Warning

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, December 3, 2017

Assad Files Paper Recycling Continues

December 3, 2017

Ian Birrell for The Mail on Sunday has dramatic, first-time revealed certain parts of a previously reported pile of papers story: "Body parts stashed in fridges, horrific accounts of torture and mystery disappearances: Full horror of President Assad's regime laid bare as smuggled documents held in secret location are opened for the first time" 2 December 2017 | Updated: 03:09 EST, 3 December 2017.  Headlining shock-point list:
  • Operatives smuggled 800,000 documents out of Syria for evidence of Assad's war crimes
  • One was wounded fleeing with a case full of documents, another was killed in an ambush  
  • At least 400,000 have been killed while thousands are held in detention centres 
  • Papers reveal corpses stacked in hallways, bodies with eyes gouged out and unexplained disappearances 
There's one cited document in the relevant period that might be opened for the first time here, one other that's pre-conflict and irrelevant, and two important highlighted documents ... that are the same two important highlighted documents in a few news reports already on the "Assad Files." These news stories span the last three years and running, well-paced for story longevity, every 7-11 months. In each reminder article, it's presented as new and shocking, and they keep pulling up these two main documents and a couple of rotating others as a sampling that's ... deliberately weak? Or just the best they could find?

Timeline of "Assd Files" stories
  • 8 October, 2014: New York Times 
  • (7 months later) 12 May 2015: Syria's Truth Smugglers, the Guardian
  • (11 months later) April, 2016 Bashar al-Assad's War Crimes Exposed Ben Taub, the New Yorker
  • (11 months later) March 15, 2017: Reuters piece, to prime us for the following?
  • (11 days later)  March (26?), 2017: Documentary: Syria's Disappeared aired on Channel 4, UK 
  • (8 months later) December 2, 2017: this in the Daily Mail.
Looking at that, I'd say the pace has picked up this year. If you do the tired old trick a little faster, it can seem fresher, seem like it's "going somewhere." 

The people responsible for collecting and spinning the "Assad files": Committee for International Justice and Accountability, a private but government-supported group dedicated to getting certain governments in legal or legal-seeming trouble. They try to do this by gathering evidence - especially paperwork - but also often-crucial and unverifiable claims from alleged witnesses. Birrell refers to the CIJA and its contractors inside Syria several times as "brave." Some of their activists/smugglers have reportedly been killed or wounded by a regime desperate to hide the blood-curdling secrets contained in these papers. 

Bill Wiley is the main visible face of this project, cited in the Mail article. Wiley and co. have a bunch of real documents - there are others who've run clearly fake docs, but I doubt these guys do. There are over 800,000, they say, hoping for a day in court. Between all of these, we have now FOUR documents shared in some detail as best examples. These aren't one-in-a-million examples or complete flukes mind you. These represent one out of every 200,000+ files. That strengthens the case. They didn't find just one shady-seeming document in this enormous cache. They found four of them.

But that appearance of oppression could also be in how you read the documents, as we'll see below. And from the rest they keep not showing, it seems they have 799,996 or more documents that don't even look criminal when put in a certain light. That is, they might have a massive documentary absolution of the "Assad regime," that they never plan to let some defense team see. It' all for show, to keep the appearance of repression and the need for this running regime change campaign.

The first three specified papers were already tallied and analyzed at the well-done ACLOS page and written about here at the Monitor. Below, in review: what's shared in Birrell's piece, what's not shared, and what's new here - a fourth entry, finally.

specific claims - not new: 
1- crisis cell meeting August 5 (ACLOS): (not dated here aside from August, presuming same document or day's set of files). This order for a crackdown  may mention non-violent activists as people to round up, and maybe that's why this one was chosen (it could literally be a typo not repeated in following orders). But some activists were coordinating and knew things, and would be good to question at least. And more importantly, said orders should also mention militants involved in this crisis. Yet this is not mentioned, suggesting Wiley and co. have omitted it in their selective presentation.

It's a serious omission to make. Just 5 days earlier in Hama, on July 31, unexpectedly capable militants launched coordinated raids on several security posts, killing some two dozens police and military, dumping 13 slaughtered captives in the river the next morning, at least one with his throat cut. Between militants killed in self-defense, and civilians (killed by the militants?) some 80+ other men were also killed in Hama this day, and the package was sold as over 100 protesters gunned down for no reason. (see here)

The Syrian government already had hundreds of security personnel killed across the country, many civilians killed as well, and daily accusations of regime crimes pushing towards military intervention ala Libya. So they had a crisis, and developed a national plan. The CIJA publicity machine gives us a distorted partial look at it, spun as an unprovoked attack on strictly peaceful protesters.  

2- DeZ bodies in fridges memo (ACLOS):
"In September, the public attorney in Deir Ezzor sent three faxes—later retrieved by the CIJA’s investigators—to the governor, the Syrian minister of justice, and the head of the province’s joint investigation committee, urging them to stop violating Syrian law. In one, he wrote, “Parents and relatives of the arrested persons are asking daily about the fates of sons, fathers, and brothers. You ought to listen to what they have to say. The hospital refrigerator is full of unidentified corpses that have disintegrated, since they have been there for a long period of time.” (Taub)
This Deir Ezzour public attorney could be a rebellion sympathizer, or just being informed by them. It could be they have relatives arrested for armed activities, or on suspicion, and are worried. Or it could be people they think were arrested but were really killed by the regime and stuffed in fridges, or by criminal gangs and dumped somewhere. Presumably found bodies the government has no identity for are being stored in fridges as people worry. "Body parts" seems to be extrapolated from the bodies "deteriorating"

Document dated September 11. No one mentions the date, but I was able to read it myself on the document - 9/11/2011 is ten years since 9/11/2001 and just as ambassador Stevens was getting killed by the same kind of "protesters" over in Benghazi. This is the extra-chilling document they actually show us - the only one, I think (shown panning by in the Channel 4 program). I asked about a translation from these screen-grabs, but got no response. I'm now crowdsourcing this. Comments open, etc. This is the one document we can see in full, mostly, and get translated. What all does it say? Note this will be the one with the least exculpatory context, their best example of a document where the whole page almost looks right. Let's see how close it gets.


3 (not mentioned here) Late May 2011 (ACLOS): Jameh orders torture stopped, no doc where he ordered it begun - apparently he heard reports or even just accusations that it was happening, and also reiterated don't shoot protesters, without specifying whether or not he believed this was actually happening. It all seems like "if you're doing this crap, please stop." 

That's the three documents they bother to highlight as best examples.

New Bits from Birrel
Mazen Hamada Family Updates: not part of the files but related to their permanently-attached star witness Mazen Hamada (it's he, not "papers" that speaks of gouged-out eyes): "His remaining family has disappeared after a recent regime attack on Deir ez-Zor." He was in touch with them under ISIS occupation until then? Hm.
"Four relatives are still missing, although he thinks he saw the body of one nephew among 53,000 images of corpses smuggled out by a military police photographer." Earlier he still held out hope... this nephew was arrested with him way back in 2012, and would have to die prior to August, 2013 in order to be seen in the Caesar Photos. but he only decided on a match, apparently, since his last stories in 2016. This is a bunch of crap digging for fresh drama to keep the story alive. He's studied the photos and cites some abuses seen therein, like gouged-out eyes, blue bodies, and a kid with a melted neck as things he saw with his own eyes, also. He might have a specific photo in mind, a dramatic one, to be his poor 15-year-old nephew.

June Beating Death Coverup? Idlib
One apparently new document is revealed, and it's not bad. I'll list at ACLOS, for best example #4. This one is "chilling," the journalist Birrell helpfully notes.
A chilling series of letters from Idlib in June 2012 exposes how a military judge signed off the death of a man from ‘sudden heart attack’ – a euphemism used often with murdered detainees. But the next day a military police officer pointed out the man died due to being beaten at a checkpoint. Doctors confirmed the real cause of death: ‘nervous system failure due to pain caused by bruises all over the body – more specifically, the testicles and the stomach’.
The claim that heart attack is used as a euphemism is unproven. There's been one document shown saying cause of death heart attack, and for all we know it was. Here, for all we know the checkpoint beating could be another like this, at a likely rebel checkpoint, they have a guy badly lashed a couple of minutes prior to having him say on camera, still weak with shock, that Assad's guys did it at a checkpoint. As a first priority, of course he rush over here in a wobbly daze to get the story documented, right?

I suppose this report sounds more like their own checkpoint (or else they wouldn't know it happened at a checkpoint - like if they found a victim dumped. I mean it's not like he'd stagger to an army post before telling the story and keeling over - that's even dumber than the story related above)

Idlib in June, 2011 had some interesting sub-areas - a number of Islamists in the military defected and killed over 100 of their colleagues in Jisr al-Shughour June 3-5, before fleeing back to their sponsors in Turkey. Some of the victims were brutally beheaded in Islamist fashion. It was sold as defectors killed by Alawite militiamen and Iranians, when they refused to kill protesters. So Just who was beating who over what, where and when in this context isn't necessarily clear or all that compelling. For example, if one of these defectors was caught trying to sneak out, and struggled at all, he might get stomped to death by infuriated soldiers, and maybe a doctor might try to write that off. Who knows?

<add 12/3>In my haste I didn't notice these faxes are from June 2012, not 2011. Ok, so that's part of why they didn't cite this yet. Most cited papers are from 2011, when it's believed there was no armed insurgency and all orders of repression were against protesters. By 2012, mentions of militants are less avoidable, and even the public knows militants including Jabhat al-Nusra were well active by then, especially in Idlib. They were more frequently doing things like taking over government checkpoints for periods of time, and whole towns.

As usual, the full context of the document is not shared to get a clearer reading. But there might be some criminal or extrajudicial activity documented in this spot. On the surface, it sounds like someone was beaten to death at a government checkpoint and a doctor tried to cover it up, but changed his story when a military man pointed out the inaccuracy. Hm. This is supposed to reflect the claimed systematic conspiracy to murder detainees all in secret? Is that really so impressive when it's alleged prisoners are rounded up, tortured and exterminated en masse on centralized orders, nationwide and from the start? The CIJA has so shared no documents reflecting such a policy. They found one possible beating death covered up, seeming to be its own unusual incident they were concocting a response to, at worst. It's the most concrete example yet for such alleged coverups, and it sort of contradicts the theory, doesn't it? <end 12/3>

Conclusion
That was our fourth point of proof chosen, compared to a supposed 799,996 other documents that didn't look quite so "chilling" or incriminating. I bet they even have a #5 with a passable line waiting in reserves, the clever buggers.

Consider: the only realistic way to a just peace is with the Syrian government in control and uncontested, like they were in 2010, the last time things were livable there. People like the CIJA say no way, these leaders need to face trial, not run a country or fight terrorism. They have to be brought down and arrested, face trial or get shot, etc. So they endeavor to block peace and prolong the conflict, in the name of justice. You'd better have a damn good case if you insist on this stance.  

These guys pretty clearly do not have a good case, just a repeated performance of confidence using the same small set of tricks

Any lawyers, journalists, human rights campaigners or government officials allowed to see these documents - request a full translation of these best examples, ask for any second-best examples, have those 5-8 documents FULLY translated yourself, and you will then be able to gauge the strength of the case in these 800,000 papers. Don't just accept the word of these confidence artists who get paid to act that way.

Monday, November 27, 2017

What Happened December 6 and 22, 2012 in Daraya?

The First Bodies Tossed Across Obama's Red Line
Part 3: What Happened December 6 and 22, 2012 in Daraya?
November 27, 2017
(incomplete)


The oldest CW allegation you'll hear about from France or Israel or the United States was in Homs city, back on December 23, 2012. This confused incident is explored in part 2 of this series, but in review:

The opposition lodged clashing claims - a poison that seemed to be either sarin or the non-fatal incapacitating agent BZ (or maybe both?) was reportedly released by government forces, killing 6 civilian men and one rebel fighter (per opposition records). That was mostly reported at the time as 7 fighters. Western experts dismissed it at the time as some murky mystery and- something like tear gas gone awry - not a real CW incident and not over Obama's red line. It stayed like that for three months, but as soon as Syria was demanding a probe of the March 19, 2013 Khan al-Assal attack (see part 1), France, the UK, and the US decided this case and one other (and then some others they scraped up) also needed to be investigated just as urgently, helping to jam up and stall Syria's requested probe. (see Was the Syria Chemical Weapons Probe "Torpedoed" by the West?)

An event those powers didn't include in their growing list, and still won't tell you about, happened one day earlier than this first widely-known CW attack, with the same death toll of seven. In fact, it seems kind of like the Homs incident was cooked up to distract from or shift the implications of this preceding event. These 7 bodies tossed across Obama's red line without note were Syrian Arab Army soldiers. Back then I created the ACLOS page Alleged Chemical Attack, December 22, 2012. There's not much details to share, so it's all included below and then some.

Two Reported CW Attacks in Jobar
On December 6th there was the first claim of CW use that I ever noticed (ACLOS page), coming just after Obama's December 3 re-iteration of his "red line" threat/offer (the first instance I had noticed - I didn't know he'd said it already in August). It was just three days later that the threat was snubbed or the offer taken, at least tentatively. And it was in Daraya, southwest Damascus suburbs, where reports came in of poisonous gasses "thrown" by government forces engaged there. This was from the well-connected Local Coordinating Committees, with no details and no word on casualties (presumably no deaths).

Times of Israel reported on these claims December 7, citing the LCC report with no more detail, but supporting it claims from a supposed CW defector. Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razaq is cited telling a Saudi paper that Syria was already using mustard gas and sarin (both described as nerve agents) routinely, using sarin to clear any area before entering (since it was odorless, not foul-smelling, and evaporates in 30 minutes...). This logic-impaired Wahhabi activist "also pleaded for international assistance in taking control of chemical weapon sites, which he claimed defectors have accurate intelligence about." 

Anyway, no deaths or details, like who if anyone was even affected, were ever reported. So the December 6 incident is a fairly weak claim itself, and we're done covering it. But that's not to say it was based on nothing. It does have chemicals used, apparently in some response to Obama's renewed offer, and the people with possible plans to dross the red line were in Daraya, which rings likely considering the following.

16 days later, pro-government sources reported, a group of Syrian soldiers was in Daraya and had toxic gasses somehow thrown at them. Iranian news first reported this, saying only that the gas was yellow in color, and the seven who died did so within an hour or less. (via ACLOS page)
Militants fighting against the Syrian government have used chemical weapons against the army in Daraya near the capital, Damascus, military sources say.
According to a commander of the Syrian Presidential Guard, at least seven Syrian soldiers were killed on Saturday after they were attacked by a chemical weapon which produced a toxic yellow gas.
The soldiers were reportedly killed within an hour after inhaling the gas.
A later OPCW report (a revised version only, available via Zanders blog and now ACLOS) mentioned this incident being reported by the Syrians, sort of a side note from the past. The details they share in their report are exactly the same.
 2.4 In addition, Note Verbale 150 made reference to an attack where it is alleged that toxic gases were employed against Syrian Arab Army soldiers on 22 December 2012. According to the note verbale, seven fatalities occurred as a result of exposure to a yellow gas. These fatalities happened within one hour of exposure.
This strangely adds almost exactly nothing to what we already knew. Is that all the Syrians handed the OPCW, or is it just all they shared with us? But coming later, from the government, that death toll should be updated to reflect the final count, if the first reports didn't. But it's still 7, with no delayed deaths added later. That's noteworthy.

Sarin Attack? 
There's no further mention of the December 22 incident in the OPCW report; it seems they didn't investigate it. But after noting it, they did bother to explain in the other cases, "those affected in the alleged incidents may have, in some instances, been exposed to some type of non-persistent, irritating substance" (like chlorine) and in one case (Daraya, Feb. 15, 2015) exposed to a "sarin-like substance." [2] It's not spelled out, but between possible inclusion and implied exclusion, they suggest the December 22 attack was likely by chlorine or some similar in action, and not by sarin. This makes it seem a bit less interesting than it perhaps deserves to be. 

In fact, those 10 irritant cases tend to NOT be chlorine attacks as presented (see big events list here). Whatever it is (apparently 2 or 3 different things), it sometimes smells like chlorine, but other times rotten or burnt smelling. And it tends to incapacitate people and make them pass out in a way chlorine usually doesn't, but that sarin, for example, does. The agent(s) used are not identified, and worth more study. 

In that OPCW list, a yellow color does not come through in most cases, but in the bigger list of all similar claims, it tends to be the most common, which is a potential match for this December 22 attack. No one says anything else we've heard. The delivery weapon is not described. No smell is reported. Types of symptoms that proved fatal are unexplained. It's not clear if "they suffocated with damaged lungs (chlorine)" or "they had their nervous system disrupted and stopped breathing" (sarin) is the better description.

But 7 dead, so quickly, would be quite unusual for chlorine, whereas it's to be expected with sarin. Extreme exposure will paralyze instantly and kill within seconds. Most fatalities will occur after some minutes of struggle, and occasionally they'll live longer, perhaps in a coma, before dying. If this had been sarin, for example: One might die instantly, four more within ten minutes, four others might struggle for up to 30 minutes, and one guy's nearly-survival was cancelled after 50 minutes. Statistically, maybe 12 others would stabilize and recover for some days, 22 others would be unaffected or recover within minutes to hours and be discharged that day or the next. That's a lot not to mention, but no one has asked, that I've noticed.

If it were chlorine, maybe a group was pinned down under fire, and hit with a strong dispersion, waited too long too run, suffered massive damage, suffocated fairly quick with shredded and blood-filled lungs.  But there should be others who got near as much and at least died after a longer struggle. But it sounds like the dying stopped after an hour at seven and everyone else pulled through. Large-scale chlorine deaths will hardly ever stop after an hour. They'll usually go on for days before there's a final toll. So unlikely this was chlorine or anything as simple. More likely, it was a nerve agent, or at least something more acutely fatal. 

Why would Syria not report this? It's possible they didn't even know or do the right tests, and it's possible they did know and concealed it for some reason, or told the OPCW and they neglected to mention that even as they argued against it.  

And consider this:

Sarin in Daraya, 2013-2015
Daraya is next to Moadamiya, where the West Ghouta portion of the Aug. 21 chemical massacre was said to happen. The area including both towns was effectively a pocket at the time, cut off from other rebel areas in East Ghouta. If there were any false-flag shenanigans with sarin here, it would be from sarin held locally in Moadamiya and/or Daraya.

Soldiers would be hit with sarin in Daraya later, confirmed, twice...
8-25-2013: Ahrafiya Sahnaya is a town just south of Daraya, given as the local of an incident on August 25, 2013. Actually it was at the sewage treatment plant between the two towns, so basically Daraya. For the third time since the Ghouta massacre on the 21st, rebels had hit Syrian soldiers in Ghouta with serious toxins - two were confirmed by the OPCW as sarin, including this one.
A cylindrical canister was thrown with a catapult, around 7 or 8pm, released a "foul-smelling smoke" that caused decreased consciousness, nausea, AND it was an irritant, causing lung damage, eye  irritation, besides miosis, fatigue, and hospital stays of almost a week.

2-15-2015: 18 months after that 8-25-2013 incident, just 1.8 km northwest of that spot, and still on the frontline, another group of soldiers was hit with a smoke weapon that had a strange smell "like burning nylon" and caused burning in the eyes and lungs. This incident is also confirmed by the OPCW as sarin (from the same report, and this case has some detail, also explored in this post here). No one died, but four soldiers suffered notable exposure ("blurred  vision, teary   eyes,   runny   nose,   dizziness, headache, breathing difficulties, mild fatigue, and nausea."), and one had severe impairment, lost consciousness, and may have come near dying. 

just where the 12-22-2012 attack happened is one of many things that's unclear about it. Was it the same then as in these later cases? Was that yellow gas foul-smelling and caustic?

But whatever it was, in the end what matters more is who used it and what that says about their capabilities - technical and moral. There's been no suggestion the government gassed their own, but that would probably come up if pushed - but it seems probably rebels did this, and the very next day, someone decided to create the impression Syria was tossing poison gas, and not in Daraya but up in Homs. As I'll be adding there too, "Assad" may as well have left this note attached to that Homs attack.

---






Sunday, November 26, 2017

What Happened the Night of April 13/14 in Sheikh Maqsoud?

The First Bodies Tossed Across Obama's Red Line
Part 5: What Happened the Night of April 13/14 in Sheikh Maqsoud?
November 26, 2017
(rough, incomplete)

Background: A Midnight Attack Amidst Islamist Occupation
Most people refer to this, as the page at A Closer Look on Syria does, as April 13, 2013. However, by the story it was actually about 3 am on April 14, in the sprawling Kurdish-majority Sheikh Maqsoud district of Aleppo. This is the first of two known incidents to employ the magical hand grenades apparently belonging to or used by Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and that was otherwise unknown and never-before-seen. In the other attack two weeks later in Saraqeb, they showed this grenade as responsible, but there were later suggestions that was shown as a similar example, not the exact weapon. But in this case, it's the one used, seen laying on the stairs (comparison below). So that story cannot be unwritten, in case anyone was tempted.






Here, as in Saraqeb, they say it was dropped from a helicopter. Well, some said there was one:
M.Sergie tweeted "Some survivors said the canisters were dropped from a helicopter, but others didn't hear rotors." You would hear them. Whatever. The hand grenade fell from the regime helicopter (did you know rebels have no helicopters?) into the open stairwell of an apartment building, tearing though plastic sheeting over the top of it. Upon impact with the upper stairs, it coated them with some white powder that appears sprayed, almost like a small fire extinguisher went off here. Unless this is actually shattered cinderblock, there was apparently no cinderblock involved in this drop, as they would allege in Saraqeb. (there are crumbles, but also what looks like rebar from some serious concrete damage - still needs more review)

Tracy Shelton would report on April 30 about this attack for PRI (then Global Post): The horrific chemical weapons attack that probably wasn’t a chemical weapons attack
“When we arrived on the scene I saw the bomb canister. It was not a heavy explosive,” said Toul Haldun Zagroz, a Kurdish police officer in Sheikh Maqsoud. He said he was part of the second team to arrive at the scene, adding that many of the police and rescuers on the first team ended up in the hospital with similar symptoms as the victims.

“There was a white powder covering the stairs but there was no smell or smoke. It did not even occur to me that it might be a chemical, but when we went inside we saw the children dead and the Kurdish police who had arrived before us were on the ground foaming something white from their mouth. Their eyes were so red.”

We must note this Kurdish-majority district had just been overrun by Turkish-backed Islamists. An AP report from Saturday, March 30 has an "FSA" guy boasting how they and and their "Kurdish brothers liberated Sheikh Maqsoud of Assad's criminal gangs and shabiha," referring to pro-government militias now called National Defense Forces. The attack, dubbed "Kurdish Fraternity," was launched the 28th and largely culminated with partial control on the 30th. On that day,
"The Observatory (SOHR) said rebels captured a pro-government Sunni Muslim cleric in the fighting, killed him and then paraded his body through the neighborhood.

State-run Al-Ikhbariya TV identified the cleric as Hassan Seifeddine. It said he was beheaded and his head was placed on the minaret of Al-Hassan Mosque where he used to lead the prayers.

The SANA state news said Seifeddine's body was "mutilated" after the "assassination."
There was a report that "FSA" denied the murder, and suggested Assad's undercover "Shabiha" had killed Seifeddine to make the liberators looks bad. (ACLOS)

That's March 30. After a month of FSA/Islamist-Kurdish joint management, Tracy Shelton noted on April 30: "The brief alliance was quickly shattered last week after the rebels accused the Kurds of double-crossing them and clashes erupted." That should be around April 25. Sounds like things broke down shortly after this chemical attack, or was maybe building up to that. April 13/14 might already be a time that Jabhat al-Nusra could use their weapons against Kurds, including some police and certain civilians ... 

But the "FSA" and allies say the government is behind it, as Shelton heard. A Dr. Hassan, who treated the victims in Afrin, "said he thought the government was attempting to scare the Kurds in Sheikh Maqsoud — using a small attack with some kind of chemical — to prevent them from working again with the rebels." But not everyone agreed: "Others accuse the Free Syrian Army of trying to rope foreign powers into the conflict by feigning a chemical attack." It's not noted, but their Jabhat Al-Nusra allies might be doing the same. And, as Shelton noted, "The Syrian government has little to gain from speculation that chemical weapons are being used in Syria." 

Growing Death Toll, Victim ID Problems, 
Tracy Shelton's article published the story via a survivor's tale - apparently taken second-hand from the medics she spoke with
Yasser Younes went to bed around midnight on April 13. When he woke up two days later, he was in a hospital, and his wife and two young children were dead.

Younes, who lives in the Kurdish-controlled neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud, said he doesn't remember much from that night. He recalled waking up to a loud noise at 3 a.m. Opening the door, he said he saw smoke. And that was it.

A bit more of the story as told by Shelton on Democracy Now
...I spoke with the neighbors who had come in to help, and they’d found the two young boys were dead. The mother later died in hospital. So that was the whole family that was inside the house. The neighbors that came in to help them, they also fell ill. Most of them were in a coma also for a day or two.

And then the next party to arrive were the Kurdish police and members of the YPG forces, the Kurdish militia forces that control the area, and many of them also fell ill, up ’til the next people arriving on the scene like three hours later. 
Most initial sources have 3 killed - two young boys and their mother, who would be Yasser's wife and kids. Some reports mentioned another woman had died, for 4 total. The December, 2013 UN final report heard "the alleged incident affected 21 persons and caused one death." That's clearly incomplete and apparently means one death in hospital (the mother: the boys were allegedly dead from the start).

Most sources agree 20, 21, or 22 total patients were brought to the hospital in Afrin, including the 3-4 dead and thus 16-19 who survived the poison. 

Interestingly, the opposition VDC has 14 people listed as killed, for almost everyone reported as affected (VDC query: all chemical deaths April 13, and ACLOS). Beyond the first 2 women and 2 children, this adds another woman and 9 men, for 14 martyrs total. This division of death reports would be strange, if it weren't so common. Included in this list is our star witness: Yaser Younes Adult - Male, from Sheikh Maksoud, died 2013-04-13. Cause of Death: Chemical and toxic gases.

Syrian opposition site Aksalser.com reported on the attack, giving the names of 3 killed and just 10 others of those affected (should be 17-19). The VDC lists all but 2 of these as killed, and also lists 3 others the original list didn't name as affected, but who wound up dead. The remaining 7-9 patients aren't named anywhere, and by this anyway, virtually everyone who named died. But their names changed in many cases...






One possible argument is the VDC just goofed up and listed all the effected and dead as dead - and missed a couple, and got some names different, added a couple, etc. ... That sounds reasonable, and who would report these strangely-delayed deaths anyway? Best if they just vanish.

I'll come back to the victims names and related patterns... there are some definite oddities here, which is not unusual. <space for that>

Fake Star Witness?
Yasser: Shelton heard, second-hand it seems, that he saw smoke outside the apartment and then passed out. Democracy Now interview: "Yes, well, he—it was actually dropped into their home. It fell onto their courtyard stairs just outside. So, when he woke up, he had opened the door. His only recollection was just seeing some smoke. And then he was in a coma for the next few days." To akselser.com, the man himself said "a small explosion occurred in our house ... I rushed to the children's room to find them unconscious and there was smoke in the room," said Yasser Yunis" who then called up his brother Abdullah to come help (hence brother in the table above). I guess we prefer the version from the horse's mouth and can't call much of a contradiction here. There's less reason for his brother to show up and be effected if Yasser just passed out instead of placing a call. But then did he? He winds up not listed as dead...

consider: article on Tracy Shelton's work here "The most notable survivor was Yasser Younes, who remembered nothing but an explosion at 3 a.m. It was his wife and two children who had died. But Shelton could not interview him; Younes had returned to his home village. “He’d left to another village… and I was trying to get there, but I couldn’t get anyone to take me out there. I didn’t know the exact location” she recalls. Shelton had learned to be careful about accepting rides." That's smart, of course. Is "he went back to his home home town" here code for "he died, and the guy playing him retired the role to live his own life?" 

As far as I've seen, there are no images of Yasser specified. He might be one of the people in the video (none of whom seems to be in a coma, however), but no one says so. So far, I don't even know what he was supposed to look like. That could matter if there were ever some other image said to be of him to compare it to.

And what about the seen victims? 
Ronahi TV exclusive video: Akselser.com posting - Human Rights Investigation posting

They have a couple types of victims in the small group shown, in some dim basement clinic (and seen later in a better-lit hospital) ... obvious staging of "foaming at the mouth and nose" scenes - not just us but several experts saw this and explained in detail why it's probably just as fake as it seems. "I'm wholly unconvinced," as one put it softly. This plus very bland and fake-seeming "convulsions," are seen with the adult male victims (2 of them?), who look like clean-shaven camera-friendly Islamists (ACLOS)

The two baby boys are here, getting a bed each but no treatment - they're already dead. That's another group that's pretty clearly not faking. (at right and above, from some images provided to the SOHR at the time)





Two women are also shown, seeming at least to not be faking for the fun of it. One has apparent mucous bubbles from her nose, and seems paralyzed or dead at first, but later speaks to the camera.

The other woman seems to have suffered a bad foot beating, and shows no obvious chemical signs other than laying still and not looking at the camera ... Did the new Islamist authorities have a go at her for some Sharia law crime like dressing wrong, or being married to a Kurd who crossed them?



Sarin Confirmation 
In retrospect, it shouldn;t be surorising if sarin somehow turned up in this incident, using the same weapon used later in an attack later confirmed to involve sarin. But at the time, it wasn't clear at all, and still, just how it was involved (if it was - likely) remains an open question.

The Times of London report about a sarin attack in Aleppo (see Narwani): apparently people with the Syrian American Medical Society ("a team from “an American medical agency”) came to the Afrin hospital and took hair samples to have tested in US labs. (it seems SAMS also helped take stolen samples from the Khan al-Assal attack, after Islamists again overran the town, and sent hem to the US to confirm sarin in that case - ACLOS). The US was suddenly confident by late April to declare sarin was probably used (doubts aired by April 25 - McClatchy) A 14  June  2013 letter from the US government to the UN investigation alleged Syria's government used sarin "against  the  opposition  in  an  attack  on  the  Aleppo neighborhood of Sheik Maqsood on 13 April 2013," the UN report says. They were unable to verify.

"The United Nations Mission sought to conduct fact-finding activities pertaining to this incident from the territory of a bordering country (in Turkey), having determined that such an investigation held the prospect of producing additional information. The United Nations Mission was ultimately unable to obtain any such information." (Turkey refused?) "In the absence of any further information, the United Nations Mission was unable to draw any conclusions pertaining to this alleged incident." (UN final report). No interviews, blood samples verified, nothing further.

If they had looked, maybe they'd find sarin, plus all the witnesses dead, other strange things even they couldn't ignore ...  

Symptoms and treatment:
As noted, the seen victims have strange or fake symptoms, but it's not totally clear who's who, and some victims were described differently:  
Textbook sarin: "they displayed symptoms of chemical exposure including foaming at the mouth, constricted pupils and difficulty breathing. They were treated using chemical weapons antidote Atropine, Dr Habash claims." (Daily Mail) It's almost like he read that right from a textbook, instead of actual events... except the foaming part. That can happen, but is not as standard or textbook as these guys think, and the shaving creak tricks really push it too far.

Not textbook: "those injured suffered hallucinations, severe vomiting, nose bleeding and eye burning, one of which lost eye sight." (SOHR Facebook) Policeman Zargos: "when we went inside we saw the children dead and the Kurdish police who had arrived before us were on the ground foaming something white from their mouth. Their eyes were so red.”

None of the people seen as victims on video seem to have red eyes or bleeding noses, and they aren't vomiting. Are they stand-ins?

Secondary contamination:
Policeman Zagroz "himself would later suffer similar symptoms. About 30 minutes after entering Younes' home, he was taken to the hospital to be treated for dizziness, severe headache, blurred vision and stomach pain." Dr. Hassan: “My effects were mild, but one doctor had to be admitted to be ICU.” (Shelton, PRI)

Phosphorous?
The VDC heard: "at the beginning news were reporting that shelling was using white phosphoric material and then other sources said it is (Sarin Gas), news to be validated."  This confusion is also seen with Adra, 3-24-13 (a few weeks earlier). There it seems bad translation was to blame - organophosphate (including sarin) comes out as (organic) phosphorous, taken as perhaps WP incendiary weapons. That's probably two early sarin reports.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sarin and the "Foul Irritant(s)" in Syrian CW Attacks

November 24, 2017
(rough, incomplete)
edits 11/29, 12/6

I've covered this many places sporadically, and it's past time for a unified effort at understanding the relation between sarin incidents in Syria and the release of some rotten-smelling yellow smoke or vapor that they say is the sarin. It may or may not be. To get a clearer picture, I think, I'll need only:
- this post with a starter overview (see below),
- a data-dump post for case details by subject,
- some more analysis, and 
- later, an overview post and/or an article or report

Pure vs. Impure Sarin
Still some critics of opposition claims stumble over reported smells involved with alleged sarin attacks, against the supposed fact that the nerve agent sarin is an odorless and colorless chemical. I'm still not an expert, but from what I've learned so far:
High-quality military-grade sarin appears and behaves just like water, including by being colorless and odorless. You'd see this produced by the USA, USSR during the Cold War, in Israeli labs, etc. But some military forces (Iraq, perhaps) and non-state groups (like Aum Shinrikyo) make their sarin in sloppier manner with varying impurities.

The kind made in the former Syrian chemical weapons program... where does that fit? This seems to be an open question, but the implication from Western governments is they make it quite impure ...

<add 11/29>To explain: They seem to have clarified this only in 2017, as explained in pat at The Sarin Evidence. I'll explain below the details of and clues for impure sarin use in Syria. first...

Following the April KS attack, British and French officials stated the sarin used was a match to the sarin used by "Assad" in attacks in 2013, mainly meaning the 4-29-2013 incident in Saraqeb, detailed in a French intelligence report. But they would say it's the same in Ghouta and maybe all cases. Could be.

No one has ever explicitly stated that any of the sarin found in the field after attacks is a match for the materials and processes surrendered by Syria. It was suggested. Some "consistent" chemical signatures or impurities have been cited, but not an exact overall recipe match. And even that could, possibly, be copied exactly by the right mad scientists, with or without inside knowledge of the Syrian program. Intel agencies will have samples of what Syria had, so any of their scientists could just "make some of that."

But instead, they point to supposedly definitive matches between the sarin attacks. So if it turns out terrorists were behind all of those, the findings would be the same - each attack would carry the same signs it does, and that's the fingerprint of the Islamist scum behind it, not of the Syrian government. All the French spooks and their like really add is a repeated act of confidence in declaring each of those attacks as true-flag attacks by the government, instead of false-flag ones by the other side.

Or, when Syrian soldiers are the targets (often), they'd say "fine, that's another stupid accident or maybe a false-flag by Assad to make the rebels look bad... it's not a straight-forward attack by "rebels," who "lack the capability" to whatever whatever..."

As it happens, I suspect a general match between attacks as the French spooks and their shadowy ilk do. They also make the reasonable presumption that whoever has been behind most or all sarin attacks is the first suspect next time around. With a grain of salt, I take the same approach. <end 11/29>

Back to pure vs. impure
As I gather, impure sarin usually has a shorter shelf life, often an unpleasant smell, and may have varying colors. Wikipedia says “impure sarin can smell like mustard or burned rubber.” That's not a definitive source, but perhaps gives some idea... The main smell that emerges here, in the Syrian conflict, is a hard-to-place organic decay smell, perhaps like sulfur (arguably like mustard?) or "like burning nylon" as reported by gassed soldiers in February, 2015, confirmed by the OPCW to have been exposed to sarin. (Monitor post)  It also might be the agent described in one attack as smelling like "dead animals or corpses."

Now (side-note)... back in December, 2012, a supposed defector from the Syrian CW program told the Saudi media, as the Israeli media eagerly repeated (middle part):
(end side-note)

Also note impure sarin is or should be less deadly than the pure kind. Just by statistics, most materials are far less deadly than sarin, and this stuff is made of a reported 40% other stuff (French intelligence report, re: 4-29-2013 incident). Some cases of possible sarin use are dismissed by OPCW investigators as unclear based on low death toll/quick recovery, on the presence of a foul smell, or apparent lack of secondary contamination, all of which might fit just fine with the actual sarin in use - smellier and weaker in all regards than one might expect, especially if one is intent on blaming a state actor expected to field pure sarin...

Consider how the December 2015 OPCW report (PDF, ACLOS posting) dismisses one case of possible impure sarin use, against Syrian soldiers on August 29, 2014 in Jobar, Damascus. It seems there were actually two attacks the same day, with the earlier one smelling like chlorine (per the 2 survivors from the group of 15) and the later one with more survivors/witnesses described as having a foul odor, like "dead animals or corpses" Both caused similar symptoms, including loss of consciousness: in the first case, some were incapacitated (unconscious?), captured and executed, and most of the rest were killed or captured in the following clash. In the foul-smelling case, about 1/3 of the 33 affected soldiers passed out, though everyone escaped this time, assisting each other. The investigators decided the second incident was probably not sarin because...  "the smell of sarin is most frequently described as a sweet smell of apple or pear."

Is it? I have pure = no smell, impure = mustard, burned rubber, etc. That is vague, and probably quite incomplete. There's a person on a forum who says "Sarin gas smells like apple blossom or is odorless also have heard burnt plastic." The apple smell sounds like, perhaps, it's from almost pure sarin (apple blossom OR no odor seems the main smell range closer to purity), with burnt plastic being "also," maybe in a different context, from less pure material.
<add 12/6>A recent comment by Abe at Rick Sterling's  Consortium News article: "When pure, Sarin is odorless. When impure or contaminated, Sarin may have a slightly fruity odor, similar to a weak ethyl acetate solution." That agrees with what I'm picking up. <end 12/6>

Well, none of the attacks in Syria with confirmed sarin involvement has an apple/pear smell reported. Wherever there's sarin confirmed by the OPCW themselves (SEVEN of 8 cases, dated 3-19-13, 4-29-13, 8-21-13, 8-24-13, 8-25-13, 2-15-15, 4-4-17), it - or its release partner taken for it (see below) - smells foul, like organic rot, but strange, hard to place, maybe like sulfur, burning nylon (that's plastic), rotten eggs, etc. One exception is 3-30-17, with reports of no smell (add 11/29: these reports are not very trustworthy, seem very limited and close to militants, and report many unusual differences from the usual patterns).

Likely sarin attacks on 3-19-13, 12-11/12-16 and many against Syrian soldiers (see events list for all I've catalogued) have the same kind of strange, foul, rotten odor described. It never smells fresh and fruity as they claim. So their dismissal is ill-founded, and that attack that smelled like decaying flesh might have used the same thing that usually comes with sarin - when it's checked for (they don't check in most cases, like this 8-29 case).

<add 12/6>Abe's comment at Consortium News article: continued "Neither pure nor impure Sarin produce a “horrible, suffocating smell”. Sarin is not capable of “producing strong smells”. Impure Sarin does not smell “like rotten eggs”, “overpowering”, “like cooking gas”, or “like rotten food” as claimed by purported “eyewitnesses”." Well, not that he knows of so far, anyway. But it turns up reported as smelling strange and hard to place, maybe like like sulfur, like "burning nylon," "foul," maybe like dead bodies, all as described by soldiers and civilians in government-held areas. <end 12/6> 

The Sarin Attack Package: How Many Chemicals Involved?
So, there are these incidents where sarin turns up. And it does. The phrase "Sarin-like substance" as used in reports seems unnecessarily confusing; "sarin-like" is so narrow they mean sarin or maybe 2 or 3 obscure compounds (I've seen clorosarin and some vx derivative given as examples), not any other likely poison.

In these same incidents there tends to be some bomb or rocket or grenade/cinderblock impact, and there is some kind of chemical that reportedly or verifiably comes out of some device. And there are reported symptoms linked to that (which don't always reflect the textbook description of sarin poisoning, and which may not be from that vapor, and which may even be fictitious, depending). There are often people shown suffering breathing problems and other difficulties. In most cases, some dead people are shown, sometimes many of them, often appearing to be killed by something else. (see here for example)

So, the connection between each of these things may not be as clear as it seems. It's possible the open-release smoke could be the visual effect for their fake sarin attack (maybe toxic as well to some degree, to help it blend in), while victims to be shown might be gassed with, say, carbon monoxide in some basement, while the actual sarin is saved for spiking samples and token doses for the people they send for testing.

But in one case, at least as it seems, it must be all on one release of chemicals from a fired rocket. In Khan al-Assal, Aleppo, on March 19, 2013, one small chemical rocket was fired into a government-held area, believed to be by Jabhat Al-Nusra. A strange-smelling yellow-ish mist was released, causing irritation (skin itching), some sudden deaths, 20 killed all told, and tests and science showing it was impure "cottage industry" sarin, as everyone now agrees. Happening in a government-held area, none of that sort of trickery (by the opposition anyway) is possible. So as we wonder, let's note: this can all be done with one rocket and it can be just sarin with its own impurities, as it was in Khan al-Assal. It may or may not be that way across the board.

So to the extent it may be different, let's give a name to the foul irritant(s) linked to these incidents. How about the foul irritant(s)? (considering there may be more than one used). This may also be the sarin, as it apparently was in Khan al-Assal.

Key features:
- Color: Gas or vapor tends to appear yellow in color, usually pale and sometimes described as white almost that - but other colors including black, blue, and no color appear along with these other features (suggesting there's more than one - yellow seems most common)
- Sometimes associated: reported black fluid, or sometimes black splash seen - best with Khan Sheikhoun - densest patches seem to have a cyan blue hue. (see the post black sarin?)
- Smell: It smells foul, like organic rot, but strange, hard to place, maybe like sulfur, burning rubber or nylon, rotten eggs and garlic, or perhaps like decaying flesh
- Caustic: causes irritation, itching, eye and lung damage
- Sarin: people and the environment are said to get their  positive sarin findings directly from it. Maybe. There seems to be some connection...

Chlorine Confusion
Some incidents considered in this study I had first dismissed as chlorine attacks. At one point, I even did the same with Khan al-Assal, but that turned out to be sarin. These others are now under review, because some things that suggest chlorine also suggest this impure sarin and/or foul irritant(s). In fact, the similarities are strong enough it strikes me they could have been intentionally designed by some twisted genius as twin weapons to be easily confused, so some reports could be hyped up as sarin and others hyped down to chlorine (for example). In fact, this might have happened several times...

- Color: chlorine gas is basically yellow, slightly green tinted, and can appear quite pale or basically white when it's thin. A yellow gas (vapor, actually) is consistent with the sarin used in this war. If we ever got video of it, we might see a different hue, but verbally, they're hard to separate. Yellow gas" can go either way, depending.

- Caustic: both chlorine and this serrin cause irritation, eye and lung damage - chlorine does this by turning into corrosive acid on contact with water. I'm not sure how the impure sarin/irritant(s) work.

How to tell:
- Smell (but not foolproof): this is the key difference: chlorine smells like chlorine bleach, cleaning products, while the sarin stuff smells like awful, strange rot. Nonetheless, first reports from the Khan al-Assal attack specified a chlorine aroma, and that turned out to be sarin, with others recalling a sulfur-like stench. Those first reports could be confused from the sarin's similar color and strange smell, colored by prevalent worries at the time about all that chlorine Jabhat Al-Nusra had just seized nearby in December, 2012 (partly considered here). 

There was a December 22, 2012 chemical attack on Syrian soldiers in Jobar (ACLOS), using some yellow gas, initially seeming to be chlorine. Details (like smell and symptoms) are scarce, but the fact that 7 died, and all within an hour or less, would make it unusually deadly for chlorine. Instead, it could be the first appearance of the material(s) under study.  

As noted, two same-day attacks on soldiers 8-29-2014 - also in Jobar - had the same basic symptoms that are different from chlorine, possibly sarin, and involving widespread loss of consciousness. But they had different smells reported, and one was chlorine-like. Well, the same was reported in Khan al-Assal. Maybe those two soldiers formed a mistaken memory, like the more confident one thinking it was chlorine-like, and the other not remembering and following suit.

However, there are other attacks in 2014 where more soldiers report a chlorine type smell, but also report diminished consciousness or passing out, which doesn't happen from chlorine, usually. (see events list, 7-11-2014, 9-10-2014, 1-8-2015) So even if it really did smell like chlorine, it almost surely isn't, even if it's also not sarin. Yet more clues there could be three or more chemicals involved in the entire attack-and-samples package.

- Sarin-like effects: consistent symptoms (miosis, salivation/tears/nausea/vomiting - SLUDGE, paralysis, loss of consciousness, vision blurring/dimming, headache, fatigue,  high and/or quick death toll (as with 12-22-2012), secondary contamination, etc. These will help illustrate chlorine is unlikely and/or that sarin is likely.

With That,
Proceed to the events list, if you care to go over the stuff I'm going over (still in assembly - may be a near-complete list now). Some 29 incidents or clusters of incidents are assessed so far by the features under consideration (11 with verified or likely sarin involvement, 18 possible cases under consideration).

And FWIW other sarin-related posts here of possible interest (where I've covered this sporadically in the past):
- Black Sarin? (possible color impurities)
- What Happened on March 19, 2013? (Khan al-Assal)
- Sarin Faking in Syria: token dose storytellers running the show?
- The Sarin Evidence (Khan Sheikhoun - pure vs. impure, Syira's stocks vs. what's found)
The Ghouta Massacre's Sarin Myth, Brightly Lit (Ghouta - focus on possible lack of sarin release, or its link to the mass deaths)
- List of CW incidents (sarin, chlorine, others, except by ISIS) up to early 2017 (somewhat incomplete and with some errors): Red Flags Across the Red Line (PDF)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sarin and the "Foul Irritant(s)": Events List

Sarin and the "Foul Irritant(s)"
Events List
November 23, 2017
(rough, incomplete, to be filled-in)
edits 11-25, 12-2/3

This is part of a more organized study of the sarin used in Syrian attacks, or the sarin that turns up plus whatever else is used in those incidents ... the common features and patterns - is this all one chemical substance that would have to be impure sarin? Two used in conjunction? Three or more used in rotation? I won't be answering that with certainty, but perhaps with some analysis, a darn good guess might emerge.

Below is a long, fairly complete list of incidents, with the incidents partly filled-in to start. 
first, verified sarin, then maybe cases: the same kind of clues appear to the degree this could be the same chemical(s) as one or another used in the cases where sarin does turn up.

-- Verified (or said to be) Sarin Incidents --
(not necessarily complete - did I miss any that anyone can spot?)
12 incidents or clusters (as with mid-April and 12/11-12-2016) 
(3-19-2013 Ateibah promoted from maybe list 12/3)

* 3-19-2013 Khan al-Assal, Aleppo (suburb) 
Used Against: SAA soldiers and/or civilians (majority Shi'ite) (missing army post by 300 meters, unclear if they meant to hit it)
Casualties: 1 soldier and 19 civilians killed, 124 others affected but lived.   (UN report, citing Syrian records)
Sarin: Russian lab tests claimed that sarin was found, an impure, terrorist-made "cottage industry" sort. (but first mention I can find is July 9 - Reuters). There were initial worries of that. British scientists decided by March 24 from "samples" that it was tear gas, not sarin (Times of Israel). It seems rebels stole the samples after re-taking Khan al-Assal in June, turned them over to the US via Syrian-American Medical Society, and sarin was confirmed. UN report from Dec. 2013 didn't get that information and was left unable to confirm, when the Syrian government was unable to deliver the samples. They did conclude it was an organophosphate, possibly sarin. (ACLOS) By now UN investigators think it was sarin with the "same unique hallmarks" as that used in  the Ghouta attack of 8-21-2013 (so both using government stocks, so probably the government - see here).
Smell: "a strong pungent smell, possibly resembling sulfur" (UN final report) - chlorine-like (early reports, unreliable - prominent fears of chlorine at the time, similar color, strange smell, poss. confusion)
Caustic: causes itching or "irritation of the skin" (UN final report)
Color: "a yellow-green mist"
Symptoms/treatment:  Some people dropped dead or paralyzed while other suffered symptoms including "irritation  of  skin,  miosis,  impaired  vision,  foaming  from the  mouth,  weakness, convulsions, shortage of breath and loss of consciousness." " miosis,  blurred  vision,  conjunctivitis,  foaming  at  the  mouth,  coughing,  rhinorrhea,  respiratory  distress, bronchospasm,  nausea,  vomiting, cyanosis  and  headache." "the sensation of numbness in the limbs" "Admitted  and  treated 
patients had stayed between two days and two weeks in the hospitals. Miosis had been reported to last for several weeks."
Notes: delivered in local Bashair-3 rocket, thought to be by JaN, impact around 7 am, In this case, no rebel fakery with alternate poisons used on some, etc. is plausible in a government-held area. In this case at least, it's all on the vapor that came out of one not-large rocket.

* 3-19-2013, Ateibah,  Damascus Suburbs
** (and other area attacks 3-14 to April 8) 
Used Against: opposition fighters and some related and displaced civilians
Casualties: 1 fighter, 5 men and a baby died (as with 12-22), unclear others affected
Sarin: reported/suggested, seems coordinated with Khan al-Assal attack, verified as sarin use. <add 12/3>"Physiological samples collected in Syria -- including from Utaybah on March 19 and Sheikh Maqsood on April 13 -- were brought to the U.K. laboratory [Porton Down] for testing. The material tested positive for sarin, Arab and European diplomats said." (WSJ 8-23-2013)</end 12/3> UN final report notes state-lodged reports of this attack, none mentioning sarin. "The United Nations Mission  did  not  receive  sufficient  or  credible  information  in  respect  of" this and 8 other alleged attacks.  

Smell: "foul-smelling"
Caustic: ...
Color: liquid agent said to be like water, but black - gas color not mentioned?
Symptoms/treatment: "

Notes: alleged delivery by rocket - no visuals - preceding attacks back to at least 3-14 and into April noted in this same area: “The patients who arrive here have trouble breathing.Their pupils are constricted. Some are vomiting. They’ve lost their hearing, they cannot speak,their respiratory muscles have been inert. If we don’t give them immediate emergency treatment, death ensues.”The gist of this description is repeated in several others thenewspapermen say they had heard during their investigation. In all, they reported visiting eightmedical centres in the eastern part of the Ghouta region, in only two of which doctors said they had not seen patients apparently affected by chemical weapons. On a single day – 18 March2013 – doctors at Nashibayya recalled the admission of some 60 cases from the Otaiba front,five of which had terminated in death from suffocation." (Robinson) That last almost surely refers to March 19, but might raise a timeline issue. "Five (named) residents are reported dead and more than 60 injured, “[t]hey suffered from suffocation, respiratory failure, haemoptysis, severe drop in blood pressure, nervous and peripheral convulsions, myosis [sic]" 

* 4-13-2013 Sheikh Maqsoud, Aleppo city 
Used Against: civilians in a Kurdish-majority district just overrun by Islamists
Casualties: 14 listed as killed, of an original 16-20 reported as affected (see notes) or "According to witness statements provided to the United Nations Mission by the UNHRC Commission of Inquiry, the alleged incident affected 21 persons and caused one death." (UN final report)  

Sarin: Times of London report about a sarin attack in Aleppo (see Narwani): apparently people with the Syrian American Medical Society ("a team from “an American medical agency”) came to the Afrin hospital and took hair samples to have tested in US labs. (see 3-19 for SAMS involvement). The US was suddenly confident by late April to declare sarin was probably used (doubts aired by April 25 - McClatchy) <add 12/3>"Physiological samples collected in Syria -- including from Utaybah on March 19 and Sheikh Maqsood on April 13 -- were brought to the U.K. laboratory [Porton Down] for testing. The material tested positive for sarin, Arab and European diplomats said." (WSJ 8-23-2013)</end 12/3> A 14  June  2013 letter from the US government to the UN investigation alleged Syria's government used sarin "against  the  opposition  in  an  attack  on  the  Aleppo neighborhood of Sheik Maqsood on 13 April 2013," the UN report says. They were unable to verify. (see notes)
Smell: a report of no smell, but only from someone arriving after the fact

Caustic: worse than usual by some reports: eye damage, sometimes severe enough to cause blindness, and bleeding from the nose (SOHR Facebook)
Color: “There was a white powder covering the stairs, but there was nosmell or smoke. It did not even occur to me that it might be a chemical..." (Robinson)

Symptoms/treatment: ... obvious staging of "foaming at the mouth" scenes (ACLOS) but ... "those injured suffered hallucinations, severe vomiting, nose bleeding and eye burning, one of which lost eye sight." (SOHR Facebook) "they displayed symptoms of chemical exposure including
foaming at the mouth, constricted pupils and difficulty breathing. They were treated using chemical weapons antidote Atropine, Dr Habash claims." (Daily Mail) "when we went inside we saw the children dead and the Kurdish police who had arrived before us were on the ground foaming something white from their mouth. Their eyes were so red.” (Robinson)
Notes:   "The United Nations Mission sought to conduct fact-finding activities pertaining to this incident from the territory of a bordering country" (that means in Turkey) "having determined that such an investigation held the prospect of producing additional information. The United Nations Mission was ultimately unable to obtain any such information." (Turkey refused?) "In the absence of any further information, the United Nations Mission was unable to draw any conclusions pertaining to this alleged incident." (UN final report). No interviews, blood samples verified, nothing further.
This attacks was allegedly by the same strange grenade linked to Jabhat al-Nusra also used in 4-29 attack below, dropped from a helicopter, into the open stairwell of an apartment building (as reported), seen laying in the stairwell. Initial reports: two women and 2 children died, with 16 (or 12?) others affected. Later records: another woman and 9 men also died, for 14 total. This division of death reports is strange. (ACLOS) One man who died has the same name as a supposed survivor who explained to opposition media how his wife and children died... happened in between Jobar attacks below.
The VDC heard: "at the beginning news were reporting that shelling was using white phosphoric material and then other sources said it is (Sarin Gas), news to be validated."  This confusion is also seen with Adra, 3-24-13 (a few weeks earlier). There it seems bad translation was to blame - organophosphate (including sarin) comes out as (organic) phosphorous, taken as perhaps WP incendiary weapons. That's probably two early sarin reports. 

* Mid-April 2013 Jobar,  Damascus Suburbs (a few attacks) 
Used Against: Rebels and civilians in oppsition-held area

Casualties: 1 "FSA" fighter listed as dead, many said to suffer exposure 

Sarin: (Wikipedia article) "In June 2013, the French government told the United Nations that it had evidence of a sarin attack in Jobar between 12 and 14 April.[3](p5) After the August 21st Ghouta chemical attack, French intelligence released a report that said samples from those attacks had confirmed the use of sarin.[6][7][8] However, the U.N. fact-finding mission which investigated the alleged attack did not receive "sufficient or credible information" to support the allegation.[3](p10)" Le Monde report via Robinson: "It is in the urine of three Jobar casualties that Le Bouchet subsequently detects IMPA at levels in the range 270-1140 ng/ml." This is the primary substance created when sarin is broken down in the body. A report that only looked at IMPA results among Tokyo attack victims (apparently all of them, ranging from mild exposure to severe) - found IMPA levels ranging from 2 to 135 ng/ml. The reported Jobar range starts at twice the top of the Tokyo range, and stops at close to ten times that. Did they have people splashed with bucketfuls of liquid sarin over there? Or did they have people ingesting way too much IMPA? Because there's no mention of how much actual sarin was found, if any.
<add 12-2/3> Pmr9 notes urine tests (arranged by Le Monde journalists, maybe for lack of expertise in drawing blood) cannot show sarin, just IMPA. He agrees if this is from actual sarin, it's is a very high dose. It's not primarily removed through the urine and is "probably destroyed in the liver," so the levels in urine should not be higher than in general. The Tokyo samples were of blood, but should probably be similar. These were taken after some time in which levels would fall - given as 1.5 to 2.5 hours after the incident. It's unclear what time lag there was before the Jobar sampling, but however long it was means the original levels were that much higher. The levels reported are not just fatal but super-fatal, and yet there's no mention of fatalities I'm aware of from all these attacks, aside from the one rebel fighter. Just to create a range with two numbers requires at least two victims. Suggested: these presumably living urine donators ingested unrealistically huge doses of just IMPA in order to fake some results (or the samples were spiked with unrealistic levels). <end 12-2/3>
Smell: ...
Caustic: ...
Color: ...
Symptoms/treatment:
Notes: coincides with alleged sarin use in Aleppo on April 13 (above) - Prominent attacks reported at least 4-11,12 and 14 as I had noted (Red Flags report) - but at least as far back as April 7, sporadically up to April 18, and then becoming more routine in the second half of the month. (Robinson)

* 4-29-2013 Saraqeb, Idlib province 
Used Against: civilians in Islamist-held town
Casualties: 1 woman killed (Mariam Al-Khatib), some family members and others said to be affected (11 original patients, 9 mild cases, 5 sent home and 6 total sent to Turkey)
Sarin: French labs, OPCW - high exposure level in the fatality: 9.5 ng/ml of sarin (Le Monde), more than twice the highest level of 4.1 ng/ml recorded among a sampling of Tokyo attack victims in this 1997 report, and apparently causing total receptor blockage (John et al.). A lesser level was reported in another victim who lived, IMPA alone was found in one patient, and it seems nothing in 3 others of a total of 6 actual patients brought to Turkey. (UN final report)
Smell: “It was a horrible, suffocating smell." “These are smelly, and a lot of them were used.” "The smoke was smelly" (Bellingcat)
Caustic: eye and lung damage... "The  severely  intoxicated  52-year-old  woman  ... had broncho constriction and edema-filled lungs with a wheezing and rales-like sound. " (UN final report)
Color: white smoke described
Symptoms/Treatment: (should be covered in detail somewhere...) "You couldn’t breathe at all. Your body would become really tired. You’d lose all senses. You’d feel like you were dead. You couldn’t even see. I couldn’t see anything for three or four days.” "The symptoms include constriction of the pupil, forth around the mouth, complete loss of consciousness"  "the guy who rushed to help the victims lost consciousness when he got to the site." (Bellingcat)
Notes: UN and OPCW were able to confirm sarin in the dead woman's body, but not able to visit the site, and were somehow unable to interview any survivors. (UN final report: "Interviews with survivors: No survivors were interviewed.").
Daylight attack. (time...) Delivery method confused and very unclear, with clashing stories (barrel bombs, plastic bags of powder, or as accepted, a special hand grenade seemingly designed for riot control, also used on 4-13, and linked to Jabhat al-Nusra, but here dropped from a helicopter in 3 cinderblocks, packed with 2 grenades each. One video was provided but seems false, apparently showing an unrelated drop of white phosphorous chunks, so 3 drops in broad daylight went unrecorded (see link).
OPCW and/or chemical weapons convention founded 16 years ago this day in the wake of the Tokyo sarin attack.

* 8-21-2013 East and West Ghouta,  Damascus Suburbs 
Used Against: civilians in Islamist-held areas

Casualties: claimed 1,429 dead (visual minimum ~320), some rebels but over 99% civilian, many hundreds or thousands reportedly affected
Sarin: OPCW tests on environmental samples from impact sites, and on purported survivors - no fatalities tested - exposure found seems low-level (Porter)
Smell: "something like vinegar and rotten eggs" or "like cooking gas"
Caustic:"redness and itching of the eyes" ... (Monitor)
Color: no info...
Symptoms/treatment: ...
Notes: night time attacks, less clear support for any real open chemical release, and this is likely disconnected from many or most victims, who tend to display other and varied symptoms.


* 8-24-2013 Jobar,  Damascus Suburbs 
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: some 30 affected, 4 seriously, none died

Sarin: Syrian tests, OPCW tests find positive for sarin and breakdown products. "All samples allegedly withdrawn by the Syrian Government on 24 August 2013 tested positive for Sarin signatures. Of the four samples collected by the United Nations Mission on 26 and 28 September 2013, i.e. one month after the alleged incident, one tested positive for Sarin signatures. The rest were negative." (UN report - DNA matches the samples as from the same soldiers) 
Smell: "a foul and strange odour" "a badly smelling gas."
Caustic:  eye and lung irritation as usual

Color: not mentioned

Symptoms/treatment: "A group of 10 soldiers was evacuated in armoured personal vehicles to the field medical point with breathing difficulties, blurred vision and with strange symptoms not further specified. Four soldiers were severely affected. They were only partially conscious and not able to support themselves." 20 others less affected arrived later. The acute 4 "complained of a tight chest, wheezing and difficulty breathing" - 2 "had hypersalivation, red eyes with blurred vision and miosis. In addition, the patients were exhausted and disoriented."
"The patients were washed and given two to three doses of atropine and HI-6 intravenously. One of the patients was reportedly unconscious and was transferred to the intensive care unit. The medical records state, however, that the patients were conscious and responsive with restricted pupils and bronchial spasms at the time of admission to the emergency room."
"No signs of secondary contamination were reported to the United Nations Mission," even though it was sarin. "A medical doctor reported itchy eyes in the evening after examining the patients." (perhaps too mild to count)
"Two of the soldiers stayed in the hospital for eight days before release." "According to the senior doctor, the patients spent an average of seven days in the hospital."
Notes: Attack at 1100 (11 am), device landed about 10m from soldiers. Area of incident is extremely close to the spot from which the rockets linked to the Ghouta attack 3 days earlier were fired. 4-liter hand-soldered canisters were used (shown in UN final report) - chemical weapons assembly warehouse discovered nearby (ACLOS) "The Government further reported that in its search of the buildings immediately surrounding the above-mentioned site, it discovered some materials, equipment and canisters, examination of which indicated that they contained Sarin." (UN report)

* 8-25-2013 Ashrafiah Sahnaya,  Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties:
Sarin: Syrian tests, OPCW tests find positive for sarin and breakdown products The   five   blood   samples withdrawn on 25 August 2013 all tested positive for Sarin exposure, whereas those withdrawn on 26 and 28 September tested negative." (UN report - DNA matches the samples as from the same soldiers) 
Smell: "A black, foul-smelling smoke ... A badly smelling gas ...a bizarre odour without any smoke."
color: "black smoke," or "There are differing opinions among the interviewed alleged victims whether there was no smoke or  a  colourless  smoke" or no smoke (and it was at night, and caused confusion)
Caustic: eyes and lungs irritated
Symptoms and treatment: "laboured  breathing,  eye  irritation, miosis, blurred vision and fatigue." "The most common signs and symptoms described to the United Nations Mission by patients included shortness of breath/laboured breathing (100 per cent), eye irritation (100 per cent), blurred vision (60 per cent), loss of consciousness (40 per cent), headache (40 per cent) and coughing (20 per cent)"  "the  patients  were  treated  with atropine  and  HI-6.  Eye  drops  and  bronchial  inhalers  were  administered.  The  patients  were  discharged from the hospital after 6 to 10 days." "No signs of secondary contamination were reported," even though it is sarin.    
notes: thrown with a catapult, around 7 or 8pm- cylindrical canister - location is by the sewage treatment plant between A.Sahnaya and Daraya (2-15-2015 attack with confirmed sarin happened 1.8 km northwest of this spot)

* 2-15-2015 Daraya,  Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: 1 moderate cases, 3 severe case, no deaths
Sarin: Syrian tests, OPCW tests find positive for sarin and breakdown products. UN report says "it is remotely possible ... an Organic Phosphorus (OP) compound, for example a pesticide" was to blame, and given "the disposition of the blood samples currently being reevaluated, the medical team cannot express any confidence at this time that a chemical agent was used in this incident." But an Annex 8 of the report (27 November 2015) shares the results of those tests: "The compounds detected, including a methylphosphonate adduct to a peptide and the fluoride regeneration product, led to the conclusion of exposure to sarin, or a sarin-like compound." (meaning, essentially, sarin - not any other expected poison or pesticide)
Smell: "like burning nylon." 
Caustic: not mentioned
Color: not mentioned
Symptoms/treatment: "blurred  vision, teary   eyes,   runny   nose,   dizziness, headache, breathing difficulties, mild fatigue, and nausea." lowered cholinesterase activity (quantified in OPCW report), reduced consciousness - one soldier lost consciousness. "All described a slow recovery and extreme fatigue. They also describe impaired vision, some expressing the sensation of photophobia while others describe a situation where they felt like it was dark around them. All of them described a rather severe head ache often located to the frontal aspect of the head. Some experienced the sensation of numbness in the limbs."
Notes:  delivery mechanism unclear - see Monitor analysis attack at 12:30 PM - 1.8 km nw of location of 8-25-13 sarin attack on soldiers


* 12-11/12-2016, near Uqrabiyat, Hama (2 attacks)
Used Against: civilians in ISIS-held areas

Casualties: 67 identified killed (25 in Jrouh, 42 in al-Salaliyah (HRW)), up to 93+ dead is reported, hundreds reported affected
Sarin: not actually verified, but seems likely considering its tie-in with the following resurgence of opposition-claimed sarin attacks

Smell: "Some also said that there was a strong odor, although they could not describe it, while others said that they could not detect any." (HRW) (since sarin is supposed to be colorless and odorless, some might decide to describe it that way while others describe it how it was)
Caustic: reported: red eyes, (poss. related) swollen faces, loss of vision
Color: "Some said that they saw yellow or white smoke, but others did not." (HRW) (see smell - likely the same ones reporting no smell also report no color, and are not to be trusted)
Symptoms/treatment: “I entered one of the caves. There were about 20 people in it. A lot of them were unconscious, some vomited, and they were weak. Most of them were women and children. Some of the injured completely lost their sight after the attack.”
"convulsions, shortness of breath, hysteria, red eyes, swollen faces, and foaming and bleeding from the mouth." "Four of the witnesses said that they or the people they saw experienced dilated pupils. While dilated pupils are not a common symptom of exposure to a nerve agent, it can be seen occasionally, depending upon the degree and route of exposure. One doctor said that the injured exhibited constricted pupils, a symptom of exposure from a nerve agent." (HRW)
Notes: Jet delivery, unusual, to be repeated on 3-30 and 4-4. Initially blamed on Russian jets, now on Syrian. Coincides with/looks like revenge for Dec. 11 ISIS re-capture of Palmyra and attack on Tiyas airbase

* 3-30-2017 Latamnah, Hama province 
Used Against:
Casualties
Sarin: OPCW verified
Smell: reported: little or no smell "The chemicals in the missiles had a very mild smell but a strong effect" "There was no chlorine smell." (HRW)
Caustic: difficult breathing and red eyes mentioned
Color: black splash at impact spot
Symptoms/treatment: "The injured had pinpoint pupils, extreme foaming from the mouth, in an unsteady condition, with muscle cramps, shivers and shaking. Most of them were unconscious. Some people’s hearts had slowed down to the point where we thought they were dead." "They were trembling, had extreme difficulty breathing, redness in their eyes; some had foam coming out of their mouth. People were going unconscious. Some of them started hallucinating, saying weird things, when they got to the hospital."(HRW)Some cases of waking up about 7 hours later after seeming dead.
Seeming dead is a little unusual, repeats with 4-4. Hallucinations and strange talk is also not a clear sarin indicator, suggesting perhaps a different poison (however, see 4-13-2013 - hallucinations reported). Notes: Jet delivery, unusual, to be repeated on 4-4


* 4-4-2017 Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib province  
Used Against: civilians in Islamist-held area

Casualties: reported 85-103 dead, some 500 said to be affected

Sarin: OPCW verified, Syrian government as well
Smell: area-wide smell, along with area-wide fog = smelly fog? "it smelled like rotten food" "a foul smell ... a strange smell. I can’t put my finger on it." a "really disgusting odor," "stench." (Monitor) "there was a strong smell. The smell was really disgusting, but I am not able to compare it to anything else" (HRW)
Caustic: smoke/vapor covering town said to burn the eyes and the lungs
Color: smoke/vapor said to be pale yellow: "a yellow mushroom cloud that stung her eyes. “It was like a winter fog,” she said." “a winter fog — not quite yellow and not quite white.” "yellow dust" - black splash around impact (cyan blue hue - not the source of the yellow mist?)

Symptoms/treatment: (reported) tight chest, labored breathing, foam, yellow mucous or vomit, burning eyes, dizziness, miosis, "constant shivering," loss of consciousness. (OPCW) blood and foam from the mouth, "constriction of the pupils, trembling, sweating, extreme respiratory excretions, foaming of the mouth, and pale skin color," and some cases of people waking up 7-11 hours later in the hospital   (HRW)
Notes: Jet delivery, unusual, prior to 12-12 and 3-30 attacks


-- Possible Sarin Cases 
(or worth comparing anyway) --
17 incidents (one promoted to verified list 12/2)
* 12-22-2012 Daraya, Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers 
Casualties: 7 killed (all died within one hour), unclear others affected (OPCW report 2015) (ACLOS)
Sarin: poss. suggested by high death toll
Smell: no info
Caustic: no info
Color: a yellow colored gas
Symptoms and treatment: ...
Notes:

* 12-23-2012, Homs City  
Used Against: opposition fighters and some related civilian men
Casualties: 1 fighter, 6 civilians killed (as with 3-19, Ateibah), unclear others affected
Sarin: it's been claimed
Smell: ...
Caustic: ...
Color: ...
Symptoms/treatment:
Notes:

* 3-24-2013 Adra, Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: rebel fighters

Casualties: 2 fighters killed, 23 (all fighters?) affected

Sarin: consistent symptoms reported
Smell:
Caustic:
Color: 
Symptoms/Treatment: Mohammad al-Doumani, an activist" said "Doctors are describing the chemical weapon used as phosphorus"  (meaning organophosphate) "that hits the nervous system and causes imbalance and loss of consciousness. The two fighters were very close to where the rockets exploded and they died swiftly. The rest are being treated with Atropine" Video shows one patient in convulsions or shivering anyway (ACLOS)

* 4-26-2013 Barzeh, Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: Unclear number affected, plural deaths, no number, as reported: "victims from the ranks of Syrian Arab Army have arrived to Hamish hospital, including martyrs" (ACLOS)
Symptoms/Treatment: upon contact with victims, "medical staff has suffered severe nausea  followed by cases of fainting, but it was a lighter than the infected people" "suffocation and nausea, as well as the trickling of a kind of white liquid from the victims' noses and mouths." (ACLOS)
Notes: from news reports - no mention in OPCW report or lists provided by Syrian authorities. Reports mentioned the "strange gas" came from "a shell, fired from inside the Barzeh at the Syrian Arab army forces the exits on the outskirts of Barzeh" (checkpoint attack - common)


* 8-5-2013 Adra,  Damascus Suburbs 
Used Against:
Casualties:  "a cloud of gas from bombs dropped by Assad’s forces on Adra, has spread to areas as far as the city of Douma. Fatalities are reported and 437 people suffer from symptoms like suffocation and exhaustion in the area." No deaths clearly recorded.
Sarin: reported, likely confirmed... if so, will move above
Smell: ...
Caustic: ...
Color: ...
Symptoms/treatment:
Notes: Same rockets used (at least 3 of them here) were also used (reportedly 12+ of them) in the 8-21 Ghouta attacks (East Ghouta portion) People filming the attack scene near one rocket seem to have soaked a stray dog in some liquid nerve agent just before filming its horrible death... (for now, see here for dog story, rockets, and some other details)

* 8-22-2013 Bahhariyeh, Damascus Suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: ...
Sarin: "All  20  blood  samples  analysed  (16  provided  by  the  Government  and  4  collected  by  the  United  Nations Mission) tested negative for Sarin or Sarin signatures." (UN final report) However...
smell: "a very bad odour"
color: blue
caustic: burning eyes and throat, 100% reported breathing problems, etc.
Symptoms: "nausea,  vomiting,  tearing,  bronchial  problems, flaccid paralysis and confusion. One patient was semi-conscious and two patients had bradycardia.  They  were  given  anti-vomit  medication  and  fluids.  Only  one  patient  was  given  an  unknown  dose  of  atropine.  ..." later group showed "breathing difficulties, the feeling of a tight chest, and burning eyes and throat, with some having miosis.  According  to  a  treating  doctor,  they  were  given  intravenous  fluids  and  oxygen,  some  received  atropine, ..."
"shortness  of  breath/laboured  breathing  (100 per  cent),  eye  irritation  (50  per  cent),  nausea  and  headache  (43  per  cent),  blurred  vision  (29  per  cent), and fatigue and coughing (21 per cent). The medical records show that in two cases the values of acetyl cholinesterase in total blood and plasma are below the normal values. The average stay in the hospital was three days."   "A  number  of  the  interviewed  alleged  victims  stayed  6  days  in  the  hospital  until  they  were 
released."All this suggests exposure to impure (less deadly) sarin or a similar nerve agent: low cholinesterase activity, miosis, nausea, headache, fatigue. Simple irritants don't cause this kind of symptom package.
Notes: "The  improvised  device  allegedly  used  and  its  effect  did  not  indicate  the  use  of  chemical  weapons," OPCW decided, so they skipped the dangerous site visit or testing the fragment. This refers to the device from which the toxic gas was said to emerge. They must mean the negative sarin tests suggesting no sarin residues would be found.  But clealy, it was some kind of weaponized chemical ... with effects quite like sarin's.
They note some inconsistencies, including a mixed DNA sample and "while  a  total  of  16  whole  blood  samples  were  allegedly  linked  to  the  incident  in  Bahhariyeh by the Syrian Government, the DNA testing revealed that the 16 samples originated from only 9 individuals, if the mixed DNA sample was considered, or 8, if it was neglected."

* 4-16-2014 Mleha, Damascus Suburbs   
Used Against: SAA soldiers
 The FFM encountered difficulties in establishing a prevailing narrative ... some discepancies in records noted on time and number of patients,
and witnesses disagreed on "The descriptions of the mission objective, the tunnel location and
entrance, and incursion distance into the tunnel."
a group of eight SAA soldiers "was assigned to either clear a tunnel or breach an area of houses where they discovered a tunnel. This tunnel was the scene of the ensuing incident." Only two commanders at the head of things were interviewed. "One of the interviewees reported to have been inside the tunnel and closer to the alleged release and the other reported to have been outside the tunnel." There was a firefight, some unseen device tossed, a dull blast. "The smell was described as being very disagreeable, like that of corpses or rotting flesh.""All eight team members experienced immediate symptoms described by both interviewees as nausea, sore throat, headache, breathing difficulty, eye irritation, and decreased level of consciousness."
supportive care: "including oxygen, intravenous fluids, and medications. Blood samples were taken and diagnoses were nonspecific. The interviewees stated that the casualties were discharged from the hospital a few days following the incident, in good health."
Note: dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use. 5 of 6 examined cases from 2014-2015 were classed this way (8-29-14, 4-16-14, 7-11-14, 9-10-14, 1-8-15). Only the one involving sarin on 2-15-15 classes as clear CW incident, except they can't say for sure when and how the soldiers were exposed. 

* 4-24-2014 Nawa, Daraa  
Used Against: SAA soldiers, Brigade 61 base
Casualties: a reported 70 killed and about that many seen dead on video (ACLOS NutsFlipped video
 URS1798) No word on or from any survivors.
Sarin: suggested by very high death toll, except that much is unknown about that. Seems didn't have time to put gas masks on (instant death), but that could be staged (for unclear reasons). Some kind of whitish smoke was seen pouring across the valley. 
Smell: no reports...

Caustic: If the blood coughed up by some is related ... it may be too rare to count, and suggests a gunshot in the belly, or a very caustic agent, in some cases

Color: if smoke in the valley is it (not certain, the volume is huge), it appears white or a very pale indistinct color

Symptoms (or clinical signs, observed from low quality video): sometimes nothing clear, some coughing blood, some perhaps showing body contortion, and several with what seems like dark smoke stains on their faces (the most common feature). Some appear wounded or even killed in battle, but most appear uninjured.
Notes: OPCW report lists this as being reported to them, but apparently didn't investigate it. Table 7 shows incidents listed in note verbale 41, with the first being: "24/04/2014, Dar’a – Nawa, 70 fatalities, A brief description of the incident." (not shared)

* 5-29-2014 Harasta, Damascus Suburbs 
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: 7 soldiers killed, ?? affected
note: twice in a day, killing 13 (see below). OPCW report, note verbale 43, no details (date 29 May otherwise appears only as that of another note verbale and of FFM team deployment, both in the following year)

* 5-29-2014  Tadhamun, Damascus 
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: 6 soldiers killed, ?? affected
note: twice in a day, killing 13 (see above). OPCW report, note verbale 43, no details

* 7-11-2014 Mleha, Damascus suburbs  
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Smell: "a strong smell similar to cleaning products" (sounds like chlorine)
Caustic: as usual
Color: not mentioned
Symptoms: include "coughing, tearing of the eyes, suffocation, nausea, and unconsciousness." (OPCW Dec. 2015 report) chlorine does not usually cause decreased consciousness.
Note: dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use. 5 of 6 examined cases from 2014-2015 were classed this way (8-29-14, 4-16-14, 7-11-14, 9-10-14, 1-8-15). Only the one verified as involving sarin 2-15-15 classes as clear CW incident, except they can't say when and how the soldiers were exposed.

* 8-29-2014 Jobar, Damascus suburbs (two incidents)
** Incident 1 (most noted) 
Used Against: SAA soldiers.
Casualties: 33 affected, none killed
foul irritant and/or chlorine... OPCW report - limited info, no samples, no clear suggestion it may have been sarin - two incidents confused - no direct deaths
Sarin: Not reported, but symptoms may be consistent - no sign that it was checked for or ruled out
Smell:  "some combination of dust, smoke, or mist, which produced a distinct odour described by
most as being similar to rotting flesh." "...a particular odour which some compared to the smell of dead animals or corpses and others reported as similar to rotten eggs. Still others reported that they had never experienced anything similar before and couldn’t compare the smell to anything."
Caustic: airway irritation was the main noted feature

Color: possibly dust-like, color not mentioned (night attack also)

Symptoms/treatment: "a host of varying symptoms, the overall presentation of which was consistent with acute, non-specific irritation of the mucosa and respiratory tract." But with some poorly-defined "variety." "In general, the symptoms described by the soldiers and those observed by the medical
personnel are largely consistent and can be described as the following:
(a) Breathing difficulties 91 %
(b) Burning sensation in the eyes, blurred vision and lacrimation 77 %
(c) Nausea and vomiting 64 %
(d) Reduced consciousness 50 %
(e) Fatigue 35 %
(f) Excessive salivation / drooling 25 %
(g) Dry mouth 18 %" "About 1/3 of the victims lost consciousness on the site and can’t recall how they were taken to the first-aid medical point or hospital." (OPCW finds this not reflected in hospital records, seems to doubt it) "In Hospital 601 most reported being more thoroughly decontaminated with water and being given new clothes before receiving symptomatic treatment with oxygen,
intravenous fluids and in some cases inhalation of ß2 agonists such as salbutamol.
12. All admitted soldiers stayed at least one night in hospital, with 50 % reporting that
they stayed more than one night before being discharged to their unit with orders to
rest for a number of days."
... Particular focus was also on the presence
or absence of secondary contamination from soldier to caregiver at any point during
the rendering of first-aid, transport or definitive treatment in hospital.
(they decided there was none)
Note: dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use. 5 of 6 examined cases from 2014-2015 were classed this way (8-29-14, 4-16-14, 7-11-14, 9-10-14, 1-8-15). Only the one verified as involving sarin 2-15-15 classes as clear CW incident, except they can't say when and how the soldiers were exposed.
note: this "occurred around 18:00" as "a group of about 35 soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army were preparing to advance towards an area held by an opposition group."
everyone seeming to recover on their own and they think no secondary contamination, just by smell, they propose a range of chemicals of unclear plausibility - none of them is sarin - but
chlorine is at the far end of the scale "low probability." Rot and cleaning products smell quite diferent, if not opposite. Diborane (Wikipedia) is their most likely, by smell.  It has no known use as a weapon, but is used as a rocket propellant. They're proposing a random accident of fuel combustion or whatever could be to blame for incapacitating soldiers in the middle of a fight. Twice in a day? and in how many other similar cases?
"As for sarin (GB) or other organic phosphoric compounds (OPs), the smell would not be consistent with the unpleasant signature of rotting corpses or eggs, since the smell of sarin is most frequently described as a sweet smell of apple or pear." Most frequently where? How frequent is this smell? Documented sarin cases in Syria as related above, citing OPCW findings: none features a light, fruity smell. Rather, it's described as foul, rotten, like sulfur, burning nylon, etc. if not usually "like rotting flesh."
Also they're fairly sure there would be secondary contamination if it were sarin, but 8-24 and 8-25-2013 (see above) shows that's not universal in confirmed sarin attacks.

* 8-29-2014 Jobar, Damascus suburbs (two incidents)
** Incident 2 (earlier in the day) 
Used Against: SAA soldiers. none directly killed, but some incapacitated soldiers reportedly captured and killed.
"The FFM identified a notable discrepancy in the prevailing narrative referring to an additional incident" Two casualties agreed on an incident "around 16:00 on the same day." (app. 2 hours earlier than the above) as a smaller group "of around 15 soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army were confronting enemies in Jober when a device allegedly filled with what was described by these two soldiers as a chlorine-like gas was thrown at the group." Like by color? Smell?
A military report (Report of Colonel Commander of Brigade 358 for Special Missions on the Exposure of a Group of Soldiers from the Brigade to the Inhalation of Toxic Gases”) is cited for "the smell of the explosion (reported as chlorine-like, according to witnesses)." The same was reported initially with the Khan al-Assal attack of 3-19-2013, and it wound up being sarin.
"(c) The described chemical incident incapacitated some of the group, apparently preventing them from escaping the scene and ultimately leading to their capture and execution." Chlorine is not incapacitating. See here.
"There then followed a combat/fire fight with opposition groups that led to other fatalities and the capture of other members of the group. The two soldiers interviewed by the FFM were the only ones who managed to flee the scene."

Notes: This was an important event to the Syrians: UN report: "an agreement was reached between the authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic and the FFM to focus initially on the incident reported to have taken place on 29 August 2014 in Jober. The fact that this particular event involved the highest number of casualties from among all of the incidents described in Note Verbale 150 served as the basis for this agreement. " They sent much info, including "a brief description of the device (a locally made device), the firing point of devices (according tothe firing sound)," but apprently had two events mixed into one? Or was only referring to one? "The authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic did provide footage from an open source which purported to describe the aftermath of this incident" (which of the two?) Looking at the two stories apparently as one, which Syria seems to have presented it as, "The FFM was not able to identify a cohesive narrative ..."
FFM asked to re-interview one witness "to clarify points of the narrative," apparently being time: was it at 1800 or 1600? Or, which story did his story fit with, or were there two, or what? It seems they didn't get to re-interview him, and things were left unclear.
Dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use.
 
* 9-10-2014?
Used Against: SAA soldiers
"the smell of something similar to cleaning products" coughing, tearing of the eyes, suffocation and in one case, nausea." - likely enough, chlorine, but see 7-11-2014
Note: dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use. 5 of 6 examined cases from 2014-2015 were classed this way (8-29-14, 4-16-14, 7-11-14, 9-10-14, 1-8-15). Only the one verified as involving sarin 2-15-15 classes as clear CW incident, except they can't say when and how the soldiers were exposed.

* January 2015 Jobar?
Used Against: SAA soldiers
Casualties: 20 affected, 3 killed
(OPCW, note verbale 41) - no further info

* 1/8/15? Nubol and Zahraa, Aleppo province  
Used Against: Shia pro-government local militia fighters: Popular Committees/NDF/"Shabiha"
color: a yellow smoke or dust cloud
Smell: "a smell consistent with “chlorine and cleaning detergents” but "Symptoms included decreased level of consciousness and were otherwise consistent with acute, nonspecific irritation of the mucosa and respiratory tract." chlorine does not usually cause decreased consciousness.
Note: dismissed as unclear by OPCW, as possible attack with an unknown chemical and possibly an industrial accident or side-effect of conventional weapon use. 5 of 6 examined cases from 2014-2015 were classed this way (8-29-14, 4-16-14, 7-11-14, 9-10-14, 1-8-15).
"Witnesses described having intercepted radio communications alerting them to the possibility of toxic chemical attacks. Such communications were also broadcast via the mosque."
"between 13:00 and 17:00, five mortars allegedly landed," unclear which had the chemicals - this was at the outset of a new Jabhat al-Nusra offensive starting this day and into the night (Wikipedia)
A strange "red snow" was reportedly in the mortar shell the gas came from. chlorine can be generated using the magenta-colored potassium permanganate, but using this in a weapon seems difficult... although just this was to be alleged later in 2015, dropped from government helicopters...

* 3-25-2017 Latamnah, Hama province  
Used Against: cave hospital in Islamist-held area
Casualties: a surgeon, a patient, and a medic died, others affected 
Notes: Reported as a chlorine attack with the standard tank seen, the usual smell clearly reported, etc. but ... reported to be sarin hiding under the reported chlorine - just before sarin did re-emerge in the same area, somewhat hiding under chlorine. Dr. Shajul Islam might have been onto something there. The famous fatality Dr. Darwish never did look like a chlorine victim.
Symptoms: ...