Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Saving the Khaled Family

Idlib Chemical Massacre
Saving the Khaled Family
September 24, 2017
(rough, incomplete)

A Troubling Story in Three Images
Three particular photos, examined in chronological order, paint a picture that raises yet more question over the alleged sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun back in April. These include perhaps our earliest view of the first victims brought in to Al-Rahma cave "hospital," a base for Idlib Civil Defense (aka White Helmets). The rudimentary hospital was recently-built, dug-in to the limestone hillside (to protect against alleged airstrikes). There are reasonably-equipped medical spaces inside, but the place is apparently not even connected to the city's water and electrical supply. It's remote, but not terribly far, from the alleged attack site.

Here, victims are laid in the dirt lot, as a sort of triage area, you'd think. But the whole scene lacks medical equipment, even more than it lacks protective gear against the deadly sarin nerve agent they claim. Just hoses with water are seen, and the immobilized victims are relentlessly hosed down in the mud. There's little point to this if they're dead - presumably these are paralyzed people being washed for safety before they're taken inside the hospital for treatment. But it's not clear if any of these people was ever taken inside and treated, and as we'll see, this batch of victims definitely wasn't.

First noted in a rough graphic
thanks to Qoppa999 noticing the turck's odd 77W markings, spurring me to look closer.
Times are by solar angle, estimated, with current estimates fair but inexact. I hope to get more exact readings added soon. Times cited in that first graphic are not all correct.

Image 1 (ACLOS): Around 7:20-7:30 am (This is the hardest of the three to time by the good method I used - I've earlier declared 7:10, but that was apparently off by a bit - see below)

Here about 35-50 minutes after the alleged sarin drop (at app.6:37 am), we get this early view of men in the foreground, women and children mixed into the larger group further off. You should think they had been recently unloaded from those two white trucks - Hyundai super-Porter H-100, sides lowered for unloading.

We don't get to see what kind of protection was used when unloading them, let alone when first loading them. Nor do we see where that loading happen. We don't see that anywhere, possibly because they were all loaded from a few centralized gas chambers.We were told these folks were asleep in bed when the attack happened, and then they managed to get dressed in street clothes but mostly with no shoes, as we see, before rescuers found them. But clearly, that may not be true. (Or did the rescuers take the time to remove everyone's shoes first thing, as super-contaminated? Did they bother wearing gloves?)

Image 2 (ACLOS): about 5-7 minutes later (7:25-7:35?)

Here the group with women and children is seen better from closer-up. Little has changed, but it's only been a few minutes. Note the four children in the middle in distinct colors, perhaps two more older children to the right and left.

One strange thing here is the purple color in the insides of the woman's legs nearest to us, with other unusual colors on the skin. This could be bruising and some other abuse one would probably call torture, or some strange coincidences I'm not imagining yet. Legs might be swollen, misshapen. If that's damage, it was probably done prior to these socks being put on her.

Image 3 (ACLOS): Around 7:55-8:05?

Here we see the same victims being put back onto what's probably the same nearest truck - after laying there around 40 minutes, they're going to be taken somewhere else, apparently - to save them? Bodies are loaded with bare hands, but that may not matter after so much hosing, some 80 minutes after alleged sarin release. But this might be implausible, especially as they're still in those street clothes. I for one can't say for sure. Just for good measure, the White Helmets guy is hosing them down again, to make them safer-yet for the next handlers ...

The truck's sides are now raised, and we can see its interesting markings - 77W in gold or silver (reflective - color might be the mud) - red outline - the small overwriting  between that looks like a dash (that usually seems to say Daio - meaning unclear) is also reflective and outlined in red.  This scheme is otherwise unseen in dozens of identified W77/77W trucks - white, immaculately clean by usual standards, small cab with no cargo space behind the seat, no rear side window - unusual mirror decals - Allah written big across the windshield, wings added to the big H. - it seems special - why was it out gathering the earliest victims, who got such helpful treatment? (Another White Porter here has sides down but never seen up, is also extra clean, but has less distinguishing features)

same victims - the four children at least are rather distinct - detail from second and third images above, and a later appearance of the same people in the same truck. Seeing the same people on the truck then off, one would think this was the unloading - but with the sequence visually set, it's clear how strange this is. (below: the oldest girl in blue has been loaded, the other kids remain. another view is after 2 more of these have been loaded, just the girl in red still left off, one sidewall on the truck bed raised) Dealing with deadly sarin that most often kills instantly or within minutes - they hose the people off for 40+ minutes, then take them to another hospital?

The Victims: Anas Al-Khaled Family 
Qoppa999 on Twitter, as usual, is pretty on the ball in this case. tweet: "The man on the truck is probably their father Anas al-Khaled."

tweet: I wasn't sure as he has no distinctive look - but I think the synopsis allows to make a call. (Plus, he's seen in company of his daughters.)

Al-Khaled family of 6: A VDC query includes these among others: Anas Mostafa al-Khaled, three girls, one boy (those with Anas as middle name).  Not included there: wife  Fatima Mohammad al-Sousi (see notes)

A report by JFL/STJ (Justice for Life Obsevatory in Deir Ezzour, Syrians for Truth and Justice) identifies them with matches to the later images (as gone over below), linkable to the earlier images.
(JFL download page: http://jfl.ngo/?p=4484) This  It lists the family as:
1-Anas Mostafa al-Khalid, 40, the father, an Arabic language teacher.
2-Fatema Mohamed as-Sousi, 35, the mother, an Arabic language teacher, too.
And children Shahad (14), Abdulrahman (2), Alaa (6), Khadija (8) These photos are credited to Osama al-Khalid, an alleged surviving family member.

Then they show "Mostafa Anas Mostafa al-Khalid, 13, in elementary school, eighth grade. He is the only surviving member of his family."
left: from JFL/STJ report, right: from a Facebook post
It is standard to name an oldest son, usually, after your dad (Anas' middle name) But still, these sole survivors who speak for everyone are always suspect of being inserted into the family for that reason. He's given interviews supporting the discredited story... and he doesn't seem to have been treated alongside the rest of his family, appearing clearly in none of the images of the frantic effort to save them. If he's really part of that family, one wonder how he got the special, unseen treatment avenue that made all the difference?

Sequence of appearance:
1) at Al-Rahma, app. 7:25, as we started. mud scenes, running about 40 minutes, then the  the re-loading of just the Khaled family, then...

Qoppa999 tweet: "I agree with the sequence.
But the next stop, as far as we know, is somewhere in town (yet unlocated), dead kid parade, bloody (AssiPress)."

2) ... then this scene (via Qoppa999 tweet):
... sun is fairly steep, probably 9am or later - location unclear. Family of 6 evident, no Mustafa.

3) mixed with others, in a different arrangement from that seen around 8am and above.  Maybe same truck with more added, or loaded into a different truck. video has never been timed, except earlier than first posting around 9 am. (so the above should be earlier yet). Seems early, with no sun breaking on any of the kids, but it might somewhere parked in a shadow.

  So Abdlurahman is the kid who tellingly has his head snapped around by an Islamist cameraman in a manner that says "face the camera, you piece of shit." And Shahed is the one who seems to have her left eye slowly open after the cameraman brushes her chin. That seemed to me like a sign of fakery, but maybe not. Otherwise, she seems dead and is among the dead. The JFL report's photo looks like the same girl dead. But in between ... see below.

Alternately, it's possible this is before the Al-Rahma scene, perhaps the same Porter they get slid off of into the mud. This would be interesting if so...

4) apparently later scenes, as found on Petri Krohn's valuable playlist
somehow gotten into a White Helmets ambulance, unloaded from it at a hospital in Maarat al-Numan, quite a ways to the north. This hospital was reportedly bombed a couple days earlier (no damage is visible), and started out April 4 shut down. But due to the regime sarin attack, they opened their doors to accept patients and help verify the story.

This is around noon by the sun (my ROUGH readings tend to say ~65 to 70 degrees elevation, but noon was 12:38, 60.4 degrees at the highest, so it must be around then and my readings are more off than usual). They're rushed inside to save them here about five hours after they were first shown seeming to be dead - Also note Al-Rahma was allegedly being bombed at about this time.
top: Ana, Fatema's or Shahed's feet. Bottom: Fatema or Shahed carried away
likely mother, or oldest daughter Shahed, but dressed different - a thin woman in lighter green and black unloaded with the same man, and likely same kids, but less clear without the clothes. If that's Fatema, Shahed is missing here. If that's Shahed, then she's had clothes changed, and hardly anyone lets us see Fatema clearly. That should be her leg above, I suppose, not that thin. (killed adult women are more often covered or somehow no shown at all)

5 Another video shows them taken back out of that hospital. Alaa/Alae (girl in yellow hair ties) carried by sad Islamist. It's still around noon, they start putting her back in the ambulance, then lay her withShahed/Fatema and the other 2 kids.

6) later yet?

seen again in a different, decorated W77-style white Porter - window floral decals, extra "Hyundai" and flames. This one's bed is full of junk, and now these people. Anas is seen on the near side in a different view. The female in green - has her neck covered up? Same in the ambulance, but apparently not in the layout scene. So ...there is no neck wound to explain why her eyes don't pop open now, and why she needed a new shirt? Or what?

Time Estimate in more detail
(rough, workspace, as needed)
was 7:10, 7:25, 8:00.
Better reading - 7:28 - higher angle, sees less ceiling , 7:34 lower angle, 8:08. 40 minute span.

But this is not quite it either. Graphics below (shown small - new window for larger view) - using NOAA solar calculator,
pin set to Khan Sheikhoun, date April 4, time zone +2, DST on. The green angles ... adjust?

added variable: azimuth - should make sun lower than it seems, increasing over time. The estimates above (no good if taken literally) are IF the sun was shining straight into this structure along its south wall (runs 84 on the compass?). Actual slopes will be shallower, running along the right line for their time. Some things beyond my immediate skill-sets. Asking for help, may try harder, and will come back to this.

Monday, September 18, 2017

CoI Report Dismantling at the Indicter

September 18, 2017

This post is to announce my second article at Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli's The Indicter and to comment, invite comments, etc. 
Syria Sarin Allegation: How An UN-Panel Report Twists and Omits Evidence
This stuff sort-of writes itself, but it does take some careful reading, transcribing, and then formatting, collecting sources, etc. There were still a few typos when I got this in behind the hoped schedule, but it's damn close to a perfect piece - basically an improved re-write of my recent review here of the CoI's"meaningless" report. That was good, but I'm calling this, sure to be more widely seen, the Khan Sheikhoun debunk we need, after months of futile confusion.

I assembled this piece at the invitation of professor De Noli, and have the honor of sharing the September Issue with his firsthand account of the U.S.-backed September 11, 1973 coup d'etat in Chile and following repression. De Noli was photographed in detention near martyred regional governor Fernando Alvarez, but was far luckier, released easily to become an important witness and lifetime activist. He now runs the Indicter, and invited me back for a second article on Syria chemical weapons allegations. 

Points worth adding:
We were lucky this time: This Khan Sheikhoun sarin attack case was exceptionally sloppy. Most allegations of massacres and so on that I've investigated fall apart to some degree, but few of them as badly as this important event. But then, it was the same with Ghouta - maybe it's the extra attention that turns up the best debunks. And the abundance of material to find clues in...

Anyway, still, we got a lucky break as investigators with their backwards wind reading, with their inability to get the jets above the spots they blew up, etc. In the future they could learn and improve, map the gas spread accurately, etc. and still they could be and probably would be re-packaging one of their sectarian massacres. If we can't even spot it when they fail this badly, what hope is there for securing any semblance of truth-based justice. Collectively, despite all the deliberate impediments to it, we need to get smarter than this.

More Fudging by OPCW: a problem I noticed too late to include - as the OPCW used this topographic map to show why sarin would flow SW from the origin spot, they did two serious things
1) as noted, exaggerate the relief to make slopes look steeper and more relevant. than they were
2) just now noticed: they misplaced the release point, if that's what the blue area is supposed to be. Rather it seems this is the bakery, a bit south of release point, which is right where that curving street meets the straight one.

The difference matters (or it would IF THERE WAS NO WIND, but there was...): From this wrong spot, it would flow sw like rebels need, IF the air was still as the OPCW wrongly decided. From the correct spot, more than likely it would all roll NW, especially if the OPCW's wind direction guess (mild to the NW) was right (it wasn't). Rather, it blew uphill, not as steep as it looks here, northeast (here: to the right and away), until it got too steep, and then I guess it would bend more north along the highway and into that (not so) dramatic gorge there.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Mystery of the W77 Trucks

The Mystery of the W77 Trucks
September 10, 2017 
(rough, incomplete) 
last updates Sept. 17

The "W77 trucks" is a mystery I've been meaning to do a post on. There's some speculation on what this occasional making means - the most straightforward guess is it's to allow some people to pass a certain way through Islamist-held areas and maybe across the Turkish border. This was first investigated in late April, 2016 2017, as one of these vehicles was used as the suicide bombing that killed around 100 Shia evacuees from Kafraya and Foua, on April 15, in Rashidin, Aleppo. The other places they turn up have a way of being interesting as well.

That early work was largely by (among whoever else) a few Twitter users, including Alex Ocana and John Delacour. The latter has blocked me from seeing his tweets, so I'll just cite Alex's here, and maybe miss a few points. All sightings I know of in approximate chronological order. Info and details may be added...
Note 9/11: I was unaware of a useful Bellingcat investigation published by Christiaan Triebert  August 2, that collects several other instances of blue Porters or W77 vehicles. This didn't seeming to make much of it, but noted "Bellingcat thinks the colour scheme as well as the W77/77W signature may be unresolved clues in this investigation," and invited collaboration. I'll be adding at least the relevant entries above.

* 07.04.2016, Handarat, Aleppo: AO tweet: "W77 again. Complete picture from Russian Agency 07.04.2016 - 19:57 Nusra at #Aleppo ’s Handarat." 

As noted, the W is slanted different than usual (or as would be usual later...). There must be separate W stencil done backwards here. Armed black pickup with Nusra flag is different in all those ways from what we'll see later, after an apparent pause of about a year (or so it seems at this early point).
They emerge more heavily in the period after interest peaked in 2017, and people started looking for them in current material. There may be many missed passing by in videos from this span and before.

* March 16(?), 2017: (added 9-13, from Bellingcat) 2 seen at Jinah Mosque, Aleepo/Idlib border: W77 blue Porter, very muddly, sharinf colors and decoration details with the Rashidin suicide truck. Nearby in the same video a cleaner 77W blue porter - window designs include Hyundai logo - tailgate says Daio? Mark of the custom paintjob people? May be what's under the W77 in many cases.

Two Porters appear in post-attack imagery released by the US after it bombed the meeting hall half of the mosque complex on March 16. (one a different model, the other may be one of these) What's interesting here: the US claims it targeted a militant meeting after the mosque services let out and the civilian cars left. But rebel sources were insistent that dozens of civilians were killed, despite that we only see militant-looking vehicles. But these Porter trucks, one with high-sided cage walls, are capable of trucking in dozens of civilians to use as human shields. It's worth considering.

* March, 2017, near Khattab, Hama: (add 9-13, from Bellingcat) Triebert: "A blue Hyundai Porter without cage but with window decoration, driving reportedly near the town of Khattab in the Hama governorate, as shown in Qasioun News Agency video published in March 2017." Back end clearly has a white patch for W77/77W, but it's unclear which. The white floral design on the front and apparently windows marks it as part of the system. Along with Majdal, Khattab is of course one of the two named villages occupied by al-Nusra-led Islamists in late March, from which a reported 250 civilians were abducted, probably put into trucks, and driven to Khan Sheikhoun when the Islamists retreated on March 31. This one is still in the area but empty. It might be filled with something before it left with the Islamists. I may look into this more, try and set a date, etc.
March 22 upload, maybe the 23rd in Syria. "Ensure the exit of civilians from the town of Khattab north of Hama after the opposition control." A horse, some tractors, lots of bedding, two portable generators? and several civilians moving one way on this road while the blue truck alone comes the other way along the shoulder. It gets a bit closer than the above still, but the video cuts before it gets clearer than this closer view.
Qasioun news reports: March 22 rebels take over. March 31 they flee. So maybe people were taken anywhere in this span, and not just at the end.

* April 4, 2017, Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib: During the Khan Sheikhoun chemical massacre, just five days after Islamists pulled out of Khatab and perhaps trucked up hundreds of hostages ... one of these trucks (apparently the blue Porter variety?) delivered some of the bodies of alleged sarin victims from who knows where to be hosed off at the White Helmets Al-Rahma cave hospital (which victims?) By sunlight, it's pretty early, but no estimate yet. W77 variety: white or silver with black outline? Small underwriting between the 7s.

Video by Ibaa Agency, basically the official media wing of HTS/Al-Namechange Front. WH-Nusra link widely suspected - Nusra W77 link illustrated - Nusra video gets best view of (came in with?) this W77 truck. But others got the even earlier and more interesting appearance of these trucks, in the next entry.

* April 4, 2017, Khan Sheikhoun, same place: (add 9/12, thanks to Qoppa999 tweet) A Porter but perhaps nicer - it's an H-100 - white,  marked 77W, but in RED or maybe reflective GOLD rimmed with red, Allah on the windshield, mirror dots up the side, and most likely another W77/77W truck, but likely marked different, seeming more mundane. Between them, a bizarre and troubling scene - these seem to be about the first rescue vehicles to arrive at al-Rahma, prior to the earliest image, at ~7:10 am. In some images at the ACLOS timeline page, and the video one of them is taken from, we can say a batch of possibly dead civilians was unloaded before that first image, continue being sprayed, and in a later image (timed at 8:00 but I might need to review that), the same people are put back on the tuck to go somewhere else, and get sprayed again. This is what W77 trucks and White Helmets do when they hang out together.
This gold-red on white effect seems special, esteemed, like the W77 king's own truck. The apparent small underwriting seems to be done the same way. What an odd choice to be the first rescue vehicle out there picking people up in the first minutes, and to then hang around like this and haul the same people again...  Anyway, I now think the order is significant: W77 means one thing and 77W means a different but related thing: another level in the system, that's higher (closer to Al-Nusra?). 77W's may appear more around this incident closer to the victims, their furniture, etc, while . W77s seem to do more menial hauling.

At least four sightings at least in the following days, same area:

* April 5? 6? Khan Sheikhoun: Driving past the alleged sarin crater as men gather samples - hauling unclear materials in bags with "production date" readable in English, perhaps unclear, 2006? No back license plate. None needed, because of the W77?

* April 5, 2017, Khan Sheikhoun area: Al-Jazeera Arabic video, apparently in KS, but   unclear - in a report about the incident. I think I first found this one, just now.

Windshield writing - hard to make out. side window patterning, white flames stenciled low on the side - winged logo on the front - W77 with small writing underneath (should say Hyundai...)

Another possible W77 truck passes just after this - an older truck with red paint, but the markings are much less clear if so. But tying it in, the noted "Lithuanian" color scheme appears on its railings, and it comes shortly behind this other, like they're on a joint adventure.

* Another crater pass: (add 9/12, from Bellingcat) - "A blue Hyundai Porter without cage but with the W77 sign in Khan Sheikhoun in the Idlib governorate. The video was uploaded by Ùmaya Press in April 2017 and is about the chemical attack in the city." Again, it's just caught as it passes the alleged sarin crater, while a boy is filmed. Seems about April 5/6, when the red signs was out and the crater still not filled in. Regular lowly W77 with no visible cargo.

* Hauling away homes? (add 9/12, from Bellingcat): "A blue Hyundai Porter without cage in Khan Sheikhoun in the Idlib governorate. Published by TRT World. The Khan Sheikhoun Porter was spotted by Jesse Sandberg." I got a better still from the video cited - it's a 77W variety, window decor. It's perhaps hauling away furnishings and bedding after the people using them were killed in the chemical attack. This is KS, and just after - prob. April 5. They're still holding up dead birds.

There's a photo of this scene and the truck in this report from Yenisafak with the caption "Chemical gas attack survivor residents load their goods on a pick-up truck before leaving the town after yesterday's suspected chlorine gas attack in the town of Khan Shaykun, Idlib province, Syria on April 05, 2017." Okay, so they help people with moving? 

* April 15, 2017, Rashidin, Aleppo - Rashidin suicide bomb massacre: It was a blue W77 Hyundai Porter with no license plate and an apparent false bottom that killed about 100 evacuating civilians, mostly children, after they were lured into one place with food, after rebels held them there for a day... medical help was delayed, the victims harangued, and one usload of the was just stolen, its 15 occupants taken as bargaining chips. Somehow, a blue Porter W77 truck played the central role, bringing all this attention. 

Apr 16: AlexOcana posts this composite image from a video of the suicide truck, asks for a make-model ID.
Soon, a Hyundai Porter is decided: it's a standard color, tending to come with the strange angled square on the door standard. This applies to many or most other W77s - they're Hyundai Porters, by and large.  Alex Ocana notes it seems to have a false bottom, as for smuggling, in which the explosives are hidden.  And it doesn't have a rear license plate.

flag ID - Lithuanian? Apr 16
Just to remind: The Rashadeen suicide truck had a false bottom full of explosives and a Lithuanian flag.

@LinkeviciusL Can you explain how the blue suicide bomb truck with Lithuanian flag at #Rashadin got into hands of the suicide bomber?
#NATO #Lithuania #Syria How the blue truck IDed by Lithuania flag as #Rashidin suicide truck end up there? LITCOM? UNSMIS?

Bellingcat's Cristiaan Triebert admits the color scheme points to Lithuania, but also is a scrambled version of a local Kurdish flag, etc., seems randomly hand-painted, and just not clear. For now, I have no opinion. Next I'll have to find out what  LITCOM is, etc.

* May 10, 2017, Bab, Aleppo: @JohnDelacour #Rashadin Latest W77 this time from the clashes in Turkish occupied N. Aleppo https://twitter.com/DominicaCanaPt/status/874413093157302272 - http://syriadirect.org/news/dozens-of-casualties-after-latest-row-between-turkish-backed-rebels/ -  Sellers showcase their produce in al-Bab on May 10. Photo courtesy of Zein Al-Rifai/AFP. I don't think that's a license plate, but ground visible through the frame. Again, W77 seems to suffice.

Andrew added some finds in some comments here, for lack of a better place:

* Unclear, Idlib: Nissan Caravan in Quniya (or perhaps Yacoubia? in "liberated" Idlib) where Nusra had just opened a mosque, perhaps at this closed-down church. The lettering is not the clearest here, but seems to be the same W77 - and no need for a rear license plate. A white porter sits nearby, but unmarked on this side, plates unclear. Date unclear, but well before May, 2017 documentary release
Documentary (2017) - Undercover in the 'rebel' held Idlib (Youtube) at 12:45

* May 25, Maarat Numan: an urban cleanup video  shows a blue Porter truck marked 77W with underwriting at 1:37, parked at an apparent grocery store (?) A white truck seen earlier may be W77 too, but unclear (0:37)

* June 5, Maarat al-Numan (added 9/17, from Bellingcat) June 5 tweet using photos stamped by HTS-linked Ibaa News Agency: "An IED exploded this morning near a car in Maarat al-Numan, driver injured." White H-100, W77 in silver outlined in black. Here the smaller underwriting appears as outlined over-writing, but unclear what it says (same Daio or similar as on others?). Only other place we've seen outlined W77, in red and black, was two cases hauling victims of the KS chemical massacre. Hm. Different door design than usual, marked Porter, super. Limited custom decorations, but front wings, side flames like April 5 KS sighting, and same windshield writing, which we can see says Hyun(crown)dai.

* June 2017? Ain Issa
Another "W77" truck in Ain Issa (still no idea if significant) In the makeshift camp at Ain Issa, 50 km north of the Raqqa in Syria, a boy carries a jerrycan filled with water. Photo: UNICEF/Souleiman (on or before June 9)  
But this says N7, right? Nope. seems painted, so it's not likely part of the black paint fell off - was it deliberately re-painted? To be less obvious from a distance, after Rashidin?Note: this is an unusual area - not Al-Nusra/HTS-dominated but rather Kurdish/SDF-controlled.

* June 25, 2017, Hish, Idlib: WH video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDnDurGaRXI - cargo: one well-dressed young girl. Story unclear. No rear license plate.

* July 21, Tabqa, Raqah: One seen in July (from Bellingcat), photo taken by by Dutch journalist Harald Doornbos of a damaged street in Tabqa, Raqqah - recent ISIS turf, taken by SDF? seen from a distance at a bad angle, so details unclear, No license plate. Apparent light patch for W77, not the clearest, may be partly obscured. Unusual cage/rack, custom decorations unclear, yellow-blue door pattern.

Parked in front of it, a white truck, seems to be a similar model Porter, with a possible black spot for W77 markings, and apparently no license plate. It has a full-topped tiger cage on the back, probably used for transporting prisoners.

* September 6, Al-Ra'i: from Triebert tweet - https://archive.is/MtaE0 - https://www.facebook.com/AlfuratNewsAgency/photos/pcb.1944613382219256/1944613298885931/?type=3&theater
September 6, by Fırat Haber Ajansı, Istanbul
"The Free Police performs its duties in inspecting vehicles in the town of Al-Ra'i ( الراعي ) in order to protect the lives of citizens from any terrorist threat." 77W with extra clear (DAIO?) (overwriting?) Unusually, a rear license plate. Similar colors pattern to Rashidin truck, but different (less Lithuanian) colors. Location: Al-Ra'i sounds familiar, but I can't find it at the moment. Turkish border? Ah! FriedmanWo helps: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Rai%2C_Syria - Turkish border, north of Bab, Aleppo - usual ISIS stronghold, repeatedly taken and re-taken, here a week into Turkish-backed "FSA" control. Right on the border: here on Wikimapia, 2.7km from "Turkish train station" and closer to the border in other spots. If this is a midday photo, the truck is currently set to drive north or northwest, so coming from within Syria rather than from Turkey. Probably coming from Tal Atiya to the SSE. Helpfully marked Danger! on the tailgate. What does that mean?
The Decorations:
Blue Hyundai Porters compared: I don't think we've seen the same one twice yet. The April 5 Al Jazeera and April 15 (Rashidin) ones have their W77 painted at different levels relative to the underlying small name (which says Hyundai?) Two from above and another from (?), flipped horizontally by Alex Ocana - floral patterns stenciled in window, but different other features: dots, flames along the bottom, all in white. 

The one passing the sarin crater seems to have window florals as well, but the angle is too oblique to bother comparing. However its rear window may have an identifiable part of some logo. The April 5 one also has writing across the top of the windshield I'm not sure is ever readable. (from another instance, it says HYUN(crown)DAI)

Under-writing/over-writing: DAIO? Seems to be done in the same colors as the added W77, and apparently added on top of it. ??

W77 = Allah?
As a comment at the Bellingcat post suggests: #77 of the traditional 99 names of God (Allah) is Al-Wali ( الوالي ), "the patron." Interesting. And  FWIW, the main name of Allah in Arabic contains two W shapes. That could be a roman-letter way of saying "serious Islamists with solid patronage on board."

W77 appears in a few things one can search for, and could have many possible meanings (some fumbling through possibilities in comments by Andrew and I here)

But the most promising seems to be an e-mail address: hsm.w77 @gmail.com  is attached to this Youtube account.  This channel promoted some Saudi-Turkish backed humanitarian truck delivery activity to deliver things that will help the Syrian people. The top video is still this from mid-2013 (still at right).

AO tweet: "facebook.com/DyrAlzwrDeerAlzor … seems to be the renamed FB acct from hsm.w77 and has this logo." (right: seems Saudi-inspired: seems to say "tell people the good news" or spread the Wahhabi creed?)

I perused this site and shared some highlights here - it espouses solidarity with the Sunni "revolution of Aleppo and Damascus," with a lot of ugly sectarian propaganda, like promotion of (and maybe fundraising for) the 2013 Latakia offensive that wound up a genocidal massacre and mass-abduction of Alawite civilians - and a sudden stop in October, 2014, as if the page's proprietor had run off to Turkey to join ISIS or al-Nusra...
This my be unrelated, but it could be just a long pause before the same still-mysterious W77 appears by April, 2016 on trucks driving around the Turkey-Syria border.

Rashidin - persons of interest
(mostly Alex Ocana tweets - may not directly relate)

1. @ShehabiFares reported Samer Kharita as Rashadeen bomber with no supporting evidence. Here is maybe same person. Feb. 1 '16 Anadan Aleppo

I think I may have spotted Samer in the back of the W77 truck. Widow peak there but faint.

14. Wanted for questioning. Armed goon at candy distribution point, JAS personage, photographer for Syria Charity & Catman of Aleppo.

April 24
16. Another shot of the JAS personage handing out sweets. Wanted for questioning.

Person of interest from the video with the truck.

Catman of Aleppo plus two Syria Charity (one a photog, plus one Jaysh Tahrir al-Sharqiyah and armed AQ type distributed candies.

Probably Jaysh Tahrir al-Sharqiyah logo?? We have: Syria Charity, ONGLive (Bilal)  and Cat Hospital on the scene.

#Syria #SAA We find blue W77 trucks at both Rashadin and Khan S. sarin attack, and the same person handing out sweets & catching bodies.

compares KS-Rashidin

Thursday, September 7, 2017

On the UN CoI's Meaningless Report

Idlib Chemical Massacre:
On the UN CoI's Meaningless Report
September 7-8, 2017
last edits 9/10

I have to repeat my Khan Sheikhoun "sarin attack" findings yet again with the public release of this UN report:

Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic
A/HRC/36/55 - General Assembly - Distr.: General -  8 August 2017 (but made public just now, a month later)
Note: the link worked once, but now refuses? Another link with the PDF available for download:

News reports herald this as a solid, if not surprising, report by informed experts, to be taken as factual. Its findings of clear government guilt are portrayed as adding a meaningful turn in the endless reinforcement of that same basic picture. But little surprise to many of us, this appears more like a sloppy exercise in data-mining to justify a preconceived position. 

The "Independent Commission of Inquiry" behind this (hereafter CoI) is a three-member panel where one member, the frequent dissenter and occasional champion of the targeted governments, Carla Del Ponte, resigned in early August - at just about the time this report came out. (Her public statements suggest she endorses the report, but that's the public face - as one example of her track record, see Jutin Raimando approving of some of her work that broke the Western script and had to be undone, or  Louis Proyect painting her as a useful idiot for Putin and Assad and promoter of their conspiracy theories).

I don't know much about Paulo Pinheiro, but the other remaining member, Karen Koning-Abuzayd, is a Washington insider, a director of the Middle East Policy Council. The MEPC is one of the many think tanks that hatches strategies to further U.S. interests in the area, overthrow certain governments, peddle lies if needed, etc. So her "independent" commission winds up blaming the Syrian government. Huh.

Do they have good evidence in this case? If they did, it should be in this report. Upon review of what's in there, it seems they don't have any good evidence. But they push ahead with so much confidence, authority, and credulity, no wonder people assume they must have ample proof.

The report focuses on many incidents in Syria, chemical and otherwise, over the reporting period (1 March to 7 July), but news reports emphasize the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack findings. To display supposed balance, the report passes on some of the most undeniable crimes by opposition terrorists (not limited to Daesh/ISIS) against Syria's religious minorities, including cases of hostage-taking.

But one event they fail to mention, either to support or dismiss, was the claim that some 250 civilians were kidnapped from villages near Hama during the Islamist occupation in late March. These were said to be taken to Khan Sheikhoun when the abductors fled on March 31. This was just 5 days before the incident under study where the same guys and their allies showed us dozens of civilians dying in still-unclear circumstances in Khan Sheikhoun. Maybe these reports are inaccurate propaganda. But the CoI didn't do anything to help illustrate that, simply ignoring the claims as they do note how the Islamists "successfully attacked Government positions in Hama" in late-March, sparking reprisals thought to include this sarin attack. 

The Commission says it asked for input from the Syrian government and got no response. I wonder if there was something their tone or delivery that made this inevitable. As it is, the report cites mostly alleged witness accounts, selectively citing the video evidence those same provided and, as I'll show, ignoring important but inconvenient evidence that undermines the claims they chose to accept.

Why Syria is to Blame: The Short Version
The CoI make note in the report how people said they saw a SU-22 jet carry out the attack, and they note how it's a distinct and easy to recognize craft. It's just as easy to make up, but they're sure it was really seen, and seen in the act of bombing the town.
"The  Russian Federation and the international coalition do not operate this type of aircraft. It is therefore concluded that the Syrian air force carried out airstrikes on Khan Shaykhun at around 6.45 a.m. on 4 April" 
This is their central point that took a while to settle: for some reason it's now certain that jet conducted the sarin strike, and only Syria has those jets. They go into some details that are supposed to support that. So let's see how well that works out.

The Claimed Bombs Vs. The Radar Track
Interviewees  and  early  warning  reports  indicate  that  a  Sukhoi  22  (Su-22)  aircraft conducted four air strikes in Khan Shaykhun at around 6.45 a.m.
People said so, including in "early reports." Do they have any more solid information there was such a flight, out here in 3D reality? Like, for example, a radar track? One is available, but like the Organization  for  the  Prohibition  of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the CoI chose to ignore it and let people just tell them there was a jet, and where it was and what it did.

From the report's more detailed Annex II: there was a report of two SU-22 jets taking off from Shayrat airfield near Homs at  6.26  am, "at least one of which was heading in the direction of Khan Shaykhun." Then...
"At  around  6.45  a.m.,  interviewees  recalled  seeing  an  aircraft  flying  low  over  Khan Shaykhun, which is consistent with the airspeed of the aircraft and the distance that needed to be covered." 
This was surely "recalled," not just reported, huh? Good thing these eyewitnesses are more reliably honest than usual. They help verify how long the jets took to get there, for one thing. Radar records could also bear that out, and a supposed track of TWO jets from Shayrat airfield, both flying north to Khan Sheikhoun at the given time is available. A rough rendition was shown in the White House report they issued after the attack on Shayrat, by way of justification. 

But the CoI's esteemed investigators decided not to cite this, or perhaps to avoid even looking at it. Why?
"In the span of a few minutes, the aircraft, identified by interviewees as a Su-22,  made  two  passes  over  the  town  and  dropped  four  bombs. "
And this is why they wouldn't like that radar track. They wanted to report, as the "witnesses" said, that the jet(s) were OVER the town and then DROPPED bombs, including the sarin one. But the flight paths they report, at least to Human Rights Watch, make no sense, as mapped here by Michael Kobs on Twitter, and see at right. There are a couple of other conflicting directions reported around. It's all pretty confusing (I should have done more analysis on this...).

The lines suggested in the radar track make a lot more sense, but they never pass over the city. Here's the shown track correlated to the map: no distortion or error is evident. The jets are tracked arcing around Khan Sheikhoun at a distance. Most likely, they were on a simple reconnaissance mission.

Here's how that distance (closest pass, red line) maps out. They were never caught anywhere near directly above any of the alleged bomb sites. The pivotal bakery sarin impact is particularly impossible - no gravity bomb will slant 3 km north as it falls. Either the U.S. flight track is wrong, or these "bombs" cannot have been dropped from either of those jets as alleged.

The CoI could have asked the United States for the raw data to get a clearer picture, but it seems they chose to just ignore this evidence instead.

The OPCW were more measured, as they also ignored the radar track in their report. They didn't specify the munition used; by their report, it could have been missiles fired. ("Although,  some  witnesses  advised  that  the  release  was  due  to  a  munition  dropped  from an aircraft, the FFM was unable to retrieve any items from the site ... the FFM could not establish with a great degree of confidence the means of deployment and dispersal of the chemical.") But the CoI chose to be more specific and say, as most activists have from the start, that bombs were dropped. 

Specifically, the CoI think the three conventional blasts were done with OFAB fuel-air high-explosive fragmentation bombs, in the 100-120 range (small, gravity driven, with no propulsion or guidance). In my reading, that could be right for the damage, if the bombs were actually FAE (fuel-air explosive, small in power) and could fly in from a northerly position - that is, if they were on rockets or missiles fired from a jet or a ground launcher that was north of the impacts. (see here) The jets tracked did fly north of the city as well, for what it's worth. But they aren't accused of firing missiles from there, or anywhere.

And this remnant from impact site #1 should be matched to such a bomb. I don't think it can be. Michael Kobs notes it could be from a rebel "Hell Cannon" shell.I agree it looks quite similar, but could be from any number of weapons that are rough-welded, improvised types. I don't see how it could be part of a factory-assembled military bomb. But then, I'm no expert.

The Sarin Bomb
The CoI is unclear on the order of attack, but makes it sound like all four drops were done in two passes of the same jet, in unstated order but almost at once - "in the span of a few minutes" at about 6:45. (HRW and others say the chemical bomb was dropped first, at 6:37, and the other three at 6:46) Besides the three OFABs, the other bomb dropped was "a  chemical  bomb" that "landed  in  the  middle  of  a  street" near the central bakery and grain silos, as they found to no surprise. 
"Photographs of the impact site show a  hole, too small to be  considered a  crater, and the  remnants of  what  appears  to have  been  a  Soviet-era  chemical  bomb. ... Although  the  Commission  is  unable  to  determine  the  exact  type  of chemical  bomb  used,  the  parts  are  consistent  with  sarin  bombs  produced  by  the  former Soviet Union in the 250kg-class of bombs, which would have approximately 40kg of sarin, depending on the munition used."
Here the Commission revives the debunked Eliot Higgins-HRW claim that a Soviet-made ODAB-250 KhAB-250 or similar was used,causing this reaction on my part. Human Rights Watch found this to be the likely weapon, based mainly on the presence of some sort of filler cap on the scrap, and a green band taken as a painted stripe (that runs the wrong way on the wrong part of the bomb?).
Note how HRW matches the filler hole cap. Critics rightly noted that match was based on looking at the scrap inside-out. Michael Kobs explains this in a tweet responding to Timi Allen, a Bellingcat member (associate of Eliot Higgins). Allen had no response, by the way.
Here are some other tweets I dug up just now contributing to a debunk of this ID, finding a larger standard explosive weapon is a much better fit for the exact type and size of cap, which seems to be be a "charge well plug," not a filler hole cap at all.
Models OFAB-500 and ODAB-500 were floated along the way, and finally OFZAB-500 (standard HE-frag bomb) seems to have won the contest with Michael Kobs' analysis. But even if this isn't it and no one has a positive ID, it's clear that HRW's call was bogus, and it was apparently repeated by the CoI without double-checking. 

Of course if one of these had gone off, there would be far more damage and a large crater, so either it was a dud bomb, or the scrap was planted (maybe in hopes it would be found consistent with some sarin bomb, as happened). That would suggest the fakers didn't have any KhAB-250 bomb fragments to use. It seems few people besides museums have these things anymore.

But the CoI are confident Syria had such a thing and decided to fill it with "sarin or a sarin-like substance" (of an impure and caustic variety like terrorists have), took this bomb only they could maybe have, and dropped it from a jet only they have, on Khan Sheikhoun, to be photographed. Because ... why?

Oh, and they apparently had it done by jets that spoofed U.S. radar with false tracks as they flew directly above each bomb site, invisibly.

The Answer Blowing in the Wind: They Didn't Want it? 
"The Commission  also  took  into  account  the  findings  of  the  Organisation  for  the  Prohibition  of Chemical Weapons report on  the  results of its fact-finding  mission."
This I partially reviewed in July, here. They too ignored the US radar track that's quite available, and other important points including the best evidence for the prevailing wind. As the main driver of any spread of the sarin cloud, the wind is important to understand, and was the focus of my critique. 

The OPCW chose to rely on weather records for other cities some distance away, which only might indirectly show what it was in Khan Sheikhoun. They did this despite there being ample video evidence for just what the wind was doing in the relevant time and place. There are several videos that can be analyzed to get a best direction, as I did. As an expert in meteorological issues, Charles Wood, tells me in comments below, observation from on-site, or by video if necessary, is the only sure way to get a proper reading of the wind. As I read it, with Charles' input, the wind was blowing (at ground level and at upper levels) from the southwest to the northeast, at a speed probably in excess of 6mph (at upper levels), or 9.7 kilometers per hour. The exact direction and speed are debatable, but not the basic direction (it is debated sporadically, but not very well, and mainly it's just ignored).

This best method, however, puts any sarin from the bakery crater exactly in the opposite direction to have killed people in the area that activists and their supporters have always claimed. Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Jazeera, the OPCW, and now the CoI all agreed on deaths to the southwest. We see winds that would push the sarin fog northeast, into a less populated area where no one was reported as dying or being affected at all.


The OPCW did not find the wind was blowing southwest, as activists implied. Rather, they settled on a slight wind to - probably - the northwest. Then, in a separate questionable decision, the OPCW decided this unclear wind was super-slow ("no discernible wind"). "Witnesses" reported this to them. And so, coincidentally or otherwise, it was a slight down-slope that caused the sarin to roll into the yellow area shown here, that's the same as the purple area above."Witnesses" also told them about this slope (they mention "witness  testimony in  relation  to  the weather and topography").

In the absence of wind, a sarin plume would roll downhill. But this wouldn't be neatly to the southwest; as I read the topographic maps, it would roll - slowly - to the west, perhaps dividing NW and SW at a small hill, and re-merging around it. Any wind from the southeast, as they all decided on, would all but ensure the fog would spread northwest just as much as southwest, if not more so. And so the affected area plus other areas no reported as affected would be filled.

And anyway, there was no absence of wind. The OPCW made that up, perhaps on negligent accident, but in violation of the best evidence. 

With the OPCW's example considered, the CoI explain "The  weather conditions at 6.45 a.m. of 4 April were ideal for delivering a chemical weapon." They were not really ideal to get it spread southwest as needed! But they get to that. "Data  based  on  historical  weather  forecasts" is their basis to decide the following conditions were "indicated" by these almost meaningless averages:
"the  wind  speed  was  just over three kilometres per hour from the southeast, that there was no rain and practically no cloud cover, and that the temperature was around 13 degree Celsius."
They get less than 1/3 the speed Charles and I estimate. And their temperature guess is clearly wrong: you can see peoples' breath on video, which of course they used only selectively. They didn't bother testing this against what we see, any more than they did the wind direction or speed. Visible breath usually happens fairly near to freezing; maybe up to around 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit at the warmest (in my experience). That would be ~4-7 degrees Celsius. Charles Wood ran calculations suggesting it should be 7.6 degrees at the time. I can't verify that. But I don't think it can be anywhere close to 13 in the place and time where all those people died. In the made-up paper place where Syria's guilt is obvious, winds to the northwest move smoke and fog exclusively to the northeast, and I guess breath is seen at 13 degrees. Sure, why not?

As the CoI relates it, the OPCW found "the wind speed  was  low  with uncertain  direction,  most  likely  coming  from  somewhere  between  the south   and   east," but with "calm and stable atmospheric conditions" (that is, basically no wind). They feel their 3kph made-up estimate is slow enough to go ahead and agree with the OPCW's implications. "Under  such  conditions," which didn't actually exist...
"...  the  agent  cloud  would  have  drifted  slowly downhill  following  the  terrain  features  at  the  location  (roads  and  open  spaces),  in  a southerly and westerly direction. This is consistent with the observed locational pattern of individuals becoming affected by the agent cloud."
Yes, it matches their story, which is described as "observed" to suggest the story was true. Well, more or less (again, I call west or, if anything narrower, northwest is more likely than southwest). And that's probably just why the slope theory was decided on. It's probably why some activists mentioned the lack of wind to the OPCW, and told them about a downslope to the southwest. It's probably why the OPCW chose to accept that. But it is NOT consistent with the actual, seen spread of the alleged sarin fog. Their guess clashes with the video record, and the latter obviously wins.

The white fog everyone says is sarin from the bakery can be seen drifting north and east from two different spots well to the southwest of there. This is strange but true. Here's the spread of the clearer fog field originating at the southwest edge of town, as seen from far to the north. Looking south, the fog spreads left and towards the camera, so clearly north and east into the city, with a low hill splitting it. And damn, there is a lot of this fog. No bomb was ever reported this way. (See here for this and the northern unexplained fog area, explained as best I can.) 
Furthermore, according to the available topographic maps, this movement is all slightly uphill, on about the same grade of slope the OPCW decided such fog should roll down. Hence, any sarin plume at the bakery area (it's still not clear to me if there was or wasn't one) would tend to roll uphill as it followed the wind in just the same way.

Two esteemed groups of investigators CHOSE to rely on observed winds in other places, or on some guessed data based on historical trends, acting like this was the best they could do. Both groups CHOSE not to establish the wind clearly, from the actual video of events, as would be proper and reasonable. Both groups thus avoided seeing this fatal contradiction in the opposition's narrative, and were able to confidently blame Syria for an attack that defied the laws of physics.

It doesn't sound so good this way, but this is how it is: unprofessional and biased UN panel decides Syrian jet evaded US radar, as it dropped a special Soviet sarin bomb filled with terrorist-grade sarin, that has magical properties like spreading almost exactly against the wind. "Accountability" is demanded over this absurd and impossible crime.

Other Questions
(To be added to past the above initial article) 

Bakery/Silos Unused? 
(added 9/7 - thanks to Andrew for the tip) The report mentions the sarin was released near "a bakery and a  grain silo,  which interviewees explained  was not operational and  unused  for  any  purpose  after  having  been  hit  by  an  airstrike  in  2016." In comments (at another post) Andrew notes it's apparently used for something - a white van drives into the compound at 0:05 in this video. Why would they deny that? Is it used for something shady?

No Injuries?
(added 9/9 - thanks to Adrian Kent on Twitter for the tip)
28. The Commission has independently gathered extensive information which, in the aggregate, strongly supports the claim that the victims were exposed to sarin or a sarin-like substance. Apart from the fact that none of the victims was observed to have wounds or visible injuries, the symptoms reported are consistent with those suffered by persons exposed to an organophosphorus chemical such as sarin...
First, the symptoms are somewhat consistent/debatable. Next, no visible injuries is consistent with some chemical poisoning, but not exclusive. Third, an unusual number of alleged sarin victims DO show serious and possibly fatal wounds to the face, head, and neck (and nowhere else we see). Here are the 8 cases I know of: one woman, and seven children. Two or three of these seem  to have marks added after they were seen "rescued" on video (another may have lesser wounds added after a first and minor wound, and another boy apparently has his neck wound bandaged as if to be invisible and suggest he never was wounded.)

Many others, including several men and at least one baby, also suffered strange but less serious scrapes on the face. But just these 8, of a reported 80-100 victims is at or close to 10% of the total. The other 90% as far as I've seen do fit the description of unmarked.

So it's wrong to say none showed wounds, but still, most of them don't. This other 90% apparently died without such intervention, which was probably the plan, as they were gassed in basement gas chambers. Children were shown alive and gasping before they died; this was probably also planned for emotional effect, and could lead to some non-fatal underdoses. That maybe led to these finishing wounds, and maybe extra marks added to make that a bit less obvious (so shelling or accident could be blamed if it ever became an issue. But thanks to the CoI and others, the issue has remained quiet and so they haven't even had to try and explain it.)

Russian-Syrian Timeline Deception? 
(added 9/9-9/10)
72) Russian and Syrian officials denied that Syrian forces had used chemical weapons, explaining that air strikes conducted by Syrian forces at 11.30 a.m. that day had struck a terrorist chemical weapons depot.
Implied: this is the explanation for the CW attack claims in question, as it came from Russia and Syria - some accidental release around noon, triggered by a Syrian airstrike, explains the events ... that clearly unfolded around 7am. That's the best these villains could come up with. Well the CoI didn't buy it! Point 76 relates several reasons to reject this "explanation," capped with: 
"Third, the scenario suggested by Russian and Syrian officials does not explain the timing of the appearance of victims — hours before the time Russian and Syrian officials gave for the strike."
So guess what? It may not be their real explanation.

Russian officials did make declarations along these lines, and I don't think they've clearly retracted them. That's unfortunate and adds to the confusion the CoI is furthering. To me it seems like the Russians were guessing this, not being certain when the CW incident really was, but knowing Syria hit there at 11:30. If they were pushed to say what Syria did at the attack time, they'd probably say something like "nothing we know of."

Syria being blamed, their take matters more. Their explanation was that they conducted no air strikes before that 11:30 one. They deny they used any weapons of any kind on Khan Shaykhun at dawn, and they reminded us that they still maintain that they've never used chemical weapons. They do not, however, deny that they had any flights in the area at the time, just that if there were, they didn't attack anything. Being the first daylight available to see what's new in rebel turf, a simple recon mission is, in fact, pretty likely to happen, and to appear on various radar screens.

The CoI can doubt the claim of no dawn attack all they want, but instead they obscure it beneath the flawed Russian claim, and then suggest the Syrians admit to a strike linked to the gassing, but claim it was accidental and also fudged the time, perhaps to be deceptive. To claim that was their explanation suggests our enemies just aren't thinking straight as they mass murder with impunity, just because they can and they're evil, besides stupid and smelly. It's good propaganda but not realistic. The claim the CoI portrays is a straw-man argument they waste some time on anyway, giving reasons against this, which are worth sharing and commenting on. Aside from the #3 reason we agree on:

* "Interviewees denied the presence of a weapons depot near the impact point of the chemical bomb." We're almost surely talking about two different places, since we're talking about two different times. Let's keep this clear, okay? I agree the Rahma cave hospital appears to be bombed around noon, and I have a possible lead on another strike area likely bombed that day but apparently not at dawn - not quite the bakery-area sarin release point people refer to, but very interesting... "app. fog origin sw of town" as shown above. It billows (toxic?) fog all over town with no explanation, and might have gotten bombed later on, along with the al-Nusra-connected cave hospital hosting the victims of this murky event... 

* "The Commission notes that it is extremely unlikely that an air strike would release sarin potentially stored inside such a structure in amounts sufficient to explain the number of casualties recorded. " Yeah, you know what else is unlikely? All the crap these guys chose to lend credence to. (I won't say "chose to believe" - if they really believe this stuff, it means they haven't really studied anything and their gullible belief in handed-in stories is so pointless as to not matter at all).  Like, if the Syrians had bomed the bakery area, the sarin would drift away from all those people they're talking about... But they don't mention this problem with the "Russian-Syrian explanation" as it reflects even worse on the one they chose to lend credence to.

* "First, if such a depot had been destroyed by an air strike, the explosion would have burnt off most of the agent inside the building or forced it into the rubble where it would have been absorbed, rather than released in significant amounts into the atmosphere." Yes. Anyone trying to adopt the supposed Russian "explanation," as many unfortunately have, should note this as well.  Hot blasts and deadly sarin plumes don't work well as a team.What might work is a large low-heat fog machine, with some sarin-ish liquid poured in it. Say, SW of town, and then another just NW of the tel, and maybe at the bakery too? 

* "Second, the facility would still be heavily contaminated today, for which there is no evidence." Maybe.

* Another point I'll add: there's no evidence of the bakery or silos being bombed that day. Presuming the dent in the road is from that day, it seems non-explosive and too far from any warehouse to connect like that anyway.

It was always a straw-man argument, but passed off widely, not just by the CoI, as the best explanation Syria and Russia can come up with between them. As Robert Parry noted in his worthwhile (but slightly flawed) review of the CoI's report:
U.S. mainstream media accounts and the new U.N. report cited the time discrepancy – between the dawn attack and the noontime raid – as proof of Russian and Syrian deception. Yet, it made no sense for the Russians and Syrians to lie about the time element since they were admitting to an airstrike and, indeed, matching up the timing would have added to the credibility of their hypothesis.

In other words, if the airstrike had occurred at dawn, there was no motive for the Russians and Syrians not to say so. Instead, the Russian and Syrian response seems to suggest genuine confusion, not a cover-up.

For the U.N. commission to join in this attack line on the timeline further suggests a lack of objectivity ...