Warning

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.

Monday, June 19, 2017

"Mistakes" Behind 4 US Attacks on Syrian Forces

June 19, 2017
last edits June 22

The unprecedented U.S. shoot-down of a Syrian air force SU-22 on June 18 is at least the third direct attack on Syrian forces conducted by U.S. forces in the course of the war, all three of them in the last year, carried out under both the Obama and Trump administrations. A fourth apparent attack was blamed on Russian forces. While the deadliest attack happened during Obama's tenure, it was claimed as a mistake. The change seen under Trump is two attacks so far, both proudly claimed as justified, given Syria's unacceptable behavior.

Each time they were attacked, Syrian forces were blamed for causing it, through some criminal act needing punished, or through some kind of negligence. They seem to have a hard time learning their lesson, which usually isn't clear, and keep making a variety of mistakes, forcing the coalition's hand to attack them directly despite not wanting to. 

Further, these pretexts and the ensuing attacks keep seeming to support the goals - stated and unstated - of the U.S. in Syria and the region, helping Islamic State and other Jihadist groups expand their power at the expense of Syria's government. So the relation between stated mistakes and tacit motives should be carefully considered in each case.

All four incidents in chronological order:

1) Dec. 6, 2015, Saeqa Airbase, Deir Ezzour
(ACLOS) (Monitor)

Attack: First reports, including by SOHR and Syrian military, were clear that coalition forces flying out of Iraq launched this deliberate attack with nine missiles, killing several soldiers and wounding others at Saeqa airbase north of Deir Ezzour. It's said the U.S. jets split off while an unnamed nation's jets hit the base. The U.S. claims that was a Russian attack, flying through Iran and Iraq, that came exactly an hour after their own attack in the area, flying out of Iraq (or at the same time, depending on time zone issues - Iraq is an hour ahead of Syria). 
"Mistakes": Trusting those damn Russians?
Area/significance: The attack emboldened Islamic State (ISIS) forces around the base into an abortive attack - see #2 for a worse example. The Saeqa base and nearby town of Ayash were later overrun and remain ISIS-held in mid-2017. All positions around Deir Ezzour are tenuous; the city itself and all areas to the north, south, and east are firmly under ISIS control now. But there's a shrinking island of government  control just west of the city, a couple of well-manned army bases and the Deir Ezzour airbase, surrounded by the depths of the ISIS sea.
As such, there's a massive potential interest in having Syria lose all toeholds there, so thousands of soldiers can me massacred, sapping their will, and so the whole area can become another ISIS hub for outsiders to "liberate" and then not give back to Syria. Then it could be used, perhaps, as a capitol for the planned Sunnistan on the Iraq-Syria border area, as part of a new and more manageable Middle East. That would be Jihad and McWorld (as Benjamin Barber dubbed these forces some years ago) working together, as usual, to squeeze away the nation-state wherever it's seen as being in competition with McWorld's ambitions.

2) Sept. 17, 2016, Tal Thardah, Deir Ezzour

Attack: US and coalition attack on soldiers manning a regular spot, held steadily for months, on Thardah mountain (alt Jabal Turda, Tarda, etc.) The attack killed at least 62 soldiers and wounded well over 100. Survivors report coalition drone surveillance the day before, that cluster bombs were used in the attack, and the Americans gunned down soldiers from behind as they tried to flee, and that ISIS fighters were seen laughing about the help as they overran the abandoned hill.

"Mistakes": The Syrians had their fighters appear to be possible ISIS types (irregular uniforms, no flag noticed, and maybe some beards, besides some clean-shaven chins they didn't notice, perhaps?). And they let the US forget it was ever an important government-held area. This lax uniform code and lack of constant reminders left the coalition with no choice but to think these were ISIS guys in an ISIS area, a clearly worthy target to attack without even double-checking. The assault reportedly ran for about an hour before the Russians convinced the U.S. to cease fire.
Area/significance: this was an important mountain guarding Deir Ezzour airbase, their main airlink to the outside world and, as the cited Washington Institute map (at right) puts it, "The Islamic State's main goal" in the area. The attack destroyed all defenses there, and let ISIS actually overrun the mountain, massacre survivors, and gain the high ground over  the main object of their siege. They lost it with a Russian-backed counter-offensive that night, but later re-took it, and it's occupied by Islamic State to this day, keeping the airport vulnerable and more frequently attacked, and contributing to the slow erosion of government authority around Deir Ezzour.
The incident also angered Russia, and helped scuttle an agreed plan to partner with the U.S. to jointly fight ISIS AND the Al-Namechange Front. But it happened at the same time as the strike on the UN aid convoy (ACLOS) blamed by the U.S. on Syria and Russia, and used as the excuse to scuttle the deal Washington clearly never wanted, as they tried to ignore this coincidental "mistake." But after this, the coalition perhaps decided two mistakes was enough, even with one blamed on Russia. But they've been fairly open about the goal of chasing ISIS from their crumbling capitol of Raqqah and herding them towards Deir Ezzour (see entry #4 below).

3) April 7, 2017, Shayrat Airbase attack
(ACLOS)

Attack: 59 long-range missiles fired, moderately damaging Shayrat airbase, destroying some jets, reportedly killing at least six soldiers and nine civilians (when about 1/3 of the missiles missed the target), among them four children, and injuring many others. The Shayrat airbase is in Homs province, central Syria, and for once not in Deir Ezzour or very near to any Islamic State threat. That is for once, a U.S. attack did not directly favor ISIS on the government's most delicate battlefront.

"Mistakes": Syrian forces just had to drop a sarin bomb on Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, on April 4, from 2 km south of town, which blew exactly upwind to kill 100+ and affect hundreds. (ACLOS) (Monitor) This included "beautiful babies" shown off by "opposition activists," and Ivanka Trump was made to cry. See:
US supposed radar track of attack jets from Shayrat base to prove the attack - that was said to be from a gravity bomb dropped from one of the two jets - north end of track compared to sarin release point (that black dot does represent the whole town, and the path is well south, at its closest):
Per the opposition story: sarin deaths (pinks spots in the purple area), sarin release point (blue circle inside the red circle), prevailing wind on video (estimate range in green - full explanation here), and thus note: their story does the exact opposite of line up.
See, that's what Damascus should not have done. If they want less U.S. bombing, they need to stop doing illegal, silly and impossible things like this.
 

Area/significance: The alleged sarin attack was near in time and space to a mass abduction of at least 120 civilians from briefly-overrun government-held areas to the south just days earlier. Still no victim-to-hostage matches have been publicized, but it could be these poor citizens, or some less obvious hostages, that provided the flesh for this bogus incident with just about 100 killed (counts vary). This can easily be  seen as Ghouta 2.0, designed to test a President Trump's reaction to the lackluster one by Obama the first time around. The first openly-acknowledged intentional attack on Syrian forces followed, with Trump threatening more of the same if opposition activists could convince him of another such attack.

4) Jun. 18, 2017, SU-22 downed near Tabqa:
(ACLOS)

Attack: A U.S. F/A-18 fighter jet shot down Syrian SU-22 attack plane dropping bombs "near SDF fighters" south of Tabqa (also near the crumbling ISIS capitol of Raqqah). Pro-government sources claim the jet was conducting a raid on Islamic State (ISIS) positions, while the anti-government SOHR heard the jet was hit over "al-Resafa" and not targeting SDF forces further north, but ISIS ones (and the pilot's fate remains unclear). However a U.S. Navy statement claims Syrian forces first attacked U.S.-backed Kurdish SDF forces, chasing them from the town of Ja'Din ("which sits approximately two kilometers north of an established East-West SDF-Syrian Regime de-confliction area" and per Peto Lucem's latest, just on the ISIS side of the line (see right). Then at 6:43 p.m., a Syrian SU-22 "dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah" and "was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet" in accordance with rules to protect coalition partners. The immediate part sounds like there was no warning even, because they soooo should have already known better than to ... There's no claim the bombs were dropped on or aimed at the SDF fighters, as opposed to ISIS. The reality of who first liberated Ja'Din from ISIS and what happened after remains unclear to me at the moment.There are reports of the SAA liberating it, apparently from ISIS, but none of the SDF announcing a conquest. So maybe Syria took it from ISIS, the Kurds broke in and tried to take it, but the SAA chased them out under fire, and hence maybe SDF made a revenge call of bombs falling too "close" to them.

"Mistakes": dropping bombs near SDF, on SDF, competing too well against or fighting with SDF, threatening to liberate the al-Resafa crossroads from ISIS, unclear.

Area/significance: the attack came at the head of incredible Syrian gains in the last few days, a long push east just south of a sluggish-seeming SDF frontline. SyriaLiveMap shows more recent expansion by both forces to the east along their dividing line, both seeming to race towards the important crossroad and airport at Resafa (bottom middle on the map below). Conflict would be possible along the line, where Ja'Din is - their map showed, when I checked, Ja'din in the SDF-held area, and north of the same line extended (but it wiggles...)
later frontlines in light blue - green line and purple area are to help set where Ja'din is
But the jet was reportedly hit south of the deconfliction line, to be over Resafa as the SOHR heard, and thus more than likely hitting ISIS, not SDF targets. And provoked or not, the jet-downing might serve - coincidentally? - to shake Syrian resolve and halt this trend of progress in reclaiming their own territory, blocking the exits for ISIS fighters who might flee Raqqah to Deir Ezzour to help submerge the last Islands of sanity there, and furthering the Syrian goal of breaking the years-old siege of that important city. (apparently it did not stall Syria - see Moon of Alabama analysis) - they moved on to liberate Al-Resafa, an important point, as Russia has banned all coalition flights from west of the Euphrates, on penalty of tracking and possible shoot-down, with the U.S agreeing to scale back over there, and Australia at least halting operations for the time being (RT).

<add 6-22>Syria Live Map now shows Ja'Din and some areas to the north under Syrian army control, and the crossroads at "Ar Rusafah" here, and even a bit to the east, also in government hands.<end 6-22>

With that goal achieved, here is their situation vis-a-vis Deir Ezzour (from Moon of Alabama). We can see why Resafa was so important. And Trump just had to start downing Syrian jets as soon as they were bombing it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Idlib Chemical Massacre: The Hostages in Abdelhamid's House?

Idlib Chemical Massacre: 
Abdelhamid al-Yousef: The Proof Man?
The Hostages in Abdelhamid's House?
June 12-??, 2017
(rough, incomplete - last edits June 22)

Doubting the Dad Dogma
Recall Abdelhamid al-Yousef, grief-stricken father, star witness, and apparent "proof man" for the alleged sarin attack of April 4. He gave several interviews in the days after the event, claiming he went out to help others after 3 regular-seeming "airstrikes," hiding his family in a basement, in case there were more. When he came back, his wife Dalal and their infant twins, Ahmed and Aya, were all dead from the heavier-than-air sarin that he never smelled or noticed until it was too late.

It's also said four neighbor kids named Saleh (a toddler boy and three older girls) were taken over to Abdelhamid's house while their mother was away at work, and died with them.

Here he's famously seen holding his alleged twins just before the burial photo op. There are ample photos showing him and apparently the same twins, going back about to their birth, which he seemingly announced on Facebook last May (<add 6-18>as Qoppa999 shows it on Twitter, May 6 - just the babies shown, and it's hard to say if they're the same, but let's say they are...<end 6-18>).

Maybe all this should just convince me he's really their dad and speaking the truth about their deaths. But of course it doesn't. I mean this could be truly his family, but this raises some problems, which we'll partly address. There are ways he could be compelled to follow along with the laundering of their apparent murder, and possible prolonged mistreatment before that... but it gets complicated. What could also explain things, and let's pause to consider this...

Hostages this young - not even a year old - can be held since and even before birth. In fact, plans for their use could surround them for just as long - A Chechen warlord raping a 'converted' Alawite concubine taken in Syria, for example, might wind up with some disposable offspring to use for things like this. Also hostages are seized from minority and patriotic families on occasion. Said birth heralded with fake news about the happy local family. The kids could be treated better than some to stay photo-ready as they grow and occasionally get photographed with a friendly captor with candy and jokes to get them smiling, on several occasions over the months, to build up the happy family photo album.

<add 6-22>Here's a question with a possibly innocent answer: why it photo time usually so soon after bath time? Hostages often get sub-standard care and hygiene.These might be kept better-fed and not visibly ill, but they may remain grubby until it's learned a photo shoot is planned, maybe with little notice. Ahmed's hair is too short to show it, but Aya's is wet in most of the photos Abdelhamid posted in a batch on Facebook on May 4. In the smaller number of select photos published earlier, this isn't as noticeable.
<end 6-22>

But ideally, if the case is important enough, they'll have a better backstory prepared for the sacrificial lambs than the ugly truth. And that story would need an actor...

This would be a big case, Ghouta II, a fake event cooked up by terrorists to wrap around a real massacre of their own civilian enemies, designed to secure outside help on their behalf. This sequel features a sudden and conspicuous revival of alleged regime sarin attacks that kill 100+, including many women and children. This is the first time anything remotely similar has been reported since the big failure in August, 2013. After 3 years of smaller chlorine attacks instead, this re-emerged in early 2017, almost surely, to see if President Trump responds much differently than Obama did in 2013. Frighteningly, he did, and the stage is set for Ghouta III, IV, and so on.

If they have unusually good tricks, this is where to use them. It would be worth casting a lead actor who's an embedded militant and trustworthy, who can give many media interviews to repeat his story widely, who's even had photos taken over a span of time with some of the hostage babies, maybe those cute fair-haired twins, sure, to seem like their dad someday ... a guy who may have been voluntarily taking low-dose sarin for a couple of days after the event, as he went stumbling and sweating around Turkey, got tested, spoke to the media some more, and kissed Erdogan's head for all he's done to help Syria. That's a guy you shouldn't trust.

Add 6/14: to the extent the fake photos option seems implausible to some readers, I'll suggest another alternate option: Mr. Yousef is seen in those photos with his real children, who happen to look a lot like a set among their hostages, so he was chosen to play their dad. As far as I can tell, that's possible (no iron-clad match-up yet), but it would be quite a coincidence.<end 6/14>

Home Locale: This is still slightly unclear, but - a witness speaking to BBC shows the damaged home associated with smoke plume #2 (see the blasts, plume/damage area 2), and off to the west, to say Amira Saleh's children were here, and Abdelhamid al-Yousef's too. By the story from the alleged Amira herself, she left her children at home as she went to work, and her brother (babysitting?) someone took them to Abdelhamid's place nearby, maybe for safety as jets passed, or after the blast at their place, it's not clarified.

Mr. Yousef mentions no bombing at his place, and a bombing might leave you dusty and wanting to go somewhere else. So it makes sens that the bombed place is the (alleged) al-Saleh home, and down the street is where they wound up. So the way I have mapped below, furthest to the west, is probably close to his reported home, if not exactly.



Note that it's the least plausible place to get any sarin blown over from the alleged sarin crater, according to the opposition's own story on the prevailing wind (it's not specified, but it's on the video they provide). As we'll see, the folks who reportedly died there don't look like any sarin was blown over them. So this is lining up ok so far...

7 Bodies in a Van
I have to thank Michael Kobs and Qoppa999 on Twitter for helping me catch some stray images that ties this together. Here's a terrible image that didn't seem directly related until now, a stray photo provided by the Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS), found in a Buzzfeed report. Apparently four girls and a woman, in street clothes and bleeding from the nose, laid in the back of a van along with militant gear, one laid atop a broken truck-mounted gun.

There were initial doubts the photo even connected to this incident, though I always suspected it did, and noted that it reflects poorly on the sarin allegations (first in the post about problems with the sarin evidence). Military-grade sarin does not cause bleeding from the nose. Bleeding from the nose and not the mouth can be caused by an unseen head wound. It could also be caused by caustic gas, with no blood out the mouth for some reason. The girl also seems to have purple lips, a rare glimpse of apparent cyanosis, but with signs that contra-indicate sarin. No eye damage to suggest chlorine or the like. Maybe white foam from the mouth (specifically LACKING blood if so). The toddler in pink in the back seat (alt view) has white foam from the nose, no trace of blood. We see some cyanosis, some foam, no SLUDGE syndrome otherwise (clothes should be soiled with urine and diarrhea, and vomit), possible skull hacking on 2 victims, and some other oddities. Not the best case for sarin here being credited by the smart folks at SAMS.

Differences aside, I deduce these are all said to die in the same spot from the same poison. The spot is Abdelhamid al-Yousef's home.

The woman has swollen lips, but they don't seem irritated. Was she punched in the lip? She has a sickly color (pale and a bit yellow), puffy cheeks and eyes, and perhaps black gums. Was she ill? Did she get proper treatment?

The girl in red has strange dots under the chin, and possible swelling around them. It has a snakebite effect, but that's probably not it...  some prior injury since healed?

Could fatal head wounds be hidden? We don't the backs of any of their heads, nor a view of the blankets beneath to see if they're bloody. The woman's head seems perhaps too heavily wrapped - there could be a blood-soaked towel stuffed in there. Further, her face may be distorted, too flat and too wide, because the back of her skull is split open so wide.

Shelling injuries? Unlikely. If so, all the dust of pulverized concrete ... didn't stick to them much. All the flying shrapnel and chunks of wall ... failed to tear their newly-donated seeming clothes. Each of these two was hit ... by, it seems, exactly one fatal piece of shrapnel to the back of the head? No ... especially in "liberated" parts of Syria, that will be a sword or a hatchet. Sorry if that seems overly imaginative. This is either a caustic effect that just bypasses the mouth somehow ... no, this is deliberate execution with blows to the head. 

This was all terrible and interesting, but it seemed disconnected until I finally saw this source: a SAMS USA press release from the time that I had missed, including two new (to me) photos of this scene. Here's one of them:

The five bodies seen becomes seven, with two small bodies on the left I hadn't seen before. And from here it gets interesting in another way.

Correlating the Victims 
Of the two new bodies on the left, the toddler boy on the top, with a scraped cheek and livor mortis (red face, from being left face-down for at least a couple of hours after death) looks immediately familiar. The injuries might be clues, but anyway, this is clearly Ahmed, as given, the alleged infant son of alleged miracle survivor and local militant Abdelhamid al-Yousef. Qoppa999 agrees, providing this comparison with the famous pre-burial photo:
That's undeniable. This scene is clearly linked to the rest of the terrible story, and the details will matter.

Another photo with that press release shows the toddler in pink glimpsed in those views, lying on the back seat. Unlike the others, she has a weird, copious "foam" from the nose, and not blood. It's not realistic, seems too white and too thick, drying in place like it's a baking soda trick. But it did seem to clog her nose and she had to breathe through it, judging by the bubbles. So, I'm not sure how to call that. Such bubbles can be caused after death, but either way, it was gotten in her nose - maybe right here in the special work space of the backseat.

By appearance, this is possibly Ahmed's twin sister Aya, as given. There's nothing as distinct about her, but in context, it probably is her. Compared below:
<add 6-17>This is the same girl - in both views, see a dot on her right cheek. This doesn't appear with the living girl shown in earlier photos, but that's a weak mismatch; freckles and dots can appear and disappear. One thing than can make them appear is strangulation; petechial hemorrhages can appear on the face afterwards, usually in number. She may have more unseen, or just the one - perhaps she was strangled 'gently' (even if her neck was visible it might not be obvious) or perhaps this is just a coincidence and she died some other way. <end 6-17>

So here there are a total of seven bodies loaded in a van, likely from one spot, where combined stories had seven people dying in Mr. Yousef's home; his three, and Amira/Abeer's four kids said to be brought over. Here are all of the bodies, tentatively identified from there by deduction, using the names and ages as provided by the VDC in their Big list of fatalities:
Listed (not in same order, ages as given, might be rounded-off, etc.)
Abdelhamid Al-Yousef's family:
1) Dalal Al-Sah (wife/mother)
2) Aya (app. 1)
3) Ahmed (app. 1)
Children of the Ahmed and Amira/Abeer Al-Saleh family: 
4) Mouhammad (3)
5) Ruba (6)
6) Batoul (8)
7) Hadeel (10)

Is that a stained or a burned foot on (Hadeel? - in the red jacket with the chin marks)? It doesn't seem burned like fire, but chlorine will cause blackened skin like frostbite if it hits the skin in a strong concentrate - some liquid chlorine dripped on her foot? Unclear, and the signs don't suggest anything like that killed them. More likely, it's hematoma, basically a blood-blister. The right kind of injury can cause this. It may or may not be a clue.
 
In general, the skin and gums of these victims may show signs of smoke exposure. Nostrils usually show that best, but they're full of blood. Possible prior abuse/medical neglect, possible smoke exposure, eventual execution - what other signs of being hostages do we need to see?

As with most victims seen, they wear street clothes like they were caught out shopping or at school, rather than in bed or maybe just waking up around 6:45 am. Except they mostly are barefoot, as if awake, and ready to go out; shoes are taken off inside, and before execution. Prisoners who don't go outside would surely be gassed barefoot.

This fully-clothed detail is clearly shared by most seen victims, and is suspicious in general. But here at least there's a story of everyone waking up and moving about before the gas ever hit them. So we can let that slide for the moment...

changed clothes? Originals too dingy and smoke-stained to show? often random piles of clothes, too many layers, ill-fitting, etc. - even put on backwards - the girl in purple, should be Ruba - has dusty palms, as if crawling, and perhaps laying flat, with her cheek on the ground, and also dusty. But her clothes seem free of dust. (see notes on picture)

The bulk of the blood from her nose poured down her left cheek in that position, but there was still a bit ready to come out when she was rolled over later on, trickling down her right cheek as seen.

Anyway, it's all a clear indicator of known regime process signatures and blah blah accountability blah blah, and hexamine! Cue the Hague, pressure the Russians, blah blah. But this time ... Trump wants action, not just talk. So we bomb some Syrian jets and soldiers, and threaten worse next time "rebels" show us a van full of sarin victims. Here's ambassador Haley at the UN using this very scene of apparent terrorist massacre victims to boost her case against Syria's efforts to fight the terrorists. (via Michael Kobs)

The Hostage in Abdelhamid's Van? On His Gun?
<add 6-17>As Michael Kobs shows here on Twitter, a photo posted November 21, 2013 shows Abdelhamid posing with what seems to be a Dragunov sniper rifle. That's interesting in that the rifle in the van under the girl in purple is even more clearly this weapon, with its tripod folded forward (not, as it first looked to me, with its barrel bent). It stands to reason, since this is his alleged family, they may be loaded in his van. And if this is his van, that would be his rifle, perhaps the very one seen in the photo. <end 6-17>
That would matter as he will claim he only did peripheral militant work some time ago and was at the time a simple shopkeeper. But here would be that gun, laid on top as if it was the last thing he used before he loaded dead kids in on top of it. And a sniper rifle little use for self-defense.

Here's a possibility: he was involved in the recent takeover of the towns of Khatab and Majdal - he used his sniper rifle to help kill some of the defenders. When they got access and took at least 120 local civilians hostage, he likely used the van to bring some of them back to Khan Sheikhoun. After dropping them off at the facility, he tossed his rifle in the van, and maybe didn't touch it until April 4, when he used it to haul the portion of the hostages said to die of sarin in his house. This would include, at least in part, people NOT taken hostage in those days - the twins were already in photos for almost a year before the raid. But the other portion are likely some of the recently seized people, here laundered in as friendly neighbors of established locals. 

In that scenario, was the rifle an oversight? Or was it deliberate, some limited hangout to say he's not hiding that he has a gun? Well, an AK-47 or a hunting rifle would be even more limited. Maybe whoeverdid the loading just didn't notice or care that they were laying his Facebook babies in the same frame as his Facebook sniper rifle.

Reconsidering the Stories

Abdelhamid Al-Yousef
In more detail - see June 20 additions here, and a summary, compared to what we see, forthcoming.


Amira or Abeer Al-Saleh
By face and story match-up, she's given at least three video interviews, sometime breaking down in tears as she explains her story (videos, details, and analysis - see ACLOS, al-Saleh family). Summary: forthcoming.

Here are her three appearances. To me, seems perhaps too young to have children this old. What it she, maybe 25? The oldest child is listed as 10 years old, appearing more like 12. Note here that Amira/Abeer and her kids have the same last name. That's unusual, and might mean that they were non-Muslims. (ACLOS) The real mother is probably not that woman people interviewed. More than likely, that's an actor brought in, like Abdelhamid and several others were, to explain the death of these kids and paper-over the disappearance of their mother.

She has photos of the kids on her phone, and shows them on two of the videos. The group shot is shown in this video and the single shots in this video. Between these and the van photos, there's not enough to establish a clear match. That so far is just by number, age/gender, and back story lining up.


It is noteworthy that all she seems to have is photos from a single session, seeming possibly staged. They're made to pose, together and separate, in some room. It lacks memorability as a moment. It seems more like a photo you'd take on a short leave from jail or, the other way around, pictures you have your hostages pose for on a special and perhaps happy day, in nice clothes and after a good bath, so you could later use them as "family photos" in just this manner.

Also of note: the boy may have been segregated from the girls. That's not standard even for hostages. Only men (13 and up) must be separated. But anyway, his photo is from somewhere else, and that's been spliced into the group shot, with a feathering effect on the white wall around him. Heck - maybe there was no boy in the real family, and he was added to the story later on for some reason. Having and losing a son seems to resonate in some circles. The Syria Charity interviewer refers to Amira as "Umm Mohammad" (mother of this boy), not as Umm any of the girls.

In the latter video, Amira also shows a poorly-framed picture of some of the children's bodies, but not their faces, in some morgue. It seems strange to take or have such a photo. It makes more sense to help 'prove your case' than as a real memento one would pick for emotional reasons. At any rate, it shows at least two larger children dressed in just the same unique color combinations as the two oldest girls seen in the van. That confirms that these are the alleged Al-Saleh children.

<add 6-20>
http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Alleged_Chemical_Attack_Khan_Sheikhoun_4_April_2017/Victims#Al-Saleh_Family
From one of the videos:
    My neighbor came in and told me that he thought I took my children and fled. I told him I was at work this whole time. He then told me she saw the children leaving with a woman. He told me he couldn't recognize her.
There's a temptation to say she's a legitimate witness whose children were kidnapped while she was away. But there are some signs she's just a propagandist, like the usual alleged survivors, and not their mother.
 I began to walk like a crazy person, looking for my children. But I could not find any of them. My brothers and brothers-in-law helped me look for them. They went from hospital to hospital, but in vain. So we waited and waited. We waited until the night. Then someone came out of nowhere, and told me, he told me that my children were at al-Youssef house. My brother went to get them. He brought them in the car.
    When I saw my four children, I started to scream: "Those are not my children! They are dead, my children are alive!" But they were my children. All four of them killed! I looked at them! May God never bless him (Assad)!
In fact, they were loaded into a van and driven to some medical facility sometime in daylight, probably mid-morning (but perhaps mid-afternoon) - maybe she means they had been there, and her brother went to where they were taken. Otherwise, it sounds like they were still there after nightfall.<end 6-20>

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Idlib Chemical Massacre: SW Fog Area Oddities

Idlib Chemical Massacre:
White Fog Explainer:
SW Fog Area Oddities
June 10, 2017

In White Fog Explainer, I establish the time-frame and spatial spread of the mysterious fog over Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. Said to be deadly sarin vapor from a bomb dropped by Syrian forces, it appears more like mass production of an unknown smoke or vapor in 2, 3, or maybe 4 spots, continuously for 20-25 minutes.

They say the relevant cloud of sarin was released near the bakery (northernmost red dot on the map at right), but video fails to confirm or disprove that. Only two fog areas, each with their apparent source, are visible (and neither is so far mentioned as a sarin release point - only the bakery crater is cited so far).  one originates near the tel (large, flat mound) in the city's center, covering the north of town. The other is a little outside town to the southwest, covering the southern outskirts (as carefully established, the wind on the day of this fog spread was to the northeast)

Here we consider the southwestern spot. I initially placed that at the red circle at the bottom of that map, after analyzing the field of view from a great distance. At this random spot in the fields, I see nothing new in current, post-attack satellite photos available on Terrasever (stamped preview images for April 29 and May 6 available here, with options for sale I'm thinking about). Unfortunately, they do not offer anything from the days right after the incident, just from 25 days later.

But not quite as far out, about 200 meters north of that circle, is another likely spot with features I might have noticed to begin with, and that shows fresh oddities in the new images. Below is how this area (black box) is currently shown on Google maps, next to what seems a small hill, the rubble of a farmhouse, water reservoir to the northwest, with a big tree right by that.

The coordinates are: 35.426162, 36.642337. The new estimated area is my main point here, explained below. But first a short history of this spot, as I can see it. 

The Area, Up to 2014 "Liberation"
Google Earth's historical images show a small farmhouse was there in 2004, trough 2010-2012, and still there on May 1, 2014. Another larger structure to the southeast, up on the hill, remains intact through all this and up to now. Which is a house vs. a shed, which is the main one, or runs what (the orchard on the hill vs. the field to the west) is unclear.

Note: What marks a road here is also a bit unclear, but it seems traffic come south, and goes around both sides of the house, but the main path further south runs on the west side.

Luckily the next view is close in time, because that corner place with the reservoir changes sometime after May 1. By the pass of June 12, 2014, we get the view above - that building is destroyed, leaving just rubble. This is the current Google Maps image shown above. See how there's also a sort of line in the dirt added just east of the house site. The northern half is a bit fuzzy, and the southern half more distinct, and casting a small shadow (south end - next to an extra small (olive tree?)). We know the underlying soil here is light-colored, a limestone base, as seen at the cave hospital. So this may be some long excavation, or or just limestone gravel ... with a long mound, or a huge pipe, or ... ??

Could this be a lengthwise trench mass grave for a small family buried head-to-foot? or the same, covered with gravel?

I checked if anything interesting happened around Khan Sheikhoun between May 1 and June 12, of 2014. In fact, the foreign-back opposition forces, Al-Namechange Front, "FSA" etc. concluded their 2014 Idlib Offensive on May 25 (Wikipedia article). The main thing that happened: rebels took Khan Sheikhoun and surrounding areas, connecting their holdings south and north of there (see Wikipedia's big map). It seems tunnel bomb attacks on the 5th and 14th of May helped take out SAA defensive positions and then, the Wikipedia article explains,
On 24 May, according to the SOHR, rebels launched an offensive towards Hish and reportedly captured the Kafr Bassin and Hish intersection Army checkpoints.[28] The next day, six car bombs were detonated by the rebels: Four at checkpoints in the Al Arba’in Mountain area[29] and two at the Khazanat Army base east of Khan Shaykhoun.[30] According to the SOHR, tens of pro-government fighters were killed and injured by the blasts in the Al Arba’in Mountain area[31] and at least 16 in the Khazanat base.[7] The attacks resulted in rebel advances in the Al Arba’in Mountain area[31] and the capture of the Khazanat base.[7] Pro-government sources denied all of this and claimed that the army was advancing in the Al Arba’in area.[32] The following day, rebels captured the al-Salam checkpoint west of Khan Shaykhoun, thus completely securing Khan Shaykhoun and its surroundings, and a checkpoint in the Hish area. Four rebels (including a commander) were killed during the takeover of the Khazanat base on the 25th.[11]
So as of the 25th - the two year anniversary of the Houla Massacre - the opposition was slaughtering its last Alawite soldiers and securing control of the whole town. Some people who had lived there safely would no longer be able to. Did some of them live in this farmhouse?

The opposition VDC shows for May 24-June 11 just one Khan Sheikhoun civilian killed - Elwan Faisal Elwan, on May 28. I guess they mean he HAD been killed at Khanazat base earlier, by regime forces after they arrested him, and rebels just found that out on the 28th after taking over. The same day, 11 charred bodies, just one identified, were found in Maarat Numan, it says, killed in "a massacre due to the explosion of a car bomb in the Diesel market" - but not one of the  car bombs used by the rebels a few days earlier.  (all 13 Idlib dead 5-28) There also seem to be no obvious matches among the VDC's "regime fatalities" list for this span.

So there are no clear story matches, but a house was also destroyed in this spot of interest at around the same time - probably the May 25 "liberation."  And some massacres just don't get reported to the VDC or anyone - they just quietly happen. But a simple demolition of an outdated outbuilding  wouldn't be called in either.

Changes Around 2017-04-04
Another Demolition
Terraserver's new images show more recent things (previews available here). From mid-2014 through 2016 remains unclear, but on Feb. 21 of this year, we can see a new farmhouse has been built on the site of the old one, apparently a bit bigger, and perhaps two stories. The strange white line is invisible now, blended into the end of a newly re-contoured road between the trees, and surrounded with dirt mounds where new trees are being grown. 

Then, on April 29 and May 6, the site shows the house is gone. Who this was and why it would be torn down again remain unclear. For what it's worth, I don't imagine any Alawite famers moved into this place and started building after the rebel "liberation."

The second house destruction there in three years leaves a partial foundation, but little noticeable rubble. A field to the northwest seems to have lots of large white rocks added to it. (??) Are they hiding evidence?

Also since February, the tree or trees by the reservoir seem to be burned down, now the area looking dark with no tree casting its shadow. Was that to help fuel the unknown process or generate part of the smoke? The reservoir appears wet, but it's not clear how full it is. Possibly a lot of unusual spill along its south edge. The field right to the south is nice and green. Maybe all the watering caused the spillage, and nothing more? 

Field Tracks
Most interestingly, the recent images show fresh tracks in the attached field. With vegetation tall enough to show it, we see a wide, well-traveled or well-crushed new path where the plants are dead. The main track appears about wide enough for normal, pickup-truck sized vehicles to have driven here. It runs basically from the reservoir 20-25 meters SW to a cleared spot barely wider than the path. There are less-established side-path from that spot to the east and west, to even smaller spots a few meters away (at least to the east, and that has another path to the south and perhaps a fourth dot - west is obscured by the product preview label)

These seem like connected stations, like for two or three small sprinklers and a distributor. Or maybe it's something military - say, a missile launcher and radar unit, and something else, hiding somewhat in the vegetation (the height of which is unclear to me). Or maybe these are the stations for three large smoke machines of the kind seen here used in Aleppo last year to coat whole areas (those are quite low and easy to hide).

On May 6, the main SW path remain well-walked to that middle spot, but the side paths seem to have faded. (note also white vehicle parked against a tree nearby, along what seems to be thew road. A lot of activity here. The new road over the mystery line and south, towards that house on the hill, seems well-driven in these days.)

Those tracks seem logical for watering the fields,  but no other spots around show tracks like this, and they don't seem to extend to the west half of this same field, which seems just as green. This short walk or drive is at the site of a recent home destruction, and runs to what could be just where terrorists released part of their  special effects fog for the April 4 false-flag incident. Maybe this goes nowhere, but I think it's worth mentioning.

What was used for that is still unclear - some kind of steam, smoke, vapor... It may have been toxic, caustic, and foul-smelling, as people widely claimed. But whatever it was, I think it was parked in that field and could have use, as helpful, 
- water from that reservoir, 
- perhaps heat or smoke from the burn spot, 
- any toxic chemical they may have used or added
- maybe even dust from a low-heat destruction of that house 
- (the various combinations may not work; these are all and/or). 

The last is interesting: was that building blasted on that day, in some way that caused dust for their effects fog? Presumably, they'd use something weaker and less showy than in the other spots, so the dust would stay near the ground instead of rising in a mushroom cloud. But it's possible there was a blast plume over this spot as well, maybe just after the video they show us (after the jets left), but long enough before the fog video (20-25 minutes unseen in between) that the plume has drifted completely away. Either way, it seems possible, but the volume of mist probably requires something else.
 
But 25 days later, would tracks from that incident still show like this? Perhaps, if all those plants were crushed enough to remain dead. Or is it all or partly something else, but perhaps related?  Maybe an ongoing search for bomb fragments based on a video analysis showing fog originating here? Or, dread... nothing of interest?

Surveillance Interest?
This spot seems to be just about where the morning's surveillance flight passed, I think. The US-provided flight track claims to show jets attacking the city, as everyone claims, with dropped gravity bombs. But the track shows the jets never passing over the city or any of the bomb sites, just arcing around the town at a distance. (right: provided track - stretched to scale, the black dot represents all but the furthest edges of the town - see the Shayray Airfield Link).

Here, I put that track closer to what it probably is (I didn't go and re-scale it) in purple, passing right over this area (green circle) Maybe they got a report late on the 3rd of something odd at this farmhouse area, and checked it out first thing in the morning. What did they see there moments before the false-flag attack began? I wish they took a photo, and could let me see it.

If this spot is under the flight, it's the ONE spot that could have actually had a bomb dropped on it. But there's no sign of that happening while the other distant spots to the north pour smoke after the jets have departed. Even the white cloud is expanding already in the north, but there's still no sign of anything out here; only later on does fog appear (see below). Did they wait until the jet was gone to uncover their hidden machine and start it up?  


Monday, June 5, 2017

Idlib Chemical Massacre: The Blasts

Idlib Chemical Massacre 4-4-2017
The When and Where
The Blasts
June 5-?, 2017
(rough, incomplete - last edits June 10)

Introduction: Refuting Postol
I'm again forced to address MIT professor Dr. Ted Postol's work. He remains prolific in criticizing the accepted opposition narrative of the April 4 alleged sarin attack. He continues to raise many seemingly important points, which carry the credibility of his extensive education, experience, and reasoning skills, as displayed in his important work with MIT's Richard Lloyd on the infamous Ghouta attack of 2013.

Postol's continuing reports on the Khan Sheikhoun incident enjoy wide dispersal and serious attention, making him arguably the leading public critic of the story used by President Trump to launch deadly and illegal airstrikes against Syria. To supporters of the terrorist narrative ("opposition activists," governments and think tanks, controlled "human rights" groups, corporate media, etc.), Postol's work is seen as the pinnacle of their opponents' arguments; if one could take that down, they might be left with nothing. All this pesky doubt could be cleared up, and the blame once again firmly pinned on Damascus. 

And as it happens, Dr. Postol keeps making what I consider serious errors, giving those terrorist enablers an easier time than they deserve, and making it harder for the rest of us to know the right questions to keep pursuing.

At first I was sure he just had some mistakes, and he did correct himself on the backwards wind reading. But more have followed, and most recently, he made some actually strange claims, and quite loudly as usual, in this May 30 report The New York Times Video Analysis of the Events in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017: NONE of the Cited Forensic Evidence Supports the Claims Again this was widely republished with little or no criticism, and re-posted in a perhaps different version at Pat Lang's blog  (this post somewhat began as a comment there).

I admit I didn't read the whole thing, but it seems the core of his argument is: the building damage we see is too minor to explain the large smoke plumes we see, and therefore the opposition story has been proven to have core discrepancy calling the rest into doubt. He reasons those blasts must be from larger bombs, 500-1000 pound conventional high-explosive ones. And such a blast would flatten the stricken buildings and heavily damaged others nearby.

He produces some science and formulas to back this, and they're presumably valid (I can't easily verify). My questions are about the presumptions that lead him to apply those calculations.

Like others have, he argues the videos of the April 4 incident were filmed earlier, partly because the predicted wind direction differs from that seen on the videos. But look at what this misses about the rebel story - they seem to think it's the exact opposite of the wind we see, or exactly the same direction (the real one?) but read backwards, like a badly executed false narrative might do sometimes, when you're lucky... Dr. Postol himself initially made that common mistake, first reporting this predicted direction exactly backwards, in a common bit of confusion over to vs. from. So ... the opposition story has been proven to have core discrepancy, calling the rest into doubt.

But Postol hasn't drawn attention to this (even after I e-mailed him the link and a short summary), as he now tries to do the same thing in another way. To do this, he proposes quite a coincidence; at some point between February 21 and April 6 (the dates of comparison satellite photos), each of three spots in Khan Sheikhoun suffered some damage that's too light for the blasts we see on video. These may have happened at different times in that span. And then on this non-April 4 morning, larger blasts must have flattened three ... areas ... that should be exactly the same three buildings, though he thinks not. But they must be those spots or very, very close to them; the areas those plumes rise from are known, geolocated from multiple camera angles with reasonable precision, to within a few buildings. And in each case, the most exactly indicated building is the one with the supposedly insufficient damage.

Many know about the two views of plumes 1 and 2, but I for one was slow to note and compare a second view for plume 3 as well. Here's how that lines up, using Michael Kobs' map here, the two relevant lines bolded in blue: a northern view's line of sight to the plume, and a western camera's, lined up with two minarets. A third line from the distant north camera is less helpful, not included. Between these two closer views, it's fair to say the smoke plume must originate in the white circle here. The place at the pin's tip is examined in detail below.

Any difference will be slight, and all three plumes are placed like that. But Postol suggests they're all lost on their lines of sight from the north, with no side-anchors in existence. He seems to think the spots will never be found, and thus never compared. I think he's right. There is no other spot to look than the ones indicated, and he's ruled those out. That's likely to cause confusion.

To accept Postol's new argument and the visual evidence, we have to accept that between Feb. 21 and Apr. 6:
- these 3 spots were each lightly damaged,
- then all 3 were hit again and flattened in one event around 6:45 am on a non-April 4 day
- that day had very similar solar angles to April 4, and must be close to it, and can't be after. 
- and yet, as seen on April 6, only the small damage appears on the still-standing buildings. That is, nothing in either alleged attack completely destroyed them, like Postol assures us the video proves.

If these aren't the damaged spots, as he contends, we know they must be very close by, certainly within the mid-sized frames the NYT video used, which I show below. But as Postol notes, there are no totally destroyed areas in any of these images.

So... is all this careful line-of-sight work wrong? Even Postol's set-up trying to cast doubt on the accepted lines of sight (those set early by Bellingcat), comes out quite similar. It's hard to reach a very different conclusion while also showing your work. He shows his work, and so we can see where at least one small error leads him to his sharpest criticism, about the line of sight to plume #2. It wasn't that sharp anyway. (Thanks to Andrew for the tip and graphic I used here)
This here is the worst he could find - and this is why (note the purple marks in the lower right corner). Otherwise, everyone pretty much agrees on THIS view's general line-up. He doesn't address or seem to know about the various other views.

Or ... did Postol just call the plumes and the expected damage wrong? Is this minor-seeming damage actually from the strikes that caused those pillars of smoke with the mushroom caps? I'd like a real expert to step in and explain how it all matches - I can't. But clearly something's wrong with the logic of what Postol proposes.

As for the bomb damage, I admit it seems smaller than it should be (to me, a non-expert), even ignoring the math of bomb size and looking at those plumes. But isn't it possible to correlate it if we shift the presumed type of weapon? I'm not versed enough to say, but interested in getting it to match up if possible - not to support the opposition's lame narrative, but just to keep in line with the relevant evidence. And for all the arguments I've heard, I still suspect this video is from April 4, and they faked all their blasts and "sarin fog" in real space on the right day. But luckily, their script-writing department read the wind backwards, and there may be other slips we can catch with a correctly aligned exploration of the evidence.

Plume Type
Dr. Postol bases his argument on presuming the video scene, by the large smoke plumes, shows 500-1000 pound conventional high explosives bombs being used. We know where each plume rises from, so we see the damage doesn't match that assessment. I'm not sure even the plumes suggest what he says. 

Here again are our three smoke plumes seen from the north, each with a distinctive, if imperfect, mushroom cloud shape (especially blast 3, on the right side). I think this is a hot, high-energy blast  in a wide initial dome shape, that rises fast and cools - outer material tumbles out as the hot middle rises, making a shape like a donut with an erupting jelly center. Or at least, a big lumpy section with a much narrower "stem" of rising smoke beneath it. Plume 3 has the clearest mushroom shape, while plume 1 is the most lumpy and chaotic shape, as well as the largest. As Postol notes, this is perhaps 2 or even 3 bombs in one spot, and as we'll see, that could be the case. (compressed panorama view for more detail)

 checking a few videos for comparison:

Postol's examples are #3 and 4, and the rest are culled from this compilation video of  traditional bomb blasts in Syria - all tend to mid or dark gray in color - general bulging and rolling in all directions laterally, and spiking up in different spots, usually with a distinct rising center. That has some tendency to form a fast-rising hot ball of smoke on a stem, but in a context of general chaos, and lacking a well-defined shape.

 

Now let's compare that with plumes from fuel-air explosive (FAE) blasts - reference videos: 1, 2, 3
examples 1 and 2 show the detonation and the plume after some moments, the others just the plume. #6 is from the same scene as #2, in the distance.  

The shape is similar, but with a more distinct mushroom shape - more discrete, dome-shaped top, thinner stem with a clear cut-off, less lateral spread and less random tumbling of smoke in the blast area. Obviously the color is lighter, pretty much white in these examples.The gray one is on a very cloudy day, barely lit at all.

What we see in Khan Sheikhoun may be something else, but if I had to pick one of these two, I'd take fuel-air - the color is more yellow-beige than these examples (only partly from the early sunlight, which still leaves the "white cloud" seeming white in comparison). I would not pick conventional high explosives for plume 3, and only maybe for plumes 1 and 2. Postol, who should know more than me by a good margin, chose this for all of them. I could be wrong, but I'm stating disagreement on this point.

Now to the site damage images, to explain the above, and to see what can be seen.
Not a very complete review, so it may expand and change as I see more (time allowing and/or with help)
for areas 1, 2 and 3 in context of the basic crime scene, see the when and where.

Damage Area 1 
This is the most obvious damage of the three, as seen from above - not indicating, but the spot is generally centered. As with the others, February 21 is shown at left, and then April 6 on the right. We see here the north wing of a small building is partly flattened, and a west wall facing on the vacant lot may be broken with a gap in it.

Note also a possible rectangular hole in another roof of the building to the east, possibly from a second bomb in this same spot. It seems to be at the very southern edge of the roof, and including the upper south wall, which we barely see here. It may not be a hole, but it's new, distinctly black, and similar in scale to the other holes we see in areas 2 and 3. Is this why the plume appears so much bigger? It's two bombs in one area? Or just that the building hit fell apart, letting the smoke spread wider, where the others had it more contained in a building first -

rotated view (north indicated) with colored areas matched to different scenes from this video and this one.


Red area - collapsed - at right is a detail image of the collapsed slab and other remains (some things in garbage bags, little clues). 

I suppose the blast force, a decent one, might have starter about at the far wall, blown more to the north and east through that room, taking out the slab's supports. The wall onto the magenta room is intact but stressed - the force would blow through intact doorways, knocking out weak outer walls in the magenta and purple areas. 

West end - structure marked in white had a blue tarp roof, torn down, and a wall that's been damaged (marked wrong in orange in the satellite view). The field marked in gold is just for reference - that's the edge of this area.
Notes and oddities: And thee are some stray bricks across the roof, some visible at the edge, and a few further back. I'm not sure how those would have gotten there, but pondering it. After some thought and a look at the Feb. image, I guess they were lifted up, mortared into a wall along the south edge at least, and apparently around the whole house, both wings, before that image. Then this careful work, on the north wing, was disrupted in the blast, scattering those bricks across the roof and off the edge.

The final piece of wall left in the purple area has an odd angle, looking blown in by an external blast. There are also chips as if from external shrapnel. But all else suggests the main blast was outward, so maybe the chips are from something prior...

Add 6/8-6/11: The outer wall seem made of concrete, not brick. And outside we see mainly bricks, which will be from the rooftop wall. There are some chunks of concrete, however, nearest the collapse of the red part, or in front of the magenta room. At the purple, room we see roughly no concrete outside, but a fair amount inside, along with a possible window frame. That's a wall, blown in. It's next to the chipped and blown-in looking last section. The Magenta room has an even bigger pile of busted wall inside, perhaps including some large household appliance.  That seems at least as blown-in. The red room, we cannot say.In front of the magenta room is an apparent crater - curb damaged and earth missing in the same area, now covered with debris (blue box).

That's just outside.  Note the white line of ejected debris, perhaps, in the satellite view; that could be some kind of blast-back effect showing the impact point, and maybe the direction of fire, from the north. To hit this close to the building, it was either fired from the north (and was weak) or was dropped from above, and stronger. But in the latter case, there would be far more damage across the street, so fired, from the north, it is.

So ... I think something hit here, outside, first. It blew in all walls, probably on the red room as well. The yellow curtain in the purple room was pulled back, shielded behind that slap, but may be a bit scorched on its right edge, which was maybe exposed a bit. The weapon seems to have a wide but not very powerful damage pattern, and not that forceful, or severely blunted in the act of breaking the walls apart. I show this with the blue arc, with apparent burn marks continuing (lighter blue). This, I think, is consistent with a fuel-air explosive's detonation dome.  

Then, maybe nothing else, or maybe something hit the red area, perhaps from the southwest, making it collapse, and sending the rooftop wall scattering to the north and east. The initial blast would disrupt the wall, but mainly with the north side scattered back out of view. The opposite scatter we see would be the other side's wall, and everything scattered, being re-scattered and sent towards and over the north edge.<end 6-8/6-11 add>

The neighboring building with a possible fresh hole in its roof: any damage is unclear. The blue garage-type doorway may show some damage, with most of the rolling door torn out, but no sign of it blown out on the street, and little or no rubble - was the door blown in? is this more signs of an external blast at some point? Cracks, chips, and light smoke stains are seen here. That jagged vertical shape on the left by the tilting pole is a former tree.

FAE scorching? Only moderate signs in the effected building, along edges, which makes sense. The east building seems smoke-stained across its north face. I'm not sure if the ground should be, but it looks darker in that same area - seen from space, it looks like an angled dark smear in front of the place.Above I show how this all lines up with a blast wave emanating from the blue-marked crater area.

Add 6-11: And finally, the weapon: a remnant is shown - apparently the socket for a screw-on filler cap, similar to the piece seen at the crater but cleaner metal (newer make?). Rough welding suggests maybe improvised? Here, it seems the fill would be fuel, to use for the fuel-air explosion, rather than liquid sarin. At the crater, well, it's some liquid that looks kind of thick and black...<end 6/11>

Damage Area 2
I should mark the earlier image not clutter the evidence. Some might wonder why it seems so rectangular. Full photo from inside looking up at that hole - note the rectangular grid of reinforcing bars (rebar) - this is lacking in the weak outer walls blown in at area 1. This is just the roof's edge and the inside of the building's north wall - from the size of the hole and in the grid of rebar, it was a small weapon, but heavy - it fractured the concrete of the roof and upper wall, flung the rebar down and out in all directions, and would then hit the ground, directing most blast towards us and the south wall (see below). :



There appears to be no damage to north wall - one line mid-way is probably from twisting rebar smacking the surface. But this view is centered high, and there seems to be damage lower on the walls, but that looks older and painted over (?), and it's mostly off-frame. There's rubble outside, but it's from the bricks used to cover over these openings, which should be a door between two windows, of a now unused entrance. Did some ethereal pressure wave knock off half that cover without burning the walls or chipping the gray paint? (or is it all just the same gray? Is it possible that lots of some light-colored smoke did this fresh paintjob?)

So not just from space, but even from the site imagery, we see just a hole in the roof. No sign of blast damage here, aside from a generalized pressure wave... but here's what could make sense otherwise:
- the munition was possibly dropped, but the damage pattern suggests not
- a projectile from the north (towards the camera here) just barely hit that roof, at an uncertain vertical angle.
- If there's any left-right direction evident, I'd say it's a bit to the left, or from a bit east of north (looser damage area on left side of roof, and the brick push-out is worse to the left, or the right as seen from outside). But this isn't clear; perhaps it's a bit the other way, or just north. 

If there's any damage to north wall, it's very low, while the south wall is more heavily damaged and higher up, that would be more consistent with an angle of a rocket fired from the north - radial blast will hit the north wall very low, and the south wall higher, perhaps including the ceiling.  Steep angle shown here, close to vertical - if closer to horizontal as I suspect, the pattern will be even clearer.

Can a rocket do that? It would have to very heavy as well as fairly small in diameter. In fact this reminds me a lot of whatever hit the warehouse in Urm al-Kubra, Aleppo, during the attack on the UN-SARC Aid convoy last August (ACLOS). To me that entry angle seemed too horizontal to be a gravity bomb as alleged - but it did pierce a reinforced concrete roof like this, with a small hole, so it was heavy, narrow, and/or falling from quite high. And it apparently had a delay fuze to only go off after piercing the roof, when it hit the ground and made a small crater inside, hurled a mid-sized ignition fireball, and peppered the room with tiny fletchettes of shrapnel. It's blast force clearly weaker than alleged gravity bomb OFAB - cardboard boxes just inches away were just lightly jumbled, punctured by the shrapnel, and singed in spots. As far as I know, that's an unknown or fantasy weapon, but it would explain that scene, and perhaps this one.

But in the photo above, we can't see the most likely damaged areas, and they present the oddest scene - a major hole in concrete, then seemingly no damage. But my guess is there's a fair amount everywhere but in that frame.

Here's an external view from a BBC video that  confirms the windows and door here were bricked over, and plastered, with the other window still invisible on the left.

Here, looking inside, we can see what would be the left-hand wall seen above from inside, the back corner, and part of the back (south) wall. Enhanced a bit, it seems evenly gray and undamaged - in the upper corner, there are possible singeing or moke stains near the ceiling. Further over, a faint dark patch in the middle. Not much to go on, but it's something. (BTW the kind of minor shrapnel damage seen in Urm al-Kubra would be simply invisible in a view like this)

(note: it's said Amira Saleh's children were here while she was at work, but were taken by her brother before the strike - but he took them to Abdelhamid al-Yousef's house, where they died from the sarin. Hmm... ACLOS) (and Andrew shows it's just west of this spot where an activist was photographed putting a dead pet bird into a bag. This adds a little detail on the spread of rubble into the street.

<add 6/10>A new video shows rubble being collected inside this home (ostensibly for CW testing), along with some dead chickens. Panorama in 2 pics - it's clearly an entryway by design - bench along west wall, and little else. Note the bench seems chipped:

Above is a glimpse of a window in the south wall (see inside, far left). Here we see more of this and a south wall seeming free of marks. East wall is seen, maybe smoky. Any tiny marks might still be invisible (the quality is low), or just absent. There is a lot of rubble on the floor, and more low-wall damage suggested. There's our north wall damage, apparently - from the windowsills down. That should blow out, but that seems like maybe too much debris inside to be just from that hole in the roof. The extra pipes or sticks are also unclear. Some kind of metal grate (or wooden - shoe shelf?), no dusty or damaged, is laid atop the debris. Might mean nothing. The curved metal object marked ???, clearly, is a mystery.

Still not sure what to make of this scene. There should be some damage or sign on that south wall, but it should be high up. We may see a glimpse in the BBC view above, almost at the ceiling, and I'll add the last surface we have remaining to examine is the ceiling itself.<end 6/10>
Seen from above, all is intact. But it's likely a fire was started. low blast force out the north side - apparent rubble spread across the street - but even more blast and smoke would escape to the south, and encounter a wind to the N-NE. The roof seems stained by smoke exiting south  and blowing - almost due north. Worth more consideration.  

Note the divided smoke plumes suggested here - one plume from the north side, out those uncovered exits, and one from the unclear south wall, probably bigger and connected to the initial swell captured in the "mushroom's cap" - seen from the west, this plume has a divided double strand near the top (just below the cap). That may be a coincidence, or a clue that this peculiar scene is just where that smoke plume is coming from.



Damage Area 3 


Here again we see fresh damage - (on April 5 videos it seems fresh, and satellites show it happened between Feb. 21 and then. And again, it's right where two clearly-set lines of sight to plume #3 intersect. You should find the smoke's origin here. From above, all you see is a raised stairwell structure mid-building torn away, and a decent amount of apparent rubble out into the street. That didn't seem adequate to Dr. Postol or the people he talked to.And it may be too little for that presumed 500-1000 pound bomb - but still, it me exactly what did cause that extra mushroomy plume #3.

Seen from street level, it becomes clear not all damage is visible from space.

damage - stairwell knocked down, pillars chipped, walls blown out, smoke on right-hand wall -
how this might line up is unclear - more analysis coming 
- the roof-level damage is interesting (smoke and damage on middle pillar, light smoke higher up on near one -  chip in wall, low wall on building to the NW is knocked down all around), angling up, too high to scorch the far pillar, high enough to hit that higher neighboring wall.
- dropped bomb? if it detonated widely at roof level, and kept detonating widely on the way down - ?

3C -  fuller photo - slab to the north (right edge) - small building there was apparently flattened - more force to the north than to the south - note inside, white star (light fixture) on ceiling and wall to the left with missing window.

3D - standing inside, under that white star, seeing attached room (behind left wall above) with another star on the ceiling  - little damage, lots of rubble - one strange hole in the far corner, a little smoke at the foot of the bed, perhaps - there are two white stars on the ceiling - minor damage to buildings across the street (shrapnel marks, windows broken)

IF there's a compass direction to this damage, it's clearly to the north, maybe northeast - so fired from the south, southwest, or SSW. 

Plume Bend
 (added 6/10) The smoke plumes seen rising from areas 1, 2, and 3 all show a sort of bend in the "stem" of the "mushroom," which seems different seen from varying angles - I reason that this is th initial direction of smoke, aside from up - the lower part, below the bend - hot column of smoke rising from the hot and dusty attack site - it would start as a huge detonation fireball, somewhat smaller than the mushroom cap we see. It would rise straight up if it were a dropped bomb, but here it seems to have started at some angle, suggesting these munitions were NOT dropped, but rather fired over a distance, on rockets or missiles. trajectory it was moving on set the direction its blast expands the most (all blasts tend to expand equally in all directions, but trajectory will distort that in its direction). This is important, and so I try to establish that initial angle - its opposite is the direction towards the perpetrators. Of course, we've tried this with the building damage as well, so this gives us a comparison angle. If they say the same thing, we're more likely onto something here.

After the first angled rise, I reason, the smoke column then perpetuates itself, having created a sort of chimney in the air along that line. This sucks up billowing smoke and dust from below, and channels it up behind the earlier particles. Higher up, the wind cools it, slows it rise, and increases the wind drag as it hits higher wind speeds, all of which sets the upper plume drifting in more of the wind's direction, and slowly scattering. So unless that initial fireball angle and the wind direction happen to be the same, you'll see some bend or curve between the bottom and the top.

To measure these, again remember that evident left-right movement is just half the real direction, with more movement towards or away from the camera being harder to discern.

Areas 1 and 2:

The west view (a camera to the southwest, actually) shows most  direction - clearly to the right, and some degree towards or away from the lens. Here the wind is largely to the left, so the bend between somewhat opposite directions is also quite pronounced.

The north view (a bit to the northwest), shows less initial bend - a bit to the left, but varying, and the higher we look, increasingly from the wind. With a real bend clearly involved, the lack of much visible suggests more of it is on the towards-away axis from this view. The west view shows it's away from the north camera.

These two important impacts show the same thing - if these were fired rockets, they came from the north-northwest. This is about what the building damage at each site also suggests. This is also close to - or perhaps the same as - the north view's line-of-sight. So if they had managed to film these "Assad bombs" being dropped, we would have heard and perhaps seen them flying in over the camera, or being fired from just a few meters away.

Area 3
(forthcoming)

Conclusion
Later...