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Summary of Open Source Evidence from the March 25th 2017 Chlorine Attack in Al-Lataminah, Hama

October 9, 2017

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Translations: Русский

The town of Al Lataminah in Hama has seen a large amount of military activity during the recent years of the Syrian conflict, including repeated allegations of the use of chlorine gas as a chemical weapon, and more recently confirmation in an interview with the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, that Sarin had been used in a chemical attack on March 30th 2017, 5 days before the more notorious Sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun. Five days prior to the March 30th 2017 Sarin attack in Al Lataminah there was another chemical attack reported, a chlorine attack on a hospital in the town.

This chemical attack is notable for two reasons; it precedes the March 30th Sarin attack in the same town, and it was included in a graphic produced by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic that stated the attack was the responsibility of the Syrian government (source)

Syria Direct reported in a March 26th article on the attack that according to a spokesperson for Al-Lataminah Surgical Hospital a helicopter had dropped a yellow cylinder through the concrete roof of the hospital at 1:30pm on March 25th. Footage filmed after the attack shows a yellow cylinder in the entrance of the hospital:

More footage of the same entrance shows a hole in the concrete roof close to the position of the yellow cylinder in the above video, as well as a view of the outside of the building. Bellingcat has verified the location of the hospital entrance in Al-Lataminah, but will not provide details of the location due to ongoing targeting of medical facilities in the conflict:

Syrian Civil Defence in Hama provided other details of the attack, including a different time of attack. In a March 25th Facebook post they state that a helicopter took off from Hama military airport around 2:45pm and attacked the hospital. The post included photographs that showed the same entrance as filmed in the above videos:

A tweet from the official White Helmets Twitter account shows the same yellow cylinder recovered from the entrance of the hospital, as well as the apparent impact site in the roof of the hospital entrance, and one of the victims of the attack, Dr. Ali Darwish:

Hadi Al Abdullah, a Syrian journalist/activist, provided more images from the attack, including images from Syrian Civil Defence showing markings on the yellow cylinder indicating it was used for storing chlorine. These markings are consistent with claims from the ground that chlorine was used in the attack:

The details of the exact impact site and the presence of a damaged chlorine gas cylinder at the impact site are consistent throughout multiple sources of information. The report of the casualties from the attack are also consistent, with the death of Dr Al Darwish reported by multiple sources. In the following video, Dr. Basel Termanini, Vice-President of the Syrian American Medical Society, explains that Dr Darwish was operating on a patient when the attack occurred, and refused to leave without closing the patient, but as a result was exposed to a lethal amount of gas, and he would later die at another medical facility:

The hospital’s spokesperson, Abadah al-Mansour, told Syria Direct on March 26th that Dr Darwish had died after refusing to leave his patient, and the operating technician and anesthesiologist were still in a critical condition. According to the Syria Direct report, a total of 35 people were injured, including medical personnel, and 3 killed, including Dr Darwish and the patient he was operating on.

The information gathered in this report was collected as part of a Bellingcat workshop held in London between October 2nd and 6th by workshop participants, including Eliot Higgins, Christiaan Triebert, Gilbert François Duivesteijn, Jan Kuhlmann, Jasmijn Remmers, and Kris De Groote. For details of the December 11th-15th workshop please email contact@bellingcat.com, or sign up for our newsletter for details of future workshops.

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18 Comments

  1. waveshaper

    That neck ring on that cylinder looks kind of familiar. Below is an old post I made about the Khan Sheikhoun attack and the filler plug (neck ring?) that was found in the crater; There are looooots of styles/types of neck rings for gas cylinders and typically they are welded to the cylinder. Anyway, just something to ponder.

    “That cap is similar in appearance to a commercial gas cylinder, reinforced neck rink, that has a plug inserted in the threaded opening. Neck rings are located on the top of gas cylinders.
    Here’s a photo of a typical gas cylinder neck ring without the plug/valve inserted. Note; There are lots and lots of different types of gas cylinder neck ring designs. Also, chemical ordnance filler assemblies/plugs look similar..”
    https://sc02.alicdn.com/kf/HTB13q2FIXXXXXbIXpXXq6xXFXXXl/gas-cylinder-neck-rings.jpg

    Reply
  2. Mark

    If you look at the White Helmet photograph in the Tweet of the damage to the ceiling, it does not look as if that gas cannister could have come through it.

    Reply
  3. Just Passing Through

    “Bellingcat has verified the location of the hospital entrance in Al-Lataminah, but will not provide details of the location due to ongoing targeting of medical facilities in the conflict”

    To have attacked the hospital they would already know exactly where it is.

    Did the Bellingcat workshop consider whether the story is plausible? Perhaps you should.

    Reply
    • Richard

      You seem to be quite an expert on working in a war zone. The targeting is well known: verified too many times to mention them all. But look at the first film on this site:
      https://twitter.com/SyriaCivilDef
      Perhaps not too wise to tell everyone where the hospital is or was. Who knows who might show up will bad intensions.

      Reply
      • Just Passing Through

        The SyAAF cannot target the hospital and at the same time not know where it is.

        Reply
        • Richard

          If you would have looked at the evidence presented in the short film on the White Helmets twitter site, you would have seen that the members murdered by Assad’s thugs did not arrive by helicopter. But that would have demanded looking at the evidence. Since they risk their lives every day, generally they have a real interest in telling the truth. I grew up politically in the anti-war (Vietnam) movement. I learned the victims generally speak truth. The oppressors not. You can stand with the oppressors if you want, but not I.

          Reply
        • Richard

          If you would have looked at the evidence presented in the short film on the White Helmets twitter site, you would have seen that the members murdered by Assad’s thugs did not arrive by helicopter. But that would have demanded looking at the evidence. Since they risk their lives every day, generally they have a real interest in telling the truth. I grew up politically in the anti-war (Vietnam) movement. I learned the victims generally speak the truth since they have a real material interest in support, even if only moral support. The oppressors need to hide their motives behind some “fake news” storyline. You can stand with the oppressors if you want, but not I.

          Reply
          • Just Passing Through

            Last time so I hope you will understand what I’m saying: the SyAAF supposedly attacked the hospital and dropped a chlorine cylinder through its (reinforced steel and soil covered) roof.

            Bellingcat located the hospital that has allegedly *already* been attacked.

            My point is the SyAAF will *already know* where the hospital is if they’ve already attacked it, they don’t need to look up the location on Bellingcat.

          • Richard

            From your link: ” Executed on Monday three people accused “. So that is that. A Salafist jihadist militant group executes people accused .. and you want to take that as a reasonable proof. I don’t know who the murders ware, nor do you. The point is, the White Helmets are working in a war zone and security is a concern, and in this case wasn’t enough. Since Salafist groups themselves engage in murder and robbery, this crime could have been done by them, and then they accuse and murder others. It could have been Assad’s thugs. I am not sure on what you actually want to prove, if anything. The WHs have been attacked so many times, from the fascist Assad government, Iranian jihadist and mercenary forces, Russian imperialists it is a wonder that they still function.

    • Adam Larson

      Just Passing Through: I guess they’re thinking the Syrians and Russians might have forgotten where this place was. If one raises the issue, and it reminds the regimes about this place, they might want to bomb it again. They are pretty evil, and perhaps that forgetful. So if you remind them also where it is, you’d have blood on your hands if it’s attacked again. In that vein, I suggest altering Latamnah to town X, Milwuakee province, Tajikistan.

      Reply

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