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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ghouta Massacres by District, Part 3: Irbeen

Ghouta Massacres (plural) by District
Part 3: Irbeen
May 6, 2015
last edits November 13, 2015 (strangulation signs)

Attack Claimed, But Unlikely
Like Jobar (see part 2) Irbeen can have no rocket impacts, but wind directions varying, it's not impossible some would drift over it southern edge. Most likely there would be no Sarin in its streets or homes, by the accepted story.
But Reuters reporter Khaled Oweis reported August 21 the attack was on "Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar" and later adjusted it to "Irbin, Ain Tarma and Jobar" (Aug. 26 report). NBC News made a video from there a week later described Irbeen as a district "where the people will tell you poison gas seeped through the streets one week ago."

Early tallies of bodies counted there, and generally listed as locals, ranged from 51 to 63, with an unusual breakdown into men, women, children. (23-30 children, 16-17 women, 11-17 men). It's said early reports of an attack in Irbin were confused references to victims brought and counted there. This might be so, or maybe people were poisoned there anyway because the rockets had nothing to do with it.
Either way, Irbeen's rebel facilities turned over a good number of victims and seems to have the biggest hand in media management of the massacre, via its Local Coordinating Committee and the rebel "Legal office of the city of Irbeen." The logo for that is at right, being the same or similar to the stamp generally seen on videos produced there. 
Below, the main Irbeen victim spread, one row of children has at least 12 of them, maybe 13, the other about the same, for 24-27 or so. The green gas tank (app. warning label plus color and size says 44 liter type) must be oxygen someone tried but failed to save all these people with? Why do rebel doctors always fail so badly, no matter how well their sponsors equip them?

Expanding on that: there's a brown tank, I think, and two large blue barrels (see views at right).

A week later NBC News filmed here and it's said to be the basement of the clinic where they tried to save people upstairs. At that time, there's two green tanks and maybe one or both barrels, but pushed back, almost out of view. Note also the piled luggage on the left, as seen on the 21st at right, slowly being moved a week later (below), and see also here.

Notes on gas tanks or cylinders: a Bing image search suggests oxygen ones tend to be blue, specifically sky blue, as seems natural.

This picture suggests someone thinks light blue = O2 and green means either helium (no medical use likely to be relevant here) or hydrogen (H2 - no medical use, just industrial,) But they can be re-filled with other things anyway, depending on the technical details - even if that color-coding info is correct) Not sure what a brown cylinder is supposed to hold.

Victims Records
Table, Early total: 51 Final total: 63 (apparently meaning people who died here, not necessarily people from, though this is not totally clear) Breakdown: 17 women, 23 children, 11 men at first. Later 16 women, 30 children, 17 men.

- from Irbeen = 13 (all civilan, 8 women, 2 men, 2 unidentified girls and a boy)
 - died in = 0 (specified/reported/admitted)
- Irbeen in notes = 3 from elsewhere, "rescued to" or "buried in"
= 16 total? Others like the Gheras not noted.

All Children Unidentified?

The UK Daily Mail ran a horrible story from a medic, apparently in Irbeen, with 20 unidentified children, "because their entire families were wiped out by poison gas," and then someone who had no idea who they were brought all of them to this place. That sounds a little strange. They use scenes from an ITV video where unidentified infant girl, #14, is held up for dramatic effect (VDC record victim 94048, unidentified, different photo but seems to be the same baby, jaundiced). But the Mail article also include a table of photos of 15 children were recorded dead there an unidentified, by which the infant is actually #11.  Top row, reading right to left, we have Eastern Arabic numbers for 1-5. Next row, from the right is 6, then 8 (7 is skipped here) then 9, 10 (that's baby Mohammad Fayad Abdul Ghafar from Erbeen, #94004 per VDC) then 14 (one of only two Irbeen kids they list as still unidentified - the other is 94548, added exactly 500 entries later) Bottom row, maybe 16 then 17, next is clearly 18 and 20, then unreadable, but higher than 20, presumably. Suggested: more than 20 unidentified children at the Irbin collection center (94548's VDC photo does not appear here, but she could be the one in the bottom middle photo)
(note: a better view in the NBC News video shows that's 1 and 4, I just couldn't tell )
The initial reports for Irbeen gave a breakdown including 23 children, or 30 by later reports. Were just 21 of these 23-30 once unknown, or was it a total problem there? Did they come in with their dead unidentified families? Why were there so few survivors to explain who the rest were? Why did no extended family or neighbors who knew them bring in anyone? All just strangers finding strangers? Or just mostly that?

Or was "unidentified" just a crap story for drama? Or a crap story with another purpose as well, regarding the true identities they didn't want to publish?

Note: VDC lists only two unidentified Irbeen children, both girls - but it only lists 3 Irbeen children total.
Note: a larger image spread, with the 15-children table in the middle and adults shown above and below, was seen on video less clearly - see still here - with adults included, I found VDC record matches all in the #94000-94004 range, and 94048 for the infant girl, so far. All but the last that I've matched so far have names just fine, per VDC, and are listed as from Irbeen, but with no additional details past the photo that matches. By inclusion with the unidentified babies, put around on fliers as if seeking identification, we can say some of these if not all were handled in Irbeen. So did these locals just go somewhere else to die, and then get sent back, where they were identified but also with a show of not being able to identify them? This all makes fairly little sense, doesn't it?
Ghera/Ghorra Family:
To counter the issues raised above, there is exactly one family unit with identified children, survivors, etc, and a clear story of death elsewhere, that tries to rescue this whole sorry mess. Let's give this Ghorra/Ghera family some consideration.
Hisham Ashkar passed on this activist-provided ID via the alleged grandfather, seen in photos like the one at right, in his article "the distance between the images and the victims" (translation to English April 22, 2014 from an Arabic original done last fall) Showing the photo at right, Ashkar explained the girl was named "Fatima Ghorra, three years old," and the girl in yellow next to her is sister Hiba, age 4. That might not be correct, but... The man holding Fatima is "their maternal grandfather, Abu Hamza al-Sheikh," he heard. "Their father is Nabil Ghorra, a medical doctor," of course married to a woman "from al-Sheikh family." They had six kids: these two, brother Mohammed, age 12, and 3 older sisters Danya, age 9, Rama, 15, and  Battoul, 16. According to Ashkar, they lived in Zamalka, and were home-schooled after regime teachers started threatening the kids at school with guns. Fatima reportedly told her grandfather, as he says on video and passed on here:
"This girl. she said, “Dad,” before … she put the food for her. This girl. She told me before: “Dad,” today is not my turn to eat its the turn of my siblings. From the siege, from the bread, and the food, and the hunger..."
...which causes Mr. Sheikh to forget if he's supposed to be their father or grandfather?  There was really no lack of food that acute - the story is patent propaganda, even if the word for "dad" might translate "grandpa" as well. Ater the attack, Ashkar writes, "the ghorra family was dispersed. Abu Hamza al-Sheikh arrived with Fatima and Hiba to the field hospital in Erbine. Fatima and Hiba died, as well as their sisters Rama and Dania. Their father, Nabil, was at first listed among the victims, but was later found in another field hospital, receiving medical treatment. Their brother, Muhammad, was still missing at the time of the interview." Battoul isn't mentioned. But dad was alive, he heard, and Mohammed just unclear, "still missing at the time of the interview" - maybe still alive out there. It's a story packed with drama.

The VDC's records partly bear this out, but also challenge it. 8 victim entries, all but the father specified as from Zamalka:
* 93038 Nabel Ghera Adult Male, Married and has children. No other notes.
* 94005 Salima Mohammad Salim al-Sheikh AF, Zamalka. Notes: Buried in Erbeen
* 93014 Mohammad Nabel Gharra Child-male age 12
* 93041 Betoul Nabel Gera girl, 16
* 93040 Rama Nabel Ghera girl, 15
* 93044 Danya Nabil Ghera girl, age 9
* 93049 Heba Nabel Ghera girl, 4
* 93042 Fatema Nabel Ghera girl age 2

The father is listed as dead, not revised. Mohammed is listed as dead, not missing. The story of scattered members getting tallied in different areas is contradicted by the entry numbers here: the mother was added much later, for whatever reason. And Mohammed was the first confirmed dead, 93014. The other seven all come within 11 entry numbers of each other, 93038 to 93049.

Mohammed is one of the better guesses as to the boy of about 13/13 with a horrible nosebleed, but seen in better shape before that next to Fatima (girl in purple, would be his sister) - see below under "Signs that Get Worse with Treatment?"

Ashkar heard "The Ghorra girls were buried in a mass grave in the town of Saqba." The VDC reports their mother was buried in Irbeen. No one says where the older girls were buried. Saudi Arabia, some time later, seems possible.
Irbeen Links to Other Groupings:
* There's a Mazen Sheikh from Zamalka who died, photo, looks tough if not militant, in his 30s, could be a brother of Salima Sheihk of the Ghera family, but it's a common name. entry #92003, he was one of the very first victims tallied anywhere, by the Douma-based VDC (91977 is the first one, in Moadamiyeh. Mazen is the 4th from Zamalka - after 2 rebel fighters, he's the second civilian listed - see full database list, he's about 30 names down on page ).
* 92151 Fawzeh al-Boush Adult Female age 65, from Erbeen, died in Zamalka (another Boush woman was married into the Ghazi family covered in part 7, Kaf Batna) 
* Nour Atiq links to Ahmad-Atiq and other Ahmad-related names, who wound up all over but since that includes Moadamiyeh, see part 1. 
* Baraa Hazroumah, girl, from Jobar, died in Ein Tarma, "rescued to Erbeen" (see Jobar for the rest of her realtives who died wherever)
* Unidentified woman from Jobar seen there? VDC martyr #94546 comes with the photo below. She's listed beside an older woman and a teenage boy all unidentified but from Jobar, processing area not clear. But a roughly woman-sized body is laid alongside the smaller children here, wrapped in a Spider Man blanket. Consider: She's dressed properly for a grown woman in a "liberated" area, but looks possibly teen-aged. Irbeen's total for women changed from 17 to 16 at some point. That may be the judgment call there.

Clinical Signs
Signs that Get Worse with Treatment?
See photo comparison here at ACLOS. A boy seen alive but in bad shape in the hospital in an Irbeen video, compared to one seen dead with blood pouring out his nose, unlike before. I noted the facial similarity, but then had doubts, and considered the victim pool far too big to make such a match.
 But coming back to it now, I think it's either a match, or good enough reason to risk calling it. The horrible right (after?) photo was published, I notice now, by Irbin News. They used  a few Zamalka general shots to show the rockets, dead animals, and a truly massive victim display from there. Otherwise it seems they use their own local images. So these two boys should be in the same pool of 23-30 children, and being so similar in that context, are most likely the same. They appear the same age (13-ish?), same basic face shape, seemingly different skin tone but that's never clear. Nose shape looks bigger on the right, but may be an angle thing. My prior doubts: the line over his nose: from the oxygen mask, would fade or wash off later, no problem. "eye shadows might have a different shape" (not much different if so), "lip proportions top vs. bottom may not match" (but may - the different photo angles could explain that). But that's not clear enough to say no, and hair type (actually looks a bit different, but simple ruffling can do that), basic face shape, long lashes, prominent front tooth (left of center), puffed lips, shaded eyes, and especially those eyebrows, all are really similar." And both are among the very few showing this kid of redness of / bleeding from the nostrils.

If these photos show the same kid, the problem should be clear. After he was getting medical care from rebels, something marked up his face with little wounds as if from flying micro-debris, caused splotchy burns, and aggravated that nose irritation into totally failed tissue releasing a torrent of blood, or maybe the flying particles helped cause that too. Flying particles marking up victim's faces, lower half. What the hell in the rebel story could cause this? There are other cases - one below, others seen in Kafr Batna's morgue, at least.

Later, I found another picture of what may be the same boy, maybe earlier than the other pictures, and with a tube up his right nostril. The orange circles indicate a mole or freckle in the same spot in all 3 images.

Boy ID: none yet, but from laying next to Fatema Ghera and appearing about 12, the best guess is Mohammed Nabil Ghera, by some sources listed as missing and not confirmed dead. But there's another boy of about 12 and if he looks more like the girls, then we can guess this kid is not Mohammed. Sources otherwise give almost no ages with victims to get a next guess. This boy does not clearly appear to be in the clinic basement morgue scene with the Ghera girls, nor in the courtyard or on unidentified posters. As noted above, rebels claim Mohammed Ghera is missing and not even confirmed dead - this might be consistent with nosebleed boy.

Note, Nov. 13: A while back, ACLOS member Pmr9 brought up an interesting point about the aditional little marks on this boy's face. Those seemed mysterious to me. He speculated these could be "petechial hemorrhages," caused by, for one thing, strangulation. Nosebeleeds are also a consistent signs, especially with prior nose irritation I suppose. So it seems likely it wasn't any chemical that killed this kid in the end, but some Islamist's bare hands, squeezing tight. Note in the death view his neck can't be seen, or else maybe it would have already been obvious that he was strangled.  (see here)

Morgue Photos
Photo published by Legal Office of Irbeen, provided with no victim ID (can't say "unidentified" for sure, maybe they just didn't share it there) Note burns in certain spots, likely prior injuries. Mucous like tree sap. This is similar treatment to the Ain Tarma cemetery set of clinical signs (see part 5) But here we see little wounds, as if from flying debris, like we see with the boy above. And that may have happened after he was brought to the rebel clinic here.

Mohammad Fayad Abdul Ghafar (center) has a mark on his nose, and an older boy to the right has marks across the bridge of his nose.(these do not look as much like strangulation hemmorages as with the boy discussed above)

VDC entry 94002 girl Yaman al-Basal, from Erbeen. Similar: fully plugged nostrils, reddened skin The right-half effect is likely from livor mortis, natural to death in general, but the lips at least also seem injured - chemically, not that we can see with little nicks like the above.

morgue close-up -  child on left, no clear signs - on right, cyanotic (blue)

Ghera girls (reportedly Fatema, l Heba, r)
sunken/shadowed eyes, otherwise not much I notice. The dark spot on the left-hand girl is most likely a birthmark, not a wound like we briefly thought from less-clear views.

not sure ... mucous bubble, supposed to prove Sarin

94003 Basima Othman, burns or abrasions, mucous

94048, unidentified infant #11/14 (see above), often held-up. She's evidently yellow, probably jaundiced, but probably not fatally.

94548 the VDC's second and last unidentified girl "from" Irbeen, 500 entries after the above. Dark rings around eyes, slight cyanosis in lips?  


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