Talk:Halfaya Bakery Bombing

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Further Investigation

Will add these to the front page eventually. Some others have taken an interest in this case. Mark at Human Rights Investigation chose to make it a major area of inquiry, work collected here. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:09, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

Then Mark alerts me to to a German journalist who went there and talked to rebels at the now boarded-up scene. Great quality video, a number of details added/verified, seeming to support the overall rebel narrative. Jan. 16 report, viewable here, the story called "Kinder als Zielscheibe" aka "Rebellen treffen auf Unfall"--Caustic Logic (talk) 13:09, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

The reporter and channel are Swiss (Swiss public TV). Gruesome. The list that is shown contains 115 dead, 100 of them identified, the rest only in pieces. The pre-bombing pics seem to confirm that it was used as a bakery, but as that Mark notes the building was the "Rathaus" (town hall or as the wikimapia label said municipality) and they were flying the black flags, so the reporter attributes some guilt to the "rebels". The injured girl that is interviewed seems a bit unconvincing in the way she curses Assad and looks at something(-one?) off-camera several times - but who knows how one would react in her situation. :o( --CE (talk) 16:45, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, German-speaking Swiss. Interesting photos I didn't know of, but we already knew civilians lined up there, in some number, for something. Bakery still isn't proven. The box of bread still argues against it (suggesting shipped not baked). I don't think the flag alone can do much to justify an attack. It could make a good case for Al-Nusrah though. See, the flag is black, but it was over a place that helps people. Like in any town run by whatever philosophy, women properly veiled can get in line without getting hit with a stick. But the government (or whoever decided to make this point) kills those people because of the flag - maybe because they're Satan and don't want God's chosen to help people. It seems the lines were known, and the pilot would have seen that it was mostly fighters getting bread that day.--Caustic Logic (talk) 23:37, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
And the photos show and the report mentions that the people did line up in two lines separated by sex, and if you witness a crime that stinks of a perpetrator with a ruthless crackpot ideology, and you happen to have flags closely associated to a ruthless crackpot ideology flying on top of the very building, it's a bit hard to take the word of an obviously terrified girl for a different theory. I'm with you there. But a reaction to the threats made against the Christian neighbour towns with not getting what the building is currently used for seems also possible (but for that use being purely bread distribution there are maybe too many fighters among the killed, you are certainly in a better position to judge that). --CE (talk) 00:09, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Videos: Samer alHamwy Halfaya

Select videos from Halfaya activist Samer Al-Hamwy's Youtube channel --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:28, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

SOHR Coverage And ... Defection?

I didn't catch the SOHR original reports on this and the death toll they announced, but he/they say on Facebook, Dec. 24 (and in comments beneath), it was to claim around 60 killed. "We are consistent in our reporting, and honest in our findings. We said "reports of more than 60" yesterday, today we managed to verify 45, with 13 of those reported as nidentified still unverified. We do not inflate the atrocities occurring in Syria, what is actually happening on the ground suffices." Numbers from 100+ to "at least 300" were bandied about by others. I recall the Daraya massacre where a lady claiming like 1,200 were killed (to the usual range of 400-600-??) lamented "the fact that we Syrians have become just numbers was ripping me apart," but that the numbers she claimed were so large was supposed to help others feel torn up as well (that rebels did most of it was to be denied...). SOHR response to this more gross distortion:

We are sad to see the lives of our compatriots turning into numbers in human rights reports and fuel for media stories, with their inherent human value lost in the process.

They blame government jets still, based on activists saying, but we know which side was consuming that fuel. He's criticizing the opposition and the western media. More pointedly in another comment:

..i was merely differentiating our reporting from other groups that abuse the situation on the ground for political goals.

Even further off message:

The SOHR condemns this further atrocity committed by the Syrian regime, and calls on all responsible bodies to condemn the continuation of all violence in Syria. ... We demand that all parties be publicly pushed towards an immediate ceasefire, this should be called for by humanitarian organisations and states alike.

I don't even need to bold "all" to highlight its significance. What opposition group urges the rebels to stop fighting?

Even further off message, the SOHR has taken to using the Syrian national colors, not the rebel ones, in its posting. This isn't the poser SOHR, unless they've switched places. The one reporting stuff others cite as SOHR (as opposed to the Syrian Network for Human rights http://www.syriahr.org/) has the Facebook page with those colors right in the logo at top. Not sure when that changed, or if it's always been that way. At the official site http://www.syriahr.com/, one can see the version with the proper French colonial colors at top, but if one scrolls to the bottom ... well it's fixed now, but I took a screenshot a week or so ago. See below where I put them side-by-side, just in case the contrast wasn't clear enough.

SOHR Flag Confusion.png
Interesting. They have a poll there about the "new website" - maybe the web designer is an infiltrator? But the statements are interesting as well. Could be that they are trying to regain credibility with some journalists who finally realized what kind of outfit they are relying on. btw, I stumbled across a list of killed journalists. Useful, but notice the bias in the explanations. Pro-Western ones are always killed by something like "military officials", like Colvin, while Pro-Government ones are killed by "unknown fire", like Naser, and most often the explanation contains the old framing "government blames terrorists, but government blames everything on terrorists anyway". Disgusting to see organizations like this give up their neutrality. --CE (talk) 10:46, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Something odd with SyriaHR, .com and .org. My impression from both was the usual cheesiness, but a more careful study could be done of the things they've said and how, over time ... I won't be doing that anytime soon. I wonder if they were both infiltrators from the beginning, playing some clever game complete with a rift so it seems at least one is "legit" when neither is. Would be fascinating if so. Interesting journalist list. Mostly freelancers killed - aren't freelancers more likely to be really incisive and catch rebel crimes? I noted a few killed in Ras Al-Ain during the Turkish troubles there... --Caustic Logic (talk) 07:29, 30 December 2012 (UTC)

Video-Based Assessment

This is a complex scene, with many videos, all similar and easy to confuse. There are ostensible de-bunks, but personally I think they're too hasty and in time we can do way better. But there is good reason to arrange a good list below for reference. I have a better list on file here I'll copy over. Points can be then cited for things like this:

The Bombing Damage

Non-Combattant Victims?

(answer is yes -specifics will matter)

Bread and Baking Clues

Halfaya Bakery bread comp.png

Bread "planted," video C1 9:42 the stack it might have come from, video C1 0:23 the box the stack might have come from. C2 3:53

It's my opinion the bread planting doesn't mean a whole lot. I saw the still and knew it was a set-up scene-it didn't drift down like that after the explosion or anything. It was to make a point, and it worked of course. How good was the point? No proof it's a bakery. Bread was around - visibly, one box worth of flatbread, if that was the box. Hmmm...

Unsorted

No list yet, but no problem finding them. Several views, many re-posts, one main area. A few notes: some victims are blown-up badly, some body parts are about-a foot near blast center, a man from the chest up several yards away, etc. They are generally lined-up along the sidewalk as if waiting in line, perhaps. Perhaps all the dead seem to be men and maybe a few teenage boys. Some could be rebel fighters, but others might wear army uniforms. Some are in civilian clothes and seem too old and professional to be fighters either way. One man was wearing nothing but blue bikini briefs while waiting in line, it seems. Piled execution victims might explain part of this mess. Explosives cover other parts - the 4-foot hole in the street, parking spot, right by the sidewalk. Masonry all around, big chunks. A pile of dirt thrown up, half-burying some people. Interestingburn/chemical marks on the building's facade. No clear sign this was a bakery. --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:47, 24 December 2012 (UTC)

Videos (Primary Source)

Main Scene

11:26 Published by Norasaman12, December 23, 2012. Trans: Hama Halfaya initial images of the massacre C1 Long video, uncut, starts with a rebel ending a radio call and leaving his pickup truck to film the scene. Ends well after all bodies scooped up, almost done by the halfway point. The role of the ambulance seems limited. Rebels insist on handling their own dead here, and some even attack the ambulance a little bit (6:26) Alternates: Syria part5 Assad MIG MASS MURDER of Bakery Breadline in Halfaya (bad glitch) 0:23 - a stack of flatbread can be seen 1:24 - Boy with upper head missing, another boy next to him gets up. 3:00 - injured woman carried out of the rubble 5:15- head and half-body in truck bed 6:26 – ambulance attacked 7:10-bits of bread? 7:35- videographers chased off? 9:26-pushed from the scene by an Islamist Laurel-and-Hardy-Cheech-and-Chong duo.

4:04, uploaded by freesyria7, December 23, 2012 Trans: Halfaya massacre after the bombing of Flight HD Great resolution, starts at corner of main street. Flag nicely visible at 0:14. Nice view inside the building near the end, from 3:50 on. Nothing here that makes it an obvious bakery or obviously not one.

8:23, by freesyria7, Dec. 23 Compilation: Rebel fighter speaking (before attack?), Rebels clearing the street and wailing after the clean-up (both short), then a long night scene with icky stuff – bodies laid out in front of some building – why? Bright lights do come in so we can see - don't watch lightly. One body is little more than a spine and pelvis. A boy is missing the top half of his head, etc. Finally, scenes of the alleged injured being treated. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:42, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Trans: tens of martyrs in the Halfaya 18+ 3:39, published by almrsds, Dec. 23. Good views south of the area, used for flag still on main page. Okay resolution, good view of south approach, from south of the main street. 0:24 - Interesting emblem on car rear window – Syria with a black shape and perhaps crossed swords over it – picking up a piece of human remain 0:35 -man and woman being escorted away 0:38-camera-conscious rebel, khaffiyeh off

Trans:New images of the heinous massacre Halfaya 0:19 - bodies in the dark. A possible boy, another or young man with bandages over his eyes?

There are a few others, but they might have to wait. --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:15, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

Other

See C3 above for a few peripheral scenes of interest.

Alleged victims, wounded, in a clinic


Unincorporated Text Sources

Syrian State Media

A report that's not easy to find, in English, French, or other, at the SANA backup site Sana-Syria.com Thje test appears in searches for many pages, old stories, but then sn't there when you look) --Caustic Logic (talk) 09:57, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

  • AFP via Naharnet "Syria State Media Says 'Terrorists' behind Halfaya Carnage" Dec. 24
A "terrorist" group attacked the rebel-held town of Halfaya in central Syria killing women and children, news agency SANA said on Monday, rebuffing claims the deaths were a result of a regime air strike.
...
SANA, the official news agency, however gave a vastly different account, citing residents of the town located in the central province of Hama. "An armed terrorist group attacked the town of Halfaya committing crimes against the population, killing many women and children," it said. 'The report added that the Syrian army intervened during the assault and "killed and wounded many terrorists", a term officials and state media use to refer to rebels fighting to oust the Damascus regime.''
"Terrorists then shot video images to accuse the Syrian army when the international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Syria," the agency said.
So perhaps this was their strike, and the killing they cite came earlier. This would mean they did kill the small number of civilians the rebels had mixed in among them. And perhaps their strikes were elsewhere and this one was a false-flag operation. But that could have been set-up better, with more civilians arranged and less fighters. This case remains not too clear one way or the other.

Related stories from the area that can be found:

"...an armed terrorist group attacked last night the high-voltage power transmission network in Halfaya town in Hama countryside which supplies Hama city and Aleppo province with electricity from Mhardeh station. The electrical grid went out of service due to the terrorist attack."
Jihadists overran large parts of an Alawite village in the central Syrian province of Hama on Monday in fighting that killed at least 30 combatants, a monitoring group said. Alongside other radical Islamist groups, al-Nusra Front seized parts of the village of Maan, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding at least 11 rebel fighters and 20 regime troops were killed.
A unit of the armed forces on Wednesday inflicted heavy losses upon members of an armed terrorist group who were trying to infiltrate to Mahradeh Thermal Station for generating electric power after they stormed it and sabotaged high voltage towers. A military source told SANA reporter that a number of the armed group's members were killed and many others were wounded.. Ahmad al-Eliwi, nicknamed as "al-Osfour", was identified among the killed. Minister of Electricity Emad Khamis said in a statement to SANA that the terrorist attack made the electric station completely out of work, so the break off electricity in the majority of Hama and its countryside.
The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces said that units of the armed forces are confronting terrorist groups who attacked safe villages in Hama countryside, inflicting heavy losses on them.
In a statement on Tuesday, the General Command said that the terrorists, whose affiliations to foreign powers hostile to Syria are becoming evident by the day, attacked safe villages in Hama countryside and committed massacres against civilians to force them to leave their homes, in a desperate attempt to compensate for their heavy losses at the hands of the Syrian Arab army and to deflect attention from the their setbacks.
Units of the armed forces eliminated members of terrorist groups who attacked citizens in Morek town in Hama countryside. An official source in Hama told SANA that the engineering units dismantled 100 IEDs and 50 grenades planted by terrorists on the outskirts of Morek. The source added that terrorist groups that sought to stage attacks on main roads in Hama city and countryside were repelled. Numbers of terrorists were killed and several others injured.

Location: Maan (marked "A") and Morek, a vital road-controlling town they've been fighting for - Halfaya of the black flags is about 6-7 miles SW of here.

Other

* Ansamed, Dec. 24: Syria: help us or wounded in bakery strike will die, doctor

The Syrian Red Crescent, the doctor said, is not trustworthy. "Everyone in Syria knows it is run by men from the regime. How can we trust those who just bombed us to rescue us?"
(note support for this- the ambulance is attacked at 6:26 in video C1)
Also on Monday, opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) leader Ahmad Muaz Khatib implicitly criticized UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's silence on the civilian massacre at the Halfaya bakery. The Halfaya massacre was carried out not only by the Syrian regime, but also by whoever avoids talking about it. Whoever remains silent is an accomplice of those feeding on Syrian blood, Khatimi said.
--Caustic Logic (talk) 00:07, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
More than 300 people were reportedly killed in airstrike near a bakery in the town of Halfaya in the central Syrian province of Hama.
...
“In Halfaya, regime forces bombarded a bakery and committed a massacre that killed dozens of people, including women and children, and wounded many others,” said the Local Coordination Committees, a grassroots network of activists.
“A MiG (jet) has attacked! Look at (President Bashar al-) Assad’s weapons. Look, world, look at the Halfaya massacre,” says an unidentified cameraman shooting an amateur video distributed by the Observatory.

* Reuters (incorporated)

  • Juan Cole "200 Dead" Dec. 24 (and Cole should be put in charge of the SOHR)
Opposition forces said that Syrian fighter jets bombed the town of Halfaya near Hama on Sunday. The bombs struck a crowd standing in line to buy bread, and some 200 victims are said to have been killed, and dozens more injured.
The attack on Halfaya likely was the regime’s response to its fighters confronting the pro-government shabiha militias based in two largely Christian towns nearby.
...
Arabic language reports allege that most of the victims were children. Videotape of the horrible death toll emerged on the web, though as with all news from Syria it cannot be independently verified. That many victims were children does make sense, since it is common in the Levant for families to send them with some coins to buy bread.

It can't be verified but it can be independently proven untrue from this "videotape." Do families send rebel fighters to the bread lines for them? No? Then maybe it wasn't even a bread line. F***ing expert Juan Cole.

Critiques

Video

debunk

-- Petri Krohn (talk) 00:56, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Urs

As I posted on the forum - Urs did the job already. Fake as can be. Planted bread. See here. Also already an article based on her research here. There's a good chance that syrianews.cc will translate it soon, they have done so with a couple of articles from that blog. Heading for "the woods" in a couple of minutes, cya. --CE (talk) 14:04, 24 December 2012 (UTC)

Merry times, CE! I'll be working through today still, catch it when you get back.--Caustic Logic (talk) 22:14, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
And as I said there, I'll start with second-guessing. I'll agree the dead are mostly rebels and hardcore Khaffiyeh-wearing ones from many countries. But the rest... --Caustic Logic (talk) 13:11, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
I hadn't looked very closely and frankly I'm not planing to do so. There's a follow-up here. She found photos uploaded to facebook before the event, showing some of the rubble and an already existing hole in the ground. --CE (talk) 14:26, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
That would be interesting. I'm looking now ... I don't get it. A rusty unexploded barrel bomb? Trans: Martyrs Battalion freedom planting mines p international road. Not clear it's the same place even, Halfaya not specified, scenery inconclusive. And a screenshot of a different building with some rubble? Don't see the relation to hausnummer 22. It's similar but not the same. The hole in the street looks different too. If it's the same place as the photo, it's irrelevant here. Urs has done some great stuff, but here ... am I missing something? --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:38, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
Halfaya Bakery Facade.png

Compared to this is not even very similar, really. If someone said that's from Halfaya on the 23rd (did they?), it must be another part. --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:28, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

Well, yes, she kind of did although the article is a bit confusing. Can't see how that facebook album has anything to do with the scene - it seems she makes the connection over one of the guys seen in the "bread" video who is also seen in the bomb-carrying video and owns the facebook account. Maybe she needs a break - she announced to intend to do that a while ago but never did. But maybe i'm missing something. I myself decided to break with the gory stuff until the new year, so i'll have to leave you alone with that topic ftm. --CE (talk) 10:59, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Don't know where to put this, so here it is. Checked your identification of the place yesterday. I agree - not everything seems to fit but there is no other candidate and some really good clues. Would agree with your 95% sure assessment. Did you notice in Google Earth that the parking lot is a former soccer field? 2010 image shows it, and older too, not in use for a long time apparently. JFYI. --CE (talk) 11:54, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, just noticed the field as I checked for a clearer view of the west side. Non-American Football or, as we call it, European soccer. Now, trucks, veggies, a clinic, and the place. Good to get agreement on the visual. Could be 90%, still close enough. Thanks for the wikimapia notes now added.--Caustic Logic (talk) 12:58, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

From Facebook

This was posted on Facebook:

First of all, this is full version of video filmed by FSA members after explosion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SD4rO4E8KNM. The media and "activists" claim that 60, 90 and even 300 people were killed by "air strike", including children and women (I saw only one injured woman on video). All the victims are men and some of them in camouflage. And now look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey2yNvh6sAA&feature=youtu.be.
Member of FSA gangs throws the bread in a pool of blood with words "On the blood, on the blood!". On the right picture you can see how they film this moment. Why? Look at left picture and on the building on the video. The explosion occurred inside the building and roof of the building is almost not affected. Air strike without a crater of the explosion and without affected roof?
And now compare all the information. UN representative Brahimi's visit in Syria (as usual "massacres" occur day before meeting on Syria in UN or a visit in Syria), explosion and "hysterics" in media. According to information from Halfaya, this time one of FSA brigade used dead bodies of another armed group with whom they had some "disagreements" for next "massacre" in media. One armed group placed explosive device in or near a building (a bakery) where members of other group gathered and blew it up. This is why they throw the bread in a pool of blood - just for pictures in media.
Hey, quick return, and Merry not-Christmas anymore! My analysis (forthcoming) disagrees with the above. The hit appears to be from a distance, perpendicular to building face, making the small crater iun the street and plowing the dirt forward. Building damage is limited, except to the metal shutters nearest the hit, crumpled up inside. In fact, it looks like a rocket or artillery strike, as alleged (along with other things that aren't supported - like 100-300 dead, for one) --Caustic Logic (talk) 08:17, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Car Bombing False Lead

A side-note on the screen-grab used up-front: that was as it appeared shortly before 4:52, 24 December 2012. When I checked later, the video freeze-frame is different. I didn't watch the video either time to see if it had changed, or just the still. Just in case it might be of significance, I've noted it. --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:03, 24 December 2012 (UTC)

Another: It's not up-front. It's unrelated. Here it is, FWIW:

One useful clue as to the initial explosion, before the rocket and artillery attacks, is this screen grab of the CNN story with the video still as it first appeared before hitting play:

Bakery Car Bombing.png

One of the bombs dropped by the alleged warplanes apparently landed right in the trunk of this car. It's all aflame, its back end blow up and off its axle.

The video was an earlier one app. containing other scenes mixed-in. The one there now has no such scene, and no videos of the aftermath have such a scene. The one shown seems to be this Damascus car bombing, Dec. 22: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK2T1bZ5Z-k