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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sarin and the "Foul Irritant(s)": Events List

Sarin and the "Foul Irritant(s)"
Events List
November 23, 2017
(rough, incomplete, to be filled-in)
edits 11-25, 12-2/3/17, 2/27, 3/12/18, 

This is part of a more organized study of the sarin used in Syrian attacks, or the sarin that turns up plus whatever else is used in those incidents ... the common features and patterns - is this all one chemical substance that would have to be impure sarin? Two used in conjunction? Three or more used in rotation? I won't be answering that with certainty, but perhaps with some analysis, a darn good guess might emerge.

Below is a long, fairly complete list of incidents, with the incidents partly filled-in to start. 
first, verified sarin, then maybe cases: the same kind of clues appear to the degree this could be the same chemical(s) as one or another used in the cases where sarin does turn up.

-- Verified (or said to be) Sarin Incidents --
(not necessarily complete - did I miss any that anyone can spot?)
12 incidents or clusters (as with mid-April and 12/11-12-2016) 
(3-19-2013 Ateibah promoted from maybe list 12/3)

* 3-19-2013 Khan al-Assal, Aleppo (suburb) 
Used Against: SAA soldiers and/or civilians (majority Shi'ite) (missing army post by 300 meters, unclear if they meant to hit it)
Casualties: 1 soldier and 19 civilians killed, 124 others affected but lived.   (UN report, citing Syrian records)
Sarin: Russian lab tests claimed that sarin was found, an impure, terrorist-made "cottage industry" sort. (but first mention I can find is July 9 - Reuters). There were initial worries of that. British scientists decided by March 24 from "samples" that it was tear gas, not sarin (Times of Israel). It seems rebels stole the samples after re-taking Khan al-Assal in June, turned them over to the US via Syrian-American Medical Society, and sarin was confirmed. UN report from Dec. 2013 didn't get that information and was left unable to confirm, when the Syrian government was unable to deliver the samples. They did conclude it was an organophosphate, possibly sarin. (ACLOS) By now UN investigators think it was sarin with the "same unique hallmarks" as that used in  the Ghouta attack of 8-21-2013 (so both using government stocks, so probably the government - see here).
Smell: "a strong pungent smell, possibly resembling sulfur" (UN final report) - chlorine-like (early reports, unreliable - prominent fears of chlorine at the time, similar color, strange smell, poss. confusion)
Caustic: causes itching or "irritation of the skin" (UN final report)
Color: "a yellow-green mist"
Symptoms/treatment:  Some people dropped dead or paralyzed while other suffered symptoms including "irritation  of  skin,  miosis,  impaired  vision,  foaming  from the  mouth,  weakness, convulsions, shortage of breath and loss of consciousness." " miosis,  blurred  vision,  conjunctivitis,  foaming  at  the  mouth,  coughing,  rhinorrhea,  respiratory  distress, bronchospasm,  nausea,  vomiting, cyanosis  and  headache." "the sensation of numbness in the limbs" "Admitted  and  treated 
patients had stayed between two days and two weeks in the hospitals. Miosis had been reported to last for several weeks."
Notes: delivered in local Bashair-3 rocket, thought to be by JaN, impact around 7 am, In this case, no rebel fakery with alternate poisons used on some, etc. is plausible in a government-held area. In this case at least, it's all on the vapor that came out of one not-large rocket.

* 3-19-2013, Ateibah,  Damascus Suburbs
** (and other area attacks 3-14 to April 8) 
Used Against: opposition fighters and some related and displaced civilians
Casualties: 1 fighter, 5 men and a baby died (as with 12-22), unclear others affected
Sarin: reported/suggested, seems coordinated with Khan al-Assal attack, verified as sarin use. <add 12/3>"Physiological samples collected in Syria -- including from Utaybah on March 19 and Sheikh Maqsood on April 13 -- were brought to the U.K. laboratory [Porton Down] for testing. The material tested positive for sarin, Arab and European diplomats said." (WSJ 8-23-2013)</end 12/3> UN final report notes state-lodged reports of this attack, none mentioning sarin. "The United Nations Mission  did  not  receive  sufficient  or  credible  information  in  respect  of" this and 8 other alleged attacks.  

Smell: "foul-smelling"
Caustic: ...
Color: liquid agent said to be like water, but black - gas color not mentioned?
Symptoms/treatment: "

Notes: alleged delivery by rocket - no visuals - preceding attacks back to at least 3-14 and into April noted in this same area: “The patients who arrive here have trouble breathing.Their pupils are constricted. Some are vomiting. They’ve lost their hearing, they cannot speak,their respiratory muscles have been inert. If we don’t give them immediate emergency treatment, death ensues.”The gist of this description is repeated in several others thenewspapermen say they had heard during their investigation. In all, they reported visiting eightmedical centres in the eastern part of the Ghouta region, in only two of which doctors said they had not seen patients apparently affected by chemical weapons. On a single day – 18 March2013 – doctors at Nashibayya recalled the admission of some 60 cases from the Otaiba front,five of which had terminated in death from suffocation." (Robinson) That last almost surely refers to March 19, but might raise a timeline issue. "Five (named) residents are reported dead and more than 60 injured, “[t]hey suffered from suffocation, respiratory failure, haemoptysis, severe drop in blood pressure, nervous and peripheral convulsions, myosis [sic]" 

* 4-13-2013 Sheikh Maqsoud, Aleppo city 
Used Against: civilians in a Kurdish-majority district just overrun by Islamists
Casualties: 14 listed as killed, of an original 16-20 reported as affected (see notes) or "According to witness statements provided to the United Nations Mission by the UNHRC Commission of Inquiry, the alleged incident affected 21 persons and caused one death." (UN final report)  

Sarin: Times of London report about a sarin attack in Aleppo (see Narwani): apparently people with the Syrian American Medical Society ("a team from “an American medical agency”) came to the Afrin hospital and took hair samples to have tested in US labs. (see 3-19 for SAMS involvement). The US was suddenly confident by late April to declare sarin was probably used (doubts aired by April 25 - McClatchy) <add 12/3>"Physiological samples collected in Syria -- including from Utaybah on March 19 and Sheikh Maqsood on April 13 -- were brought to the U.K. laboratory [Porton Down] for testing. The material tested positive for sarin, Arab and European diplomats said." (WSJ 8-23-2013)</end 12/3> A 14  June  2013 letter from the US government to the UN investigation alleged Syria's government used sarin "against  the  opposition  in  an  attack  on  the  Aleppo neighborhood of Sheik Maqsood on 13 April 2013," the UN report says. They were unable to verify. (see notes)
Smell: a report of no smell, but only from someone arriving after the fact

Caustic: worse than usual by some reports: eye damage, sometimes severe enough to cause blindness, and bleeding from the nose (SOHR Facebook)
Color: “There was a white powder covering the stairs, but there was nosmell or smoke. It did not even occur to me that it might be a chemical..." (Robinson)

Symptoms/treatment: ... obvious staging of "foaming at the mouth" scenes (ACLOS) but ... "those injured suffered hallucinations, severe vomiting, nose bleeding and eye burning, one of which lost eye sight." (SOHR Facebook) "they displayed symptoms of chemical exposure including
foaming at the mouth, constricted pupils and difficulty breathing. They were treated using chemical weapons antidote Atropine, Dr Habash claims." (Daily Mail) "when we went inside we saw the children dead and the Kurdish police who had arrived before us were on the ground foaming something white from their mouth. Their eyes were so red.” (Robinson)
Notes:   "The United Nations Mission sought to conduct fact-finding activities pertaining to this incident from the territory of a bordering country" (that means in Turkey) "having determined that such an investigation held the prospect of producing additional information. The United Nations Mission was ultimately unable to obtain any such information." (Turkey refused?) "In the absence of any further information, the United Nations Mission was unable to draw any conclusions pertaining to this alleged incident." (UN final report). No interviews, blood samples verified, nothing further.
This attacks was allegedly by the same strange grenade linked to Jabhat al-Nusra also used in 4-29 attack below, dropped from a helicopter, into the open stairwell of an apartment building (as reported), seen laying in the stairwell. Initial reports: two women and 2 children died, with 16 (or 12?) others affected. Later records: another woman and 9 men also died, for 14 total. This division of death reports is strange. (ACLOS) One man who died has the same name as a supposed survivor who explained to opposition media how his wife and children died... happened in between Jobar attacks below.
The VDC heard: "at the beginning news were reporting that shelling was using white phosphoric material and then other sources said it is (Sarin Gas), news to be validated."  This confusion is also seen with Adra, 3-24-13 (a few weeks earlier). There it seems bad translation was to blame - organophosphate (including sarin) comes out as (organic) phosphorous, taken as perhaps WP incendiary weapons. That's probably two early sarin reports. 

* Mid-April 2013 Jobar,  Damascus Suburbs (a few attacks) 
Used Against: Rebels and civilians in oppsition-held area

Casualties: 1 "FSA" fighter listed as dead, many said to suffer exposure 

Sarin: (Wikipedia article) "In June 2013, the French government told the United Nations that it had evidence of a sarin attack in Jobar between 12 and 14 April.[3](p5) After the August 21st Ghouta chemical attack, French intelligence released a report that said samples from those attacks had confirmed the use of sarin.[6][7][8] However, the U.N. fact-finding mission which investigated the alleged attack did not receive "sufficient or credible information" to support the allegation.[3](p10)" Le Monde report via Robinson: "It is in the urine of three Jobar casualties that Le Bouchet subsequently detects IMPA at levels in the range 270-1140 ng/ml." This is the primary substance created when sarin is broken down in the body. A report that only looked at IMPA results among Tokyo attack victims (apparently all of them, ranging from mild exposure to severe) - found IMPA levels ranging from 2 to 135 ng/ml. The reported Jobar range starts at twice the top of the Tokyo range, and stops at close to ten times that. Did they have people splashed with bucketfuls of liquid sarin over there? Or did they have people ingesting way too much IMPA? Because there's no mention of how much actual sarin was found, if any.
<add 12-2/3> Pmr9 notes urine tests (arranged by Le Monde journalists, maybe for lack of expertise in drawing blood) cannot show sarin, just IMPA. He agrees if this is from actual sarin, it's is a very high dose. It's not primarily removed through the urine and is "probably destroyed in the liver," so the levels in urine should not be higher than in general. The Tokyo samples were of blood, but should probably be similar. These were taken after some time in which levels would fall - given as 1.5 to 2.5 hours after the incident. It's unclear what time lag there was before the Jobar sampling, but however long it was means the original levels were that much higher. The levels reported are not just fatal but super-fatal, and yet there's no mention of fatalities I'm aware of from all these attacks, aside from the one rebel fighter. Just to create a range with two numbers requires at least two victims. Suggested: these presumably living urine donators ingested unrealistically huge doses of just IMPA in order to fake some results (or the samples were spiked with unrealistic levels). <end 12-2/3>
Smell: ...
Caustic: ...
Color: ...
Symptoms/treatment:
Notes: coincides with alleged sarin use in Aleppo on April 13 (above) - Prominent attacks reported at least 4-11,12 and 14 as I had noted (Red Flags report) - but at least as far back as April 7, sporadically up to April 18, and then becoming more routine in the second half of the month. (Robinson)

* 4-29-2013 Saraqeb, Idlib province 
Used Against: civilians in Islamist-held town
Casualties: 1 woman killed (Mariam Al-Khatib), some family members and others said to be affected (11 original patients, 9 mild cases, 5 sent home and 6 total sent to Turkey)
Sarin: French labs, OPCW - high exposure level in the fatality: 9.5 ng/ml of sarin (Le Monde), more than twice the highest level of 4.1 ng/ml recorded among a sampling of Tokyo attack victims in this 1997 report, and apparently causing total receptor blockage (John et al.). A lesser level was reported in another victim who lived, IMPA alone was found in one patient, and it seems nothing in 3 others of a total of 6 actual patients brought to Turkey. (UN final report)
Smell: “It was a horrible, suffocating smell." “These are smelly, and a lot of them were used.” "The smoke was smelly" (Bellingcat)
Caustic: eye and lung damage... "The  severely  intoxicated  52-year-old  woman  ... had broncho constriction and edema-filled lungs with a wheezing and rales-like sound. " (UN final report)
Color: white smoke described
Symptoms/Treatment: (should be covered in detail somewhere...) "You couldn’t breathe at all. Your body would become really tired. You’d lose all senses. You’d feel like you were dead. You couldn’t even see. I couldn’t see anything for three or four days.” "The symptoms include constriction of the pupil, forth around the mouth, complete loss of consciousness"  "the guy who rushed to help the victims lost consciousness when he got to the site." (Bellingcat)
Notes: UN and OPCW were able to confirm sarin in the dead woman's body, but not able to visit the site, and were somehow unable to interview any survivors. (UN final report: "Interviews with survivors: No survivors were interviewed.").
Daylight attack. (time...) Delivery method confused and very unclear, with clashing stories (barrel bombs, plastic bags of powder, or as accepted, a special hand grenade seemingly designed for riot control, also used on 4-13, and linked to Jabhat al-Nusra, but here dropped from a helicopter in 3 cinderblocks, packed with 2 grenades each. One video was provided but seems false, apparently showing an unrelated drop of white phosphorous chunks, so 3 drops in broad daylight went unrecorded (see link).
OPCW and/or chemical weapons convention founded 16 years ago this day in the wake of the Tokyo sarin attack.

* 8-21-2013 East and West Ghouta,  Damascus Suburbs 
Used Against: civilians in Islamist-held areas

Casualties: claimed 1,429 dead (visual minimum ~320), some rebels but over 99% civilian, many hundreds or thousands reportedly affected
Sarin: OPCW tests on environmental samples from impact sites, and on purported survivors - no fatalities tested - exposure found seems low-level (Porter)
Smell: "something like vinegar and rotten eggs" or "like cooking gas"
Caustic:"redness and itching of the eyes" ... (Monitor) ""Hours later I also started to feel the effects of the chemicals. My eyes became sore, and it became difficult to breathe. I had a very, very bad headache," said the activist." (FoxNews)
Color: no info...
Symptoms/treatment: ...
Notes: night time attacks, less clear support for any real open chemical release, and this is likely disconnected from many or most victims, who tend to display other and varied symptoms.


* 8-24-2013 Jobar,  Damascus Suburbs 
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: some 30 affected, 4 seriously, none died

Sarin: Syrian tests, OPCW tests find positive for sarin and breakdown products. "All samples allegedly withdrawn by the Syrian Government on 24 August 2013 tested positive for Sarin signatures. Of the four samples collected by the United Nations Mission on 26 and 28 September 2013, i.e. one month after the alleged incident, one tested positive for Sarin signatures. The rest were negative." (UN report - DNA matches the samples as from the same soldiers) 
Smell: "a foul and strange odour" "a badly smelling gas."
Caustic:  eye and lung irritation as usual

Color: not mentioned

Symptoms/treatment: "A group of 10 soldiers was evacuated in armoured personal vehicles to the field medical point with breathing difficulties, blurred vision and with strange symptoms not further specified. Four soldiers were severely affected. They were only partially conscious and not able to support themselves." 20 others less affected arrived later. The acute 4 "complained of a tight chest, wheezing and difficulty breathing" - 2 "had hypersalivation, red eyes with blurred vision and miosis. In addition, the patients were exhausted and disoriented."
"The patients were washed and given two to three doses of atropine and HI-6 intravenously. One of the patients was reportedly unconscious and was transferred to the intensive care unit. The medical records state, however, that the patients were conscious and responsive with restricted pupils and bronchial spasms at the time of admission to the emergency room."
"No signs of secondary contamination were reported to the United Nations Mission," even though it was sarin. "A medical doctor reported itchy eyes in the evening after examining the patients." (perhaps too mild to count)
"Two of the soldiers stayed in the hospital for eight days before release." "According to the senior doctor, the patients spent an average of seven days in the hospital."
Notes: Attack at 1100 (11 am), device landed about 10m from soldiers. Area of incident is extremely close to the spot from which the rockets linked to the Ghouta attack 3 days earlier were fired. 4-liter hand-soldered canisters were used (shown in UN final report) - chemical weapons assembly warehouse discovered nearby (ACLOS) "The Government further reported that in its search of the buildings immediately surrounding the above-mentioned site, it discovered some materials, equipment and canisters, examination of which indicated that they contained Sarin." (UN report)

* 8-25-2013 Ashrafiah Sahnaya,  Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties:
Sarin: Syrian tests, OPCW tests find positive for sarin and breakdown products The   five   blood   samples withdrawn on 25 August 2013 all tested positive for Sarin exposure, whereas those withdrawn on 26 and 28 September tested negative." (UN report - DNA matches the samples as from the same soldiers) 
Smell: "A black, foul-smelling smoke ... A badly smelling gas ...a bizarre odour without any smoke."
color: "black smoke," or "There are differing opinions among the interviewed alleged victims whether there was no smoke or  a  colourless  smoke" or no smoke (and it was at night, and caused confusion)
Caustic: eyes and lungs irritated
Symptoms and treatment: "laboured  breathing,  eye  irritation, miosis, blurred vision and fatigue." "The most common signs and symptoms described to the United Nations Mission by patients included shortness of breath/laboured breathing (100 per cent), eye irritation (100 per cent), blurred vision (60 per cent), loss of consciousness (40 per cent), headache (40 per cent) and coughing (20 per cent)"  "the  patients  were  treated  with atropine  and  HI-6.  Eye  drops  and  bronchial  inhalers  were  administered.  The  patients  were  discharged from the hospital after 6 to 10 days." "No signs of secondary contamination were reported," even though it is sarin.    
notes: thrown with a catapult, around 7 or 8pm- cylindrical canister - location is by the sewage treatment plant between A.Sahnaya and Daraya (2-15-2015 attack with confirmed sarin happened 1.8 km northwest of this spot)

* 2-15-2015 Daraya,  Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: 1 moderate cases, 3 severe case, no deaths
Sarin: Syrian tests, OPCW tests find positive for sarin and breakdown products. UN report says "it is remotely possible ... an Organic Phosphorus (OP) compound, for example a pesticide" was to blame, and given "the disposition of the blood samples currently being reevaluated, the medical team cannot express any confidence at this time that a chemical agent was used in this incident." But an Annex 8 of the report (27 November 2015) shares the results of those tests: "The compounds detected, including a methylphosphonate adduct to a peptide and the fluoride regeneration product, led to the conclusion of exposure to sarin, or a sarin-like compound." (meaning, essentially, sarin - not any other expected poison or pesticide)
Smell: "like burning nylon." 
Caustic: not mentioned
Color: not mentioned
Symptoms/treatment: "blurred  vision, teary   eyes,   runny   nose,   dizziness, headache, breathing difficulties, mild fatigue, and nausea." lowered cholinesterase activity (quantified in OPCW report), reduced consciousness - one soldier lost consciousness. "All described a slow recovery and extreme fatigue. They also describe impaired vision, some expressing the sensation of photophobia while others describe a situation where they felt like it was dark around them. All of them described a rather severe head ache often located to the frontal aspect of the head. Some experienced the sensation of numbness in the limbs."
Notes:  delivery mechanism unclear - see Monitor analysis attack at 12:30 PM - 1.8 km nw of location of 8-25-13 sarin attack on soldiers


* 12-11/12-2016, near Uqrabiyat, Hama (2 attacks)
Used Against: civilians in ISIS-held areas

Casualties: 67 identified killed (25 in Jrouh, 42 in al-Salaliyah (HRW)), up to 93+ dead is reported, hundreds reported affected
Sarin: not actually verified, but seems likely considering its tie-in with the following resurgence of opposition-claimed sarin attacks

Smell: "Some also said that there was a strong odor, although they could not describe it, while others said that they could not detect any." (HRW) (since sarin is supposed to be colorless and odorless, some might decide to describe it that way while others describe it how it was)
Caustic: reported: red eyes, (poss. related) swollen faces, loss of vision
Color: "Some said that they saw yellow or white smoke, but others did not." (HRW) (see smell - likely the same ones reporting no smell also report no color, and are not to be trusted)
Symptoms/treatment: “I entered one of the caves. There were about 20 people in it. A lot of them were unconscious, some vomited, and they were weak. Most of them were women and children. Some of the injured completely lost their sight after the attack.”
"convulsions, shortness of breath, hysteria, red eyes, swollen faces, and foaming and bleeding from the mouth." "Four of the witnesses said that they or the people they saw experienced dilated pupils. While dilated pupils are not a common symptom of exposure to a nerve agent, it can be seen occasionally, depending upon the degree and route of exposure. One doctor said that the injured exhibited constricted pupils, a symptom of exposure from a nerve agent." (HRW)
Notes: Jet delivery, unusual, to be repeated on 3-30 and 4-4. Initially blamed on Russian jets, now on Syrian. Coincides with/looks like revenge for Dec. 11 ISIS re-capture of Palmyra and attack on Tiyas airbase

* 3-30-2017 Latamnah, Hama province 
Used Against:
Casualties
Sarin: OPCW verified
Smell: reported: little or no smell "The chemicals in the missiles had a very mild smell but a strong effect" "There was no chlorine smell." (HRW)
Caustic: difficult breathing and red eyes mentioned
Color: black splash at impact spot
Symptoms/treatment: "The injured had pinpoint pupils, extreme foaming from the mouth, in an unsteady condition, with muscle cramps, shivers and shaking. Most of them were unconscious. Some people’s hearts had slowed down to the point where we thought they were dead." "They were trembling, had extreme difficulty breathing, redness in their eyes; some had foam coming out of their mouth. People were going unconscious. Some of them started hallucinating, saying weird things, when they got to the hospital."(HRW)Some cases of waking up about 7 hours later after seeming dead.
Seeming dead is a little unusual, repeats with 4-4. Hallucinations and strange talk is also not a clear sarin indicator, suggesting perhaps a different poison (however, see 4-13-2013 - hallucinations reported). Notes: Jet delivery, unusual, to be repeated on 4-4


* 4-4-2017 Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib province  
Used Against: civilians in Islamist-held area

Casualties: reported 85-103 dead, some 500 said to be affected

Sarin: OPCW verified, Syrian government as well
Smell: (updated 2/27/18) JIM final report: "open sources reported that chlorine might also have been released, as indicated by the smell of bleach." I think I've seen the open sources but forget where. It may be presented as the only smell, which would be odd. Otherwise, it seems an "other" smell, with most accounts bring like: "it smelled like rotten food" "a foul smell ... a strange smell. I can’t put my finger on it." a "really disgusting odor," "stench." (Monitor) "there was a strong smell. The smell was really disgusting, but I am not able to compare it to anything else" (HRWarea-wide smell, along with area-wide fog = smelly fog?
Caustic: smoke/vapor covering town said to burn the eyes and the lungs
Color: smoke/vapor said to be pale yellow: "a yellow mushroom cloud that stung her eyes. “It was like a winter fog,” she said." “a winter fog — not quite yellow and not quite white.” "yellow dust" - black splash around impact (cyan blue hue - not the source of the yellow mist?)

Symptoms/treatment: (reported) tight chest, labored breathing, foam, yellow mucous or vomit, burning eyes, dizziness, miosis, "constant shivering," loss of consciousness. (OPCW) blood and foam from the mouth, "constriction of the pupils, trembling, sweating, extreme respiratory excretions, foaming of the mouth, and pale skin color," and some cases of people waking up 7-11 hours later in the hospital   (HRW)
Notes: Jet delivery, unusual, prior to 12-12 and 3-30 attacks


-- Possible Sarin Cases 
(or worth comparing anyway) --
18 incidents (one promoted to verified list 12/2)(one added 3/12/18)
* 12-22-2012 Daraya, Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers 
Casualties: 7 killed (all died within one hour), unclear others affected (OPCW report 2015) (ACLOS)
Sarin: poss. suggested by high death toll
Smell: no info
Caustic: no info
Color: a yellow colored gas
Symptoms and treatment: ...
Notes:

* 12-23-2012, Homs City  
Used Against: opposition fighters and some related civilian men
Casualties: 1 fighter, 6 civilians killed (as with 3-19, Ateibah), unclear others affected
Sarin: it's been claimed
Smell: ...
Caustic: ...
Color: ...
Symptoms/treatment:
Notes:

* 3-24-2013 Adra, Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: rebel fighters

Casualties: 2 fighters killed, 23 (all fighters?) affected

Sarin: consistent symptoms reported
Smell:
Caustic:
Color: 
Symptoms/Treatment: Mohammad al-Doumani, an activist" said "Doctors are describing the chemical weapon used as phosphorus"  (meaning organophosphate) "that hits the nervous system and causes imbalance and loss of consciousness. The two fighters were very close to where the rockets exploded and they died swiftly. The rest are being treated with Atropine" Video shows one patient in convulsions or shivering anyway (ACLOS)

* 4-26-2013 Barzeh, Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: Unclear number affected, plural deaths, no number, as reported: "victims from the ranks of Syrian Arab Army have arrived to Hamish hospital, including martyrs" (ACLOS)
Symptoms/Treatment: upon contact with victims, "medical staff has suffered severe nausea  followed by cases of fainting, but it was a lighter than the infected people" "suffocation and nausea, as well as the trickling of a kind of white liquid from the victims' noses and mouths." (ACLOS)
Notes: from news reports - no mention in OPCW report or lists provided by Syrian authorities. See Monitor analysis.

* 8-5-2013 Adra,  Damascus Suburbs 
Used Against:
Casualties:  "a cloud of gas from bombs dropped by Assad’s forces on Adra, has spread to areas as far as the city of Douma. Fatalities are reported and 437 people suffer from symptoms like suffocation and exhaustion in the area." No deaths clearly recorded.
Sarin: reported, likely confirmed... if so, will move above
Smell: ...
Caustic: ...
Color: ...
Symptoms/treatment:
Notes: Same rockets used (at least 3 of them here) were also used (reportedly 12+ of them) in the 8-21 Ghouta attacks (East Ghouta portion) People filming the attack scene near one rocket seem to have soaked a stray dog in some liquid nerve agent just before filming its horrible death... (for now, see here for dog story, rockets, and some other details)

* 8-22-2013 Bahhariyeh, Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: ...
Sarin: "All  20  blood  samples  analysed  (16  provided  by  the  Government  and  4  collected  by  the  United  Nations Mission) tested negative for Sarin or Sarin signatures." (UN final report) However...
smell: "a very bad odour"
color: blue
caustic: burning eyes and throat, 100% reported breathing problems, etc.
Symptoms: "nausea,  vomiting,  tearing,  bronchial  problems, flaccid paralysis and confusion. One patient was semi-conscious and two patients had bradycardia.  They  were  given  anti-vomit  medication  and  fluids.  Only  one  patient  was  given  an  unknown  dose  of  atropine.  ..." later group showed "breathing difficulties, the feeling of a tight chest, and burning eyes and throat, with some having miosis.  According  to  a  treating  doctor,  they  were  given  intravenous  fluids  and  oxygen,  some  received  atropine, ..."
"shortness  of  breath/laboured  breathing  (100 per  cent),  eye  irritation  (50  per  cent),  nausea  and  headache  (43  per  cent),  blurred  vision  (29  per  cent), and fatigue and coughing (21 per cent). The medical records show that in two cases the values of acetyl cholinesterase in total blood and plasma are below the normal values. The average stay in the hospital was three days."   "A  number  of  the  interviewed  alleged  victims  stayed  6  days  in  the  hospital  until  they  were 
released."All this suggests exposure to impure (less deadly) sarin or a similar nerve agent: low cholinesterase activity, miosis, nausea, headache, fatigue. Simple irritants don't cause this kind of symptom package.
Notes: "The  improvised  device  allegedly  used  and  its  effect  did  not  indicate  the  use  of  chemical  weapons," OPCW decided, so they skipped the dangerous site visit or testing the fragment. This refers to the device from which the toxic gas was said to emerge. They must mean the negative sarin tests suggesting no sarin residues would be found.  But clealy, it was some kind of weaponized chemical ... with effects quite like sarin's.
They note some inconsistencies, including a mixed DNA sample and "while  a  total  of  16  whole  blood  samples  were  allegedly  linked  to  the  incident  in  Bahhariyeh by the Syrian Government, the DNA testing revealed that the 16 samples originated from only 9 individuals, if the mixed DNA sample was considered, or 8, if it was neglected."

* 4-16-2014 Mleha, Damascus Suburbs   
Used Against: SAA soldiers
 The FFM encountered difficulties in establishing a prevailing narrative ... some discepancies in records noted on time and number of patients,
and witnesses disagreed on "The descriptions of the mission objective, the tunnel location and
entrance, and incursion distance into the tunnel."
a group of eight SAA soldiers "was assigned to either clear a tunnel or breach an area of houses where they discovered a tunnel. This tunnel was the scene of the ensuing incident." Only two commanders at the head of things were interviewed. "One of the interviewees reported to have been inside the tunnel and closer to the alleged release and the other reported to have been outside the tunnel." There was a firefight, some unseen device tossed, a dull blast. "The smell was described as being very disagreeable, like that of corpses or rotting flesh.""All eight team members experienced immediate symptoms described by both interviewees as nausea, sore throat, headache, breathing difficulty, eye irritation, and decreased level of consciousness."
supportive care: "including oxygen, intravenous fluids, and medications. Blood samples were taken and diagnoses were nonspecific. The interviewees stated that the casualties were discharged from the hospital a few days following the incident, in good health."
Note: dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use. 5 of 6 examined cases from 2014-2015 were classed this way (8-29-14, 4-16-14, 7-11-14, 9-10-14, 1-8-15). Only the one involving sarin on 2-15-15 classes as clear CW incident, except they can't say for sure when and how the soldiers were exposed. 

* 4-24-2014 Nawa, Daraa  
Used Against: SAA soldiers, Brigade 61 base
Casualties: a reported 70 killed and about that many seen dead on video (ACLOS NutsFlipped video
 URS1798) No word on or from any survivors.
Sarin: suggested by very high death toll, except that much is unknown about that. Seems didn't have time to put gas masks on (instant death), but that could be staged (for unclear reasons). Some kind of whitish smoke was seen pouring across the valley. 
Smell: no reports...

Caustic: If the blood coughed up by some is related ... it may be too rare to count, and suggests a gunshot in the belly, or a very caustic agent, in some cases

Color: if smoke in the valley is it (not certain, the volume is huge), it appears white or a very pale indistinct color

Symptoms (or clinical signs, observed from low quality video): sometimes nothing clear, some coughing blood, some perhaps showing body contortion, and several with what seems like dark smoke stains on their faces (the most common feature). Some appear wounded or even killed in battle, but most appear uninjured.
Notes: OPCW report lists this as being reported to them, but apparently didn't investigate it. Table 7 shows incidents listed in note verbale 41, with the first being: "24/04/2014, Dar’a – Nawa, 70 fatalities, A brief description of the incident." (not shared)

* 5-29-2014 Harasta, Damascus Suburbs 
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: 7 soldiers killed, ?? affected
note: twice in a day, killing 13 (see below). OPCW report, note verbale 43, no details (date 29 May otherwise appears only as that of another note verbale and of FFM team deployment, both in the following year)

* 5-29-2014  Tadhamun, Damascus 
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: 6 soldiers killed, ?? affected
note: twice in a day, killing 13 (see above). OPCW report, note verbale 43, no details

* 7-11-2014 Mleha, Damascus suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Smell: "a strong smell similar to cleaning products" (sounds like chlorine)
Caustic: as usual
Color: not mentioned
Symptoms: include "coughing, tearing of the eyes, suffocation, nausea, and unconsciousness." (OPCW Dec. 2015 report) chlorine does not usually cause decreased consciousness.
Note: dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use. 5 of 6 examined cases from 2014-2015 were classed this way (8-29-14, 4-16-14, 7-11-14, 9-10-14, 1-8-15). Only the one verified as involving sarin 2-15-15 classes as clear CW incident, except they can't say when and how the soldiers were exposed.

* 8-29-2014 Jobar, Damascus suburbs (two incidents)
** Incident 1 (most noted) 
Used Against: SAA soldiers.
Casualties: 33 affected, none killed
foul irritant and/or chlorine... OPCW report - limited info, no samples, no clear suggestion it may have been sarin - two incidents confused - no direct deaths
Sarin: Not reported, but symptoms may be consistent - no sign that it was checked for or ruled out
Smell:  "some combination of dust, smoke, or mist, which produced a distinct odour described by
most as being similar to rotting flesh." "...a particular odour which some compared to the smell of dead animals or corpses and others reported as similar to rotten eggs. Still others reported that they had never experienced anything similar before and couldn’t compare the smell to anything."
Caustic: airway irritation was the main noted feature

Color: possibly dust-like, color not mentioned (night attack also)

Symptoms/treatment: "a host of varying symptoms, the overall presentation of which was consistent with acute, non-specific irritation of the mucosa and respiratory tract." But with some poorly-defined "variety." "In general, the symptoms described by the soldiers and those observed by the medical
personnel are largely consistent and can be described as the following:
(a) Breathing difficulties 91 %
(b) Burning sensation in the eyes, blurred vision and lacrimation 77 %
(c) Nausea and vomiting 64 %
(d) Reduced consciousness 50 %
(e) Fatigue 35 %
(f) Excessive salivation / drooling 25 %
(g) Dry mouth 18 %" "About 1/3 of the victims lost consciousness on the site and can’t recall how they were taken to the first-aid medical point or hospital." (OPCW finds this not reflected in hospital records, seems to doubt it) "In Hospital 601 most reported being more thoroughly decontaminated with water and being given new clothes before receiving symptomatic treatment with oxygen,
intravenous fluids and in some cases inhalation of ß2 agonists such as salbutamol.
12. All admitted soldiers stayed at least one night in hospital, with 50 % reporting that
they stayed more than one night before being discharged to their unit with orders to
rest for a number of days."
... Particular focus was also on the presence
or absence of secondary contamination from soldier to caregiver at any point during
the rendering of first-aid, transport or definitive treatment in hospital.
(they decided there was none)
Note: dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use. 5 of 6 examined cases from 2014-2015 were classed this way (8-29-14, 4-16-14, 7-11-14, 9-10-14, 1-8-15). Only the one verified as involving sarin 2-15-15 classes as clear CW incident, except they can't say when and how the soldiers were exposed.
note: this "occurred around 18:00" as "a group of about 35 soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army were preparing to advance towards an area held by an opposition group."
everyone seeming to recover on their own and they think no secondary contamination, just by smell, they propose a range of chemicals of unclear plausibility - none of them is sarin - but
chlorine is at the far end of the scale "low probability." Rot and cleaning products smell quite diferent, if not opposite. Diborane (Wikipedia) is their most likely, by smell.  It has no known use as a weapon, but is used as a rocket propellant. They're proposing a random accident of fuel combustion or whatever could be to blame for incapacitating soldiers in the middle of a fight. Twice in a day? and in how many other similar cases?
"As for sarin (GB) or other organic phosphoric compounds (OPs), the smell would not be consistent with the unpleasant signature of rotting corpses or eggs, since the smell of sarin is most frequently described as a sweet smell of apple or pear." Most frequently where? How frequent is this smell? Documented sarin cases in Syria as related above, citing OPCW findings: none features a light, fruity smell. Rather, it's described as foul, rotten, like sulfur, burning nylon, etc. if not usually "like rotting flesh."
Also they're fairly sure there would be secondary contamination if it were sarin, but 8-24 and 8-25-2013 (see above) shows that's not universal in confirmed sarin attacks.

* 8-29-2014 Jobar, Damascus suburbs (two incidents)
** Incident 2 (earlier in the day) 
Used Against: SAA soldiers. none directly killed, but some incapacitated soldiers reportedly captured and killed.
"The FFM identified a notable discrepancy in the prevailing narrative referring to an additional incident" Two casualties agreed on an incident "around 16:00 on the same day." (app. 2 hours earlier than the above) as a smaller group "of around 15 soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army were confronting enemies in Jober when a device allegedly filled with what was described by these two soldiers as a chlorine-like gas was thrown at the group." Like by color? Smell?
A military report (Report of Colonel Commander of Brigade 358 for Special Missions on the Exposure of a Group of Soldiers from the Brigade to the Inhalation of Toxic Gases”) is cited for "the smell of the explosion (reported as chlorine-like, according to witnesses)." The same was reported initially with the Khan al-Assal attack of 3-19-2013, and it wound up being sarin.
"(c) The described chemical incident incapacitated some of the group, apparently preventing them from escaping the scene and ultimately leading to their capture and execution." Chlorine is not incapacitating. See here.
"There then followed a combat/fire fight with opposition groups that led to other fatalities and the capture of other members of the group. The two soldiers interviewed by the FFM were the only ones who managed to flee the scene."

Notes: This was an important event to the Syrians: UN report: "an agreement was reached between the authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic and the FFM to focus initially on the incident reported to have taken place on 29 August 2014 in Jober. The fact that this particular event involved the highest number of casualties from among all of the incidents described in Note Verbale 150 served as the basis for this agreement. " They sent much info, including "a brief description of the device (a locally made device), the firing point of devices (according tothe firing sound)," but apprently had two events mixed into one? Or was only referring to one? "The authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic did provide footage from an open source which purported to describe the aftermath of this incident" (which of the two?) Looking at the two stories apparently as one, which Syria seems to have presented it as, "The FFM was not able to identify a cohesive narrative ..."
FFM asked to re-interview one witness "to clarify points of the narrative," apparently being time: was it at 1800 or 1600? Or, which story did his story fit with, or were there two, or what? It seems they didn't get to re-interview him, and things were left unclear.
Dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use.
 
* 9-10-2014?
Used Against: SAA soldiers
"the smell of something similar to cleaning products" coughing, tearing of the eyes, suffocation and in one case, nausea." - likely enough, chlorine, but see 7-11-2014
Note: dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use. 5 of 6 examined cases from 2014-2015 were classed this way (8-29-14, 4-16-14, 7-11-14, 9-10-14, 1-8-15). Only the one verified as involving sarin 2-15-15 classes as clear CW incident, except they can't say when and how the soldiers were exposed.

* January 2015 Jobar?
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: 20 affected, 3 killed
(OPCW, note verbale 41) - no further info

* 1/8/15? Nubol and Zahraa, Aleppo province  
Used Against: Shia pro-government local militia fighters: Popular Committees/NDF/"Shabiha"
color: a yellow smoke or dust cloud
Smell: "a smell consistent with “chlorine and cleaning detergents” but "Symptoms included decreased level of consciousness and were otherwise consistent with acute, nonspecific irritation of the mucosa and respiratory tract." chlorine does not usually cause decreased consciousness.
Note: dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use. 5 of 6 examined cases from 2014-2015 were classed this way (8-29-14, 4-16-14, 7-11-14, 9-10-14, 1-8-15).
"Witnesses described having intercepted radio communications alerting them to the possibility of toxic chemical attacks. Such communications were also broadcast via the mosque."
"between 13:00 and 17:00, five mortars allegedly landed," unclear which had the chemicals - this was at the outset of a new Jabhat al-Nusra offensive starting this day and into the night (Wikipedia)
A strange "red snow" was reportedly in the mortar shell the gas came from. chlorine can be generated using the magenta-colored potassium permanganate, but using this in a weapon seems difficult... although just this was to be alleged later in 2015, dropped from government helicopters...

* 3-25-2017 Latamnah, Hama province  
Used Against: cave hospital in Islamist-held area
Casualties: a surgeon, a patient, and a medic died, others affected 
Notes: Reported as a chlorine attack with the standard tank seen, the usual smell clearly reported, etc. but ... reported to be sarin hiding under the reported chlorine - just before sarin did re-emerge in the same area, somewhat hiding under chlorine. Dr. Shajul Islam might have been onto something there. The famous fatality Dr. Darwish never did look like a chlorine victim.
Symptoms: ...

* 11-18-2017 Harasta, Damascus suburbs   
Added 3-12-18
Used Against: Ahrar al-Sham fighters
Casualties: 25 rep. affected, mostly fighters but some civilians, no fatalities
Smell: "a stench that does not exist in Sarin gas." (doctor calls it an organophosphate, not sarin)
Caustic: red eyes,airway irritation, treated as chlorine
Color: "white smoke"
Symptoms: miosis, spasms, weakness, loss of consciousness, "excessive salivation," breathing problems, red eyes, "restlessness" - secondary contamination reported.
Notes: some said delivered by hand grenade, others say by artillery shell. This seems to be what US SecDef Mattis referred to  in early 2018, saying he didn't see good evidence for sarin use recently (since Khan Sheikhoun). http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2018/03/alleged-cw-attack-in-harasta-nov-18-2017.html

1 comment:

  1. Thanks. Just twigged why I changed your nickname from Caustic to Toxic Logic. This is valuable outside of Syria as well. I live on the R. Clyde, Scotland. Faslane, Coulport + Glen Douglas are downstream. BAE shipyard upstream and Beith/communications over the water. '70's I worked in the ship breakers next Faslane, the submarine base. Dismantled an aircraft carrier. A large military presence and lots of propaganda to counter.

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