Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monitor Mahmoud Unravels the Quds1 Sarin-Chlorine Serial Murder Plot

Idlib Chemical Massacre
Monitor Mahmoud Unravels the Quds1 Sarin-Chlorine Serial Murder Plot
September 25, 2017 
(rough, incomplete)
last edits Sept. 28

Accounts agree no chemical attack was expected. Spotters reported jets approaching, and they expected bombs. But rescuers, activists, and locals alike were surprised to learn - from the noxious fog, from people falling down and foaming at the mouth - that dastardly Assad snuck this in on them. Some rescuers report having to run back for their gas masks, slowing response time, etc.

Interestingly,  in other reports the early warning spotter knew from the start this would be a chemical attack, and reportedly issued warnings to this effect just as the jets took off. Informed parties should have been warned some 10-12 minutes in advance. Maybe they were and it just didn't get through? Either way, this warning is worth a closer look. (hat-tip: Richard P, comments under this Bellingcat piece)

UN Commision of Inquiry report of August 8 notes
On the morning of 4 April, the sky was clear. At 6.26 a.m., early warning observers reported that two Sukhoi 22 (Su-22) aircraft had taken off from Shayrat airbase, at least one of which was heading in the direction of Khan Shaykhun.

One report found by Qoppa999, citing a New York Times report:

This New York Post report contains more detail:
“Quds 1, guys he has chemicals, he has chemicals." Huh.

Who is this monitor with that hunch? And what is the hunch based on? And what else can he tell us about his hunches or information on the mechanics of this evil plot? Here's a video with more detail, apparently from the horse's mouth.
Testimony of aircraft monitor regarding the Khan Sheikhoun massacre.

The interviewee is named Mahmoud Al-Hasna, - compare Hussam vs. Mahmoud - last name Hasna (Hasana) misread as first name Hussam?  Or even a thin pseudonym? Or is Hussam a reference to Hussam Salloum, another "volunteer with an air raid warning service", who was on a hill north of Khan Sheikhoun, where he says he watched the jet attack and a thick white cloud of fog he filmed. (Reuters, and thanks Andrew) Nothing about him suggests he should be the Hussam with the above prediction.  That Hussam and this Mahmoud have accounts and thoughts so similar, we should presume it's all one guy.  Note he's not al-Qaeda-looking, with his beard kept really short, or "just growing in" in that way that's almost universal for Syria-based Islamists that are put in front of cameras for outside consumption ("activists" - so he IS a likely Al-Qaeda guy by appearance).

He's described as "an aircraft monitor at the opposition observation post in the southern Idlib countryside" who observed and followed  two Syrian SU-22 fighter jets taking off from Shayrat airfield (way down in Homs province) that morning. So his location might be misreported here. As cited in a Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) report, he visually observed the jets and their markings on the runway (with a telescope, perhaps).

But as the only source to give much detail let's consider what this perceptive fella deduced, compared with what the presumably same guy said in the other two versions at hand.

Telling Conditions?
As Al-Hasna says, the time of takeoff, around 6:26 or 6:27, was not interesting; "jets armed with cluster bombs, etc. can take off at any time." Well, other than at night. All Syrian jets have to wait until daylight to see what they're doing.  He doesn't mention when the first post-dawn surveillance flights of the day would take off. Sunrise was about 6:15 that day, but he would probably agree this is a good time for that as well. 

More important was "the weather that morning was calm. There was no wind at all. The humidity was low to the ground."  And as he explains, Syrian jets don't usually take off "at such a time and in these conditions." I don't think that has any basis in fact, but I'm no expert who can prove it. There might be concern about fog. This, he might say, would rule out any mundane attack flight or any routine reconnaissance flight. Only something truly special is worth taking off when there's no wind and some mist.

The cold weather and low moisture (tendency for fog) is is ideal for sarin dispersal, and "no wind" can go either way  - the right wind can help spread it, but too much can spread it too thin to do much good. But an alleged lack of wind (in Khan Sheikhoun) became important for the reported spread there. But he seems to mean conditions at the airport - takeoff conditions. He also claims to have no idea Khan Sheikhoun would be the target (1:57 "we didn't think they were going to strikeKhan Sheikhoun..."). So he'd have no reason to know the weather there and use that as the guide to understanding the mission.

Or, is that what he means anyway? SNHR report: Mahmoud told us that he was surprised by the warplanes that took off from al Shayrat Air-base  at  such  an  early  time ... “I suspected that the warplanes was carrying poison gases, because it took off at an early time when the weather is calm and suitable for bombing poison gases, where it would be easy for the warplane to strike its target at a time like this." In fact, as he explains in In the NYP piece,“The air is still, and this warplane doesn’t take off at this time unless it is loaded with something dangerous, poisonous materials.

A jet won't take off IN those conditions, unless they're going to drop a chemical bomb ... somewhere else, you'd think, where the conditions are ... presumably unknown. So what the hell is he talking about here?

So the jets taking off despite the lack of wind and tendency to fog - somewhere - raised his suspicions and "so I wondered whether they might be carrying chemical substances." The "so" makes it seem like this was the reason for his hunch. But then he shifts to note it's because he knew that one jet is the same one that had been blamed for another alleged chemical attack a week earlier. Let's turn to that now.

Really, why he knew, was "because one of the warplanes that took off this morning" (fidgets with a knob on a device) "is the same as the one that carried out an attack about a week ago on a hospital in the northern Hama countryside, killing a doctor and causing many injuries. It was the same warplane. So I thought that the plane might be carrying chemical substances. We started sending out notifications, assuming the planes were headed to attack the front lines."

As noted above, the spotter apparently heard the call-sign Quds1, and repeated that in his warning. That would mean he was listening in on open, un-encrypted audio communications, or had the tools to break the encryption. This is possible, depending on many details I don't know, but is also a bit dubious. Some skepticism about that implication is aired in responses in this Twitter thread.

However, as the SNHR report notes, it was a visual pick of the markings on the jet itself (so he must have been very close, or had other sources):
Mahmoud  al  Hasna,  who  works  at  one  of  the  armed  opposition’s  observatories,  told  us that he observed on the morning of April 4, 2017 two Su-22 warplanes being prepped in al Shayrat Military Airbase in Homs suburbs. One of the two warplanes had the symbol “Quds-1” written over it, while the other reads “Quds-6”.

Aircraft spotters
At 3:26 am (6:26 am local time), ground observers working with an organisation of spotters reported that a Su-22 called Quds 1 — the Su-22 fleet’s squadron commander — took off from its airbase in Homs. The spotters say it is significant if the commander conducts the sortie, as they associate the pilot and his aircraft with other alleged chemical attacks in Syria. Not much later, they report that another aircraft, Quds 6, has also taken off from the base. 
Orient News claimed in an article that “a number of field, independent and even Syrian Civil Defense observatories in the countryside of Idlib and Hama” stated that “colonel pilot, Muhammad Yousef Hasouri […] the commander of the Sukhoi 22 Squadron at al-Sha’yrat airport” is responsible for the Khan Sheikhoun attack.
Orient News further writes that Col. Hasouri’s Su-22 carries the Quds 1 banner, and says he hails from Talkalakh town, but currently resides with his family in the “Al-Sakan Al-Shababy” neighbourhood in Homs city.
Zaman Al-Wasl finds out Hasouri is an Alawite, "one of the biggest war criminals in Syria," responsible for "more than 3,500 raids, mostly in Aleppo, and enjoyed suspiciously quick promotion.

Some note how Hasouri was publicly praised for destroying a terrorist weapons depot in Khan Sheikhoun, but less note that it was done under a different name - half-false, they think, to conceal his identity - in the public ceremony they could have just not done.

Gen. Mohammed Hasouri was congratulated by the Syrian chief of staff, Gen. Ali Abdullah Ayoub, for “destroying al Qaeda’s weapons facilities in Khan Sheikhoun,” the Times of London reported.
An image of the two men was tweeted by Fares Shehabi, a high-level parliament member in strongman Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Shehabi named the pilot “Gen. Haytham Hasouri,” but former Syrian air force Brig. Ahmad Rahal told The Times that the pilot had likely been given a false first name to try to conceal his identity.
Rahal identified the pilot as Mohammed Hasouri from Talkalakh near the Lebanese border, an Alawite member of the Shia Muslim sect that ranks prominently in Assad’s brutal regime.
Or maybe Shehabi just got the name wrong in his tweet, and maybe that, or concern for Hasouri's safety, and not guilty conscience, is why he deleted the message.

Following on the pilot's supposed public ID and details, there were reports that General Hasouri had been assassinated. The reports were refuted. I haven't looked into it.

As for his prior mission ... Al-Hasna sems to conflate two preceding attacks - March 25, on a cave hospital in Latamnah vs. March 30 in the same town. These will be considered in a little detail below, as they tie in with the Khan Sheikhoun attack to interesting effect. He also might be conflating jets: the SNHR heard the same confusion of attacks, but also explains:
"Mahmoud told us that he was surprised by the warplanes that took off from al Shayrat Air-base  at  such  an  early  time,  considering  that  he  monitored  the  warplane  with  the  symbol  Quds-6 taking off at a similar time before in late-March and targeting a hospital in Hama  suburbs with poison gases at that time."
This could be another genuine contradiction. But knowing the SNHR's mixed record on accuracy and attention to detail, it could be just an error, and they were told it was Quds 1, like he says elsewhere.

Tracking the Attack
Back to the narrative: So the architect of the Latamnah hospital attack was airborne, on a strangely calm morning, and monitor Mahmoud Al-Hasna was worried.

As he followed, with some kind of radar tracking (or just listening to other observations and/or the pilot's transmissions?) he watched like a movie as they flew north, and one jet conducted two strikes in west Hama countryside. By the radar track, that's possible.

That jet "then moved from the west to the Khan Sheikhoun area"and (flying east, or maybe after a turn he doesn't mention?), this first attack jet "dropped its munitions" on the city. (I don't think he specifies the number of bombs: 3? 4?) The pilot called in job completed and returned to base. By the radar track compared to the known impact spots, that's not possible.

Apparently this first pass caused all the explosive blasts at the dark blue dots below labeled blasts #1-3. The nearest jet pass is shown in red, running west-to-east like he says, way south of all targets. Bomb sites damage suggests projectiles from the north were to blame, and a north-south path is the best way to connect them into one pass. Mr. Al-Hasna and everyone else blames gravity bombs dropped from right above. The truth makes sense, and this does not.

SNHR: The Quds-1 launched the chemical attack "while  the  Quds-6  warplane  carried  out multiple airstrikes in the vicinity of Khan Sheikhoun to cover the airstrikes of  Quds-1.” (What "cover" means here is unclear) This would be the second jet that came (direction unspecified) and "dropped its munitions all in one raid." This was four bombs, he heard, and all chemical type.

Most other sources specify it was the first jet, not the second, that dropped the single sarin bomb. Monitor Mahmoud disagrees on the order and the quantity. He does however agree in this with Abdelhamid Al-Yousef, star witness: he says explosive bombs were dropped first, then the second pass dropped two chemical bombs (not four, but not one). This reads like two different scripts, one cited in two different versions by select insiders, and another of which won the day for the public face of things. When they conflict, at the least one should ask "who's right here, and why isn't everyone?"

Mahmoud has the first attack coming from the west, which sort-of fits the radar tracks - but HRW's witnesses described attacks on a pass from the EAST, and the best fit for the conventional bombs would be a north-south axis.

Almost any path could explain a single sarin drop at the crater, but not Mahmoud's unspecified 4 chemical bomb raid. A curving north-south path could explain my 4 possible release points (see below), but I already gave reasons why I don't think that can be simple bomb at at least two of the sites - more like large area fumigators or fog machines left running for 20 minutes.

Sarin-Chlorine Attack?
It's interesting how monitor Mahmoud thinks "the second jet alone had "four bombs carrying the chemical substances sarin and chlorine. It dropped everything over the Khan Sheikhoun area" General area? One spot matters most - that northernmost blue dot. Was this jet the one on the red path then, closest to the bakery crater? Or is this the other pass even further south of Khan Sheikhoun? Or a path that somehow didn't appear on radar, even as a gap where it dropped below coverage? There's no good answer there.

How does he know how many chemical bombs there were, and what chemicals were in them? This probably wouldn't be talked about in communications, and if it were, he'd probably tell us about that, or even play it. This must be some externally gathered information, presumably from after the attack.

But no sources I know of claim there were four chemical bombs. As noted, Abdelhamid agrees on the chems-later sequence, and on in it being multiple bombs (but just two, he says, not four) But he might be onto something. I think I see 2, 3, or 4 fake sarin release points across town, but no one talks about that. (mapped at right: the red spots, with a possible fourth plume at the ? label - see here) In every other version, they say one bomb with just sarin was dropped near the bakery and grain silos (northernmost red dot).

A few say chlorine was involved, or describe its smell (which in addition to this is enough to make you wonder).  Others describe instead a strange, foul, rotten odor, or no smell. Caustic effects (burning of eyes and lungs) is reported, consistent with chlorine or many things, like phosgene, or the caustic sarin used in Khan al-Assal in March, 2013.

But to claim chlorine and sarin both were used is quite a bad gaffe. Both poisons can harm and kill on their own, but they just do not mix to deadly effect - they would cancel each other out.  As Charles Wood notes "Of course the preferred way to destroy Sarin is Chlorine in water." Mattias Dahlstrom agrees: "Applying hypochlorite solution standard procedure in chemical weapon" incidents - citing a report from 1955, when that discovery was new.I've heard the same around - these were the handiest comments.

To give the benefit of the doubt, let's say he didn't mean each bomb contained enough of the poisons to cancel each other out. Maybe he meant one sarin bomb and 3 chlorine bombs, to be dropped in different spots. That could work to some extent, depending on the unclear details. But if this had happened, we'd probably see clearer indications of it.

But it's not just Mahmoud's gaffe - his version of the chemical bombs fits right into a pattern in recent attacks that's worth looking at for a moment.

In 2013 were the alleged sarin attacks tugging on Obama's "red line," crashing into massive failure with the Ghouta incident in August. After giving up their CW stocks and taking a break, the "regime" turned to chlorine, killing this way on a small scale from April 2014 to March, 2017. April 4 would seem to mark the re-emergence of sarin, but there were preludes, an emergent pattern of foreshadowing and confusing overlap.

As noted, some conflation between the 3-25 and 3-30 attacks, so here's a brief delineation:
(for more detail, in time, see new ACLOS page on all these)

March 25:
HRW heard 2+ bombs dropped from a helicopter around 3pm - one blew up 50m from the cave hospital entrance, and then the chlorine tank - somewhat implausibly - punched through the reinforced concrete roof of the dug-in hospital and filled the place with the familiar chlorine gas. There were two reported deaths, a doctor and a boy he was operating on - HRW and others add a first responder, for 3 killed.

I did some analysis here... Dr. Darwish didn't show chlorine signs, as I noted, but what about sarin? In retrospect, it's interesting that the well-connected (to terrorist plots) Dr. Shajul Islam claimed this attack was by chlorine, and by sarin, in the same tweet. (via Qoppa999 shortcut)
"we think its sarin." In the video shown, he says chlorine, like everyone else.
At the time I chalked that up to a fake-slip (like: "chlorine is so horrible, it's the new sarin, so I called it that") But maybe he knew something about the nerve agent trying to re-emerge.

I think someone later found that sarin might've been used here ... but maybe I was mixing up a March 30 report. UN CoI report, point 64: - chlorine, with usual cleaning products smell, barrel bomb, helicopter - no mention of sarin. The same from early Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) report noting the loss of their Dr. Ali Darwish.

So how did his jet pilot Quds1 get pegged for flying that mission? Does he fly helicopters sometimes and jets other times? Apparently, it's a mix-up with the case below - he put 3-25's victims with 3-30's attack details for a single fictional event "about a week ago." Or at least, that's the fairest presumption. It's not encouraging that he should be this vague about events so central to his important hunch. Does he know these local and recent events, or not?

March 30:
SAMS - barrel bombs are blamed (suggests helicopter). But: "these barrel bombs, in addition to containing the identifiable chlorine gas, were suspected to contain other toxic agents based on the symptoms: pinpoint pupils, convulsions..." (via Qoppa999) This is the bad claim I didn't attribute to Mahmoud. But the medical experts at Syrian American Medical Society showed their true colors and claim it: sarin-chlorine barrel bombs were dropped on farm workers.

The UN's CoI settles on a different version. point 69: an unidentified jet warplane dropped two bombs around 6:30 am - the first released a chemical with no particular smell, causing sarin-consistent symptoms and secondary contamination. The second caused a blast. Point 70 expands on this, concluding this was a sarin-type attack, not a chlorine type one. HRW findings same: there was a faint, non-described smell, and powerful effects more like sarin. Yet no one died, of a reported 169 who required medical treatment. NYP: "Latamineh — 15 miles from the rebel-held town — was hit March 30 by a missile filled with what appeared to be a chemical agent, causing about 70 people to experience spasms and foaming at the mouth." Missile means jet, not a helicopter.
SNHR report: "[Al-Hasna] monitored  the  warplane  with  the  symbol  Quds-6 taking off at a similar time before in late-March and targeting a hospital in Hama suburbs with poison gases at that time." That's a similar time to the 6:26 takeoff on April 4. A jet at dawn means this attack, not the hospital one, done in the afternoon with a helicopter.

April 3, Habit: “The  symptoms  are  completely  different  from  the  ones  caused  by  the  chlorine  gas, which we bombed with multiple times before; most recently in al Habeit town 12 hours before this massacre" Indeed there was a reported chlorine attack in nearby Habit just before this, which I had forgotten about.  (details...) After this last reminder, ... 

April 4: 
Launched by jets at 6:45 am, Initially reported by some as chlorine attack, medics claiming to smell chlorine, and witnesses describing a similar-color fog (though that was reported to have a different odor - foul, strange, disgusting). But the high death toll is inconsistent, and sarin emerged as the main poison, according to tested samples. The observed symptoms are a bit varied and unclear, and at least occasionally fake, but... neither sarin nor chlorine is well suggested. Victims "treated" mainly at a cave hospital, which was damaged (allegedly bombed) several hours later. A family hiding in a cave was found dead from the sarin on the following day.

Prelude in December?
December 12 jet-launched sarin attack at 7am, killed 30+, maybe about 100 Russian forces were blamed in first reports, but now everyone agrees it was a Syrian attack. This still deserves more study - HRW report heard it was 2 attacks, on December 11 and 12, killing 64 between them. - most of them among civilians hiding out in two caves after the sarin bomb was dropped near them. ... symptoms include breathing difficulties, red eyes, swollen face, coughing blood, and dilated pupils (sarin causes the opposite), as well as constricted pupils (HRW notes the conflict), unconsciousness, hallucinations, and saying weird things.
"The witnesses differed in their description of the odor at the sites and whether there was any visible smoke. Some said that they saw yellow or white smoke, but others did not. Some also said that there was a strong odor, although they could not describe it, while others said that they could not detect any. All said that they saw dead animals such as cattle and cats after the attack."
(this means: it was their sarin - SUPPOSED to be invisible and odorless but isn't. Sarin has been claimed. One wonders if the notorious "Quds1" headed that mission. No chlorine link noted in those Hama attacks, but there were two final chlorine attacks reported in the same area of East Aleppo on December 9 and 12.

Pattern Overview:
These strange December preludes, then two immediate preludes, then KS, for the following details in this extended transitional period:
- 12-11/12: jet-sarin (x2) 7:30 am - 64+ dead, hundreds affected
- 3-25: helicopter-barrel bomb-chlorine (or chlorine-sarin?) 3pm  - 3 dead, dozens affected
- 3-30: jet-missile-sarin (or helicopter-barrel-bomb-chlorine-sarin?) 6:30am - 0 dead, 170 effected
- 4/3: helicopter-bomb-chlorine, late PM - 0 to a few displaced people killed - a few miles and about 12 hours later...
- 4-4: jet-bomb-sarin (or jet-bombs-chlorine-sarin?), 6:45 am - with more sarin mixed in and about 100 dead, 500 affected.

What a sneaky plan to shift the focus and sneak sarin back in... without anyone noticing! Or?

Some notable parallels in this: chlorine-sarin transition, civilian targets, cave hospitals and civilians in caves targeted (as core event 12-12 and 3-25, as a follow-up on 4-4) - displaced people faring the worst - explosive bombs and chemical bombs used in sequence for no clear reason - same locale and dominant armed groups, aside from the December attacks - these and things like Shajul Islam's "slip" all suggest, if faintly, that these events are all part of the same terrorist propaganda push to re-establish the "Assad's Sarin" menace from the ashes of their failed chlorine regime. 

My overall impression of Monitor Mahmoud
As he followed this, Mr. Al-Hasna says he thought they were "going to gas the front lines" - he "didn't think they were going to strike Khan Sheikhoun," where there was no fighting, "where everyone would be sleeping in their homes, women and children, all sleeping."

To me, this is conspicuous show of naivity. I mean, his precedent is a supposed chemical attack on a hospital, but he honestly decided they must have switched strategies and would engage actual fighters this time? C'mon, this is the babykilling regime! That he would make such a point suggests he's playing innocent here. That could suggest he's party to a guilty conscience from being involved in this operation, and that they're all told to talk like this.  ("we couldn't imagine Assad would go gas innocents - we're shocked - it's not surprising - he's been doing it for years and we're endlessly shocked - where is the world community?")

In the SNHR report, he's quoted saying "After the airstrikes, I notified the Civil Defense centers to head for the bombed site," and good thing he did! People needed help over there. "I learned that a number of Civil Defense lost consciousness after they arrived at the scene,” apparently not prepared for any toxic gas (if only they'd been warned!). So he got some quick but confirmation that his strange hunch was totally correct.

Giving details for an attack that has so many problems we can almost say it just didn't happen - the implausible chemical claims - the adherence to a sidelined version with multiple chemical bombs after conventional ones - conspicuously playing naive and innocent, yet perceptive enough to pick the clues for the fake attack out of completely irrelevant points that might have been impossible to pick up on anyway - etc. For these reasons, we must doubt his "testimony" and wonder what really happened that he has to go making false claims like these.

I think he knew a false-flag chemical attack was coming at dawn, and would be pinned on those recon jets. He wanted to sow, or was tasked with sowing, an early record that could help others discern the right script to follow ("regime CW response mode, guys!"), and be cited by investigators as a sign of how obvious this Assad crime must be. ("That fine man knew it from minute one! Who are we to second-guess him?"). And so he thought up reasons to decide why he had announced that. There weren't may good ones to choose from, and we get this sorry slop.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Saving the Khaled Family

Idlib Chemical Massacre
Saving the Khaled Family
September 24, 2017
(rough, incomplete) 
last edits 9/26

A Troubling Story in Three Images
Three particular photos, examined in chronological order, paint a picture that raises yet more question over the alleged sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun back in April. These include perhaps our earliest view of the first victims brought in to Al-Rahma cave "hospital," a base for Idlib Civil Defense (aka White Helmets). The rudimentary hospital was recently-built, dug-in to the limestone hillside (to protect against alleged airstrikes). There are reasonably-equipped medical spaces inside, but the place is apparently not even connected to the city's water and electrical supply. It's remote, but not terribly far, from the alleged attack site.

Here, victims are laid in the dirt lot, as a sort of triage area, you'd think. But the whole scene lacks medical equipment, even more than it lacks protective gear against the deadly sarin nerve agent they claim. Just hoses with water are seen, and the immobilized victims are relentlessly hosed down in the mud. There's little point to this if they're dead - presumably these are paralyzed people being washed for safety before they're taken inside the hospital for treatment. But it's not clear if any of these people was ever taken inside and treated, and as we'll see, this batch of victims definitely wasn't.

First noted in a rough graphic
thanks to Qoppa999 noticing the turck's odd 77W markings, spurring me to look closer.
Times are by solar angle, estimated, with current estimates fair but inexact. I hope to get more exact readings added soon. Times cited in that first graphic are not all correct.

Image 1 (ACLOS): Around 7:20-7:30 am (This is the hardest of the three to time by the good method I used - I've earlier declared 7:10, but that was apparently off by a bit - see below)

Here about 35-50 minutes after the alleged sarin drop (at app.6:37 am), we get this early view of men in the foreground, women and children mixed into the larger group further off. You should think they had been recently unloaded from those two white trucks - Hyundai super-Porter H-100, sides lowered for unloading.

We don't get to see what kind of protection was used when unloading them, let alone when first loading them. Nor do we see where that loading happen. We don't see that anywhere, possibly because they were all loaded from a few centralized gas chambers.We were told these folks were asleep in bed when the attack happened, and then they managed to get dressed in street clothes but mostly with no shoes, as we see, before rescuers found them. But clearly, that may not be true. (Or did the rescuers take the time to remove everyone's shoes first thing, as super-contaminated? Did they bother wearing gloves?)

Image 2 (ACLOS): about 5-7 minutes later (7:25-7:35?)

Here the group with women and children is seen better from closer-up. Little has changed, but it's only been a few minutes. Note the four children in the middle in distinct colors, perhaps two more older children to the right and left.

One strange thing here is the purple color in the insides of the woman's legs nearest to us, with other unusual colors on the skin. This could be bruising and some other abuse one would probably call torture, or some strange coincidences I'm not imagining yet. Legs might be swollen, misshapen. If that's damage, it was probably done prior to these socks being put on her.
Clothes can be strange like this (see comments). Possible deformation could be from the same pixel distortion.

Image 3 (ACLOS): Around 7:55-8:05?

Here we see the same victims being put back onto what's probably the same nearest truck - after laying there around 40 minutes, they're going to be taken somewhere else, apparently - to save them? Bodies are loaded with bare hands, but that may not matter after so much hosing, some 80 minutes after alleged sarin release. But this might be implausible, especially as they're still in those street clothes. I for one can't say for sure. Just for good measure, the White Helmets guy is hosing them down again, to make them safer-yet for the next handlers ...

The truck's sides are now raised, and we can see its interesting markings - 77W in gold or silver (reflective - color might be the mud) - red outline - the small overwriting  between that looks like a dash (that usually seems to say Daio - meaning unclear) is also reflective and outlined in red.  This scheme is otherwise unseen in dozens of identified W77/77W trucks - white, immaculately clean by usual standards, small cab with no cargo space behind the seat, no rear side window - unusual mirror decals - Allah written big across the windshield, wings added to the big H. - it seems special - why was it out gathering the earliest victims, who got such helpful treatment? (Another White Porter here has sides down but never seen up, is also extra clean, but has less distinguishing features)

To be clear these are the same victims - the four children at least are rather distinct. Below, details from second and third images above, and a later appearance of the same people in the same truck.

Seeing the same people on the truck then off, one would think this was the unloading - but with the sequence visually set, it's clear how strange this is. (below: the oldest girl in blue has been loaded, the other kids remain). That should likely be their mother they're laying on top of.
It should be noted that in this and all views, it's not really clear if these people are dead, unconscious, or just deeply paralyzed. What is clear is that no one at this place seems to know or care, or do anything much to help them.

Another view is after 2 more of these have been loaded, just the girl in red still left off, one sidewall on the truck bed raised) Dealing with deadly sarin that most often kills instantly or within minutes - they hose the people off for 40+ minutes, then take them ... where? 

The Victims: Anas Al-Khaled Family 
Qoppa999 on Twitter, as usual, is pretty on the ball in this case. tweet: "The man on the truck is probably their father Anas al-Khaled."

tweet: I wasn't sure as he has no distinctive look - but I think the synopsis allows to make a call. (Plus, he's seen in company of his daughters.)

Al-Khaled family of 6: A VDC query includes these among others: Anas Mostafa al-Khaled, three girls, one boy (those with Anas as middle name).  Not included there: wife  Fatima Mohammad al-Sousi (see notes)

A report by JFL/STJ (Justice for Life Obsevatory in Deir Ezzour, Syrians for Truth and Justice) identifies them with matches to the later images (as gone over below), linkable to the earlier images.
(JFL download page: http://jfl.ngo/?p=4484) This  It lists the family as:
1-Anas Mostafa al-Khalid, 40, the father, an Arabic language teacher.
2-Fatema Mohamed as-Sousi, 35, the mother, an Arabic language teacher, too.
And children Shahad (14), Abdulrahman (2), Alaa (6), Khadija (8) These photos are credited to Osama al-Khalid, an alleged surviving family member.

Then they show "Mostafa Anas Mostafa al-Khalid, 13, in elementary school, eighth grade. He is the only surviving member of his family."
left: from JFL/STJ report, right: from a Facebook post
It is standard to name an oldest son, usually, after your dad (Anas' middle name) But still, these sole survivors who speak for everyone are always suspect of being inserted into the family for that reason. He's given interviews supporting the discredited story... and he doesn't seem to have been treated alongside the rest of his family, appearing clearly in none of the images of the *frantic effort* to save them. If he's really part of that family, one wonder how he got the special, unseen treatment avenue that made all the difference?

Sequence of appearance:
1) at Al-Rahma, app. 7:25, as we started. mud scenes, running about 40 minutes, then the  the re-loading of just the Khaled family, then...

Qoppa999 tweet: "I agree with the sequence.
But the next stop, as far as we know, is somewhere in town (yet unlocated), dead kid parade, bloody (AssiPress)."

2) ... then this scene (via Qoppa999 tweet):
... sun is fairly steep, probably 9am or later - location unclear. Family of 6 evident, no Mustafa.

3) Just the children are next seen mixed with others, in a different arrangement from that seen around 8am and above.  Maybe same truck with more added, or loaded into a different truck. This is an iconic dead children video, first published around 9am. It's never been timed, aside from prior to posting. (so the above should be earlier yet). Seems early, with no sun breaking on any of the kids, but it might somewhere parked in a shadow.

So Abdlurahman is the kid who tellingly has his head snapped around by an Islamist cameraman in a manner that says "face the camera, you piece of shit." (0:13) And Shahed is the one who seems to have her left eye slowly open after the cameraman brushes her chin. (0:16) That seemed to me like a sign of fakery, but maybe not. Otherwise, she seems dead and is among the dead. The JFL report's photo looks like the same girl dead. But in between ... see below.

Alternately, it's possible this is before the Al-Rahma scene, perhaps the same Porter they get slid off of into the mud. This would be interesting if so...

Three apparently later scenes, as found on Petri Krohn's valuable playlist
4) The Khaleds were somehow gotten into a White Helmets ambulance, unloaded from it in this video at a hospital in Maarat al-Numan, quite a ways to the north (the video title says it's there, and Andrew, I think, has geolocated it there). This hospital was reportedly bombed a couple days earlier (no damage is visible), and started out April 4 shut down. But due to the regime sarin attack, they opened their doors to accept patients and help verify the story.

This is around noon by the sun (my ROUGH readings tend to say ~65 to 70 degrees elevation, but noon was 12:38, 60.4 degrees at the highest, so it must be around then and my readings are more off than usual). They're rushed inside to save them here about five hours after they were first shown seeming to be dead - Also note Al-Rahma was allegedly being bombed at about this time.
top: Ana, Fatema's or Shahed's feet. Bottom: Fatema or Shahed carried away
The mother, or oldest daughter Shahed, but dressed different - a thin woman in lighter green and black - is unloaded with the same man, and likely same kids, but less clear without the clothes. If that's Fatema, Shahed is missing here. If that's Shahed, then she's had clothes changed, and hardly anyone lets us see Fatema clearly. That should be her leg above, I suppose, not that thin. (killed adult women are more often covered or somehow no shown at all)

5 Another video shows them taken back out of that hospital. Alaa/Alae (girl in yellow hair ties) carried by sad Islamist. Was all this frantic effort in vain? It didn't take long once here to get a death pronouncement. It's still around noon as he carries her down those steps. They start putting her back in the ambulance, then lay her with Shahed/Fatema and the other 2 kids.

6) later yet?
In this video, they're seen again in a different, decorated W77-style white Porter - window floral decals, extra "Hyundai" and flames. This one's bed is full of junk, and now these people. Anas is seen on the near side in a different view. The female in green - has her neck covered up? Same in the ambulance, but apparently not in the layout scene. So ...there is no neck wound to explain why her eyes don't pop open now, and why she needed a new shirt? Or what?

A photo (ACLOS) from this arrangement shows little Abdulrahman has had a catheter inserted into his right hand somewhere along the line. We can see it's there as he's carried out of the ambulance, but not any earlier that we see. The kid spent probably 45+ minutes dead in the mud, was trucked around in displays of the dead, then... had this medical procedure carried out? Would they do that? Sure, why not? We already see them rushing these same people into that hospital as if there were some emergency, suddenly, around noon.

Time Estimate in more detail
(rough, workspace, as needed)
was 7:10, 7:25, 8:00.
Better reading - 7:28 - higher angle, sees less ceiling , 7:34 lower angle, 8:08. 40 minute span.

But this is not quite it either. Graphics below (shown small - new window for larger view) - using NOAA solar calculator,
pin set to Khan Sheikhoun, date April 4, time zone +2, DST on. The green angles ... adjust?

added variable: azimuth - should make sun lower than it seems, increasing over time. The estimates above (no good if taken literally) are IF the sun was shining straight into this structure along its south wall (runs 84 on the compass?). Actual slopes will be shallower, running along the right line for their time. Some things beyond my immediate skill-sets. Asking for help, may try harder, and will come back to this.

Monday, September 18, 2017

CoI Report Dismantling at the Indicter

September 18, 2017
last edits Sept. 26

This post is to announce my second article at Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli's The Indicter and to comment, invite comments, etc.
Syria Sarin Allegation: How An UN-Panel Report Twists and Omits Evidence

This stuff sort-of writes itself, but it does take some careful reading, transcribing, and then formatting, collecting sources, etc. There were still a few typos when I got this in behind the hoped schedule, but it's damn close to a perfect piece - basically an improved re-write of my recent review here of the CoI's"meaningless" report. That was good, but I'm calling this, sure to be more widely seen, the Khan Sheikhoun debunk we need, after months of futile confusion mixed progress by the skeptic community.

I assembled this piece at the invitation of professor De Noli, and have the honor of sharing the September Issue with his firsthand account of the U.S.-backed September 11, 1973 coup d'etat in Chile and following repression. De Noli was photographed in detention near martyred regional governor Fernando Alvarez, but was far luckier, released to become an important witness and lifetime activist. He now runs the Indicter, and invited me back for a second article on Syria chemical weapons allegations. 

Points worth adding: 
White House radar track: Was not included IN the report, just published alongside it, and shown at a press conference (good resolution copy and some sources here at ACLOS).

We were lucky this time: This Khan Sheikhoun sarin attack case was exceptionally sloppy. Most allegations of massacres and so on that I've investigated fall apart to some degree, but few of them as badly as this important event. But then, it was the same with Ghouta - maybe it's the extra attention that turns up the best debunks. And the abundance of material to find clues in...

Anyway, still, we got a lucky break as investigators with their backwards wind reading, with their inability to get the jets above the spots they blew up, etc. In the future they could learn and improve, map the gas spread accurately, etc. and still they could be and probably would be re-packaging one of their sectarian massacres. If we can't even spot it when they fail this badly, what hope is there for securing any semblance of truth-based justice. Collectively, despite all the deliberate impediments to it, we need to get smarter than this.

More Fudging by OPCW: a problem I noticed too late to include - as the OPCW used this topographic map to show why sarin would flow SW from the origin spot, they did two serious things
1) as noted, exaggerate the relief to make slopes look steeper and more relevant. than they were
2) just now noticed: they misplaced the release point, if that's what the blue area is supposed to be. Rather it seems this is the bakery, a bit south of release point, which is right where that curving street meets the straight one.

The difference matters (or it would IF THERE WAS NO WIND, but there was...): From this wrong spot, it would flow sw like rebels need, IF the air was still as the OPCW wrongly decided. From the correct spot, more than likely it would all roll NW, especially if the OPCW's wind direction guess (mild to the NW) was right (it wasn't). Rather, it blew uphill, not as steep as it looks here, northeast (here: to the right and away), until it got too steep, and then I guess it would bend more north along the highway and into that (not so) dramatic gorge there.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Mystery of the W77 Trucks

The Mystery of the W77 Trucks September 10, 2017 
(rough, incomplete) 
updates 9/17, 12/9/10/15/17, ...

The "W77 trucks" is a mystery I've been meaning to do a post on. There's some speculation on what this occasional making means - the most straightforward guess is it's to allow some people to pass a certain way through Islamist-held areas and maybe across the Turkish border. This was first investigated in late April, 2016 2017, as one of these vehicles was used as the suicide bombing that killed around 100 Shia evacuees from Kafraya and Foua, on April 15, in Rashidin, Aleppo. The other places they turn up have a way of being interesting as well.

That early work was largely by (among whoever else) a few Twitter users, including Alex Ocana and John Delacour. The latter has blocked me from seeing his tweets, so I'll just cite Alex's here, and maybe miss a few points. All sightings I know of in approximate chronological order. Info and details may be added...
Note 9/11: I was unaware of a useful Bellingcat investigation published by Christiaan Triebert  August 2, that collects several other instances of blue Porters or W77 vehicles. This didn't seeming to make much of it, but noted "Bellingcat thinks the colour scheme as well as the W77/77W signature may be unresolved clues in this investigation," and invited collaboration. I'll be adding at least the relevant entries above.

* April 7, 2016, Handarat, Aleppo: AO tweet: "W77 again. Complete picture from Russian Agency 07.04.2016 - 19:57 Nusra at #Aleppo ’s Handarat." <add 9/10>Bellingcat's report thinks there's no Nusra presence there at this time - if so, it's from another time or another area. It's a Nusra-front black W77 truck.</end 12/10>

As noted, the W is slanted different than usual (or as would be usual later...). There must be separate W stencil done backwards here (it's a different W stencil, not just the same one backwards - and no small overwriting, as would become standard). Armed black pickup with Nusra flag is different in all those ways from what we'll see later, after an apparent pause of about a year (or so it seems at this early point). They emerge more heavily in the period after interest peaked in 2017, and people started looking for them in current material. There may be many missed passing by in videos from this span and before.

* <add 12/17>July 10, 2016 Abian Sam'an, Idlib: video - seen passing at 0:11, early-style W. Video description: "The military aircraft launched two air raids on the town of Abyan Samaan. Several civilians were killed and several wounded, including women and children. The Civil Defense team headed in the center of Qalli. The martyrs and the wounded were treated and the place was fully secured." Abian Sam'an on Wikimapia. It's near Janah, at the Aleppo Idlib border (see below, 3-16-17). Qalli = Killi to the west. <end 12/17>

* August 12, 2016: <add 12/10>LiveUA map has photos showing "humanitarian aid from Kuwait" arriving in rebel-held Aleppo on this day, seen being loaded onto a white Porter W77 truck for local distribution, and this is shown driving around. Banner will give charity details, FWIW, but this likely is just food aid. The given map location seems to be in Wadi Bsila? (southwest part of the city, south of Bustan al-Qasr).

<12/17>The same truck with same scratches, etc., working with the same charity, is seen in a 2017 uploaded video, claiming to be from 2016 (but undated),  helping delivering aid to Idlib village Deir Hassan. Dayr Hashshan on Wikimapia (Turkish border near Reyhanli)<end 12/17>

This has the same W style we'd see later, different from the April example; it's not just flipped - the left-hand strokes are heavier in both cases, but the earlier case slants left with the right-hand strokes being vertical, and the new version has fat left verticals and thin strokes slanting to the right. The mall writing overwritten in-between is new here, and clearly says clearly VAIO - in general, below, this has looked like DAIO, but on review, it all says the same VAIO. (meaning unknown) Unusual Kia motors tailgate, no other markings, no rear license plate.<end 12/10>

* <12/17>Saraqeb, November 2, 2016: Video, 0:33. "Sham Idlib Sarakeb martyrs and wounded raids targeting the main market" No sign of blast damage, but something bad has happened with fire, perhaps burning bodies, and a W77 water tanker helped put it out. <end 12/17>

* <12/17>Dec. 29, 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30dXCQFtnSw
0:57 pass W77? "Idlib people's views in 2016 and what they wish in the year"<end 12/17>

* February 25, 2017 <add 12/9>Date and story not clear, Via Andrew, comments, a re-posted video clip claiming Khan Sheikhoun - white Porter marked W77, but differently than usual, and with SUPER (not VAIO) overwritten. Also a different and fancier cage/rack style than usual. A likely decayed body fully wrapped is loaded. 2 other app. W77 trucks seen at end (white, blue with some overwriting) as a man cries. Looks like a desolate area like a limestone quarry where these people are being found. <end 12/9><add 12/10>The white truck's W is the same style seen in April 2016 and not since, with the left-hand side slanted. The blue truck has the newer right-slanting style.<end 12/10>
<12-15>Andrew has the link (see comments): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pszb5pyooo
Feb. 25, 2017 Assi press video The massacre of reservoirs in Khan Shaykhoun
The story as reported (as I recall) was moderate Islamist fighters massacred by extremist Islamists.
The latter were being chased out, but first killed some captives and dumped them in fuel storage pits south of Khan Sheikhoun. They almost look like government soldiers, in fairly uniform and camouflage clothing. Badly decayed, suspicious amounts of grief displayed. I don't trust that story, obviously. The white truck on the right above is not marked, but there are those two shown, plus: 0:06 and I think at 3:52 a white truck: mud covers it but there should be a W77 marking: the back side window has the floral design these tend to have. 2:15 unclear order, but app. 77W in black on a white Porter truck (or is that too far forward?). Some other vehicles, including a White Helmets van (unmarked) are helping carry away these bodies. <end 12-15>

* March 16(?), 2017, Jinah: (added 9-13, from Bellingcat) 2 seen at Jinah Mosque, Aleepo/Idlib border: W77 blue Porter, very muddly, sharing colors and decoration details with the Rashidin suicide truck. Jinah on Wikimpaia.

Nearby in the same video a cleaner 77W blue porter - window designs include Hyundai logo - tailgate says Daio? Mark of the custom paintjob people? May be what's under the W77 in many cases.

Two Porters appear in post-attack aerial imagery released by the US after it bombed the meeting hall half of the mosque complex on March 16. (one a different model, the other may be one of these) What's interesting here: the US claims it targeted a militant meeting after the mosque services let out and the civilian cars left. But rebel sources were insistent that dozens of civilians were killed, despite that we only see militant-looking vehicles. But these Porter trucks, one with high-sided cage walls, are capable of trucking in dozens of civilians to use as human shields. It's worth considering.

* March 22, 2017, near Khattab, Hama: (add 9-13, from Bellingcat) Triebert: "A blue Hyundai Porter without cage but with window decoration, driving reportedly near the town of Khattab in the Hama governorate, as shown in Qasioun News Agency video published in March 2017." Back end clearly has a white patch for W77/77W, but it's unclear which. The white floral design on the front and apparently windows marks it as part of the system. Along with Majdal, Khattab is of course one of the two named villages occupied by al-Nusra-led Islamists in late March, from which a reported 250 civilians were abducted, probably put into trucks, and driven to Khan Sheikhoun when the Islamists retreated on March 31. This one is still in the area but empty. It might be filled with something before it left with the Islamists. I may look into this more, try and set a date, etc.

Video - March 22 upload, maybe the 23rd in Syria. "Ensure the exit of civilians from the town of Khattab north of Hama after the opposition control." A horse, some tractors, lots of bedding, two portable generators? and several civilians moving one way on this road while the blue truck alone comes the other way along the shoulder. It gets a bit closer than the above still, but the video cuts before it gets clearer than this closer view.

Qasioun news reports: March 22 rebels take over. March 31 they flee. So maybe people were taken anywhere in this span, and not just at the end. <add 12/9>Some more details on the Hama offensive, execution of soldiers, possible rebel use of chlorine gas, and reports of massacres and/or abductions compiled here.<end 12/9>

* April 4, 2017, Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib: During the Khan Sheikhoun chemical massacre, just five days after Islamists pulled out of Khatab and perhaps trucked up hundreds of hostages ... one of these trucks (apparently the blue Porter variety?) delivered some of the bodies of alleged sarin victims from who knows where to be hosed off at the White Helmets Al-Rahma cave hospital (which victims?) By sunlight, it's pretty early, but no estimate yet. W77 variety: white or silver with black outline? Small underwriting between the 7s.

Video by Ibaa Agency, basically the official media wing of HTS/Al-Namechange Front. WH-Nusra link widely suspected - Nusra W77 link illustrated - Nusra video gets best view of (came in with?) this W77 truck. But others got the even earlier and more interesting appearance of these trucks, in the next entry.

* April 4, 2017, Khan Sheikhoun, same place: (add 9/12, thanks to Qoppa999 tweet) A Porter but perhaps nicer - it's an H-100 - white,  marked 77W, but in RED or maybe reflective GOLD rimmed with red, Allah on the windshield, mirror dots up the side, and most likely another W77/77W truck, but likely marked different, seeming more mundane. Between them, a bizarre and troubling scene - these seem to be about the first rescue vehicles to arrive at al-Rahma, prior to the earliest image, at ~7:10 am. In some images at the ACLOS timeline page, and the video one of them is taken from, we can say a batch of possibly dead civilians was unloaded before that first image, continue being sprayed, and in a later image (timed at 8:00 but I might need to review that), the same people are put back on the tuck to go somewhere else, and get sprayed again. This is what W77 trucks and White Helmets do when they hang out together.
This gold-red on white effect seems special, esteemed, like the W77 king's own truck. The apparent small underwriting seems to be done the same way. What an odd choice to be the first rescue vehicle out there picking people up in the first minutes, and to then hang around like this and haul the same people again...  Anyway, I now think the order is significant: W77 means one thing and 77W means a different but related thing: another level in the system, that's higher (closer to Al-Nusra?). 

<add 12/9>As Anonymous notes in comments below, there's another view (4:12 in this video) where we see the same other truck (same details down to door design and mud pattern below) with sides now up, backing across the lot from its original spot, presumably to load. The markings here are 77W, apparently in simple black.<end 12/9>

In general, 77W's tend to appear more around this incident closer to the victims, their furniture, etc, while W77s seem to do more menial hauling.

At least four five more sightings at least in the following days, same area:

* April 5? 6? Khan Sheikhoun: Driving past the alleged sarin crater as men gather samples - hauling unclear materials in bags with "production date" readable in English, perhaps unclear, 2006? No back license plate. None needed, because of the W77?<add 12/9>It's actually 77W. Considering the possibility above, is this menial hauling or special materials (like fertilizers or other chemicals destined for explosives or even CW manufacturing)? Also seen: on the right tailgate is what probably reads DAIO under the dust (see above). Interestingly, danger ! signs added - might tie in with red-and-white stripes all over - does this one haul hazardous materials?<end 12/9>

* April 5, 2017, Khan Sheikhoun area: Al-Jazeera Arabic video, apparently in KS, but   unclear - in a report about the incident. I think I first found this one, just now.

Windshield writing - hard to make out. side window patterning, white flames stenciled low on the side - winged logo on the front - W77 with small writing underneath (should say Hyundai...)

Another possible W77 truck passes just after this - an older truck with red paint, but the markings are much less clear if so. But tying it in, the noted "Lithuanian" color scheme appears on its railings, and it comes shortly behind this other, like they're on a joint adventure.

* Another crater pass: (add 9/12, from Bellingcat) - "A blue Hyundai Porter without cage but with the W77 sign in Khan Sheikhoun in the Idlib governorate. The video was uploaded by Ùmaya Press in April 2017 and is about the chemical attack in the city." Again, it's just caught as it passes the alleged sarin crater, while a boy is filmed. Seems about April 5/6, when the red signs was out and the crater still not filled in. Regular lowly W77 with no visible cargo. Danger signs on tailgate. Small white writing on right. No license plate.

<add 12-15>The video (Umayya Press) for the last entry has that scene at 4:28. Earlier in the same video (at 1:40) is another truck, also passing the bakery impact spot, as always headed north. Blue Porter H100 with consistent decorations, W77 with the second 7 missing, first one damaged, and no sign of the VAIO overwriting (torn off with the other 7, and the V-shaped missing part of this one?) We don't see the back, but the shadow of the rear bumper is clear there's no license plate. (hat-tip: this tweet)<end 12/15>

* Hauling away homes? (add 9/12, from Bellingcat): "A blue Hyundai Porter without cage in Khan Sheikhoun in the Idlib governorate. Published by TRT World. The Khan Sheikhoun Porter was spotted by Jesse Sandberg." I got a better still from the video cited - it's a 77W variety, window decor. It's perhaps hauling away furnishings and bedding after the people using them were killed in the chemical attack. This is KS, and just after - prob. April 5. They're still holding up dead birds.

There's a photo of this scene and the truck in this report from Yenisafak with the caption "Chemical gas attack survivor residents load their goods on a pick-up truck before leaving the town after yesterday's suspected chlorine gas attack in the town of Khan Shaykun, Idlib province, Syria on April 05, 2017." Okay, so they help people with moving? 

<add 12/9>That truck is seen again, driving away after being loaded. Apparently April 5 video by Anadolu Agency, posted April 6 - it's passing the alleged sarin crater headed north, with a possible militant sitting atop the load, and another man in the passenger's seat. (tip and stills from Michael Kobs) Note the load seems exactly the same as last seen, except that last giant rug they were trying to load didn't fit after all. On tailgate: no license plate, no danger sign, small writing on right (white), and on left, perhaps big-D DAIO, as seen above, but done in red?<end 12/9>

* <add 12/9>Another truck marked 77W is seen in the same Anadolu video, also seeming to head north on that same highway. This contains the people moving? At least 10 women and older girls, so it's a few families, and they're moving collectively and segregated, in the backs of trucks... (tip and stills from Michael Kobs). Everyone moves north around here, and it seems the W77 trucks' homing instinct pulls them deeper into the territory of the Turkish-backed Islamists. No rear license plate.<end 12/9>

* April 15, 2017, Rashidin, Aleppo - Rashidin suicide bomb massacre: It was a blue W77 Hyundai Porter with no license plate and an apparent false bottom that killed about 100 evacuating civilians, mostly children, after they were lured into one place with food, after rebels held them there for a day... medical help was delayed, the victims harangued, and one busload of the was just stolen, its 15 occupants taken as bargaining chips. Somehow, a blue Porter W77 truck played the central role, bringing all this attention. 

Apr 16: AlexOcana posts this composite image from a video of the suicide truck, asks for a make-model ID.
Soon, a Hyundai Porter is decided: it's a standard color, tending to come with the strange angled square on the door standard. This applies to many or most other W77s - they're Hyundai Porters, by and large.  Alex Ocana notes it seems to have a false bottom, as for smuggling, in which the explosives are hidden.  And it doesn't have a rear license plate.

flag ID - Lithuanian? Apr 16
Just to remind: The Rashadeen suicide truck had a false bottom full of explosives and a Lithuanian flag.

@LinkeviciusL Can you explain how the blue suicide bomb truck with Lithuanian flag at #Rashadin got into hands of the suicide bomber?
#NATO #Lithuania #Syria How the blue truck IDed by Lithuania flag as #Rashidin suicide truck end up there? LITCOM? UNSMIS?

Bellingcat's Cristiaan Triebert admits the color scheme points to Lithuania, but also is a scrambled version of a local Kurdish flag, etc., seems randomly hand-painted, and just not clear. For now, I have no opinion. Next I'll have to find out what  LITCOM is, etc.

* May 10, 2017, Bab, Aleppo: @JohnDelacour #Rashadin Latest W77 this time from the clashes in Turkish occupied N. Aleppo (Alex Ocana tweet) - http://syriadirect.org/news/dozens-of-casualties-after-latest-row-between-turkish-backed-rebels/ -  Sellers showcase their produce in al-Bab on May 10. Photo courtesy of Zein Al-Rifai/AFP. I don't think that's a license plate, but ground visible through the frame. Again, W77 seems to suffice.
<add 12/10>The W seems to be the older left-slanting version<end 12/10>
Andrew added some finds in some comments here, for lack of a better place:

* Unclear, Idlib: Nissan Caravan in Quniya (or perhaps Yacoubia? in "liberated" Idlib) where Nusra had just opened a mosque, perhaps at this closed-down church. The lettering is not the clearest here, but seems to be the same W77 - and no need for a rear license plate. A white porter sits nearby, but unmarked on this side, plates unclear. Date unclear, but well before May, 2017 documentary release
Documentary (2017) - Undercover in the 'rebel' held Idlib (Youtube) at 12:45

* May 25, Maarat Numan: an urban cleanup video  shows a blue Porter truck marked 77W with underwriting at 1:37, parked at an apparent grocery store (?) A white truck seen earlier may be W77 too, but unclear (0:37)

* <12/17> May 29, Khan Sheikhoun: Blue 77W with floral windows and side circles is parked at a market near another colorful and possibly related truck (video)

* <12/17>June 1 2017, Saraqeb: video "The spread of the "free" police in the town of Sarakib in Idlib to control the markets in Ramadan" more market activity: 77W unloading ice 1:10, W77 drives by 1:37.<end 12/17>

* June 5, Maarat al-Numan (added 9/17, from Bellingcat) June 5 tweet using photos stamped by HTS-linked Ibaa News Agency: "An IED exploded this morning near a car in Maarat al-Numan, driver injured." White H-100, W77 in silver outlined in black. Here the smaller underwriting appears as outlined over-writing, but unclear what it says (same Daio or similar as on others?). Only other place we've seen outlined W77, in red and black, was two cases hauling victims of the KS chemical massacre. Hm. Different door design than usual, marked Porter, super. Limited custom decorations, but front wings, side flames like April 5 KS sighting, and same windshield writing, which we can see says Hyun(crown)dai.<add 12/10>The W here and the 7 is a different, blockier style than most cases, besides being silver.<end 12/10>

* <add 12/17>June 16, 2017, Kafr Nabudah: Video shows "the atmosphere of Ramadan in the town of Kfarabouda in the northern countryside of Hama" - 0:36 kebobs grilling next to an unusually stylized dark blue model Porter marked W77, parked in the street, and likely another lighter-blue one parked across the street. Kafr Nabudah on Wikimapia, a bit west of Khan Sheikhoun

* June 17, 2017, Kafr Nabudah: Video shows  "Return of approximately 1,000 displaced families to the town of Kfarabouda in the countryside of Hama" A W77 passes at 0:50 - another blue Porter there is unmarked, but might be pulling out to join the passing one. Also a white one seen parked at 0:09<end 12/17>

* June 25, 2017, Hish, Idlib: WH video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDnDurGaRXI - cargo: one well-dressed young girl. Story unclear. No rear license plate.

* September 6, Al-Ra'i: from Triebert tweet - a
September 6 photo, by Fırat Haber Ajansı, Istanbul. "The Free Police performs its duties in inspecting vehicles in the town of Al-Ra'i ( الراعي ) in order to protect the lives of citizens from any terrorist threat." 77W with extra clear (DAIO?) (overwriting?) Unusually, a rear license plate (number is hard to read). Similar colors pattern to Rashidin truck, but different (less Lithuanian) colors. Location: Al-Ra'i sounds familiar, but I can't find it at the moment. Turkish border? Ah! FriedmanWo helps: Wikimapia - Turkish border, north of Bab, Aleppo - usual ISIS stronghold, repeatedly taken and re-taken, here a week into Turkish-backed "FSA" control. Right on the border: here on Wikimapia, 2.7km from "Turkish train station" and closer to the border in other spots. If this is a midday photo, the truck is currently set to drive north or northwest, so coming from within Syria rather than from Turkey. Probably coming from Tal Atiya to the SSE. Helpfully marked Danger! on the tailgate. What does that mean?

* Sept. 16, 2017, Talmenes, Idlib: In this video and another one with kids (link lost), we see a distinguished-looking white 77W trucks, silver letters with black outline (overwriting unclear). It's seen helping with some livestock for children charity. Video description: "Inspection and distribution of sheep in Talmines within the livelihood support project." Talmenes on Wikimapia

* Oct. 31, 2017, Talmenes, Idlib: At 0:50 in this video, a white W77 Porter is seen loading up with rice, apparently (some grain) "Distribution of feed on the beneficiaries of the third phase in Talmines in rural Idlib."  

* <add 12/10> undated/uplaced: an opposition reporter shows this photo of a few W77s parked together, on Twitter to Chistian Triebert of Bellingcat: "Every Honday Porter in Syria carries this figure, that's no difference." Triebert noted it's not universal, but common, and didn't get a response about when and where. (prior to posting on August 2) The guy either doesn't know or knows what it means, and implies it means nothing. Here are 4 so marked, I think two each of the 77W and W77 variety, at what might be their base of operation in an unnamed town, in early morning or late afternoon, depending.<end 12/10>

* <add 12-15> Date/locale unclear: Bellingcat's report includes as image 16 a GIF or short clip from an unplaced and undated Ibaa News Agency video. That's an official news outlet  of HTS-Al-Nusra, whose Youtube channel has since been closed, and no link was given anyway). So wherever, whenever, "Two Hyundai Porters can be seen driving right after each other ... Both Porters are without a cage but have the W77 marking on the side of the back loader." The resolution is small, but it seems the blue one is marked W77, and the white one 77W.<end 12-15>
The Decorations:
Blue Hyundai Porters compared: I don't think we've seen the same one twice yet. The April 5 Al Jazeera and April 15 (Rashidin) ones have their W77 painted at different levels relative to the underlying small name (which says Hyundai?) Two from above and another from (?), flipped horizontally by Alex Ocana - floral patterns stenciled in window, but different other features: dots, flames along the bottom, all in white. 

The one passing the sarin crater seems to have window florals as well, but the angle is too oblique to bother comparing. However its rear window may have an identifiable part of some logo. The April 5 one also has writing across the top of the windshield I'm not sure is ever readable. (from another instance, it says HYUN(crown)DAI)

Under-writing/over-writing: DAIO? Seems to be done in the same colors as the added W77, and apparently added on top of it. ??

<add 12/10>Update: As the August 2016 images show (crop here), it's VAIO, not DAIO. Reviewing the others, the overwriting looks more like that anyway. The "big-D Daio" tailgate writing still seems to start with a D, so must be different. The rest of that could be "aio," but isn't clear enough to call, and it seems I was conflating the two marks.  <end 12/10>

bar code sticker: video, 0:10 12-3-2016 Aid Idlib - Unmarked blue Porter has a barcode sticker behind the driver's door, possibly related at some level. The same is seen on both X500 trucks (below) and on some others seen above (June 5, parking lot, Ibaa video). But mot trucks have this taken off, or maybe never had it. ... 

I haven't tried much to correlate the "Lithuanian" or almost-Kurdish colors often related many trucks with this kind of style, similar fancy color patterns and an almost "gypsy" look to me that looks non-Islamic and in context, maybe Kurdish. I'm only catching these as they also bear the relevant markings. But here are some different yet possibly related markings I've run across.

W77 But Wrong Style and Area
* <add 12/10> June, 2017, Raqqah province, via Bellingcat: Image 18. A W77 sign seen on a white Hyundai Porter with cage, at a refugee camp in the northern Raqqa governorate. Footage published by RT in June 2017. Cases from Raqqah, as seen below, seem less consistent in their style. This one is unclear, with the W mostly covered. The 77 looks right. Circular decorations behind driver's door are also consistent with the system seen. It's not clear to me whose area this is, but cases below tnd to be in Kurdish-held, or Kurdish-SDF-taken former ISIS areas, not places HTS and Turkish backed factions operate. This one is unclear.<end 12/10>

* June 2017? Ain Issa
Another "W77" truck in Ain Issa (still no idea if significant) In the makeshift camp at Ain Issa, 50 km north of the Raqqa in Syria, a boy carries a jerrycan filled with water. Photo: UNICEF/Souleiman (on or before June 9)  
But this says N7, right? Nope. seems painted, so it's not likely part of the black paint fell off - was it deliberately re-painted? To be less obvious from a distance, after Rashidin?Note: this is an unusual area - not Al-Nusra/HTS-dominated but rather Kurdish/SDF-controlled.

* <add 12/17> Shadadi, Hasakah, July 1, 2017: video: Absence of services exacerbates the suffering of the people of the city of Shaddadi south of Hasaka (like Raqqah, former ISIS) - markings here are clearly non-standard, but still used. This is possibly interesting.<end 12/17>

* July 21, Tabqa, Raqah: One seen in July (from Bellingcat), photo taken by by Dutch journalist Harald Doornbos of a damaged street in Tabqa, Raqqah - recent ISIS turf, taken by SDF? seen from a distance at a bad angle, so details unclear, No license plate. Apparent light patch for W77, not the clearest, may be partly obscured. Unusual cage/rack, custom decorations unclear, yellow-blue door pattern.

Parked in front of it, a white truck, seems to be a similar model Porter, with a possible black spot for W77 markings, and apparently no license plate. It has a full-topped tiger cage on the back, probably used for transporting prisoners.

* <add 12/9>August 2, Tabqa: Raqqah knockoffs? A video about a fuel crisis here shows hundreds of vehicles lined up. The same W77 code seen in several cases, but in different lettering styles and on different and varied vehicles ..Three marked Porters seen at 1;40 and two later, (one is Song make, and has a woman's made-up face painted around the headlights - not normal) and a yellow taxi at least - 2:00 and 2:08. All are W77, not 77W.

The style on the taxi is notably different (left part of the W has fallen off). SUPER is overwritten. Usually, this is on a Super Porter and seems to refer to that. On a little car, it underlines how these don't seem to be part of the general system we're examining. This is former ISIS turf, not HTS-Al-Qaeda areas, like usual. The car at least has a rear license plate.<end 12/9>

The other way around, some markings that don't say W and 77 still seem to part of the system, or made by the same people. A video (Al Jazeera) from April 30, 2017 claims to show people displaced from Khan Sheikhoun returning despite the danger. This family is loaded along with a motorcycle and not much else into a white truck marked X500 / 500x overwriting: SPEED. The front and window decorations are exactly from the W77 system, just like the outline lettering.

At 0:37 in this video of June 1 2017 is Super Deluxe and 500x on a colorful variant light blue Porter (composite view with floating elbows - boxes: side circles, bar code sticker).

Pre-W77 System?

<add 12/17>Similar flame decals and Arabic writing, perhaps big block letters AC, and a certain eagle-looking design appeared on some Porter trucks - this seems like a precursor system later replaced with W77. I've only found two examples, both from early 2016. 

A video of Feb. 6, 2016 shows a refugee camp, with such a truck driving trhough at 0:26, marked AC, flames, eagle (in white).

A January 23 video from Qatar Charity shows delivery of "winter aid" somewhere in Idlib. We see windshield decorations, fire attached to eagle, eagle alone, and flaming "4x4" in black on a lighter blue truck.

The eagle, if that's what it is, seems to appears in about the same spot, at the front side, in some W77 trucks seen above, including: March 22 Khattab - April 5 KS (W7 passing the crater) - possibly September 6, Al-Ra'i (or coincidentally-shaped damage?) - and possibly June, 2017, Raqqah, if it can be done in pink and look like a strangely consistent double-smudge with fuzzy edges.<end 12/17>

Map of Sightings
<add 12/17>Most of the above have given locations, which map out like so: 

Speculation on Meaning
W77 = Allah?
As a comment at the Bellingcat post suggests: #77 of the traditional 99 names of God (Allah) is Al-Wali ( الوالي ), "the patron." Interesting. And  FWIW, the main name of Allah in Arabic contains two W shapes. That could be a roman-letter way of saying "serious Islamists with solid patronage on board." W(wali)77.

W77 appears in a few things one can search for, and could have many possible meanings (some fumbling through possibilities in comments by Andrew and I here)

But the most promising seems to be an e-mail address: hsm.w77 @gmail.com  is attached to this Youtube account.  This channel promoted some Saudi-Turkish backed humanitarian truck delivery activity to deliver things that will help the Syrian people. The top video is still this from mid-2013 (still at right).

AO tweet: "facebook.com/DyrAlzwrDeerAlzor … seems to be the renamed FB acct from hsm.w77 and has this logo." (right: seems Saudi-inspired: seems to say "tell people the good news" or spread the Wahhabi creed?)

I perused this site and shared some highlights here - it espouses solidarity with the Sunni "revolution of Aleppo and Damascus," with a lot of ugly sectarian propaganda, like promotion of (and maybe fundraising for) the 2013 Latakia offensive that wound up a genocidal massacre and mass-abduction of Alawite civilians - and a sudden stop in October, 2014, as if the page's proprietor had run off to Turkey to join ISIS or al-Nusra...
This may be unrelated, but it could be just a long pause before the same still-mysterious W77 appears by April, 2016 on trucks driving around the Turkey-Syria border.

Rashidin - persons of interest
(mostly Alex Ocana tweets - may not directly relate)

1. @ShehabiFares reported Samer Kharita as Rashadeen bomber with no supporting evidence. Here is maybe same person. Feb. 1 '16 Anadan Aleppo

I think I may have spotted Samer in the back of the W77 truck. Widow peak there but faint.

14. Wanted for questioning. Armed goon at candy distribution point, JAS personage, photographer for Syria Charity & Catman of Aleppo.

April 24
16. Another shot of the JAS personage handing out sweets. Wanted for questioning.

Person of interest from the video with the truck.

Catman of Aleppo plus two Syria Charity (one a photog, plus one Jaysh Tahrir al-Sharqiyah and armed AQ type distributed candies.

Probably Jaysh Tahrir al-Sharqiyah logo?? We have: Syria Charity, ONGLive (Bilal)  and Cat Hospital on the scene.

#Syria #SAA We find blue W77 trucks at both Rashadin and Khan S. sarin attack, and the same person handing out sweets & catching bodies.

compares KS-Rashidin