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.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Douma Market Attack: "Assad Bombs" PULLING Children Apart?

Douma Market Attack: "Assad Bombs" PULLING Children Apart?
August 27, 2015
(incomplete)

Assad bombs are PULLING children apart in #Douma and the world is silent! #دوما_تباد

That's not what the tweets say, but between what they show and what they say ... I still can't just slap it out there directly (and I'm even putting the crop of his face lower down). As long as the postings are up, I'll just link to those already sharing it. But ... 

Imagine being shocked by a horrible photograph that probably shows just that implausible scenario.  In Douma, Damascus suburbs, on August 16 - a day when only fighter jet bombing by the Syrian government is blamed for dismembering people, not any government militia massacre - this pre-teen boy had his arms torn off at the elbows, legs nearly torn off at the knees, shoulders damaged, face completely burned, clear through the skin, and ... no other marks, really. And he's got no concrete dust like shelling victims usually have - and which nearly all alleged victims I've seen lack, by the way. Another questionable shelling death (pending - he's being treated in a clinic, so ostensibly still alive).

The Picture, as Presented:
It's given as some part of an August 16 Douma Massacre, unclear. But at the outset, it's possible this image is mis-attributed, and not even from Syria. But I haven't seen it before, no one else I've asked has, and it shares burned face clues with several more established massacre victims (see Burned Faces) He's the worst example by far, if he's even an example of the same thing. The next worst is also a boy. The five men were spared such severity.All this to me says 'chillingly consistent.'

* https://twitter.com/husseinegyptia1/status/632945888017559552
This may be the original, or earliest posting on Twitter.  HusseinEgyptia1, maybe Egyptian. But he and a few others at least insist this was in Douma, Syria. Text translated: # Douma_perish.  Complained to God  # Massacre_Douma #Douma # Syria +18

* https://twitter.com/shmhd1/status/632999110132563968
Text: (Google translated) And those of our children. Do not blame the Syrian Mafl after today !! # Douma_perish
The tag seems to translate to the English version currently buzzing, #Douma_Exterminated - like it's maybe already too late.

(more postings, etc. forthcoming. Actually, I didn't save many ... inviting comment submissions for postings, related material, and thoughts.)

The picture and some screen grabs are saved though in case everyone or Twitter pulls it as the evidence of a horrifying terrorist crime I think it is. There's even little need for most to copy that url and see this sick image, but this is the post for those who do need to see and double-check. It's a subjective call; many rebel supporters, for example, will have no problem shutting down entire lobes of their brain and resting assured "Assad's bombs" did this.

What I Think it Shows:
It shows as apparent teen or pre-teen boy whole, his whole non-intact body minus feet, with underwear on, for decency and PR, but nothing else. This full view reveals: a massively torn apart right knee, just exploded, kneecap, bone, tendons and muscles stretched out a good several inches, all still connected but far out of place. There's a lesser rupture-type wound on the left knee, but both legs are technically there, down to the toes (note: we don't see the feet, or clearly the ankles, as the picture cuts off short. But his left foot wears a white sock, and the right has indistinct bruise-like injuries to the shin)

Both arms are torn off (missing) from  around the elbow, some forearm bone (the thinner one, I think) splaying out on the right side, along with torn tubes and cables, and skin. He also has shoulder and upper chest injuries, kind of along the collarbone (unclear if burns, tears, or what, and mostly blocked from view).

His face is completely burned raw. At right, small res, cropped, blown-up a bit. The burns start right at the edge of his face, like a mask. Was he painted with napalm cream and lit up? Why wouldn't he shield his face with his hands? Oh, yes, they were gone, at some point. Order of operations here is unclear. One would hope it was all done after death, and maybe so, but the medical performance suggests none of it was done after death.

By appearance, I cannot shake the impression that this boy  was drawn and quartered - pulled apart between two vehicles he was tied to, driving opposite directions. Usually, that doesn't happen, but here ... are there psycho terrorists in the area capable? Or "Shabiha"? It takes good tying and two trucks, plus depravity, and access to the victim.

This kind of killing would have limbs sever violently at the joints. Is that what we see here? Knee, knee, elbow, elbow, and maybe shoulders/collarbone, with the stronger joints (knees, hips, shoulders) just challenged, stretched to near a tearing point. (note: we can't see the state of his hips here, but they might look disjointed/elongated - in fact his whole body seems longer than it should be). After the weakest link is torn through, the pulling stops. So only one set of joints totally gives; here, and maybe normally (who's up on dismemberment studies?) it was the elbows. 

Now really ... however mad this "dictator Bashar Assad" might be (and I suspect it's exaggerated), which of his bombs is going to do all this to a boy, deep inside rebel territory, timed to line up with a new headline-level Assad-massacre marketing campaign? I think this is a big, ugly, smoking gun. It's got potential at demolishing yet another anti-Syria lie.

But ... that alone begs for second opinions. I'll try to critique it myself, but like I said, I can't shake that impression. Maybe I'm too pissed and convinced to think straight right now. Is this how Islamist feel before they set out to join Daesh, al-Nusra, Jaish al-Islam, etc.?


In the War Context
(based on my reading panning out...)
As noted, this image is not widely presented, that I can see yet. That might be for some reason. The few postings I saw were on the 16th and 17th, limited even in Arabic-language channels, and maybe not at all outside of those.

Some Arabic readers are more anti-rational and ready-to-kill than average. There may be a few more on their way to Syria now to help kill Alawites because of this particular photo from the latest "Assad bomb massacre." If so, it's either because they don't get it and they're pissed off idiots, or because they do get it and it seems like a fun time.  It's hard to tell which motive it is in each of tens of thousands of cases, and it hardly matters in the end.  

And this, I think, is about how the Syria recruitment cycle has worked for four years now, driving membership in and upping the brutality of the almost entirely Islamist-oriented multinational forces. Enabled in so many ways, these are still torturing Syria today, four years after "ambassador" (ambassassin?) Robert Ford first denied any armed gangs in Syria

And glossing the surface of the process as usual, even without seeing this horrifying photo, folks in suits at the UN instantly expressed "horror" at this and all types of terrorist execution of almost exclusively male victims - over 100 civilians - again and "unacceptably" killed by Assad's fighter jets. A triple-digit number seems to be the magical code, as with the Houla Massacre, now also debunked. 100 dead always equals Assad blame at headline level, and so obviously his bombs did this and anything else, like the four girl victims I've found images for, 3 with hacked open skulls and none looking like shelling victims.

It's hoped this vague and familiar "horror" will finally transform into a Libya style no-fly zone to challenge those unchallenged Assad magic jets, like they did Gaddafi's air force for bombing protesters.

FSA Terrorists are PULLING children apart in #Douma 
and the world is silent! #دوما_مجزرة
---

Of course "the world" is worse than silent, actually. They're calling for another "No Fly Zone" and thus the fulfillment of the Islamist dream - another U.S.-led forced collapse of a national government in the MENA region.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Douma Market Attack: Burned Faces

Douma Market Attack: Burned Faces
August 26, 2015 
(incomplete)
last update August 27


The Men with Burned Faces
Among the 100+ adult male victims of the August 16 alleged market attack in Douma, there is a class of victims showing bright red burns to the face, with or without a layer of smoke. Just from the 40 or so victims shown in martyr identification videos (see Victim Analysis), I found these five examples:

Mahmoud Hijazi
The men with burns include
* DID5 0:015  Mahmoud Hijazi ( محمود حجازي )

* DID27 0:13  Khaled Mohiuddin ( خالد محي الدين )
(heavy smoke cover too, but clear redness from nose up - face intact, not clearly wounded, but a tooth is missing) 
  
* unnamed man seen at start of DID27- no wounds or marks at all visible
* DID6 0:11  Ziad Samir Shanawany (  زياد سمير الشنواني ) (heavy smoke cover too, but some red notable, and similar hair issues to some. ) 

* DID30 0:11  -Mohiuddin Durra- ( محي الدين الدرة ) (older man, gray bear, marks like shrapnel on left side of face, distinct red burns on right) (note also, he's one of those with a covered-up neck)


Khaled Mohiuddin
 
not named


Ziad Samir Shanawany
 
Mohiuddin Durra


It looks kind of like hot metal objects came in contact with each of their faces, and stayed there for some moments. Or maybe they had gasoline poured on, with some obstructions, and briefly lit up? There are patterns here I can't make out yet. Unnamed seems to have a faint, rippling pattern to his, for example. Was this done before or after death? If before, why weren't they using their hands to stop it? If after death ... who and why? 

The opposition activists would say that all these intact men - at least - had this happen as a random part of the missile attack, where all kinds of weird things can happen. I certainly don't feel up to ruling that out, but this is just weird enough I don't see why that's the best conclusion.

And it gets weirder. Somehow, from the portion I've seen, the worst was reserved - by the random missiles, of course - for the boy or boys we see with these burned faces. 

Khaled al-Tout, Mucous
DID1 0:18 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5Ij3tjw3XY Khaled Ali Al-Tout  ( التوت ). This was the first martyr video that popped out to me visually, so it's #1.  This is a child victim by appearance, I'd say age 10-12. VDC has no such child. But adult-male Khaled al-Tout appears. Arabic entry gives : التوت - same name. What happened to this "man?" Hard to tell. his face is intact, but alternating black and red. Hair seems sticky with something, like some of the others. (still at right, small size to soften the shock)

He also had thick mucous coming out of his nose.Why is that? Khaled is the second-worst I've seen. The next-worst is maybe Hijazi above, washed up but nostrils plugged as if leaking. Was there some chemical element to part of this, or are these coincidences?

Drawn-And-Quartered Boy?
Khaled is the worst case from these videos of clearly-connected 8-16 massacre victims. But the worst is less clearly linked. ... an image I found in my twitter search, not widely re-tweeted, but allegedly connected: By appearance, he seems to me to have been drawn and quartered (pulled apart between two vehicles he was tied to, driving opposite directions). Usually, that doesn't happen, but here ... are there psycho terrorists in the area capable? The whole case, links, explanation, any second-thoughts or revisions, etc. - see here.)

Only the face matters directly here, if that. At right, small res, cropped, blown-up a bit. Total (3rd? 10th?) degree burns, nose at lest partly remains. The burns start right at the edge of his face, like a mask. Was he painted with napalm cream and lit up? Why wouldn't he shield his face with his hands? Oh, yes, they were gone, at some point. Again, order of operations here is unclear. One would hope it was all done after death, and maybe so, but the performance suggests none it was done after death.

This boy is different from the others in the different injuries (as far as we can see in most cases), much more severe burns, that he's seen in a photo, not on video, and that he's apparently alive and suffering (it seems like a proper hospital, but he's getting the treatment photographed, so it probably is a PR-centered rebel clinic).

But ... it says August 16, Douma massacre, Douma, and there were these other burned faces, so maybe it does fit.

"Silence" in the Face of "Incineration"? 
Generally, it's bombing that's blamed for killing the market massacre victims, but one activist at least seems to consider some kind of burning the most memorable part of it. In context, how creepy is this, from The Guradian?
“The people of Ghouta are furious because there is a double standard,” said Yasser Doumani, an activist who runs a pro-opposition media outlet, told the Guardian after the air strikes. “There is silence when Douma or Ghouta in general becomes the theatere of the worst crimes of murder and incineration of people.”

“The people find it strange how the world reacted in response to the crime of the burning of the Jordanian pilot by Daesh [Isis] terrorists, but we hear no condemnation of the burning of the people of Ghouta and their killing by all methods,” he added. “Aren’t the victims in both cases humans, or do different lives carry different value?”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Douma Market Attack: The Girl Victims?

Douma Market Attack: The Girl Victims?
August 25, 2015
(incomplete, rough)
last updates Aug. 26

Intro: The All-Men Mantra
Since the August 16 attack, there was a crush of world leaders and media pundits lambasting the regime air strike that killed 100 of their own people. That was followed by a wave of noise protesting the "silence over Assad's massacre" in Douma, where silence means no bombing of "Assad" yet. And there was a general lack of critical reporting for days, by the mainstream or alternative media, past idle speculation. Then my first thoughts on the 18th, Ziad at SyrPer, and then Eric Draister at Counterpunch. The latter is now the top news search, much-hungered for it seems, and re-posted many, many times. 

One of the core issues we've each latched onto, and has become a mantra of the critics, is the victims were nearly all men, adult males. 109 out of 117 by the fullest list I know of. (see victim analysis for this and some of the details below) Most of the remainder were presumably teenaged male children. Only three women slightly challenge that pattern. 109 men, 5 boys, 3 women, and zero girls.

Many take the hint the manly bulk of that were people in fact killed by Assad's air strikes, just all militants who kind of deserved it, and not at the market. I've been against presuming that. Based on what I've seen these could be gender segregated captives. Men are signled out for this, women for that, young kids for whatever fate. The visual signs so far seem more consistent with that - signs of execution sit alongside disturbingly varied ages of men and boys killed.

At the moment, that mantra still seems pretty accurate and worth a leading role in raising much-lacking suspicions. But ...

Exceptions to the Rule, so far
I've found a boy on video listed as a man by VDC. A newborn replacing a man on video (see analysis). And you know what... in the past, the VDC is often slow to get the female victims listed. There's not much room for the proportions to level out - no one credibly reported more than 117 dead, and we have 114 male name victims. I'm seeing more boys than 5 as I scan photos and videos (notes coming), but also enough adult males it might be more than 114 we see and even the big list is incomplete..

And then ...

Two Girls and a Boy
here's a photo circulated a lot at first, less so later, by Arabic-language Twitter users showing three young victims of, it seems, the Douma market massacre. One seems like a boy, probably, while the other two definitely look like girls by clothing. They all appear dead, but not in the right way. The adult body, presumed female, is maybe one of those listed by VDC et al. But the girls can't be, unless they're listed wrong anyway.

Are these the girls lacking in the 117 victims, and another boy? They were clearly segregated if so, and given their own treatment the others didn't get. What says a regime missile killed them? Torn up by shrapnel and covered in dust from being outside at the scene? Crushed and covered with dust from being inside a shelter that caved in? Neither. It looks like they might all have suffered fatal head wounds, somewhere intact and not dusty. They show no other potentially fatal wounds. 

Did someone drag them on their knees to say the market attack killed these head-chopped massacre victims? Or is that a coincidence, and these were never supposed to be branded that way? And if that's the case, then ... wtf is the story here?

But these were put out at the same time, (unless? recycled? anyone seen this before?), as part of the massacre claims. So I'm going to have to say ... someone really thought they were included. Including them: I favor the visual record over words, which includes the VDC database. I don't suspect they didn't die from a missile, or at the market. But then I don't suspect most of the victims did.

What allegedly connects this? The info at the tweets I clicked is limited/unclear, but all claim to be from a "massacre" in Douma on August 16. All Google translated, where "always" = Douma:
* https://twitter.com/qadesiyah/status/632910076227883008 Always massacre today stain is added to the positions of Arab shame and let down to the children of Syria will reap its horrors,
  And your Lord is darkness slaves
* https://twitter.com/yaseralturk555/status/632916283122712576 (Same text)
https://twitter.com/MTbsho/status/632893905537601536 I go to buy a house kits and walk 5 km good You go back and massacre always ## Omnao_alosoaq
* https://twitter.com/dorokataysa/status/632894210992156672 Apostate son son infidel apostate sect
Commits a massacre bombing aviation market in the # # Always # The Awakening negotiating with the Safavids

(more alleged infos later, and/or below)

Clearly Head-Hacked Girl
* https://twitter.com/falih_448/status/633217202972454912 - no ambiguity here. A third girl, older than the last ones, in a pink shirt, totally intact, non-dusty, minor marks or freckles only, up the top of her head. From there, a nice clean split, top of skull removed, and a mass of brains and scalp across the table. Text:
#دوما_تباد #الغوطة_الشرقية
#دوما تستغيث بعد الله بـ #الأمة ورجال النخوة فيها، فهل من نصير ؟
--
# # Algoth_alcherqah Doma_tbad
# Always cry after God b # pride of the nation and the men, Naseer Is it?
41 retweets 12 favorites

Others
Man seen carrying a dead girl in a morgue. Doesn't seem to be any of the others seen, purple shirt, slightly bloody face.  That photo is around, including at this tweet. It's the moving background image for this market attack branding photo.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Douma Market Attack: Video Overview

Douma Market Attack: Video Overview
August 20, 2015
(incomplete, in progress)
last edits Aug. 23

Those looking, seems Arabic Youtube search is fruitful
Here's one to check out, narrated documentary 
This page might become mammoth, may be split-up.

Video Catalog
Attack/Aftermath
* DS1 0:14 shows distant smoke rising https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5CMOeZ6MXA
* DS2 0:13 same but closer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9f75ChDKjo
* DS3 0:15 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VlFO4IKLJs
* see MD10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keI-QaD0y-4 (shows smoke from locatable view)
 * see  MD8 first scene - smoke as seen at the market, still rising

Video in Support of Jet Attack
(contrail, anything - definitely forthcoming if it exists)
(nothing yet, and see big still below: no trace of jet, missile, or rocket trail to the north, northeast, or east. If one was in any other direction, they didn't bother showing it.)

Market (area) damage: 
* MD1 3:32 مهم جداًلحظات الموت2015 8 16 مجزرة دوما 85شهيد و300 جريح وحالة رعب تسود المدينة
(Important Jaddalhzat death 2015 8 16 massacre Doumas 85 martyrs and 300 wounded and horror prevail city) Shows damage after some time, few if any casualties. Good general view of the area. It shows the worst of it happened a block or so away in a traffic intersection.
* MD2 0:35 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dq5gJXGhAy0 (starts the same as MD1, but turns left, filmed earlier, more smoke, but shows less)
* MD3 2:21 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9Y-DCg-tFY useful compilation, early footage, clear footage, Shaam News Network
* MD4 0:36 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K44puudRsB8 (shows intersection scene)
* MD5 0:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCS9EnM0OMk
* MD6 0:31 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4lA6vq1wYY (market)
* MD7 3:00 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kB4fpLNvVd0 (intersection)
* MD8 3:04 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1Wt_4qYQsE (Orient News, compiled footage)
* MD9 0:51 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRaOWgOh0cc (intersection)
* MD10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keI-QaD0y-4
* MD11 0:10 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rBpivd1GQE (corn flour shown)
* MD12 0:48 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jw8FfJ2Nq6Q  (market damage, afternoon)
* MD13 2:26 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEgKtCQDMUU SMART news, good quality view of market area(s)

Market Videos with Dead and Injured
* MB1 1:20 شام ريف دمشق دوما عشرات الشهداء والجرحى جراء القصف 16 8 2015 تحذير الفيديو قاسي جدا (Cham Damascus Douma tens of martyrs and wounded by shelling 16 82 015 video very harsh warning) Posted August 16 by ShaamNetwork S.N.N (shows a handful of dead men being removed from the area)
* MB2 2:21 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmVtiej3Jow - shows teen boy dead, badly mangled, in situ, partial remains and wounded carried - graphic


Injured, elsewhere
* IE1 1:35 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=688FH-giZKA (wounded in field clinic, largely pre-teen boys shown)


Dead, elsewhere
وداع أمهات الشهداء ال 100 في دوما لحظات محزنة ومؤلمة في مدينة ودعت العشرات من أبنائها  2015.8.16 
* DE1
(Farewell mothers of the martyrs in the 100 always sad and painful moments in the city and invited dozens of its sons 2015.8.16) 1:15 uploaded by ( ياسر الدوماني )   (wrapped bodies)

(mirror)

* DE2 1:33, edited/hosted, by Syria Mubasher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2R2Pseg7YM Body array, mass grave
* DE3 0:11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMFrqsvE__8

Dead Elsewhere, Identified:
(mostly or all published by (al-Mokhlas al-Amin?) ( المخلص الأمين   ) - (victim names as given, and as translated, mostly by Google translate or by its audio)
* DID1 0:18 #‏دوما‬ 16-8-2015 || ‫#‏تنسيقية_دوما‬ || الشهيد خالد علي التوت (martyr: Khaled Ali Al-Tout ( التوت ))
* DID2 0:15  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45WIwFETn3E martyr: كاسم عبدو المنسي
* DID3 0:11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS2aYAJEb0M Mahmoud ?? (  محضر الشامية )
* DID4 0:09 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHQc6Y3b-Rg Omar Kraem? ( عمر كريم ) older man, white beard
* DID5 0:015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4BS79nOs3w Mahmoud Hijazi ( محمود حجازي ) (strange pattern of facial burns?)
* DID6 0:11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oebm1k9M4S0 Ziad Samir Shanawany (  زياد سمير الشنواني ) (partly burned?)
* DID7 0:09 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNeUt5kYqac Alaa Khaled Abdel Dayem ( علاء خالد عبد الدايم ) (roughed-up hand and face visible, being laid in mass grave)
* DID8 0:15 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBmJQiZPTCs Hossam Halbouni ( حسام الحلبوني )
9 0:16 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pa9y9ydLMk Mohiuddin Naaman (  محي الدين نعمان ) (all visible from waist up except neck - no visible injuries)
* DID10 0:18 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqroHuzConE Bashir al-Tout (  بشير التوت ) (no visible wounds)
* DID11 0:14 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XVAgRgzzaw Khalid Al Hudaydah ( خالد حديدة ) (no visible marks, maybe at groin?)
* DID12 0:16 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apzgDTEUO4g Muwafaq Fouad Hamraoui ( موفق فؤاد الحمراوي ) (roughed-up, some-stained, intact)
* DID13 0:46 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWu-AeCEHE4 Sobhi Mahmoud  Tla? ( صبحي محمود بلة ) (slight facial marks)
* DID14 0:04 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSq24mq_ckA Akram Seriwl ( أكرم سريول ) (neck covered, covers blood-soaked)
* DID15 0:06 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRyBuEKwdrQ Khaled Abdel-Hakim Khbayh ( خالد عبد الحكيم خبية ) (blood from mouth and nose)
* DID16 0:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9KVKh6g1M0 Hanin al-Da'as? (  حنين الدعاس ) female form of Shahid - maybe be teenage girl or young adult) (cheek abrasions? Wrapped upper body is all in blood)
* DID17 0:21 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_LKUTYoGlg Khalid Abdul Rahman Yunus and Imad Eddin (3 men in a truck, only 2 named)
* DID18 0:11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjjKZjrLJXU Khalid Mohammed Znob ( خالد محمد زنوب ) (neck covered, why?)
* DID19 0:16 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmtIvHrHOdk Hisham Arbash ( هشام عربش ) (smokey, roughed-up)
* DID20 0:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzzNSajYrs4 Samir Hamouri (  سمير الحموري ) (older man, smokey, wounds on side of face)
* DID21 0:14 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IscNRmrlxBk Subhi Arbash ( صبحي عربش ) (older man, minor injuries but intact)
* DID22 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpa57xVb_5g Ibrahim Khbayh ( ابراهيم خبية  ) (totally wrapped and invisible except maybe his nose, dark-colored, was in a fire)
* DID23 0:06 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6akldk9Uyg child martyr Zuhair al-Masri ( الطفل زهير المصري ) (puffed up right eye? Intact looking, no out outward marks on right side of face, the rest unseen)
* DID24 0:17 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aR8D3sw6ZE -Mohammed Mahmoud Abbas Daoud- ( محمد مازن محمود داود ) (young man, bad but superfical damage all over his seen face, chest, right shoulder (cuts, pits, etc.) rest unseen)
* DID25 0:15 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxoHiQtEd3k Adnan Khalil al-Ghazzawi ( خليل عدنان الغزاوي ) (dark, face at least seems unmarked)
* DID26 0:18 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wCSwdVA774 -Amin al-Dsh?- (  أمين الدج ) (dark, outside, published Aug. 19)
* DID27 0:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYwSG-sqOCg Khaled Mohiuddin ( خالد محي الدين ) (reddened, burned face, heavy smoke exposure, intact face, rest unseen - another victim glimpsed at the start, man with minor burns on face, no smoke or marks)
* DID28 0:19 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7qI99N8OM8 -Mohammed Alchgra- (  محمد الشغري ) (middle-aged man, face intact, unmarked, rest unseen, laid in grave)
* DID29 0:09 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgvM5h5sFlU -Raed Khitti- ( رائد خيتي ) (young man, marks on side of face but intact, from head and shoulder shown)
* DID30 0:11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gHJAzowk4k -Mohiuddin Durra- ( محي الدين الدرة ) (older man, gray bear, marks like shrapnel on left side of face, distinct red burns on right)
* DID31 0:09 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WianXvDOrE -Ghassan Amin Thrush (aldh?) - ( غسان أمين الدج ) (dark, outside)
* DID32 0:09 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D58oyuSTSL4 -Khaled Abdu Maakh- (  خالد عبدو معيكة )
* that might be all there are, except for...

* DID33 - There's video of a dead newborn or young infant among these dated the 16th, but similar the day before, may be the same, unclear. ... comparing: the name on the video is Ahmed Algroudi ( الجرودي ). Arabic to VDC = no direct match but one entry and only one of that family name appears this year ... Fayez al-Jroudi, adult male, different name, is one of the 117 market attack victims. Not mentioned an infant relative died the same day? We have confusion. The other newborn video is 8-15 child martyr (Shahida, female) Aisha Alojoh ( الشهيدة الطفلة عائشة الأجوة ) - different baby, looks even younger and frailer. (VDC records suggest overall lots of newborns die in Douma especially, or so it's seemed to me a few times now)

Witness videos: 
If it's just talking, doesn't belong here. Will go under alleged witness accounts.

Analysis: Victims
MB1:  Eric Draister notes of this video:
To be fair, hours of research did uncover a total of one video, taken after the blast, showing the bodies of a handful of male victims. However, none of the signs of death by airstrike are visible; the bodies are all whole, no missing limbs, very little blood (unlike in the Gaza and Baghdad videos). A logical conclusion based on the available evidence would be that the men seen in the video died from the collapse of a building, presumably the destroyed building behind them. 
Another conclusion: about 5 men killed elsewhere were brought here and laid, mainly on top of the tomatoes. They've been dead hours, at least; they don't seem to be bleeding any more at all. The tomatoes make that somewhat unclear, but not very. And - is that why they were laid on tomatoes? Draister says this is the one and best video he found to show deaths at the market. Might be worth double-checking, but we could almost just be lazy and say this might be it. 650+ alleged injured and dead here, and all we see for the worst of it is about 5 intact and already dead guys? Or, what do we see? Comments open.

MB2: Shows at least one consistent shelling victim, young teen boy with half-attached arm and leg, and major bleeding in place. Unidentifiable parts on another are carried by on a blanket.
* DId1: First I saw out of several available giving faces and names, said to show Khaled Ali Althouet? ( التوت ) This is a child victim by appearance, I'd say age 12. VDC has no such child. But adult-male Khaled al-Tout appears. Arabic entry gives : التوت - same name. What happened to this "man?" Hard to tell. Face is itntact, alternating black and red. He had mucous coming out of his nose. We hope this is not common. Also, we hope - for a couple reasons - there aren't many more hidden boys in there.


Analysis: Locations
I like to be able to place a video on the map, but I haven't been able to do that here just yet.

Market
On Wikimapia, two market areas are labeled:
- Al-Hal market in the south of downtown
- Commercial market a bit north of there.

Still from MD1
The red-roofed structure, with implied span of more of the same now missing, suggests commercial. That runs east-west. Surrounding building however don't seem to match. It might not be in either spot. Mid-day videos are hard to get directions from. Is this solar noon? Before? After? Depending, he could start facing south, east, or southeast, and turns to the right from there. But there's a left turn there this spot doesn't have, to the blasted intersection with flipped vehicles.

Smoke clues: there's been some doubt if the distant attack smoke is connected. Video MD8 first scene - smoke as seen at the market, still rising, seems consistent with the big plume. Video MD10 shows at the beginning smoke from a view that could be placed (still below) Details: There are 2 mountains in the distance, left one elongated, right one pretty sharp from this angle. If this is mid-day. he should be facing somewhat north or northwest and these will be Qalamoun mountains. The "sharp" one might be a long mountain (mount Snir?) seen end-wise, IF facing n-ne (and video shot in early afternoon). In fact, narrowed time of event might help set this location ... Foreground, some kind of race track? Can this be in Douma, or is it in another town, maybe Mesraba? If I/we can identify the mountain and the foreground place, the smoke can be narrowed down to just a hair left of that line.

Update: Mountain, view, filming spot and line located. This is filmed from one of the taller buildings just south of the Fayha school of driving on the NW edge of Misraba, looking north-northeast in the afternoon. The sharp-looking peak is Mt. Snir, seen end-wise, as the Google Earth terrain  view shows quite well (rough ridge-line painted in). I put a green pole at the near building corner and at about the "shoulder" where mountain is covered by smoke. The lime-colored line between them comes out on or just right of al-Hal market, not commercial (market locations roughly marked in red).
Driving school match: note size of lot, little rigs, ramp in the corner, treeline, white buildings past, buildings on the right, every detail. Open to second opinions on the overall line and the peak seen. This seems right, zooming back out, and the near span crosses that curving road the same way. 



So it's early to mid-afternoon, not anytime before noon. So sun will be SW or west-ish in MD1 as the camera comes in from the north. The market street should run somewhat west, as suggested by later afternoon views with long shadows running down the street. Al-Hal market runs that way, but it isn't a clear fit - seems much larger than this. Considering the red roof and the area the smoke clues point to, perhaps the view is a hair to the west, and the line crosses this un-labeled spot just west on the market. This too has an e-w orientation, consistent trees behind, and maybe even consistent surrounding buildings.

Next: not all details are clear, but most are - that last link seems to be to the right spot. The destroyed intersection to the east, when turning right, matches just as well. 92% sure this is it. Graphic shows the areas, here about 125 and 250 meters west of the al-Hal market. Both spots, especially the intersection, should be poring smoke into the plume seen afterwards.

What was destroyed then seems to be the possibly the long part of the market building (south edge, unclear), but otherwise no proper buildings; many of the trees in there seem gone, some temporary stalls, the median in the street, where more stalls were set up, etc. At the intersection, vehicles and pavement are damaged nearest the blast center - that was apparently in some low-lying building(s), now gone, that were attached to the taller ones that remain with minimal damage. At least in these two spots, there's not much rubble that people will be pulled out of or crawl out of days later, as some reports mention.

So the market seen in most videos apparently is one - or it has tomatoes at least. Might be worth considering if this is any more substantial than the bit of flatbread used to make the Halfaya bakery bombing look like that. If this is not a market, the other thing it could be in an encampment. There's one UNHCR tent or canvas in there, but these get around. The red-roofed structure doesn't seem destroyed at all, for no non-temporary structures at all flattened here. Its back wall is seen, roof frame intact, tiles blown off. It seems more like a covered walkway in a park than anything. The opposing walls might well be collapsed on the ground floor. It gives it a market look...

Other footage MID13 shows damage at al-Hal Market, I think (second half) - a different, wider area with trucks, where no walls appear. That's not from the bombs but market design, I think. These rooms are like booths or stalls to work from. Much more substantial produce here, carting equipment, etc. Were they hoping viewers would conflate the two scenes? Damage here seems lesser but substantial. Some awnings might be down, some jumble on the ground. The plume photo does seem to to show smoke right up to al-Hal market - maybe there were 3 hits in that span, which is wider than it looks from a distance. Still, no smoke from any other parts of town (except maybe along the same blocked line of sight). In these 3-market-ih areas, I see no collapsed apartment buildings or anything of the like to explain 117 dead and 550 injured.

Body Display
(forthcoming)

---
(will move/modify intro)
...
It might be a couple of days before I have the time to assemble a list of videos - and I suppose photos too, all imagery proof of what happened - and start analysis. But this is where it will be. Below, comments are already open - that's the main point of starting early, in fact. Let's avoid trying to catalog via comments - it will become redundant once the catalog above is done (by my own searches, by e-mail, at ACLOS, etc.). And let's avoid cluttering with random articles and links. Comments are best used here for reader-submitted video observations. See a clue one way or the other? Give the video link, timestamps, and notes.

Also, general comments on the video and.or photo portion of the evidence for this case are welcome. Who's uploading, etc. (and again please no random here's a photo, huge link, no comment, type of comments).

Friday, August 21, 2015

Douma Market Attack: Victim Analysis

Douma Market Attack: Victim Analysis
August 21, 2015
(incomplete)
last edits August 26


Records and Claims
VDC and LCC
(will refine the reading here)
Some have cited an earl list of 92 names published by the Local Coordination Committees in Douma. This should be accurate but dated. The Violations Documentation Center (VDC) is linked to the LCC, gets the same info, and runs an updated martyrs database (as well as a "regime forces" list where civilian victims often turn up). 

VDC martyr's database, Damascus Suburbs martyrs from warplane shelling, Aug. 16 = 120 (was 105 when I started) Breakdown: 5 boys, 3 women, no girls, 112 men: 2 non-civilian, 110 civilian men) To clarify who is and isn't part of this reported massacre: 117 of these entries share the note "Dozens of people martyred in a massacre due to regime air forces shelling of the local market and residential areas in Douma city." That includes all 3 women, all 5 boys, so must have 3 less men.

Almost all of these (104 of the 117) are listed as from Douma, with very little sign of displacement or mobility like you so commonly see in Syria these days. The list is reverse-chronological, so oldest entries are at the bottom/and next page (100 max per page). It's there the few exceptions appear: two men from Otaya, near the bottom 9 unidentified from unknown (maybe Douma), and at the very bottom, a man and a woman named Harmoush from Otayah were the first ones logged. (should be related but not married - usually - or maybe a minority group) (Autaya on Wikimapia - 4 km southeast of Douma)

The two rebel fighters from Irbeen must not be part of the massacre - that's 2 of the 3 discrepancies down between the 117 and 120 tallies. Wisam al-Merji "Aman" and Ahmad al-Merji "Aman" - apparent relatives, both from Erbeen, FSA, died "Due to air forces shelling." And they alone died from that, huh?

So the massacre is at least these 117 victims with the note, all of them civilian, but 109 being civilian men. However ...  So far, one apparent boy listed as man identified. Khaled al-Tout listed as a man, but named on video of a boy of about 12-ish. ( Arabic entry gives : التوت - same name as on the video).

220 Wounded Children? Bad Math Islamists
(note: all market-only thoughts revised out; there was at least one other strike area, at a nearby traffic intersection. They say several (6?) missiles hit this area, maybe in other areas yet, where men might be more prevalent. But the smoke view shows all of Douma, with smoke only from these two nearby spots. So ... this is what the "activists" have packaged in there.)

The Guardian reports: "The town’s governing council said that out of the 550 injured in Sunday’s air strikes 40% were children." (primary source f/c - they probably did say this) Note, the Islamist ruling council will be friendly to the Islamists behind any massacre that might be hiding behind the bombing claims. Islamists can excel at math but usually don't.

550 wounded is in addition to the 112+ who died (let's use 117 as VDC has). At one point, these bad-math Islamists claim, there were 667 injured/dying/dead people laying around in that market, intersection and, by smoke clues, nowhere else in Douma. Is there any visual sign of that in these two spots?

Next, 40% of 550 wounded is 220, so they claim that many children were wounded but lived. We know at least 109 of the 117 who died were men (listed by VDC as men and most likely were), at least 5 were boys (but it's at least 6 including Khaled al-Tout, who looks 12-ish, and makes one less man - 108 then). At least 3 were women, and by the VDC's records, perhaps none were girls.

On the other side of that cut-off line, those who pulled through, 220 boys and girls wounded. Well, we shouldn't expect exact proportions, whatever those would really be at the market that day ... for example, parents might have time to shield their kids in some cases, taking the worst and dying but leaving the children alive. But this is clearly inadequate to explain these distorted proportions.

Combined injured and dead, that writhing mass of 667+ people in that small market area after the regime missile thing ... 226 children (almost all survived) and 108 men dead. Reasonable proportion, 114 lived. 222+225=447. That leaves room for up to 220 women, who usually do the vegetable shopping in the Arab World, even in Islamist areas, as far as I know. Three died. Did anything like 217 survive? Or were there just very few women, perhaps because of some little-known ban on women in public? Maybe only 3 ban-breakers died?

Mass Graves, Why?
As Reuters heard:
Sixty bodies were buried on Sunday night in two mass graves, said a spokesman for the Syrian Civil Defense force in Douma... Another 35 were buried on Monday, and the death toll was over 100, he said."
That's at least 95 out of the 112 then claimed dead. Here's the grave, Mubasher video - is this even deeper than usual? It's enormous. That was a lot of work the "regime" didn't stop.

But a Guardian report, citing Douma's Islamist rebel city council, explains "...the regime also targeted a funeral procession after the attack." This is about the reason anyone would probably cite when asked why the hell nearly all of the killed, adult male, local civilians went unclaimed by family and left to dump in anonymous mass graves - the regime shoots you if you try. That quote is immediately followed by
"Witnesses to the air raid told the Guardian they had to bury the dead in large graves, forgoing funeral prayers for some, a sacred rite in Islam."
These aren't "large" and spacious individual graves but mass graves - 3 or 4 of them for over 100 victims. The distinction matters. This is the way you bury people you don't want to identify, people with no family you want to contact. Every "Shabiha" massacre like Houla ends with rebel-held bodies interred in mass graves.

They say they even "had to" skip the funerary prayers. Why? Were there snipers who allowed this canyon digging, but shot at anyone who tried to pray? Or is there a different reason - like trying to send the victims to hell - why they skipped the proper send-off for what they may have considered non-Muslims?

Visual Assessment
This is what will matter most.  So far I have these topics covered, in split-off posts:

- Burned Faces: What caused the distinct red patches on the faces of these five men at least? And this boy, and maybe another boy?  No detailed findings, just the pictures, links,, some notes, and the last part is almost more interesting, might need its own post: what might be a boy who was pulled apart at the arms and legs, and had his face burned worse than anyone else.

- The Girl Victims? 
Why, when we finally see alleged female child victims, do they seem segregated in how they died? Along with one young boy (apparent), these two girls (apparent) do not look like shelling victims, but did apparently die from acute head trauma. And their knees were roughed up a little bit. Rebels, as usual, had the bodies afterwards and blamed Assad. 

Others planned:

- visual minimum body count

- victim names (true or not, considered)
Jroudi Confusion (will go there)
* DID33 - There's video of a dead newborn or young infant among these dated the 16th, but similar the day before, may be the same, unclear. ... comparing: the name on the video is Ahmed Algroudi ( الجرودي ). Arabic to VDC = no direct match but one entry and only one of that family name appears this year ... Fayez al-Jroudi, adult male, different name, is one of the 117 market attack victims. Not mentioned an infant relative died the same day? We have confusion. The other newborn video is 8-15 child martyr (Shahida, female) Aisha Alojoh ( الشهيدة الطفلة عائشة الأجوة ) - different baby, looks even younger and frailer. (VDC records suggest overall lots of newborns die in Douma especially, or so it's seemed to me a few times now) 

 

32 Identified victim videos 
(copied from video overview, not verified)
* DID1 0:18 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5Ij3tjw3XY Khaled Ali Al-Tout ( التوت ))
* DID2 0:15  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45WIwFETn3E martyr: كاسم عبدو المنسي
* DID3 0:11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS2aYAJEb0M Mahmoud ?? (  محضر الشامية ) (little seen)
* DID4 0:09 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHQc6Y3b-Rg Omar Kraem? ( عمر كريم ) older man, white beard
* DID5 0:015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4BS79nOs3w Mahmoud Hijazi ( محمود حجازي ) (strange pattern of facial burns?)
* DID6 0:11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oebm1k9M4S0 Ziad Samir Shanawany (  زياد سمير الشنواني ) (partly burned?)
* DID7 0:09 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNeUt5kYqac Alaa Khaled Abdel Dayem ( علاء خالد عبد الدايم ) (roughed-up hand and face visible, being laid in mass grave)
* DID8 0:15 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBmJQiZPTCs Hossam Halbouni ( حسام الحلبوني )
9 0:16 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pa9y9ydLMk Mohiuddin Naaman (  محي الدين نعمان ) (all visible from waist up except neck - no visible injuries)
* DID10 0:18 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqroHuzConE Bashir al-Tout (  بشير التوت ) (no visible wounds)
* DID11 0:14 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XVAgRgzzaw Khalid Al Hudaydah ( خالد حديدة ) (no visible marks, maybe at groin?)
* DID12 0:16 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apzgDTEUO4g Muwafaq Fouad Hamraoui ( موفق فؤاد الحمراوي ) (roughed-up, smoke-stained, intact)
* DID13 0:46 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWu-AeCEHE4 Sobhi Mahmoud  Tla? ( صبحي محمود بلة ) (slight facial marks)
* DID14 0:04 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSq24mq_ckA Akram Seriwl ( أكرم سريول ) (neck covered, covers blood-soaked)
* DID15 0:06 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRyBuEKwdrQ Khaled Abdel-Hakim Khbayh ( خالد عبد الحكيم خبية ) (blood from mouth and nose)
* DID16 0:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9KVKh6g1M0 Hanin al-Da'as? (  حنين الدعاس ) female form of Shahid - maybe be teenage girl or young adult) (cheek abrasions? Wrapped upper body is all in blood)
* DID17 0:21 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_LKUTYoGlg Khalid Abdul Rahman Yunus and Imad Eddin (3 men in a truck, only 2 named)
* DID18 0:11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjjKZjrLJXU Khalid Mohammed Znob ( خالد محمد زنوب ) (neck covered, why?)
* DID19 0:16 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmtIvHrHOdk Hisham Arbash ( هشام عربش ) (smokey, roughed-up)
* DID20 0:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzzNSajYrs4 Samir Hamouri (  سمير الحموري ) (older man, smokey, wounds on side of face)
* DID21 0:14 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IscNRmrlxBk Subhi Arbash ( صبحي عربش ) (older man, minor injuries but intact)
* DID22 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpa57xVb_5g Ibrahim Khbayh ( ابراهيم خبية  ) (totally wrapped and invisible except maybe his nose, dark-colored, was in a fire)
* DID23 0:06 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6akldk9Uyg child martyr Zuhair al-Masri ( الطفل زهير المصري ) (puffed up right eye? Intact looking, no out outward marks on right side of face, the rest unseen)
* DID24 0:17 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aR8D3sw6ZE -Mohammed Mahmoud Abbas Daoud- ( محمد مازن محمود داود ) (young man, bad but superficial damage all over his seen face, chest, right shoulder (cuts, pits, etc.) rest unseen)
* DID25 0:15 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxoHiQtEd3k Adnan Khalil al-Ghazzawi ( خليل عدنان الغزاوي ) (dark, face at least seems unmarked)
* DID26 0:18 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wCSwdVA774 -Amin al-Dsh?- (  أمين الدج ) (dark, outside, published Aug. 19)
* DID27 0:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYwSG-sqOCg Khaled Mohiuddin ( خالد محي الدين ) (reddened, burned face, heavy smoke exposure, intact face, rest unseen - another victim glimpsed at the start, man with minor burns on face, no smoke or marks)
* DID28 0:19 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7qI99N8OM8 -Mohammed Alchgra- (  محمد الشغري ) (middle-aged man, face intact, unmarked, rest unseen, laid in grave)
* DID29 0:09 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgvM5h5sFlU -Raed Khitti- ( رائد خيتي ) (young man, marks on side of face but intact, from head and shoulder shown)
* DID30 0:11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gHJAzowk4k -Mohiuddin Durra- ( محي الدين الدرة ) (older man, gray bear, marks like shrapnel on left side of face, distinct red burns on right)
* DID31 0:09 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WianXvDOrE -Ghassan Amin Thrush (aldh?) - ( غسان أمين الدج ) (dark, outside)
* DID32 0:09 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D58oyuSTSL4 -Khaled Abdu Maakh- (  خالد عبدو معيكة ) 
* DID33 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAajbX6IgUQ Ahmed Algroudi ( الجرودي ) - young or newborn infant, face unharmed (VDC does not list this victim, but has an adult male of the same family name, [http://www.vdc-sy.info/index.php/en/details/martyrs/156186#.VdmYrJdySSp Fayez al-Jroudi)
* DID34 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voeS31R82mQ Martyr Jihad Walid Hijazi ( الشهيد جهاد وليد حجازي 2015 8 16 ) (shows 3 victims with varying marks and damage: a boy, man, another boy. By audio, the first is Jihad Walid Hijazi, the man, Walid ? Hijazi - boy Mustafa Walid Hijazi. Implied: father and sons. VDC lists all 3, the boys as boys, along with 2 other Hijazi men, one seen in DID5 with face burns)
* DID35 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IR6CEB34Eec Martyr Hisham Arbash - massive but discrete head wound, like from bullet exit)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Douma Market Attack {Masterlist}

August 20, 2015
(incomplete)
last updates August 23

The August 16 alleged fighter jet attack on a crowded market in Douma, Damascus, was instantly and widely decried by world leaders and concerned people everywhere as an obvious war crime by the government. Of course, the alleged part is never considered fairly in these reflexive yelps. No one among them has considered the details realistically or wants to.

Part 1: Initial Questions - what proof is there it really was a jet? Why are at least 100 of the 112 or so reported victims listed as adult males? Why were at least 95 of the dead un-claimed for usual family burial, and interred in anonymous-style mass graves instead?

That rushed and belated start got enough views it seemed worthwhile to set up some additional work space, even though I wasn't ready to fill it yet. I had a pressing project to finish first, but the furor over this bombing, the lack of clear proof that it was a bombing, and hints that it wasn't - just weren't getting discovered and aired quick enough. I did my first part there, then some pants-kicking, and now I know some others are working on it, and I'm catching back up.   

Part 2: Precedents to consider (optional - should be handy already, but a short custom list is needed, and has to wait)

The parts that get better, usually, is where we get specific, especially with the visual evidence.

Video Overview

Victim Analysys

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Syria: Douma Market Attack, August 2015

Douma Market Attack part 1: Initial Questions
August 18, 2015
last edits August 20

On Sunday, August 16 a reported minimum of 112 civilians were killed in the Damascus suburb of Douma, activists claimed, after Syrian military jets hit a public market at mid-day with two missile strikes, one after rescue workers arrived. It's being described as one of the deadliest single jet attacks of the war. I have some pressing projects and no time to cover this fully, but I threw together some first thoughts here, and will start an ACLOS page on it (done: page and talk page.)

Opposition Claims and Rhetoric (laundered as news by mainstream media)
* An "official massacre" of civilians alleged in Syria AP Via CBS News, August 16, 2015
* Reuters via Huffington Post
* The Guardian
* Others f/c

Alleged Regime Motive/Activists Say, in Douma Context
The militia Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) of Zahran Alloush recently attacked a military installation nearby - the people of Douma supposedly support of that group - so retaliation was to kill as many civilians there as possible, to terrorize them out of support, presumably. But it will never work - no matter how many innocents "the regime" kills, rebel leaders never seem deterred and keep on pushing the fight, largely over the phone from Turkey.

Also, this will be according to local activists aligned with the army of Islam. Why? Becuase anyone who disagrees with the Islamists in Douma is in danger. Consider lawyer and activist Razan Zaitouneh, founder of the VDC whose database I cite so often. Based in Douma, the same area under study, and not in London, she was reporting on the crimes of some local Islamist groups in late 2013, perhaps leading to her December 10 abduction with her husband and two other VDC activists by "unknown armed men." Consider this Syria Direct report from one year after her abduction with no news:
Fellow activist Bassam al-Ahmad, who is now the point of contact for the VDC, posted a call to action on Facebook Tuesday asking people to contact the leader of Jaish al-Islam, the most powerful rebel group in Douma.
 “Please send a tweet… to Zahran Aloush, head of Jaish al-Islam, one of the most influential armed opposition groups in Douma, to ask about the steps that his group has taken to ensure the safe release of Razan and her colleagues,” al-Ahmad wrote.
Aloush has repeatedly denied responsibility for Zaitouneh’s kidnapping on the grounds that Jaish al-Islam (JAI) “fights on the fronts” and does not have a presence in the city of Douma proper.
The East Ghouta suburb, however, is JAI’s stronghold.
Now notice: the activists informing us about this jet strike insist the locals all love Jaish al-Islam, etc.

Consider also an earlier allegation of a regime massacre of 16 men in Douma, back in 2012 before the place was as pro-Islamist as it reportedly is now (Harasta was leading the way at that point, with Douma dragging its feet a bit). 

Direct Supporting evidence proving it was a jet
None I've seen yet. video evidence for a jet: none cited in these reports. Will dig when I have time.Off the bat, I'm skeptical. There's a damaged market, some video evidence I'm sure, that I haven't reviewed yet. The claims are similar to the alleged fighter jet attack on Aleppo University, which did feature jet evidence (a vapor trail, but looking more rocket-oriented) On closer inspection that attack had no jet, just two powerful surface rockets,  like the government said. Perhaps they were fired by terrorists, like the government said. They hit one after another as rescuers arrived, killing a few students and rescuers, but mainly displaced people sheltered in the Universtiy's dormitories. 

Rebel rockets have hit Damascus and coastal Latakia in recent days, killing civilians in both (SANA reports 6 killed, 14 wounded). One to hit the market to blame the regime - and perhaps to launder an unrelated massacre - is well within the capability and morality of the Islamists torturing Syria.

Government Claims
The reports I read have everyone but the government leading at the top, midle, and bottom of each article. All blame the government. Any denial will seem to the conditioned reader futile, reflexive, meaningless, and fair to ignore. The Reuters report at least, with (Writing by Tom Perry; editing by Dominic Evans) passes on near the top: 

A Syrian military source said the air force attacks on Sunday on Douma and the nearby area of Harasta targeted an insurgent group, Islam Army, and were a response to recent attacks on nearby government-held areas.
This sounds almost like they acknowledge they attacked the market in revenge, considering the locals to be terrorists. But lower in the report, it's also noted:
The Syrian military source said "any escalation towards Damascus" would be met by a "very strong and decisive response", and denied that civilians were targeted on Sunday.
But didn't they just admit they did, and doesn't everybody just know they did? What liars!

SANA English seems to have no reports yet: a search for Douma so far just turns up older reports of thousands who didn't support the Islamists and were evacuated with army assistance in December, January, and February.

I'm guessing if the Syrian authorities ever give a clear explanation, it'll be that civilian human shields were massacred by the terrorists at the same time as the air strikes so as to blame the strikes. Or possibly they'll find the victims were never at the market but were kidnapped people who were snuck into the basement of the Islamists' headquarters they did deliberately attack.


The Victims:
A total of just over 100 reported dead (112 and expected to rise was specified). That's a lot of of people to be fatally wounded in a random open-air missile attack, or even two of them. Now consider, as Reuters reports:
Sixty bodies were buried on Sunday night in two mass graves, said a spokesman for the Syrian Civil Defense force in Douma...
This is the "White Helmets," who often help fill mass graves and cover the bodies silently with dirt, besides speaking about the incidents. They have never run across a massacre by rebel forces, and never will. Only the secular regime does this, in their playbook.

Sixty people out of the 100+ were buried in a mass grave - this is the way you bury people you don't want to identify, people with no family you want to contact. Every "Shabiha" massacre ends with rebel-held bodies interred in mass graves. Presumably the rest were legit local victims, were claimed by family and given proper at-home burials, right? No, sadly, the same spokesman says
"Another 35 were buried on Monday, and the death toll was over 100, he said."
So at least 95 of the 100+ went unclaimed - not a good sign. Nadim Houry (HRW) tweets an Arabic list of 95 named victims, noting 9 more aren't identified (104 total). Is that coincidence that 95 were buried in two batches and 95 victims were named? Or were these unclaimed people all named as they were dumped? If so, does that lend credibility to the universally obtained names?

The first AP report includes a photo of at least 30-35 bodies wrapped, all seemingly male (by custom, usually segregated) and almost entirely adult sized - and said:
An amateur video posted online by activists showed some 40 bodies of men and boys lined up on the side of a street as more bodies were being brought in.
Let's say this is minimum 42 male victims, almost totally men - that's fairly out of whack, demographically. Is it enough to suggest the victims were sex-segregated captives? At this point, no. Maybe just more men than usual were doing the shopping because of the war, some Islamist ban, etc. Their families were back at home, awaiting their return - but in at least 95 cases they did not claim his body when he didn't come back? Is it just because they had no one left able to go outside?

VDC lists 105 total Damascus suburbs residents killed 8-16 by "warplane shelling." (sub-searches to see if all count, if some displaced from other areas are included, etc. - forthcoming). But I suspect this is roughly it: of the 105, 100 of them are listed as adult males. There are 3 boys, 2 women, and no girls filling in the other slots. Adult - Male there sometimes means unsure, goofed-up, or left blank, but the names seem to be male ... that must be the ban on women, slightly broken?

From other areas, martyered in Douma = 0 that's unusual these days for such a large pool of people
- displaced people are not only common, they often take the brunt of attacks in the VDC records. But all these were locals?And it's not only provinces - no one from the rest of Damascus, and all 105 entries are from Douma. Not a single Zamalka person, Jobar, Harasta, etc. And this is supposedly post-identification. The simplicity of these entries suggests made-up identities.

But then, Reuters' White Helmets spokesman gave a bit more detail on why some aren't identified: 
"It was really difficult to identify the bodies of the martyrs. Some of them were burned to the bone, so we couldn't add them to the documented list," said the 28-year-old (Civil Defense) spokesman, who declined to give his real name for security reasons. His house was destroyed in the bombing, he added.
Is it just unrealistic to come up with names here? Or does this support the rest of the names being real?

I'll bet many of these Douma market bombing attack victims also had torture marks and fatal wounds to the head or throat hiding under those shrouds. This is how "regime" artillery, missiles, Shabiha, even sarin, tend to operate inside rebel-held areas. From at least February 2012 and the Khalidiya Massacre it's been clear: regime shelling on a rebel-held area destroys 20+ homes, killing whole families in a main, first-reported batch of 138 people, being 130 men and 8 boys, many with throat injuries. A smaller number of more mixed victims were counted later.

That may happen here too, but this story has already fallen apart, in my opinion. However, a little more work will be needed before it's convincing to many others. 

Updates August 19:
Ziad Fadel at Syrian Perspective has a similar finding from a LCC list of just names:

WHAT AN AMAZING FEAT BY THE SYRIAN AIR FORCE!  COULD IT BE THE RUSSIANS HAVE GIVEN THE SYRIAN MILITARY A WEAPON CAPABLE OF ONLY KILLING MEN?  COULD WE HAVE DEVELOPED A NEW WEAPON WHICH LARGELY IGNORED FEMALES?  OR COULD IT BE THAT SOHR, HRW (A Soros whorehouse) or AI ARE JUST LYING AS USUAL?  I’LL LET YOU DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS. 
I appreciate that he didn't leap to call them killed rebel fighters. When you don't know for sure, it's a potential massive insult. But that is one distinct possibility, depending. If a bunch of rebels died, would they just say so, or launder them as civilian victims like they did exclusively in the old days? More research will help decide which is more prevalent in a likely mix - fighters, captive civilians, shopping civilians.  I'm sure at least 2 events, and maybe 3, are being mixed together here.

Also this will be part 1, where I started. Up next probably will be video, when I get some more time.

 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An Iranian Hand in the Houla Massacre?

August 11, 2015
(incomplete)

One of the more widely-read pieces on the May, 2012 Houla Massacre remains this piece in the Guardian I haven't explicitly tackled yet: Houla massacre: US accuses Iran of 'bragging' about its military aid to Syria  Chris McGreal in Washington Tuesday 29 May 2012 16.51 EDT
Victoria Nuland, the state department spokeswoman, said that Iran's hand is clearly visible in the killing of more than 100 people, including scores of young children, by a Syrian militia group, the Shabiha, which closely resembles an Iranian militia, the Basij.
...
"We took this action (expelling Syria's ambassador) in response to the massacre in the village of Houla – absolutely indefensible, vile, despicable massacre against innocent children, women shot at point blank range by regime thugs, the Shabiha, aided and abetted by the Iranians who were actually bragging about it over the weekend," said Nuland.
This accusation of a clear "Iranian hand" in the massacre might sound about like the picture at right, minus the question mark; the Mullahs in Tehran directly and knowingly assisted in sectarian slaughter like the rebels allege happened in Taldou that day. But the argument - and the Guardian's reason for attaching "Houla Massacre" to this report about general military aid - is kind of roundabout.

The actual accusation, which accompanied the expulsion of Syria's ambassador, was that Iran was helping Syria in general with boosting its local paramilitaries now called National Defense Forces. The derogatory nickname for these - "Shabiha" - does not mean "thug" as widely believed, or anything exactly. It's apparently derived from the militia's original name, Lijan Shabiya, or Popular Committees (sometimes called Local Committees, I think) distorted maybe to imply "ghosts" or the act of tearing a person apart (see here). And they are not an Alawite death cult as widely claimed, but of whatever faith the locals are, and secular in operation. After the Iranian-aided boost, they became the more official and capable NDF we see today fighting and often dying in the field. 

The purely Sunni and largely foreign rebels hate the "Shabiha" and from 2011 forward have blamed them for a slew of horrific crimes, most notably this Houla Massacre, creating a mythical, cartoon villain version of the real militias. This is the version Nuland is talking about.

It's never alleged that Tehran helped directly in the operation of the massacre itself, just that they sent their barbarity over to take root as its own Syrian version, with continued general assistance, and that led to the killings. The State Department analysis, as passed on by Nuland, found similarities between the "Shabiha thugs" and the Iranian Basij militias. But if "the Basij and the Shabiha are the same type of thing," as Nuland says, that does not mean they're definitely organized by the same people. Models can just be copied, or naturally wind up the same, as with adaptation in the wild.

But there was a more concrete sign of a connection alleged: The Guardian piece continues:
Nuland further implicated Iran by drawing attention to the timing of a claim by the deputy head of its Quds force, Esmail Ghani, that it has played a "physical and non-physical" role in Syria, and that if it were not present "the killing of citizens would be greater."

Nuland noted the timing of this, coming over the weekend immediately after the killings in Houla. This "Bragging" just then could have one of two non-coincidental reasons, depending how the evidence pans out:
1) They were excited to be involved in the genocide against Sunnis and hoped to help expand the killing (the implication of State's allegation)
2) They were excited to help the local militias prevent more destabilizing terrorist massacres like that, in their allied nation of Syria.
The quote included "if (Quds) were not present "the killing of citizens would be greater."" Well, that's not option 1) unless they're talking in code, as State probably meant to imply. These were candid, intercepted calls? And that's the juiciest quote they could find? Sounds to me like they're talking, honestly, about option 2, expressing worries that wind up being the ones supported by the best evidence.

It turns out rebel-supplied video evidence of the events of May 25, carefully analyzed, contradicts the rebel-supplied narrative on which all the Shabiha blame is based. Opposition sources said rebels were in charge in the "village" of Houla (but were really in charge of most of the 3-town area), but they ran away under regime shelling of the "village." This let the local Shabiha, mostly from a few nearby Alawi (Alawite) villages, march in to murder random Sunni families. This is the version Nuland referred to.
Taldou, security posts vs. massacre sites

But the scant video shows no government attack, and instead shows that Sunni rebels shouting Allahu Akbar attacked security posts on the day of the massacre, overrunning the last government-held part of the Houla region. This was the southern half of the southernmost town of Taldou, and it was immediately before the lamented families were massacred in southern Taldou, behind that erased line of protection. (see The Battle for the Houla Massacre, report with all lodged challenges and updates, here).

So who would be best positioned to carry out a massacre there on that day? Maybe the same folks who wound up with all the bodies after? That would be the anti-government forces, FSA and probably al-Qaeda, supported in myriad ways by the United States and its allies. With actual video evidence, not just words, ... well I wouldn't say Washington's hand is clear in this massacre of whole families in Syria, but... that would be way way closer to the truth than blaming Iran and the defenders they were supporting.

Taldou defenders, Iranian-backed
Any proto-NDF Popular Committees fighters involved in the battle for Taldou would be local defenders who, like their colleagues in the Army, were unable to stop that unprecedented rebel assault. In fact the guy in civilian clothes laid out here, with some soldiers killed in the Battle for the Houla Massacre, might be one of them. (Source: ANNA News video, Taldou, May 26 - composite view)

We don't know for sure who the civilian victims really were, but the more credible witnesses and sources - the ones who mentioned the rebel attack rebels themselves deny - have a prevailing explanation. According to them, the victims were of 2 types, one being Sunnis (mostly named al-Sayed) accused of rejecting the rebellion, being in the military, or having a family relation to a member of parliament (secretary Mashlab, just sworn-in).

But the major part of the victims were former Sunnis who converted to Shi'ism That was the extended Abdulrazaq families, with intermarried others totaling as many as 90 of the 100+ civilian victims (see here for that little-known tidbit). The most credible version says they were Shia (Shi'ites), members of the same majority religion in Iran, of which Assad's Alawi faith is a localized offshoot. Sunni extremists hate Shi'ism worse than anything, and faith traitors who would willingly embrace it.
 
So ... 
"We find it interesting that it was on this very weekend that the deputy head of the Quds force decided to take credit for the advice they're giving to Syria," she said.

No one could deny it was likely the Houla Massacre that spurred Ghani to this discussion. On the weekend following a great loss of civilian lives, of coreligionists no less, massacred by rampant Sunni extremists, they were overheard discussing how to boost local defense forces to stop further massacres. This is Nuland's idea of shady timing, but they "brag" only that if they and their help weren't there, "the killing of citizens would be greater."

State suggests that's code for wanting to kill more. But it's far more likely Nuland and so many others are seriously talking in an established code when they go on about saving lives. The Houla Massacre had to give Victoria Nuland a hard-on. This bleeding of Syria - by destabilizing terrorist events just like that - is essential to the script, and she knows it.