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

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Douma's Mask of Death, part 1

Douma Chemical Massacre, April 7, 2018
Douma's Mask of Death, part 1
April 28, 2018
(rough, incomplete)
updates May 8, 14...

There's still much sorting to do with regards to the clinical signs of the Douma massacre victims, rigor mortis, livor mortis and different body positions, cyanosis and other visible symptoms - much says they died in different positions if not different places before they were piled as we see on video - the copious foam might be fake/added/exaggerated or possibly genuine - I'm being cautious 
diff kinds: sooty hands and not, foaming and not, ... people killed in small groups under different circumstances, piled together here.

Phillip Somerville - @unitambo on Twitter - (credentials... lost that tweet) has offered some useful thoughts, as have others. But to keep it easy, I'll cite only his and mine here.
I like this tweet
"The icing on the cake? We may be tipping into morbid parody here... one comment if I may? While our (Western) governments sow doubts about Russian interference in WMD crime scenes, we unflinchingly launched reprisals based on on images and reports of possibly repurposed cadavers."

moving bodies ...I noted this early on. The baby in purple is perhaps the star victim, and plays into the analysis below. Not the rescuer guy in the dark leaves her there, probably at his feet (the right-hand position). He wears no gloves at all, holding an alleged chlorine-and-nerve-agent victim. She's rescued out onto the street the next morning, close to noon.

Summary; Reposed-repurposed group of asphyxiation victims from likely building fire/collapse.

And it might be far worse than he thought, and not some coincidental suffocation victims. One should ask if these people had been accidentally trapped somewhere to suffocate with no escape, how did someone else get them out of that place so soon after death and all re-arranged somewhere else? They don't appear to have been directly under rubble - maybe one heavy piece of concrete blocked the only exit to a shelter that dozens had crammed themselves into, but a few guys with tools moved it swiftly afterwards? Many have smoke-stained hands, and one baby is coated in soot, but most people are smoke free, including as far as i can see inside their nostrils. Or maybe it was a locked door, the people with the key came back after the people were dead? And maybe that was not just smoke, and it was not accidental ... 

I have some evidence to propose a horrible true story for the original position and manner of death of at least some of the victims. It may not be the true story, and I kind of hope not. But if it is, and I kind of hope it is, we may have the big crack in the case that allows us to see the real events, if we're willing and able to see.

Background: Islamists, Hotsages, Worsened Faces 
I'll start with an abortive sign for possible captivity - what I thought were "raccoon eyes" - those rings around the eyes suggesting skull fracture were seen clearly with the "Baytounji family," on 4 of the 5 victims seen from a 6-member family said killed by a chlorine bomb in Aleppo, during the government offensive of late 2016. Several signs suggest they were hostages, not very well-cared for, perhaps of a historically Christian family (possible misreading there, however). But captivity could be why someone was able to whack each one in the head, maybe just to knock them out to tie them up easier - about 2-3 days before they were finally given the bizarre and unexplained treatment that left their faces looking baked as if by an oven's heat. Their eyes aren't burned red, nor do they show any other sign of chlorine exposure. This is something else no one has explained accurately.

That was up in Aleppo, but this heat aspect might also play into Douma, where some signs point to them suffocating in a fire and smoke situation. But the dark rings thing apparently doesn't translate over directly.

Anyone who's followed my work knows this is my usual opinion, having seen recurrent signs of it since 2013. Where else do you get x-number of red-line-crossing bodies at just the right time? Some of the people they've stolen, expendable infidels with zero so-called "human rights" in the captors' minds - gassed in a basement and then shown on video, either at a controlled hospital, or possibly put in a house, as here, but never shown at the original place of death, the top-secret gas chambers.

Many know this refrain by now, but few seem willing to follow "that far." I don't see where they get these arbitrary stopping points. Are we not dealing with hardcore, genocidal Salafists on a grand jihad?

Let's start here to see wht we shouldn't stop so short. The area was run since sometime in 2012 by the Saudi-backed "Army of Islam" (Jaish al-Islam, and formerly Liwa al-Islam). Syria analyst Joshua Landis wrote in December 2013, as Liwa al-Islam was re-naming itself and expanding, as well as founding a broader "Islamic Front."
This is an anti-Shiite tirade and “bring-back-the-Umayyad-Empire” propaganda piece. It shows how sectarian Alloush is.
Nusayris (Alwaites) into the Rafidi (Shi'ite) grouping, all also referred to as “Majous”, or crypto-Iranians... they are not Arabs." They don't belong.

"Zahran calls for cleansing Damascus of all Shiites and Nusayris. ... ridding Damascus and Greater Syria of the evil works and impure deeds of the Nusayris."

From his now-deleted exhortation video:
The mujahediin of Sham will wash the filth (رجس) of the Rafida and the Rafidia from Sham, they will wash it forever, if Allah wills it, until they cleanse Bilad al-Sham from the filth of the Majous who have fought the religion of Allah. ...  I invite all the mujahidin to join their mujahidin brothers in Sham (Damascus and Greater Syria)

Landis notes "Such language makes Assad’s effort to demonize the revolutionaries and rebels easy." It makes it necessary, in the one case at least. That's self-demonized. Alloush later "walked-back" these comments, before Syrian forces killed in an aistrike anyway. Look at what he walked back! That's shit he said! And he says okay, I'm not really that genocidal, I was having a bad day, freedom is neat up to a point, no mass exterminations, maybe we can trim our bears a little shorter ... and so until now they remain non-ISIS "moderate" rebels who had every right to rule over East Ghouta and all Damascus, if possible.

On its founding in December 2013, as Landis was writing, Jaish al-Islam teamed up with Al-Qaeda franchise Jabhat al-Nusra to raid the nearby Adra district, killing dozens of defending soldiers, massacring many non-Sunnis and abducting hundreds of others, mostly women and children (ACLOS, Adra Massacre). Many more than anyone knows were abducted from other areas JaI and allies controlled before then and since (see part 2). They impose strict Islamic law in their areas, and those seen as needing it were put in a "repentance prison" until they got their religion right - religious minorities disappear, by fleeing early enough or otherwise. Adra captives and other supposed sub-humans owned by Jaish al-Islam were used for slave labor to dig the vast tunnel system underneath East Ghouta, we now learn (see here). In the meantime, Zahran's brother Mohammed Alloush lives on, is or has been the political leader of Jaish al-Islam and also, as a respected "moderate rebel" leader, was alowed to take the slot of top "negotiator" in the Saudi-backed "peace talks" in Geneva (Alloush mainly refused to talk with a genocidal dictator, and Damascus largely refused to negotiate with the leader of a genocidal terrorist group. Good choice if you don't want peace...).

The Ghouta massacre of August 2013 involved hundreds of likely hostages gassed at once across JaI-diminated East Ghouta ... the first two recorded CW alleged deaths were to "displaced" children in areas Liwa al-Islam was then conquering, in November, 2012. Some things in between are far too deep to explain here but make this all seem possibly relevant to these people gassed to death in JaI's last days, at their last chance to possibly gas hostages and blame a government CW attack for it. That will be part 2. But it's partly discussed in other posts here. See also:

First we look at the current victims, but even firster than that ... Back to the late Zahran's walked-back comments: ... this part is a bit odd:
And I bid you, o unclean (أنجاس) Rafida, that as the Banu Umayya destroyed your skulls in the past, the people of the Ghouta and the people of Sham will destroy your skulls in the future. And they will make you taste the worst torture in life (الدنيا), before Allah makes you taste the worst torture on judgment day. O unclean Rafida, you will find what you never expected, from the force of the Mujahediin of Islam in Bilad al-Sham until they make you taste the worst torture. O unclean Rafida, you’ll find what will worsen your faces [image, يسوء وجوهكم] in life (الدنيا), what will harm you in life and shame you on judgement day. 

Diagnosing the Mask
There's clearly a danger of reading that last part about "worsening your face" too literally here. It's a figure of speech only possibly meant literally as well. And if he meant real facial harm was intended, it might take different forms...

But this could be one of those. Here's a basic extraction of the "mask of death" seen, usually in yellow-brown like this, on some but not all Douma massacre victims. (used: GIMP2, layers, color sampling, cleanup, artistic liberty with invisible parts - reference photo is faintly in backdrop, and see image 1 below).

what it could be - I though two victims alone displaying periorbital ecchymosis, or "raccoon eyes," which suggests violent head trauma in the recent past, but prior to the alleged chemical attack (appearance and fading of the swollen, bruised eye effect is on the scale of days). That would have been interesting, but after seeing some of these better and later views, I changed my mind, at about the same time Somerville weighed in with this alert:

"[these] aren't raccoon eyes in my estimation. The bruising-burning is superficial and patchy-linear. Raccoon eyes comes from bleeding into eye socket. Livid, deep, distinctive." He repeated this along with possible exceptions a few times, like here: "Cannot exclude possibility of ecchymosis from blast trauma or paroxysmal squinting... Unlikely to be 'racoon eyes' assoc w/#base-skull as no eyelid bruising or periorbital oedema." I totally agree, with less background knowledge (but still enough to matter). 

Yes, I've vacillated  over that too. Flash burn, coughing-squint ecchymosis, raised ICP ecchymosis from paroxysmal asphyxiation, blast injury ecchymosis. Can't rule out asphyxiation from chlorine agent either...

A welder's flash burn came up, but this looks more like a sunburn when it's on skin, not like the cases we see. That is a sort of mask shape, of the upper face except the eyes kind like in old-fashioned masquerade balls. But just ugly yellow-brown, for the most part. All around but especially under the eyes, fading down the upper cheeks, often strong across bridge of nose, and fainter or sporadic across the brow an, lower forehead. But each case looks different - like surface staining, sub-surface bruising, chemical burn/blisters, or allergic rash.

There are a few victims with similar signs I considered, but didn't include in this list of six images for six victims that clearly display some version of this strange pattern. So there may be more than this, but no less. These are cropped from various photos and video stills, mostly Anadolu/Getty ones, with various enhancements. Source links later, and I consider this fair use as usual, in the public interests of pursuing truth and justice.

May 14: adding vitim references as laid out in the floor plan infographics here.

Mask 1, woman: sorry for the unneeded ickiness - the woman in black with massive foam seen atop the pile. From the usual side-view with face covered, only part of this dark yellow-brown pattern was visible, and I thought had "raccoon eyes" in the advanced brown-bruise stage of healing - but seen from the front like this, it's clearly something else horrible and mysterious. Source for illustration above.
No color-specific enhancements here, just a global saturation increase - note darker brown all around the eyes, fading to yellow down the cheeks, but with a clear-skin dividing line up each cheek. The shielded eyes could be from some protection like swimmer's goggles, or perhaps from tight squinting. But the odd line of clear skin down her nose and these cheek lines at least follow no normal folds of the skin - something almost had to be added to her face to cause these differences.
Cyanosis: slightly purple forehead, pale/yellowish chin and cheeks

May 14: this is victim W7 on the ground floor, in front of the shower. It's noteworthy that she, with the clearest and strangest manifestation of the mystery mask, is among those NOT put on display in the tunnels morgue scene later on the 8th.

Mask 2, boy (victim B6): seen in other views on his back, alone in a side-room, with thick white foam and smoke-stained hands ... seen outside the house around 11 am with foam still present, and seen again at the tunnels morgue with foam dissolved (after a furious hosing with what I suspect is highly chlorinated water). 

Here, yellow blistering under the eyes? Distinct bands, with a swollen look, seeming to cast shadows in this low-angled light. Maybe not ... faint sharper rings all around the uoter half of the eyes ... all about the same color as the yellowish stuff that's trickled out of his moth (is that fresh fluid, or a stain? If it's a stain, how many different yellow-brain staining fluids can his face have been exposed to? It must be the same all around.
cyanosis: purple forehead, slightly purple cheeks, very purple ears, pale chin

Add May 8: A higher resolution view suggests the yellow area is burnt/irritated, possibly blistered, with surrounding skin reddened as if by a strong irritant. It's not external material, or it would be washed away by now. This view also suggest less cyanosis in the forehead than the other view, but it still seems to be there, especially in the ears. All throughout but clearest here: some dinginess of the ckeeks to slightly match his hands - looks like smoke stains.
May 14 add: this is victim B6, #31 out of 35 as I numbered them. note the mouth corner leaks - which came after the first washing of the material across his cheeks - has also left a brown stain along the drying edge especially, that remains after the second washing outside in the morning (seen here later in the morgue array somewhere in the tunnels). So what else would cause yellow brown stains all up his face, all around but not in his eyes? It must be the staining fluid he coughed up, and his head at least must have been upside-down.

Mask 3, boy (victim ref B3): I had thought this was "raccoon eyes" case #2 of 2, with an extra blood exit (skull fracture) across the bridge of the nose. Now seeing it's in the same kind of mask pattern ... see below. Here the usual brown-yellow appears only around the edges (behind right eye, faded), with the usual pattern over the upper cheeks and under the eyes all filled in with what seems a blood-colored stain, or even clotted blood with some volume to it.
Cyanosis: deep purple lips, fairly purple face, but little notable difference across the face, and no sign in the ears.

Add May 8: Close-up on the right side around his right eye - black areas appear dry, with spots of white crust. Some blood in the eyes, not bloodshot eyes.

Mask 4, man (M2): no cyanosis or sign of fluids, but smoke-stained - similar dark cheek pattern to the woman in image 1 (including clear strip angling across, or so it appears) - a better view would help.
May 14, the other side, once I clarified this is the same guy, victim M2 on the first floor:

Mask 5, older girl (G6): Not sure which victim this is and if there's a better view than this side-view. Here the mask manifests as what looks like a sunken orange rash-burn. But maybe it's just level, and stained? As with others, some random dots of it up to about the mid-forehead.
May 14: this is victim G6, on the second floor. From video:

Mask 6, baby girl (I4 - I guess should be G9): invisible at first, hours later this girl's face seems to have broken out in a rash, but it appears in the same pattern. No cyanosis notable: rash is red (livid). Some hints of yellow on her left cheek, and a strangely stained earlobe behind that - it's bright yellow. Was she washed off better than the others, maybe just to be photogenic? But some yellow staining and the later rash from skin irritation in those areas remained to suggest she has the same and unknown story as these others, if with some variations.

Add May 8: a morgue view later on shows deeper lividity, same basic pattern. But as with the others, no sign of reddened eyes as will happen with even moderate exposure to chlorine.

Others may show the same signs - I and others will keep an eye out. It may be hard to say sometimes, as the baby and boy in images 6 and 2 show it often has a delayed appearance.

Yellow 'bruising' or 'flash burns' around eyes more likely to be glazed-stained tears from heat/smoke.

I suppose the presumption of tears coms from the fact that it happens around the eyes, but oddly, all around and not in the eyes, notable skipping the tear duct area in most or all cases.

Upside-Down With Goggles?
Also note images 1 and 2, the woman and boy have purple foreheads, lower part a more drained, pale yellowish color. This is basically livor mortis (with cyanosis, so purple) vs. pallor mortis....
small swimmer's goggles? squinting eyes will wind up protected in a fairly similar - but I think a different - manner.  And other clues suggest physical goggles were in place: straps one might use to secure them (usually in an abnormal way, however)  and (image 1, across the cheeks, perhaps up the nose and then dividinf across her forehead?), injury to the bridge of the boy's nose (image 2) - and possible material accumulation.

Boy victim #2 upside-down, with standard swimmer's goggles added.

This mostly explains just the shape of yellow we see, top and bottom.  Again, it's the same color and probably the same stuff he coughed up, likely mucous, which is produced after exposure to caustic agents like chlorine. The color is usually kind of yellow, but this may be tinted by the gas they were exposed to, also said to be yellow (chlorine does not impart a color like that). There may have been a lot, rolling down one cheek or another (you'd tilt your head to keep it out of your nose if possible, and be blowing it out your nose too, struggling to breathe, turning purple, upside down. A fucking kid. I hope I'm wrong about this.

Anyway, it would build up on top of his googles, secured perhaps somehow that involves injuring the bridge of his nose, because it was injured. Possible strap line on one side is thin, and about where the face creases, likely coincidence. The goo would roll down the curve of the goggles, around the sides, and  largely down from there, with some following the opposite curve down to the center, but not back up. Mid-eye would be the drip point if one were upside-down, the end of that thin line at the top of the eye. It is, in this and every case. Ulp. If one were cyanotic and left hanging like this for a time after death, that's more time for half-charged but heavy red-blood cells, blue and red, to settle to lower parts of the body. All blood in his face would start separating, redder towards the forehead (or here, purpler), and paler in the lower face. Ulp.

Also note everything we see in that image is after some time and a good hosing down. It should not be original goo, but stains left behind to cause this yellow mask. If that makes sense... it might be somehow corrosive/irritating and also strongly staining.

And it could be that boy victim #3 here got a stronger dose of the caustic chemical and mainly coughed up lots of blood, doing the same pooling around the lenses, and here more down the middle, up the bridge of his nose. some of which stained, and some of which might have coagulated in the corner of his right eye, remaining even after a hosing down.(possible illusion). Such a victim would often die quicker, before the mass production of mucous begins. On the other hand, deep cyanosis like his sets in more often with a fairly lingering death.  

And let's flip victim #1, the woman. Straps across the cheeks, not along any natural creases that could be shielded by holding a certain face. Straps would run over he forehead, maybe crossing off-center up her nose along the way, there securing the goggles. The straps and the goggles all cause fluid slow-down, leading to increasing stains, yellow to deep brown, again pouring down the sides and down to the center of the lower curve, the drip point if one were upside-down. more rolled genrally down to her forehead, angled and moved in such a way that these fainter spots were final lowest-possible drip points from her whole head at different times. Also, less clearly than vcitm #2 but clearly enough, the increased, if purple, lividity of her upper head suggests she was upside down to at least some degree for the longest time after death. (enhancement: color-faded backdrop with mask colors popped out on their own layer)

As for the baby - they make baby-sized swimmer's goggles, which these guys might have on hand if they want to toss some more "beautiful babies" across Obama's red line for Trump to deal with. Her stained cheek and earlobe suggest she was on her back, not upside down. So her whole face will be the pallor side, and her backside should be red/purple. The irritation rash is also off the forehead almost totally, across the cheek and around the eyes, coughing corrosive goo, this baby ... and on he chin as well, irritating a prior injury, probably from rough handling during her short life probably born into captivity by foreign-enabled Islamists.

Add later 4-28: Another possible case: what must almost be Fatmeh Qarouq/Qarout, the pregnant alleged wife of alleged survivor Khaled Nuseir. Finally a victim we can put a tentative name on. (few seriously pregnant young women should be expected in a pool of about 40 - probably just one if any). 

If this is the same thing, she was treated more like the baby in purple: face irritation more on the cheeks than forehead and under eyes, and no evident cyanosis or livor/pallor mortis difference on this side, so likewise, the pregnant woman they gassed must have been left face-up. She may have had goggles like the others, but aside from a black dot (a fly?), there's no sign around her eyes. Her eyes seem white like the rest, not red like someone exposed to chlorine. The main yellow fluid pooling point was under her left cheek. Prior fluids washed off, like the baby, but apparent rash or stains remain. After washing, she was placed here, and had fresh fluid of a faintly yellow-brown color roll out the other corner of her mouth, and now seems rolled back into more of her original position. Later views will be interesting: does she have new stains or burns at that corner of her mouth now? Any later-developing signs to clarify the picture? 

Summary and Conclusion
Summary (needed?)

It's alleged these people were killed by a combined nerve agent and chlorine vapor, with witnesses describing the chlorine smell and eye irritation as the most evident thing. But most victims, including these, don't show any redness to the eyes, despite a fatal dose of allegedly the same caustic stuff. I don't know if it was chlorine or not, alone or in combination, that was used. It seems possible. But whatever it was, they may have decided to shield peoples' eyes with goggles, and their eyes aren't damaged.

Why? Not sure ... possibly just to give us a white-eyes debunk for the prevalent chlorine claims, by way of a false lead? I imagine there's a better reason than that, maybe a few reasons working together. You must have a reason for such an odd decision that might leave the strongest clues of your criminal operation...

Ok, so we might note a woman, a man, two boys, an older girl and a baby girl sounds like a possible complete family, who shared this horrible fate the others didn't quite. But the ttwo boys don't look much like brothers, to similar in age and different in appearance. But for what it's worth, only one family pops out among the few identified by the Douma-based opposition VDC's database: al-Sheikh/Shaikh family lost 2 men, 2 boys, 3 girls, and a wife or two with presumably different family name (none are noted, but likely among the same identified, usually by family). Otherwise, they could well be among the many no one has provided the VDC with an ID story for.)

In Part 2 I'll go into what I've seen before that might shed light on this - some similarities. In fact, Jaish al-Islam prisoners gassed purple and coughing up yellow goo and/or blood while hanging upside-down is something I've seen before, on a large scale in fact, and in this basic area...

Add May 14: three clear additions, and some others worth considering at least to come....

Mask 7 (G9):...lacking in good views - note: this huge later outporing of foam may appear fake, and may be, but such things can naturally happen is a body with foam-filled lungs is moved (this girls' body was I fact moved before we see this foam emerge. Cyanosis: deep purple, advancing up the face - yellow chin and tip of nose - dark ring under eye, skin of the eyes apparently lighter in hue (possibly protected)

Mask 8 (G3): ...

Mask 9 (G5): ...little to no goggle signs, and eyes always closed (untested rawness). But strange symmetrical pattern on the upper face suggests perhaps the same we've seen, forehead/bridge of nose shielded, perhaps around the nose and mouth somehow, but not the nose itself (??). A build-up and burn point or poss. a prior scar or other on her nose...





Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Surface-Fired Chemical Tanks?

April 24, 2018
(rough, incomplete)

Chlorine barrel bombs as shown over the years often have a metal harnesses seen attached or nearby in pieces. These make some sense in the allegation that they're dropped from government helicopters. This is one way of attaching fins to help it fall the right way, and even little rolling wheels to make pushing it out of the chopper a easier. (see wheels attached here, in the napping cylinder linked to the alleged chemical attack in Douma on 7 April. - yellow box. Credit: Andrew).

But also note how it remains loose around the cylinder - not unlike the welded-on collars used to attach exterior fins to standard "Hell Cannon" shells, which are modified propane tanks of a much smaller size than these yellow ones.
Petri Krohn on Twitter:
The #harness around the #DoumaGasMassacre cylinders is needed to fire the #chlorine cylinder from a #HellCannon.
Similar harnesses were used in early Hell Cannon variants.

How did the rooftop cylinder escape from its corset? Or were both pieces planted?

If chlorine tanks of this size could be fired, it would be with a much bigger weapon, with a much wider, yet very thin-sided firing tube. As far as I know, no one has seen such a weapon. It seems entirely possible, but unknown (as far as I know, which isn't that far).

Neither tank shown in the Douma attack appears to have really fallen or flown into place, instead seeming planted. The damage to the tanks is too little to suggest much of a fall, and the damage at the buildings seems to be from something else in each case.

I don't know of any prior cases in the area suggest such tanks being fired in. If so, the devices used for that should be found soon, if not already. If not, then probably such a weapon doesn't exist there, so let's not allege it and get people expecting that.

Other places, Aleppo and Idlib, where rebel military industry is more evolved, it seems they probably have been firing these things around. I don't mean to make a detailed study, but I'll start with one case as a good example, and maybe add a few more in time.

Sarcastically, I replied to Petri:
But in the real world we can see these fall with massive force, straight down from way up, smashing trough floor after floor of buildings straight down, only stopping in shreds.
Case in point Khan al-Assal 22/8/2017

(graphic updated here to show normal artillery angles vs. helicopter drops (basic idea).)
red = impact area (app. hole punch #1 and only)
pink circle = apparent impact point (not 100% certain, but I think that's where it hit - rough patch there, an plaster tends to fall off at impact point and below. Possible re-bar segment impact on far right, same level, just above window frame)
pink lines = trajectory to there, and apparent bounce to resting place
orange - angle of flung debris that chipped the walls

Normal helicopter barrel-bomb-type drops are done by hovering over the selected target and dropping the weapon straight down. If they did it while flying at speed, from a very low altitude, this kind if angle and force might be possible. But it's just very, very unlikely, this was dropped from an aircraft.

It's also possible this thing was planted, but they picked a poor site for their case if so, and the whole scene makes sense to me as a surface-fired gas cylinder. Here, perhaps a slightly looser harness than in Douma, able to fit round the firing tube? That's not obvious to me. But look at that incoming angle!

Update 4/29, Skipping some maths but adding anyway: Considering if it were at usual height, but speeding at 100mph...
100mph is 44 m/s. Terminal velocity at least  200 m/s for random orientation. Yes a smallish angle and if I could recall my geometry course I'd be able to tell you what. But air resistance will slow the 44 m/s a bit so it'll be steeper than you might think. 15-20 degrees? (guess)
calculates under 12
Just take a triangle of vertical 200 (increasing) and horizontal 44 (decreasing) to estimate a possible angle.
That I could do easily and did. Average slope (pink) measures 12 degrees on the protractor. Realistic curve added here (red) comes out more like 6 or 7 degrees from vertical at impact. The true curve should be a bit different but similar, well under 12 degrees. And that's for a helicopter speeding along at 100mph. Normally if you want your barrel bomb to fall on that school or that one basement-trapped family, you hover over it and drop straight down, let gravity provide your accuracy. Higher speeds could increase the angle, and obviously so could a lower altitude, albeit within range of rebel surface fire. But what would it take besides speeding low to take the 6-7 degrees and turn it into more like 60 degrees? It's impossible. There was simply no fall from a helicopter or any other aircraft. Surface firing is the only other option.

Some think the Khan al-Assal cylinder was planted there, but I don't think so, and I just noticed this: the 7 or so torn short segments of rebar on the far side of the hole and the long, ladder-like flung segment prove it was a long-bodied object like this, flying in endwise, that tore the rebar. It was going almost between the rebar on its width axis, and against it the other way, over that long a span (in red). That's not consistent with this falling in horizontally - too small a hole. But the hole is too big and the tearing of the grid is wrong for a normal, nose-down vertical drop, which we can already see wasn't the case. It came in at whatever angle gets that yellow bar fitting through that hole about the red bar's width. Probably about the same angle as all the other damage suggests. So it was not just planted, nor dropped from a hovering or a speeding helicopter. Surface firing is the only other option, however exactly it was done.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Douma CW Massacre: The Witnesses Who Don't Blame Assad

Douma CW Massacre:
The Witnesses Who Don't Blame Assad
April 22, 2018
(rough, incomplete)

A New Trend in Witnesses to Regime Crimes?
Many times over the years we've heard opposition supporters almost exclusively interviewed to support claims of a Syrian government atrocity. Rarely do we hear from people denying these stories, or lodging counter-claims against the opposition's Islamist forces (unless it's Islamic State/Daesh). But in the weeks after the April 7 alleged chemical attack in Douma, we've heard now from three kinds of people to the usual one kind.

Type 1: Assad CW Attack: first came the usual, White Helmets types, activists, alleged survivors, other locals clearly blaming the government for a chemical attack. Some even saw the "barrel bombs" falling from helicopters, already pouring green smoke into the dark night sky as they fell. No one on the rebel side has helicopters, so the blame is just as easy as usual here. They know where people died (basements, hiding), what it smelled like, why you couldn't save people, and should expect a high death toll, etc. and they're clear it's part of Assad's obvious and continuing CW genocide.

Type 2: No CW Attack: In this case, unlike most, the ruling Islamists surrendered and left, for the most part, within a couple days of the incident. Investigators and media thus had unusual access, and soon we heard from others claiming there was no CW attack. One is the soon-to-be famous boy Hassan Diab, shown in clinic videos used to claim a government CW attack, but later interviewed on RT with his father about how he was pressed into the performance. (The Russians promise to show this at the UN, and some will surely just walk out.) We've also heard from the medical staff, many residents (for example Robert Fisk's helpful report from Douma in the Independent, April 17), all swearing they saw no signs of toxic gas released in the open. They couldn't be certain none was released in some basement somewhere, but no open release of anything they saw or smelled, or heard anything credible about from anyone else.

There are varied inclusions of something that might cause confusion - the bombing may have cause cases of smoke inhalation and suffocation. But either way, many people rushed the clinic, and then as they recount someone shouted chlorine, sparking a panic about the chemicals was staged around them. But they say, or think, there was nothing real to panic about, and it was a fake scene staged by White Helmets types.

But I don't mean to dwell on the details of the cases for or against. Instead let's look at an unexpected third kind of witnesses, arriving on the scene in the last few days, at about the same time Fisk and others were breaking the type 2 version. These may be coming out in reaction to that, but the order isn't entirely clear. These people claim there was in fact a chemical attack, but they re-phrase it. Now it's not a clear regime crime. Helicopters are not mentioned. Some issues with the evidence are acknowledged. In fact, the (now-defunct?) Army of Islam group (Jaish Al-Silam, JaI) is tentatively blamed for the real CW attack - by some people, whose opinion on that point may not matter in the end.

But they maintain that toxic chemicals were released, and some of these people also have stories claiming some of those killed as family, which in context is always dubious. Aside from the witnesses, the best evidence so far suggests the blamed gas canister(s) were plated, not dropped or launched - accounts of no open chemical release - signs of staging, and the past precedent with some signs here; the victims were likely people held hostage by the Islamists, property they'd rather cash in for propaganda points then set free as they agreed to close shop and take the bus to Idlib. Everyone can see which side motive favors.

And we have two classes of witness not blaming Assad but still basically calling each other liars. One of them fits with the best evidence, and one contradicts a lot of it.

Is this a different take on activist claims? For once don't blame Assad, acknowledge a problem with the presented evidence, etc. Find ways to appeal to "the other side." But then use that to maintain, to a wider audience, the key elements of what will still go down as a regime crime in the end. Here, that gas was released, from a canister that was dropped or fired, by just who is clearly debatable (but we know who would lose the blame game at the OPCW and UN, etc.).

And most importantly, they remind us that people died, they know details, and those prove that this gas some people deny killed innocents ... who were not hostages of the ruling terrorists, just random victims of their weapons. Or, as it will turn out later, of Assad's weapons after all. If so, it's clearly that second half about who the victims are they're most afraid of having stick. Gas bombs: in. Gas chambers: out. 

Anyone following the information war could have advised this subtler approach - if governments and agencies like the OPCW are bound to blame the government in the end, you don't need every witness affirming it from the start. In fact by placing some more flexible points as coming from what seems to be "the other side" could make it seem like "people from both sides" agree on X and Y facts at least, helping to steer the eventual "balanced" decision the agencies and the mainstream are to arrive at. They might blame the rebels, make some dig at the White Helmets, something to score points with those doubting the Islamist narrative - maybe just as bait to get them believing their account, and accepting that there really was a chemical *attack* someone needs to investigate and punish, and it used those stupid yellow tanks...

Khaled Nuseir and Company
First the chlorine, then chaos and death in Syria attack - Sarah el Deeb, Associated Press, April 18, 2018 - http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/chlorine-chaos-death-syria-attack-54550403

This hears from Khaled Nuseir, 25, vegetable vendor, in Douma. He says he saw the leaking gas cylinder and "said it didn't appear that it was dropped from the air because it still looked intact. "There was no sound of explosion," he said... "If we are standing here and something falls from an aircraft, doesn't it explode? The cylinder was intact when we found it and it was leaking." So he claims he was exposed to, close to, or witnessed the same gas twice. He does have some odd appearance, tired or hooded eyelids, etc. But he never did die. FWIW the name Khaled means immortal.

The report adds: "He and two other residents accused the rebel Army of Islam, which controlled Douma until the militants surrendered it, of carrying out the attack. As they spoke, government troops were nearby, but out of earshot." So we're to gather they aren't coerced, and might be telling the truth. After all, most people can realize, Jaish al-Islam had the better motive to do such a thing. 

Nusair and two other unnamed "residents" are cited, and an attached photo shows three men, presumably the same. Mr. Nuseir is most likely the one talking, shown here in a crop.

photo credits: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, Monday, April 16, 2018.  "Kahled Mahmoud Nuseir, 25, center, ... in front of a hospital that locals referred as Point One, background, just meters away from where in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, ...The survivors blamed the attack on the Army of Islam ... although they did not offer evidence to back up their claims."

He also claims here his wife, 9-months pregnant, and his two infant girls all died in the attack. The names he gives for his wife and daughters all appear, a bit differently, in opposition lists (see ACLOS for details).  That could be a good sign or a bad one, depending.

Another appearance at about the same time was run on April 17 from German reporter Dirk Emmerich with NTV News:
with Translated subtitles:

The man in the middle of the photo (same face, hair and clothing, but not named) speaks briefly as other watch intently. He says he smelled something "strange", but it soon faded. He drank water and felt better. If any family members died, he doesn't mention it here. It doesn't seem he addresses blame here.

Then, Emmerich heard from a crowd disagreeing with that. They didn't see or smell or feel anything suggesting toxic chemicals were released. They're emphatic, and seem amused at the absurdity of the claim, sometimes smiling.

Then he hears from an older man with a gray beard presented to confirm what the other guy said - he too definitely smelled chlorine. But he adds that it's not clear who might have deployed it, blaming neither side explicitly. Strange that this needs to come up, and wind up not blaming Assad. 

That disagreement is very interesting, and forms part of my doubts about this guy Khaled Nuseir and the others agreeing with him, as first outlined here:

Just because he blames terrorists instead of Assad or Russia doesn't mean his story is true. His given case is not convincing. If the canister had fallen from a helicopter, it won't make an "explosion sound," but it would probably be far more damaged if it really fell that far, and would clearly rupture. Here, it's not visually clear if either tank did rupture. They don't seem damaged enough to have. But he swears it was that damaged and leaking, he saw it, other questions aside. As for his theory Jaish Al-Islam did it: if that's his basis, it wouldn't go far towards convincing those trained to blame "animal Assad" for everything.

Other than those surface-level twists, Khaled Nuseir's account displays a familiar and dubious pattern - He asserts that gas was released from a canister deployed as a weapon, in contrast to what many credible others say.. He says "I lost my children," like Abdelhamid Al-Yousef did, and others before and since.
He escaped the house and made it to a clinic, but passed out there, while his wife and children died in the shelter, developing "white foam" before he saw them again just after waking up. (see Yousef's version of this story here)

Mr. Nuseir also says in the el Deeb AP report that his shelter held 51 people, and Only 5 of those survived, including him and, by usual patterns, we might guess four other fighting age men, for 46 dead there. Two distinct sites are claimed in that same report. He adds that the bodies from his shelter, apparently including his wife and girls, were collected the next day and buried in a mass grave near the zoo. That's an unusual bit of information to add, like a leak that also makes it seems like rebels might be covering something up. But he knows where the OPCW can find them... he may have well-informed sources that have him saying all this.


How Many People Make these Claims?

So, in this class of unusual witness accounts refusing to blame Assad but stil disagreeing with most accounts and evidence, is at least:
- Khaled Nuseir,
- his two unnamed agreeing residents,
- the older man, and perhaps that slick little guy staring so intently at him, then seeming to broadcast agreement towards everyone else, like: "I know a truth-teller, and this guy for sure smelled chlorine like he says. Right, guys?"

4+ noted there, and there's also Nasser Amer Hanan/Hanen, perhaps the episode's star witness, who spoke to CBS News' reporter Seth Doan (footage also used by the BBC).

and separately he was interviewed by Stefan Borg of Sweden's TV4 News, and others.

From the second interview, subtitles translated via Petri Krohn (ACLOS), Naser says he and many others were all sitting segregated in the basement when the "bomb" hit 4 floors above, and "Suddenly there was a sound like a valve on a gas pipe was opened." He heard it down there. Perhaps realizing how stupid this is, he immediately explains "It is difficult to explain. I cannot explain. I do not know what to say." Then he remembers it's about emotion, not logic, and continues so: "The situation makes me cry. Children and toddlers, around 25 children."

He says his mother and his wife died, besides his "brothers." But that could be a translation issue, singular read as plural; Opposition lists have just one brother, the same name he gives, Hamzeh. His wife and mother are unclear - they would retain "maiden names," usually - three females with the same Hanan name are listed and apparently unexplained. (see ACLOS link above)  Or is this a Christian family? A modern/secular tradition-shunning family? As some note, he doesn't look jihadist, and never says Allah anything. The same seems to apply for Mr. Nuseir above.

He says his brother Hamzeh tried to wash himself at the sink, but died, while Naser watched, and then fled while Hamzeh died... or... whatever. As for his beloved wife, and mother ... He cannot explain. He doesn't know what to say. He might forget what they told him to say. It was all so very sad, he cannot remember clearly...

Okay, this guy ... it's not in the video reports, but after the fact, the reporter Stefan Borg adds that Mr. Hanan blamed the rebel side for doing this and also he blamed the White Helmets for not coming to rescue them. (from this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcjbsRh2c34 - fuller exact translation later)

Well that certainly doesn't sound like bait to embrace an unlikely story, does it?

Other examples will likely emerge when I dig for them, but at 5+ it's clear enough to call out. After this post, there's a good chance the trend will stop - maybe because it was just a localized fluke that already played its short course, maybe because I just called the strategy of smarter propaganda they were hoping to expand. 

Add 4-24: no other examples yet, but more on Khaled, thanks to a comment
AP video, 16 April interview with  Khaled Mahmoud Nuseir
From the provided transcript:

I came back from my work around dusk (April 7?) then went down to the basement, we were around 50 to 60 people  in the basement. All the alley was in this basement. We were praying during the dusk prayers (should be app. 7pm) when we felt a bottle of gas was opened - it was not a hit. I fainted for almost 10 hours (10 minutes?). When I woke up, (4-5 AM April 8? well after most videos filmed - or let's say he said or meant minutes)  I ran to the hospital here, where (the White Helmets) were. ... I told them: 'For God's sake, the people are still alive.' They did not accept to go and help.
(He passed out again at the "hospital"?)
I woke up at two o'clock after midnight (2 am on April 8?), I ran to the basement and found my children and my wife on the ground with foam at their mouths. I carried my children to the hospital and they (White Helmets) did not help me until the next day. (or later on April 8) At 10 o'clock (am?) we brought them out, while they refused to help. On the second day (still 4-8?), local officials (from the local council of Douma) came to inspect. We went up and found a missile with a certain volume, but it had not exploded - as if someone put it there and opened it, but it was not dropped by a plane. We could not see anything. We were in the basement and if someone came and shot us we would not know."
"The Army of Islam is behind it. They did it. They destroyed the country and escaped."
(Question: "What was the smell?")
"It was something yellow that approached us, like a yellow dust."
he "says 47 people were killed, including his pregnant wife and two young daughters, in one underground shelter."
At 1:52 he shows his girls, allegedly, when alive. The clothing they wear doesn't ring a bell among the victims seen at the 35-bodies site. In those clothes would be suspicious, but did they die or get dumped at the other site, talked about but no bodies shown?
So, planted evidence, not even a hit from it being fired, just set there ... but which site? Which cylinder does he refer to? He says up, but not to the roof or a balcony. Both shown have damage associated he doesn't explain. Maybe it's a third site?

Nope. El Deeb/AP went to the site, saw blankets along the wall, no blood, and showed entrance to the basement. Same place we've been analyzing. So ... WTF is this guy talking about? And is there no second site with bodies? People said there were, but they keep pointing to this same one.
Add 4-28: This should probably be Mr. Nuseir's alleged wife Fathmeh Qarouq. No foam per se. Some leaking yellowish mucous, signs or more, causing skin irritation or staining on the cheeks, Seems to have been laid on her back, from the evenly pale color of her skin, and how the fluid doesn't seem to have gone "up" over her eyes and forehead, like in some other cases. So good sign: he din;t leave his wife tied hanging upside down with swimmer's goggles on. Tied, goggles, perhaps, but not upside-down.