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.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Ghouta Massacre's Sarin Myth, Brightly Lit

The Ghouta Massacre's Sarin Myth, Brightly Lit
Exploring Kafr Batna’s … Rebel Gas Chambers?
By Adam Larson
May 22, 2014 

Note: Originally posted here at the CIWCL site after a few tries to get it somewhere with a higher profile. I re-posted this article here November 24, 2014 in the hopes of getting more fresh views; as far as I can tell, this story and the report it's based on have not yet gotten the attention they deserve.
(the author acknowledges Denis O’Brien, Dan Kaszeta, Charles Wood, and “Pmr9” for direct input on this report)

As a refresher, the “official story” of the August 21, 2013 Ghouta Chemical Massacre is that the x-hundred fatalities * were killed by the nerve agent Sarin, delivered by Syrian government rockets fired into the rebel-held Ghouta region(s) of rural Damascus. By now, this has been seriously challenged; anti-Assad insurgents clearly had a good motive to get their enemies blamed, and increasingly the evidence suggests they would have the means as well.

* (unclear: 3-500 at least, probably more than that, perhaps over 1,000, 1,429 per the Obama administration, and higher yet by other counts – x-hundred is used here – overwhelmingly civilian)

One aspect generally shared by both sides of the blame debate, at least so far, is that the alleged Sarin rockets actually killed the x-hundred; whose copies of the rockets, and whose type of Sarin, remain the foci of dispute. But while those might be the key questions so many take them for, it's worth a mid-sized pause to consider a recent report challenging the entire debate as it stands.

This possibly crucial twist is based on an unprecedented visual study of one segment of the massacre - about 100 victims in a certain morgue. This allowed focused findings that, here, strongly suggest death by Carbon Monoxide or Hydrogen Cyanide gas, likely in the basement of the same rebel-held building they were later displayed in.

One victim who survived the gas was slaughtered right there in the morgue. That last fact was not quite hidden by a couple of sheets, and yet missed by all researchers until now.

By these findings, it seems the victims here were enemies and captives of the insurgents, cashed-in on a bid at outside military support. If this is true, the same is suggested for the entire massacre - batches like this added up for massive impact. Unless this is just a bit of rebel "exaggeration" tacked onto the regime attack...

But before delving into the details of that startling new material, it's best to review just how solid the "Sarin myth" it challenges really is.

Sarin in Ghouta: Facts and Gaps
Initial “fears” that Sarin was responsible had a political flavor and lacked evidence. But they were soon made near-gospel by the findings of the U.N. investigation led by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom.

His team had arrived in Damascus a day before the Ghouta attack, in part to look into a previous, alleged, rebel gas attack. Their original work interrupted, they were able to visit two sites; the Zamalka district of East Ghouta where several rockets landed, and Moadamiyah to the south, which had a separate alleged Sarin attack at the same time. The Sellstrom team conducted interviews with rebel-selected alleged survivors, collected environmental and biological samples, and then had the samples assessed in OPCW-certified laboratories. As we all know, the “feared” nerve agent turned up, confirmed with science.

But less people are aware of the gap in that science at least the size of the massacre itself; the investigators failed to collect a single sample from any of the x-hundred who actually died.

This was a conscious choice, they said, and not a limit forced on them. UN disarmament chief Angela Kane, who accompanied the “inspectors” to Damascus, explained “there were so many victims who are still alive that there was really no need to exhume bodies.” Her bizarre and completely incorrect reasoning: “a dead body can’t tell how the person dies … a living person can tell you that.” [1]

Angela Kane (right) to RT's Oksana Boyko: "a dead body can't tell you how the person dies."
The real reason for this choice could be speculated on. But obviously the dead didn’t get to do interviews either, and so neither their words nor their bodies were called on. Other people - presumed to be about the same - stood in for them in both regards. This exercise in faith may have an honest outcome, and it may not.

In that light, what the Sellstrom team gathered was circumstantial evidence with many possible explanations. For example, Sarin and its degradation products turned up with the Zamalka rockets and impact sites. This could be from the August 21 impacts, either as a main cause of death (as presumed), or just seeded to show up later. Or, it could have been planted at the insurgent-controlled site at any later time.

The human samples show that some people in the area were exposed to Sarin; there are ways to fake exposure, but the tests used apparently rule that out. [2] But there’s nothing to say just when and how it happened, other than the accounts they gave. These are made of words, delivered by rebel-screened people. Such words might be true, but there is a Jihad going on and lying to infidels is allowed. Their propaganda-to-plausibility ratio merits some scrutiny.

Finally, investigative reporter Gareth Porter recently analyzed the U.N. report and decided the subjects probably had “extremely low” exposure to the agent. [3] If so, that leaves an unexplained gap between the subjects and those who supposedly died all around them. It also makes “voluntary” exposure by Jihadi fakers more plausible than one might think.

The Myth in Action
All these gaps matter when neither common sense nor the visual evidence ever suggested Sarin.

In the first murky days, renowned CW expert Jean Pascal Zanders had said “everyone is saying Sarin ... but not everything is pointing in that direction," and “we – the public – know very little beyond the observation of outward symptoms.” [4] CRBN expert Dan Kaszeta reviewed those and said that the deaths “probably were not caused by Sarin,” noting the indicators “are not widespread or are present in confusing manners." For example, some supposed miosis (pinpoint pupil) victims “are clearly having a bright light shined in their eyes." [5]

But the U.N. team’s findings, flawed as they are, apparently resolved the early doubts. Zanders seems to have said relatively little since confirmation. And Dan Kaszeta has pursued a case that it wasn’t just Sarin, but the kind and quantity only the government could have deployed. [6]

Asked how his current views correlate with his early doubts, Kaszeta said by e-mail: “I always thought Sarin was a possibility. But several things erased the uncertainty in my mind.” He cites three points, two being the UN findings (field, and human). He also saw how “other theories and explanatory narratives began to crumble,” sometimes under his own analysis. Asked specifically for anything in the visual evidence, Kaszeta instead pointed to the limitations of video diagnosis (“telemedicine”), and even of the textbook symptoms to compare them to. [7] His points are technically valid, but limited in their relevance. It’s as fair now as it was last fall to note that it just doesn’t look right.

Even those who question the government’s guilt tend to see through the same Sarin-misted lens. “Sasa Wawa” of the research blog Who Attacked Ghouta, Gareth Porter, Seymour Hersh, and others focus on rockets filled with the stuff, but the rebels’ improvised version of it (which exists) and fired by the rebels (which is the best reading). [8] But in fact those rockets, and both sides’ Sarin supplies, might be largely – or totally - irrelevant to what happened that night.

Consider one case where that’s evident: a set of 9 alleged victims (including at least 5 children) found on the 22nd at an unfinished building, dubbed by researchers “Zamalka Ghost House.” It’s right amongst the rocket impact sites, but the signs say these victims were executed there at least two days before the attack. While they seem mainly intact (potentially poisoned), it appears that the man and one boy were shot in the head, and one woman has a sliced arm at least. And the fluid from some of their mouths, like the rest of the horrible things wrong with them, are most consistent with … 4-7 day’s worth of decay, as seen about 36 hours after the attack. [9]

Even though they landed all around the crime scene, August 21 Sarin rockets probably don’t explain those nine fatalities. But the other small and larger sub-totals, making up the entire x-hundred killed, remain open to question.

Enter the "SunMorgue"
Denis O'Brien is a different kind of expert skeptic - not as renowned as Zanders or Kaszeta, but more tenacious and central to this article. A former attorney and professor, with a PhD in neuropharmacology, O’Brien first laid out his worries with a September 9 letter sent to Congress as they were debating a measure to allow military strikes. His first analysis was thorough, but based only on the “Feinstein package" of 13 videos. He asked the legislators to go ahead and really look, and to "please ask President Obama and his administration to explain how scores of people could be exposed to lethal doses of Sarin and yet not show physiological effects that should be evident." Mass vomiting, urination, and defecation were some of the unpleasant signs that didn’t appear at all. [10]

It doesn’t seem he had much effect with his letter, but he didn’t stop there. In contrast to the other critics, O’Brien dug deeper into a narrowing study of the images from Ghouta. A sub-set of people and places solidified into one, with a defined story he could see emerging. This he developed and relates in a massive (200-page) but engaging report, released April 14, titled Murder in the SunMorgue: A Critique of the Sarin Myth and a Cyber-Investigation of the Ghouta Massacre Mystery (hereafter MITSM) [11]

The study centers on one building in the East Ghouta district of Kafr Batna (or KB), just southeast of Zamalka. Early opposition reports said 150 died here (so at least 10% of the total, likely more). MITSM concludes about 120-125 victims are visible in the complex, with “about 100” seen dead; the total number here could be higher, but not lower. [12] Other researchers have geo-located the apparent building in KB. [13]
Confirming the location: Inside the 4 windows is/would be the SunMorgue. Campared - nighttime arrival scene (panoramic) vs. 2009 satellite imagery. (see here for more graphics and discussion on the location matching) 

The most widely seen video (dubbed SM-a) shows at least 80 children, men, and women laid out in close rows in a simple, white-tiled, sun-lit room. Activists mill about between the bodies, collecting blood samples, saying Allahu Akbar, and making their own videos. [14] O-Brien named this the “SunMorgue” of the report’s title.
The "children's corner" of the SunMorgue (still from Sm-a)

In a basement space beneath that is another area O’Brien dubbed the "DarkMorgue." Videos showed some victims on both levels, and scenery clues connect upstairs to down, and one room to the next. Token medical efforts are seen down here; it’s apparently supposed to be a clinic, but with no real equipment besides gas cylinders – audibly hissing. Children, some women, and several men lay dead or prone across the different floors, most of them wet, some of them bloody from sloppy phlebotomy. [15]

Sarin Doesn’t Slice Throats
"Compared to the DarkMorgue,” O’Brien writes, the SunMorgue seems “almost cheerful,” mostly from the natural light and that “its occupants are past their final suffering." But one man at least – dubbed victim M-015 - seems to have passed it right there in the morgue. His blood across the floor is evident in video SM-a and elsewhere, but just where it’s coming from only becomes clear with the kind of all-sources study O’Brien did here.

Victim M-015 (center) (rotated video still from video SM-a)
The middle-aged M-015 has a larger build, so he’s a good candidate for under-dose. Lying face-up, he has a blue sheet wadded beneath his neck, and a white one across the front. Blood is visibly coming from his neck (left side at least), not the back of his head; it soaks up lightly into the white and down heavily into the blue, saturating it and overflowing across the floor beneath other victims. To bleed this much, the victim was almost surely alive with a pulse, maybe even as the videos were made. [16]

If one has followed his exhaustive run-down of each image and each possibility, It’s hard to disagree with O’Brien on this analysis. M-015 was brought in not bleeding, a white cloth over his face, and laid on a blood-free floor with his hands relaxed, laid cross his chest. Later, the face cloth is over his neck, there’s blood everywhere, and the victim has clenched his fists; his right hand is still where it was, but it’s gripping his shirt now. That was the last grasp on life he tried for, it seems, and it was not a helping hand he got back.

Further, in the same array, O’Brien identifies blood-caked possible victim of a throat-slicing prior to the morgue. That one (another adult male, dubbed M-012) is less clear; either a washed-up neck wound left completely uncovered, or an odd necklace-and-blood coincidence. [17]

From this reminder of Islamist slaughter culture, an upsetting alternate version of the brightly-lit SunMorgue emerges, like a photo negative. This is a place to collect and exploit death, and finalize it if needed. It might not be a massacre site, but could well be networked with one. The basement, for example, might be a good spot. Other signs become suspect. Just what are those hissing 44-liter gas cylinders emitting into the air down in the DarkMorgue? And what about the emptied ones all over? There’s a compelling possibility emerging on the MITSM discussion page; one set of tanks poisoned the air here, and another set with oxygen was used to clean it up. It seems okay at filming time. [18]

Consider now the death toll for the Ghouta massacre: 3-500 at the low end, and as many as 1,700 alleged. The entire range is far beyond the usual toll of an alleged CW attack in Syria, with or without enclosed spaces: from zero to around 30 killed. Something employing gas chamber efficiency is suggested here, and this might be a glimpse of that process as it unfolded on the Kafr Batna front.

What was the Poison?
Despite the dramatic power of victim M-015’s obvious in-situ murder, it’s clear that O’Brien considered the more crucial part of his study to be the challenge it lodges to the dangerous "Sarin myth.”

He’s not an expert in assessing the dead, but he at least has enough medical background to know where to look. The “biological mystery” he follows to the molecular level is related in Part C. [19] It should be noted for the critics that in Kafr Batna, there are high-quality photographs, besides the usual video sources. And in contrast to Ake Sellstrom’s mission, at least this study looks at the alleged Sarin victims that really matter.

One of the first things O’Brien noticed was the overall healthy pink color of the victims. This he first took to mean that they might be alive, and briefly pursued a “Juliet hypothesis.” But upon noticing their Pallor Mortis (the paleness of death) and Livor Mortis (the redness of it), that ended. As the heavier red blood cells settle with gravity in the hours following death, lower parts become red and upper parts pale, in an effect that fades within 10-12 hours. He notes many blood samples drawn are just straw-colored plasma, proving that separation and the absence of life.

Distinct line between Pallor Mortis and deep red
Livor Mortis on an adult male victim
(in the far back of the above image)

What’s remains striking is how totally red both colors-of-mortis are in the SunMorgue victims; drained cheeks are still fairly pink and normal-looking, as he had noticed, while the reddened parts are almost lobster color. O’Brien’s research led him to conclude this “rubicundity” after so much time had passed (roughly 8-12 hours) was unusual and a valuable clue. It clearly pointed away from Sarin – its victims sometimes adopt the opposite (cyanosis, or blue skin) or show no change, but redness like this is “low to nil.”

It then fell into place that a “rubigenic” poison, one that locks the hemoglobin in its red state, was to blame. The two examples that occurred to him were the gasses Hydrogen Cyanide and Carbon Monoxide. While there could be other candidates, research and visual observations bore out the theme. Combining entries from appendix I, table III and IV, here’s the short list of useful Sarin signs vs. what’s seen in the KB morgues:

  • Prominent salivation – Sarin: incidence high – Observed: no examples seen
  • Fecal Incontinence – Sarin: incidence high – Observed: no examples seen
  • Ante-Mortem Skin Color – Sarin: high incidence of cyanosis, low to nil instance of rubicundity – Observed: very high incidence of rubicundity, no cyanosis observed.
  • Pallor Mortis color – Sarin: Exclusively bluish grey - Observed: red/pink consistently observed w/ minor questionable exceptions. 
  • Livor Mortis color – Sarin: exclusively dark blue to purple - Observed: Red/pink consistently observed. [20]

The conclusions, taken together: strongly supports Carbon Monoxide, supports Cyanide, and strongly contradicts Sarin. Nothing here can totally rule out that even these victims - let alone others gassed elsewhere - might have Sarin, trace amounts or higher, included in their engineered last breaths. But this best visual assessment of the KB victims says the basic mechanism of their deaths was of another sort.

A final crucial point is the presence of at least two sorts in this same morgue; an apparent gender difference in the post-mortem color. The color details above apply to the majority of KB victims – all of them men and children. The fewer women are usually covered, but when seen (not terribly well), they seem to have no color issues. This could be Sarin, or a “normal” non-toxic death, but it’s different from what the others received. The report accurately notes that they were likely raped along the way, but in the end the women of the SunMorgue may have just been suffocated. [21]

Who Were the Victims?
If in fact insurgents executed the Ghouta victims themselves, then the records they provide – the only ones available – will not be trustworthy. What these say about the SunMorgue victims, for example, probably gives no direct clue why they and their handlers were on such bad terms. It’s a vague but real impression from the morgue videos, best highlighted by the murder of M-015. That was not a friendly action.

It could be that these corpses in rebel custody were that way when alive. It’s been presumed that the victims came to this “clinic” from elsewhere, and two nighttime videos show a couple of arrivals. But those might be the only arrivals and filmed for that reason, while most people were there all along. The apparent gender-segregation of death is a chilling clue; a cloud of Sarin vapor doesn’t differentiate like that, but jailers and executioners might.

Further, it seems unlikely a mass killing in Kafr Batna would coincide with a government Sarin attack in other areas. More likely, it would be just one point in a massive rebel crime spree across the area, played out mainly on controlled captives. Recall the Zamalka “Ghost House” victims - they were dressed like prisoners, the two women wearing their winter coats in August, all with no other possessions. [9]

Now consider mass-scale execution of hostages in previous massacres that were blamed on the government. In rebel-held Khalidiya, Homs, on February 3, 2012, reports said army shelling killed whole families in their homes. But opposition records show the 138 dead were strictly male and 94% adult – probably hostages executed by the “terrorists,” like the government and locals had said. [22]

Daraya, Damascus, August, 2012: Hundreds of hostages were held by rebels in basement prisons as talks broke down, the Army moved in, and rebels started “finding” sex-segregated people executed by the army - in basements and in the same insurgent-run mosque they retreated to and buried the dead at. Death toll unclear: at least a few hundred – some opposition sources said it was over 1,200. [23]

A year after Daraya and a few miles northeast, the Jobar district of Ghouta claimed hits in the Sarin attack, now discredited. An added cause of death there, a rebel medic said, was people burning tires while they hid in basements. [24] If this bizarre claim reflects anything real, it cannot be good. On December 2, 2012, insurgents from al-Houla kidnapped around 500 Alawite civilians in Aqrab, Hama province. They denied them food and water, and made them breathe heavy smoke from burning tires. Half were freed in swaps, and the other half reportedly massacred on December 9 and 10. One likely victim was shown on rebel video - a young girl coated with smoke, her skull hacked open as if by a sword. Army shelling was blamed. [25]

Considering, then, what opposition fighters in Syria sometimes do with their “human resources,” imagine what they might do with those plus access to Sarin, other poisons, rockets, and many enclosed spaces. Imagine that choice being made on the fringes of Damascus, by the anniversary of Obama’s “Red Line” offer, which came just after the UN’s “inspectors” had landed in the capitol.

Motive, means, and opportunity are all evident in spades. The means included the capability to generate “human resources” on the scale we see. in the first days of August. Islamist rebels in the north of Syria abducted at least 4-600 “enemy” civilians (mainly Alawites and Kurds, including women and children) [26] But any link between these freshly “displaced people” and East Ghouta is only so likely. Claims that child victims have been identified are inadequate for an issue of this gravity. [27]

Initial suspicions that the victim videos were filmed in the north is countered by the geo-location of several in East Ghouta, including the SunMorgue. And so the distance issue is a problem for the northern captures theory. But there are quieter abductions, closer to the crime scene, or longer ago in time, that could easily fill a gas chamber system in Ghouta.

More must be learned, since these shady victim patterns continue with the recent CW attacks now being pursued by Human Rights Watch. [28] Opposition reports say “displaced” civilians from neighboring Morek were under the chlorine barrel bomb that fell on Kafr Zita April 11. Only two of these - a baby girl and an elderly man - actually died, and that was from head injuries caused, activists said, by the bombing. [29] In February, the Alawite village of Maan - right next to Morek - had a reported 80+ citizens abducted, following its second rebel massacre. In both cases, women and children had their heads cut off or at least cut in half. [30]

Conclusion: Settled Lies and Re-Claimed Sunlight
Recall Angela Kane’s Orwellian inversion of the truth-to-death ratio: “a dead body can’t tell you how a person died,” but a living, insurgent-screened person can be trusted to tell you for them. Rather, like the blood settles after death into that striking livor mortis, so too does the ability to lie settle after death, leaving brutal honesty alone on the surface.

The study encapsulated in MITSM reveals the story hidden in plain view, by re-claiming the same sunlight the insurgents used to illuminate these cancelled Human Beings. With the same obvious motive they always had, and evidence of a chemical massacre well within their means, it can't be ethically ignored any longer - the handlers of at least this hundred in Kafr Batna, and their foreign backers, may have lied to us about who and what is to blame.

Again, the American threats of force against Syria last year were cancelled only by maneuvers on the world stage, and did nothing to change the perceived truth. The pretext that pushed us there once lingers, awaiting another push. Truth is the best solution to that, but the Sarin myth may be blocking our view of it. In this corner of Hell at least, we now have one cleared view that is brightly lit and should be widely seen.


(ACLOS = A Closer Look On Syria, a research wiki site the author contributes to)

[1] RT October 3, 2013. ‘No sarin detected in West Ghouta environment, only in human samples' - UN's Angela Kane. RT video, published October 3, 2013. (time-stamp: 12:29) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcfIj6WLqRkNote: The author asked both Dan Kaszeta and Denis O’Brien what they thought of that. Kaszeta countered (see note 7): “you can tell a lot from a dead body. Principally the same protein adducts that would be analyzed by fluoride regeneration as from a live body. It would have been great to get some bodies and do some testing.” The remarks reminded O’Brien of an “old Mickey Spillane quip” that “dead men don't tell lies.” (e-mail message from Denis O’Brien to the author, April 27, 2014) See also criticism here.
[2] ACLOS member Pmr9 cites “fluoride ion regeneration test” (see here). A search indicates that exact name isn’t usually used, but a test like that exists. Dan Kaszeta mentioned “a much newer method, one that forced me back to the library to read up on, called fluoride regeneration or fluoride reactivation.” (see also note 1) Both agreed this rules out the known methods of fakery (like ingestion of IMPA powder) and/or proves actual Sarin exposure.
[4] Syria: Chemical Weapons Expert Jean Pascal Zanders Says Gas Might Not Be Sarin, Urges Caution By Mehdi Hassan, Huffington Post, August 30, 2013. - Is It Possible The Syrian Rebels (Not Assad) Used Chemical Weapons? by Eyder Peralta, National Public Radio, The Two-Way. August 27, 2013. Note: In the latter, he also warned "we need to keep our minds open that the events of last Wednesday could in whole or partially have alternative explanations."
[5] What Happened? If it isn’t Sarin, what is it? By Dan Kaszeta PDF (revised 26 August - original version was Aug. 23)
[6] (for example) Why Nigel Farage Has It All Wrong: Smoking Guns, Hexamine, And Syrian Sarin Dan Kaszeta, guest post on Brown Moses blog
[7] E-mail message from Dan Kaszeta to the author, May 2, 2014. Kaszeta cited the low number of human cases, problems with translating animal studies, unknowns about victim age and health, and unknowns regarding how Sarin interacts with other chemicals in the weapon or environment, or smoke. “Because of these considerations,” he said, “I have to say that what the "received wisdom" in the manuals is about signs and symptoms is an educated guess more than a definitive known fact.”
[8] Gareth Porter: See note 3. - Seymour Hersh December 19, 2013: Whose Sarin? - Sasa Wawa, Nov. 2, 2013: The Conclusion.
[9] ACLOS: Zamalka/Ghost house The house has been geo-located in Zamalka – someone even marked it on Wikimapia The decay reading is the author’s own, informed by prior study on body decay.
[10] Lack of Pharmacological Proof of a Sarin Attack at Damascus: An Open Letter to Congress. By Denis R. O'Brien, Sep 09., 2013. PDF link Note: he also brought it to ACLOS. sparking our early contact. Note: In MITSM (see note 11), O’Brien explains he enlisted the help of congressman Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist, to warn Congress “that before they authorize any bombs, they better have a closer look at the evidence from a pharmacological point of view.” But: “the only thing I got for my efforts was being put on Paul’s weekly Email list, which I have not been able to escape from yet.”
[11] Murder In The SunMorgue. A Critique of the Sarin Myth and a Cyber-Investigation of the Ghouta Massacre Mystery. by Denis R. O'Brien. August 14, 2014. Project page. Report in four parts (A-D), with appendices, and a discussion page where new evidence is still being considered. Part A offers a good overview. Direct PDF link
[12] See MITSM part A, pages A-4, A-13. Victims of special interest, but not all, are given identifying numbers like M-015. Some are given nicknames, like the girl “Bunny” to whom (along with her playmates) MITSM is dedicated.
[13] ACLOS: Kafr Batna hospital. Identified by Petri Krohn 7 Sept., 2013. His “town hall” description is not confirmed; these are buildings. Location-video match confirmed by the author 26 April, 2014 with graphics. The location given in MITSM (p. A-13) is incorrect (points to Zamalka) Actual coordinates,: 33° 30' 55" N, 36° 22' 27" E Google Maps link
[14] Video SM-a, previously listed as Video 011a in the MITSM videos index (MP4 downloadable) (#11 in the “Feinstein Package”),
[15] “Connecting the SunMorgue to the DarkMorgue” MITSM part B, pages B-28-39
[16] “The in situ death of corpse M-015” See MITSM, part D - pages D-11-22 direct PDF link
[17] “Another Slit Throat?” MITSM part D, pages D-25-28
[18] The gas cylinders are discussed throughout the report, with a new video and discussion about the hissing and the theories on the MITSM discussion page This is still nebulous; no one is even sure yet what the two colors (pale green, bright blue) usually mean in this (Syrian/ international) context.
[19] MITSM, part C: Read Their Lips: The Ghouta Massacre as a Biological Mystery. Direct PDF link
[20] MITSM, Appendix 1 - Tables. Direct PDF link
[21] MITSM part C, pages C-34-35
[22] ACLOS: Khalidiya Massacre Part of: Homs Massacres
[24] If rockets only hit Zamalka, and winds were to the E-SE, Jobar (west) would be unaffected. In this video, a “Jobar medical point doctor” describes a CW attack on Jobar and Ain Tarma (S-SE) alone. At time-stamp 3:45, as he explains how victims put themselves in basements and started fires, including “burning tires" - "putting tires on fire added insult to injury." He suggests an education campaign to counter that behavior.
[25] Unverified report that the final 235 (88 of them children and women) were killed then. [ACLOS: Aqrab Massacre
[26] Latakia: Civilians, primarily women and children , were captured by terrorists during the horrifying conquest of 11 small mountain towns. At least 200 killed (confirmed) during a joint FSA-al-Nusrah-ISIS assault. ACLOS: Latakia Massacres. – Kurds: ACLOS: Talk:Tal Abyad massacre Captives taken before and after a massacre (of 70?) August 5. Kidnappings preceded this and continued after: at least 263 by August 11, possibly 400 total. Homs: Aug. 17 raid on Christian Marmarita, apparently turned back; civilians killed, but no mention of abductions. ACLOS: Marmarita Massacre
[27] There have been reports of child victims identified by families in Latakia. If true, these would have weight, but no details are provided and the source (an activist nun) is of sporadic reliability. Amateur attempts are worth trying, but all so far are inadequate for an issue of this gravity. SeeACLOS: Latakia connection? See also the MITSM discussion page. – O’Brien pans some attempts.  
[28] Syria: Strong Evidence Government Used Chemicals as a Weapon Human Rights Watch, May 13, 2014
[30] The first Maan Massacre was Dec. 25, 2012, ACLOS: Maan Massacre The second one was Feb. 9, 2014, ACLOS: Maan Massacre, 2014 Syria News.cc reported "the missings list extends to 80 civilian." Woman’s head chopped in half explained: ACLOS Al-Taman'ah Bus Victims


  1. http://leaks.sea.sy/vandyke-leaks/#KnewRebels

    Eliot Higgins had information from Matthew VanDyke via Facebook suggesting that “rebels” had acquired chemical weapons back in early 2013 and were probably behind the chemical weapons attack in Aleppo, yet he has failed to ever mention – let alone investigate – this hint during any of his open source-based analyses,


    1. I should finally respond to these comments. I have heard that story about Sotlof, but never did decide if it was all legit or what it meant. Hacked Facebook stuff I find is often pretty fake-seeming, but this case, not sure.

  2. Syria|n rebels are finally adopting Volcano rockets, here: #Aleppo.
    6 Nov 2014


    1. As for November adaptation, I doubt it was just then in November, of course. There's some question about the authenticity of the Liwa al-Islam video, but rebels are the ones with a motive to launch any rockets that would (seem to) tie in so well with their planned hostage-gassing op of August 21, which I'm close to certain is the reality of this situation.


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