Talk:Alleged Chemical Attack in Damascus, March 19, 2013

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Moved from Talk:Alleged chemical attack, March 19, 2013#March 19 Damascus attack

Russia's and Syria's demand for an investigation at the UN have come up against Western roadblocks, insisting on a different format. One difference - they want to look into another alleged attack as well. Not the Baba Amr one, but yet another, Damascus area. Without even looking, knowing the bizarre pattern of reflections between these attacks, Daraya will probably be the place. (Dec. 6 Daraya, Dec 8 Aleppo area, Dec 22 Daraya, Dec 23 Homs = March 19 Aleppo area, Homs, Daraya?) A later Reuters report follows this interesting story:

British deputy ambassador Philip Parham and French ambassador Gerard Araud said their position, and that of the majority of council members, was that the U.N. must investigate both alleged chemical weapon attacks.
"The (Syrian) National Coalition issued a statement today saying that there had been two cases of chemical weapons being used in Syria yesterday, one in the Damascus area and one in the Aleppo area," Parham said.
"The facts are not clear at the moment," he said. "What we have is reports and allegations. They are very serious and they need to be investigated."

Damascus and Moscow both have called this a diversion, dillution, and/or stalling tactic. Syria's ambassador Ja'afari said he'd never heard of this other allegation, proposing that it "was set up on purpose to torpedo the investigation on the real use of chemical weapons which took place in Aleppo. If there were any good intentions on the part of the French delegation they should have supported the Syrian request (for an investigation)."--Caustic Logic (talk) 09:46, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

Looking for this statement, it doesn't pop up easily. CNN has a quote, suggesting I was wrong about it being Daraya.

The town of Ateibeh, in eastern Damascus, endured "fierce shelling with chemical rockets," an opposition group said. An unknown number of casualties were reported.

This group is not the SNC, but the LCC, from the same page I linked to above and scoured. I thought I searched for "chemical," but apparently missed this entry. In full, then:

Damascus Suburbs: Ateibeh: Regime forces steps up its military operations in the towns of Eastern Ghouta and uses new types of weapons to eliminate the peaceful and armed revolutionary movement and to terrorise the rest of the residents in other Syrian areas, fierce shelling with chemical rockets targeted Ateibeh town today which resulted in martyrs and a large number of wounded, including suffocating and nausea cases and headache, vomiting and hysteria cases, note that these cases are being documented for the first time in the town and were not seen like this before, in addition to the bad humanitarian situation in light of the applied siege since months and continued shelling and large numbers of wounded were reported amid an acute shortage of materials and medical staff --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:19, 21 March 2013 (UTC)
Later paragraph on same page: Damascus Suburbs: Ateibeh: 3 martyrs and a number of wounded were reported due to shelling with chemical rockets in the town, and the martyrs are Husam Qashishe, Hasan Qashishe, and Yousef Qashishe. There are also two videos. One shows a boy (? teenage) in a hospital emergency room, cyanosed and apparently unconscious while suction is applied to his mouth. It's not clear if he's breathing. VDC list of chemical martyrs lists 6 deaths that day in Otaiba, all as adult males: the three Qashishe family members, two named Al-Khier, and one unidentified.

This alleged attack is relevant because David Cameron announced at a press conference on 14 June that "physiological samples" from this attack had tested positive for sarin at Porton Down. There had been a press report on 22 March that an MI6 agent had obtained soil samples from a CW attack "on rebels" in Syria and shipped them to Porton Down for testing. No results of tests on environmental samples at Porton Down have been reported. Environmental samples, unlike blood samples, give a profile of impurities that yield information about the sarin production process. I'm trying to dig out more about this because it's beginning to look as if from mid-2013 UK defence intelligence was sitting on lab results that confirmed the Russian finding that the sarin used in Syria was unlikely to originate from government stocks Pmr9 (talk) 00:18, 21 October 2015 (UTC)

Best guess for locale on Wikimapia: Otaybah, could be Ateibeh. Cited in relation to Eastern Ghouta. Ghouta seems to be all over the eastern/NE fringes of Damascus in somehow related parcels. This is just on the other side, southeast, of that area. Just NE of it, ateibeh-lake. Closer yet, a SAM site and air defense base. Yalla Souriya - catalog of recent fighting reports EA WorldView picked this spot too. (see below) --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:40, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

A Turkish source says "Syrian national coalition refutes use of chemical weapons ... adding that the photos and footage confirmed use of chemical weapons." (??) In fact, they just denied the gov't report and added, cryptically as read, "The coalition stated on Wednesday that Assad regime was continuing its attacks against Syrian people, and killed 19 and wounded 86 during its attacks in Damascus and Aleppo ... all evidences indicate that Assad regime used chemical weapons on Syrian people, stated the coalition ... The coalition asked international organizations to set up a committee to investigate the incidents in Syria, and said that the interim government was ready to guarantee the safe entrance of the committee in the country.

And that is a guarantee they can deliver on. --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:19, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

AP: Syria regime, rebels want probe of chemical attack

"All evidence now indicates that the Assad regime is using these weapons against its own people," the main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said. "The Coalition demands a full international investigation, and asks for a delegation to be sent to inquire and visit the site," the group said in a statement.
Even an exact quote doesn't make this statement itself pop up easily, just many, many re-posts of this article. But at least we have a quote. "All evidence," huh? --Caustic Logic (talk) 08:41, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Enduring America on Al Otaybah Attack

James Miller/EA WorldView investigation: Syria Special: Assessing Tuesday's "Chemical Weapons Attacks"...and Who is Responsible He's complying with the oppositon/UK/French demand to investigate that one too. And I encourage that. I'm curious, and will have a look soon. Section for assessing at least 2 things: details of the other attack(s) and relative handling of the Khan Al-Assal one. --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:40, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

He has a new piece out where he has a hard time dealing with the US denial... And a video of "a doctor" in Damascus alleging some specific stuff was used ... watched for a few seconds and thought "Hi, Khaled Abu Saleh!". Maybe i'm just paranoid, cue Jihad Raslan next ... hehehe. --CE (talk) 16:26, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
A little similar. I notice the passive aggressive appeals. They would prefer bombing, but in fact, they don't want weapons, only medicine, for the innocent people, like this likely rebel fighter. Contrast with their ostensible military leader Gen. Saelm Idriss: ""We don't want food and drink, and we don't want bandages. When we're wounded, we want to die. The only thing we want is weapons." Analysis and thoughts later. --Caustic Logic (talk) 22:49, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Something here: -- Petri Krohn (talk) 14:01, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

Interesting read, good details, some fair questions, semi-fair KAA summary, evident points where he makes those mistakes (?) that add up, too numerous to detail and refute, considering how busy I am. Did you notice that was by Miller, who championed the story first time around? (see right below) Otaybah can implicate "the regime" for KAA? Step back and check yourself, dude. --Caustic Logic (talk) 14:34, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
No, I did not notice Miller / EA. I did notice it was reprinted by a anti-Putin site in the US, originally from NOW in Lebanon. (Moved section under #Enduring America on Al Otaybah Attack) -- Petri Krohn (talk) 23:45, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
P.S. – It is worth noting that doing double attacks simultaneously is an al-Qaeda signature. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 23:48, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

The inspectors are already back? I fogot to note anywhere their original mandate -hardly realistic, I think - was nothing Damascus or Homs as always demanded, just Khan al-Assal, Sheikh Mahsoud, and Saraqeb. Or so they say themselves in the report. I find that odd. Now it's seven incidents? Still including all of those I'm sure. How many will die in attacks this time I wonder? --Caustic Logic (talk) 14:34, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

If everything went as scheduled they should already have left again, finishing work yesterday. See our article on August 21 - Sellström Investigation. ;o) --CE (talk) 14:45, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

VDC Records

We have a LCC report of 3 dead men of a Qashishe family, and there might be more sources besides the ever-useful VDC martyrs database. But I haven't dug for them. Just from the VDC, we have at least seven people killed, all listed a s civilian. There might be more, as the 7th - a young infant - is listed on another day, the date of late entry.

6 civilian men listed 3-19

  • Qaesm (Qasem) Abu al-Khier
  • Malek Abu al-Khaier (brothers: video shows them, about the same age, quite young, probably under 18, purple lips)
  • Hasan Qshesha (video, yellow mucous)
  • Husam Qshesha
  • Yousef Qshesha
  • Unidentified: video - appears like a rebel fighter, in a room with three survivors who look like rebel fighters. Yellow mucous.)

stray, documented late:

  • Mohammad al-Sawah child-male, from Harasta. Martyrdom location: Damascus Suburbs: Otaiba. Photo. visual notes: no clear symptoms. Are those chemically damaged eyes, baby eyes, ill baby eyes? Unsure. Notes: "Two weeks old, IDP with his parents, the parents didn't allow documenting his name until today so the exact date of death is unknown but he was exposed in 19/03/2013. Martyred due to exposure to chemical gasses, reports to be validated.

note: parents allegedly survived, but they were "IDP" - these are people who were internally displaced, or fled, or kidnapped from one area, then wind up in other areas under rebel control, and then die there. In this case, it's just the baby, they say. And it took a while to find out. Otherwise, it was just men. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:48, 20 January 2017 (UTC)

Family Name Patterns

Abu Kheir

Abu al-Kheir (Arabic: أبو الخير ) - 2 men, noted as brothers

All Abu Kheirs (using Arabic spelling) from Damascus suburbs killed the entire war, per VDC: 22 total. 21 are adult males, and one is a boy. Eight are listed as "FSA" fighters, and 14 as civilians. It's a fairly common name, and might be a good pseudonym (means father of goodness), so these aren't guaranteed to all be related. These died from May 2011 up til August 2015 and none since.

The first entry is shady: a driver who was also non-civilian, with "FSA," killed back around May 22, 2011 - taken by Air Force intelligence from one of those "checkpoints" but the body was returned and rebels got video of him, with a facial burn similar to that seen on some early "Caesar photos" victims. Next to die, in November, is a soldier from Ateibah, aged 19, killed fighting "FSA" in Idlib province (on the list he's civilian, but noted "The factions of the armed opposition" - ??). A year later, Nov. 17 2012, an Abu Kheir in Christain-majority and government-held Jaramana died from a mortar shell. Mohammed Abu al-Khair from Ateibah died December 1 from shelling. The one boy listed died January 14, 2013 "due to aircraft shelling." Then a soldier from east Ghouta - not FSA but "First Sergeant Defected," was killed during clashes in Aleppo on February 17.

One man died the day before the two brothers under study; on March 18 Ali Abo al-Kheir from Ateibah died, they say, from shelling, but "VDC didn't receive his full name." Two days after the alleged chemical attack, Issa Abo al-Kheir died from shelling on March 21. They show a video - it tore open his left shoulder, and right elbow, and nothing else we see. He died with a pained look.

Two Abu al-Kheirs died on August 21 in the Ghouta incident, but both are from west Ghouta - Moadamiya and Daraya - and it's a huge pool. Among the others is another FSA fighter from Ateibah killed March 5, 2014 by an explosion during an ambush. A couple more FSA are listed, including Abo al-Khair (first name unknown) from Douma, who died Sept. 24, 2014. The last one listed is a civil defense paramedic, (meaning White Helmets type, or real civil defense, Syrian fire and rescue? Unclear). They say he was killed August 12, 2015 by "regime air forces' shelling."

The patterns here aren't extremely clear, but ...that's the densest patch of bad luck, 4 dead in 4 days (March 18-21), including these two young brothers somehow killed by mystery poison gas that might be different from the one that killed the others. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:14, 23 January 2017 (UTC)


Qashishe (Arabic: قشيشة ) seems to be more telling; it's Aramaic, for elder, a revered class associated with the priesthood. It suggests a Christian family.

The VDC only lists 10 killed in the whole war, all from Ghouta, with nine of them from Otaybah (8 men and a boy), killed between late 2012 and early 2014 (apparently as rebels fled, with human shields, who all died in a disputed ambush - details forthcoming)... and none are listed as dying since then. Three of those nine died in this one incident. All before them were civilian, but some others right after this were claimed to be FSA fighters, but with bad luck. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:48, 20 January 2017 (UTC)

The first was Fayez Kasem Kashesheh, killed by shooting October 30, 2012, with no explanation. Then two unnamed sons of a Husain Qashisheh, listed as children, were killed by Mig jet shelling on November 27. Then in March were the three alleged chemical deaths.

Then within a month Qashishe was an FSA family, as listed. We are to presume, it was before as well. Three FSA fighters and no civilians are listed killed through the rest of 2013, "during clashes with regime's army": Zakaria Kashisha, April 17 (video) - Abdelrahman Qashesha on June 14 (video) - Qasem Qsheisheih on Nov. 27.

The final death was a civilian: Mohammad Ali Qshaishe reportedly died with several others on February 25, 2014, in an explosion. The VDC explains this as "a massacre of a group of FSA members and Civilians ambushed by regime army and Hizbullah forces while trying to get out of the East Gouta." This may be the time the militant were being squeezed out. Note the militants are admitted to have mingled civilians into the same group.

VDC lists 74 from Damascus suburbs killed by explosion on this day (generic videos included, not reviewed). This says 25 were non-civilian, and 49 civilians, all of them adult males. Most family names are repeated a few times (but not Qashishe - they may have depleted their stocks)

A February 27 report (Arabic) from Lebanese daily Zaman al-Wasl decries a "massacre in Ateibah," Al-Manar news had reported on a "Hezbollah" victory, with video of dead militants shown after "an ambush carried out by the Syrian army in the eastern Ghouta area in a pool (near lake?) Otaiba,"

A teddy bear is shown, as they note, neither torn nor burned, but the significance is unclear. No children are seen, or listed - Zamana al Wasl reports as many as 223 martyrs, seemingly all unarmed civilians, killed in revenge for recent regime losses. A "human rights office in the eastern Ghouta" said a group of civilians, "more than 175 people trying to get out of the besieged Ghouta," were killed early on the 26th (the VDC says the 25th, so sometime overnight, probably). This source is clear none of them were fighters, and also criticized the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, for lacking on-the-ground sources. The SOHR had claimed the dead were militants, like the al-Manar report said, "Islamic Brigades and Nusra Front fighters."

The later record suggests perhaps both stories were untrue parts of the true story - a group of captive men herded ahead as human shields by some armed rebels, and then all were killed. A man with the rare Aramaiac name was among them. And almost a year earlier, three men of the same family were somehow singled out to die in an alleged campaign of Assad sarin gas attacks. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:14, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

Transliteration of العتيبة

So the town's name in Arabic is العتيبة, which is rendered in a few ways; usually (al-)Otaybah, or Uteybah. I chose Ateibah initially as a better transliteration, but it makes it harder to find in searches, etc. So I'm open to that being changed.

But FWIW, which is best really? Google translate gives Otaibah, but the phoenetic transliteration beneath is given as aleatiba. Most everyone leaves off the al,and the disagreement is only over that first sound. The letter is Ayn (Wikipedia), a flat-topped loop (as used: ـعـ ) with a sound described as "Voiced pharyngeal fricative," which sounds kind of like a-ah (??) (WP). So something like a, e, ae, aa, etc. seem fair. O maybe, soft like in oblong, not as in oval. U is not right, even if it's common. That has its own distinct letter: و --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:36, 25 January 2017 (UTC)

Video Upload Times

I used the Youtube data viewer (provided by Amnesty International to bust Russian lies) to check when the relevant videos were uploaded. This helps set the attack time, and may provide other clues. In order from earliest to latest:

First, the clinic videos.

abufiras Alhar (the others are by c.m.o algota) As with the others, the viewer give March 19 as upload date, but that's in UTC/GMT, while Youtube uses Pacific time. Upload Time (UTC): 06:11:21. Converted to local time, it was 8:11 am in Damascus.

Then the fatalities:

  • - Qashishe, by cmo algota - Upload Time (UTC): 11:14:12 (convert to local time) = 1:14 am on the 20th. The apparent low-angled sunlight is either from the previous day's sunrise or sunset.

so abufiras Alhar has the earliest view, and the latest - C.M.O. algota held their videos back longer, 90 minutes for the first, then two more, one every 20-25 minutes. It's interesting how the victims were only shown the next day. I'm not sure what that means. --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:21, 9 February 2017 (UTC)