November 21, 2011
(incomplete, last edits Dec. 31)
a BBC News report, is the dramatic gate of the Yarmouk military base just south of Tripoli, next to which the Khamis Brigade shed massacre of about 150 was said to have occurred on August 23. Its famous eagle gate, scarred by fighting, has been topped by this time with a rebel flag of "free Libya." Just where it is briefly remained a mystery to me.
The immediate base surroundings is sometimes called the Yarmouk area of the district named Salaheddin or a couple of variations, or alternately Khalet/Khelet/Khalid/Khalida Ferjan/al-Ferjan/Forjan. Arabic for the last: خلة فرجان.
Rebels "storming" the base well-after it had been taken, from the look of it. Shows the north area, main gate, and a bit of the interior.
A drive-by video from May, when the large warehouse-type buildings at the south end of the base at least were already bomb-damaged.
CBC video shows some glimpses of bomb-gutted buildings inside, as seen at right, as well as the shed yard in the adjacent area.
Al Jazeera video of the shed yard, with a nice full-circle pan.
Human Rights Watch photos, from this useful report on their silly "investigation," show the shed yard (see map below) from three views (using afternoon light presumptions): looking north from atop the trashed truck perhaps, looking northeast from just west of the shed (includes a dead body), and looking northwest from the gate area - one of the mattress victims is visible.
Conformity with Satellite Imagery
Wikimapia has the Yarmouk base indicated, about 10-12 miles south of Tripoli city center, from Google maps, inset at left. but it didn't seem to match the video of the base's exterior. Or interior, or "adjoining" shed yard. Satellite imagery can be dated and fail to reflect more recent changes, but to be the same place shown in the videos, we'd need new buildings just north of the compound and a new paved crossroad there, a new gate structure, new wall probably, a large expansion to the south, at least one large new building inside, northeast of the entrance when facing in, plus new trees and different layout inside with more paved roads. Further, the highway outside would have to be re-done to curve to the east around the base's southern end, where the wall slopes away from the road, and have another, recessed, gate put in down there. Not to mention the road would have to be made lower-capacity; the satellite images of Airport Highway suggest four lanes each direction, whereas the video suggests only four total passing by the base.
It took me a while to locate another fit, not far away to the northeast. Diagonally across the patch of 15 giant "crop circles," one kilometer east of the top row, at the curve in al Hadhbah Road, is a perfect match. It's got the right cross-roads, matching double-pillar gate structure, wall dipping further from the road to the south, covered walkway things out front to the north, built-up interior and - are my eyes deceiving me, or does the current Google maps imagery show extensive bombing damage within the compound?
Google maps link
I didn't yet spot the shed area, where the massacre was allegedly staged. But all reports say it's adjacent to, adjoining, or perhaps even within this eagle-gate place, so it should be nearby. I'll leave that puzzle to readers for now. The grounds will look kind of like this, presuming afternoon light in general, with exact north orientation uncertain-it could be rotated a bit from this in reality. The bodies probably won't be shown - this is just to make this graphic dual-use, helping clarify where the dead outside the shed were.
Update Nov. 22: Contributor Petri Krohn found it right behind the base. He looked for peaked roofs like the shed has. Since most buildings there have flat roofs, this was smart, and helped narrow down a great match.
And then a graphic of the whole area base area and where it is.As an afterthought, I added a small orange square in the lower left corner where Wikimapia had placed the Yarmouk base.
The apparent bomb damage, highlighted here in blue and worth a closer look, is largely to the base's south side. The warehouse buildings with their sheet metal blown all over, and a few concrete buildings closer to the center, can be seen in some of the video views at top. Some of this is months-old already as the base was finally taken. More extreme building damage, cropped off here, is apparently outside the compound, southeast of the highlighted area here. There are other spots with craters in the ground, buildings with holes in the roofs and/or debris blown out across streets, throughout the compound. It's possible what was there in late August was more bombed yet, but the large building in the dirt lot near the north corner at least seems to be intact.
As far as we know, there have been no reports or evidence of dead soldiers anywhere in there. Only 150 or so of their random captives, all collected at that red corner compound and mostly burned to anonymity.
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.