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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Alleged Chlorine Attack in Latamna

Syria Chlorine Allegations: March 25, 2017, Latamna, Hama
March 26-29, 2017
edits March 30

First News and First Thoughts
Yet again, as the UN Security council debates sanction over Syria's alleged use of chlorine gas as a weapon, someone has to thumb their noes with a poignant reminder mid-day on March 25 ... no news reports, just tweets so far, including these:
* "2 killed and 30 injured in chlorine strike against hospital in #Hama." - RevolutionSyria
* "Multiple reports of use of #Chlorine gas near #Hama by regime against hospitals in #Latamneh. Medical staff were killed @CNN @BBCWorld @NPR" - Zaher Sahloul
* "Dr. Ali Darwish passed away after he was injured this noon by the #Assad chlorine attack on Alatamneh hospital" - Mohamad Khatoub

This last comes with a photo of the deceased, cropped here:

Consulting the ACLOS alleged chlorine attack checklist ... he has no clear chlorine indicators: His dark. hooded eyes look tired, not damaged or tearing. He has normal skin tone with no red irritation, and no cyanosis (his lips aren't visible, but his fingernail beds are not blue at all). The mask suggests (but doesn't prove) some breathing problem, but there's no sign of coughing blood, or a red face from violent coughing. And there's no bleaching of his shirt. This isn't definitive, but it seems more than likely he was not killed by chlorine after all

For an example of what he should look like, refer to a firefighter called in for rescue work after an alleged rebel chlorine attack in the government-held part of Aleppo's Old City, on August 2, 2016. It's said he was one of 13 people who died when rockets were fired by Harakat Noureddin al-Zenki (the infamous advocates of child beheading). Note his swollen eyes pouring tears, skin redness and mild blue tint (cyanoisis, from low blood oxygen), and blood from the mouth or nose. This is an extreme case, but it's likely Dr. Darweesh would be too, if he was exposed for long, in an underground hospital. But any signs are so faint it seems there just aren't any.
Dr. Darwish shows none of that. This is standard, actually, for the fake type of chlorine attacks consistently reported by the murderous and science-impaired Syrian Islamist opposition.

more forthcoming...

Basic locale: Lattamna = Al-Lataminah on Wikimapia
The hospital is dug into a cave area, they say to withstand regime and Russian bombing. White Helmets provide this photo of the entrance.

Syria Direct 
Syria Direct has a detailed report others (like EA Worldview) are citing.  According to this, the hospital "was set up in November 2016, one month after the town’s sole medical clinic was destroyed by a reported Russian airstrike."
A helicopter dropped a large yellow canister through the concrete roof of the Latamna Surgical Hospital at 1:30pm on Saturday afternoon, Abadah al-Mansour, the hospital’s spokesman told Syria Direct on Sunday.

Chlorine gas was then released, he claims, spreading throughout the rooms of the underground hospital. Without sufficient ventilation for the gas, 35 people were injured—14 of them medical personnel—and three were reportedly killed, including a surgeon.
Orthopedic surgeon Doctor Ali al-Darwish was operating on a patient when gas reportedly entered the hospital. “He refused to leave so he could save the patient,” said al-Mansour. “He paid the price for that with his life, and the operating technician and anesthesiologist are still in critical condition.” The patient al-Darweesh was operating on also died.
Troubling report on the symptoms: “most of the injured suffered from fainting, red eyes and shortness of breath”, the Hama Civil Defense reported. Shortness of breath plus massive pain and severe coughing, check. red eyes, check (but not evident with the one seen fatality). Fainting, no. As I recently explained here, rebels in Syria think chlorine makes victims black out or become paralyzed, leading them to lay there breathing in too much gas. But elsewhere, at other times ... in the world ... that's not true. This running claim is bogus, and suggests they rarely deal with real chlorine cases, and instead they're encountering something different or, more likely, they just keep reading off the same poorly-researched chlorine symptoms they were handed once long ago.

Other sources
(from Twitter)

Cylinder and Damage Analysis
In the Syria Direct piece, a Doctor Abdullah a-Darweesh (no relation?) provides this photo of the gas cylinder allegedly dropped from a helicopter.

I'm still not confident saying how high up this must have fallen from, or if it could be deformed some other way, like launched against a wall at high speed. It is some pretty serious distortion, and I can see why people might presume it was dropped from a helicopter thousands of feet above.

Also, I'm no expert, but the way the distorted end is so strikingly flat, it looks like it hit concrete laid on the ground and flattened against it, not like it broke through unsupported concrete.

Here's how the concrete looks where they say this thing punched through:

Initially, the damage looks ok, likely enough space for a canister to fall through - at least, if it weren't so deformed along the way. The damage isn't obviously fake, but I don't think it really lines up with that squished-flat gas tank. However, it might...

At least four other photos of the canister are around, but here's a good image of a close-up view of the distorted end compared to another view. The corner photo shows an apparent indent on the rim, perhaps the size of the reinforcement bars in the concrete ... that is one point in favor of it lining up after all.

Highlighted markings: CL (meaning chlorine, as this color of yellow paint is also meant to indicate) and a familiar V logo and name NORINCO CAF. The same appeared in the first attacks in 2014, and NORINCO was said to be a Chinese arms maker, meaning these were designed as weapons. Not sure if this was proven either way, but I'd guess NORINCO also makes other stuff, including chlorine tanks, which Syria bought some of, before they were stolen and used for these incidents.

VDC query, all Hama deaths by shelling and warplane shelling on 3-25: the doctor Ali al-Darweesh, doctor, from Kaferzita, is listed as killed in Lattamna by Syrian forces. He's listed as killed by "warplane shelling," but the entry notes "due to the air regime's helicopters shelling of chlorine-fired." No one else is specified as dying by chlorine or in the hospital.  A shepherd boy from Lattamna is listed as killed by artillery shelling - was he the patient Dr. Darwish allegedly died treating? Wounded by the shelling (or whatever) but actually died, supposedly, from the chlorine?

Three other Hama people were displaced to Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib (just 10 km north) before they were killed there this day, by Russian warplane shelling, of course. The two women are married, and one - Fatima Mohammad Abd al-Samad al-Satouf - is from Latamna. The other, Ietidal al-Awad, is from Taibet Al-Imam, and listed as the "wife of Mohammad Abd Alsamad Alsatouf." (so he had a wpoman's name added and got listed wrong?) Also a guy from Morek died in the same incident. At least 8 Idlib people, 7 from a Merati family, were alos killed by bombing in Khan Sheikhoun this day, but with the bombing blamed on Syrian forces. So was the other attack against some IDP shelter?

Anyway, this all has no clear relation to the incident under study, and so the VDC's records seems to help little in this case.


  1. Sorry if this has already been mentioned, just a question about the numbering of bodies in the "Caesar" photos - the recent 'Syria's Disappeared: The Case Against Assad' documentary had an interview with Mazen Alhummada. He says he was arrested March 2012 and interrogated at Mezze, where he says they use his real name. He claims to then be forced to confess through torture but ends up beaten so badly they send him to Hospital 601 for 5 days. When he arrives at the hospital, the hospital give him a number “1858” – i.e. he had no ‘detainee’ number while being interrogated. Does “1858” fit in with known numbers? He did not die (despite claiming the hospital meant “extermination”!) and was released after 18 months.

    The documentary also shows the note given to Ayham Ghazzoul’s mother. I’m not sure if this has been shown before somewhere else and she already knew the exact date of his death, but thought it might give a clue as to the genuine system used to document deaths?

  2. Hey, Andrew! Off-topic post, but right site anyway. I didn't hear about that show ywt, so thanks. Will check it out soon. Mazen Hamada is brought out huh? What a crackpot propagandist. I considered him in some detail, same number already given and considered. It's a weird possible fit considering AF Intel's mostly random numbers. But his story is ridiculous. Lines up with a similar released witness' AF intel #1958. Weird coincidence there.

    Ayham Ghazoul has documents already shown. Not sure if they're linked here, at ACLOS or where, but I've seen them. (try a search, and they might be with his vdc entry ... nevermind, here:
    He's one of those rare few with some kind of story and papers. Their stories carry a lot of weight with thousands of anonymous bodies piled on top. I haven't considered his in mass detail, but some. App. didn't post a profile yet. The papers might be real or fake. I'd be skeptical that's even his real mother, but I don't know. After seeing what they say and how, I'll have a better feel.

    A good example of how documents relate comes with Mahmoud al-Zoubi. Real papers there, I suspect, for Caesar photos victim #1, back on April 29, 2011. That body was clearly handed back, maybe doesn't really belong. His "prisoner #" was app. 7 or 8, meaning unidentified body #, later altered by someone into his hand-over date.

  3. Thanks for the reply, sorry for putting comments in the wrong place, I just wanted to ask someone who has researched it, wasn't sure if anyone would see it.

    Reading the New Yorker article, I see they've been misleading with the editing and Mazen was given the number just before going to hospital. Doesn't explicitly say what the point of telling him the number was, I can't think of one.

    The documentary shows the bit of paper given to Ayham's mother when they identified Ayham as "corpse 320" (if translated right)


    I'm not sure if it is new or has anything meaningful. There was also another 'medical report' like the one on page 78 of the HRW report:


    The documentary was on Youtube but looks like it has been removed. C4 link still works but UK only


    The chlorine claims seem ridiculous to me but it gave struck-off doctor Shajul Islam a chance to appeal for help with the 'sarin' attack through JK Rowling. Then appeal for donations. While treating the patient that supposedly died the day before? https://twitter.com/DrShajulIslam/status/846469687676416001

    1. No worries - comments do the most good with the subject so it can all be seen together, but lots of comments lately on whatever's up top. Fair enough, and good news is there are comments.

      Mazen was told his number for the same reason he was made to witness scenes right out of the Caesar photos - so he could be released and tell the world, with tears welling over and stuff.

      I've seen the video now, much of it, took some screen grabs, and have a partial review coming up. Hopefully I'll find a working copy if I need it again.

      Corpse #320 eh? Otherwise they say branch 215 prisoner #320. http://www.safmcd.com/martyr/view.php?id=4027
      Dr. Islam ... jut saw that. On video he says chlorine, in the tweet sarin. Couldn't even tell where (Lattamna? Doesn't seem like a fit. Is this a different episode?) He's doing the Bana thing going through Rowling? Funny.

  4. I'm not sure, he claimed to be in a cave hospital https://twitter.com/DrShajulIslam/status/845043600941600774

    But he does claim a lot of things. MSF says the hospital was out of service for 3 days so perhaps not- they were waiting for this 'expert' to finish the analysis I suppose! https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C73JbHeXUAErUY3.jpg

  5. could it be it's all one &the same cave ?

    Apr 4 https://twitter.com/QalaatAlMudiq/status/836893500788654080#Syria: underground clinic in Khan Sheikhoun treating some of civilians wounded by #ChemicalAttack targeted by an airstrike, caught on live
    airstrike on Khan Sheikhoun's Civil Defense Center while @HadiAlabdallah & @MOAZALSHAMY were inside. #StopChemicalAssad. Part-1

    cave entrance @ 0.55
    As the battle to free #hama continues we are saving lives from a cave on the front lines. 23 Mar 2017

  6. I see Bellingcat has picked on this attack up recently. Isn't it amazing that Shajul Islam was claiming this supposed chlorine attack as 'sarin' and that people still believe that a doctor wouldn't take the risk to move a patient away from chlorine when it is an immediate danger.

    How could the doctor physically carry on the operation when there was enough chlorine in the room to kill him.. the story is completely stupid.

    1. And Shajul says after that the boy survived, and he took over treatment. But I hear he died, same day I thought. Muddled.

      And re: Latamnah, tanks, chlorine, sarin, there's the March 30 attack. This video seems to show the 3-25 chlorine tank (as if on display) and later, in situ by a road, a different yellow chlorine tank even more twisted and torn open. From this day's attack? Fired from a jet? Nope. Separately, some parts of an improvised device, maybe for the "sarin" that made people hallucinate... Hm. Was SAMS onto something?

      M Kobs geo-locates the apparent sarin device remnants to a spot south of the cave hospital, by a road. https://twitter.com/MichaKobs/status/917320051463778304

    2. Might be able to work out exactly where they are taking samples from this video

      Possibly they're taking samples where these vehicle tracks are but not 100% https://imgur.com/Ip4P0bn

      There are buildings up on the hill in one of the shots so someone good at geolocating will be able to get the exact spot.

      Can't tell if the dirt has been tipped there from somewhere else.. or see any signs of any conventional attack. Unless they just wanted to gas some plants? https://youtu.be/4ffxy9G-SrQ?t=94

    3. Ignore the circle round the truck on the Feb image by the way

    4. Different angle on AJ the next day showing how far it was from the town (+ couple of other different scenes) https://youtu.be/TwUat45Vg4o?t=224

  7. Looks to be a different cannister shown by HRW (said to be the bunker buster one)? https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/styles/1070w/public/multimedia_images_2017/yellow_gas_cylinder.jpg?itok=HLkDiads

    Darwish "continued operating until he fell unconscious" http://doctorsindanger.com/dr-ali-darwish-en/ but funnily enough can't find details of what operation he was meant to be doing that meant he couldn't move the patient (orthopaedic surgeon basically in a cave!) or whether anyone thought to just roll the chlorine cannister out of the entrance, maybe try and smother it etc.

    This says it was "mostly chlorine with a mix of nerve gas" and the operating room was "basement-level", the place was "bustling"

    Waiting for someone to come up with a dumb theory about Syrian sarin stocks being hidden in chlorine containers...


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