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.

Monday, August 31, 2015

"The Rules of the Game"

The West's Takeover Machine, Before Libya
(old post I forgot - likely incomplete)
September 23, 2011

This is a big subject touching on two areas of interest of mine. A bit expansive, and with too many knowledge gaps, to write a complete essay - rather I'll just drop some related bits of food for thought on the Western regime change industry of the past decade.

It was really a simple and run-of-the mill demand that the"peaceful protesters,"and increasingly the world community, made on the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. It and its unique socio-economic system should commit suicide, step down and disband in favor of no one and nothing in particular. But the regime didn't want to die and - allegedly - turned its guns on the people to say no with the blood of hundreds of peaceful protesters. And he didn'tstep down in favor of ... whatever was there waiting to fill the void.

I saw an interview somewhere with Nouri al-Mesmari saying that in so doing, Gaddafi "changed the rules of the game." an early plotter saying that by refusing to bow to "protester" demands and step down, But fo the life of me, I can't re-locate the video interview where I was sure I saw him saying that. But the quote sticks anyway as the kind of thing someone would say. raising the question "just what is this game and who wrote - or agreed to - its rules?"
Nouri al-Mesmari, from Paris
Al Jazeera February 17 ??

Everyone knows the answer - the people of oppressed countries came up with it themselves, in the game they initiated and most have enjoyed playing, called "the Arab Spring" - In Januray and February it became clear, as if by a sign from God, that it was simply and cosmically time for nations in the Tunisia-Egypt-Libya region to shuck off their brutal corrupt old regimes - it was a masterful bit of fantasy-creation, perhaps planned out to surround and drag in Libya - and Gaddafi was screwing with it by insisting that national survival trumps the West's regime change game.

Planning people's revolutions? the idea is a fairly new one - with social media and liberal ideals, western-oriented, idealistic youths craft a new future, somehow cripple and drag down the old, replaced with a Western-backed anti-whatever reform candidate who becomes the new president and starts towards NATO membership.

The Game Rules are Written
This is an area I've studied in the past, and have some interesting if none-too-deep research together, pressed into sometimes embarrasingly-written articles
Utopian means for imperial gain in the former USSR - weaponized non-violence, turning a target nation's people against them with sanctions, propaganda, misguided idealism, funding and flattery, clandestine workshops, etc. Just like a CIA operation to support anti-whatever guerillas, but with no guns.
Helvey, weaponizing nonviolence
Weaponizing Nonviolence: Col. Helvey
Some Notes on Timing and Consent
Jonathan Mowat, in a brilliant 2005 piece for the Center for Research on Globalization, noted a 1967 report from the UK’s Tavistock Institute (the psychological warfare arm of the British military) that focused on the then-new phenomenon of “swarming adolescents” found at rock concerts. Author Dr. Fred Emery reported the underlying energy of it was associated with “rebellious hysteria,” and predicted that with more study the phenomenon could be controlled effectively as a sort of weapon. By the end of the 1990s, he predicted, these hormonal mobs could be used at will to bring down a national government. Mowat noted “the tactic of swarming” at work in the "revolutions" of 2004-05 as a “a new philosophy of war, which is supposed to replicate the strategy of Genghis Khan as enhanced by modern technologies […] intended to aid both military and non-military assaults against targeted states through what are, in effect, ‘high tech’ hordes.”

Right on target, these and other ideas fed into Yugolsavia's Bulldozer revolution, 1999, and soon after in a growing list of former Soviet republics. The site focused largely on the strangely consistent youth movement aspectof these -the well-branded group Otpor!(Resist!) was crucial in Serbia, helping bring down Milosevic.

The Game in the Former USSR
Kmara, trained by Otpor and using its ideas, helped in Georgia's Rose revolution 2002, and the larger Pora was central in Ukraine's Orange one 2004. Belarus (Zubr, denim revolution), Azerbailajn, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan...

The Game in the Arab World
This all being former soviet sphere, these patterns would change on export. I'm far hazier on the next phase in 2005, where besides several central Asian former SSRs, protest movements in the Arab world made themselves felt, esp. Cedar revolution in Lebanon. I never followed up on that either.

excursions into the Arab world crowned at the time by Lebanon's early 2005 Cedar revolution, sparked by the still unsolved bombing murder of former PM Rafik Hariri in February 2005 - blamed widely on Syrians who were then partially occupying the country - the Cedar revolution forced a Syrian withdrawal and resignation of the sitting government by the end of April - accusations that this revolution too was manipulated by Americans and Israelis (not to mention possible Australian assassins setting it off) have never been cleared away

Might is Right: Abdelnour's Philosophy
As for the Arab proxies the West worked with in such adventures, one of them, a Ziad K. Abdelnour, gave an admirably candid interview with journalist Trish Schuh in late 2005

Schuh: What is the future of Syria, of President Bashar Al Assad's situation?

Nour: Both the Syrian and Lebanese regimes will be changed- whether they like it or not- whether it's going to be a military coup or something else... and we are working on it. We know already exactly who's going to be the replacements. We're working on it with the Bush administration. This is a Nazi regime of 30 years, killing ministers, presidents and stuff like that. They must be removed. These guys who came to power, who rule by power, can only be removed by power. This is Machiavelli's power game. That's how it is. This is how geopolitics -- the war games, power games -- work. 
Q: I didn't see forensic proof in the Mehlis report that would legally convict Assad of Hariri's death in a court of law.

A: I don't give a damn. I don't give a damn, frankly. This Bashar Al Assad-Emil Lahoud regime is going to go whether it's true or not. When we went to Iraq whether there were weapons of mass destruction or not, the key is -- we won. And Saddam is out! Whatever we want, will happen. Iran? We will not let Iran become a nuclear power. We'll find a way, we'll find an excuse- to get rid of Iran. And I don't care what the excuse is. There is no room for rogue states in the world. Whether we lie about it, or invent something, or we don't... I don't care. The end justifies the means. What's right? Might is right, might is right. That's it. Might is right.

Q: You sound just like Saddam. Those were his rules too.

A: So Saddam wanted to prove to the whole world he was strong? Well, we're stronger- he's out! He's finished. And Iran's going to be finished and every single Arab regime that's like this will be finished. Because there is no room for us capitalists and multinationalists in the world to operate with regimes like this. Its all about money. And power. And wealth... and democracy has to be spread around the world. Those who want to espouse globalization are going to make a lot of money, be happy, their families will be happy. And those who aren't going to play this game are going to be crushed, whether they like it or not! This is how we rule. And this is how it's going to be as long as you have people who think like me.

Q: When will this regime change take place?

A: Within 6 months, in both Lebanon and Syria.


Q: But if it's just trading Syrian control for American or Israeli control?

A: I have -- we have -- absolutely no problem with heavy US involvement in Lebanon. On an economic level, military level, political level, security level... whatever it is. Israel is the 51st state of the United States. Let Lebanon be the 52nd state. And if the Arabs don't like it, tough luck.

2009-2011: Deeper Into the Arab World
The idea has been bouncing around, but used less openly it seems for a couple of years. It was tried again in Iran in 2009 -
2010 presidential directive - France-UK alliance and war games scheduledfor almost exactly the day they started their joint bombing of Libya - then this year uprisings on similar lines in Tunisia and then Egypt just appeared, sweeping aside the Ben-Ali and Mubarak regimes. Arab Spring - imitators in Bahrain (failed, no support, an ally was targeted), Saudi Arabia (same), Morocco (no support), Yemen (some support) and Syria (we'll see).planning that seemed serious enough they might in themselves be clues the whole row of three dominoes was set off by a careful plan on someone's part.

2011: The Rules of the Game Change in Libya
The payoff to the West is less obvious here, and so is the impression of Western engineering. Arab hands, domestic and foreign, seemed to (I also haven't looked into that). But boy did it ever put Libya into the frame just in time for Feb 17, fice year anniversary of a government-suppressed protest, and 15 years after a crushed uprising. And that is clearly a thing CIA types would desire, and there are signs of pre-planning

These start, as this article does, with al-Mesmari in Paris - Dabbashi in New York - signs of conspiract between them and others running back to late 2010, and sealed with their contemporaneous defections on February 21, both strangely speaking of a"genocide" that wasn't happening, and citing every wild rumor as proof. 

No more weaponized non-violence here - Libya would never crack that way, if anyone would after seeing it happen so manytimes, and finding ways to grow immune - this ime, protests were only paper thin, giving way by day three to military-level ... Whenever the Libyan rebellion is referred to in context of the goody-two-shoes Arab Spring, I'm reminded of the old commercials for the soap Irish Spring - after a hard, sweaty night slaughtering Gaddafi loyalists and beheading black men, a quick wash with Arab Spring® will leave you seeming as clean as a whistle.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Douma Market Attack: Burned Faces

Douma Market Attack: Victim Analysis: Burned Faces
August 26, 2015 
last update August 27

The Men with Burned Faces
Among the 100+ adult male victims of the August 16 alleged market attack in Douma, there is a class of victims showing bright red burns to the face, with or without a layer of smoke. Just from the 40 or so victims shown in martyr identification videos (see Victim Analysis), I found these five examples:

Mahmoud Hijazi
The men with burns include
* DID5 0:015  Mahmoud Hijazi ( محمود حجازي )

* DID27 0:13  Khaled Mohiuddin ( خالد محي الدين )
(heavy smoke cover too, but clear redness from nose up - face intact, not clearly wounded, but a tooth is missing) 
* unnamed man seen at start of DID27- no wounds or marks at all visible
* DID6 0:11  Ziad Samir Shanawany (  زياد سمير الشنواني ) (heavy smoke cover too, but some red notable, and similar hair issues to some. ) 

* DID30 0:11  -Mohiuddin Durra- ( محي الدين الدرة ) (older man, gray bear, marks like shrapnel on left side of face, distinct red burns on right) (note also, he's one of those with a covered-up neck)

Khaled Mohiuddin
not named

Ziad Samir Shanawany
Mohiuddin Durra

It looks kind of like hot metal objects came in contact with each of their faces, and stayed there for some moments. Or maybe they had gasoline poured on, with some obstructions, and briefly lit up? There are patterns here I can't make out yet. Unnamed seems to have a faint, rippling pattern to his, for example. Was this done before or after death? If before, why weren't they using their hands to stop it? If after death ... who and why? 

The opposition activists would say that all these intact men - at least - had this happen as a random part of the missile attack, where all kinds of weird things can happen. I certainly don't feel up to ruling that out, but this is just weird enough I don't see why that's the best conclusion.

And it gets weirder. Somehow, from the portion I've seen, the worst was reserved - by the random missiles, of course - for the boy or boys we see with these burned faces. 

Khaled al-Tout, Mucous
DID1 0:18 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5Ij3tjw3XY Khaled Ali Al-Tout  ( التوت ). This was the first martyr video that popped out to me visually, so it's #1.  This is a child victim by appearance, I'd say age 10-12. VDC has no such child. But adult-male Khaled al-Tout appears. Arabic entry gives : التوت - same name. What happened to this "man?" Hard to tell. his face is intact, but alternating black and red. Hair seems sticky with something, like some of the others. (still at right, small size to soften the shock)

He also had thick mucous coming out of his nose.Why is that? Khaled is the second-worst I've seen. The next-worst is maybe Hijazi above, washed up but nostrils plugged as if leaking. Was there some chemical element to part of this, or are these coincidences?

Drawn-And-Quartered Boy?
Khaled is the worst case from these videos of clearly-connected 8-16 massacre victims. But the worst is less clearly linked. ... an image I found in my twitter search, not widely re-tweeted, but allegedly connected: By appearance, he seems to me to have been drawn and quartered (pulled apart between two vehicles he was tied to, driving opposite directions). Usually, that doesn't happen, but here ... are there psycho terrorists in the area capable? The whole case, links, explanation, any second-thoughts or revisions, etc. - see here.)

Only the face matters directly here, if that. At right, small res, cropped, blown-up a bit. Total (3rd? 10th?) degree burns, nose at lest partly remains. The burns start right at the edge of his face, like a mask. Was he painted with napalm cream and lit up? Why wouldn't he shield his face with his hands? Oh, yes, they were gone, at some point. Again, order of operations here is unclear. One would hope it was all done after death, and maybe so, but the performance suggests none it was done after death.

This boy is different from the others in the different injuries (as far as we can see in most cases), much more severe burns, that he's seen in a photo, not on video, and that he's apparently alive and suffering (it seems like a proper hospital, but he's getting the treatment photographed, so it probably is a PR-centered rebel clinic).

But ... it says August 16, Douma massacre, Douma, and there were these other burned faces, so maybe it does fit.

"Silence" in the Face of "Incineration"? 
Generally, it's bombing that's blamed for killing the market massacre victims, but one activist at least seems to consider some kind of burning the most memorable part of it. In context, how creepy is this, from The Guradian?
“The people of Ghouta are furious because there is a double standard,” said Yasser Doumani, an activist who runs a pro-opposition media outlet, told the Guardian after the air strikes. “There is silence when Douma or Ghouta in general becomes the theatere of the worst crimes of murder and incineration of people.”

“The people find it strange how the world reacted in response to the crime of the burning of the Jordanian pilot by Daesh [Isis] terrorists, but we hear no condemnation of the burning of the people of Ghouta and their killing by all methods,” he added. “Aren’t the victims in both cases humans, or do different lives carry different value?”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Douma Market Attack: The Girl Victims?

Douma Market Attack: Victim Analysis: The Girl Victims?
August 25, 2015
(incomplete, rough)
last updates Aug. 26

Intro: The All-Men Mantra
Since the August 16 attack, there was a crush of world leaders and media pundits lambasting the regime air strike that killed 100 of their own people. That was followed by a wave of noise protesting the "silence over Assad's massacre" in Douma, where silence means no bombing of "Assad" yet. And there was a general lack of critical reporting for days, by the mainstream or alternative media, past idle speculation. Then my first thoughts on the 18th, Ziad at SyrPer, and then Eric Draister at Counterpunch. The latter is now the top news search, much-hungered for it seems, and re-posted many, many times. 

One of the core issues we've each latched onto, and has become a mantra of the critics, is the victims were nearly all men, adult males. 109 out of 117 by the fullest list I know of. (see victim analysis for this and some of the details below) Most of the remainder were presumably teenaged male children. Only three women slightly challenge that pattern. 109 men, 5 boys, 3 women, and zero girls.

Many take the hint the manly bulk of that were people in fact killed by Assad's air strikes, just all militants who kind of deserved it, and not at the market. I've been against presuming that. Based on what I've seen these could be gender segregated captives. Men are signled out for this, women for that, young kids for whatever fate. The visual signs so far seem more consistent with that - signs of execution sit alongside disturbingly varied ages of men and boys killed.

At the moment, that mantra still seems pretty accurate and worth a leading role in raising much-lacking suspicions. But ...

Exceptions to the Rule, so far
I've found a boy on video listed as a man by VDC. A newborn replacing a man on video (see analysis). And you know what... in the past, the VDC is often slow to get the female victims listed. There's not much room for the proportions to level out - no one credibly reported more than 117 dead, and we have 114 male name victims. I'm seeing more boys than 5 as I scan photos and videos (notes coming), but also enough adult males it might be more than 114 we see and even the big list is incomplete..

And then ...

Two Girls and a Boy
here's a photo circulated a lot at first, less so later, by Arabic-language Twitter users showing three young victims of, it seems, the Douma market massacre. One seems like a boy, probably, while the other two definitely look like girls by clothing. They all appear dead, but not in the right way. The adult body, presumed female, is maybe one of those listed by VDC et al. But the girls can't be, unless they're listed wrong anyway.

Are these the girls lacking in the 117 victims, and another boy? They were clearly segregated if so, and given their own treatment the others didn't get. What says a regime missile killed them? Torn up by shrapnel and covered in dust from being outside at the scene? Crushed and covered with dust from being inside a shelter that caved in? Neither. It looks like they might all have suffered fatal head wounds, somewhere intact and not dusty. They show no other potentially fatal wounds. 

Did someone drag them on their knees to say the market attack killed these head-chopped massacre victims? Or is that a coincidence, and these were never supposed to be branded that way? And if that's the case, then ... wtf is the story here?

But these were put out at the same time, (unless? recycled? anyone seen this before?), as part of the massacre claims. So I'm going to have to say ... someone really thought they were included. Including them: I favor the visual record over words, which includes the VDC database. I don't suspect they didn't die from a missile, or at the market. But then I don't suspect most of the victims did.

What allegedly connects this? The info at the tweets I clicked is limited/unclear, but all claim to be from a "massacre" in Douma on August 16. All Google translated, where "always" = Douma:
* https://twitter.com/qadesiyah/status/632910076227883008 Always massacre today stain is added to the positions of Arab shame and let down to the children of Syria will reap its horrors,
  And your Lord is darkness slaves
* https://twitter.com/yaseralturk555/status/632916283122712576 (Same text)
https://twitter.com/MTbsho/status/632893905537601536 I go to buy a house kits and walk 5 km good You go back and massacre always ## Omnao_alosoaq
* https://twitter.com/dorokataysa/status/632894210992156672 Apostate son son infidel apostate sect
Commits a massacre bombing aviation market in the # # Always # The Awakening negotiating with the Safavids

(more alleged infos later, and/or below)

Clearly Head-Hacked Girl
* https://twitter.com/falih_448/status/633217202972454912 - no ambiguity here. A third girl, older than the last ones, in a pink shirt, totally intact, non-dusty, minor marks or freckles only, up the top of her head. From there, a nice clean split, top of skull removed, and a mass of brains and scalp across the table. Text:
#دوما_تباد #الغوطة_الشرقية
#دوما تستغيث بعد الله بـ #الأمة ورجال النخوة فيها، فهل من نصير ؟
# # Algoth_alcherqah Doma_tbad
# Always cry after God b # pride of the nation and the men, Naseer Is it?
41 retweets 12 favorites

Man seen carrying a dead girl in a morgue. Doesn't seem to be any of the others seen, purple shirt, slightly bloody face.  That photo is around, including at this tweet. It's the moving background image for this market attack branding photo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Syria: Douma Market Attack, August 2015

Douma Market Attack part 1: Initial Questions
August 18, 2015
last edits November 1

On Sunday, August 16 a reported minimum of 112 civilians were killed in the Damascus suburb of Douma, activists claimed, after Syrian military jets hit a public market at mid-day with two missile strikes, one after rescue workers arrived. It's being described as one of the deadliest single jet attacks of the war. I have some pressing projects and no time to cover this fully, but I threw together some first thoughts here, and will start an ACLOS page on it (done: page and talk page.)

Note November 1: Especially in light of another mass-casualty alleged regime attack on Douma market(s), those seeing this should skip first to one month investigation review for an overview of the best findings. The stuff below is background reading.  

Opposition Claims and Rhetoric (laundered as news by mainstream media)
* An "official massacre" of civilians alleged in Syria AP Via CBS News, August 16, 2015
* Reuters via Huffington Post
* The Guardian
* Others f/c

Alleged Regime Motive/Activists Say, in Douma Context
The militia Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) of Zahran Alloush recently attacked a military installation nearby - the people of Douma supposedly support of that group - so retaliation was to kill as many civilians there as possible, to terrorize them out of support, presumably. But it will never work - no matter how many innocents "the regime" kills, rebel leaders never seem deterred and keep on pushing the fight, largely over the phone from Turkey.

Also, this will be according to local activists aligned with the army of Islam. Why? Becuase anyone who disagrees with the Islamists in Douma is in danger. Consider lawyer and activist Razan Zaitouneh, founder of the VDC whose database I cite so often. Based in Douma, the same area under study, and not in London, she was reporting on the crimes of some local Islamist groups in late 2013, perhaps leading to her December 10 abduction with her husband and two other VDC activists by "unknown armed men." Consider this Syria Direct report from one year after her abduction with no news:
Fellow activist Bassam al-Ahmad, who is now the point of contact for the VDC, posted a call to action on Facebook Tuesday asking people to contact the leader of Jaish al-Islam, the most powerful rebel group in Douma.
 “Please send a tweet… to Zahran Aloush, head of Jaish al-Islam, one of the most influential armed opposition groups in Douma, to ask about the steps that his group has taken to ensure the safe release of Razan and her colleagues,” al-Ahmad wrote.
Aloush has repeatedly denied responsibility for Zaitouneh’s kidnapping on the grounds that Jaish al-Islam (JAI) “fights on the fronts” and does not have a presence in the city of Douma proper.
The East Ghouta suburb, however, is JAI’s stronghold.
Now notice: the activists informing us about this jet strike insist the locals all love Jaish al-Islam, etc.

Consider also an earlier allegation of a regime massacre of 16 men in Douma, back in 2012 before the place was as pro-Islamist as it reportedly is now (Harasta was leading the way at that point, with Douma dragging its feet a bit). 

Direct Supporting evidence proving it was a jet
None I've seen yet. video evidence for a jet: none cited in these reports. Will dig when I have time.Off the bat, I'm skeptical. There's a damaged market, some video evidence I'm sure, that I haven't reviewed yet. The claims are similar to the alleged fighter jet attack on Aleppo University, which did feature jet evidence (a vapor trail, but looking more rocket-oriented) On closer inspection that attack had no jet, just two powerful surface rockets,  like the government said. Perhaps they were fired by terrorists, like the government said. They hit one after another as rescuers arrived, killing a few students and rescuers, but mainly displaced people sheltered in the Universtiy's dormitories.

See:  Douma Market Attack: Precedents

Rebel rockets have hit Damascus and coastal Latakia in recent days, killing civilians in both (SANA reports 6 killed, 14 wounded). One to hit the market to blame the regime - and perhaps to launder an unrelated massacre - is well within the capability and morality of the Islamists torturing Syria. 

Government Claims
The reports I read have everyone but the government leading at the top, middle, and bottom of each article. All blame the government. Any denial will seem to the conditioned reader futile, reflexive, meaningless, and fair to ignore. The Reuters report at least, with (Writing by Tom Perry; editing by Dominic Evans) passes on near the top: 

A Syrian military source said the air force attacks on Sunday on Douma and the nearby area of Harasta targeted an insurgent group, Islam Army, and were a response to recent attacks on nearby government-held areas.
This sounds almost like they acknowledge they attacked the market in revenge, considering the locals to be terrorists. But lower in the report, it's also noted:
The Syrian military source said "any escalation towards Damascus" would be met by a "very strong and decisive response", and denied that civilians were targeted on Sunday.
But didn't they just admit they did, and doesn't everybody just know they did? What liars!

SANA English seems to have no reports yet: a search for Douma so far just turns up older reports of thousands who didn't support the Islamists and were evacuated with army assistance in December, January, and February.

I'm guessing if the Syrian authorities ever give a clear explanation, it'll be that civilian human shields were massacred by the terrorists at the same time as the air strikes so as to blame the strikes. Or possibly they'll find the victims were never at the market but were kidnapped people who were snuck into the basement of the Islamists' headquarters they did deliberately attack.

The Victims: 

See: Douma Market Attack: Victim Analysis

A total of just over 100 reported dead (112 and expected to rise was specified). That's a lot of of people to be fatally wounded in a random open-air missile attack, or even two of them. Now consider, as Reuters reports:
Sixty bodies were buried on Sunday night in two mass graves, said a spokesman for the Syrian Civil Defense force in Douma...
This is the "White Helmets," who often help fill mass graves and cover the bodies silently with dirt, besides speaking about the incidents. They have never run across a massacre by rebel forces, and never will. Only the secular regime does this, in their playbook.

Sixty people out of the 100+ were buried in a mass grave - this is the way you bury people you don't want to identify, people with no family you want to contact. Every "Shabiha" massacre ends with rebel-held bodies interred in mass graves. Presumably the rest were legit local victims, were claimed by family and given proper at-home burials, right? No, sadly, the same spokesman says
"Another 35 were buried on Monday, and the death toll was over 100, he said."
So at least 95 of the 100+ went unclaimed - not a good sign. Nadim Houry (HRW) tweets an Arabic list of 95 named victims, noting 9 more aren't identified (104 total). Is that coincidence that 95 were buried in two batches and 95 victims were named? Or were these unclaimed people all named as they were dumped? If so, does that lend credibility to the universally obtained names?

The first AP report includes a photo of at least 30-35 bodies wrapped, all seemingly male (by custom, usually segregated) and almost entirely adult sized - and said:
An amateur video posted online by activists showed some 40 bodies of men and boys lined up on the side of a street as more bodies were being brought in.
Let's say this is minimum 42 male victims, almost totally men - that's fairly out of whack, demographically. Is it enough to suggest the victims were sex-segregated captives? At this point, no. Maybe just more men than usual were doing the shopping because of the war, some Islamist ban, etc. Their families were back at home, awaiting their return - but in at least 95 cases they did not claim his body when he didn't come back? Is it just because they had no one left able to go outside?

VDC lists 105 total Damascus suburbs residents killed 8-16 by "warplane shelling." (sub-searches to see if all count, if some displaced from other areas are included, etc. - forthcoming). But I suspect this is roughly it: of the 105, 100 of them are listed as adult males. There are 3 boys, 2 women, and no girls filling in the other slots. Adult - Male there sometimes means unsure, goofed-up, or left blank, but the names seem to be male ... that must be the ban on women, slightly broken?

From other areas, martyered in Douma = 0 that's unusual these days for such a large pool of people
- displaced people are not only common, they often take the brunt of attacks in the VDC records. But all these were locals?And it's not only provinces - no one from the rest of Damascus, and all 105 entries are from Douma. Not a single Zamalka person, Jobar, Harasta, etc. And this is supposedly post-identification. The simplicity of these entries suggests made-up identities.

But then, Reuters' White Helmets spokesman gave a bit more detail on why some aren't identified: 
"It was really difficult to identify the bodies of the martyrs. Some of them were burned to the bone, so we couldn't add them to the documented list," said the 28-year-old (Civil Defense) spokesman, who declined to give his real name for security reasons. His house was destroyed in the bombing, he added.
Is it just unrealistic to come up with names here? Or does this support the rest of the names being real?

I'll bet many of these Douma market bombing attack victims also had torture marks and fatal wounds to the head or throat hiding under those shrouds. This is how "regime" artillery, missiles, Shabiha, even sarin, tend to operate inside rebel-held areas. From at least February 2012 and the Khalidiya Massacre it's been clear: regime shelling on a rebel-held area destroys 20+ homes, killing whole families in a main, first-reported batch of 138 people, being 130 men and 8 boys, many with throat injuries. A smaller number of more mixed victims were counted later.

That may happen here too, but this story has already fallen apart, in my opinion. However, a little more work will be needed before it's convincing to many others. 

Updates August 19:
Ziad Fadel at Syrian Perspective has a similar finding from a LCC list of just names:

I appreciate that he didn't leap to call them killed rebel fighters. When you don't know for sure, it's a potential massive insult. But that is one distinct possibility, depending. If a bunch of rebels died, would they just say so, or launder them as civilian victims like they did exclusively in the old days? More research will help decide which is more prevalent in a likely mix - fighters, captive civilians, shopping civilians.  I'm sure at least 2 events, and maybe 3, are being mixed together here.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An Iranian Hand in the Houla Massacre?

August 11, 2015
last edits (minor) Aug. 29

One of the more widely-read pieces on the May, 2012 Houla Massacre remains this piece in the Guardian I haven't explicitly tackled yet: Houla massacre: US accuses Iran of 'bragging' about its military aid to Syria  Chris McGreal in Washington Tuesday 29 May 2012 16.51 EDT
Victoria Nuland, the state department spokeswoman, said that Iran's hand is clearly visible in the killing of more than 100 people, including scores of young children, by a Syrian militia group, the Shabiha, which closely resembles an Iranian militia, the Basij.
"We took this action (expelling Syria's ambassador) in response to the massacre in the village of Houla – absolutely indefensible, vile, despicable massacre against innocent children, women shot at point blank range by regime thugs, the Shabiha, aided and abetted by the Iranians who were actually bragging about it over the weekend," said Nuland.
This accusation of a clear "Iranian hand" in the massacre might sound about like the picture at right, minus the question mark; the Mullahs in Tehran directly and knowingly assisted in sectarian slaughter like the rebels allege happened in Taldou that day. But the argument - and the Guardian's reason for attaching "Houla Massacre" to this report about general military aid - is kind of roundabout.

The actual accusation, which accompanied the expulsion of Syria's ambassador, was that Iran was helping Syria in general with boosting its local paramilitaries now called National Defense Forces. The derogatory nickname for these - "Shabiha" - does not mean "thug" as widely believed, or anything exactly. It's apparently derived from the militia's original name, Lijan Shabiya, or Popular Committees (sometimes called Local Committees, I think) distorted maybe to imply "ghosts" or the act of tearing a person apart (see here). And they are not an Alawite death cult as widely claimed, but of whatever faith the locals are, and secular in operation. After the Iranian-aided boost, they became the more official and capable NDF we see today fighting and often dying in the field. 

The purely Sunni and largely foreign rebels hate the "Shabiha" and from 2011 forward have blamed them for a slew of horrific crimes, most notably this Houla Massacre, creating a mythical, cartoon villain version of the real militias. This is the version Nuland is talking about.

It's never alleged that Tehran helped directly in the operation of the massacre itself, just that they sent their barbarity over to take root as its own Syrian version, with continued general assistance, and that led to the killings. The State Department analysis, as passed on by Nuland, found similarities between the "Shabiha thugs" and the Iranian Basij militias. But if "the Basij and the Shabiha are the same type of thing," as Nuland says, that does not mean they're definitely organized by the same people. Models can just be copied, or naturally wind up the same, as with adaptation in the wild.

But there was a more concrete sign of a connection alleged: The Guardian piece continues:
Nuland further implicated Iran by drawing attention to the timing of a claim by the deputy head of its Quds force, Esmail Ghani, that it has played a "physical and non-physical" role in Syria, and that if it were not present "the killing of citizens would be greater."

Nuland noted the timing of this, coming over the weekend immediately after the killings in Houla. This "Bragging" just then could have one of two non-coincidental reasons, depending how the evidence pans out:
1) They were excited to be involved in the genocide against Sunnis and hoped to help expand the killing (the implication of State's allegation)
2) They were excited to help the local militias prevent more destabilizing terrorist massacres like that, in their allied nation of Syria.
The quote included "if (Quds) were not present "the killing of citizens would be greater."" Well, that's not option 1) unless they're talking in code, as State probably meant to imply. These were candid, intercepted calls? And that's the juiciest quote they could find? Sounds to me like they're talking, honestly, about option 2, expressing worries that wind up being the ones supported by the best evidence.

It turns out rebel-supplied video evidence of the events of May 25, carefully analyzed, contradicts the rebel-supplied narrative on which all the Shabiha blame is based. Opposition sources said rebels were in charge in the "village" of Houla (but were really in charge of most of the 3-town area), but they ran away under regime shelling of the "village." This let the local Shabiha, mostly from a few nearby Alawi (Alawite) villages, march in to murder random Sunni families. This is the version Nuland referred to.
Taldou, security posts vs. massacre sites

But the scant video shows no government attack, and instead shows that Sunni rebels shouting Allahu Akbar attacked security posts on the day of the massacre, overrunning the last government-held part of the Houla region. This was the southern half of the southernmost town of Taldou, and it was immediately before the lamented families were massacred in southern Taldou, behind that erased line of protection. (see The Battle for the Houla Massacre, report with all lodged challenges and updates, here).

So who would be best positioned to carry out a massacre there on that day? Maybe the same folks who wound up with all the bodies after? That would be the anti-government forces, FSA and probably al-Qaeda, supported in myriad ways by the United States and its allies. With actual video evidence, not just words, ... well I wouldn't say Washington's hand is clear in this massacre of whole families in Syria, but... that would be way way closer to the truth than blaming Iran and the defenders they were supporting.

martyred Taldou defenders, May 26, allegedly Iranian-backed
Any proto-NDF Popular Committees fighters involved in the battle for Taldou would be local defenders who, like their colleagues in the Army, were unable to stop that unprecedented rebel assault. In fact the guy in civilian clothes laid out here, with some soldiers killed in the Battle for the Houla Massacre, might be one of them. (Source: ANNA News video, Taldou, May 26 - composite view)

We don't know for sure who the civilian victims really were, but the more credible witnesses and sources - the ones who mentioned the rebel attack rebels themselves deny - have a prevailing explanation. According to them, the victims were of 2 types, one being Sunnis (mostly named al-Sayed) accused of rejecting the rebellion, being in the military, or having a family relation to a member of parliament (secretary Mashlab, just sworn-in).

But the major part of the victims were former Sunnis who converted to Shi'ism That was the extended Abdulrazaq families, with intermarried others totaling as many as 90 of the 100+ civilian victims (see here for that little-known tidbit). The most credible version says they were Shia (Shi'ites), members of the same majority religion in Iran, of which Assad's Alawi faith is a localized offshoot. Sunni extremists hate Shi'ism worse than anything, and faith traitors who would willingly embrace it.
So ... 
"We find it interesting that it was on this very weekend that the deputy head of the Quds force decided to take credit for the advice they're giving to Syria," she said.

No one could deny it was likely the Houla Massacre that spurred Ghani to this discussion. On the weekend following a great loss of civilian lives, of coreligionists no less, massacred by rampant, foreign-backd Sunni extremists, they were overheard discussing how to boost local defense forces to stop further massacres. This is Nuland's idea of shady timing, but they "brag" only that if they and their help weren't there, "the killing of citizens would be greater."

The empired condems Iran's involvement to limit the number of dead. State suggests that's code for wanting to kill more. But it's far more likely Nuland and so many others are seriously talking in an established code when they go on about saving lives. The Houla Massacre had to give Victoria Nuland a hard-on. This bleeding of Syria - by destabilizing terrorist events just like that - is essential to the script, and she knows it.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Syria: Who's Making Who Bray to Assad Here?

August 10, 2015

There's a new allegation I was alerted to, not the most urgent but interesting enough to look into a bit. This was run by Middle East Eye, August 7: VIDEO: Syrian couple beaten, forced to mimic donkey by pro-Assad forces
The cited video - (Youtube link - not graphic but disturbing) shows a supposed National Defense Forces fighter (NDF, aka "Shabiha") in camouflage abusing civilians pretty severely. First, I appreciate MEE agreeing these terms Shabiha and NDF mean the same thing, as I reasoned long ago (see ACLOS). Generally, these guys get demonized, but they're actually awesome - locals protecting their communities from ongoing terrorist attacks, accused of slaughtering children in neighboring towns dozens and dozens of times now.

Anyway, the man involved here - his face is clearly visible, and if he's identified as active duty NDF, then it's so - either a bad apple or yet another sign of a rotten system, depending. But until then, he's an alleged NDF or, maybe one of the real "Shabiha" behind stuff like the Houla Massacre.

This supposed Shabih is seen abusing a husband and wife, both bound, as their children, perhaps, watch on the sides. The article gives a full-seeming if "rushed" transcription. Summarized: he accuses the man of appearing on TV and insulting Hafez al-Assad (the former president), whips them both, slaps the man in the face brutally, and finally gets the wife first and then husband to admit they are donkeys and to bray like it.

That's not the worst; "There were allegations on social media that the couple, along with their children, were eventually killed for allegedly criticising former President Hafez Assad on TV, but the claims could not be substantiated."

The article boosts the credibility of the video claim with additional horror stories of 'things like that,'  mostly just alleged. Let's just focus on the central one, proven with a video. On that MEE turned to an expert; "the Chairman and founder of the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) Fadel Abdul Ghany, who "told Middle East Eye that the video appears to be authentic." He also said they know these abuses and far worse are done - all by security forces and ISIS a little bit, and no one else. And furthermore ""Video experts whom I've been in touch with have also confirmed that the video has not been doctored," Abdul Ghany added." Did anyone claim this video was "doctored?" Why not pretend someone thinks it's all a CGI animated sequence? 

This is clearly real video, and not even the kind of fake that's concocted between friends, like a 2014 video I recently analyzed. The whipping, those slaps, and the hate behind them feel real to me. The pain and fear of the victims feels real, and grim. I would almost be surprised if these people weren't all killed afterwards. (But it's possible that's my dark imagination, and this was the harsh part of a scene that mellowed out.)

There is quite likely an element of fakery, however, just a one-sided kind. Below, my analysis (opinion) and research (basic), on two levels. 

Content Analysis (Opinion)
I'm less convinced than usual this is fake - it seems like a more realistic crime than most. But there are some problems worth pointing out:
- how he continues, knowing it's being filmed, and perhaps that it's going to end with a family massacre he won't want evidence for.
- rebels got hold of the video of this crime - oops - for like the millionth time.
- he doesn't let the conversation move forward much - the situation is never cleared up, left confused (see below "I was on TV?").
- he likes to keep it dwelling on how mean he and Assad are, again, knowing it's going on video, and such videos often wind up found/leaked/whatever and gotten to the public, as this one would.
- no one to my knowledge has given supporting details like a TV broadcast of the man talking (but maybe that just suggests the Shabih was wrong or lying even about that). MEE's article mentions no details like victim names, locale or date.

The thug here knows how to praise Assad, insult salafists (Sunni extremists) and maybe God, wear camouflage, and be vicious to people he clearly hates. Disaffected Salafist defectors wanting to demonize their secular old bosses can easily pull off all of that. This dialog might be a clue:

Interrogator "He's a donkey, like who else? … like (anti-Assad cleric sheikh Adnan al-) Arour?"
Woman: I don't know who that is
Interrogator: (hitting her) You don't know who [Arour] is?"
That makes me wonder if this group is sucking up to/supported by Adnan al-Arour, who's a grade-A scumbag by the way. Having this cartoon villains hate him in particular makes him look good, a propaganda plus in the Arab world. Consider also how, when the husband pleads "please, by God," he's cut off: "Interrogator: God? Which God, the Salafi one or ours?" The Salafi god of Arour and the FSA defectors sounds good here, compared to "our God" of secular brutality.

"I have no ties with them," the man pleads, twice. It's about all he says of substance. Who are they? Who does he think he's talking to? The people seem confused. Accused of being on TV, he manages to ask "I was on TV?" but he's cut off, pleads he's not with whoever, and gets slapped. Before the video cuts anyway, he never gets to the part where he explains convincingly how there must be a mix-up, he's a normal pro-Assad Syrian, or even asks "hey, are you a real NDF? Can I see your ID?" That part, if it existed, wouldn't get leaked to rebel uploaders. 

The wife understands she's supposed to profess love or non-hate for the Assads, and does so, for one of 3 reasons:
1) because that's how she feels (swears by her eyes she doesn't hate him)
2) because the Shabih said to say it, or
3) because the Salafist rebel psycho posing as a Shabih said to.

Claims Analysis
Without even digging into the social media claims mentioned (might be worthwhile), just the Arabic title and description with the video add details not included in the report and adequate to make a full-sized post out of this. 

ضابط علوي من عصابات الاسد يُعذب رجل وامراتهُ في منزلهم الشبيح العلوي#باسل_بريدي

Alawi officer of Assad gangs tortured man and his wife in their homeAlshabiha Alawi # Basel_Baridi (name, apparently the alleged Shabih?)

So he's an Alawi Shabih they say. Maybe MEE thinks all of them are Alawi, as rebels often claim or imply, but it's not so. It's worth specifying. The victims would implicitly be Sunnis. However ...

Video description translated:
Alawi Shabih # Basel_Baridi from the village of Ein saucer ( عين الصح ) countryside # Safita .... A person who has disgraced/insulted (people?) from the village parapet المتراس Turkmen villages .. The video was shot in the Valley of the Christians in Homs # one of Christian villages and was working for the Porter Ranch Obakar..autam kill all the family with their children in cold blood -
This says Baridi is from village of  عين الصحن (ain al-Sahan?) - Safita is in Tartous province, but just NW of Wadi al-Nassarah (valley of the Christians) in Homs. Ayn as-Sahn on Wikimapia - 5 km east of Safita, maybe the border. The farm that was mentioned might be here, as the name directed me - some distance away, just northeast of Homs city. The town he insulted seems to be Metras, in the valley of Christians but apparently Sunni/Turkmen majority (?), a few km south of Ain al-Sahan. But it seems to say this is in one of the Cristian villages.

The allegations are specific enough to allow checking around. First stop, and only for now, the VDC.
A check of their martyrs database (fill it in yourself this time!) shows among Homs men and women no likely matches in either, killed by anything, anywhere in that area, going back months. Considering the border and checking placid Tartous, there's nothing remotely close (not a single Tartous woman killed this year?). That's not to show they weren't killed, just not killed and listed here, by the details on the video. Sometimes listing is delayed and less often, never happens, or they heard a different origin story, etc.

Updates Aug 12:
The cited video posting is now gone, account deleted. The villain name in Arabic yields other postings, different versions, etc.  Among these is a longer video posted Aug 5, maybe the main source, by account Village Metras. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YACxJgGI3fA
Woman and her husband tortured by shabiha tyrant Bashar al-Assad and killing a family with children in the village of Barricade
Village Barricade
August 5, 2015
تعذيب امرأة وزوجها من قبل شبيحة الطاغية بشار الأسد وقتلهم لعائلة مع الأطفال في قرية المتراس
قرية المتراس

That contains this video after dark footage of murdered children - one with an apparent cut-like neck wound, eventually in rebel hands, before or after rigor mortis (body flaccid).

Description, Google-translated with fixes
In the name of God the Merciful, and peace and blessings be upon our master Muhammad and his family and him .. after the shabiha pork Bashar al-Assad, shabiha (of) village Tannourine Christianity execution of Abbas Abdo Khadr family and two children Hayyan and Ryan in the third row and the second primary of the children of the village barricade (Metras) and his wife Ahlem Ramadan of Krak des Chevaliers , Patarrakh (?) 9-9-2013
split here - that must be the first incident. VDC lists at least the children, both boys, but killed Sept. 10. Other details later. Next, the one we've been talking about 
a farmer a farm village Tannourine, the shabiha pork Bashar al-Assad, led by Alhbih Basil Postal (Nasseri of the village of Ein saucer), beating, torturing and insulting Mustafa Abdou Khader and his children of his village parapet (Metras) and his wife, Hiam Bahgat Hassan of Alhsrgih village and it almost a month the second of 2014, and until now we do not know the fate of Mustafa Abdou Khadr and his wife, Hiam Hassan Bahgat .. Being God and yes, the agent Village parapet of a Sunni Turkoman assets located northwest of Homs administratively belonging to the province of Tartous
Tanurin is 3km east of Metras, near Marmarita (WM) It sounds like they're saying these inhabitants of Metras were taken to Tanoourin by Alawi and Christian Shabiha to abuse them there, not in "their home" in a Christian village like the other posting said. Not a current event, but maybe February 2014? Records may not exist as "we don't know."

Abuse video apparently just now scored, not clear how. They seem to have photos of a guy who looks about like the abuser, and say he's Mr. Baridi.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Syria Chlorine Allegations: 2014 Attacks Target IDPs

Syria Chlorine Allegations: 2014 Attacks Target IDPs 
August 8, 2015
last edits August 9

This post will cover what might be the first chlorine attack allegations in Syria - at least the first that got wide attention - after the Syrian government (aka "Assad") surrendered its stocks of Sarin and other chemical weapons. In fact: on April 22 it was reported by the UN that about 90% of that work was done, with the remainder on track (Xinhua - L.A. Times) Starting April 11 and continuing into the summer, aerial attacks with chlorine gas were alleged on both sides of the border between Hama and Idlib provinces in central Syria. At least four of these attacks among many more had a death toll, killing a over a dozen civilians between them, besides injuring hundreds.

The emphasis of the mainstream media/Western government/Human Rights group complex has been on the helicopter allegation and the metal canisters found after, with stamps from a Chinese arms maker. The implication of Syrian military authorship is taken as obvious. But the following connections are all alleged, and open to question:
- that these canisters fell from an aircraft,
- and then released chlorine,
- which is what caused the widespread medical problems,
- and what caused the few important deaths.

This research was first begun and will finally be assembled on the relevant ACLOS (talk) page, with this pit-stop to help sort-out this important angle in readable form. We've found it's more instructive to look at victim dynamics, from clinical signs and symptoms to age and gender distribution, family relations to other victims, or victims of other incidents that might suggest targeting, etc. Video evidence shows later alleged chlorine attacks had their death toll augmented with drug overdoses, for example (see here). In the later cases and the ones considered here, victim records from opposition sources - taken with a grain of salt - provide some potentially crucial clues. Any combination of details could be untrue, but just taking what they say and reading between those lines, an alarming picture emerges, as we'll see below.

The third report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), from December, has much info on the attack allegations, timelines (sometimes confusing) and patients treated but not dead, demographics, symptoms, treatments. This is not available from the OPCW that I can find, just the US State Department - their PDF. They outline quite a few alleged incidents, but here we'll consider just four - the deadly ones.  As the report puts it:
7.19 The outcome of exposure to the toxic chemicals used was fatal in 13 cases (three in Talmenes, eight in Al Tamanah, and two in Kafr Zita). One had died immediately, nine en route to higher medical echelons, and three in a specialised hospital outside the Syrian Arab Republic. All these individuals were close to the impact site of munitions containing toxic chemicals.
(note "outside the Syrian Arab Republic" here means Turkey, operational base for anti-Syria rebels in the north and home country of OPCW director Ahmet Uzumcu, FWIW)

To their 13, I call 16 dead total. The chemical part is questionable in some cases, but might be arbitrary, as they were all quite likely rebel captives deliberately killed to coincide with the staged chlorine events. 
April 11 Kafr Zita 5 dead
April 18 Tamanah 4 dead
April 21 Talmenes 3 dead
May 22 Tamanah 4 dead
(see map below) The only disagreement I can lodge with the OPCW's totals is over the first and most interesting attack. 

An interesting pattern the OPCW either didn't notice or didn't make much of is that all but three of these fatalities were internally displaced people (IDPs). "Displaced" people might be a coded way to say captives siezed from their hometowns and held elsewhere.

Below, we'll consider the first attack and victim records in some detail, to raise the controversy. The other three will go more in passing. There was also a strange simultaneous chemical attack in Harasta, East Ghouta, Damascus - toxic gas, never specified as chlorine - that killed 3 rebel fighters on April 11, and maybe again on the 16th. This has to be considered here too, at the bottom.

April 11, Kafr Zita
A Brutal Inaugural Attack
This attack has 2 rebel videos of the sunset attack that started the first chlorine campaign with the deadliest bang. Convient, all that. Reports said around 100 were effected, 5 of them seriously, but none fatally. One or two others died from head injuries caused by the initial explosion of the chlorine bomb, it was said. Both were IDPs.

VDC report,  April 14 (PDF) relates the death toll is unclear but low, and “no one died because of the gas as a direct reason." They specify the same two victims most have: 1) an "unidentified girl whose head was injured," with the gas maybe contributing to her death but not the main cause 2) "Mustafa Ahmad al-Muhammad, about 70 years old, from Morek, also died as a result of a head injury." The report also mentions "it is worth mentioning that most of the injured were displaced from the neighboring city of Mork." Yes it is. 

VDC entry: Mustafa Ahmad al-Mohammad age 70, from Morek. Martyrdom location Hama: Kaferzita, killed 4-11 by Warplane shelling. Notes IDP, Due to explosive barrel shelling on the town, injured in the head, his daughter died in 16-04 due to inhaling chemical and toxic gasses which has been used in Kaferzita.
-- VDC entry: Marwa Mustafa Ahmad al-Mohammad AF age 30, single, from Morek, Martyrdom location Turkey. Cause of Death: Chemical and toxic gases. Notes Due to exposure to toxic Chlorine gas in Kafarzieta on 11-04-2014 where she was displaced.

That 30-year-old daughter isn't likely to be the unidentified girl who died right away. So including her, this must be at least 3 victims, with 2 dead in time for the VDC's report. But the VDC database - which should be more complete than the report, has no unidentified girl from Hama dying this day, nor any girls dying from shelling or CW (see VDC query).

There is a half-identified Idlib girl to die that day, "Martyred due to the air regime's helicopters shelling." This is Daughter of Shareef Qeytaz mother's name: Hayah Ahmed Qeytaz (not the usual "maiden" name). But she's from Maarat al-Numan, it says, a ways north in Idlib province, not from Morek. So  that's presumably unrelated bombing in Maarat Numan. But then where's the girl VDC said died in the KZ attack? The doctor there swore to it - he knew about the gas and injuries and felt the former worsened the latter - she was there, in a story, not some error. No mention of chlorine, nor of displacement, nor dying in Hama. But she's unidentified.  4-11 to 4-24, nationwide, all causes, only 37 girls to check against. Several are unidentified, but she's the only one from anywhere nearby and on the right day. It's not the same town the attack happened in, but as we'll see, that's the norm here - almost everyone dies away from home. And if that's not her, it's quite a coincidence that the VDC would miss her and also list this close replacement. The VDC misses relatively few victims, so it's likely this is how she was partly identified - they got her parents' names. And she was displaced to Kafr Zita like the Morek people, and killed there.

It probably means nothing but is interesting that Maarat Numan is the only place around that, with the middle letters removed, says Ma'an (see below if you don't know what that means).

And they either list her twice, or she had a sister or relative who also died: Rama Mahmoud Quitaz (suggests father named Mahmoud, not Sharif) Also from Maarat Numan, but died in Turkey, only on April 13. How many random shelling victims are sent to Turkey? We know CW victims get sent there for a second opinions, and have these odd delayed deaths. Notes: "Martyred due to her wounds sustained due to the regime air forces' shelling before two days." So, on the 11th ... wherever. Photo included: wrapped for burial, major black eye, small mark above other eye, face intact but head massively wrapped. Possible smoke-staining of nostrils and gums, would suggest prolonged smoke exposure during "displacement."

One related woman - Hayah Ahmed Qeytaz from Maarat al-Numan - is also listed, died by the shelling too, on the 11th nowhere in particular (so presumably wherever it happened). No images. Her name is that given for unnamed daughter's mother. Three female victims, each with an implied different father (Sharif, Mahmoud, Ahmed). No male Qeytaz victims, or same-area shelling victims appear (check Idlib Men, Idlib boys, Hama men, Hama boys, by CW or shelling, 4/11-4/16). That might be of interest; three is a bit low to declare gender segregation, but this is how hostages are kept by Islamists: men and older boys in one place, women and other children in another. 

On bombing-caused head wounds in the area, the entry next to Rama (the one with the photo above) also has a photo - a girl with a nasty head wound, not sword-shaped but suspect, activist holding a piece of her brain. Having been warned, see (optional) Ayoush Ahmed Sadeq al-Hammad age 6 Martyred due to regime`s army forces shelling of cluster bombs Kafrouma. Kaffar Ruma on Wikimapia is right next to Maarat al-Numan.

Are these Idlib Qeytaz females, or maybe even Ayoush, connected to the same-day attack in Kafr Zita? Nothing directly says so. But again, the VDC and all other sources are clear that an unidentified girl, no further details but maybe from Morek, had died on the 11th, for 2 immediate dead. Syrian state sources heard by the 12th, from sources they trusted, that two had died. If that girl isn't the one, the one is unusually missing. If it is her, we have another victim who died later in Turkey, and her mother, strangely unlisted, all faintly suggestive of gender-segregated hostages, described as displaced. The total dead would be five. Recall the opposition sources had five seriously effected besides the two dead - this suggests two others recovered, or maybe they died too and they just didn't get listed.

The Other Three Attacks
These so far have less controversy, but also just less detail. They might be really interesting as well, but we'll cover them quicker for now.

April 18: Tamanaah, Idlib
(just over the border, on Wikimapia)

VDC lists 3 victims: Amina Mustafa Iskandar, Adult - Female married with 2 children, from Khan Sheikhoun. Notes: IDP, a father and a mother and their son killed due to exposure to chemical and toxic gasses by the government force helicopter shelling. The others: Abdul Naser Hasan al-Sousy Adult - Male Mohammad Abdul Naser Hasan al-Sousy Child - Male video - specified as Amina's son, all from Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, same notes about being IDPs.

April 21: Telminnes, Idlib
(on Wikimpaia, next to Maarat Numan)
Reuters, 4/21:
 A Reuters photograph of another young boy who had been transferred to a hospital closer to the Turkish border showed him lying dead on a stretcher with blood around his mouth. Medics said he had been exposed to chlorine gas at Telminnes. Videos from the site of Monday's bombing showed the same yellow canisters, this time twisted from an explosion. 

VDC: all Idlib CW deaths in this span = 3 total from Telmenes. Mahmoud Abdul Razaq Hashash "Nawas" child-male, age 7, died 4-21 "Martyred due to exposure to Chlorine gas which was contained in a barrel bomb shelled on his house, delivered by the government helicopter" 2 delayed deaths in Turkey, both listed on April 25: Maryomeh Abdul Razak al-Hashash"Nawas, girl, 14, from Telmenes, "Martyred with her brother due to exposure to Chlorine gas which was contained in a barrel bomb shelled on their house on 21-04-2014, delivered by the government helicopter" Khadiga Mohammad Barkat, A-F, Telmenes, Martyred with due to exposure to Chlorine gas which was contained in a barrel bomb delivered by the government helicopter on a house on 21-04-2014

All have martyrdom location blank, because unlike the rest of these victims, by the VDC records, they died right where they were from instead of getting displaced first.

May 22, Tamanaah again
A month of non-deadly attacks passes, then one more to consider here. OPCW lists 4 dead in this attack, with some detail:
In another case, a mother aged 30 years, her sister aged 16 years, and two children (a five-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy) belonging to the same family died in an attack.  The autopsy for the male child aged four years was conducted on 23 May 2014 outside the Syrian Arab Republic.  The mother had died in the ambulance while being transferred, her sister died in Talmenes hospital, and the girl died at Saraqueb hospital.

VDC lists one of these only: Soad al-Alloshy  Adult - Female. From Hama: Soran  2014-05-22 Chemical and toxic gases Martyrdom location: Idlib:Tamanaah. Cause of Death: Chemical and toxic gases. Notes: IDP, due to inhaling Chlorine gas which has being delivered by Arial barrels shelling, due to sever breathing problems Generic Video  

If one member of this unfortunate family was chased out of Soran before dying in Tamanah, the others were too. Only the sister is clearly the case; the mother and the children aren't specified as being hers. But we have a woman, her teenage sister, two young children - as with the first attack, there are no correlating men or older boys listed.

Considered Alongside 2015 Attacks
Having looked at more frequent allegations in Idlib province this year, it's noteworthy how deadly these first attacks were - in 2015, some (36?) attacks reported from mid-March 16 onward, with 9 dead tota between them, 6 of those in the inaugural attack of March 16. In most attacks no one dies - realistically, it should be even lower - the one with six dead made no sense. Some kind of 'trapped in a basement' situation, with unexplained unconsciousness, is the reason given for these fluke deaths - Here, before rebels did enough research to know that - it's 3 people each in 2 attacks, with no explanation. Maybe they were all trapped in basements, but it's not specified.

In both 2014 and 2015, it's notable how the series of attacks had a 'first and worst' one to grab attention. In this earlier series, at least the unusual 5 dead was a) not reported all at once and b) had the head wounds to help explain why they died, perhaps in some basement for displaced people...

We don't have as much information on where the non-fatal victims were from, to see if these bombs only hit displaced people, or singled them out for death from a more mixed pool. Neither sounds very good. Only in the first case in Kafr Zita, the VDC report found it "worth mentioning that most of the injured were displaced from the neighboring city of Mork."

Displacement Overview
The map at right shows the directions - may be enough info to update this later - Morek (Mr. Mohammed and his daughter) and perhaps Maarat Numan folks (the Quitaz girls and woman) displaced to KZ died on April 11 attack -  April 18, family of 4 displaced from Khan Sheikhoun and killed in Tamanah - April 21, 3 implied locals - the only non-IDPs - killed in Talmenes - May 22, four total, at least 2 displaced from Souran, it says. 

So we have 11 or perhaps 13 out of 16 incident victims where were of that segment forced to run around the country since the "Arab Spring" started in Syria. This could have a few explanations:
- the "regime" is hitting them at random in civilian areas, either because there's just so many IDPs they're now a solid majority of KZ residents, or just by a strange fluke 
- the "regime" is hitting the displaced knowingly, aiming for just them, in civilian areas
- the "regime" is hitting them unknowingly in rebel lodgings near military sites (bad planning)
- same as above, but "displaced" mean rebel hostage, and they were placed in dangerous spots on purpose, as human shields
- displaced mean rebel hostage, and rebels just offed a few at a time to blame the government, as they lobbed a chlorine bomb to cause the right smell effect and supporting medical cases.

Implicitly, none of the 16 victims were Alawi, Christian, or supporters of the Syrian government. 

And it's clear by these records that no one who was "displaced" from Ma'an died in these attacks. This Alawi (Alawite) village right there in the same area, near Morek and Soran, in a white circle on the map. It was attacked by Islamist rebels in December 2012 with a reported massacre (see here) and again on February 9, 2014 (see here). In that second attack, about 20 soldiers were killed and, as SyriaNews.cc reports, "the Syrian authorities had recorded 42 victims, most of them old, but the missings list extends to 80 civilian.[sic]." This generally means taken captive, and note in support of that, the old were killed and the young taken.  Aside from Mr. Mohammed the victims considered here tend to be young.

There's been no public word on their fate, but in other instances, there are allowances for and/or evidence of sex slavery for younger women and older girls, re-education for children, and death for the men and older women - or, in lieu of all that, they can be used in prisoner exchanges. Could a few of these also be culled as props for renewed chemical weapon allegations? Sure, why not? The first and most likely case didn't even happen for two months after the abductions in Ma'an. That's long enough for most people to forget, if they ever knew, that dozens of expendable "Nusayri" citizens were being held in that area (besides whoever else they had abducted more quietly).   

For Consideration: April 11 (and 16?), Harasta
This is either unrelated or, as  time coincidence makes it seem, indirectly related. The April 21 Reuters report mentions at least four CW allegations just in in April, the third being "last week" in the Damascus suburb of Harasta, citing "footage of four men being treated by medics." VDC records of all CW deaths April 10-15 show only two - both unidentified non-civilians (rebels) killed in Harasta. Notes say "Three martyred due to regime use of chemical and toxic gasses on Harsta front in a tunnel, the three bodies couldn't be retrieved. VDC cannot confirm this directly." 

Date: April 11.Nothing like it for a long time before or after. Did the regime use a tunnel to gas people on the surface, or were the victims in a tunnel with the gas, as the inability to retrieve them suggests? If that's the case, were they actually transporting it? Was there a plan to have "Assad" attack both Hama villages and East Ghouta with chlorine on the same first day? If so, luckily, the second part - designed to revive memories of the Ghouta alleged Sarin attack 8 months earlier -  seemingly went fatally wrong for the planners.

A third entry, oddly, appears same day as Marwa from Kafr Zita died in Turkey, April 16. Abdullah Khalil Kharzom from Harasta. Date of death 2014-04-16. Cause of Death Chemical and toxic gases Rank FSA Notes: "Due to the regime`s army use of chemical and toxic gasses during the clashes in Harasta, he reached the feild hospital and his heart was stooped. he was announced dead after the failure of CPR." Video of the martyr (dated and uploaded April 17). 

CPR doesn't run 5 days. So different incident on the 16th/17th, with the 3rd guy from the 11th still not listed? Did the "regime" try again to gas the same area of East Ghouta after the first failure? Notice he also has a slight wound to the head, just behind the left eye - doesn't appear remotely fatal though.