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, July 10, 2017

Two Smoking Gun Head Wounds

Idlib Chemical Massacre 4-4-17
Islamist Massacre
Part 2: Two Smoking Gun Head Wounds
July 10-12, 2017
last edits July 18

Researcher "Qoppa999" (hereafter Qoppa) publish an analysis on Twitter back on June 30, that deserves more attention. (See  this tweet thread: "Following the trail of blood: A deeper look into the lethal center of the Khan Sheikhoun massacre.") I've been slow to finish this blog post to relate the important findings therein. His work identifies two children seen unharmed under opposition care and then later murdered, or at least wounded/mutilated with weapons or tools.

Qoppa also offers name identifications for these children: as it happens, a brother and sister of the Imad Al-Din (Imadeddin) Al-Qadah family, aged 5 and 8. These are related by marriage, at multiple points, to the central target family Al-Yousef, at least as the records are presented (ACLOS). The ID seems like deduction from batches of victims, with some  anchors to provided name-to-face matches. It's not the most certain ID but seems good, as explained below, and so I'll use these names.

Note: regardless of identities, based on the matching, these two children were badly damaged while under opposition care, physically killed and/or mutilated by the foreign-supported terrorists occupying this Syrian town.

Gas Victims in a Truck
The key here is footage from a CNN video ("Gasping for Life) using unique footage the most famous incident stills are taken from. It's horrible and strange: writhing kids in a truck, arriving from elsewhere at the Al-Rahma cave hospital. They're stripped half-naked and soaking wet already as the White Helmets medics seem to hose them off again in the truck.

These 8 children look dead in stills but most if not all are clearly alive and moving around, with one girl (#1 below) drooling foam and gasping horribly in the CNN video (and hence, I guess, its title).  I can't see that being fake: she and others are suffering real respiratory distress. Worse off is the guy with red eyes, mild cyanosis, irritated facial scrapes, and gasping weakly through pink, bloody foam - same video, 1:22. That looks like chlorine exposure, nearing the fatal point. (that's an unusual or extreme case though.)

Most arrivals here are timed roughly in a span from about 7:10 to 8:30 am, with these perhaps being early arrivals; no sunlight is seen breaking across the kids, suggesting the sun is still quite low. Some at least are re-loaded into ambulances and taken elsewhere. Qoppa999 has a numbered analysis, with children #5 and #7 being the main subjects here.

As that tweet notes, "they're among the "head wound children" - but here before being wounded!" And it seems so! Or at least one of them is in the photo we started with on day one (see Islamist massacre part 1, and right). The other might or might not be, but is just as interesting either way. They illustrate just how much concern the humanitarians of Al-Namechange Front and allies had for these victims of "Assad's sarin bomb." If they were willing to mutilate and kill even the children, don't you think they might have poisoned the victims themselves in the first place?

Hind Imad al-Deen al-Qadah, age 5 (as reported)
Left: CNN video, victim #7 above. Right: from a photo taken later (neither timed nor placed)

Matches: a girl of the same basic age and appearance, same length of hair with at least two yellow hair ties on each side, perhaps same earrings (?). Both views seem to show the same chubby face and same eyebrows (long and mildly arcing in the outer portions, heavier and sweeping down on the inner, similar in shape to the boy's - see below). The mouth position seems open from the side view, but that's the puffy lips to go with the chubby cheeks we see. There are no clear identifiers like a birth mark, but with fashion accessories included, this is a solid match, almost totally certain.

Differences: If this is indeed the same girl, then something in-between views has sliced open her forehead scalp, if not the skull beneath. This is on the right side of her head, the same side seen unmarked earlier. The full size of the wound and likeliness of it being fatal are unclear; this is the best view we get anywhere. In all other later views it's turned more away from the camera.

Seeing when this wound appears, we can rule out shelling from the attack, and falling on something sharp when the sarin hit her. This is something that happened after the White Helmets types were making a show of trying to save her life. It seems more like they, or someone allied, violently took it instead.

More Differences: Some possible injuries appear after even that  (tweet) (photo at ACLOS). But what they are is unclear; they could be abrasions, but appearing near the corner of her mouth and nose, it seems possible it's crusted blood, although we don't see any sign of that in any earlier pictures, or a caustic irritant that leaked out at one point. There's also a possible new mark of the same kind on her right shoulder as well.

Abdulrahman Imad al-Deen al-Qadah, age 8. 
Left: CNN video, victim #5 above. Right: from a photo taken later, around 10-11 am (by sun).

Matches: This boy doesn't have the most unique face, nor any clear marks. Yet with two good-quality images from the same angle, we can make a fairly solid call here. I see the same exact ear design, hairline details, and eyebrow shape, the same open eye, and mouth position, same type of nose and chin. The chances of two boy victims looking this similar is exceedingly unlikely, in a pool of about 100 (and no identical twins remotely near this age are reported among them).

Differences: someone has torn a small chunk of tissue from his chin, and sliced his scalp, at least,  besides other wounds to the head and body possible but unseen. In this case we can see this happened after his arrival at the cave hospital, after Islamist forces rescued him from "Assad's sarin bomb" and were in unquestioned charge of his safety. None of these added injuries seems fatal, but from examples below, I suspect there's a fatal one somewhere that these came with.

Most likely everything else was meant to mimic the random violence of "shelling injuries." They would fail, however; shelling can do almost anything, but tends to cause more random damage from shrapnel, flying bricks and concrete, etc. Crushed arms or legs are common, major skin scraping, etc. It doesn't just aim all its sharp fragments towards the head or face and miss entirely with everything else.

A Preceding Injury? Qoppa999 reasons this is the same as the boy with the nosebleed, and as I've noted, with a likely-fatal head wound to go with it. Qoppa reasons that the blood was washed off and fresh wounds added to Abdulrahman's face. However, I doubt this is a valid match, for these differences.

Apparent hair, eyebrow, and other differences suggest to me these are two different injured/executed boys. If so, the one we're looking at now is not included in the group photo above. The wound connected to those blood-filled sinuses seems is likely to be fatal - while there might be reason to add more marks after the fact (to resemble shelling), it seems odd they'd bother wiping off his nose blood first. Further, his apparently flattened face would have to puff back out after these early shots to later show no sign of being laid face down.

So I would scratch the middle connection in the top image here. But the left and right images still seem a match, and the second smoking gun head wound case remains.

Mohamed Mutilated? Petri Krohn noticed this boy after I started the April 12 post - crop at right from a larger photo of several victims under some trees, which I'll call "trees morgue." (ACLOS). That scene includes him and another boy with even worse fresh facial wounds (ACLOS). Qoppa999 identifies the one as  Abdulrahman and the other as his cousin Mohamad Turki al-Qadah. no matches yet to a before image, but if there is one, it would be of great interest.

If marks were added to Abdelrahman's face, it's likely the similar hits and hacks on the face of the boy next to him were intentional. That's not just blood from the nose; on close inspection, it looks like they tore strips of flesh from under his nose and the corner of his mouth, leaving the upper lip seeming to hang loose a bit. This was maybe done at once with some two-pronged tool. The lower prong, or whatever, also seems to have knocked out a few of his teeth. What may be just leaf shadows across his forehead and right eye could also include bruising from the mystery trauma. As with Abdulrahman, we don't see much of his body to see what other "shelling" injuries he has, but I guess these and the unseen fatal wound is all it did.

So that's likely three different boys with head or face wounds - Abdelrahman, Mohamed, and nosebleed boy. At least one was injured after he came under rebel protection. Most likely none of them was harmed by the alleged bombing, and instead all violence - besides all poisoning - was done by the foreign-supported terrorists occupying the town.

Family Identification
At right is a family photo shown to Orient News by the children's supposed aunt  (here stretched towards normalcy). Hind (age 5) is seen in the front, and seems a very good match with the girl under study. This, I think, led to Qoppa's ID, and seems to anchor the rest. The others: her brother Abdulrahman (8) cousin Mohamed (age 5?) is holding the camera, with perhaps cousin Adnan (4) next to him, as their father Turki Mohamed Al-Qadah sits in the back. Hind's brothers are not included for some reason. (so not the most relevant image...) Her own father, Imadeddin Mohamed Al-Qadah, is reported as a pharmacist and widower. How his wife died is unclear to me, but it's said he and the kids lived together with Turki and his family, with Turki's wife Nour Al-Azraq helping take care of everyone (hence the cousin-inclusiveness we see).

The boys in that pictures are harder to correlate, at least for me (Abdulrahman's eyebrows are not very clear). But Hind is quite likely, and the one identified as Abdulrahman is seen in the truck with her, if not in the later 'head wounds' photo. And their eyebrows are very similar.

Furthermore, their father Imadeddin may be seen in the "trees morgue," laid out next to what looks like his brother Turki (as seen above, and at right), and a boy we think is the 12-year-old Mohamed Imadeddin (ACLOS). The latter looks quite thin, sporting the face bruise, but unclear about the possible neck wound (see part 3, forthcoming). At about 13, he seems to complete the men's section here.

The children's section is also three bodies: Abdulrahman, marked up as seen above in next to, perhaps, Turki's son son Mohamed (age 5), with the more seriously wounded face. His other son Adnan (age 4, no marks visible) might be the third younger boy set aside (ACLOS). Hind isn't included here, nor is Turki's wife, nor his own baby girl Hind, 2 months old, both said to die. (note: both men have a son Mohamed and a daughter Hind, because they have the same father and mother with those names. At least, as it's reported. What differentiates them is their middle name: Turki's kids had Turki as a middle name, and Imadeddin's kids had his name.)

So this all lines up well enough the Al-Qadah ID is pretty sound - a good guess at least, and most likely correct.

It's generally a bad idea to take an unmarked "sarin" victim and ruin the effect by hacking their head. One should have a good reason or two for such a move. I'll propose five of them.
1) The patients refused to die on cue - these kids from the same family suggest the kids of this family were gassed with too low a dose - they need to be dead, one way or another, as we saw in the Ghouta chemical massacre 4 years ago - a man who didn't die had his throat cut open (neck injured, fatally) right in the morgue, between video shoots (video explanation).
2)  These genocidal Islamists like to use blades and tools on captive infidels and apostates, which I suspect these people really were: Alawites, Shi'ites, Christites, government supporters, other opposition members deemed to be insufficiently Muslim.
3) Injuries could be chalked up to the explosive bombs involved - maybe not realistically, but that's always been optional for Syrian "activists."
4) They didn't think anyone would care enough to dig into their pile of propaganda and find these damning before-and-after matches, like Qoppa999 did.
5) They know it wouldn't matter much if someone did; it would be some unpaid, no-influence outsider. All the paid insiders shaping opinions and events know these are the kinds of things you ignore, as you prolong this grotesque conflict to *end Assad's genocide.*

Thursday, July 6, 2017

OPCW's No Wind Theory

Idlib Chemical Massacre 4-4-17
Wind Direction Explainer
OPCW's No Wind Theory
July 6, 2017
Last edits July 10

The report from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the Khan Sheikhoun incident is now public. (PDF link) A number of interesting points are made, but here I'm interested what they say about the wind. Having invested some time into getting a clear reading from numerous videos filmed at different angles, and having noted in clashes 180° with the opposition's claims (as shown at right and explained here, it blew to the north-northeast, while families were reportedly killed mainly, or entirely, to the southwest).

So I remain interested in how opposition-supporting people and agencies handle that problem. Most just ignore the contradiction. This Al-Jazeera graphic (modified), shows the same area we identified (but bigger, showing the entirety of affected neighborhoods). This ignores the wind (which I added in green) and just noted more people lived that way than to the east, almost as if it blew in both directions. 

But the OPCW is tasked with understanding what scientifically happened. Surely they can' just ignore the wind?  

Point 5.6 in the report (p.18) explains "No meteorological data was available for Khan Shaykhun, therefore weather conditions were estimated by reviewing historical data from www.worldweatheronline.com and www.wunderground.com in Hama City, Idlib City and Latakia." Of course there are plenty of videos available showing the wind directly. But they ignored that meterological evidence, maybe because it wasn't pre-processed into "data," and chose to rely on limited  online sources instead.

Figure 3 (p. 18) is a map that "shows the wind directions over time in these three locations on the morning of 4 April 2017." I understand these are direct reading at the airport, and should be reliable for those spots.* (I'd be surprised if Islamist-run Idlib is part of this system, but normal government-held Hama and Latakia should be.) 
* <add July 10>As Charles Wood explains (see comments) World Weather Online uses 'computer models' that are often wrong. Weather Underground uses readings from volunteer stations, which aren't specified but could be accurate. Airport records are not cited, nor is the "synoptic scale" wind prediction, which is also inaccurate, compared to the actual wind on video. <end July 10>

But these are all some distance from Khan Sheikhoun and only given for the top of every third hour. Knowing the direction, we can see the closest match is seen in Idlib; at 3:00 am it was northeast at 5mph, and at 6:00 NNE at just 1mph, shifting to northwest by 9 am. That's like the prediction cited by Ted Postol for midnight to 3 am, but closer to the right time, and about what we see in KS just a bit later.

But having no clue what the real direction was, they apparently chose Hama as the best predictor, and it is closer. "The  team  estimated  the  likelihood  that  the  wind  was  coming  from  somewhere  between the South and the East, but could not be certain." (the map shows Hama's airport reading to the northwest at 2mph at 6:00). 

"Based  on  that  data,  the  wind  speed  was  low  but with  no  certainty  of  wind  direction." Low and uncertain could be read as very low and maybe irrelevant, and to the extent it is relevant, it could be almost any direction. This is handy, in context. Because I've assessed the probability of it blowing from the south-southwest to the north-northeast, in the video supposedly from the very time and place in question, as 100%. And I'm certain. The exact heading and speed are debatable, but not the basic direction. (The speeds is not very low, nor very high - estimated around 6-8 mph (a 1 or a 2 on the Beaufort scale), and higher than the other prevailing speeds the OPCW found online). 

Why the OPCW, with all its resources and brains, decided to forgo the most direct evidence for wind direction can only be speculated on. My guess is they did try it, but didn't like how that clashed badly with the affected area (which agrees with all we've seen - see below).

From the vagueness of wind direction, the OPCW turns to "narratives" that include  witness  testimony in  relation  to  the weather and topography." Witnesses to topography make no sense, but here we learn the OPCW is also considering "activists say" weather reports, and maybe their tip-offs to consider differences in elevation. It's unclear to what degree their massacre-concealing trick define the OPCW's findings. But in the narratives, overall, "the weather was sunny, with a clear sky and no discernible wind." (point 5.12) Then what did I discern pushing northeast in all those videos the OPCW ignored?

I noted topography as one other factor besides wind in my explainer. In the absence of wind, the main factors in sarin or any vapor exposure will be proximity and topography; those nearest the plume and those downhill will fare the worst. "But," as I noted, "most would say, and many have said about this attack, and it's mostly true - the wind is the main difference in who lives and dies," if there is one. And I hadn't considered topography much until now because it doesn't seem to matter, in light of the obvious wind visibly directing the alleged sarin fog, mostly uphill as it turns out.

Figure 4 (p19) is an (exaggerated) topographic map of the town (right). We're looking north here, and he blue area is the basic release point. Yellower areas to the left and towards us is what they suggest the sarin cloud sought out, killing those in its path. 

As they note "A broad description of the topography showed a small downward incline to the south and west from the initiation point."  A non-3D version from Google maps I've referenced agrees with this point (labeled version below) - if there was basically no wind, the plume should drift ... not quite into the purple area so much a bit in all directions (the immediate area is fairly level), but favoring a small valley wrapping around the north of that area. But this might be close enough, and it's not opposite of what the opposition reported. That is, if there was "no discernible wind" as they concluded.But of course there was ample wind they just missed in their deeply flawed approach.

So they chose to ignore the best evidence for wind, found a few reasons to basically ignore it altogether, and apparently settled on topography as the driver of death here. And as it happens, that's a lucky slope for the opposition's story. Figure 7 (right) shows the "origin of casualties, as derived from interviews and recieved [sic] evidence." As we've seen, this pointedly includes no usable wind direction clues. It will include where people were reported dying and being affected. It may not be complete, but should show the main area(s) at least. And, by a curious line of reasoning, this is also just about the topographically-defined spread area they decided on. 
But this is a bogus claim, put in context at right with labels like I used for Al-Jazeera's take. As I recapped at ACLOS a few days ago, based on a preview of the report, and revised here:

We can see the wind to the northeast doing the shaping, not that slope. 
* The smoke plumes analysis is clear, from multiple angles: all discernible wind shaping and movement is to the northeast.
* More relevant to any sarin plume at ground-level: The 'white cloud' of expanding vaopr (ignored in the OPCW report, by the way) has its left side smearing left on the wind (as seen from the north), despite this slope (the right side expands against the wind, I think, because it's in the tel's wind shadow, being just barely northwest of it). 

* That white cloud seems to expand into a fog that seems to spread left and towards the camera over the unseen 20-25 minutes between attack plumes and fog videos (a bit to the right (west), because of  that wind shadow). The scene makes sense in light of the model I made. Any sarin from THAT spot could coat the affected area (red dots), besides an ignored area south and east of it that should be hit twice as hard. We don't know what it is - perhaps but probably not sarin. There's no sign of any blast here, just fog suddenly billowing out at the time of the attack or false-flag event. (see white fog explainer)

* There's also a southwest fog area (also ignored in the report, except to falsely imply it might have been bombed at 6:45 like the other spots). From here, a recently-destroyed farmhouse of some interest (see here), the mystery mist clearly spreads left and towards (east and north), here despite a general if mild up-slope the whole way. It does split around a hill there, and will prefer the lowest path available, but it was dense, spread wide, and rolled primarily uphill on the wind, just like it would do in the north. 
 * It'll roll slower than it would on flat ground or downhill, but visually, it gets there, however fast. 

The OPCW have poor analysis or distrust the video to make this claim of no wind. ... Why couldn't they just cite the wind like normal?

I also wondered "Are they reacting to me? Maybe not, but who else raises the issue? And why scramble to explain unless there's an issue?" Now having seen the report, it's clearly no kind of rebuttal of my findings, just more of their avoidance of the true wind direction. The contradiction is fatal to the opposition story, and reality has issued a death warrant on it. By ignoring this, it seems the OPCW is trying to get the story though alive, out of respect to political agendas rather than to the truth they seem to be  sheltering these claims from.
Some Different Readings
1) HRW witness Ahmad al-Helou: Helou says he "saw the plane drop a bomb and the bomb falling until it hit the ground. The bomb fell in front of the bakery," meaning the famous sarin release point. It didn't blow up, but "he saw the bomb kick up yellowish smoke that spread in the prevailing wind." (HRW report) He would also say the wind must be to the southwest if he were shown the map. He'd clash with the video evidence and lose the clash. But anyway, he cites a wind, not a slope, as deciding where the "dust" spread.

2) Ted Postol (via Robert Parry)
"MIT analyst Theodore Postol notes that the plumes appear to be blowing to the east, in contradiction of the day’s weather reports and the supposed direction of a separate sarin cloud. ... Indeed, if the wind were blowing toward the east – and if the alleged location of the sarin release was correct – the wind would have carried the sarin away from the nearby populated area and likely would have caused few if any casualties, Postol wrote."
He's right, and that's a multi-way clash between the opposition/terrorist claims, various predictions, and the video. It's either a problem with the video or with the rebel claims (and with all clashing predictions). Rebel claims are usually lies, weather predictions are often wrong, and the camera doesn't lie, in itself. So here we are.

3) Rod Barton, the Interpreter: Arguing against Ted Postol's incorrect wind direction (a baseless prediction of a wind to the northeast - the same one the OPCW seems to favor as a possible direction, if there were one), Barton wound up supporting the true direction that's now to be ignored, because the OPCW decided there was just no wind direction.
"As further proof of faulty US intelligence, he claims that a dead goat found about 40 metres from the crater was upwind and therefore could not have been killed by sarin from the crater. ...With regard to the dead goat, Postol has simply got the wind direction wrong. It is clear from smoke drift shown in a rebel video that the air was almost still in the early morning of 4 April, with just a slight easterly movement above roof top level in the direction of the goat. Thus the animal could have easily been killed by the sarin from the crater."
"Almost still" is debatable, and could be seen as favoring the OPCW case, but again he shows whatever the degree, it's discernible, pushing smoke and fog at least partly to the east. He may have been aware of this problem in that, leading him to clarify it's very slight, and only above the trees (and it's true, that's all we see). And so he leaves it somewhat open ... maybe the goat is out of the frame after all and the rebel story remains possible? Note: The goat isn't exactly downwind (northeast), but rather a bit southeast, at least when dead. But at 40 meters, and perhaps less at first, the poor creature was so close it's likely to die in any case where a toxin was released in that spot, regardless of wind.If any wind could save it, though, it would be the one Postol decided on, again without good reason.)

4) Timmi Allen, Bellingcat: In a video analysis posted on Twitter, Allen explains his theory that while higher-level winds are clearly discernible and move to the left (east), there's a somewhat opposite wind at ground level pushing things to the right. But he can only point to one thing this wind seems to blow on, and fails to notice it blows in two different directions. This is the white cloud as it was just starting to expand: the right side is in the wind shadow of the tel (flat hill) and the left side is more exposed to the wind. Hence, the right side billows outward while the left does the same, but also gets smeared on the wind (see graphic above, first made in response to Allen). While the OPCW decides there was "no discernible wind," Allen sees TWO different ones, one of which doesn't exit, and the other one of which is fatal to the opposition's story.

5) Alaa Al-Yousef: Alleged witness/survivor, cousin and publicist for the case's star witness and "proof man" Abdelhamid Al-Yousef. As the CBC reported, after hearing from Alaa, he and his family "were lucky, the wind went in the other direction, Alyousef said." He doesn't say what direction that is, but is clear on it blowing towards his cousin's house and others, all southwest of the impact. But when the time is right, their story in general can be as lucky as he says his family was when the sarin blew away from them to the southwest - now there was "no discernible wind," instead of one opposite of what they need, and it was a gentle slope to the southwest that doomed some and not others. At least, the esteemed folks at the OPCW have decided as much, as they scrape for reasons to blame the Syrian government and absolve the foreign-supported terrorists there for the ongoing massacres of Syria's people.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Analysis: Revolution of Aleppo and Damascus FB page

June 24/25, 2017
(rough, incomplete)

Looking into a mystery, I had reason to skim a certain Facebook page of some interest. There are many like this, most of which I've just skimmed. But this one gets the following post to relate some of what I found there, and some observations and thoughts spinning off from that (and hat tip to Alex Ocana on Twitter for the starts).
Page title: ثورة حلب والشام ضد الطاغية بشار الأسد (Translates to "the revolution of Aleppo and Damascus (Sham) against the tyrant Bashar Assad.") It's  not current - last activity was October, 2014. The about page gives little of use identifying who's behind the page: (translated) "The traitorous al-Assad regime tries to show loyalty to Aleppo and Damascus. This is an injustice to the revolutionaries in the two countries, and from here we started supporting the revolutionaries of Aleppo and Damascus. They are part of the Syrian revolution, which is the revolution of the entire revolutionaries of Syria."

There are two profile pictures: a fighter in Jihadist dress with French mandate flag (right) and a smaller logo of Syria in Saudi green with Saudi-style crossed swords and koran, and little 'sound waves' to the northwest. The larger yellow text under that reads, I think:
waquluu (speak/tell?)

alnas (people)

hasananaan (? good)

So: وقولوا الناس حسذا = "say good to people," or "tell people the good news of the koran," with swords if necessary?

The page opines on Syrian democracy vs. that of their American semi-champions, on March 3, 2014. Coming from a mind seeming to support Saudi-style Islamist, sectarian, anti-democratic governance for Syria, this is ironic and transparent. For him and others, I made this (updated, using the second Obama slot for Trump)...

From at least May, 2013 (the deepest I dug), the admin posted daily until this end, on regime and Shia crimes against Syrains, alleged and accepted eagerly. On June 22, 2014 they showed armed Hezbollah guy near apparent Syrian civilians - no comment required. There are many graphic and even sickening images usually banned by Facebook rules sit there three years and more later. Lots of tiny babies who died are shown (Sept. 5, the tiniest one), and lots of  bombed homes with kids under the rubble. There are also lots of starved to death (prisoners?) rebels got photos of as soon as they were dead, but got no food to before that (will be all or mostly from Moadamiya and Yarmouk camp starvation, late 2013-2014, analyzed at those ACLOS links). The page also features some early White Helmets promotions, rescue scenes in Aleppo  on May 1 and Aug 11, 2014 (some of the earliest  known sightings - ACLOS)  

July 7, 2014: a video supposedly taken by regime forces (apparently leaked?) of themselves launching a scud missile on civilians. Note: scuds were apparently obtained and fired by terrorists on random faraway targets in Syria and once in Iraq, sometimes on leaked videos like this, since December, 2012 (heavily alleged in February and March, 2013 (ACLOS).  This later example might be one of the last before they finally used up all the missiles they had. 

The Revolution of Aleppo and Damascus page header seems to ask for $10 donations - they collected money once, if not currently. The same header declares links to Syriacare.org and others, and gives bank account numbers, one in Switzerland, for international deposit. On June 20, 2013, they showed some Gulf-looking folks with piles of cash - said donations, perhaps? (at right) The context (first sentence) is unclear, but the other text includes "From the campaign to equip 12,000 Mujahid in Syria"). At the time, a well-funded 2013 Latakia offensive was being planned and collected for. Staffed with thousands of often freshly-imported Jihadists attacking from Turkish soil, this would commence on August 2 (see below).

The author's sectarian agenda is clear enough; a Sept. 4, 2014 post denigrates Druze, calls Alawi "Nusayries" (sectaria derogatory term used by Al-Qaeda types)  and frequently mentions "Shi'ite terrorism" in Syria. Dec 16 2013 (severely graphic - saved copy in case it's finally pulled) shows a horrible scene; a boy of about 13 with his cheek sliced or torn open, tied with cables and his body cut completely in half across the hips with a hacksaw, in a room somewhere. Most or all cutting would be after death, one hopes. The text  seems to say something like "those who say this is a war where the young just die before the old" should shut up, and then "that's what Shia do with children, we don't want your blood and your (unclear), we want sedition and vengeance for our children, our women and men." The gory photos must be "leaked," or found on a Hezoballah guy's phone, as usual, right? Because there's no way could this be produced and handed in by their sectarian provocateur friends, with the weak explanation to that effect... No, wait, there are ways, and that actually makes the most sense, considering the nasy Al-Qaeda in Iraq types morphing into ISIS in the shadows.

Earlier, on  Aug 11 3013 the page shared a happy photo of FSA-looking fighters in an Alaw dominated part of Latakia province, at road signs showing "we're close" (to Qardaha, the Assad family's hometown). This was probably a days-old photo - the 2013 Latakia offensive was about routed by then - back on August 2 they were definitely on a roll, first killing about 30 soldiers in two army posts, and sending the rest running for their lives. Then the Turkey-backed and Gulf-financed Islamist "rebels" massacres over 100 local civilians, mostly but not all men (aged 13 and up), some by beheading. They also raped and killed some women, shot anyone trying to flee, and abducted at least 240 women and children as bargaining chips. (ACLOS) (Monitor) "FSA' groups kept some distance or were irrelevant, but Jabhat al-Nusra, ISIS, Ahrar al-Sham, and others all took part if this offensive and massacre, and no one among them tattled on the others.

None of this, of course, comes through on the Revolution of Aleppo and Damascus page. Instead, an August 8 post shared one of the proudest moments of this offensive - the Mujahid (Islamist holy warriors) reassure the elderly man, said to be in "Astarba village" (Isterbeh, etc.) "that they will not kill him, but he is in their protection because we do not kill the elders, the women and the children." That's not Islamic. The hosts "alert all the mujahideen to believe in this old man."
Note: this is the one village that by reports was occupied only after the residents had been evacuated (the one yellow dot at right). There would be no massacre here in an empty town, where they apparently found one old man left behind and had him say some meaningless stuff on camera. Elsewhere, genocidal graffiti (like "The fate of every Alawite is for slaughtering") was scrawled across burned-out homes. Bombs were rigged at the mass dump sites for often-beheaded bodies. The killed men included teenagers and several elderly - there was apparently no upper limit outside Isterbeh. A pregnant woman was cut in half, and a baby's severed head was left hanging from an apple tree (at least, by credible reports, like Jonathan Steele in the Guardian). (see also an unusually accurate report from Human Rights Watch)

The page admin tries to go softer on Christians: March 10 2014, the unharmed nuns of Maaloula praise the rebels for rescuing them from Assad's bombs (they were kidnapped by Al-Namechange Front in December, 2013 - ACLOS). A 2013 Dec. 22 post shows a church taken by Islamists, and seems proud that it isn't smashed. Black banners in the photo explain in Arabic (would take too long to translate these). An intact church is shown off on Aug 7 2014 in Kassab, after the Armenian town was emptied (mostly without massacre) in a 2014 Latakia offensive. They'll even fix the piano, the host explains, once the locals are allowed to live there again. For the moment it was a Sunni militant base on the Turkish border to be used for bringing in more Al-Qaeda types. That didn't last long, however, with the Syrian Army soon re-taking this area.

Near the page's end, the admin saw fit to highlight the word Sunni in a New York Times newspaper headline - Sept. 24: "U.S. and Allies Strike Sunni Militants in Syira." Wouldn't you know it. Everyone's against the Sunnis, even their democratic, American semi-champions. This might be a breaking point, but posts continue - more sporadically - for another month before the administrator drops offline, or whatever happened in late October. After this there were just these five posts:

Oct 1: presents  "The Statistics of terrorism asadi and half on the city of Aleppo" via the Syrian Institute of Justice. It's clear who the terrorists are...

Oct 8 - U.S. airdropped supplies drifting to ISIS? Seems to praise the blessing. Hamza al-Khatib in the logo.

10 days with no time to post more propaganda. What else was so important?

Oct 19 Kids trapped in rubble: "New Shiite terrorism mediterranee in Syria"

And another bombing shown Oct 24, then "...The finest song of Mujahid in the Damar Dam neighborhood..." in a last post on Oct. 27, and the site stops posting.

Did the administrator run off to become a Mujahid and join ISIS? or maybe just Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Namechange Front? Or just move to another page?

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

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:

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.

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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>