Talk:Alleged Chemical Attacks in Aleppo, November and December, 2016

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Baytounji Family

regarding the November 20 alleged attack in Sukhour district that killed a family of 6...

Five bodies -- three children, two adults -- are visible in the bed of a truck, ... The mother wears a lavender, black and pink headdress and red sweater. The father wears a heavy off-white or tan sweater while the two boys died in dark blue sweaters, matching their skin; a toddler girl is clad in a baby-blue one, emblazoned with a cartoon character....
"We were sleeping when a barrel bomb fell near our home," a man explains on the video. "We went down and discovered it was chlorine gas. The victims weren't activists or anything ... but they were suffocating so much, they turned blue. It

was a man, four kids, and his wife. The oldest boy was 10 years old. Why did this happen? May God curse you, Bashar (al-Assad)."

Another man shows coins to the videographer from the Aleppo Media Center, which appear tarnished. The man says he took the coins from the pockets of the dead. "The gas caused them to change color," he says.
(by description, that's clearly the same family considered here, but apparently with the daughter confused with the unseen wife) --Caustic Logic (talk) 11:17, 21 February 2017 (UTC)
Two medics said the al-Baytounji family had suffocated to death because the barrel bomb, which fell in the Sakhour district at about midnight, had been laced with chlorine gas. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, confirmed the bombing but could not confirm that chlorine gas was used....
The two medics identified the family they said was killed by chlorine in a film distributed online. It showed the corpses of four children stretched out on a floor, their lips blue and dark marks around their open eyes. One of the medics, Abu al-Abbas, has a colleague who lives on the same street, he said. Another was the manager of a hospital and said doctors had confirmed the cause of their death as gas poisoning. A rebel official, Zakaria al-Malahifji, from the Fastaqim group, also said they had been killed by gas.

As I just wrote at the blog,:

Reuters heard these were members of a Baytounji family. "Human Rights Watch has not been able to independently verify the names." There seems to be no record in the VDC martyrs database of people of this name dying, perhaps ever (it's hard to be sure what spelling they would use, and I don't have the Arabic spelling). Unless they were listed under a different name and a different cause, it seems this usually exhaustive source missed out on this mini-massacre.

But looking harder, the VDC might list the Baytounji family after all: Sakhour, Aleppo, killed 11-20, all by Syrian air strikes - 10 civilians, all "unidentified."

  • 5 Adult-Male = men or blank
  • 1 Adult-Female
  • 4 Child-Male = perhaps "child, blank," so may include girls

This could be the reported family of six plus four others, men or blank, related or not, unclear. Presumably it's four others killed, in alleged shelling but presumably not by chlorine. All entries seem to blame "Helicopter shelling" with "explosive barrels," but maybe it was those yellow tanks, and the VDC's sources didn't get the memo in the chaos. That thy didn't get the names either supports that. --Caustic Logic (talk) 14:19, 18 February 2017 (UTC)

Family Name

Name, perhaps, assembled from scratch: بيتونجي I plugged this into the VDC and found nothing. I tried an internet search and found one hit only - an old essay in Arabic, maybe from Turkish or verbal records, relating to "construction of St. George's church district Syriacs," which was "After the stability of the Syriac community in the city of Aleppo, was the Rev. Joseph priest (alqas yusif qsaan) of the Syriac Orthodox Church in 1921..." They needed a new church, and one guy involved was apparently named (as Google translate gives it), "Mr. Ibrahim Hajjar being Betonge" with the last name being the Arabic بيتونجي. and the phonetics of the last two parts "bikawnih bytwnjy." He was maybe a donor: "In 1933 we asked Mr. Ibrahim Hajjar being Betonge share for the construction of the roof..." Very rare name. Here as rebels are about to flee parts of Aleppo and can't take hostages with them, a family of this rare name dies, blamed on chlorine --Caustic Logic (talk) 14:19, 18 February 2017 (UTC)

To add, I tried more searches and بيتونجي comes up a bit more, but not clearly - usually used as a word, not a name, and meaning is still totally unclear (it's a word used in ambiguous, hard-to-translate phrases?). The above is still all I've found that's clearly a family name (note: I found it with image search: old b/w photos next to ancient buildings). --Caustic Logic (talk) 04:34, 20 February 2017 (UTC)

Added at the Monitor post - I have a translation from a Syrian for Baytounji - concrete mason, from the French béton, and "ji" I guess meaning expert with. It's good I heard this, because I couldn't find easy verification it or any independent translation, but oddly I think this strengthens the value of the clue.

In Google Translate, I tried concrete, cement, and béton and none directly translated to the root baytoun ( بيتون ). The current general Arabic for cement is Asmant, apparently from the English. Baytoun doesn't even appear as an alternate translation for any of the three. Was it only used up to a point in time? Or maybe it's too limited in space to appear here?

One source I can now make sense of uses the word in a non-name sense: A Facebook post from a construction-oriented account (prefabricatedhousesdgror, fond of adobe and masonry as well) shows a small, heart-shaped cement pool full of water, with shovel laid across it. The text is two words that translate "Baytounji lover." Okay. That's cement/concrete work. (I'm hazy on the difference). The heart-shaped pool is "near Latakia," by post details, and by related links the person who used that phrase may be in or near Tartous province. Others sources appearing in a search that use the word: (Syria), (Syria), (?), a re-post from Al-Manar, (Lebanon), (Syria, I think?). That's almost all of them. It's not used widely by al-Jazeera or anyone else. It's a local term used mainly in Syria. Huh!

And as a name, it still appears only in Aleppo that I've seen. It's seemingly associated with the Christian community there (but not certainly linked, and maybe not exclusively). If that's the real name of this killed family, nothing is proven, but a very troubling possibility would seem pretty likely to be the truth. So why would they go ahead and say the name? Well, it's so rare ... well, someone in Syria should be able to recognize it and match up any missing Christian family of that name. So partly, it's "good question," and partly "they just don't care." --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:15, 14 March 2017 (UTC)

Clinical Signs

Monitor Analysis: same points above, plus visual assessment. Something messed up was done to these people. They may have been hanged upside down, and seem heavily smoke-stained, with skin looking roasted, orange to brown and dried tight, like the skin on a dried out orange. Classic chlorine signs are absent: eyes don't seem red, no sign of coughing blood. They have dark rings around the eyes. There is a thin white residue around their noses, mouths, and/or eyes in at least 2 children. That's likely mucous related, reacting with the chemical(s). They do seem to have cyanosis, but it's hard to be sure, with the other colors and issues (lips seem extra purple, but again they seem baked) --Caustic Logic (talk) 04:34, 20 February 2017 (UTC)

Expanding on the dark rings, my source there told me - I wouldn't have known - that's not a poison sign, caused by tiredness, anything like that. A half-moon under the eye, around the tear duct, and a bit higher, faintly - that's caused by lots of things. But these people seem to have full-black eye sockets, pretty evenly flooded top to bottom, left to right And that almost for sure has to be periorbital ecchymosis, aka raccoon eyes or panda eyes. That is caused, always, by damage to the lining of the skull (blood between the dura mater and the cranium has nowhere else to go and pools here because it's the nearest point it can be re-absorbed into the bloodstream). Eyelids puff up with it. It's like blood blisters for eyes, makes my eyes water looking at examples. Usually this is from violent trauma, and usually that's to the back of the skull, but other cracks, surgery that cuts that tissue anywhere, and some cancers in or near the lining can also cause the intra-cranial bleeding that causes this type of extreme rings. Pretty much nothing else does. (a friend just had brain surgery, and I had a chance to see a case in person)

In this case, sudden cancers or surgeries for at least 4 members of this family aren't likely. Usually they say raccoon eyes = basal skull fracture 85% of the time. Here, IF that's what we see, it's 99.9% certain to be a violent fracture, and no accident either. It takes about a day to form, and it's often more purple-red and swollen than this at first. So I suspect it was about two or maybe three days (or more? guessing) prior to the "chlorine gas attack" that this family was assaulted, with each one (except maybe the boy V3, and maybe not the mother) cracked in the back of the head, probably knocked unconscious, probably tied up then, and finally gassed/baked/whatever the hell this is, and it got fatal as their eyes were starting to drain and get a more faint healing bruise color as seen here. Strange shit these passing regime helicopters can pull off in Syria. --Caustic Logic (talk) 12:38, 14 March 2017 (UTC)