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, August 14, 2016

Syria: Hayan Missile Massacre

Syria: Hayan Missile Massacre
Or, the Qraitem Family Massacre
August 14, 2016 
last edits Aug. 18

On August 12, there was another alleged Syrian or Russian aerial crime against the Syrian people, and activists were all, like "where is the world?" and so on.

They happened upon a terrible scene in the middle of nowhere, perhaps a couple of different times (analysis pending). At a rough spot that could be a bombing site, with a long pile of earth, there are two mangled bodies in the road and several, mostly smaller ones, on the other side of the mound. I tally ten: four adults, all apparently women, and six children (at least 2 boys and 2 girls, the others unclear). It looks like they were flung from the road by a powerful blast, some time ago, and are now starting to decay. (that part doesn't seem to get noticed)

Frantic locals check for signs of life, sob, and perhaps explain who's to blame and how they know. They often get all this together for the  cameras. Syrian Civil Defense ("White Helmets") assist other activists to recover the bodies. An air strike is blamed. 

This might well be worth a closer look,  and there's a good start at ACLOS, and what should be a lively talk page. Here we're collecting photos and videos and so far, one vague report, and some scrutiny of the kind these claims usually aren't given.

For reference, Videos from Hayan Media Office:
  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzajS0ircHM
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTvu4VrAUpE
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhthhntDPeU
  1. https://twitter.com/thiqanewsagency/status/764049546313818112
  2. https://twitter.com/nonololo_2002/status/764331210474680321
  3. https://twitter.com/TotalNews_24/status/764174196075294720
  4. https://twitter.com/middleeastwars/status/764068627398000640
SNHR report (with photo used above): "At least 12 victims including 5 children died in government warplanes missiles fired on Hayan town in Aleppo governorate, August 12، 2016." No further information is provided. There might be 12 victims total, with 2 unseen so far.

Dumped Bodies
SNHR's blog post doesn't explain how they know it was bombing, let alone whose, that killed these people before someone dumped their bodies here. They might explain, when and where and if they do, that locals knew just who these people were, why they were walking here, and whose jet they saw drop bombs here - maybe even cutting off a live phone conversation, just minutes earlier. But those would probably be lies.

Note: there's no sign of a vehicle. The group was apparently walking here when they were blown up. Or so, we're to presume.

By lack of blood evident here, these people died and lost most of their blood somewhere else. And signs of moderate decays suggest they died probably a day or two before the videos. They might have died in a blast, or been executed and then blasted or somehow torn up to look that way. Analysis might answer this. (Aug. 18: still no analysis, but in a quick review, I noted one girl has a possible bullet hole in the bridge of her nose, and one boy seems to have the top of his skull sliced off. Shelling could cause either of these, but so could a gun and a sword. )

At 0:45 in video 1, at right, an activist with the SCD logo but no white helmet runs with a boy who's clearly dead and rotting like the rest. What's the emergency? The camera's on, must look "frantic," logical or not. Another man carries a living child with no sign of injury, reason unclear. He seems less hurried, gawking at the mangled bodies as he walks that baby around.

Location: Al-Nusra Turf
Hayan is about 9 km north of Aleppo, but the incident is a bit west of town, here on Google Maps, at the intersection of those two roads (geolocation credit: Petri). The above photo looks northwest into that walled compound. This is the middle of nowhere, basically, called Hayyan - Bayanoun Industrial Area on Wikimapia.

Why would they all be walking here? In war time, there are few possible reasons... (Aug. 18: AFP heard  this came during a supposed 3-hour cease-fire Russians had agreed to, to let people go out and re-supply. Perhaps all 12 of these people were out to get supplies? None are seen, must be on the way out?) But they seem more tumbled into place anyway.

This area is mostly administered (as of August 1 map) by Jabhat Al-Nusra aka "the new name for al-Nusra." Nearby and notable: Zahra and Nubol, government-held but besieged Shia villages about 5 km north, Başemra, Ezidi (Yazidi?) Kurdish village, 5 km west, Kurdish controlled, but also marking the front line. Minorities might still be available in surrounding areas, or even in these towns, at times. But the terrorists formerly known as Jabhat Al-Nusra also have plenty of other people they have reason to kill, here and in related areas.

Al-Nusra lacks fighter jets, so they could not have blown these people up in a jet attack. But as far as we can see, this body dump also has - and needs - no air force component. That's a possible match

If those adults are all women, why did they have no men with them as they walked thorough Jihadist-policed area? It's possible, but unlikely.  And again, they seem to have been killed elsewhere and then just dumped here. Why did they pick this spot? Not sure, will see...

A Hostage Family?
This is interesting. The opposition VDC, who just re-designed their website, is still keeping track, if not doing the math to make sense of events. VDC lists 19 civilians from Aleppo killed by "warplane shelling" August 12. 12 are from "Hayyan," clearly the ones spoken of, but here blamed on Russian forces bombing, like most others.

For Hayan, there are 3 unidentified boys, and 2 boys, 3 girls, 4 women, and no men at all, named as members of a Qraitem family. It seems the group was (allegedly) walking here with no men and with no clear reason.

Usually, all indiscriminate attacks kill almost nothing but adult males, at least in these VDC records (different categories average out between about 60 and 90% men, with the rest divided between boys, women, and girls notably dying in the smallest numbers). I usually suspect this means gender-segregated captives. Whole families can be seized, and the men killed automatically, per established religious rulings. Women and children are supposed to be spared for other fates, and it seems they usually are.

When regime or Russian bombing is blamed, or you're about to flee an area, all bets could be off, and sometimes are. But usually, it seems they stick to the plan and mostly have the bombs just kill men. But here, there are none. Why?

Maybe there just weren't any Qraitem men left? The family name in Arabic is قريطم - a VDC search for that shows the most recent deaths before these - about 2 weeks earlier - were 3 Qraitem men from the same town of Hayan. Ahmad Ali Qraitem, July 30 - Emad Mhmud Quraitem July 29 - Adel Mahmoud Rashoud Qraitem July 29. They all died from warplane shelling, with no women or children killed then (see below for one more Qraitem man killed a year before by "barrel bombs")

Four women might be 3 wives and a sister, second wife, adult daughter, etc. These might well be two portions of the same divided family. The men were singled out, here in turf managed by Al Qaeda (informally now), to be killed by government bombs. Then later, for some reason, the bombs ditched the chivalry or adherence to the fatwas, and went ahead and blew up their women and children as well, two weeks later. And then dumped them, and blamed Russian jets.

Damn Assad and Putin and their family-dividing bombs, right? Where is the world? Why isn't all of Syria liberated to be run this way?

Peripheral Stuff
Previous: Unexploded barrel bomb crushes boy in Hayan -  or, right-side-up, he was somehow crushed between a floor slab and demolition chute segments, in some kind of a building collapse, or ...???

(links not handy - just an image I made seeing this somewhere, and it was credited to Hayyan, Aleppo. Top: the correct way. Bottom, an image someone flipped to argue a barrel bomb crush-up)

Update: it was covered, I forgot: June 4, 2015, ACLOS. One man of this same Qraitem ( قريطم ) family was killed this time, besides 5 boys, 1 girl, and an elderly man of a Haik (or Hayek - حايك) family.

Sarmin, Idlib, March 16, 2015 (or so): at the time of the alleged chlorine attack, in a side-story, an uninjured and unaccompanied baby, like the prop one here was shown being transferred in an odd scene (ACLOS analysis). As activists lead an ambulance to one spot, and a large truck then blocks it off, a van drives in from the north, and some men rush a baby into a White Helmets van, which drives away. The town of Binnish is just north, and just north of that, the besieged Shia villages of of Foua and Kafr Aya and their sometimes vulnerable non-Sunnis, similar to the Hayan area. (FWIW)

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