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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Abdelhamid al-Yousef: The Proof Man?

Idlib CW Massacre 4-4-2017
April 22, 2017
(rough, incomplete) 
last edits Sept. 26, 2017

Questioning the Bereaved Father Claim
Abdelhamid Al-Yousef is the famous bereaved father of 9-month-old twins Ahmed and Aya, as reported, who wee killed in the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attackof April 4. His sad story and dramatic photos made many news stories on their own merits, and he's also the most visible member of the alleged central victims, the Al-Yousef family. With some 13, 19, 22, 25, or 28 members killed, (or perhaps through intermarriage, up to 74 of the first 75 reported),  the Yousefs also have at least eight alleged survivors - men and older boys - who have spoken to the media, mostly in Turkey, including this de facto chief spokesman (see the bottom for some thoughts on the family meaning)

Here, some of the most common reports are glossed over (lack of time) to explore and clarify a few central points - this might be useful to get a fuller picture, but wont provide one in itself.

At right, as famously seen holding the twins before they were buried - he doesn't seem to really resemble them. Ahmed has strange marks on his face, like a scraped cheek - livor mortis, was left laid face-down for some time after death, for what it's worth.
First, photos of the children in life were published, but not of him with them, or either with the wife-mother, named as Dalal. This is something we've seen before, usually adult male survivors, explain how everyone else died - and the story is often absurd, besides questionable. Often photos are provided of individual members, as easily as killers stealing a photo album could do. Usually, we don't see these alleged dads in context, because it didn't happen - he's a friend of the family's killers. (see for example the surviving dads of the Abdulrazaq Family targeted in the infamous 2012 Houla Massacre, who each escaped, most of them with one mute baby and no one else, spoke to the media, and swear the family never converted to Shi'ism, and was killed by Assad's militia's because they were still Sunnis)

This case is different from those, either from being true or being a better-planned fake. CBS News interview (Youtube video), adds photos of Abdelhamid al-Yousef, or a good lookalike with similar (or same?) black jacket, posing with the babies, and all seeming happy like a family. (one at right - note: Alaa al-Yousef is a journalist on this report, unrelated) (note 6-22: along the way I learned he's local, more an "activist," and a cousin of Abdelhamid's in the same town, who also claims to have mild (secondary) sarin exposure, and went to Turkey with Abdelhamid, etc.
 He seems like an in-family manager  of sorts)

However, that doesn't prove he's their father. This family could have been kidnapped recently, or even before the babies were born, and he could have been the friendly kidnapper who could make the kids smile, take selfies of it, and build himself into a well-planned story of their impending death. That's "for all we know." Other options exist, including his being their father, or some cousin, or a truly sympathetic "social worker" the Islamists had working with this former Shi'ite family as they tried to hold to their forced conversion to Sunnis. Again, "for all we know."

Okay, that's the provocative intro. The rest is semi-sorted explorations. See also good stuff coming together at ACLOS talk page. The controlled media's message so far is he's their father - fact.  Call it fake news if you must, but this isn't a known fact. No photos of the whole family to see if the wife is as good with easy, baby-like grins, for example. A lack of resemblance, ... maybe more I'm not seeing yet. This isn't as bleeding obvious as most cases I've tackled.   

Many Appearances and Different Looks, and Basic Story
decent but long video analysis by stfnews on Facebook, with some satanic fluoride conspiracy stuff (??) later on... but the early points seem valid, at least as a starting point. Here, the main issue raised is how he was seen in a video, presumably just after the attack,

Seen after the attack, presumably not long after, getting an IV drip, in street clothes, no sign of decontamination (he's not half-naked in the mud, nor among those anyone has spotted there). He appears sleepy or doped up or drained, perhaps consistent with a sarin episode, and shows little sign of harm, not that either of us is clear on what that would be, x-time after unknown exposure

The video isn't gone. I found a copy, in Arabic, (Zaman al-Wasl (Lebanon), uploaded as news April 6) after passing over at least one other posting or version earlier. I guess the one cited by stfnews and shown here is Zaman's English version (titles seem similar, except language and opposite corner of display). and But this comes with Google-translatable text:

This gives "Abdelhamid Yousef, 28, who lost 19 members of his family and relatives." It says it's the day after the attack (April 5) and he's "inside the house of one of his relatives." as he says "My parents, Ahmad, Ayya (the twins) and my wife Dalal were martyred." "We thought at first that it was like all the strikes or a regular raid," he said. "I saw my family and the family of neighbors outside." "I went to the house of my brother, then I went to the first group and asked for the second ambulance, but I (grew weak) and I collapsed here."

He cites no smell, no clue it was a chemical, until he saw others unconscious, as he ran ahead to help - by the time he got back, his wife and kids had succumbed - they had hidden in the basement from the regular bombing, unaware of a heavier-than-air vapor. Ah, so that's why we've got a surviving and talkative dad to explain how the rest died...

Note: Most other witnesses describe a clear and unpleasant smell and yellow, irritating gas, clarifying the toxic nature of this event. He ... didn't notice that? Because he's been told the regime's sarin is colorless and odorless, so he describes it that way?

He tells the same basic to story to Hadi Abdullah, in the same exact "yellowjacket" suit and dark undershirt, grips the interviewer's arm, it seems to me, when he keeps asking too many questions (taking control of the interview?)

compilation graphic - not all scenes, but a few, emphasis on the two different outfits - He does another interview seated on a porch in the same outfit, wearing headphones (presumably to hear a remote interviewer?). He seems to have spoken to many outlets here, including to Hadi Abdullah again. He's widely filmed in the same outfit weakly visiting the grave of his twins, so they're already buried and this must be April 5... A busy day of grieving and educating.

clockwise from upper left, all scenes in the "yellowjacket outfit, presumably same day:
  • scene A) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQO_kGi4Gxs - Zaman al-Wasl 
  • scene B) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpRBEi9n_uE - AlJazeera Mubasher, Hadi Abdullah interview
  • scene C) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj3QVFgiXFg&index=154 - sips water, seems drained, crying as he speaks, (in an interview via headphones?) (another view of that scene https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7_c4uUOCFs)
  • scene D) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAyY7NBpw28 - weak at the gravesite (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2Jf2ERDKwE Hadi Abdullah, D and B)
  • scene E ...
  • scene F (not included) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkPVbVdQ8q

A scene G (not included, BBC video) shows him dressed the same and tuckered out after all this activity, resting with an iv drip connected to his left hand. From all this, I propose the othe other intubated scene is prior to this, so the last scenes of the day are A and then G.

But he's getting IV treatment a day or more after the event? Sure, that's plausible - depletion of various nutrients, etc. might require continued treatment. And because that makes sense, it may be a visual effect they concocted. And maybe ... this is the last of the watered-down sarin they smuggled into his bloodstream over a couple of days before sending in for testing (see below).

So back to the scene with the red jacket where he buries the babies - I haven't done any timeline analysis on dates, upload times, other relevant evidence times, but ... is that the day of the incident? He was given all-unseen treatment from actual sarin exposure, reunited with his babies, and did that burial photo op within ... same day (near sunset)? Next day (near sunrise or sunset, depending)? Either way, it seems to me all the yellowjacket scenes were the following day.

If so, the STF News argument is nullified. That outfit isn't what he was wearing when he was allegedly gassed, and the tubes are for some later treatment. In fact, even the clothes he buries the babies in may not be originals - they seem almost conspicuously ill-fitting, odd slippers, slacks too short, light jacket, too short in the sleeves. It looks pathetic enough I wonder if someone rich donated the snazzy suit he was seen in next day.

But what was he wearing at first? Maybe ... they're even smart enough to consider the SLUDGE syndrome this time, as they never have before. Even in this attack, otherwise, the shown victims display no signs of serious vomiting, drooling, tearing eyes, urination, or diarrhea. But maybe they have a secret photo of Abdelhaimd in his soiled original clothes, being handled by people in hazmat gear just after the alleged sarin attack. I doubt they went this far, but... it seems they may have gone some distance for once, and I feel like not underestimating it. After all, this is a big deal story - Ghouta 2.0. So if they do have this, release it and shame us for embarrassing the poor bereaved father, I still call fake. He probably just overdosed of coffee and diuretics, castor oil, whatever, after eating lots of food, or some similar kind of trick.

Promoted to Turkey: The Proof Man Down The Line?
Later appearances/performances: He gave the gray tracksuit interview and the CBS interview, at least ...

And he was in Turkey, meeting "president" Erdogan on April 7 in Hatay, near the border (a scene from that at right). Al-Yousef is quoted as saying here "As Syrians, our brother Recep Erdogan is our only hope."  (TRT World)

Was he there in Turkey just for this meeting, just for being famous? Was he taken to meet the brave voice of Aleppo, Bana Alabed? Maybe. maybe meeting with Bana and Abdelhamid, Erdogan, and his ally and former ambassador to both NATO and Israel, Ahmet Uzumcu, the current head of the OPCW, investigating the sarin claims Al-Yousef is helping lodge. I could see Abdulhamid saying to Ahmet "I've always respected your work, sir, to rid the world of chemical weapons. In fact, I named my dead son Ahmed in your honor." (and maybe he or they did, a few days earlier as they were concocting the story...) (for the record I doubt it would get this silly, I just wanted to include that thought anyway)

But I presume he wasn't there just for media appearances or more follow-up medical help - he was probably getting tested for sarin exposure, with an eye to giving those results a media appearance.  Why claim sarin, go to Turkey, and not get a positive result reported? It's quite easy to do, at least relative to the possibly immense payoffs of a lie this big.

In one video he's seen sipping water, as shown here. This isn't odd, except it might be. Either way, it reminds me of my own theory of the easiest way to fake a sarin test in support of a fake attack story (see the sarin evidence). You sip a weak dilution of sarin in water, or some tea maybe. Allow a few minutes between sips for each micro-dose to be metabolized, and the effects will be minimal - just brief tinglings of the real thing, likely with some cumulative issues as you sip for ... a few hours? Off and on for a few days? I don't really know. 

Whatever it takes, it's an easy way to voluntary sarin exposure, to get those molecules technically inside in the body of an allied person willing to tell the false story about this "Assad regime sarin attack." Story and *scientific proof* in one place. Bingo. And this might be just how "Abdelhamid Al-Yousef" got the positive results I expect he yielded.

FWIW: in the first scenes, he puts on a pathetic show, skinny and weak, wobbly, requiring help, and everyone helps - He was likely skinny and weak before, some preexisting issue - he also seems unusually prone to sweating here all through his meeting with Erdogan - possibly a drawn out mild sarin crisis, or just his preexisting issue, or something else.

The metabolic process will ensure the test cannot specify if it was military-grade or terrorist-made (but then, OPCW and other authorities seem to admit it's terrorist grade and just being used by "the regime" anyway). Nor, I think, will it show if it came from a bomb dropped near him or from something he volunteered for, nor just how much there was and how quickly it hit him.

But I bet he didn't suffer any of the lung damage reported for other victims who died and were examined in Turkey. (ACLOS)

In review: He has himself in photos with the dead kids - seen burying them, visiting them there, telling the story over and over - he's well set to be the proof man down the line - his story has sarin, I predict his blood will show it too, and he'll make the news again as a science-confirmed victim of "just what we all said" - and my best guess how he got that way is a slow-motion voluntary exposure to a moderate dose.

<add 6-20>More sarin signs: His especially "grief-stricken" character, so widely-noted, stems largely from his uncharacteristic profuse crying, just really sobbing ... and sometimes you can hear lots of mucous with it, here dripping freely from both nostrils as he sobs (BBC video). Profuse production of tears, and perhaps mucous, are signs of sarin exposure, along with the weakness and sweating he displays. That could be seen as lining up, but no other supposed victims display these signs, and they should clear up quickly, within a few hours. He keeps showing realistic but mild signs for days.<end 6-20>

Explaining the Al-Yousefs
There's another surviving Abdul Hameed Yousef (same name, different transliteration, different man, presumably different middle name?), and an Abdelqader al-Yousef - are among at least six surviving men and two teenage boys of the family, who claim they were in the sarin plume and effected, saw people die all around them but all survived fine, with a few surviving women spoken and children for but not shown, and most women, children, and elders reported dead (again, ACLOS).

The reality of this "Al-Yousef family" is really being driven home here, heavily-sponsored with promoted alleged witnesses. This is frequent to higher-profile marketed massacres - it's said this is the largest family around, which means the most common name - it's a large rug you could sweep other IDs under - I suspect there's a single family with some 22-28 members killed, and their name is not Yousef at all - in fact, I suspect it's something everyone would recognize as members of a minority group, and hence all these efforts to assure us those were all some of them Sunni Yousefs. This guy Abdelhamid kissing Erdogan's head and praising Trump's air attack, would clearly be the leading edge of that effort.

<add 6-20> Huffington Post: The grief-stricken father" carried his twins "to a mass grave where 22 members of his family were being buried. Each branch of the clan got its own trench." This isn't the usual norm. In wartime, perhaps. But people usually use individual graves in a family-preferred cemetery. Mass graves with common trenches remind me more of how terrorists bury their victims after events like the Houla Massacre or the Ghouta chemical massacre. (from a video of that scene, likely just the trench they were dumped in)<end 6-20>

Add 4-22: There's also a story of an Abu Amash family that lost 46 members in this incident. It's even said that family is intermarried with the Yousefs, which meant about 68-74 victims - out of 75 then reported. (ACLOS) As shady as that would be, it's dubious. The claim of 46 dead was lodged by a supposed survivor speaking to the New York Times, while no one else mentions any dead or survivors of this name, and the VDC's list of 95 killed includes none of this name. The VDC does list 6 earlier deaths of this name, all from Khan Sheikhoun, who have died so far from 2011 to present. Are they missing 46 who died at once? This might well be interesting, but what it means isn't clear yet. Is the death toll of the attack 138+? Or is this the real name of the real core target family, which the VDC gave scattered new names to? <end add 4-22>

Add 5-7: Abeulhamid is a militant, at least part-time, but he never mentioned it. Various social media photos on his account show this, as collated for a detailed report by Clarity of Signal, working with others from A Closer Look On Syria (not myself). So he's perhaps an insider with the very Islamist rebels under suspicion here. The article claims he's linked to Jabhat al-Nusra, as most functioning militants in this area would be, to some extent. Details elsewhere...

There's also an older brother, Abdul Karim Ahmad al-Yousef (30, to Abdelhamid's 28/29) who reportedly died alongside his unnamed wife, but not any children. (ACLOS list). He's seen in a photo posing proudly with his brother's alleged kids, as if to say "see, I am too their uncle." (Facebook) But unlike Abdelhamid, this brother allegedly died. He's shown in a photo dead, but looking possibly alive and just drugged (via ACLOS). 

I suspect there will be some interesting and belated research soon into Abdelhamid's cousin Alaa Al-Yousef. ... and now that I've mapped the correct wind direction, and got a reported locale for Abdelhamid's house, we can see it's the furthest UPwind from the alleged sarin release crater than any other located home. (see wind direction explainer)

It's also said Amira/Abeer Saleh was off at work (maybe in the fields NE of town?) while her kids had the bad luck to survive a close-by rocket strike, get relocated to Abdulhamid's house down the street, and apparently get stuffed in the basement with his kin before he set out to save others as they died. Did they all fail to smell the noxious and apparently heavy vapor no one would want to share a basement with? Anyway ...Interesting note: Amira/Abeer has the same last name as her kids. Significance discussed here at ACLOS. <end add 5-7>
June 20 Updates
Important link established: Abdelhamid's children and wife are apparently seen in a gruesome scene, loaded in the back of a van with four alleged neighbor girls (Al-Saleh) said to die with them. The wife and one Saleh girl are bleeding from the nose, which is not a sarin symptom, and there are some indications they were executed hostages. See the hostages in Abdelhamid's house?
Let's consider the Invisible Marriage said to spawn Ahmed and Aya. I think we've seen about a dozen photos of Abdelhamid with the twins, and even one of his similar-looking brother Abdelkarim with the them, besides several of just the twins. But there are still none of him and the wife, the wife and the twins, all of them together, or the wife at all. I think that's a clue. Captive babies just months old can just blithely smile with the friendly kidnapper easier than captive moms with deep, sad stories in their eyes. It could be that more were tried, but none of them looked right.

He even has a story for this lack of photos, which means it's not just a fluke - none are shown because none exist. As the Daily Mail reported:
'I cannot forget my martyred wife and children, and my brothers, and their wives and children', he said.
But he does not even have any photos of his beloved wife of two years left to console him, as they were all destroyed in the attack that ripped through his hometown.
'In my house all the photos I had of my wife and everything I owned was burnt.'

He had all these pictures and videos of the kids on his phone or online, but all pics of or including his wife, were only in print, and they all happened to burn. And this is in a fire not otherwise mentioned in his reports, just a safe-seeming place where he left everyone (in most versions of the story - see below).  But now we learn, also, there was a fire raging inside as sarin seeped in and killed everyone... Huh! And that's why we'll never see his wife except dead in that van with a likely head wound.

His "wife of 2 years" - in fact exactly two years since their alleged marriage on April 4, 2015. He told CBS News (Youtube video), as the reporter voices over at 1:40, the attack "happened on Abdelhamid's second anniversary with his wife Dalal."  But there are no images to support this marriage ever happening. There are/were photos on his Facebook page of what seems the men's room at a wedding, posted just six weeks before the babies were born. But it's apparently for his brother's wedding.(Qoppa999 on Twitter). It doesn't seem there's anything on there showing anything from his own wedding. <end 6-20>

<add 6-22>He's also inconsistent in wearing a wedding ring. This seems to be about as standard in the Arab world as anywhere; married people wear a special ring on the third finger... not sure if a certain hand is specified. And I don't know if Arabs tend to be as adamant about taking it off as little as possible. SO this is inconclusive, but... in the photos he's shared on Facebook, one from November 2016 shows him with a ring of some kind on his left hand. But another photo (undated, but probably about the same time or a bit earlier) shows no such ring on either hand as he holds baby Aya. All other photos are inconclusive; on July 16, 2016, he has his hands in his pockets, a habit from other photos before the alleged wedding. There are no other photos I know of in the right span. He doesn't wear a ring in memoriam; in most post-attack videos, in the yellowjacket outfit, he has no ring on either hand, but a girly bracelet, perhaps Aya's, on his left wrist. <end 6-22>

Story Trainwreck
<add 6-20> I've been meaning to finally collate and compare Abdelhamid's various interviews. As the possible "proof man," I expected his story might line up, at least with itself, a bit better than usual. But I find he's about as incoherent as most, offering a shifting story laced with clues he's just making this all up. (a bit rough for now)

Abdel Hameed Alyousef, Syrian Father, Bids Farewell To Twins Killed In Attack
By Sarah El Deeb, The Associated Press / The Canadian Press, via Huffington Post
Posted: 04/05/2017 5:01 pm EDT Updated: 04/07/2017 10:57 am EDT
When the airstrikes hit, he was with the twins. "I carried them outside the house with their mother," the 29-year-old shop owner told the AP. "They were conscious at first, but 10 minutes later we could smell the odour." The twins and his wife, Dalal Ahmed, fell sick. He brought them to paramedics and, thinking they would be OK, went to look for the rest of his family. 
Why would he think they were ok if they fell ill for no clear reason, and he had to take them to paramedics? And if they had gotten any medical help, why did they wind up dying? In no other version does he mention this. Otherwise, they seemed so fine, he just left them at home, where they died with no help.

He found the bodies of two of his brothers, two nephews and a niece, as well as neighbours and friends. "I couldn't save anyone. They're all dead now," he said. It was only later that his relatives could bring themselves to tell him that his children and wife had also died.
Abdulhamid al-Yousef... had rushed to help the other victims of the attack. He came back instead to find that much of his family had perished, including siblings, nephews and nieces. His wife and children had rushed down to the bomb shelter in their basement, only for the toxic gas to seep into it, which killed them all."
Were the paramedics in the shelter? Heat destroys sarin, but this must have seeped in opposite from the side with the fire burning up his photos?
<add July 25>Most other accounts specify the basement shelter was in another building near their home, not in their own basement. This might be a genuine contradiction, or just a bit of mix-up in reporting. <end July 25>

"At 6:40 the plane hit my house. We didn't feel any gas or anything." He carried his wife and kids outside. "While taking the kids out, people told me there's another strike at my family's (parent's?) house. All your family are dead. People were collapsing while talking to me," but had learned a lot first. It's not clear what he did with the wife and kids here, presumably leaving them at home, maybe in the basement shelter. He ran to his parent's house and found his brothers Yaser and Abdulkareem, his niece Shaimaa, and nephews Hamoudi and Ammar, all dead.

Then, he says, "I fainted" and stayed out of it for some time (maybe he means collapsed, without losing consciousness, as he describes below, and maybe he means fainted - which would be another story conflict). "I returned (home?) after four hours to ask where my kids were. I left them ok. I found them all dead. They suffocated to death by gas."
Long interview with Hadi Abdullah  (Youtube, partial) (Facebook, fuller) - Most relevant words, slightly condensed:

"It was exactly 6:40 am. we were still sleeping... I woke up to the sound of the strike. It was near my house. That was the first strike."

Note: the strike was only near his house, unlikely to cause a fire in his house, and he generally doesn't mention one, except when it's time to explain the lack of photos for "Dalal." 

"Five minutes later there was another airstrike. My parents live nearby. the second strike hit near their house. Five minutes later, there was a third airstrike near my uncle's house."  

Note: most others say the strikes happened all at once, in a single pass of the jet, around 6:45. I doubt any jet was involved, but the plumes of smoke seen just after seem to be only seconds apart in their evolution. Abdelhamid swears it took a full ten minutes before there could be the three plumes, at 6:50. Only then did he spring into action:

"I gave the twins to my wife. They died. But at that moment they were still alive. I told them to go. I wanted to rescue as many people as I could." He was alright at first, and damn heroic, but he saw neighbors unconscious right away. He heard it was sarin, put on a paper facemask, and kept "carrying people" who had been exposed, for some time. That makes little sense, of course - surface contamination would be almost certain. You feel it in a second, and you'll be paralyzed just as quick. But not with this everyday hero. "I couldn't go back to tell my family that it was sarin" because he was too busy rescuing others. 

Later he explains his cousin Ibrahim died, but Abdelhamid managed to rescue his wife, who survived. "The rescue car drove off" and then he headed to his parent's house. So that was at his first stop, his uncle's place. He skipped that in a version above. So he started at one strike, ran to his uncle's and then to his parent's house, visiting all 3 strike zones? One of the three strikes is about a kilometer south of the others. That's a lot of running to save people before all that sarin - which acts in fractions of a second - finally caught up with him.

At his parent's house, he saw Yasser had died trying to save his youngest son Ammar. They had foam coming from their mouths and "their bodies were very blue." Abdulkareem, his niece, and also Hamoudi, were all dead. There were 4 or 5 bodies total there. A man he calls "Ahmed (Ahmad)" went to check on Hamoudi to find him dead. Abdelhamid's father should be named Ahmed, and he was in his house. But he calls his father "Ahmed," which is unusual, even for him - otherwise he says "my father." Is Ahmed a guy he's making up stories about, and usually refers to properly? 

Then they all couldn't walk. He tried to save his niece who was alive, but he collapsed while carrying her and then couldn't move, and she died. He didn't lose consciousness, but someone pulled him out and rushed him to a hospital where he saw people falling down. He's "not sure how long" he was there," but he asked after his family, and "they told me they were okay." 

"When I went back, I found that 25 members of my family had gone. I asked them where my twin toddlers and my wife are. Where are they? They brought them to me dead." (this is after going back, to his home perhaps, and "they" are family and neighbors?) "My sweethearts, I left them unharmed ... they were suffocated to death." (breaks down here for a while)

At -4:41 as he mentions other people who died, mostly learned later, he suddenly mentions "four kids with my wife and toddler twins" that he otherwise doesn't talk about. That would be the widow Amira Saelh's four kids she says were taken over there while she was away at work. As he puts it, "We have a widowed neighbor with four kids (the oldest was 10). She usually dropped her kids at my home. All of them were killed with my children. No one knew about their deaths." They don't seem present in Abdelhamid's story of rushing his wife and babies to supposed safety. Now he says:
"I checked on them before leaving and they seemed fine. They were going down to the shelter. No one knew about them. When I came back I was told they were at the shelter. We went to bring them out but found that they were all dead." 
In some versions, his wife and kids also died in the shelter, but were already found and shown to him, before he returned home (why?) and helped find the others .. that no one knew to look for, and didn't see? So, when did they all get photographed together in a van? It looks like mid-morning, around 9 or 10 am. He says he returned home about 4 hours after the attack, so around 11 am, and others already knew about his family, so must have had the bodies. But they didn't know about the Saleh kids... until Abdelhamid asked, in his grief, and someone told him they were in the shelter, so they went to bring them out, but sadly found they had died. Okay, so he'd say it's after this that they were all loaded in a van and driven to where the photos were taken. Do we buy this backstory?

More Versions (add July 25): Thanks to @lindajjacobs on Twitter, a few accounts I had missed:
Father of 9-month-old twins killed in Syrian chemical attack wants more US airstrikes
ABC News, Apr 8, 2017, 5:53 PM ET
hearing from Abdel Hameed al-Youssef "a farmer" with a wife named "Tallulah" (possible honest error in transliterating Dalal). "Youssef and his wife woke up to an airstrike that hit just 20 meters from their home." They all went outside, the twins hanging around his neck, saw rubble all around, and started walking together. "They continued walking through the neighborhood when two more airstrikes hit nearby." There was no blast, just a strange smell and people starting to collapse.
"At this moment, I felt something was wrong. So I handed over Ahmad and Aya to my wife and I told her to get away from here," Youssef said. "I told her to get to safety." Tallulah took the twins and four of their neighbors' children to find a safe place, while Youssef rescued several neighbors ... ran to his parents' home ("about 100 meters away from the poisonous airstrike") ... hurried to another family member's home nearby ... "and then I fainted," Youssef said."
After he came to, "first responders told Youssef that they found his wife with the twins and the neighbors' kids in a shelter near his house. Tallulah was still holding the children close but she was so ill from the toxic gas that she was unable to walk."

The initial walk together away from their home, and the claim that Dalal was initially alive seem to be unique, but not specifically contradicted by any other stories. The latter might clash with the blood trickling from her nose, if it were from a head wound as I suspect. Her holding the children might clash with the way Ahmed was clearly left face-down for hours after death. But it's possible she held him until the rescuers showed up, and ... then he was left face-down for hours? To develop strong livor mortis like this, it was probably at least 3-4 hours, and possibly much longer, if he were killed before the attack or if the photos of the bodies in the van were taken in the afternoon instead of mid-morning (this isn't certain).

Early report, April 5:
"The 29-year-old shopkeeper had been asleep with his family when the air strike hit close to his home just after 6.30am. They appeared to be fine, but as a precaution he took them all down to the basement of a nearby building in case of another strike. It was only then, an hour later, that they began displaying symptoms. “The family was all waiting down there and were safe, but then they started choking,” Mr Youssef’s cousin, Alaa, told the Telegraph. “The twins suddenly began shaking and struggling to breathe. Then he watched the chemicals take hold of his wife, then his brother, nieces and nephews. Everyone died down there in the basement, they didn’t have time to get to the hospital,” he said."
This is a seriously different story, but apparently second-hand. There's nothing else to say everyone got in the one shelter where the star witness personally watched them all die while surviving. When he's talking, Abdelhamid is pretty consistent he ran across town to two family homes next to each conventional strike and also each filled with the sarin and with dead family members, always thinking his own family was okay, vainly helping the others, until even his miracle protection finally wore off and he ... passed out for a while. It could be Alaa just had the story mixed up putting all of that in one basement. Alaa's story is a lot simpler than the Abdelhamid's, but the latter is clearly more relevant, and neither makes much sense.

Another story citing this changes a detail:
"Alyousef was at work when the bombs fell, but after his wife called him he rushed home. He was relieved to see that everyone appeared to be okay, but he led them all to the basement of a nearby building anyway – just to be safe. In an interview with the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph, one of  Alyousef’s cousins said: “The family was all waiting down there..."" 
From there it's the same story. If the cited article ever said he was at work, it was edited later, now saying he was asleep, as all other reports claim. And even if the Telegraph did report this initially, it would be part of Alaa's mangled story that could be honestly confused.

Add 9/26: A Speedy Recovery? Strong video evidence that IF Abdelhamid ever passed out as claimed, he was awake again within about 15 minutes. So why didn't he go save his family for 3+ hours after this?  And why is he safe to touch so soon after running through three different clouds of sarin fog?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Shayrat Airfield Link

Idlib CW Massacre 4-4-17: The Shayrat Airfield Link
Adam Larson
April 19, 2017
incomplete - last edits August 7

Note: this should already have been up, but it's only partly up - mostly readable, but rough, and likely to be added to before it's done.  It'll be worth a re-check in a few days.
a jet sheltered at Shayrat destroyed in the strike (Sputnik)
Shayrat Airfield in Homs province (Wikimapia) is where President Trump's hammer fell when he saw "baeutiful babies" die on rebel video. Some jets used in Syria's demonized struggle against terrorists were totaled, the airfield was damaged, a reported six soldiers were killed, nine civilians killed by errant missiles, plus injuries and damage. It could have been far worse. 

This was widely-praised, but people are widely stupid. Trump launched this strike in response to an episode he - hopefully - doesn't understand. Because much evidence suggests this was another terrorist crime, where they massacre their hostages and blame the Syrian government (see here for some of the better clues).

The April 11 White House explanatory report, "The Assad Regime's Use of Chemical Weapons on April 4, 2017" (New York Times copy), lays out the questionable basis for the strike. The jet connection is explained so:
Our information indicates that the chemical agent was delivered by regime Su-22 fixed-wing aircraft that took off from the regime-controlled Shayrat airfield. These aircraft were in the vicinity of Khan Shaykhun approximately 20 minutes before reports of the chemical attack began and vacated the area shortly after the attack.
So two jets were overhead at the alleged attack time. This may well be. Implicitly, they dropped bombs at this time, but that's not proven. This is the central question: did any CW released actually come from those jets? The public confidence of any U.S. presidential administration definitely shouldn't be taken as convincing. It's the original reason to blame Syria. If instead some terrorist crime was carried out beneath a passing jet, unconnected to anything it was carrying, clearly it wouldn't be fair to target Syrian forces over it. There are various legal aspects to that, etc. ... but let's get to the meat of the question.

Strikes, Times, Claims
The Russian claim, as reported so far, is dubious - the chemical victims seen on video (around 7-9 am) were affected a poison (not sarin) accidentally spread when a Syrian Air Force strike damaged a terrorist chemical weapons storage depot. The White House report addressed this so:
"...a Syrian military source told Russian state media on April 4 that regime forces had not carried out any airstrike in Khan Shaykhun, contradicting Russia's claim." 
They may have said this to Russian media somewhere, but that means little when they also said to global media that they did, just at noon. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said there was at least one attack that day; as CNN reported, he "said the government's first strike happened at 11:30 a.m., about five hours after reports of the chemical attack emerged." Syria says it hit a site at 11:30 - video proves hospital was hit around then, and perhaps another target to the southeast of that was hit earlier (plume analysis unclear so far) 

But if this happened early enough to explain that, it's a strike Syria denied. That's a problem, a disagreement between allies, if that's Russia's real story, and not an unfairly promoted theory. It makes the White House correct, if they had said "had not carried out any aistrikes at the relevant time." This, Syria does deny. Everyone agrees on a noon strike, and the US alleges an earlier strike, so we have two distinct times to consider.

There were some additional words from Moscow about these chemicals being transported to Iraq, apparently a politically oriented message that shouldn't have been stated as literal fact (best read as similar...). Combined, it's an unfortunate answer, and gives the White House and others some basis to claim Russia is trying to "confuse" the issue.

(Update: Russia MoD on Facebook - they seem to be shifting to a no-CW-release explanation, and no longer claiming a Syrian-sparked accident at an unspecified time.)

What Happened?
Let's start by considering the crude but perhaps adequate flight path graphic they provided as proof. (not the clearest version, here cropped a bit).

I'm not sure how to read these track and narrate the shown flight, but ... maybe as said, two jets flew north from Shayat (the southern starting point) and later returned. One jet ... disappeared around the Wadi al-Arab district of Homs city? ignoring that and a few stray returns...) Along the way, this says, one jet passed, it seems, just south of Khan Sheykhoun at one point, and perhaps both of them passed further south at least once. The times given are 6:37 and 6:46 am, local time. (Z = UTC, and Syria is +2 time zones, +DST)

This clashing with Syria's claims has 3 main possibilities - the track of the attack is:
* Honest and accurate: this shows Syrian jets dropping sarin on Khan Sheikhoun, and the government lies when they deny it
* Honest but (fooled?): this shows a reconnaissance flight out of Shayrat that rebels launched a false-flag incident to synchronize with (their hyped "obsevatory" system routinely gives them forewarning of such flights, to time the explosions right - the rest would have to be pre-arranged)
* Dishonest - this shows Syria's noon strike, deliberately falsified to say 6:30

I lean to the middle option.

All evidence indicates there were at least three powerful explosions in Khan Sheikhoun at about this time - some minutes after sunrise at 6:16 as the sun was still low and from the east, three large plumes of smoke, consistent with conventional high explosives, rise above the city, as seen from the north. A jet is possibly heard at the video's start, apparently trailing off (departing). But we don't have proof that any passing jet actually caused these plumes.

Note also, a stout white cloud, not a blast plume at all, is also just rising from near an apparent school just northeast of the tel (the big flat hill in the middle of town). Schools are often taken over by Islamist militant to store weapons, synthesize chemical weapons, and store hostages, among other things.

Then, a sort of fog spreads across the town, likely from that red-circled area, from a spot out in the fields well southwest of city center, and perhaps elsewhere. Wind direction: by records, about left-to-right. By visuals, unclear, maybe the opposite, mixed over time, and roughly still at filming time. Suggested: mild alternating winds shifting gasses back and forth a bit - more in one direction that's not clear yet)

It's not clear this fog is sarin, or whatever people described (mostly as seeming yellow, not white... see below).

Then, between 7:30 and 9 am or so, lots of dead people appeared at rebel collection points, never, in hundreds of cases, seen at the homes they mostly are said to die in. That's odd, and leaves open the possibility that they didn't die in their individual homes... Any link between this and the passing jet is at least as unproven as with the attack plumes.

The White House Crater
The White House cites one particular crater, that's hyped as poisonous, shown off in opposition videos as the main site, where people in paper face masks at best mill about the following day. The crater does appear new-ish, though the scene is ambiguous. The White House convincingly showed by satellite views it wasn't there in late February. But proof is lacking that it was hit on 4 April or, at least, during the alleged jet attack between 6:37 and 6:46.

My graphic above is based on Bellingcat's careful line-of-sight work (from the evidence so far). They have minarets and other features lined up with the apparent filming spot north of town, like I've done before.

The work seems sound and self-evident, so I didn't double-check it. It allows for rough placement of the plumes, as I've done above in pink circles (distance along each line isn't certain). Note: above I label crater in blue and "U.S. pinned site" in yellow. Ignore the yellow: I saw a blob of that color right there in the flight path graphic's little inset. But that was the yellow pin's head, I guess, with its invisible tip pointing to the crater they talk about, or meaning to (might point too far south).

Note in Bellingcat's bottom left view (facing south) there's an added red line to the crater the White House speaks of. I can't prove it yet, but I don't think there's a plume there, at this time. Location: if the above placement isn't exact, this drove view will refine it.

The video never pans far enough to the left to look down that red line of sight. I checked to be sure - see the little panorama inset in the lower left view - that's about as much as they show, its left edge stopping maybe half way to seeing what's above the crater area.

One should think they would pan over to it if it had been stricken, with the most important and also the closest expected blast plume, or sarin cloud, a little further to the left. But after showing the big ones and the white cloud further off, he pans to the other plume worth showing, even further out and to the right. Another video shows that plume in more detail. No one shows a plume above the crater. This suggests there wasn't one yet, but it fails to prove it. Maybe everyone just figured someone else was filming that one, or whatever...

What I'm hoping for now is some rare hidden video Petri Krohn has missed in his huge playlist, that does pan over that area to clarify if there is or isn't a sign of that crater being blown out. Becuase if it happened before or after those two alleged jet passes, we have a big problem with the Trump narrative...

The Sarin Bomb in the Crater
Add May 4: Furthermore , the U.S.-provided flight track of the attack jets shows they never passed directly over Khan Sheikhoun. Carefully laid out so their map matches a satellite view (with cities and highway bends all matching), it's clear the track does what it appears, passing only south of the town, once fairly close, and again further out, as well arcing halfway around to north at that greater distance. The nearest pass, fudged a bit north for a best case scenario, is shown beneatt. (it's not clear if this is the first pass at 6:37 or the second one at 6:46, when the attack allegedly happened. It's also not clear to me which direction if's flying here, east or west.)

So a jet would have to use missiles, all fired off to the north, in order to hit targets in the town, like the famous crater in the north (red circle) from which the sarin was allegedly released. That's a bit over 2 km north of the jet path

That's a problem for Human Rights Watch, who find the remnants inside that crater are "consistent with" a soviet-made air-dropped bomb made for dispersing sarin - KhAB-250. A circular cap is conveniently laying in the crater, and they find it's quite similar to the filling cap to the 250 model. And the bent tube has a vertical green stripe down the seam, whereas the KhAB has two horizontal green stripes around it. Close enough? It lets them make a leading claim of Soviet-supported pro-grade chemical warfare...
These remnants, combined with witness observations, the victims’ symptoms, and the identification of sarin as the chemical used in the attack by the French[1] and Turkish[2] governments and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,[3] suggest that the Syrian warplane dropped a factory-made sarin bomb. According to open source material, the only Soviet-produced bombs designed specifically to deliver sarin are the KhAB-250 bomb, and its bigger version, the KhAB-500.
Anyway, the KhAB-250, as they note, is an air-dropped bomb. It has no propulsion, and falls straight down, landing just  ahead on the flight track from where it was released (from the initial momentum of the jet), and no more than a couple meters in any other direction due to wind. It won't fly a couple kilometers left or right. So either the U.S. flight track is wrong, or this thing cannot have been dropped as alleged.

IF those are genuine parts of that special, and never-before seen weapon ... it seems the sarin used was some nasty impure kind, maybe to implicate the terrorists? If so, not a good vehicle to use.  Bit it's quite likely a terrorist group stole a few of these from on overrun warehouse, or bought one in the black market, maybe they just planted some mangled remains, or even filled one with their own dirty sarin, after rigging it up to be fired in on a rocket, or from a mortar or hell cannon. To me, and to Petri Krohn, the bent tube jammed in the dirt suggests a fired rocket, with no explosive payload, just lots of force. I can see what HRW and others say about a liquid spilled all around. To me, the pattern of that darker patch, the crater details and cracks in and displacement of the pavement, and the bent fragment, all suggest this rocket thing was fired from the north or N-NW (after burrowing in, the back part bends forward on the flight path with its kinetic energy). It probably did disperse something here that killed that goat, at least. The bulk of the debris was removed since, leaving just the part that looks kind of like a regime sarin bomb.  This deserves an explanation, and some double-checking too, so it might take a while...</end 5/4 add>

<Add June 29> Expanding on the flight path, I finally did a full-path correlation to show the radar track's map is apparently all to scale from takeoff to Khan Sheikhoun. In 3 images, here on Twitter. The town is bigger than I took, but my north-shift was more than adequate.

A more correct line is considerably south of that, roughly as shown below, relative to current placements for all alleged or possible bomb spots, conventional or CW. The opposition sources have always claimed all weapons of both kinds were air-dropped bombs that only fall straight down, not missiles that can be fired at a distance and even change course. The 4 clearly claimed bomb drops are shown here in dark blue. But if the US radar track is to be believed, the jets never passed directly above any of them, nor even close to above them. One is about a kilometer north, and the other three about 3 km north. 

Consider if anything was offset, the jet(s) could have passed over city center. But we see nothing off, and this arc around the town makes clearer more sense than a pass right over and an arc way to the north or south. If anything, I'd say it's shifted a bit north, as that south pass is much closer than the rest of the arc. But separately, I located the mysterious source of  the southwest area fog field, and it was close enough I tried setting the path right over it; maybe it was one target of the surveillance flight, because Syria suspected something was happening there. As it happens, this is closer to my new line than my old line was; the radar track runs between these two lines, but closer to the purple one.

This just clarifies the same issue I raised early on. As I summarized in a follow-up tweet, "So the WH graphic shows: the jets from Shayrat NOT bombing KS. But the words disagree, and they attack Shayrat for bombing KS."<end 6/29>

The Sarin
Anyway ... a fatal flaw in the decision to blame Syria for this, is no consideration whatsoever of the possibility of a terrorist false-flag incident,  despite a clear logic of motive, a clear enough (if obscured) capability, and copious (unacknowledged) precedents for murderous and deceptive CW use by various Islamist factions fighting in Syria, and  ... Its vapor is often yellow, irritating, and smells foul, like rotting food, notably eggs and sulfur. That's just what they report in Khan Sheikhoun. (see the Sarin Evidence)

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson said the other day, via Hansard, "We know from shell fragments in the crater that sarin had not only been used, but that it was sarin carrying the specific chemical signature of sarin used by the Assad regime." By this, we think he's admitting it does not match Syria's surrendered stocks. If it did, he'd probably prefer to say that. Instead, he calls it a kind they've used. This includes what are in fact several terrorists uses of impure sarin, since March, 2013, falsely blamed on Syrian forces, even though they're the targets half he time. This was accepted as used by Syrian forces in the Ghouta attack of August 21, 2013, but evidence suggests that never did match with Syria's stocks, and the event has massive indicators of being a false-flag massacre carried out on hundreds of hostages, the ultimate in massacre marketing, that failed in part for being too obvious in that regard.

So, Boris seems to be saying ... this is Ghouta 2.0, as it was already seeming to us.As there was no regime missile base link to prove it wasn't rebels behind Ghouta, we lack proof there was any link bgetween the Khan Sheikhoun attack and any jet, or the Shayrat airfield.

Sarin at Shayrat?
Boris Johnson, same speech and link as above:
We know beyond doubt that two Sukhoi-22 aircraft took off from Shayrat airfield, where we know chemical weapons are stored.
I suggest this isn't independently known - Syria has allegedly given up all CWs, and shouldn't store them anywhere. When did the anti-Assad powers find out he was holding out on some sarin at a specific airfield? And why didn't they say anything about it until now? Really, I propose, they had someone deduce there was sarin there, since a jet from there dropped the stuff, then pretended that was its own intelligence to support that deduction.

<Add 6/29>Seymour Hersh and his anonymous sources tackle this claim in a recent article at welt.de
Within hours of viewing the photos, the adviser said, Trump instructed the national defense apparatus to plan for retaliation against Syria. “He did this before he talked to anybody about it. The planners then asked the CIA and DIA if there was any evidence that Syria had sarin stored at a nearby airport or somewhere in the area. Their military had to have it somewhere in the area in order to bomb with it.” “The answer was, ‘We have no evidence that Syria had sarin or used it,’” the adviser said. “The CIA also told them that there was no residual delivery for sarin at Sheyrat [the airfield from which the Syrian SU-24 bombers had taken off on April 4] and Assad had no motive to commit political suicide.” Everyone involved, except perhaps the president, also understood that a highly skilled United Nations team had spent more than a year in the aftermath of an alleged sarin attack in 2013 by Syria, removing what was said to be all chemical weapons from a dozen Syrian chemical weapons depots.
How the CIA could know if there was or wasn't residue anywhere at the base is unclear. SU-22s are blamed, not SU-24.  Other details of the account are somewhat questionable as well.<end 6/29>

CW Personnel?
A CNN wire report (via KTLA.com) passes on confident assessments:
The US military and intelligence community has intercepted communications featuring Syrian military and chemical experts talking about preparations for the sarin attack in Idlib last week, a senior US official tells CNN

They note this doesn't amount to foreknowledge they should have acted on pre-emptively - and I can buy that. But is it even true?

The April 11 White House report said

Additionally, our information indicates personnel historically associated with Syria's chemical weapons program were at Shayrat airfield in late March making preparations for an upcoming attack in Northern Syria, and they were present at the airfield on the day of the attack.
In fact, perhaps just from this, CNN wire report..
The US now assesses that Syria has re-established a unit of personnel associated with chemical weapons that existed before the 2013 agreement in which the Syrian government pledged to give up its weapons inventory. And there is some indication they are getting outside help.
This should be people who know CW science, discussing wind directions with commanders, helping draw up the plan of attack (and a brilliant alleged plan this was!)- might be people who did work with CWs back when that was thing people worked with, now re-assigned - but might just be the pilot whose flown other missions in which CW were allegedly dropped. Consider: 
  • Perpetrator of second largest chemical attack in Syria identified - Orient Net, April 5, 2017, gives specific details where he and his family live, seeming to invoite a terrorist assassination or worse ...
  • Al-Arabiya reports US, UK, and France were asking for the names of any pilots involved. "Syrian Pilot Mohammed al-Hasouri, who took off in his jet from the Shayrat military airport on Tuesday morning, may have not thought that his name may be internationally listed and he will be pursued."
  • Zaman al-Wasl gives details of "Brig. Gen. Mohammad Yousef Hasouri, Chief of Staff and deputy commander of Shayrat airfield" and heard that he's "one of the biggest war criminals in Syria" who "has so far carried out more than 3,500 raids, mostly in Aleppo."{
  • Charles Lister on Twitter: "Reports: The pilot *allegedly* responsible for #KhanSheikhoun CW attack, Gen. Mohammed Yousef Hasouri, has been killed in an IED attack." The reports may be with Orient News, and they seem to be doubted. Some suspect the government killed him to hush up the crime.
Note: These outlets are all sponsored by direct "regime" opponents, be it wealthy Syrian expatriates (Orient News and Zaman al-Wasl), Saudi-Arabia (Al-Arabia) or Qatar (Charles Lister) (copied from ACLOS)

I thought I had seen something about his flying chemical missions before, mainly chlorine. If so, that could be what makes him CW "personnel," and that alone might be their basis for that claim.
Add Aug. 7:  https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2017/04/10/khan-sheikhoun-chemical-attack-bombed/comment-page-2/
comment by Richard P - April 11, 2017
B’cat said, “The earliest reference we have discovered ” was an [Apr 4] 8:21 local tweet referencing a video published at 7:59 a.m.
But, it would seem, the actual “earliest reference” is the “spotter” who (at 6:26am) presupposes that the [SU-22] warplane, he identifies as it takes-off, is the pilot and aircraft implicated in a recent, earlier (March 30) incident.
Based on that evidence, and quiet evening weather, the spotter determines then expressly warns, “Quds 1, guys he has chemicals, he has chemicals.” [I suspect the spotter was exclaiming more than just making a statement.] Maybe it’s semantics, but it seams significant [out of the ordinary, really].
Here is the report from the supposed radio message: [1]
The Times (UK) originated the story, my copy from an AU pub. They both have subscriber limits.
Here is the NY Post’s story copy… http://nypost.com/2017/04/10/pilot-was-no-stranger-to-dropping-a-chemical-bomb-in-syria/
report also says he recieved an award for his attack that day, but was named  as Haitham Hassouri, maybe to conceal his identity in the publicized ceremony. A tweet was deleted!
In the recording of the radio chatter, a monitor, named only as Hussam, detects a Sukhoi 22 fighter jet taking off from the Shayrat air base at 6.26am. The pilot identifies himself as “Quds 1”.
“The air is still, and this warplane doesn’t take off at this time unless it is loaded with something dangerous, poisonous materials,” notes Hussam as he is listening. “Quds 1, guys he has chemicals, he has chemicals. He is the
same pilot who had dropped chemicals on Latamineh.”
Twelve minutes later Quds 1 drops the missile on Khan Sheikhoun.
Latamineh, 15 miles from Khan Sheikhoun, was hit by a missile filled with what appeared to be a chemical agent on March 30. Doctors described victims suffering spasms and foaming at the mouth. About 70 people were injured, although none was killed.
Radar track following this jet and a cohort shows they never passed over the alleged bomb sites. Luckily here
it's "missile," which is at least possible. No one ever takes off at 6:30 in calm weather unless it's to gas people? Really? What other time of day are the first post-dawn recon missions slated for? Or there's no such thing in this war? They scope it during the night and attack at first light?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Sarin Evidence

Idlib CW Massacre 4-4-17
The Sarin Evidence
From Khan al-Assal to Khan Sheikhoun: "Syria's (Other) Sarin"
April 16, 2017
edits April 20, 23/24, 26, 27, 30...

So Sarin Was Found?
Claims of sarin use in the recent Idlib chemical attack have been accepted from the start, first based on reports and videos describing consistent symptoms. Soon there were also said to be positive test results from samples sent to Turkey. This is presumably accurate and suggests at least some victims, if not all of them, were exposed to that deadly nerve gas.

As I explain below, there's a lot that this wouldn't explain; it's already been widely argued that sarin might have little or nothing to do with the videos shown or the dozens reported killed. I agree with that line of questioning, so all this below matters to the extent sarin actually does, which at the moment is uncertain. But if sarin  is involved, centrally or otherwise, it's best to acknowledge it.

It's of course possible there was sarin, and it was dropped by government forces as alleged. But we're watching for the nightmare scenario: it was slipped in to a terrorist false-flag event, pro-rebellion investigators and their bosses refuse to acknowledge that, and they insist on blaming the Syrian government, encouraging more such terrorist crimes.

Yes, terrorists in Syria - and not just ISIS - have sarin, besides other poisons and a whole lot of blank checks written by the "world community." Here are some ways they could work that into the evidence chain:
  • Low-level exposure in survivors could be voluntary - people can be paid or persuaded to sip on a weak dilution, with pauses to metabolize, which would give positive results with minimal discomfort. These volunteers, selected for their pro-jihad stance, could also use their status as supposed survivors to describe the government attack in full detail, along the rebel script.
  • Fatalities, obviously, would have to be expendable people, even enemies held hostage, poisoned with it at full concentration (these can't be trusted to tell the right story, so they wind up dead with others speaking for them.)
  • Soil samples can be contaminated after the fact, or by sarin vapor actually dispersed by terrorists, using various special rockets and mortar shells they have on hand.

What Kind of Sarin?
Some important details, not widely noted, suggest any sarin that was used in the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhoun is probably a terrorist-produced variety. There are two broad kinds of the agent to consider:
  • Military grade sarin: professionally-produced, this appears and behaves just like water (it's dispersed as a vapor, not a gas). It has no color or smell, and no irritating properties, besides a long shelf-life and high killing power.
  • Low grade "kitchen" sarin: less stable and perhaps less deadly, it usually has impurities not filtered out at each stage of production. Therefore, it can have a variety of colors and usually unpleasant odors (Wikipedia says “impure sarin can smell like mustard or burned rubber” and we'll consider other possible smell descriptions below),  and may also have contaminating irritants that can burn the lungs and eyes.
Now, we've heard physiological samples tested positive. But with the hyper-speed metabolic processes at work inside the human body, the actual agent is long-gone by testing time, just leaving secondary chemical after-effects. These cannot say which kind of sarin it is, military grade, Syria's, or some low-grade "kitchen" sort.

However soil samples don't have that problem - the molecules lay there, only breaking down slowly. If the samples are genuine and not tampered with, this could show the kind used. Soil samples were reportedly taken, and the UK's ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft stated something has "tested positive for the nerve agent Sarin, or a Sarin like substance." This ambiguous statement leaves it open that it might not even be sarin, just something chemically similar (maybe some other organophosphate poison). It definitely doesn't say whether it's a match or a mismatch with Syria's stocks (more at ACLOS).

So we don't yet know what the tests say, or even if the results are honest. And even if we did have a sure finding, considering the unknowns, it's important to mention this - neither kind is certain proof for who deployed the stuff. Naturally, the military-grade poison suggests it was used by the Syrian military. Even though they supposedly gave it all up years ago, that seems easy enough to get around by claiming they must have kept some. The other kind points to opposition forces.

Hypothetically, rebels could make or acquire the pro kind, possibly even from Syria's own seized stocks, with the right help from any of their powerful allies. And the government could, without too much hassle, synthesize or seize the cheap kind and have it to toss around and frame the rebels. But otherwise, we should tentatively presume the indicators point the normal way. Let's see what they are.

April 4 Sarin Reports
In the April 4 attack, in the absence of clear test results so far, we have reports. These we also can't trust, but they're worth considering.

Two AFP journalists in Syria, Mohamed Al-Bakour and Omar Haj-Kadour, spoke on their reporting in a special piece. Bakour, from Khan Sheikhoun, said "When I get to the hospital, a foul smell hangs over the place. I can’t quite put my finger on it." Haj-Kadour was in Binnish and headed south upon the news. "When I get to the main hospital in Khan Sheikhun, the first thing that strikes me is the smell. There is a strange smell. I can’t put my finger on it." They both note the lack of fingerability a little too clearly. Perhaps they talked with each other first, one said that, and the other one liked this English phrase and copied it. But they agree there was a smell that was strange in a bad way one calls "foul." 

A Telegraph sourced wire story at SMH.au Some interesting detail e.g."The smell reached us here in the centre; it smelled like rotten food. We've received victims of chlorine before – this was completely different."

Foul, strange, rotten food, vs. mustard, burned rubber - all have organic elements that might be from one organophosphate poison (like sarin), with a central smell or cluster of smells that's somehow between these, hard to "put your finger on" and easy to describe differently from the next guy.  Some other cases of different descriptions are listed below: "pungent," perhaps like sulfur, like rotten eggs, "like burning nylon," and "very foul."

That same SMH.au article also notes "victims had vomit from the nose and mouth, a dark yellow colour, sometimes turning to brown." Vomiting is a sign of sarin poisoning, among other things. An extra yellow color could be from yellow-brown-colored impurities, or just yellow, with the brown from added blood, if corrosive irritants were involved....

A 14-year-old girl "saw an aircraft drop a bomb on a one-story building a few dozen yards away. In a telephone interview Tuesday night, she described an explosion like a yellow mushroom cloud that stung her eyes. “It was like a winter fog,” she said. (New York Times)

Why it didn't kill her at such a short distance is unclear. And even if she's a legitimate witness, there may be visual confusion here - the actual "fog" is shown on video and appears just white, possibly like military grade sarin (though it's not certain this is the same thing referred to), while the attack plumes (seemingly caused by conventional high explosives) are sort of gray and beige, or arguably yellow. (though sunrise has a similar color of light tinting it - see Graphics at ACLOS, this section and the one below)

Mohammad Nejdat Yousuf, a farmer mildly poisoned, spoke to the New York Times from Turkey with his pregnant wife and nephew, alive but seriously affected. It's said "ran headlong into what he described as “a winter fog — not quite yellow and not quite white.” He started to lose his balance, he said. His eyes began to sting. His nose started to stream. Finally, Yousuf said, he started to foam at the mouth." 

A Zuhair Abu Abdo spoke to the media saying he heard a "very loud" explosion, which was followed by "yellow dust" and a "really disgusting odor," smelled from far away. Still,  "we thought it was a normal airstrike" but he saw may people just laying on the ground, and driven off in cars. He describes later symptoms: light-headed, tight chest, and later burning eyes.

An al-Yousef son, aged 23, says in this video "it was a strange smell," people vomited, foamed at the mouth, and fainted. A cola-dipped rag over his nose kept him safe.

In another video, survivors in a hospital (where is unclear - not Khan Sheikhoun, not Turkey) a man, older woman, and doctor all add bits:
* Man (not credible): massive bomb, dust covered the place, 50 people laying outside his house, he treated some before the second strike. He had no clue it was chemical, he got dizzy but kept helping, and then the third strike, and a 4th, and he felt dizzy, fell down. Miracle he survived 4 delayed strikes all around him... No mention of smell.
* older woman: a barrel bomb landed, the stench covered the place, we were fast asleep, "all of us altogether" lost consciousness, woke up here.
* medic: mentions the usual symptoms: miosis, "constant shivering," and "yellowish foam coming out of the mouth."
* (add 4/30) White Helmets/"civil defense" worker, says on Orient News video he came home (around here on Wikimapia, south of the White House crater), found everyone unconscious inside, wife, children, brother and his wife, nieces and nephews, most or all died. A yellowish foam was coming out of their mouths, as they shook uncontrollably.

These are just verbal accounts, and of course I'm not one to just accept these as obviously true. But I won't just dismiss every little detail as a probable lie, even if some parts are proven to be lies, tru details can still be included. </end add 4/30>

But clearly - if this is the sarin they're talking about - it's the "kitchen" variety with irritating impurities that, as I explain next, terrorists have used in the past.  And if it's not, then ... what is it, and who released it?

Add 4-27: The Visual Case for A Caustic Fog
While witness accounts are never to be taken as obvious truth, it's likely that a noxious gas like they describe was released in Khan Sheikhoun that day. not only plausible but seemingly supported by visual evidence.

Below are two panoramic composite views from two videos associated with the attack, taken from north of the city. They both seem to share the same exact point of view (features line up the same in both), so we can make a direct reading - if this is all the same day.  I'm presuming so, but noting it might not be.

Video 1: Left to right: (off-frame, unseen) the space above the White house crater cited as "the" sarin release point - smoke plume from a high explosives blast southwest of that - another the same way - a strange white cloud, apparently originating just NE of the tel (big flat hill) - the tel, continuing ... - blurry minaret in the middle - another standard explosives blast from a bomb or rocket, roughly geolocated to the southwest of the tel (new graphic upcoming) - (off-frame) a smaller black plume rising from a located spot in the town's southwest.

Bellingcat did a good line-of-sight analysis for this scene, which I copied (roughly) to make a rough map (ACLOS) of where these 3 plumes and a white cloud might be. Better map based on my own findings forthcoming. 

Wind: seems to be blowing to the left and towards the camera, so north and east, ratio not decided (see video, and just the shape of the plumes).

Video 2: Something like a winter fog, white, or maybe not-quite, almost yellow, or yellow seen up close. seems to spread from the location of that white cloud, and a spot southwest of town, perhaps other spot. That's a lot to pour out of perhaps just 2 spots. What it is, we don't know. Wind direction: arguably still, or slightly to the left (east)

Time note: I tried reading solar azimuth (direction to the sun) from how it wraps around circular things (minarets, dome). I could only say it's between 82 and 113 degrees, so anywhere from sunrise to 9:30. I cannot even see a time difference between the views, unless mmmaybe ... the fog scene is a bit earlier. It should be later. But visually, it seems to all be the same basic time, so - if this is really all from the same day - those blast plumes disappeared and that fog spread out - or vice-versa? - very quickly. A strong wind could help, maybe the one seen. The direction seems about right for that.

For contrast, the White House has jets overhead at 6:37 and 6:46 at the latest, early reports said 6:30 attack, most now say 6:55 or so. Initial confusion which pass they had lined this event up with, corrected to second pass (perhaps) That could line up well enough: blast timed with jet's pass at 6:46, reports of casualties and toxic gas 5-7 minutes later, group getting reports notes it 2-3 minutes later as "6:55." (for example)

First time-able visual of victims is at the White Helmets cave hospital, in scenes I time visually by sunlight angles (several cases, consistent) as starting around 8 am or shortly before, and continuing to 8:30 and beyond (I only looked at the longest-shadow scenes - not sure how long it runs past 8, but not far before). Anyway, there seems an odd delay here. I'm pretty certain I have all the time zone and DST issues correct - it is about an hour off from what it should be. It doesn't just seem that way. Or, since reaction can't be instant, it just seems a bit slow, and a bit late for people to still be struggling at death's door.
<end add 4-27>

Prior Cases
Adding notes on the sarin findings and the victims, four examples of prior incidents involving sarin with smell and color issues:
* An apparent opposition sarin attack on the Shia-majority village of Khan al-Assal, Aleppo, on March 19, 2013, targeted Syrian soldiers and civilians, killing at least 20 (ACLOS). People reported, in a December UN report, that the chemical released from the rocket formed "a yellowish-green mist in the air," and had "a strong pungent smell, possibly resembling sulfur." They mention it caused itching, besides breathing and heart problems, foaming at the mouth, confusion, pupil constriction and vision problems, and loss of consciousness. (UN report) Death or paralysis tended to be instant, as with sarin. Later tests by Russian scientists showed sarin - an impure, improvised sort - was the main poison, delivered with a locally-made rebel rocket (ACLOS). The UN report credited rebels with the attack, but was unable to confirm sarin, while the poison was confirmed by the OPCW and the United States, both of which attempted to blame the government for what they presume to be a mistaken regime strike on its own forces. (ACLOS)

* The same day as Khan al-Assal, rebels reported a regime CW attack in Otaybah, Damascus suburbs: apparent rebel fighters described a rocket impact that dispersed “something like water, but it was dark. It emitted a very foul smell,” and killed 7 people who mostly seem to be hostages. Symptoms are not a clear match with sarin, but possibly. Yellow vomit appears, as reported in this latest incident. Within a few weeks, samples were said to test positive for some kind of sarin, or at least an organophosphate (the class of chemicals sarin, some common pesticides, and other chemicals belong to). Questions remained: were the tested samples from Aleppo, or Damascus, or neither? Were they soil or blood samples? Stories differ. (Monitor)

* August 21, 2013: Witnesses to the Ghouta incident reported varying smells: "something like vinegar and rotten eggs" or "like cooking gas," along with "redness and itching of the eyes." (Guardian) As we've found, the hundreds of victims largely seem to be hostages (Monitor). Initial claims trying to prove government guilt fell apart (Lloyd and Postol). Circumstantial evidence and claims lodged to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh suggest Western tests showed the sarin found did not match Syria's stocks. (LRB) In general, sarin doesn't seem to be responsible for the hundreds of dead anyway, and many at least are clear in dying from something else; the found sarin may have just been planted in the soil that was taken, and at low-levels (likely by sipping, as described above) in the survivors who were tested (none of the dead were tested).  (Monitor). But still, sarin may have been released, and affected and killed some, and that may or may not be what people smelled.

* A smell "like burning nylon" was reported by gassed soldiers in Daraya, February, 2015, who tested positive for sarin, though none died. (OPCW report) It was clear that the rebels, who had the soldiers pinned down under gunfire, launched that against them.

In these cases the victims are either government soldiers and the civilians they protect, or it's in a rebel area and the victims seem likely to be hostages. This April 3 attack fits the latter profile (Monitor). Despite these and other precedents, Western and UN officials blandly assure us the non-ISIS opposition has no sarin capability and can be ruled out. But that's not the case, and so we watch for that  nightmare scenario.

Where There May Be No Sarin
Whoever's sarin appears wherever in the picture, there seems to a big part of it where the stuff doesn't feature at all.

As widely noted, rescue workers handle the patients without any protective gear for the skin, even gloves (sarin spreads on contact and is extremely potent - a gas mask or surgical mask, like some have, might protect the face, but that simply isn't adequate to handle real sarin victims). Some workers in hazmat suits are seen in the background. It's said some workers suffered exposure (the White House claims to believe this and uses it as evidence to decide of sarin). But we don't see that on video among those handling the supposed victims, so the claim is likely untrue and at best unproven. 

Next, sarin has specific observable symptoms besides miosis (constricted pupils) and seizures/paralysis, which is all they show, other than some kind of "foam" around the mouth in some cases. 

Misosis is highlighted as the "telltale" sign, but it actually has several causes, some of which are alternate poisons of some interest, like opiates. And misos is only the M in the standard sarin symptom acronym SLUDGEM. The other letters stand for Salivation (drooling), Lachrymation (tears), Urination, Diarrhea/defecation, Gastrointestinal distress, and Emesis (vomiting). (Wikipedia, SLUDGE syndrome). The excretory systems go as haywire as everything else, with these parts being visible on the outside. Yet, I don't think I've ever seen this with any of the alleged Syria CW attacks. In those against government soldiers or government-secured areas, the victims aren't shown. In those against rebel areas, they are, and no one displays the SLUDGE syndrome. The same applies here: many victims are stripped to underwear, and as far as we can see, they haven't soiled themselves. They don't seem to vomit that we see, etc.

Sarin also tends to cause cyanosis (a deepening blue shade to the skin, especially visible in the lips and beds of the fingernails.) This isn't universally, but common, and it's not exclusive; it has many other causes - but it should appear. Yet we see little if any cyanosis, and in fact lots of rosy cheeks. this red-faced rhythmically gasping kid both seems realistic, likely suffering pulmonary edema, and a clear mismatch with sarin. The extra red could just be from the cold drawin blood to the surface, but it's all red, not purple-blue shifted in  the slightest.  It's hard to say if that excess red is just from being cold or might be a poison clue (pointing to hydrogen cyanide or carbon monoxide, perhaps). But either way, it argues against sarin. 

Another important note: Sarin kills very quickly, and the body also breaks it down very quickly - it's a race in microseconds. Survivors of severe exposure describe total paralysis, inability to breathe, their vision going black, and an overpowering sense of doom enveloping them within seconds, followed by loss of consciousness. Almost instantly you'll know how bad it is - if you survive the first minute, then most of the sarin is broken down and you'll probably survive and improve rapidly. If you don't, then it's too late anyway (something to that effect, I'm not sure on exact times - it could take a few minutes to decide - but not tens of minutes - and then maybe a few hours to recover).

So I don't buy people exposed to sarin were trucked to this place, at the cave hospital on the east edge of Khan Sheykhoun, and were still laying in the mud and wiggling and gasping an hour or so later. (They say the attack was around 6:30-6:45 am, and these scenes seem to be a bit later, mostly between 7 and 8:30, by sunlight angles - see ACLOS section with handy list of shadow-length to time translations one can use to visually time a scene. The scene at right is probably around 8:00).

So they say some type of sarin appears in the people and soil tested, and that might be. If they find it's terrorist-grade, I predict they'll never announce the findings, and leave us guessing it was "the regime." But if they find it's pistine military-grade stuff or even matches Syria's formula - and they'll announce that - then we must note... while it shows up in the chosen samples, it was probably not in that foul-smelling, caustic yellow sarin cloud or anyone poisoned by it, or in anyone poisoned with something else - it probably wasn't in the children apparently executed by Islamist blades, or in the apparent fakers acting out a sarin story.

Basically, it almost seems it wasn't in this attack at all. But we don't know what there is and isn't - even if there's no outward sign, maybe a special batch of pure sarin was smuggled in and opened up on some people in a basement off camera. Maybe their supply was limited, so the killers placed it where it would be found, where it would matter in solidifying their new Assad CW myth.

Otherwise, so far, everything simply says impure terrorist sarin was used, if any was. Again, this could possibly be used by Syrian forces, but that's obviously "not a slam dunk" when terrorists have the same, and motive clearly favors them. As John Wight notes at Sputnik, "The Assad government has nothing to gain from launching chemical weapons attacks in Syria — and never more than now when it is winning the conflict, both on the ground and diplomatically. Indeed, launching such an attack now would be tantamount to insanity." 

But then, so would launching the 2013 Ghouta attack exactly a year after Obama first offered his "red line" threat/offer, and just a day after UN-OPCW "inspectors" had arrived next to the planned crime scene... The "Assad" of opposition myths like these has always been this insane, and always will be, as long as there are armed fanatics out there willing to realize and document his supposed evil plans.

Further Developments
Added 4/20: UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said the other day
"We know from shell fragments in the crater that sarin had not only been used, but that it was sarin carrying the specific chemical signature of sarin used by the Assad regime. Given that samples from the victims show conclusively that they had been exposed to sarin gas, there is only one conclusion to be reached: that the Assad regime almost certainly gassed its own people, in breach of international law and the rules of war." 
This confirms what I said - biological samples only shows it was sarin, or in fact only that it's that "or a sarin-like substance" (as reiterated by the OPCW chief), while environmental samples show the chemical "signature" identifying a specific type or formula. In our discussion at ACLOS, Pmr9 notes this is presumably based on tests by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), and postulates three explanations. It's possible this is pure fiction, or that the match is with Syria's surrendered stocks, as taken away by the USS Cape May. But in either case, Johnson would likely say it matched that known profile most clearly implicating Syria (but again, not with certainty, as explained above).

Instead, he calls it a kind they've used. This would include what are in fact several terrorists uses of impure sarin, since March, 2013, falsely blamed on Syrian forces, even though they're the targets half he time. The DSTL probably matched the Khan Sheikhoun samples to the samples from the Ghouta attack of August 21, 2013. But evidence suggests that never did match with Syria's stocks. And, as noted above, the event has massive indicators of being a false-flag massacre carried out on hundreds of hostages. That's a pitfall of relying on prior allegations ...

Add 4-24: David Habakkuk asks UK officials for clarification on this question at Pat Lang's blog, Sic Semper Tyranis. About the questions raised here, put carefully, alongside a more vague gist of the implications.  Recalling the first reports on coming tests explained "samples" taken by spooks from "the Syrian military stockpile when it was withdrawn from the country in late 2013" had "are known to have particular properties" scientists would look for. If they found that match, they're being just as unclear about it as they were after the Ghouta attack.
 It may be an exact match to the Ghouta samples, from the same big batch of sarin, widely used for four years now. But quite likely, it's just a similar type with some of the same impurities - it might have a yellowish color, smell horrible, and burn the eyes - this we already heard from the witnesses.  So, Boris seems to be saying ... this is Ghouta 2.0, as it was already seeming to us. (Denis O'Brien (Pierpont) at ACLOS noted early on: "Khan Sheikhoun looks like Ghouta II to me," and it keeps looking that way.)

Add 4-23: Speak of the devil, Denis O'Brien weighed in with LogoPhere's Top Ten Ways to Tell When You're Being Spoofed by False-Flag Sarin Attacks and I didn't notice it. With a PhD in neuropharmacology, a good B.S. detector and his engaging and irreverent tone, this is awesome - an exploration of science vs. images, showing what's wrong with the alleged sarin victims of April 4, as far as we've seen. He clarifies that foaming at the mouth is actually a bit of an anti-symptom (victims can't breathe enough to really bubble up that mucous). He cites the old baking soda and Pepsi trick to cause "foaming at the mouth" of a kind we see. Here's my favorite example of an alleged sarin victim from the April 4 attack.

He might overstate the universality of cyanosis or other signs (as a comment points out, low-dose victims or those who die instantly may not display all the signs clear enough to see). But I agree (as less of an expert) he's right that people struggling with a serious dose after a minute or two will not possibly be a healthy pink, but pale or turning to blue.

O'Brien helps re-cast Dr. Shajul Islam's video showing the obvious signs of sarin poisoning - he's no expert. He puts the spotlight on a patient's eye to show a constricted pupil, but that's not even miosis if the bright light is causing it. O'Brien adds that we see no tears in this eye - it even seems abnormally dry. Miosis is just the M in SLUDGEM, and the L is lachrymation, profuse tear production. So this likely proves a non-sarin cause - just the flashlight he uses to show it, or perhaps an alternate drug that causes miosis but not profuse tearing.

Also noting on that eye: no redness to suggest irritation (this is reported as a first sign), but possible yellow-brown discoloration on the right side, (some iris distortion?) and dried yellow-brown crud in the tear duct corner (the gas is said to be yellow, and secretions yellow-to-brown) - mixed signs, no theory at the moment.

4-23: Autopsy Results (see ACLOS) suggest a problem consistent with everything above: the victims who tested positive for sarin or similar also suffered serious lung damage, leading to edema and suffocation. Sarin doesn't do this in itself, and is likely to kill a victim before anything else could cause this much damage (in a serious case, it makes breathing work poorly, then usually stops it in a swift death). So maybe this is very impure sarin that burns like hell before reaching the fatal point, or a primary poison used in addition to the token sarin, or sarin-like substance. For simplicity alone I'll guess it's all one thing, very nasty impure sarin. That's not something you casually waste. It would be administered efficiently in some enclosed space (gas chamber).

4-24: Dr. Theodore Postol, who helped debunk the 2013 Ghouta attack claims, has been very active on this case. His most recent piece (TruthDig) fixes a basic error (wind direction backwards, as ACLOS noted) in the last piece. The directions he now gives may not be exact, but they seem at least pretty close to what videos show at attack time, moderate breeze from east-to-west.
(add 4-17: Any visual reading will trump the predictive models he cited ... it was to the east, and somewhat to the north by video)

I didn't read this all yet, but noted the part with a dead goat next to a frayed rope some meters east of the white house crater - presumably a stray dragging his or her chewed rope. Postol notes the animal would be upwind and probably immune if stationary or, if mobile, would have died from the sarin too quickly to walk this far, "as the sarin dose within the plume would have killed it very quickly."

He also notes foam from its nose and mouth, and I'll note that's pink with blood. As O'Brien explains and I pretty much agree, strong sarin exposure will prevent foaming by preventing functional breath. But a lower dose might allow it. And blood means irritants. So I'd guess, like I have, a weak improvised sarin (or sarin-like substance...) with high caustic impurities, that burns like hell and suffocates animals with edema before the fatal sarin level is even reached. That's time to wander upwind before keeling over. This matches findings in Turkey (lung damage) and reports that it was yellow, smelled disgusting, and burned the eyes and lungs. (however, the bloody foam from has no sign of a yellow color, as reported - or, I'll have to look closer - I've seen this goat before but, like many things, haven't had time to study it yet)

Add 4/26: Now France, more clearly than anyone, affirms what I've been saying here, and it seems everyone is. The Independent reports French Foreign affairs minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said they know Syria did this, with a "singature" sarin  "because we kept samples from previous attacks that we were able to use for comparison," not because it matches the stuff Syria surrendered. That means it doesn't, like the Ghouta sarin never did, and this matches that in not matching Syria's. As Petri Krohn and I and others explain here at ACLOS, "The French statement reveals the circular reasoning behind the allegations. The samples are similar to those from the Ghouta CW attack in 2013." (4:27: Though actually they cite an earlier CW attack that was always equally dubious)

And here are some victims said to be of this attack, by the Syrian-American Medical Society (via ACLOS). Military-grade sarin does not cause blooding from the nose. Bleeding from the nose and not the mouth can be caused by an unseen head wound. It could also be caused by caustic gas, with no blood out the mouth for some reason. The girl also seems to have purple lips, a rare glimpse of apparent cyanosis, but with signs that contra-indicate sarin. No eye damage to suggest chlorine or the like. The woman has swollen lips, but they don't seem irritated, and has possible white residue around the eyes. But no serious blood to suggest head wounds either ... As I note, they might have had their clothes changed after death (see dust on the girl's palm - as if crawling in the dirt - but clothes are all clean).

Anyway, it's all a clear indicator of known regime process signatures and blah blah accountability blah blah.