Warning

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.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Misrata Brigades Accept the GNC

May 24, 2015
last updates May 30
 
Thanks to some comments by h at Refugees and Human Traficking, something new (as far as I know)

Libya Dawn revolutionaries show support for GNC

Libya Dawn Operation revolutionaries representing 23 cites issued on Wednesday a statement in Al-Zaweya to show support to the General National Congress as the sole legitimacy in Libya urging everyone to comply with its orders.
The statement indicated that all of the revolutionaries must be united all around Libya and that Libya Dawn partners are not allowed to declare neither war nor peace unilaterally. May 20 2015
 
4 Misrata Brigades confirm their support for dialogue, putting an end to the fighting. In Misrata, 236 revolutionary brigades are registered with the Misratan Union of Revolutionaries (MUR),7 accounting for almost 40,000fighters

http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/F-Working-papers/SAS-WP12-After-the-Fall-Libya.pdf

This was preceded by European threats over the recent death voyages, coming from ports run by Libya Dawn. GNC officials had been complicit, out of greed and/or fear, but "when Italy and other major EU state leaders started talking about military action to destroy the smuggler boats before they could load up with illegal migrants," the GNC offered to patrol the coast with EU coordination, to stop the traffic. Italy, by far the biggest absorber of the influx, welcomed the move.

But... there was dissent:
Mufti Ghariani denounces Misrata brigades statement for peace and reconciliation
 
And this acceptance was issued at a time when, the Misratans may have had reason to know, they were about to claim the GNC betrayed their newfound friendship, and perhaps be forced to again be at odds with them. Within nine days, as Libya Herald reports on 29 May, "Libya’s largest airbase falls into IS hands as Misratans blame GNC" Did the GNC fold and retreat and let ISIS/Daesh take over? No, the Misratans did:
''Forces supporting the Islamic State (IS) have taken control of Gardabiya airbase in Sirte, Libya’s largest airbase, after Misrata’s 166 Brigade retreated last night from its remaining positions in the town ... [and IS] is reported to have taken control also of the Manmade River complex some 25 kilometres east of the town. It too had been in the hands of 166 Brigade.''
 
Misratans blame the GNC for this loss, by refusing to arm the Misratans adequately (in the few days they'd been cooperating?) and they blame ISIS for having too many weapons (or are they saying the GNC has armed them?) “We did not get any support from the GNC. We don’t have enough weapons, enough vehicles. The other side has everything,” a local official said. The commander of 166, Mohamed Ahusan, echoed that they had no choice, adding that this had been an issue and he had already threatened to just pull out if he didn't get the right support. So this is a conscious decision finally taken, just after they had feigned cooperation, and it might've been presaged with deception; the Herald report mentions conflicting "separate reports yesterday that although a different Misratan brigade had decided to pull out of Sirte because of the lack of backing from the GNC, 166 and a handful of others had agreed at a meeting with the council to stay on and fight IS." Might that be part of why reinforcements weren't sent? Was this a surprise withdrawal of 166 despite their promise to stay? How would that be the GNC's fault? Doesn't matter - they're on their own with the backstabbers and ISIS teaming up like this to spread their Islamo-nihilist zone. :''
Meanwhile the international community, notably the EU and the US, continues to insist that it will not help anyone in Libya fight IS until there is a government of national unity – a scenario that looks as remote now as when the UNSMIL dialogue process restarted four months ago in Geneva.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Syria: Ghouta Chemical Massacres (plural) {Masterlist}

May 26, 2015
(incomplete)
last edits August 27, 2017

Incident: Early hours of August 21, 2013: the simultaneous "chemical" death of x-hundred civilians in the suburbs of Damascus, east and west, by apparently varied and usually unclear "chemical" methods. Rebels blamed government-fired rockets, and buried all the dead in their own mass graves. 

The UN later found Sarin remains in dirt next to rockets that may be irrelevant to the basements these folks were gassed in. And they found seemingly token amounts of Sarin product in the blood of some rebel-supplied alleged survivors. Of the people who died from deadlier doses of whatever - x-hundred in number, widely-parroted as 1,429 - none were tested for what killed them. It's said this is because a "dead body can't tell you how the person died," and/or it was a hassle that wasn't necessary - but that's clearly not why the UN's investigators chose to rely on living, rebel-screened, alleged survivors to speak for the dead.  

One man who might've pulled through and be a credible witness to sample and interview apparently started waking up in the morgue - a located one in Kafr Batna shown above (later as it's being emptied). In the center here here is a blood-soaked bed sheet they wadded under his neck after rebels finished "Assad's" work with a cut to the throat. It was okay, they had stand-ins, and now they had another dead body that can't tell you who gassed him. And they didn't have to settle for 1,428 martyrs making their case for a military bailout.
The basement these folks were gassed in seems to be directly beneath the floor here (or maybe it is a bit behind here and below, whichever - it's the former tuberculosis hospital, rebels say - see first link below for a start at the full story).

(fuller/different intro perhaps forthcoming - I just need this post up now)

Existing posts here, in order of importance
* The Ghouta Massacre's Sarin Myth, Brightly Lit: Exploring Kafr Batna's... Rebel Gas Chambers?

* Visual Evidence that the Victims were Prisoners and Unflattering before-and-after images of those prisoners

* The Family Killed Ahead of Schedule (added 8-27-17): the only case where we see 8-9 victims where they allegedly died in the sarin attack - and they were murdered with weapons days earlier, started to decay, and then were dragged into place. This was done, apparently, to support the claim that victims died in their homes or walking at liberty on the streets. That claim needing lies to illustrate it would then seem untrue, and the options raised in the above post are highlighted.

* Was Phosphene used in the Ghouta Chemical Massacre? Adding a valid hypothesis that phosphine, for example (later found in rebel chemical stocks in Aleppo) might explain some or even most of the deaths

* Ghouta Massacres (plural) by District (lots of details here but broken up - will be 10 district sub-posts when done)
** Part 2: Jobar - One extra-interesting example

* (East Ghouta) Firing Directions {Masterlist} (added August, 2017): new research and findings, in progress, on where the alleged sarin rockets were fired from, based on looking at what they did, which is interesting in various other ways anyway. Seven verified and analyzed impacts, each one providing a fairly readable firing direction.

One example at right: best estimates are in the 40-50 degree range (relative to an impacted wall), yet one agency claimed a mere 8 degrees. That was the UN investigation, in a widely cited and unacknowledged error (see part 1). It's not a wall-relation or a site mix-up; they're clear which site, how it's the straight tube's orientation, as they were looking at it, and they give an absolute compass direction and clarify it in detail, giving the opposite angle as the one it was flying on. It was way wrong, but it pointed to an Assad missile base 10km (4.5 times the rocket's maximum flight distance) away. This clearly wrong (analysis?) was cited as proving that it had flown 4.5x its maximum distance from just that base (before it was accepted to be so badly out-of-range - that math took a bit longer for the people who actually did it). Further, they claim this was the only spot in east Ghouta that provided a readable firing direction, suggesting this could be a fit for all of them. And they claim to have found two impacts in Moadamiya, west Ghouta, that point north, exactly to the same missile base, roughly the same distance away. I'm not sure how wrong that is, but it confirms the other strange cluster of errors... 

This wrong angle to an impossible spot was hungrily consumed and defecated by the Western mainstream's corporate media presstitutes as coming from a credible and unbiased UN agency, "buried" in a report intent on not blaming anyone or pointing fingers, and so honestly implicating the Syrian government. This was back in Sept. 2013, as pressure was on to blame Assad, facts or no. Here it was no. 
* That well-summarized story, in long form with explanations: How UN-OPCW Falsely Fingered Syria for the Ghouta Attack

Other findings about the rockets and their firing location(s) are popping up as we progress.

* Ghouta Massacre Victims: Medical and Media Staffs Decimated? Killed in the line of duty, and/or with family, in Zamalka - strange clues of family-based targeting no wind can explain, clues we see in other sectors, but because of profession couched as an apocalyptic culling of the district's non-violent activists by Assad's chemical rockets.

* Death Toll and Estimates 
** Body Recycling: Shown strongly between certain body displays, so far. May mean little past helping to set a visual minimum body count. May mean more than that.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Houla Massacre (Syria) {Masterlist}

November 22, 2014
last edits May 21, 2017

Update May 2017: See Five Years of the Houla Massacre Lie

see also dedicated but small and inomplete blogsite: http://taldoutruth.blogspot.com/
This one seemed to deserve its own blog - maybe it didn't quite, but too late now. There's little need to cover it in detail on this site. The base research at A Closer Look On Syria is all linked there as well.

* Houla, May 25: the Turning Point in Syria? The original post here, first-impression commentary and earliest investigation updates to July, 2012. Until the 2017 update, little about this pivotal event was actually included on this main blog for my take on our work (and sometimes Petri's, and maybe someone else's in time).

Note: The Video Record - besides several known witnesses and much logic - supports a victorious rebel attack on Taldou's security posts on May 25. They seem to overrun four of them, and left the fifth one pinned down under attack for hours. See here: white posts, taken in the rebel offensive that day. Orange = contested. Signs say they took the  next two pushing south.
That would give opposition fighters and terrorist allies unprecedented access to the town that evening, and there was also an unprecedented massacre that was to the opposition's immense PR benefit.

Please now re-consider what was ever cited to blame the government and clash with the best-read video record. Mainly, it was the word of alleged witnesses like this.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ghouta Massacre Victims: Medical and Media Staffs Decimated?

Killed in the Line of Duty, and/or With Family, in Zamalka
May 21, 2015

The following is mainly from The Weekly Report on Dignity Revolution's Martyrs 8/17-8/23 2013 by the Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria (opposition). And mainly, it's information provided to them by one "Murad Abu Bilal, Information Officer in Zamalka's Coordination Committee," who's also "one of the few survivors of the media team during the massacre." In fact he says he's the only survivor. If rebels had gassed people there, he'd likely know and be the first to say it - or maybe not. But the facts, or something, force him to blame the silly regime for an exceptionally harsh version of attack, compared to what most other activists allege.

His contribution was video-recorded in two sessions (all in Arabic)
* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmjZplt5lzQ indoors interview
* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxRrih_nZcA field interview at the medical point

Medical Point Destroyed and Entire Staff Killed
"Murad Abu Bilal" atop the medical point
"Murad Abu Bilal" gave his field interview (second video) in what he callled "Zamalka Al Balad - Al Mazra'a" (the farms? maybe east end of Zamalka?). Indicating a semi- destroyed building, he told them "here was the medical point of Zamalka." Much of the video is filmed from its roof. He says "on Wednesday 08.21.2013, at quarter to two in the morning (1:45 AM, or maybe meaning 2:15, or maybe 2:45 as most give the attack starting) we were helping people here." "We" presumably means "they," or "us in the opposition" - he's not medical staff himself. The number of patients was huge; he says "about 600 people had been moved to this medical point during the first half hour after the bombing" (which started at 1:15/45/2:15?).

He says at that time, with 600 patients gathered within a half hour, at 1:45 AM or whenever, "another missile fell on the same building where the "medical point" was, which led to the death of many patients and the whole medical staff." He explains:
"The top of the: "medical point " building was bombed heavily with chemical weapons, and it is this building that we were assisting the infected people to climb to the top of to inhale some fresh air, however, the second rocket that fell on the mentioned building claimed dozens of lives as well. There were more than 60 people on the top of that building, in addition to dozens of people who were standing on the stairs, and others were waiting in front of the medical point downstairs."
The report doesn't give a number or any identities for any deaths among this medical staff of unclear size, but "Abu Bilal" says they all died in one or another of these strikes.

Murad Abu Bilal, indoor interview
"Abu Bilal" follows, "There were hundreds of victims; from this exact building we took out 400 martyrs." That's the usual reported total death toll from the CW attack in all of Zamalka, always rounded - not anyone killed by missile attack. "The injured (affected) were about 12000, that is the whole population of the city," he further says. That's incredible - the most detailed list has about 10,000 total affected, and specifies 1,200 in Zamalka - he just added a zero, to a number that was likely crap to begin with.

Another activist the VDC cited in this report explained there were originally four medical points just in Zamalka, and this was presumably one of three shut down somehow by the attack, leaving just one operating. But if so, it's also the one that yielded the entire 400 dead reported in Zamalka, at least per "Abu Bilal." This makes it sound like three clinics were already down somehow before they could collect any dead, so that within 30 minutes this mass of 600 people were funneled here, at the 4th and final medical point ... only for 400 to die along with all the staff as this last clinic was bombed - twice - in both explosive and chemical manners. That's not just extra harsh, it's preposterous in several ways.

Paramedics Killed in Line of Duty, With Family
The information officer "Murad Abu Ali" also told the VDC: "Some paramedics were killed although they had put the masks, because the masks were overfilled with chemical and toxic gases, which led to their immediate death. The main reason for their death was the lack of their pre-knowledge on the use of masks." That's clearly some kind of professional lapse by people out doing rescue work.

An exact number isn't given, but the VDC tries to correlate records, and here gave three "names of some of the medical staff members in "Teir" medical point who were martyred in Zamalka while they were performing their duty helping the injured after the massacre." It's suggested there are more than these three. It's not clear if these are supposed to be the medical staff killed in shelling, but they're listed after paramedic talk, and are all "paramedic martyr," no doctors or nurses, etc.

1 -The paramedic martyr: Samer Saleh Naseef "Sroor", known as Abu Majed. http://www.vdc-sy.info/index.php/en/details/martyrs/92418#.VVQaSDpFDcc photo, Arabic number = 22
2 - The paramedic martyr: Ghassan Naseef. http://www.vdc-sy.info/index.php/en/details/martyrs/92617#.VVQafTpFDcd Nicknamed : Abo Slaiman
3 - The paramedic martyr: Sa'ed Dandash, died with his wife. http://www.vdc-sy.info/index.php/en/details/martyrs/92444#.VVQavDpFDcc

Why two Naseefs? Were these brother paramedics killed while working together? And how did the third one manage to die alongside his wife? Were these 3 examples, the only ones given, even killed in the line of duty as advertised? Or were they hit at home, with their profession - if that's even true - being irrelevant? Was this really an issue of improper gas mask usage, or more like an issue of wrong religion, or other perceived expendability?

Media Activists all Killed in Line of Duty, and with Extended Family
Khaled al-Naddaf, VDC photo
Murad Abu Bilal continues:
The chemical attacks, on the first day of the massacre, claimed the lives of many media activists in Zamalka Coordination because they inhaled the chemical toxic gases. The day following the massacre, on 22-8-2013, the fighter jets, by two air raids, shelled the Coordination office itself. The office has also been shelled by "FozdiKa" that left it heavily damaged.
As for the media staff in Zamalka Coordination, they have all been martyred except for me as they went out to shoot and collect information about the chemical attack, but none of them came back. One of them is the martyr Khaled Naddaf, who was killed while he was reporting the massacre.
VDC was able after this to cite exactly one media activist among the many killed in these repeated attacks, that killed everyone but "Abu Bilal." It's the same one that he specified. No one mentions any others by name or number.
* Khaled Nasouh Omar Mosa Al-Naddaf, 92587 "He known as Abu Abdo. Member in Zamalka coordination" - same photo as used in report (inset), plus a video still, alive.
In fact, he's listed twice:
* Khaled Omar Mousa 99453 - Occupation Media Activist - Photographer - Zamalka coordination member
The first one mentions that, like the paramedics, Mr. Naddaf was "Martyred with His family." Were out in the field "reporting the massacre" with him at 2 am? Were they hunted down by the Sarin separately? Or maybe his media work was unrelated, and he was at home with them - with home maybe being a rebel basement by then, for unclear reasons.

It was apparently an extended portion of his family that fared poorly in this attack: maybe not all are his relatives, but VDC has 17 likely ones for 18 total, or probably 19 including his wife, who should have her father's name, which isn't clear yet. 18 Naddafs - all civilians, all from Zamalka - removing one double-listing here (Baraa Fayez, girl, photo, baby = Baraa, boy, age 2), the Sarin chose 11 adult males, 3 adult females, 1 boy, 2 girls. 5 people are from the same Omar Mousa al-Naddaf branch photographer Khaled was from (should be brothers and sisters, etc. but probably not his wife) 

Probably adding to that 17 is #92158 Suad Omar Mous (missing Naddaf, like Khaled's second entry) Adult - Female, unusually listed as from Kafr Batna - maybe because "The name Came From al-Sel hospital in Kafr Batna." One to add but then subtract is Maimounah Mousa" Babea'a " 92622  "Wife Of Mohammed Sobhi Abd al-Malek al-Nadaf And She Was Martyred With Him." She's also Badea'a Mahmoud Omar Musa al-Nadaf 101621 Wife Of Sobhi al-Nadaf. The husband must be Muhammad Sobhe Abd al-Malek al-Nadaf 92582 photo, elderly man. And one wife here at least gets named as Naddaf, which is unusual - maybe Khaled's wife is in there. Maybe it's Suad?

Anyway, as we're seeing with Ghouta Massacre(s) by District, this "Assad Sarin" seemingly works a lot like "Assad's Shabiha" when it comes to massacres. Noxious molecule or Alawite militia, it hardly seems to matter - they pick out certain  families and kill the hell out of those, while sparing others, and do it while rebels are in charge. Consider the "Shabiha" massacres of Houla (May, 2012) and al-Bayda (May, 2013). One can only wonder what got this photographer into such trouble with the rebels that they had to kill him and take out so many family members, like in those other cases.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Ghouta Massacres By District, Part 5: Ain Tarma

Ghouta Massacres (plural) By District
Part 5: Ain Tarma
May 2 (incomplete)
last updates May 11/12

Warning! Extra ugly images in this post

Background:
Just south of Zamalka, and larger than I first thought, Ain Tarma (different spellings) should have been hit by drift across its northeastern sector, besides two impacts just in the district itself. Early reports claim only 75 people died here. VDC records suggest about 40...

VDC report includes the account of a paramedic named Sakhr (probably not "Dr. Sakhr" with a "clinic" in Kafr Batna) He tells them
"At two o'clock after midnight, the regime's forces shelled the area with mortars, specifically the first parts of Qusour neighborhood in the Ein Tarma behind the cemetery. During this time, a gas with a rotten smell spread quickly resulting in symptoms such as nausea, shortness of breath and difficulty in vision that turned into a complete lack of vision. Some people fainted, became fully paralyzed and suffered a severe head ache. We hurried to help them; I helped nearly 370 person-to-several medical points including Hamourieh, Irbeen, Sakba and Kafarbatna and Douma. "
There is a cemetery in Ain Tarma where some victims are buried, per the opposition's records. The only evident cemetery in Ain Tarma - likely the same referred to by both - is here on Wikimapia. A comment there once said "Tunnel Entrances to bunkers and secret chemical weapons facilities." That was around the time of the attack - 4 months ago, on May 19, 2014 - this interesting but unsupported comment has since been removed.

"Behind the cemetery" probably refers to whatever direction he was relative to it. Just to the northwest of the cemetery (upwind) is a girls' primary school. 735 meters northeast of the cemetery is the famous impact spot of volcano rocket 197. Others were about the same distance due north. For what it's worth, a map, at right. This is using an image from Human Rights Watch that seems pretty accurate for impact spots. Al-Ziniya doesn't figure in widely - it was once labeled on Wikimapia as part of Hazeh, since incorporated into a large Ain Tarma. I'm going with the latter, so the cemetery is in the middle of Ain Tarma, not its edge.

As usual, we don't know where the hospitals/morgues are, nor where the victims were when they were poisoned. They tend to come from Jobar, or to have once been said to come from there... and Jobar did have tunnels and rebel CW facilities that might well matter here. But as part 2 explains, it had no rocket impacts and was completely upwind, so anyone from there would have to venture a ways downwind - like to Ain Tarma - in order to die from "Assad's" rocket attack.

Victim Records
Table, early count: 50-67 (unclear) Final Count:  75 people died here.

VDC: 25 victims from Ain Tarma - 20 from elsewhere with "martyrdom location" Ain Tarma = 45 accounted for, or 38-42 minus double-listings.

Double-listings, more than usual:
* 2-4 of them under Baladi, below.
* #92915 Muhammad Alloush, adult male, photo, no clinical signs visible - "Manger at the field hospital" "(he known as Iqab)" Then #93741 Mohammad Alosh Oqab AM, same photo, "Administrator of a medical point." Obvious implication: secondary poisoning - fatal, but not so bad as to leave any clear signs.

Consider: Raed al-Homsi Civilian Adult - Male Damascus Suburbs Ein Tarma 2013-08-21 Chemical and toxic gases. Possible relative, Emad Muhammad Khier Al-Houmsi Civilian Adult - Male Damascus Suburbs Ein Tarma 2013-08-21. Homsi means "from Homs" - it can be a real name, or a way of saying "we don't want to say their name, but they fled from Homs to Damascus, and we caught up with them here." Raed has a photo, at right. That was some swift cloud of Sarin vapor to get to him before he bled to death out the hole in his throat. Or, did they maybe get the cause of death wrong in this case, like they did with M-015 in Kafr Batna? (see part 7)
Is this the sound of scraping the bottom of a strangely empty barrel? Double-listings and shooting victims, just to get maybe 40-ish killed here?

"Buried in a cemetery in Ain Tarma Hodeidah" = 13 martyrs - 9 unidentified, 2 Baladi children and their father, and a guy named Zaibaq. Hodeidah = means nothing I can find in Syria, just a town in Yemen. This I later found should be Jadida (see Tari, below). Looking at the entries in Arabic, it gives   الجديدة  . That second letter is a J sound, not H (they look similar). Still, I cannot place it just yet. There's a distinct area with Jadida in the name, but east of Hamouriya, and the victims with this note have a tendency to be listed as from Ain Tarma.

Baladi: 8 victims named Baladi + mother = 9
* 93798 Mona Santiha Family Status married PHOTO (alive) - Area Jobar wife of Ali Albaladi Martyrdom location Damascus Suburbs: Ein Tarma
(Note: 5 Santihas killed, whole war - Mona was the first, more died all in later 2014 - all from Jobar.)

* 92311 Mohammad Ali Adnan al-Baladi AM photo
** Double-listed: 93797 Ali al-Baladi, same photo, from Jobar but Martyrdom location Damascus Suburbs: Ein Tarma, like wife Mona
* 92305 Yousef Mohammad Ali al-Baladi, boy, photo Mother's Name Mona Santeeha Area Ein Tarma
** Double? 93282 Yousif Al-Baladi  Adult - Male  Damascus Suburbs  Jobar 
** Triple? 92920 Yousif Al-Baladi  Adult male, from Jobar, died in Zamalka  
* 93308 Rida Mohammad Ali al-Baladi, boy (girl's name, usually), photo - from Jobar \\ Buried in a cemetery in Ain Tarma Hodeidah
** 101722 Reda al-Baladi  AM from Zamalka, died somewhere
* 92633 Mwafaq al-Baladi  Child - Male  from Jobar 
Actual total = 5-7 Or...

Rida and Yousef are supposed to be brothers, even though Rida is a girl's name - they both have adult versions. One was corrected from Jobar to local, one not. And they look exactly the same, more-or-less. I don't suppose this is in fact one child before and after poisoning, (playing dead first time?) but apparently identical twins? Brother and sister, or what? Not sure.

Rida from Jobar, left, Yousef not from Jobar, right.
Noting the gender and hairstyle ambiguities of the above case, it's perhaps interesting another victim passed through Ain Tarma is a short-haired girl Riham Muhannad Tieba who died in Ain Tarma but came from Mleha (shown dead at right, also shown alive on the page). That's a district with no other victims listed coming from. It's southeast, across the Ain Tarma valley and next to Christian-majority Jaramana.

Is this this middling-length hair thing a cultural clue to the victims? Perhaps not. Note it's about the same between these 2-3 children - long for a boy, short for a girl. In Riham's case, shorter than she used to wear it. However long it takes to grow this long, it's worth wondering if they all maybe had their heads shaved at the same time, that span prior to the poison gas massacre.
 
Hazroumeh: 19 with this name listed for the whole massacre, minus 4 double-listings = 15.
These have some members with the cemetery note, but overall the Jobar connections seemed better, so they're covered in part 2.

al-Tari: VDC records 6 martyrs named Tari, 3 women, 2 men, one boy, all from Zamalka. They also list one martyr named Tary, which is the same name ( الطري ) I'd render al-Tari, so it's 7. The last is another adult male named Adnan al-Tary, victim #93059, from Salhia (SW of Damascus), not Zamalka. But he must've been in town with family in order to be gassed there with them. He's the only one of these 7 with the note "Buried in a cemetery in Ain Tarma Hodeidah." And he's the only one (?) with a photo, showing no particular signs (right). The same photo appears in miniature in a graphic by Hisham Ashkar, posted here - he's one of several fighting-age men lined up dead in a morgue in Hamouriya, all of them (18 of them anyway) identified by name and small photo (note: other bodies of women and children lay nearby, so the degree of gender-specificity of this "sarin" isn't totally clear - it may have a thing for fit men aged close to 30, one possible teenager). There it says "Adnan al-Tary (92) from Zamalka, the son of Ali al-Tary, and he was buried in the cemetery of Ain Tarma al-Jadida" (rendered better). Otherwise the records suggest these were mainly from and died in Zamalka, and were among those buried in mass graves in Hamouriya. This one stands out from the other al-Taris and the other Hamouriya men. 
 
Where does he fit in with the others? Adnan may be related to Ayman al-Tari, who died with what sounds like an adult son and adult daughter (middle name Ayman). And he's even more likely related to three children with the middle name Adnan - Ammar Adnan Tari (photo at right), Esraa Adnan Tari (photo) and Sara Adnan Tari (no photo). All are from Zamalka, and that's why they all died. Unless they were from Salhia, and somehow stuffed in a Zamalka-area basement as Obama's "red line" offer turned one-year-old and someone claiming to be "Assad" crossed that line with hundreds massacred in a variety of "chemical"-seeming ways...

At least one al-Tari family mother probably appears in these records, likely both, but under "maiden" (father's) names as usual, so it's unclear at the moment.

Clinical Signs
A distinct set is seen with those - especially those no one could identify - that were "Buried in a cemetery in Ain Tarma Hodeidah" - which I finally realized (see just above) should be Jadida. Still don't know where that is, aside from the cemetery the attack happened near as discussed up top. Anyway, I'll call this the "Ain Tarma Cemetery" sign set. This is where the
WARNING
comes in.

Red faces: coulde be chemical burn/irritation, combined with livor mortis (reddened areas after death and blood settles). The left-halves of many faces are redder, suggesting livor mortis for the asymmetry - heads turned to the left, some time ago. A more direct clue is the massively plugged noses and ooze from the mouth, in most cases mixed with blood to some degree (orange to full red), something you don't usually see in the other cases (in Moadamiyeh, it's usually just mucous or just blood, depending, but the faces there are also unusually red). The amount of exuded material here is unusually high, and icky.

One explanation for the Ain Tarma cemetery signs might be: concentrated chlorine blast to the face, causing irritation, burning along seems and small cuts, causing intense choking and mucous secretion. And perhaps before they did this, the dehydrated the people - cut them off from water for a couple of days - so they had no hope of clearing their airways. Unidentified man #92307 apparently tried his hardest, rupturing his face and all the blood vessels in his eyes, trying to cough himself clear.
Unidentified 92299 AF, Ein Tarma (unlike some, face wiped clean)
92300 Tarek al-Zaibaq, AM Ein Tarma
(major Cyanosis, possible smoke, but not enough time in it to stain nostrils)

92301 Unidentified CM, Ein Tarma

92302 Unidentified CM, Ein Tarma

92303 Unidentified CF, Ein Tarma

92307 Unidentified AM, Ein Tarma
 

82311 Mohammad Ali Adnan al-Baladi
(note: besides cyanosis, at this angle, he may have a light coat of smoke residue - but again nostrils not stained by it)

92316 Unidentified CM, Ein Tarma

92314 Unidentified AM, Ein Tarma

92314 Unidentified AM, Ein Tarma (entry has two photos of different men)

92315, unidentified
 
92312, unidentified
 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ghouta Masacres by District, part 6: Hazza

Ghouta Massacres (plural) by District
Part 6: Hazza
May 10, 2015
(incomplete)

Background:
Fairly little is said about this smaller, less-populous district next to Ain Tarma, in relation to the August 21 incident or in the records of those killed in the whole war (182 martyrs listed as from Hazza , 2 so far this year, 14 in the Ghouta incident) It was not hit with any of the alleged Sarin rockets, but some came near to its boundaries (as understood, and shifting) It would be the most affected by any Sarin that drifted, by the best guess as to actual wind direction at the moment. If the wind blew east or E-SE like records suggest, much or most of Hazzeh should likely be covered.

So unlike Jobar, for example, martyrdom location: Hazza might make sense, depending on the actual science of the alleged Sarin stormfront ...
 
Victim Records
Table tallies: Early count of at least 50 dead (unclear, 50-67) final count = zero maybe rounded down, or just ignored - not mentioned.
 
VDC's records specify 14 martyrs of the Ghouta massacres were from "Hazza." all civilian - 6 men, 3 women, 4 girls, 1 boy. Clear names of interest: Laham, Tayer, Arhim. None of those are specified as dying there. 5 entries - most of the Arhims and Lahams - say (suggest) they were over in Zamalka for some reason when they died. The rest say "Damascus Suburbs: East Ghota" or have the space left blank.
 
Laham = 56 killed in the whole war, 15 in this incident: 8 men, 4 boys, 2 women (one an adult daughter) and one young girl. 13 are listed as from Zamalka:
 
* Family of Issam al-Laham = 6 (all from Zamalka): Amera (wife of Issam Al-Laham) AF "Wife of Issam Al-Laham Hwe full name couldn't be identified Martyred with her family" - Son of Amera (wife of Issam Al-Laham) 1 - Son... 2 - son ... 3 - son ... 4 (all Child - Male) - Masarra Issam Laham AF (adult daughter of Issam)
* other Zamalka = 7: Muhammad Hasan Al-Laham "al-Akhras" AM(Hasan placement suggests he's a son of Hasan Al-Laham) (photos, alive: serious, clean-shaven, militant?) - Son of Hassan al-Laham AM Zamalka (suggested: brother of Muhammad) - Salah al-Laham AM - Abo Salah Laham (Salah's father?) - Ibrahim Moafak al-Laham AM - Kasem al-Laham AM - Ahmad Al-laham AM Z
We've established that Zamalka can just mean "you know, the accepted place where rockets actually landed," when previously they might've said another area, and even that mightn't've been true. So the Hazzah link with the final two is worth noting, as well as the fact that these families were likely targeted in multiple areas.
 
  • Fahed al-Laham 93234 Civilian Adult - Male Damascus Suburbs Hazza. "Married with a Child" and maybe two: "known as Abu Ahmad" (father of Ahmad) and died with Maria. Died in Zamalka. 3 photos - 2 alive, one with new beard - one dead with beard, mucous.
  • Maria Fahed al-Laham 92057 Child - Female Damascus Suburbs Hazza (name says her father is named Fahed). Died in Zamalka, it says. Photo, alive, distorted (stretched back out at right)
Note: Dad Fahed Laham was previously "Unidentified" from Douma - by looks, a likely rebel fighter. That makes no-ID entry 92239 a double-listing.

Name implications for Laham: not totally clear, but interesting. There's Gregory III (Laham) Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Alexandria and Jerusalem, spiritual leader of the Melkite church - born in Syria, 1933 as Lufti Laham. I've seen around that the nun Mother Agnes of the mixed reliability is named (Fadia?) al-Laham, born in Lebanon. Maybe most famous for us is Mimi Al-Laham, pseudonym for Maram Susli, "Syrian Girl." Adopted from where and why unknown. There's famed Syrian comedian Duraid Laham, who's Ismaeli. And there's the speaker of the People’s Assembly, Mohammad Jihad al-Laham, elected 2012, Baath party, sect unclear. The presence of a Maria suggests these might be of the Christian type? (name commnality: 9 Marias recorded killed in the whole war )

Arhim = 4 killed in the whole war, all in this incident. These are Amira Arhim and her son Mohammed and daughters Massarah and Sondous, all listed as children. This almost has to be the same family already listed as one of the Arhims (but from Hazza, not Zamalka), Issam al-Laham must be the husband of Amira Arhim, and his wife was given as "Amera (wife of Issam Al-Laham). Mohammed should be one of the 4 unnamed sons, Massarah must be Masarra Issam Laham (adult) and Sondous just not mentioned. So total between Arhim and Issam Laham = 7, from Hazza.

Tayer = 5 in this attack, one a month before, none before or since. Those killed 2013-08-21 by Chemical and toxic gases. By name these should all be adult siblings, but maybe one is a wife:
* Shadi Ibrahim al-Tayer  Civilian  Child - Female  Hazza 
* GHayeth Ibrahim al-Tayer  Civilian  Adult - Male  Hazza   
* Serag Ibrahim al-Tayer  Civilian  Adult - Male  Hazza
* Malak Ibrahim al-Tayer  Civilian  Adult - Female  Hazza 

The other one: Ahmad Omar al-Tayer  Civilian  Adult - Male  Damascus Suburbs  Erbeen  2013-07-23  Shelling. Notes say "Martyred due to shelling on his car" and it happened in Douma.  

Clinical Signs
92355 Monira Ahmad Badran, photo, no signs
 
Fahed Laham: rather white and foamy mucous

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ghouta Massacres by District, Part 3: Irbeen

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

Background:
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.

VDC:
- 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?  


 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Syria's al-Bayda-Baniyas Massacres and "Targeting Specific Communities"

Re-published here May 5, 2015
(more pictures and notes added, May 6)

I've written several things about this now about the May 2-3, 2013 Al-Bayda and Baniyas Massacres in Syria, starting with the pages and talk pages at A Closer Look on Syria for Al-Bayda Massacre and Baniyas Massacre. The most comprehensive and devastating summarization of this was sparked by an annoyingly dishonest Channel 4-Human Rights Watch mockumentary, a detailed refutation which I got published at Global Research as Answering Britain's Channel 4's Whitewash of Another Syrian Rebel Massacre (and note it was even chosen to re-publish later, and featured elsewhere like Hands Off Syria.) This set of detailed articles are cited in that, in their original place at the CIWCL site which became un-workable. So, a bit late to mark two years since this hideous event, I'm re-publishing them here.
 
We can add this crime spree to the list of well-established rebel atrocities like the Houla Massacre, Daraya massacre, the August 2014 Latakia Massacres, many or all of the notorious Homs Massacres of 2011-present, the massacres of Aqrab, Sadad, Ma'an 2012, Ma'an 2014, etc...

Added for this posting is a couple pictures in the article, and a larger section of images with fuller notes at the bottom.
---
"Targeting Specific Communities" in Syria, Case Study: The Baniyas Massacres

By Adam Larson
June 17, 2013
last edits August 11, 2013
"Specific Communities" as a Diagnostic of Guilt

The Syrian government's early June victory against rebel forces in the crucial border town of al-Qusair is a turning point in favor of eventual government victory nationwide. Perhaps for that reason, it has been loudly condemned; even before the campaign really started, the U.S. Condemned the dropping of leaflets instructing civilians how to evacuate safely, and U.N. Human Rights High Commissioner Navanethem "Navi" Pillay was predicting, on May 10, there would be massacres of civilians there. In the end, none were credibly reported, but Pillay's office said she was worried about military build-up around the city, and "feared further atrocities if the area was overrun." From what she heard, "local people clearly fear a possible repeat of last weeks killings of civilians." [1]
 
A dozen mostly-adult males, in the most famous
scene from the Al-Bayda massacre,
That referred to the Baniyas area massacres for which the Syrian government and allied militias were blamed. These were in the town of al-Bayda on May 2, and the Ras al-Nabi' district of Baniyas on May 3 (and perhaps in other towns and into the following days, depending; the record is a little confused). [2] Baniyas and its surrounding countryside is Sunni-majority, but lies within the Alawite-dominated Tartous province on Syria's Mediterranean coast. There were reasonable claims of 150 or more dead between them, and less credible claims of perhaps over 2,000 total, following attacks by the Syrian army and/or Alawite "Shabiha" militias. There was video-verified horrific violence against whole families - children and women with sliced throats and hacked-open faces, for example.

The fact of there being at least two big massacres reported over two days caused fear of #3 and beyond, and thus mass flight of thousands, as reported. There was stern world condemnation of what some termed a policy of genocide, and plenty of experts proved willing to explain Assad's sectarian strategy in this Alawite heartland. Navi Pillay for one was "appalled at the apparent killing of women, children and men in the village of Bayda, and possibly elsewhere in the Banias area," and felt that the killings "should spur the international community to act" to stop the fighting and hold criminals to account. [1]

That action, implicitly, should be directed against the Syrian government, which Pillay considered the guilty party. Aside from obviously partial opposition demands to do so, there was one bit of evidence which she cited for that decision: the attacks "seemed to indicate a campaign targeting specific communities perceived to be supportive of the opposition." [1] It's not certain what information she's drawing on here, but a helpful Los Angeles Times report citing her statement explained what she presumably meant:
 

"Although the coastal region is largely Alawite, the minority sect of Assad, the districts targeted are made up mostly of Sunni Muslims, who make up a majority of the Syrian population and have led the uprising against the Assad government." [3]

That is, her argument seems just his crude: "Specific communities" = the nation's majority. Essentially, the government's forces were attacking Sunnis in general, who are perceived (and correctly, she might suggest) as opposing them. But if that were true, of course, the war would have been over long ago; Sunnis make up as much as 75% of Syria's 22 million people. It's closer to the truth to say only a small portion of them, augmented by very many Sunni foreigners, make up the force the rest of Syria is up against.

Moving from the general to the specific, indeed we see the complication of one type of region in another sort of province. And some will be dazzled enough by that dynamic to succumb to sloppy thinking like Commissioner Pillay seems to be indulging in. However, it wasn't entire cities at large that were targeted, but specific people and locales within them. And at the more telling level of homes, it wouldn't be the first time if the details in Tartous pointed to the targeting of specific communities that support the government and/or don't toe the rebels' narrow religious line.

The Houla Massacre Precedent

The infamous "Houla massacre" of May 25, 2012 is often given as the best example of the Sunni-terrorizing massacre Pillay speaks of, and the parallels between this and al-Bayda/Baniyas are strong, as we shall see. However few people realize it, that's a chilling observation. A recent report assembled by this author showed how the best evidence and clearest thinking over the last year actually supports the "government version" of events, the one swiftly bypassed in favor of the "rebel" version blaming the government. [4]

By mid-2012, armed rebels ran the general Houla area except Taldou (the southern town of the Houla region). They controlled Taldou too, as of May 26. In between, security posts were overrun, vacated, and torched. And around 100 local men, women, and children were shot and hacked to death in their homes, presumably by killers from whichever side had the upper hand that afternoon.

In that sidelined "government" version, the dead - aside from a few rebel fighters and something like 30 soldiers and police - were comprised of Shi'ite converts (the Abdulrazaq families, former Sunnis, with over 60 killed, including at least 38 children) and government supporting Sunnis (the al-Sayed families). The latter included retired officer Oqba al-Sayed, retired police officer/colonel Muawiya al-Sayed, and his son Ahmed - a soldier on leave with a broken leg. At least some Sayeds, reportedly, were relatives of the new Peoples' Assembly (parliament) secretary, chosen in an election the rebels had firmly rejected.

By various sources on both sides, and available visuals, the victims had heads smashed, throats cut, eyes gouged out, etc. The government took note of the Taldou terrorists' "Algerian killing style," as seen from their peers in the 1990s, with the intent to mutilate bodies to use them to project terror. [5]

Such specifics aside, this rebel attack version of events is jointly supported by many of the witnesses, much video evidence, and considerable logic. It does run counter to what rebels and other alleged witnesses and survivors reported, but of course it would. If it's true, we can deduce that the anti-government crowd - the hundreds who hit Taldou, at least - were not keen on reforms, democracy, compromise, sectarian accord, or Human Rights. Nor would they be much worried about honesty with outside powers, whose military support they seek, as the supposed champions of values they clearly possess little of.

The Al-Bayda Incident: Background

Now we turn to the May 2 of this year and the first and best-illustrated of the two reported Tartous massacre, in the hilltop town of Al-Bayda, a few kilometers south of the coastal city Baniyas. The reported death tolls there range from 50+ to over 100, as well as crazy numbers like 800. The most reliable estimates - with names - seems to be something around 70. [6] Whether killed soldiers/Shabiha or rebel fighters are included in any of the varying tallies is unclear, but opposition reports make it sound like all victims were civilian. A few fighting age men were seen executed in the main square, with others killed in batches of 5-12 around town, some with heads brutally smashed-in. At least two other heart-wrenching scenes showed numbers of women and children gathered into single rooms and cut down, largely in the neck. [7]

As in many other such cases, the massacre in Al-Bayda came about the same time (either before or after) a battle between rebel and government forces. Several sources say it was a late April attack on a checkpoint that spurred loyalist fighters - alternately given as soldiers or Popular Committee/National Defense Forces fighters, aka "Shabiha" - to try an early morning raid on al-Bayda on May 2. Opposition activists said the rebels had few to no fighters there, but the roughly 40 attackers seem to have been ambushed by some reasonably effective team. A generally-agreed seven of them were killed in fighting, and the rest - around 30 - were taken prisoner by the rebels. [8] These had apparently come in a few white vans, one later seen burning in the city square, and a Hyundai Porter pick-up, frequently used for Syrian security forces, also abandoned in the square. [9]

It was this early clash, most agree, that brought the larger army presence of later in the day. Those beefed-up authorities either cleansed al-Bayda of the militants, seizing the considerable weapons cache shown on TV, or alternately, planted the weapons and rampaged around killing scores of innocents just for having the right religion. "Genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" have been used to describe the campaign around Baniyas. An Alawi militia commander overseeing the al-Bayda operation announced on May 2 his hopes to "cleanse" all Baniyas of "traitors." "Traitors" was generally read by the opposition as all Sunni people, and so "cleanse" became evidence for genocidal intent, just as they reported the follow-up massacre in Baniyas itself. However, it's more likely that he meant only to ruthlessly scrub out the armed terrorists, who are usually, and with some evidence, accused of committing massacres like the one that just happened. [10]


Al-Bayda's Leading Sunni Family 36 Victims

Usually with these surprise massacres in un-cleansed areas, certain families are singled out, like the Abdulrazaqs and al-Sayeds in Houla. In al-Bayda as well this was the case; here the family Biassi (various spellings) was the main focus of cruelty. The opposition Syrian Center for Documentation of Violations (SCDV) lists 70 massacre victims total, all given as civilians; at least 24 of them seeming to be members of this extended family (see below). [11] Rebel historian and alleged survivor "Ahmad" spoke to Reuters, for a late May report, of 36 Biassis killed. [12] Representing over a third and perhaps more than half of those killed, clearly this "specific community" is worth a closer look.

Sheikh Omar Biassi, government loyalist tribute image
This unfortunate family was headed by sheik Omar al-Biassi, aged 63, the imam of al-Bayda's main mosque, although by one reports he resigned two years ago. [12] Usually conflicted, this case is clearer than most everyone agrees that sheik al-Biassi was a government loyalist. Initial opposition reports name him and some relatives, but make no mention of his significance. Later on, rebel body mover "Omar, of nearby Ras al-Nabeh" mentioned seeing the body of "the village sheik, Omar al-Bayassi, whom some considered pro-government." [13] He was said to be a rejector of the violent uprising. [14] He was a member of the National Reconciliation Commission, "a known advocate of interfaith dialogue and national unity" and "a true Syrian patriot," Voice of Russia heard. [15] Reuters heard from anti-government activists "sheikh Biyasi was a government loyalist who alienated local people with his political views." "Ahmad" would have been one of those alienated, but he was only sad to see how "even though [Biassi] always opposed the protests, they still killed him." [12]

The Imam was reportedly a rebellion/protest supporter at one time, but had apparently run afoul of the opposition. An activist said, from friends in Baniyas, the sheik "was a big revhead" until the opposition "made a lie about him that SAA (Syrian Arab Army) killed him," which he had to refute on TV. "Apparently FSA hated him for this," and so they killed him for real on May 2. [16] This time they said he'd been murdered by the Assad regime, it was proven with a rebel ("citizen journalist") photo of the bloodied sheik, published only on the 4th, with the new detail "Omar Bayasi was AL Bayda Mosque's Imam," just as loyalist sources were starting to mention the fact. [17]

(note Aug. 11: the stricken part was a mix-up: a possible relative Ahmad Biassi has this story - see second article below)
 
The activist reasoned that "whoever killed those soldiers" in the early ambush "also killed the 2 [Biassi] families." [16] In fact, at least one source says sheik Omar was tasked that morning with negotiating for the release of the captured "Shabiha." As Syria Truth reported (from Arabic), the situation "prompted the army to assign the imam to negotiate with the gunmen for the release of the hostages." They answered with a resounding no, presumably killed the captives, then also "resorted to killing the sheik and his wife (there is information saying they were killed in a slaughter, but it is uncertain)." [14]

Skeikh Biassi, anti-government activist photo
 
At least sheik Omar's son as well is mentioned in other sources, and included for good measure was his sister's family, the activist's sources heard: "The other family that was killed was his sister - Manar Biaasie, her husband and their kids." [16] The New York Times pulled heartstrings with two specified victims: "Moaz al-Biassi, 1 year old, and his sister Afnan, 3." [13] For a possible further detail, one opposition-supplied family member cited a husband-wife couple, allegedly her aunt and uncle, killed with their three children; all were "slaughtered in the neck." [18]

More details: An early short list of victims in Arabic featured "Omar Nassiriyah aka Omar Biassi," prominence not mentioned, and "Manar Albiassi" and "Zakaria al-Shawish," given as married to each other and killed together, with no mention of children. [19] The SCDV lists 22 Bayyasi and Bayyasa names, including Manar Ezzadin and Omar Aziz ("known as Omar Naser"), plus Omar's wife and a daughter, names not given, and a son, Hamza Omar Aziz. [11] There's also the "Fattouh Bayyasa" sub-family, apparently related by marriage, with four children and four adults (including mother Safaa Ali Bayyasa) listed as killed there. [20] With all Fattouhs and Mr. Shawish added, there are 24 names of those killed on the 2nd, identifiable as kin of the imam.

The same database shows at least two more dying in the following days; on May 4, Isma Bayyasi, adult male, died in al-Bayda from "shooting" - not field execution - "by regime forces sniper's shot." Then on May 6, somewhere in Banias, one Fahima Yasin Bayyasi, female, age 20, was also killed by "shooting." [21]

All-in-all, alleged survivor "Ahmad" told Reuters, "the Biyasi family suffered some of the worst losses, with 36 documented deaths," all or most of them visually verified by Ahmed himself. There is a lot of detail he shares, from his "meticulous notes" on the bodies he personally discovered in situ, correlated with available videos he almost seems to be just describing. [12]

All this will require more analysis for fuller understanding, but so far familiar patterns seem evident. The opposition activists have informants embedded, it almost seems, with the angel of death's own battalion. As usual, the "Shabiha" left their victims behind unguarded, it almost seems with phone tips to rebel videographers, in hopes of having their crime exposed to the world. As with Houla and so many other scenes of so many other heinous crimes, the degree of access these "activists" enjoy is rather suspicious.
Ignoring Community Specifics as Diagnostic of Mental Corruption

As to why the regime killed its own loyalists here, and kept picking them off for days, activists didn't and perhaps couldn't explain. "Even though [Biassi] always opposed the protests," said "Ahmad," "they still killed him" and also eradicated his seed in a very targeted and specific way. Presumably, they would have us believe, the only reason was the family's religion, and their general prominence in that religious context.

Sheik al-Biassi was a leading Sunni to be sure, and would have spoken for the sane majority who reject evil. And he was slaughtered with his kin by it seems the rebel terrorists, to send a message to those who might get in their way next time. We should all be "appalled at the apparent killing of women, children and men" in al-Bayda, to quote Ms. Pillay: it "should spur the international community to act to find a solution to the conflict." Further, "those responsible for serious human rights violations," and it's reasonably clear who that was in al-Bayda on May 2, should be "made to account for their crimes," not handed more weapons, as the Western powers and their clients have been allowing for two years now.

If the al-Bayda massacre was a rebel operation, the reported follow-on massacre in the Ras al-Nabi' district of Baniyas falls into suspicion of being the same. And if any families can be seen targeted in both towns, it strengthens the connection. It does seem that happens here, at least per the opposition SCDV martyrs database. Any of these could just be two families of the same name, or related: Taha (4 members killed in Bayda, 11 in Baniyas), Khaddam (a man in Bayda, a man, two women, a boy and a girl in Baniyas), Lolo (an adult male in each massacre), Othman (4 members in Bayda, one in Baniyas), and, if Dahbash and Debesh are the same name/family, an apparent father-son set was killed in each massacre. [22] Following from the Biassis, one family we have the most information on, these common threads suggest that the same rebels, with the same mysterious gripes against certain families, carried out both massacres.

But Navi (the naïve?) already said the government should be blamed for this, because the "specific" victims were "perceived to be supportive of the opposition." She should explain now by whom they were perceived that way, and how accurate she thinks that perception was. Clearly it was not from accurate victim specifics of the al-Bayda massacre, as the opposite case is much better illustrated there.

Rather, the perception comes, at least in part, from the dangerous myth that Syria's Sunnis at large have risen up, and are collectively suffering massacres in return. This myth has been aggressively fostered by the opposition from the beginning, and continues even as semi-credible reports recently said at least one in three victims, of around 100-120,000 killed, were of the demonized Alawite sect. This came from the usually gospel Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, no less, passing on calculations (which are open to debate) of as many as 41,000 Alawites, military and civilian, snuffed out by Sunni extremist rebels since 2011. [23]

And the myth has always ignored the majority of Sunnis - likely a vast majority - who still support the government as the party of sanity. In fact, it seems to be those most visible among the Sunnis in that support, and their families, that are being wiped out - along with the Alawite "enemies of God" - for breaking this poorly-written rebel script.

And where are the "world community's" Human Rights gatekeepers, like Navi Pillay, as these crimes occur time and again? Playing logic games about vague "specifics," to cover for their blatant covering for the perpetrators, and to enable continued punishment of the victims, it seems.

Sources
ACLOS = A Closer Look On Syria, a research site where the author's research is done
[1] Press briefing, United Nations Office at Geneva, May 10, 2013 http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpNewsByYear_en)/F540CE03B72CB7DDC1257B6700369815
[4] Official Truth, Real Truth, and Impunity for the Syrian Houla Massacre of May, 2012. PDF report, 79 pages, published May 15, 2013. Citizen's Investigation into War Crimes in Libya. PDF download page: http://ciwclibya.org/reports/realtruthhoula.html
[5] The "Graying" of the Islamist Houla Massacre http://ciwclibya.org/syria/thegrayingoftheislamisthoulamassacre.html
[13] An Atrocity in Syria, With No Victim Too Small. By Anne Barnard and Hania Mourtada, New York Times, May 14, 2013 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/world/middleeast/grisly-killings-in-syrian-towns-dim-hopes-for-peace-talks.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
[16] posted Facebook Timeline photo (warning, graphic) with extended comments Posted by Syriangirl Partisan, May 10, 2013 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=316418491821439&set=a.118282211635069.19554.100003598729905&type=1
[17] Yalla Souriya, May 4, 2013 http://yallasouriya.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/syuria-omar-bayasi-was-al-bayda-mosques-imam/
[18] Syria: Sunni village 'massacred' in Alawite heartland By Ruth Sherlock, Magdy Samaan, and Richard Spencer, the Telegraph, 6:32PM BST 03 May 2013 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10036680/Syria-Sunni-village-massacred-in-Alawite-heartland.html
[19] Partial victims list, May 2, Arabic language https://www.facebook.com/Saned.N.N/posts/648416878518109
[22] ACLOS: http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Baniyas_massacre#Families_Hit_in_Both_Baniyas_Massacres
http://abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&Id=419737 http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Sectarianism_in_the_Syrian_Conflict#41.2C000_Dead.3F
 
 
The Biassi Family = Two "Specific Communities"
By Adam Larson, CIWCL
August 6, 2013

I must qualify the above article ("Targeting Specific Communities...") with an important note: there are a few possible reasons, which we didn't at first know about, that Ms. Pillay's comments might be less "crude" and "sloppy" than I thought. However, they still seem less than admirable in that sense, and remain "dangerous" and borderline criminal in their foolish simplicity. On deeper study (at A Closer Look On Syria), it emerged that the families targeted in the May massacres - especially the Biassis - also have members involved in, or suspected of involvement in, the rebel's muted history around Baniyas. Most famously, a reported 100 local men and boys were briefly detained in mid-April, 2011, rounded up in the al-Bayda's main square and, in an infamous video, stomped on. At least fifteen family names appear on both lists, members arrested in 2011 and others slaughtered in 2013. Of course common family names in the same basic area doesn't always mean too much in the Arab world, but this seems beyond coincidence.

The Biassi family - apparently a large one with many sons - leads this parallel with some 12 arrests and a reported 36 deaths. Furthermore, some of the other familiar-named families suffering deaths in 2013 were from the portion that was married into the Biassis.

So this decimated family was riddled with anti-government activism, and that should be considered alongside the victims these suffered, reportedly at the hands of the same pro-regime thugs who stomped on them two years earlier. But as we know the Biassi family of the Baniyas area is also marked with the public stance of the imam Sheikh Omar, which we can now see more clearly and which is at times harsh. This marks the presence of a rival clique within the family, one with a quieter profile and uncertain size. But it was likely of some influence if this leading member was so solidly in it.

Put simply, we can call these two camps the Sheikh Omar school (pro-government) and the "Abu Ali" school (anti). The following shares highlights of what we've found to describe each camp, it thoughts and actions, in the service of understand what happened to some among this divided mass of a family, and the many others others like it with their own names and histories. Links and further explanations are or will be collected at this spot at A Closer Look On Syria, and elsewhere on that and related pages, allowing this to get done and published.

The "Abu Ali" School
Twelve Biassis were among those arrested in the raids of mid-April, 2011, and at least one member (possibly among those detained) seems to have been planning very ambitious "protests." A confession aired on May 23 claimed one "Abu Ali" Biassi was the "defense minister" of an "emirate" planned for Baniyas in these first days. The "emir" was a local, Sheikh Anis' (? - انس ) Aarot. All were paid and provided weapons from outside, explosives, rifles and pistols from Lebanon. Rahman Mosque was their warehouse. There was a plan of minister Biassi's to rig explosives at the Baniyas refinery and the thermal station, to be blown up on the orders of the ministers. They had the explosives, the captive driver says, but this was apparently where they were busted instead.

One young man given as Ahmad Biassi was shown on a video of this time, in the al-Bayda square, holding his ID card and perhaps announcing his defection or anti-government beliefs. Ahmad was reported in May 2011, by the BBC and others, to have been arrested and tortured to death in a government prison. He appeared on Syrian state TV swiftly refuting that; he claimed to be alive and free, never was arrested, and was surprised and disturbed to hear otherwise.

Thus this Ahmad may present a transitional clique, people who supported the rebellion in its heady "Arab Spring" beginning but came to reject its brutality and deceit and become fence-sitters or even government supporters. There is a victim of that name (Ahmed Mohammed Biassi) killed in 2013, but it's at least as likely to be a different but related man as it is to be him. *  More raids and arrests came late in 2011, on December 5, with a Mustafa Biassi and Mohamed Biasi, among others, arrested. An Ahmed Biassi from Baniyas, visibly not the kid mentioned but probably related, died fighting with the FSA in Aleppo in September, 2012. But things remained fairly quiet around their hometown into the following year, until just before the massacres of May 2013.
 
* 2015 note: I finally listened, and the 2011 Ahmad speaks a middle name more like Abdul... something, I forget, not Mohammed, so not the same guy reported killed, unless the record is fudged.

A Mustafa Ali Biassi, politics unknown but aged near 50, was reported arrested on May 1, as rebels bagen various operation in the area and security forces started a crackdown. Then -perhaps that night - came the massacres with so many members snuffed out, "fierce clashes," more arrests, and a time of calm. There were more arrests and fighting July 20-22, and a reported mini-massacre of a Biassi-related family (Fattouh). A young Mohammed Mustafa Biassi was arrested then and confessed on Sama TV, on the 27th, to helping plan attacks on police and military. He also told how his cornered group nearly tossed one of their "poisonous boms" at approaching soldiers but feared they would die as well. (if only they had long range rockets like the guys nearer to Turkey!)

The Sheikh Omar School
And so this prolific family's entanglement with the extremist uprising is clear, but there is still the other clique. Again, this is of unknown size and fervor, we have so far only Sheikh Omar making a few appearances to give it a voice we can hear at the moment.

That spokesman was described by loyalist admirers as "a member of the National Reconciliation Committee and a known advocate of interfaith dialogue and national unity" and a "true Syrian patriot," as Voice of Russia heard. These are not values the rebels like. Opposition activist Ahmad cofirmed to Reuters "sheikh Biyasi … was a government loyalist who alienated local people with his political views." New York Times heard from a rebel who spotted the body of "the village sheik, Omar al-Bayassi, whom some considered pro-government."

The site Islam Syria reported that among those massacred were "Baathists partisans ... including the imam of the mosque of Sheikh Omar Biasi. That Baathis appeared on (some TV channel) and pointed to the Mujahideen calling them armed terrorist gangs." It's probably a different video, shown by SANA, that the CIWCL located and had translated. In it, Omar shares some of his views at a conference featuring Catholic priests in the sparse audience. The video is not dated, but in it he says something like "We believe that resolving the crisis in Syria, which was safe and stable, will be done by dialogue, for the ship with its captain Bashar al-Assad to reach safety."

On April 3, 2013 - one month before the massacre - An "Omar Biassi" spoke up on a discussion forum, "think(ing) about how we can save the country" and "weep(ing) over the country." It's not certainly him, or even supposed to be, and the text is hard to translate. But this Omar mentions how "the state's uncle (Assad?) held traitors accountable" but this increased the "bleeding of the people." Of that, they had "two years and as much as we (can bear?)" "The only solution," he seemed to feel, was to "kill them." "Syria ... victorious, God willing." Another comment said "I agree with Omar Biasi," calling the rebellion a "poison" that "kills (Syria) from the inside." He or she clarified Biassi's position; "Syrian officials have proven their failure time and again" to stop the violence, but still "now is a great opportunity to put all the corrupt and traitors in prisons or graves." The imam's stance at the rebellion's outset isn't clear to us yet, but Ahmad told Reuters "he always opposed the protests." The earliest mention yet found says that in the hours before the December 5, 2011 arrests, someone - reportedly pro-regime militias - set fire to sheikh Omar's car. It might instead have been fellow Biassis. Other relatives may have been involved later when, one month after Omar apparently called for the general death of the rebels, he and a lot of his family were killed instead.

Conclusion
So Navi Pillay could point to the the prominence of the Biassi family in the local opposition as evidence they (plus the 14+ other families with names appearing on both lists) might be "perceived to be supportive of the opposition." But this too, barring better specifics yet, would still be sloppy. The most prominent victim with the clearest political stance still remains Sheikh Omar Biassi, the imam of al-Bayda's mosque. He and his views alone proves there is another camp, firmly anti-opposition, with the inverse corollary about who would have a reason to kill them.

This mysterious clique lost at least one prominent member, to the unknown number killed - possibly zero - from among those who had signed on with the rebellion. *

As the rebel narrative goes, even though this martyr for his beliefs always opposed the protests, was a perceived Baath-party supporter, alienated "local" (rebel) people, apparently called for them to be killed, and finally called them terrorists in a TV interview, Islam Syria reported. They elaborate "after the end of the interview (how long after?) they (who?) dragged him to the arena (Which arena? Straight from the TV station?) and slaughtered him with his wife and four children.... Then they demolished the mosque of the village, and set fire to it" and blamed the same fictitious "armed gangs of terrorists" Omar had just pointed to.

He and the other victims pleaded, it was learned somehow, "we Baathists like you, but they replied all of you are dogs and agents of Israel and America" and cut them down. And therefore, Islam Syria's ridiculous story continues, "it is clear and evident to the Baathists among the Sunnis that they are being targeted with death too," that even - that especially - "stand(ing) with tyrants" will not protect them. Their imminent mass-defection should be expected any day, if this is at all true.
 
Visual Aids

map of the scene with victims in the open marked in red

curbside victims (see top image) from a distance to
the south, composite view, from Al-Khabar TV
 
 

Victim Ahmad Othman, seen where he was killed pre-dawn, and again after sunrise where someone else says he was killed (re-arranging bodies to create false narratives, not a good sign)
Sheikh Omar's son Hamza Omar Biassi, seemingly sliced open
 
 
We're not sure who took this odd night-time photo of little Hamza Fattouh-Biassi
  
 
Rebel photo of charred bodies, still smoking heavily, the fire clearly just now extinguished. Time: unsure but important. To me, it looks like around dawn, but early enough there's still no direct sunlight on the ground here.


Safaa Ali Biassi was married to Abdullah Fattouh, per VDC records, and was mother of little Hamza (see above) and 3 Fattouh-Biassi girls. She's named in Channel 4's program as the woman shown in the video at this point, body arranged as if cradling Hamza (as they say - I'm not certain - if so, he's not wearing the same jacket as in the photo above). She wears glasses, askew here. She's probably been shot, with the hole in her jaw being the exit wound. Note that there's no blood - she's been dead some time and washed off already. This seems to be the case for all the victims in this horrible display of around 30 slaughtered women and children.

To me, the woman named as Safaa appears to be pregnant with a fifth child, and far enough along that it can be called with moderate confidence. There should be a well-developed fetus in there. The bottom frame lets you make your own call. It might be an important point, because we may have both a report and a photo of that massacre victim. The photo shows a well-developed but not-yet-ready fetus, wrapped in white as another martyr of the al-Bayda massacre. But I don't need to post it here.

We have no other info on how many pregnant women were killed here that morning of May 2, but rebel sources are clear it's at least one, and they'd better hope more than one. Safaa was clearly dead but apparently intact beneath her clothes when filmed, by rebels. In contrast, prominent massacre expert "Omar" "from Ras al-Nabi," cited among the horrific sights he saw in Bayda, "a fetus ripped from a woman’s belly," as the New York Times reported. If that was Safaa, it apparently happened after rebels were filming her executed body, but before other rebels were still able to see the aftermath (or did he see the actual act of ripping?). It would leave little reason to doubt they controlled her body even before her execution, when she was alive. And that would suggest the same for the rest of the victims too. And where, in that situation, would the villainous "Shabiha" step in and do the actual killings?