got cut off from food. Children especially started starving to death in small numbers right after this in other rebel-held parts of Damascus under alleged food embargo. By October, numerous civilians of all ages were regularly wasting away in the rebel-held Yarmouk Palestinian camp/district, in a crisis that peaked in January 2014 with several deaths per day reported, all blamed on the external blockade. Throughout, it seems likely rebels were putting some of their own captives on these crash diets, to keep the mindless denunciations of the government coming in.

  It's the starting edge of these dubious crises that's most likely to matter here. Moadamiyeh starving deaths started at the end of August. And in Yarmouk camp, the VDC lists one early case - an infant, back on Aug. 18. Compare that to the likely crush of starved men implicitly documented sometime in August. These do not appear at all in the VDC records, which is actually odd, as they frequently know when someone was tortured to death in a regime prison: just a few random examples of men from all across Syria, detained and taken to Damascus, esp. Branch 215, to die under torture on or before some known date:

Aleppo Central prison doctor who defected, tortured to death in Damascus, Nov. 2012 19-year-old from Daraa, died Dec 18 2012, found dumped "near Air defense battalion between Atman and Tafas" after prison torture - Bus driver from Qarah, Damascus area, died Jan. 14 2013 in a hospital after prison torture - "defected soldier" from Daraa, died Feb 25, 2013 "under torture in a prison after his arrest six days ago by regime forces and his body was thrown on Homs : Damascus road." - 17-year-old, died May 2 after release from prison, with torture. - Harasta resident died June 29, 2013 "Under torture in the prison regime" - Jan. 14 2014, plumber from Rawda, Damascus, arrested July 2013 - "defected soldier" from Daraa died Feb 20 2014 "under torture in the regime`s army prisons in Sednya prison." - From Idlib, died at Branch 215 in Damascus, May 8 2014, over a year after arrest - Latakia man imprisoned at least 2 years, released from Saidnaya prison in bad health, died not on June 25 2014: "date of death is not accurate."

  Maybe there are a lot they miss, but there are many they learn of, especially from careless evidence-dumping. But when hundreds of captive men are allegedly starved to death in these same prisons (or die non-violently at about that point?) the VDC seems to have missed all of them. Maybe some are listed as Detention-Torture like this guy who allegedly starved to death in a prison - which should be listed under "other." But that's a huge list of 3,336 people to comb through.

It seems impossible to do a search for two words anywhere in the notes (prison + malnutrition) - it's too literal, needs the exact phrase. However, All martyrs with "prison" in notes and "other" (incl. starvation) as cause of death = 52 total. Most of these are starvation and disease deaths during the rebel siege of Aleppo central prison in the winter of 2013. At the bottom of the list are two infants at the prison in Raqqah (?) who died from a regime milk embargo. But there's no sign of any of the hundreds of captive men in Damascus anywhere near the middle of 2013.

  A total lack of preview would be a bit suspicious; is it because these deaths were kept so secret, or because the VDC knew more than usual, but wanted it to appear completely "leaked" by the defector they knew was coming? (Or have I just not found the records?)

  The VDC did manage to record alleged prison conditions in the nearby Damascus suburb of Harasta, put into a report published just after "Ceasar" defected, in September 2013. Cited are five recent escapees from Air Force intelligence prison in Harasta: "The witnesses – in their testimonies ... also mentioned the deteriorated health condition in the Branch that caused serious skin diseases to all the detainees, who have been also suffering a malnutrition till they got the "Starvation disease"" But they were careful to hear nothing just yet about masses of deaths from starvation at Branch 215 and wherever else.

  In the absence of the original metadata Team Caesar managed to lose, the question remains open ... do the starved victims come in steadily like a government policy, or in a sudden spurt in, say, mid-to-late August? Wouldn't it be interesting if the regime starved so many in their own controlled prisons, and did it so secretly, at the same time rebels were apparently culling their hostages for Sarin and starvation victims in numerous areas so close by?

  In support of a Summer surge: as noted the 12-man slaughterhouse photo and any others like it were - implicitly in "Caesar's" narrative - staged somewhere in that creative span in or near August. Also, we find a possible support from the defector himself, in the Carter-Ruck report: "It was quite clear from the account given by “Caesar” that the emaciation of the bodies of those in detention was something that he regularly encountered when taking the photographs." His making this "quite clear" suggests the facts themselves don't, or even - like other parts of his story - challenge the regularity, and might instead point to the sudden surge that would be so telling in context.