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.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Trial by Word Salad

"Douma Hostage Massacre": Trial by Word Salad
November 10, 2018

I recently resurrected the old Douma Hostage Massacre story of August, 2012, seeing how it hadn't stuck very well before - I produced an undeniable clarified visual match, with explanation of all the coincidences required to evade the conclusion: Islamist militants slaughtered the same soldiers and policemen they had just arrested, and passed the bodies off as innocent "youths" killed by "Assad's thugs." As noted there, the story originates with a brilliant German woman, Ursula Behr, who recently died of cancer, partly spurring this review. 

Anyone who's seen that and doesn't like it might be wondering how to challenge the obvious-seeming evidence. The rest of this post shows how you don't do it  - folks, do not attempt this jack-ass behavior at home. 

A different class of responses from a wider pool of respondents wisely emphasizes not engaging the evidence, and will be covered in another post. Now, we look at the best and only challenge that grudgingly considers the primary evidence in a very poor manner.

"Rami" (@DyingSlow on Twitter) is a self-described Atheist Syrian living in Canada, who has fiercely adopted every claim of the Sunni-extremist mainstream of the uprising - especially their line that there are no extremists. His avatar shows White Helmets as the standard "Heores." As a SYRIAN he claims intimate knowledge of events, authority to speak for all Syrians, who all oppose Assad and rose up peacefully, none of whom are Islamists, or criminal, ever, and received no outside help. And he knows about this … somewhow. He claims connections in Syria, but all the points he brings are from the same dubious mainstream sources anyone can link to.

This Atheist supporter of the non-Jihad also gets to be an expert on events in Libya somehow. And Iran, everywhere else of interest to the global takfiri project. And he's also on occasion an expert on video artifacting, and psychology, and whatever else... just enough to uphold every major Jihadist trope, no matter how widely discredited. He seems to think Iran and Shi'ism as the sole source of Islamism and oppression in the world. And maybe Communism. He's best known for the phrase "misguided foreigner Putin's troll," which he uses nearly once per tweet on average when he's in "debate" mode. His displays of idiocy were so conspicuous and then sporadic my doubts led to the question - finally explained better here - can they really be this stupid? I decided in this case, no - he was playing dumb to invite *education* that's really just his way of wasting your time.

But this is all general portrait, sort of broad-strokes impression, and not the main subject, which is how he handled the findings Ursula Behr originated in 2012. he's the only one to remain engaged - I suspect to keep wasting my time - to awkwardly deny the evidence up-close in more detail. So he offers a preview of what lies ahead to those who persist and don't block me right off, and a good reason why, perhaps, the others decided to cut it short.

But even with Rami, it took a while to get there.

Initial Dancing Around the Subject: video, language, and doubt
First, Rami didn't take to talking about it, because he was sure I had no such videos, maybe used some misattributed video for the still I had shown so far, in a totally fake case.

(minor errors in the details I offered here - and throughout, rushed typos - apologies - trying to waste that time, but minimize it a bit at the same time...)

I find one copy of one of the bodies video I can link to, and he seems unsurprised that it's actually real, not a hallucination or a troll-lie. (Because he knew it was real all along?) With no hint of regret for that false lead, he instantly started claiming I don't understand the claims, or Arabic, and I'm changing the meaning and casting doubt on the whole language - because I disbelieve the video's claims. The title auto-translates fine, to say what Rami says it says, and I presume the narration says the same. I just don't buy what it says. but  if I could understand it myself, without a translator, he suggests I'd realize the claims were somehow all true. But that makes no sense, considering the same men are also seen held by local militants, not by regime forces. That's simply not a language issue.

This is where a reasonable moron who's not on a time-wasting mission should finally start to get that he was ranting from confusion, and he should go and sort it out before continuing. I thought he might be, due to a coincidence in noise patterns. But Rami soon continued with no sign of learning. Some remixed responses

Little-known fact for those like Rami, who doubt every claim from the government of the Syrian Arab Republic, always formally issued in Arabic … people can lie in Arabic! A corollary of that; when they do, it should be disputed. Publicly, Rami would agree to that. But he offered no evidence the video title was true, nor the presumably matching narrative, by people with access to these recently-massacred Syrians. All he could do is repeat what it said, point out that it's in Arabic, as if that guarantees its veracity. And that's not my language, so I have no right to translate and make sense of it... and/or I did it wrong … he doesn't specify.

Several people clicked like on his sharp little assertions to that effect, apparently thinking he'd gotten us in some lie or error.

I mention I've got 2 videos here, both translated fine. He keeps on about the one I dispute the honesty of. Then I managed to flip this around to discuss the other video he had ignored so far, showing the men as captives of the militants, seeing if we can get to the point here … 

No we did not agree! Of course, it can never be that way with this self-appointed spokesman for all Syrians...

So next Rami challenges my reading of this other video's content and translation, calling me "hopeless" for making such suspect errors (see tweets below). As it happens, he had no valid basis. He asserted the captives are all military men, and did not include any policemen as I said, and that the group contains a senior officer. I never denied there was a senior officer, and in fact I helped explain (in case he missed it?) he's a police brigadier, not military. Or anyway Abd-al-Bari Abdullah says his post is at Damascus police HQ (a military unit based there?). Another man introduces himself as "Farouk Ismail, policeman." He's one of the 6 apparently seen dead. The other 14, it seems, are military; 3 officers (2 are "first assistant" - equates with warrant officer first class - and one is "assistant recruit," unclear equation), and 11 men who introduce themselves a "military recruit" or just "recruit."

That was all in Arabic, of course. I have a hard time picking out spoken Arabic, and only know a few handfuls of words anyway. I can assemble words letter-by-letter, recognize most letters, and can sound out words, if not understand the meaning - I have some grasp at least (good with languages, and been working with this one for 7 years now). Luckily, Amin2511 on Twitter - who knows it more natively - was my transcriptionist to get the text I could work with. A few others could have, but he's been available lately, and real good. I take that text and post it, and auto-translate with double-checking and refinements. Amin usually reviews it and helps with any rough spots. 

Our process isn't foolproof (some unclear audio, rank translation not so clear, etc.), but it's at least basically correct. I like being hands-on and going word-by-word, and unlocking that evidence. Cool process, good results. And so far Rami can only point to errors that don't really exist. I asked him twice to show the translation errors he implied, and he refused, citing "fun."

I contend: he lied, in a malicious effort to waste more time and cast more doubt. Amin speaks Arabic fine, actually was helpful, made no errors anyone can point to, AND shared the same healthy skepticism of the claims made in his own language - he too disputes the claims lodge by men apparently linked to the murderers. Who accepts their illogical claims? Rami, who makes up fake content just to cast doubt, laboring to maintain ignorance here. He makes it look easy and "fun," but this is serious work he must have some reason for undertaking.

Finally, The Argument! It's Some Coincidence
I was getting ready to pull together his acknowledged detention of those military-police guys with their being the same men shown dead, when Amin2511 popped in to help explain what Rami *seemed* to be missing. But he already knew, and was able to laugh it off instantly with the claim - and this is the first claim anyone offered against this evidence itself - the videos show two different sets of people. Now why did he just not say that from the start? Because that would waste less time.

And he quickly offered a formula I called "too-good-for-a-retard" to dismiss our findings in advance, whichever of two options we might take:

Note on the WH examples he cited as an example of bad racist matching: AFAIK there's nothing wrong with those, but I just ignored that to keep on track, which isn't easy with Rami. I took his point that face matches can be and often are wrong, or unfounded, and that might entail latent racism (they all look alike), depending, and it's hard to tell for sure... I just stayed focused on how that's not the case here.

So he acknowledges the story here, after much dawdling, and with suspicious speed and cleverness, he proposes the match means we're racist (if it's a face match-up) or blind (if we match them by clothing). Amin2511 quickly offered 4 clothing-based matches of his own (We agree on all 4 - one included here, below.) So for Rami, the Arab is blind, not racist, by that formula. Also, he's insane and all alone, and should give up.
(note: horizontal stripes, not vertical. But well all see and know what he means - Osama Salim, see below)

Then I got my imagery together to show, for my part, it's a clothing and combination-logic match of all six bodies shown, with some limited support from matching/consistent features (see top link here). I'm cautious about face-matching in general, and this imagery is far below my threshold for all but the most basic things (like mustache presence and basic shape). So by Rami's formula, I'm mostly blind, a bit racist. I'm also of European ancestry, and Rami seems to class me as mostly racist but also blind, besides mentally ill, and a foreigner Putin's troll and/or baby Ayatollah that's misled and talking about a country I know NOTHING about, and he knows EVERYTHING about, from his seat in Canada.

A Mismatch?
Rami (and no one else) makes some random but specific arguments against a victim match. The only decent one worth pausing over is the apparent difference in stripes on the shirt worn by Osama Hassan vs. the man he might be. Rami thinks it's a spacing issue, but to me the spacing looks right, just the dark stripes have fuzzed to almost nothing in the poor view, and the color appears arguably more different than it should considering light differences). That's probably a simple lo-res video-compression and optics issue, but it might be more significant.

So no racist face stereotypes, no language problems, no logic problems, no visual problems really, except some late-arriving nitpicks …

Still, the shirt issues and the lack of any other obviously matching features, with even a mustache match or mismatch unclear, would raise a serious questions about that ID if his was a lone case. I sure as hell wouldn't match those 2 bodies as one based just on their own visuals, nor rule it out. However, he's one of the 4 quite-possible matches in the same group with the Asaad Dakhil and Hassan Ismail doppelgangers, again with both groups being prisoners of someone, one to each side, in the Harasta area on or around 17 August of 2012.

Even if that IS in fact a different man (seems fairly possible), at least those clearest two simply have to be the same men in both videos. There's no reasonable way around that. You don't get to say if one body is coincidence they all are. Rather, if one body is one of those prisoners of the local militants, the presumption is all of them were, even if the rest have no matches in that video of 16. At one match, the conclusion wouldn't be very strong. But here we have 2 that clear and undeniable, and 4 others of varying strength.

Sputtering Towards the Conclusion
But reasonable ways remain optional. For Rami, the problem remains my blinding racism, and then he decided, maybe for "fun" that Amin is also racist, or like a color-blinded reactionary cop anyway, in dismissing this and 3 other offered matches with similar self-amused flippancy.
Can I try thinking as Rami suggests, just for fun?
See, any non-racist would not make a big deal of 2 Arab guys wearing the same shirt. Aren't they allowed to do that? Would I subject them to a regime of only one Coca-Cola shirt per area, on young guys with mustaches and in blue jeans, that got arrested by someone? No, of course - 2 men held captive around Harasta on or near 17 August2012 are allowed to, and quite likely to be arrested in the same common shirt.

And any non-racist SYRIAN could spot the clear differences between these two men. One has a real blurry face, and he's held by rebels, so no way would he get murdered. The other guy has a different, dirtier Coca-Cola shirt, prob. diff. design or colors... he seems shorter, or maybe taller, hard to say, but def. not the same height … and he's got a clearer face, that's also way bloodier than the other guy's. Also he (and /or others) clearly have fatter cheeks than the prisoners do - on one side. And a flat cheek on the other? They're stiff, possibly zombies prior to death. Some seem to have become half-tree, growing dead leaves, probably at the wrong time of year...

Anyway, these inexplicable mutants are clearly different guys, who got murdered, so must have been held by the bad guys. And since each clothing coincidence could be just that, all of the matches combined must be a huge compound coincidence. And as Rami helped me to see, that's so crystal-clear that anyone who refuses to see it like I once did must have some terrible flaw or several that distorts their thinking or makes them lie. If only Amin and I had BOTH spoken Arabic, weren't so racist, could use our eyes, had basic sanity AND human decency, lived in Syria or were both Syrian, and understood who the one and only bad guy side responsible for every crime truly is … we'd think just like Rami claims to think, and be just as retarded as he behaves.

But even though he was on such a roll visually debunking our "weak propaganda," just getting going, really - Rami did not continue, and ran off chasing another way to dance around the whole issue. The Syrian government supposedly never claimed this match, proving it's fake (?), and such a horrible lie even that liar Mr. Assad regime knew he shouldn't try it. Ok. See me answer hours later when I had a minute, then hours later yet, Rami going off on how I never answered. Then a swift discovery of yet another lie in the answer... (and note: times show may seem odd - I work nights, and do most of my online work after that, well into the morning, before I sleep through the day)

He's sure, with at most 11 minutes of research, that I'm proven to be lying yet again, just like at every other turn so far. So predictable for the Putin toll.... I'll re-locate that report if possible when I'm ready. We didn't make up that it had a video version on YouTube at the time. It's possible for example Addounia retracted the story later, following on some phone calls from guys holding more hostages, and a government request...  But probably it's still there, and only the video was removed, or their whole channel (this happens sometime for unclear reasons, with pro-Syrian media channels). I could find out right on his demand to see what new lie Rami switches to next, but I cut the time wasting at that blindness reply, assisted at first by the mute feature.

I finished the visual matching and muted Rami at about the same time. So it's hard to say what caused his mellowing out on my crimes - embarrassment, exhaustion, or just boredom once I stopped feeding the troll (I un-muted him to check, and saw a mellowing). I'll leave it at these combined tweets.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Re-Considering Assad's 100+ Chemical Attacks

November 10, 2018

An October BBC Panorama special alerted the public to Assad's ongoing chemical weapons usage - dramatically tallying 106 attacks just from 2014 to the present - that is, all after Syria supposedly surrendered its chemical weapons. Most of these have been chlorine attacks, but eventually sarin has snuck back in. There are also five CW attacks, mainly with mustard gas, blamed on ISIS in that 106, so it's 101 blamed on Syria, or 106 if you blame Syria for ISIS.

They found zero blamed on any other rebel groups. Well that can't be complete. I still haven't watched the program, and don't have much to say except this tally intrigued me. I perused a critique posted at Tim Hayward's blog, and noted Adrian Kent's comments below on the BBC's answers to his questions, including where they got this tally.

I also looked for whose number is this 106. But it seems to be new, a current tally reached by just whoever with whoever's help, for this Panorama program. One place it occurred is the Atlanticist propaganda outlet EA Worldview, following on the report with what I take as a fair breakdown of those 106 alleged Assad-ISIS CW attacks broken down by year. https://eaworldview.com/2018/10/assad-regimes-101-chemical-weapons-attacks-in-syria-since-2014: 30 attacks
2015: 28
2016: 23
2017: 17
2018: 8

What's cool is how I can take this and compare it to my own report compiling CW attack reports, assembled in early 2017, just before the khan Sheikhoun incident. So my totals for 2017 and 2018 are roughly nil. But the other three years can be compared, and our numbers are pretty close, actually, suggesting I didn't miss as many as I thought I probably did. It was never sure to be comprehensive, but did try for that, listing 138 attacks just up to March, 2017.

I used a different tallying, excluding ISIS attacks (not controversial enough to be of interest to me), including ones by other rebels (22 in the relevant span, to the BBC's zero), a few uncertain cases (rep. CW deaths w/no rep. event, etc.), and mainly a lot of attacks blamed on the government but that I think are also by non-ISIS rebels... as I've explained variously in other places, case-by-case, in many cases over the years.

Some errors and omissions in this "red flags" report. For example, 12-12-2016 Kallaseh was an error, the Dec. 9 incident misread as a fresh attack, not a dated repetition. So that tally drops by at least one. I missed an alleged rebel sarin attack in 2014 on the same day as another one, so that tally goes up one here.

By year, I count:
2014: 45 (was 44) (9 10 by opp.)
2015: 28 (7 by opp.)
2016: 23 22 (5 by opp.)

So 101 or 106 sounds like they skipped some 22 rebel attacks, caught nearly as many alleged gov. ones I missed, included (5?) ISIS ones, and coincidentally got the same total as me for 2015 and (prior to revision here) for 2016. I count 50% more attacks than them in 2014, mostly due to considering 10 CW attacks by the opposition that the BBC didn't hear about, I presume.

Cited for many rebel attacks: an OPCW report following up on the requests of the Syrian Arab Republic. They don't list this on their site, but did produce it.
Some parts included in other context here:

Chemicals used in the rebel attacks; chlorine, unclear non-persistent irritants, unclear apparent nerve agents, and sarin. Foul-smelling, caustic, yellow, impure sarin. Very similar to, if not the same as, the kind used in all the attacks blamed on Syria. Sarin has been OPCW-verified in THREE fatal attacks on Syrian soldiers in 2013 (19 March, 24 August, and 25 August), but this study excludes 2013. In the later span, the OPCW verifies sarin exposure in only one such case (15 February, 2015 in Daraya, very near the launch of the 25-8-13 rebel sarin attack).

2014: 45 incidents
civilian fatalities (min) 21-24
11/5/3/5 (m/w/b/g)
rebel fatalities:  27
government fatalities 77?
red flags 43

35 att. to Syria + 10 att. to opp.
Those ten;

13 April Al-Maliha, Damascus suburbs - Soldiers gassed, OPCW report -

16 April Al-Maliha, Damascus suburbs - Soldiers gassed, OPCW report, fighting militants in a tunnel, 8 casualties, no deaths, but Syrian tests said to show sarin, no OPCW verification. Report cited: “blood AChE activity in Syrian soldiers: 2013-2015.” Notes: "This document included 13 reports of AChE results dated in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Only three of these reports could be clearly linked to incidents included in the mandate; Jober (16/04/14), Al-Maliha (16/04/14) (NV 150), and Darayya (15/02/15) (NVs 41 and 47)." The third case has OPCW verified sarin exposure, but not these two. But they didn't disprove it either, that I've seen.

16 April Jobar: somehow missed in my report, a document claims another jobar attack on the same day - Syria apparently found reduced AChE activity as with sarin or nerve agent usage. (see above, same day)

24 April Nawah, Daraa - Soldiers gassed, Government blames terrorists, 70 soldiers killed (rounded?), no details. OPCW report  - Jabhat AlNusra gassed and overran base on Golan border, video count of exactly 70 soldiers (min.) dead. Chemical and method totally unclear, other than large amounts of whitish smoke are shown as related, some oddly smoke-stained faces, other clues still not fully reviewed years later. ACLOS

11 July Jobar, Damascus suburbs  - Soldiers gassed, OPCW report 6 cas. no deaths

11 July Al-Maliha, Damascus suburbs - Soldiers gassed, OPCW report

23 August, Jobar, Damascus - Soldiers gassed, OPCW report 11 cas

29 August, Jobar, Damascus - Soldiers gassed, OPCW report -
2 incidents in a day, confused, both in Jobar; first, incapacitated soldiers captured, killed, only 2 survivors - later, 33 effected, many blacking out, but all got away and no one died.
Sarin: Not clearly reported, but symptoms + smell may be consistent - no sign that it was checked for or ruled out. 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 [sic] 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." But having two attacks taken as one confused things so "The FFM was not able to identify a cohesive narrative ..."

1 September Nubel and AlZahraa, Aleppo - OPCW report Shia villages 5 cas, 1 death

10 Sept. Al-Kabbas, Damascus suburbs - Soldiers gassed, OPCW report 

2015: 28 incidents
civ fat 13
6/3/2/2  (m/w/b/g)
reb fat 5
gov fat 13
red flags 32 
in 28 incid.
21 att. to Syria + 7 att. to opp.
those seven:

Jan. Jobar, Damascus, Soldiers gassed, OPCW report, app. 20 casualties, no deaths

8 Jan. Nubel and Zahraa Alep. chlorine? Soldiers gassed, OPCW report, 17 casualties, no deaths

15 Feb. Daraya, D.sub Sarin, Soldiers gassed, with sarin, OPCW report
“burning nylon” smell 8 casualties, pinned under gunfire, watched rats die “screaming” No human deaths. OPCW verified sarin exposure of the affected soldiers (but they won't confirm how)

6 April, Jobar, Damascus soldiers gassed, 4 casualties, OPCW report

25 April, Ishtabraq, Idlib
Choking agent  - Alleged: HTS Islamists "liberating" Idlib province gassed Alawi village via rockets prior to seizing it. After, they killed and abducted many. ACLOS

29 May, Harasta, D.Sub. Soldiers gassed, 7 killed - OPCW report

29 May, Tadhamun, Damascus Soldiers gassed, 6 killed - OPCW report - twice in a day, killing 13 total in 2 nearby areas.
OPCW says: "Another report, dated 31/05/15, contained results of tests conducted on seven and six fatalities which occurred in Harasta and Al-Tadhamun respectively. This information is not clearly linked to the incidents described in NV 43. Moreover, in the conclusion of the report, the AChE activity was normal."  But they Syrians thought it might have been a sarin attack? Unclear why, if there was some error, etc.

2016: 22 Incidents
civ fat 120 or more
(mostly in Dec. sarin attack in rural Hama)
reb fat 3
gov fat 28?
red flags 33
in 23 incid.
17 att. to Syria + 5 att. to opp.

Those five:
9 March S.Mahsoud, Alep. Yellow phos. or... yellowish + (organo)phosphorous = sarin? see 7 April. Rebels blamed, PressTV. No deaths reported.

7 April S.Mahsoud, Alep. A month later, same besieged area, yellow … chlorine? released. 23 killed! Rebels with Jaish al-Islam admit - retract, play with words - gassing Kurdish fighters, (say unauthorized), high toll ACLOS Sputnik
Noting later: two videos show a huge amount of yellow stuff expanding. It's not green enough and not heavy enough to be chlorine.

This lighter, golden-yellow stuff could be our best view yet of the sarin used in Syria (impure, yellow, caustic, foul-smelling), or just something similar - that killed 23 people upon open release... (slightly color-enhanced from a washed-out, pale video). But no one has confirmed what it was. Not the chlorine that most people (including myself) guessed at the time... it's a mystery.

Locals and medics described a "yellow smoke with a strange smell" - no chlorine-bleach smell noted - and it caused "convulsions, spasms and vomiting." Uh-oh. They're said here to be chlorine signs, but they're more like nerve agent signs. And 23 dying, of course, is not normally a chlorine thing either. Jaish Al-Islam SEEMED to admit to this at the time, blaming a local commander for using prohoboted weapons without approval. It seemed like their answer to the CW charges, but later they said no, that was a coincidence. He used some other banned something. They never addressed this. They would say they didn't do it, have no idea who did. (ACLOS

One wonders, did the BBC even count this incident, or was it one of those they found too murky? As they explained to Adrian Kent:
We only included incidents where at least two of these sources had reported the incident. And even then, we ruled out a number of alleged attacks where we felt that there was insufficient or questionable evidence.

13 June, Housh al-Fara D.sub, Rebels rep. gas SAA soldiers SyrianObserver (few details)

2 August West Aleppo, old city area - some civilians. military, and rescuers all died, at least 13 and perhaps 20+ killed (review needed - Vanessa Beeley covered this, maybe I did work that in and just forget at the moment...) SAA soldiers gassed in breached tunnel, civilians, rescuers gassed with rockets after that - likely diff. chemicals in each phase - perhaps hydrogen cyanide encountered in the tunnel, rockets thought to just have chlorine …
Coincides with/was eclipsed by same-day CW report in Saraqeb, regime blamed for CL barrel-bomb attack, no deaths reported (arranged on time?)
ACLOS page and talk page covering both of the day's reported incidents

28 Sept. Hama, chlorine - Soldiers gassed, 18 casualties, no deaths yet (Al-Masdar report)

That was all I found for 2016. I didn't notice anything blamed on rebels in the covered first months of 2017. Just these 22 incidents, covering 60% of a span in which the BBC's report found zero.

Monday, November 5, 2018

"Douma Hostage Massacre" Victim Matching

November 5, 2018
rough, incomplete

(to be expanded/clarified)):
It seems a lot of people don't want this story revived, but oh well. Once in 2012, Syrian Islamist terrorists were caught in perhaps their most obvious false-flag massacre of the whole war. Competition for that is fierce, so maybe not, but it's pretty damn obvious. We started a page at A Closer Look On Syria at that time for the somewhat poorly-named "Douma Hostage Massacre" (now in revision/improvement). This was one of the first incidents we covered after we formed to better explore the Houla Massacre and similar then making the news.

Here, a claim was lodged with gruesome video proof, of 16 local men in the Douma-Harasta area just northeast of Damascus slaughtered by Assad's forces. The men were bound hands behind their backs, had their shoes removed, their throats widely sliced open so they were half-decapitated, and the bodies dumped at the hospital, and documented by truth-loving peaceful activists. The Local Coordinating Committees reported for 17 August: "Assad's force committed massacre of 16 people. ... slaughtered detainees by Assads militia … Regime's force committed yet another massacre of 16 people ... found handcuffed and slaughtered with knives."

But it turns out the victims were Assad's forces, perhaps kidnapped from home, murdered by the foreign-backed militants who call themselves "heroes." Harasta-based Capitol Shield Brigade, and specifically their Battalion of Musab bin Omar, allies with Douma-based Jaish al-Islam.

That required no work on our part but to verify it and relate the ready-made results of the talented German blogger, researcher, artist, etc. Ursula Behr aka Urs1798. She made the matches in question almost immediately after all the relevant videos came out, and alerted parties inside Syria, leading to a segment by pro-government Addounia TV making the kind of claims they often make - terrorists are were killing state servants in cold blood and selling the results as crimes of the state. This time at least, they were able to do it with more or less undeniable visual proof. (YouTube video of report now deleted, I'll try and track this story back down, maybe soon...)

Ursula Behr may not be her real name - it sort of says Bear Bear. She's AKA my Facebook friend Manuela Hochsteadt who now "lives" in Dâra, As Suwayda', Syria, with the epic paintings of Syria's defiant fighters, leaders, and regular people resisting what she saw as … well, I never spoke with her and don't have time to dig up quotes, but I presume we were on the same page until she recently passed away on or around 9 October. Terminal cancer did it, but while she was in Syria, which looked "like heaven," she said on her last wish visit with her husband, where Syrians got to see her paintings on public display. On her request, she was also buried in Syria, actually in the Latin cemetery of Damascus' al-Tabbaleh neighbourhood. https://sana.sy/en/?p=148652.

Partly in Ursula's honor, I felt compelled to make better use of this early scoop on Islamist brutality and deception in Syria than I did the first time around.

The original videos were linked and catalogued at ACLOS back when. I haven't checked all of these, but mostly they've been deleted long ago, some pulled by the authors in what seems like embarrassment. Some channels wer deleted, and some of those may have deleted their videos anyway.

But "body video" as referred to here is one I found still online, can be checked in its original context, for the moment:

Translated title: Slaughter of detainees in the area of Al-Shifounia - Douma
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKqjqmrVbQU (age-restricted, graphic, inhumane presenters)

Captives video:
This was posted by the same people somehow and a few others, but only a couple of days later … (or actually I need to review that). Most copies are now deleted. This posting works, as I just posted it from a long-ago saved copy buried on my old computer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUuK5-wKxA0 (not graphic, not age-restricted: already tested by a false-listing quickly corrected)

The resolution is I think a bit worse than the original, but comparing to URS's stills, it was never much better. Note it's compressed horizontally. In most of my stills, I stretch it arbitrarily just to look better and/or give more text space. In this view at least I tried a mild color adjustment to get truer whites. You extract a little yellow. Here, per the translation Amin2511 helped with, are the 16 men as they introduce themselves, in that order.

(it's hard sometimes to say who's talking as names are heard, with the low resolution - usually the speaker's head bobs a bit. The first one was hard to decide, but logically, it's the senior man in front. Farouk Ismail is a big guy, and when he speaks, it booms. And his head bobs a bit at the same time, just after the man next to him seems to say Osama Salim. After a few goings-over the order became clear: Amin did his own review and I did my own, and we agreed.) 

Filming date not clear, but likely Aug. 17, or shortly before their execution, possibly a day or so earlier. (bodies are stiff with rigor mortis when seen, so dead less than 24 hours, but more than just a few - most likely around 10-16 hours.)

there was a battle reported on 16 August by the LCC: "Harasta: Fierce clashes between the Free Syrian Army and the regime's forces near the vehicles department, with losses among the regime's forces." This might be where the Capitol Shield Brigade might have captured, as said in the captives video, several vehicles/equipment, and also these 16 men... but they are in civilian clothes, and at least 2 of them were already held about 2-3 days earlier, but the rest might be new. 

Area map: from labels on Wikimapia, this is the area in question, where men were held captive by area fighters, where men who look the same were killed by someone and found by the same rebels.
Harasta is the brigade's home base. Douma/Duma is said to be where the victims were found or from or taken to. Al-Shifunia is also given, perhaps to mislead. The armored vehicle base is the likely site of that mentioned battle.

The Matches
I'm aware each of these matches is not 100% certain, and even the collective total isn't quite. But it is a very strong match taken as a group one, despite whatever triumphant nonsense the naysayers come up with. They'll say this is obviously bogus, in fact the dumbest thing they've ever seen anywhere, and type out laughter sounds. But it's not. It's hypothetically wrong, like maybe a 1-2, maybe 3% chance of being wrong.

Now … I wouldn't even try for face-by-face matches with such poor quality captives video. I'm barely even looking at noses and eyebrows here - just not enough to go in in any 2 cases - the close-ups of the 6 offer enough detail to help, IF there was anything visible on the other end to match it TO. But mostly, there's not. A few general clues do come through, but not much, and they're just cited as secondary supports.

The work here is done by the victims' varied, non-military clothing. Again, case-by-case, none of the items worn or even combinations is that clearly distinct. Well, in two cases it actually is. But 4 consistent matches are only consistent, all for build as well as clothing. The straightforward, evidence-based conclusion here is these six men probably are six of those 16 last seen in the care of the local militants.

The only explanation I've heard is that these videos show two different sets of people in some kind of coincidence that isn't even presented as bizarre. It's supposedly natural that two groups of 6+ men where each has a doppelganger in another group, held by the other side - in the Harasta area in the days right around August 17, 2012. We can be sure the ones held by rebels were set free, and the set of doppelgangers held by "Shabiha" would be ruthlessly killed like this. But as the reader can see below, the combination of matches pushes the probability of coincidence to near zero.

Six bodies are seen of a reported 16. Some, like the douma-based VDC, revise to just 12 found, which is convenient as we were (are?) comparing 16 bodies to 16 captives … So only these 6 are seen, but they do swear there are more. (there is the morgue scene I need to study, which might include others past this 6, besides at least 2-3 from this 6)

The 6 matches, numbers for introduction order above (and time given), but listed by strength of match in my reading.

#7 Hassan Ismail, military recruit, 0:41
1:43 in body video

The most evident match by clothing, one can only point out Coca-Cola made, like, thousands of those shirts. And a lot of people wear blue jeans. Quite a few in any one area might wear both together right before someone captures two of them, at a time when quite a few people were being kidnapped or detained/disappeared by one side or another or both (all disputed).... By other details, he's not as clear as he could be. Consistent but vague hair, clean-shaved chin, appears about the same young age, no features seen well enough to say either way... He should have a mustache, with two halves and nice clean middle. And he might, but all that blood makes it hard to be clear. No - he's got that. But then a lot of abducted people in such Coca-Cola sweaters and jeans combos probably do...

It's only natural 2 men that consistent in appearance happened to wear the same shirt with jeans, and would both get captive by 2 different sides in the Harasta area in the days right around August 17, 2012. Right? But what's this? It happens both guys were held along with some other curiously consistent guys, almost like some two entire groups that are parallel universe versions of each other

#6 Assaad Dakhil, military recruit, 0:40
0:12 in bodies video

Slender build, mustache, some extra hair on top, loose-fitting black undershirt, distinct white shirt w/broad collar, black decorations (pocket stripes, dark logo/shape on right), odd silver button. The tear in the back is neutral evidence, as the back is not seen for the captive, and the tear cold have happened later. I mean, he was just murdered, might have resisted, etc. And he's got consistent but vague dark pants too.

And in this case, we have a better view of the same man shown in a different lineup by the same captor (see ACLOS page for full view and original video links - no copy saved, just the still used for that image). Here's Mr. Dakhil and his consistently decorated 2-sizes too-big shirt over the same kind of 3-sizes too-big black undershirt, 3 days before he became a "Douma youth" slaughtered by "Assad's thugs." This is just about as distinctive a clothing combination as on Mr. Ismail. It stretches credulity to propose 2 different groups in such similar circumstances in the same days and area would both feature two such uniquely-dressed men.

But hey, maybe. And if so, the rest of this compound coincidence probably wouldn't change your mind, and you're mind isn't aligned well with 3-D reality.

#3 Nimr Dawood, warrant off. 1st class, 0:33
2:00 in body video 2

The most distinctive thing about this guy is his build and short stature, besides that somewhat unique neon sky blue t-shirt. Seen by himself on the ground, the likely matching victim is hard to gauge for height. His face has a consistent sort of rectangular shape. And his hair seems consistently buzz-cut short. And he wears that color a t-shirt, consistent pants, and does that all alongside those other guys, and alongside these next few as well...

#5 Farouk Ismail, policeman, 0:38  
0:50 in bodies video 
clothing less clear: collared shirt appear almost salmon color (pale orange-pink), compared to white (w/pink, and blue highlights?) out in natural sunlight, but that's easily explained by the lighting difference (video has a slight yellow tint), and maybe partly reflective material. Here the tall face, low hairline with gray, and perhaps dark/deep-set eyes and stubbly cheeks combine with the shirt, and grouping with the others, to suggest this the same man.

#4 Osama Hassan, warrant officer first class, 0:35
0:02 in bodies video

If he were just seen alone, there wouldn't be very much to go on. Short hair, a bit of a lean build … he almost seems to lack the matching mustache, but that's not clear enough to call a mismatch. Both wear a long, horizontally striped shirt with a narrow collar. Poor video quality makes stripes appear arguably different, lighter or differently-spaced, or a different base color. As noted, the video light is tinted a bit yellow-orange as well, so it's more white than it appears there. Different spacing: hard to tell real stripes from digital artifacting at this point. All we can say is some kind of fairly narrow horizontal striping is there. That plus darker pants and grouping with the others combine to suggest this the same man. 

#15 Ali Jomaa
or maybe #16 Yusuf
or someone else...
0:56 in bodies video
A dark or black shirt, young clean-shaven face with unclear hair is a vague description fitting prisoners 15 and 16. Apparent white circle logo on the shirt, app. left of center, points better to #15, but #16 has a light spot too, if fainter. 3 white stripes on the sleeve are distinct, but the detainees both have arms behind their backs, making that invisible. Not a clear match at all, but that's the weakest of six, for all six possibly placed in that group of 16.

The shirt is a much better fit for Gomaa; a faint blue hue perhaps vs. definitely back in the captives video, dark blue on the dead guy, plus it seems a tighter collar and clearer white emblem than #16 has. Seemingly lighter-colored pants help.

An interesting thing with this one - what could be an extra, less-clear apparent wound across the back of the neck suggests they tried a full beheading with this man, but found the spine too tough to hack through. So they just cut open the easier front half, as they did for the rest. But then maybe it's just blood in a crease.

Update, Nov. 11
the order of strength listing was set as I started, and with some review, would now change. I'll leave the list as is, but just note FWIW I now consider them in this order:
Asaad Dakhil (even more unique clothing matches - what a shirt)
Hasan Ismael (top two remain nearly tied, barely swap places)
Nimr Dawoud (good match, same assessment as before - if the body could be shown to be an extra short man, we could have almost a 3-way tie)
Farouq Ismael (build-face-hair clues are as good as clothing here, a decent match, promoted)
Ali Jomaa (not as unclear as I thought, not Yusuf, promoted)
Osama Hasan (shirt unclear, other points unclear, demoted - see below)


Add Nov. 11 from a post in the works, one argument raise against a match:

...the apparent difference in stripes on the shirt worn by Osama Hassan vs. the man he might be. Rami thinks it's a spacing issue, but to me the spacing looks right, just the dark stripes have fuzzed to almost nothing in the poor view, and the color appears arguably more different than it should considering light differences). That's probably a simple lo-res video-compression and optics issue, but it might be more significant.

Still, the shirt issues and the lack of any other obviously matching features, with even a mustache match or mismatch unclear, would raise a serious questions about that ID if his was a lone case. I sure as hell wouldn't match those 2 bodies as one based just on their own visuals, nor rule it out. However, he's one of the 4 quite-possible matches in the same group with the Asaad Dakhil and Hassan Ismail doppelgangers, again with both groups being prisoners of someone, one to each side, in the Harasta area on or around 17 August of 2012.

Even if that IS in fact a different man (seems fairly possible), at least those clearest two simply have to be the same men in both videos. There's no reasonable way around that. You don't get to say if one body is coincidence they all are. Rather, if even one body is one of those prisoners of the local militants, the presumption is all of them were, even if the rest have no matches in that video of 16. At one match, the conclusion wouldn't be very strong. But here we have 2 that clear and undeniable, and 4 others of varying strength. We can be quite sure these are all detainees of that militia, and probably all from the same batch they showed.

So … is this 6 guys held by gov. forces in that time and area, and just coincidentally so similar to 6 of the 16 guys held by the opposition side in that same and area?  No, that's not very likely.

I'll probably have more to say here …

Monday, October 22, 2018

"Caesar Photos": Timeline of Terror

Fail Caesar, Part 12: Timeline of Terror
October 21, 2018
edits Oct. 23, 25, 29

Since the SAFMCD (Syrian Association for Missing and Conscience Detainees) released the "Caesar photos" face-shots in March, 2015 (database), I've been collecting the images and linked data (alleged prisoner ID# and folder date), first a solid sampling, and later trying for complete coverage. That was daunting; about 6,700 (IIRC) individuals are said to represented in a total pool of 6,796 photos.

The huge folder for alleged prisoners of Military Intelligence branch 215 contains over half the total, 3,556 photos, and I have - I think - 3,284 of them, so I'm missing 272. 92% collected. The other slightly smaller half of the photos, in the large 227 folder and several smaller folders, may be entirely covered - not just 100% rounded up, but none missing. Or, likely, I'm missing one, or a very few here and there. Averaging 92 and 100, I have it about 95% covered. After filling in the entire 227 folder, I decided the hassle isn't warranted to do the same for the much bigger 215 folder, and I'll proceed with new analysis with that majority of the data.

In review, the smuggled photos show bodies of men and older boys gathered partly, and probably entirely, at a garage area behind military hospital 601 in Damascus. They're allegedly political prisoners tortured to death in a systematic process by an insane Syrian government. The number is huge; allegedly 11,000 detainees, but that number has been argued two different ways.

Rather, I see about 10,000 unidentified bodies, perhaps 11,000, most of which were tortured detainees, but probably held by opposition groups, with the most likely being the local Saudi-backed militants of Liwa Al-Islam, later Jaish Al-Islam. Quite a few clues support their NOT being prisoners of the government, anyway. They would be exterminated, and the bodies dumped in batches somewhere the government could claim and process them as unknowns. They would have fake MI prisoner numbers arbitrarily assigned, written on the bodies. Officially, these would be ignored, but the insider "Caesar" would run fake photo shoots with his own cards "confirming" those numbers as part of a government system.

In some cases, a couple hundred total, we can see the "hospital number" - either on the SAFMCD face-shot, or in a body photo published somewhere else. This is the 4-digit number at the bottom of the cards used in morgue photos (the b is explained below - numerically, it says add 5,000, so this man is body #9,624). This "H#" may be the legitimate one for each body. "Caesar" and his promoters insist it attaches to a false death report at the hospital, blaming heart attack or breathing failure as a routine stand-in for the torture and whatever that killed them. But it should mean unidentified body in a sequence, and link to gravesite for possible recovery if the victim is ever identified from the photos taken.

Others that seemed worth mapping mainly in the early stretch, I call H# insertions - as explained here, the patterns involved are fairly clear that these are people with no prisoner ID#, that had one made up from re-branding their body number. So H#444, coming through at a time when the H# should be 444, might become branch 227 prisoner #444, even if there already is one at the right time months later, making for a confusing double-entry.

Early on, I set to organizing these hospital numbers - seen and suggested - according to the dates given for the victim's SAFMCD entry. I've been using this colorful timeline in different forms, from back in 2015-2016 - pretty well-filled-in and accurate, but not as useful as it could be.  (top: full span of coverage, but left vague - below, the main 9 months in more detail)

Now I've got a fuller data set, done more review on folder sizes and spread, and I was having more questions about the timeline, it seemed time for a new graphic. Obviously, this size is not readable here, even in a new window - see also 2,992 pixels wide version at ACLOS.

This is just adequate to cover such a span of 11,000 bodies in enough detail. It's still too small for individual entries to appear to scale: they're expanded a bit, and some stretches containing a few are compressed into wider bars. Here I left room for a new twist - 19 tags for specific points on the real timeline for comparison, where a date and a H# are both available.

Some notes here on the system: the timeline notes at least two entries in the 4-6-2013 range appear in the folder for February. But this looks like a simple error where a few files were dropped in the wrong folder - as this shows with 2 matches, the H# is just as out of sequence for February as their 213 numbers are. It's mainly sequential, with "prisoner" or "branch body" numbers and the linked H# ticking up steadily over time. There is some folder-mixing, (see June 24-July 26, 2013, other spots), and it's clear folders were largely compiled later.

24-6, 7-7, and 26-7 come out largely intermixed, suggesting a common batch collected from 3 times - a later division, rather than actual on-date collection. Some 215 entries are ordered so it's June 24, then July 26 (seeing it as June 26), then it's July 7. (see below, errors at the red lines). There are even more intermixed entries before and after this patch as correctly ordered as most other entries.)

Selective collection: some analysis on the last folders shows some months whole branches were skipped, or collected from exclusively, presumably drawing at different dates from the same (but growing) prior span of time. 

7-7 folder: 439 images, including:
215: 279
AF: 8
216: 22
other: 13

26-7 folder: 218 images. including:
215: 78
227 : 106
AF: 0
216: 21
other: 13

later 000 folder, 143 total includes:
215: 0
227: 117
AF: unclear
216: 14
other: 12

6(-8)-2013 folder: total 62. includes:
215: 62
everyone else: 0

14-8-2013 - final folder: total 126. includes:
215: 55
227: 45
AF: 0
216: 18
other: 8

But far more interesting is the Story behind those 19 tags marking the growth of a mysterious system that claimed several thousand lives around Damascus. All those angled connections show the basic degree to which we have a lot of bodies in the later half of this timeline after a long and slow start-up.  It's not the steady, systematic machine killing since the start, as presented. It took off a bit slower, more like how Islamist militants grew as a threat, and at about the same time. From there it went steadily like a serious killing machine.

Or as I had recently put it:
11,000 bodies from March 2011 to August, 2013 sounds terrible but plausible for a steady killing machine trying to nip a rebellion in the bud - but the first 18 months saw relatively few of these bodies, 2,000 or so total - taking off horribly, nine-fold, as that bud was not full nipped and started to blossom, in the last 1/3 of the span. From November 2012 to August 2013, a further 9,000 or so bodies passed through this system, or about 1,000 bodies a month.

As I discovered with more analysis, the numbers take off a bit earlier than I had thought. As the timeline notes along the bottom, it's a tale with phases, and can be summarized in 3 parts:

* 200 bodies/year for a year,
* then 200 per month for 8 months,
* then an average of about 1,000 bodies a month for 9 months.

Then the show might end. One hopes so, after that kind of carnage. The following breaks that down in a little more detail with the 17 dated cases added to the new timeline.

2011-2012: A Floundering Kill System
The first entries are too sporadic for a clear pattern to emerge, but a span around 170-200 appearing in a folder dated march, 2012, looks consistent. One of these, something (I think unidentified body) #191, is given a specific date of 6 March, 2012. Actual photo date could be the same or earlier (or possibly later?). So it's not the clearest point, but clearer numbers start not far off, not much higher, but climbing quickly from there.

This would start us with a picture of 190 bodies logged by then, just about one year into the uprising. That's roughly one body every other day. That's not good, but very mild compared to what followed.

Two entries from the 500-600 range offer dates. The SAA soldier Alaa Rabha - not defected that anyone mentions - would have unidentified body #563 when found, maybe after being abducted. Or so I surmise from his entry (even though it's one of the few that also gives a name: "sporadic views" 563 1-5-2012 Alaa Yahya Alddar Rabha) and how well that fits with others in that span (he's not the only one, just the one with a day date). But he was apparently identified soon; the opposition VDC lsts May 20 as his death date, citing a SANA report on a funeral for 18 slain soldiers, including him, on 22 May. (see here)

20 May from 6 March is 2.5 months, in which 372 bodies passed through hospital 601, if these are the H#s I think they are. It's risen from a body every two days in the first year to five per day, a ten-fold increase -185/month compared to 190 in a year.

Abdullah Arslan Hariri - who was allegedly no militant, but who appears shot in the head in a bloody manner - has a lower number over two listings: just 535 in "anonymous" (unknown) branch folder, and in "sporadic views" as 9th division's #535. But his reported date of arrest - or killing, and finding his body - is later, June 16 at the earliest (HRW 12-2015). He may not count, with that 535 appearing in some coincidence. He lived and died/was arrested near Nimr, Daraa, so he may not even wind up at Hospital 601 under their number system. He might instead show Daraa's local finds had reached about the same number. That seems plausible, up to then at least.

Mohamed Majid Abu Draa is an interesting case some 500 bodies later. #1075 is faint but readable on the card here. He's listed twice by the SAFMCD as 215-1075, 1-7-2012 (but there's another 1075 that fits in 2013), and as 227-251, but out of the usual sequence. That's twice inserted, once using the H#. I have a post just for him, and there were reports about him at the time, including a date with the most specific claims - someone said July 27 is when he was shot five times and run over by "Shabiha" in a security forces car, before they arrested him, took him to the hospital, or arrested him from the hospital. When they finally killed him is less clear.

But he's in the hospital probably right after that event. He has electrodes in place for heart monitoring (looking for a pulse - he seemed possibly dead), with multiple spots patched (shoulder, shoulder, side, at least 3 likely gunshots), and a hand injury treated with cream (run over?), all as if alive at one point. But then he's shown posed holding a card with a body number as if dead - and unidentified, like 1,074 before him.  July 1 and June 6 are given dates, but the 27th is a better fit with his appearing at the end of a folder starting July 1 - covering very many bodies with very low sampling (they don't show much - at least 58 photos for about 500 bodies). 

That fits great with an implied hospital number 1129 on teenager Ahmad Musalmani, early in the August folder - but given as his AF intel prisoner number. He was said to be killed on 2 August, yanked off a bus and shot for having an unpatriotic song on his mp3 player. Another guy on the bus, allegedly, told his family all about it. (HRW 12-2015) That's 6 days and 54 found, unidentified bodies after Mr. Abu Draa (9 bodies/day). Here's the sequence of H# insertions he's part of, 1121-1144, all logged in the 1-8 folder, but given as prisoner numbers divided up - here, over three branches, with some entries left out.
235-1232 just gives a date - Aug. 17. Taken as photo date (not a certainty), that's 103 bodies after Ahmad in 15 days. That would be consistent. Again, too few bodies in those days were getting labeled as specific regime prisoners, and had their unidentified body # used to create fake prisoner IDs later.

The August folder is rather small, seems incomplete, and is followed by a big gap, with September and October, 2012 left off. It could be "Caesar" had lost access or an inside connection for a time. It seems the killing continued, with about 700 bodies missed in the interim. That would be 350/month, if that's the actual span of their cataloguing, and it was just starting to expand. Whoever was behind it, it's alarming how steady this huge output remains, month after month, as numerous people keep cooperating is this mass murder and expanding it, eventually, to 3-5 times this rate. 

November Uptick: 500/Month
If "Caesar" was locked out for a time in September and October, he got back in. A November folder renews coverage of an expanded kill system, once he was back to "document the regime crimes." Here solid streams of 215, 227, and other MI branch's alleged detainees appear with virtually every number seen. With less need to invent prisoner numbers, we see less of those H# insertions from here on.

We can also see the solidification of an issue seen sporadically from the start; some people appear killed by caustic gasses. By November and from then on, a solid majority do. They come out purple-colored, with red, irritated eyes, and blood and mucous coughed up their faces from damaged lungs, as it seems, while they were suspended upside-down. At right is one of the less obvious examples. He's been washed up well, but had the same thing happen. No one has mentioned the gas chamber killing of these supposed "Assad regime" prisoners, but the signs are right there.

The 1-11-2012 folder has solid sampling, with at least 419 photos out of a spread probably not much over 500 bodies wide. I wondered if this covered the prior months, but I don't think so. It seems those were just missed, and this is about 500 bodies, just in November

Two dated entries early in the month anchor this important folder consistently as starting around 1-11.

The peaceful activist Ayham Ghazoul, one of the most well-known "Caesar photo" victims, is said to die on 9 or 11 November (sources differ), a few days after a murky second arrest. A guy who held Ayham in his arms as he died - allegedly - told his family all about it. (HRW 12-2015, others) He blames a simple beating, which wouldn't explain the bloodshot eyes with yellow crust, the skin irritation and faintly purple color, yellow mucous staining of his face... like the one example above, he's a less obvious case than some.

Ayham's photos show the hospital number 2129. About a week earlier, a dated insertion #2049, branded as an AF intel "j" prisoner of that number, was gathered on 3 November. 2049 to 2129 would mark 80 bodies intervening in those 6-8 days.

December entries seem to be gathered later in sporadic folders on at least Dec. 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, and 17, and then a seemingly later and larger folder "12-2012." A dateless 000 folder gathers some in the span as well. The total span covered in a bit unclear - at least 300 bodies, perhaps over 500. Three of these also have hospital number visible, 2 of them date-matched to Dec. 9 and 10, starting 525 bodies after Ayham Ghazoul, one month earlier. 

2013 Uptick: 1,000-1,500/Month and /b Switch
The next datable cases are way out 1,800 bodies later - but it's only 80 days since the December entries, at the end of February. their numbers suggest 23 bodies/day since 10 December. But here 2  SAFMCD entries (27 and 28 Feb.) number 4521 and 4571, suggesting 50 bodies passed through in a day (or in the two days combined?). The overall rate is increasing: about 300/month, then 500, and now close to the 2013 average of 1,000/month.

The folders between show this continued increase.January, 2013 has the biggest collection yet - 448 photos covering an somewhere between 400 and 700 logged bodies. February is larger yet, 569 photos covering a span of at least 900, maybe over 1,000 bodies

Here at the end of February, we're nearing the 5,000 mark. Whoever is running the numbers here stop there or just shy (4,999, presumably) and start numbering again at 1, but with a letter suffix that translates /b. Why? Any 4-digit number system will run out at 9999, and have to go to 5 digits, or re-start at 0. But there's no clear reason at 5,000.

Maybe some plotters wanted to show the system maxing out its number system and just "re-setting the odometer" so they could keep on killing. But around the middle, they feared they wouldn't be able to keep it running all the way to 9999, so they went for a switch halfway. I've taken the H# as likely legitimate, and maybe it was to this point or past. But that switch has me wondering if someone more theatrical took over the numbering at some point, and possibly from the start.

Anyway, 4999 and then 0/b come somewhere in the middle of this March folder. 68/b (or body 5,068) is the first seen hospital number with a date, on "235-55." At right, a photo with his hospital number (center, it's 68/b). (next to him, a Palestinian tattoo (of Gaza, I think) is highlighted on another guy by Zaman al-Wasl). The SAFMCD entry for 235-55 makes total sense if 3-6 (usually meaning June 3rd) actually means March 6. This does seem to happen sometimes. That would be about 500 bodies (collected) in 6 days, when it was just taking a month to do that. Maybe that doesn't fit. June 3 is too late though; that would be a later collection of an old March photo just before the 4-6 folder.

Hospital number 330/b was used for Mohamed Tariq Majid who, per the 2015 HRW report, died "about a month" after or "within a month" of a February 16 detention. That's according to alleged former prisoners, but good enough to map March 10-15 in a span with fewer IDs and stories or dated entries. It lines up well enough, not that there's as much to compare it to. At body #5,330, that's about 760 in the roughly 2 weeks since the late-February ones. That's a lot of bodies. Maybe the above entry is correct after all, and the average here comes out like 1,500-2,000 bodies/month? Maybe. But neither of these points is really solid.

Just by size the March folder is huge - 1,016 photos covering a span not much wider - perhaps 1,100-1,200 bodies. And it seem incomplete, with Mr. Majid dying in the middle of the month, but near the end of its coverage. And then there's no April or May folder. That's similar to August-October period in 2012, where an incomplete folder is followed by 2 missing ones. But this time it seems the photos in this span were gathered eventually, with an enormous June 4 folder collecting photos spanning back right to where 3-2013 left off, so covering May, April, and probably some part of March.

After Mr. Majid at 330/b, there's a span of about 2,300 bodies that passes before another H# is visible, and it's several in a row. The numbers 2614/b - 2624/b are used for a batch of 11 "branch 215 detainees" 3003, 4, 5, 6, and so on - only the first 4 seen in a document shown in HRW's 2015 report. The memo is dubious, to be examined, but the photos are clearly real and match with SAFMCD photos for those guys, all appearing in the later 4-6 folder. The memo date seems logical, probably the real day or close.

24 May would be a lone but firm anchor point way out - nearly 2300 bodies after Mr. Majid, in a suggested 70 days. That's 33 a day or 1,000/month, which the timeline suggests is about the overall average through 2013, if possibly a downturn from early March. 

After that, I only have two estimates I happened to make. These are based on 24 May and that daily average of 33, and on correlating placement within folder spans, to estimate a best-guess day (4 June for the purple 227-2040, and 29 July for the healthy-color but eye-gouged 227-2668). That would be too early to match with the deceased detainees of branch 227, as alleged by HRW and CIJA. That's not certain, but I make a good case that the hospital's numbering of death cases happened to nearly line up with the 227 subtotal during this span. it could be that plausible coincidence creating these 2 illusions, and maybe even more - among 227-credited bodies in this span, and nowhere else.

2,000-2200 bodies are covered in 4-6. The time span is unclear, but possibly back to about March 20, or the start of April at the latest. 2-2.5 months might make this a bit below average, but it seems incomplete. A smaller 7-6 folder was compiled 3 days later, and may complete the catch-up and bring the collection current; the mentioned 227-2040 is in the middle of this folder, but by daily averages from May 24, his photo should be about 4 June.

256 photos in 7-6 cover a span between 200 and 450 bodies wide (unclear). So these two June folders combined cover 2,200-2,650 bodies, in the span of about 2-2.5 months: about 1,000 to 1,325 per month. All considered, it seems about average.

The Summer Spike's Suspect Scheduling
Starting after the huge 4-6 folder comes the intermixed 24-6, 7-7, and 26-7 folders. Considering the scrambled timeline mentioned at the start, the new graphic just gives a collective total for 24 June to 26 July = 1,201 saved photos, over a span of app. 1,500-1,600 numbered bodies, collected in just over one month. This may reach back before 24 June, or reflect just one month of mayhem, some 50% higher than usual. That would be heavy: 50 bodies in an average day, and more on a bad one

Note 10-23: yes it reaches before 24 June. I know this but forgot it all though writing. It should cover from 7 June, IF things were brought current then, and further back otherwise. So this is a longer span of about 50 days. 1,500 would be 30 a day, a bit under average. 1600 a bit over. So about the spike I wrote about below … replace with continued steady stream, and the other points remain interesting... 

Now think about how this spike happens to come as "Caesar's" documentation project drew to a close. Is that a coincidence? It's worth wondering who might know that the insider was planning to feel unsafe and close up shop pretty soon. If they were the same people sending him all these bodies, they might use the knowledge to provide a grand finale. In fact, "Caesar's" timing might be based on plans of theirs he became aware of. 

This is also when less signs of chemical extermination appear. Instead, most men have their eyes gouged out, no matter what alleged branch of military intelligence was holding him (see 227-2668 above, and the 8 samples below, and note they run further back, into the June folders, but no earlier). 

Was someone in the Damascus area saving up toxic gas here in the late summer of 2013? When Caesar would flee on 20 August, and hundreds would die that night in the Ghouta chemical massacre? We think terrorists gassed hostages for that even, this time including women and children, but ones treated better than the thousands of men starved, gassed, and dumped up until then. This threatened regime change, crossing "Obama's red line." But in case that didn't work, as it so happens, "Caesar" was safely out with a sort of plan B for regime-change justifying allegations of mass atrocities. Does it also show practice and planning for the Ghouta event?

After the scrambled folders, there are three final ones closing the show before "Caesar" fled. First is an undated 000 folder. I estimate that at about august 1 - a date going blank makes sense here, and the numbers make sense. No span clear with just one H# found, only via Channel 4 recently, but with 143 photos included, it must cover at least 143 bodies.

Then a folder called 6-2013 contains entries picking up where 000 leaves, off and running to the final folder on 14 August. A small folder, I think this means 6 August, likely five days after last collection, 8 days before the next one. 6(-8)-2013 folder: total 62 photos, and all from branch 215 - it's a selective catch-up folder. 2 seen H#s show this folder covers a span of about 100 bodies at least, but not much wider than that.

14-8-2013 - final folder: total 126 photos, with a pretty normal division. Four seen H#s cluster around the 5,000/0 switch, illustrating a span maybe 50 bodies wide, with an unclear spread before or after. I suspect this final stretch is not much bigger than the number shared: probably 150 to maybe 200 bodies passing since last collection on the 6th. In 8 days, that's just 19-23 bodies per day.

solid sampling, unclear placement on timeline due to lack of seen H#s. Between them, at least 350 bodies, maybe 400 or more, represented by 330 photos. That would be 2 weeks to the 14th. That would only be 700/month, less than half the rate in March or July. Were the people providing that finale already winding the show back down? In the last 2 weeks before "Caesar" suddenly had to flee, just hours before the Ghouta massacre?
The Second Letter Switch and Last Bodies
There's the switch to /b after 4999 in March, perhaps fearing 9999 would never be reached. But it was, causing another switch at the end, in the 14 August folder. The final letter(s) remain unclear - said to be the Arabic letter tha ( ث ), it looks more like nothing - maybe a lazy s (sin - س ) slurred a couple different ways, or two different letters. Here as seen with 3/? (on 215-4059) and 24/? (on 215-4071). The latter could b 124, but their 215 numbers seem too close for that - just 12 apart.

There's long been an alleged 1,000-plus bodies after this switch, for about 11,000 total. I had accepted this, but in the end, it's not clear where they're at if so. That last folder is only about 126 photos (and for the 215 part, I took extra care to dig around the end and find all the last entries, so that may be its true size). Solid sampling prevails in the folder before it, so it seems unlikely this one has some 10% coverage, wide enough to show numbers running past 1,000, while just those 2 early H numbers appear. If so, some last-minute padding is more likely than usual. "Caesar" may just make up some "add 220" entries. But usually, it doesn't seem that way, and here I still kind of doubt that.