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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mariupol Market Massacre: The Terrorist Rocket Attack of January 24, 2015

This is another "masterlist" to organize some important points I need to make about the fairly recent and important event. This series is based on and interrupts discussion and research here, and ultimately covers the spectrum of analysis and speculation, from the forensic to the deep politics. I think six posts, listed below, will cover the most important parts. They're not all ready (and may not ever get finished) but I'm rushing a bit on the 4th part and this intro - the subject may be urgent and shouldn't wait any longer.

1) Introduction
(built-in below)
2) A Rebel Offensive? (forthcoming)
synopsis: DPR president Zakharchenko's supposed smoking-gun admission is open to question, if not disproven (no clear finding, several possibilities outlined) Lines of fire prove nothing in themselves. The full forensic package is not known, and even then, there's disagreement over who controlled a number of surrounding towns the fire may have come from. Motive will be the best pointer, so see part 4.
3) Deliberate Terrorism (forthcoming: see graphic below for a short-form answer)
synopsis: forthcoming
4) Whose Terrorism?
synopsis: forthcoming
5) Mapping Directions (forthcoming)
synopsis: 5-6 directions most likely - even more sharply shows how deliberate this was and how well-established - the west direction is a little tentative, but can only point to Kiev forces. All others are clearer - n-ne, e-ne, east, e-se, south - and according to Azov battalion (likely perpetrators) occupied by towns rebels just took over and no one knew it yet.
6) Quiet on the Southern Front (forthcoming)
synopsis: a covered-up direction, but also one quietly pointed to by Ukraine's intelligence service SBU, through its apparently fake terrorist collaborator.

1) Introduction
On January 24th, the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol suffered what seems to be a heinous terrorist attack. In the span of 30 seconds, starting around 9:15 AM - perhaps over one hundred rockets - Grad, maybe Urugan - fell on the city's eastern Vostichniy (eastern) micro-district, in strictly civilian areas. At least 29 civilians were killed in the attack, and over 100 wounded, while they were sleeping at home, out in traffic, or buying meat and vegetables at the public market.

A dashboard camera video worth keeping in mind for later parts shows the full attack with sound lasting 30 seconds, including the first distant mutters. Hearing these, a pedestrian walking towards the market stop and listens. Then closer claps, deafening blasts, and rolling fireballs across the rooftops have him turn and run back. The scene below shows several impacts visible from here, including shrapnel flying that close in one case. That's extremely interesting, by the way - see part 5.

One of east Ukraine's main shipping and industrial centers, Mariupol has been held by pro-Government forces since mid-June, 2014, when they re-took it from separatists. In fact the government made Mariupol their temporary capitol of Donetsk province. The original is of course now the capitol of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), who have re-claiming Mariupol as a primary aim.

With steady progress, by late January, 2015, they were positioned near the city, perhaps near enough to launch such an attack. So it seems reasonable to most when all "credible" investigators draw lines of fire for the rockets, east and usually northeast. pointing towards areas of DPR control. They even specify rebel-held "areas," but just how far along those lines and who was in control of those spots remain unclear across the board.
Some, like the OSCE and Human Rights Watch, point out there was an army checkpoint sort-of nearby - and that it was even hit in a second attack hours later, killing one soldier. This allows easier logic in blaming rebels for the earlier attack; it was a military accident. But past that thin sugar coating, the facts of the pill swallowed point the deliberate terrorism by the perpetrators - as Kiev and UN official Jeffrey Feltman have decided. I agree with them (see part 3, inset graphic).
However, as this series of articles will show, the evidence against DPR forces is far from conclusive proof, and they would have nothing but anti-motive to deliberately target the people of this area. And Kiev would be presented with a cluster of motives, coupled with their Western-backed ability to get away with pretty much anything in their literally genocidal campaign against the people of eastern Ukraine.

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