last updates February 19, 2017
Many of the following points are largely summarized in the September, 2016 must-read post:
Terrible Flaws in OPCW's Syria Chlorine Investigation.
1) Why Chlorine? Why rebels say "Assad" decided to use it vs. why I think rebels decided to say that. Basically: he knows it will hardly kill anyone, but uses it anyway because people are irrationally afraid of it, a problem rebels could solve but haven't. They decided on the allegation because you can't just give up chlorine like was done with Sarin - it has to stay, so Assad or his air capabilities will have to go, if anything does.
Chlorine kills so few it seems Islamist rebels in Sarmin, Idlib, decided to kill some people themselves to boost the death toll of the March 16 attack. If one were doing that, one might choose babies. Three babies totally died on Islamist rebel video, and off-screen their mom, dad, and grandmother too - zero survivors.
2) What Killed the Talebs? This was the first and most important post: Luckily, from an investigative standpoint, they did it with another chemical so the clinical signs serve as evidence ... the babies probably died of a drug overdose instead.
This post also covers the troubling lack of proper medical procedures that helped make sure the children died, the role of al-Qaeda terrorists in the area, the apparent blood-filled massacre site (a less clear point), plus other points in a fairly comprehensive overview of our findings at the point.
3) Where Was Dr. Tennari? The director of the hospital says he was trying to save those kids, his eyes burning with chlorine fumes off their clothes. But there's video of the event, in which the kids are stripped and washed off, and he's nowhere to be seen. Also, a review of his clinic's procedures and the dying babies, and the al-Qaeda control issue.
4) Who? (With a why, a what, and a where above...)
4a) Who's dying? Maybe captives held by rebels. Partly covered at 2014 Attacks Target IDPs, and see also the Baytounji family: likely Christians killed in Aleppo, Nov. 2016
4a) Who's killing them? This is built-in to each of the above already - the party with the motive, means, and opportunity will be the prime suspects. One of the main things getting in the way of seeing the alternative to Assad here is...
5) How? Helicopters? (forthcoming)
When? (why, what, where, who, how... in case when matters, we'll come back to when, but it's not part 6. Actually, it's covered partly under why, part 1)
6) follows on the "terrible flaws" piece, cataloging more issues with the OPCW's probe. (forthcoming)
6a) Site Correlation (for March 16 attack)
Select Other Chlorine Attacks
March 16 and most other alleged attacks are in northwestern Idlib province, but chlorine bombs are frequently reported across Syria. Most important ones are considered, at least summarily and some in great detail, at ACLOS (big list) One or a few of these considered here:
* East Ghouta, July 27, 2015 (never followed up well)
* Aleppo, September 6, 2016: Sept. 6 fatalities seen on video? (if so, they contradict the chlorine descriptions)
HRW Report (Feb. 2017):
* Assessing HRW's Latest Chlorine Report
* Related: The Baytounji Family - unusual clinical signs, on a likely Chrisatian family with captivity signs.