Airwars is a collaborative, not-for-profit transparency project aimed both at tracking and archiving the international air war against so-called Islamic State and other groups in Iraq, Syria and Libya. With nine Coalition nations bombing in Syria alone – along with the air forces of Russia, Iran, Israel and the Assad regime – there is a pressing public interest need for independent, trustworthy assessments.
As we explain more fully in our Methodology, in addition to tracking the strikes we also seek to assess – and where possible follow up on – credible allegations of civilian casualties. Part of our data is drawn from the US, allied and Russian militaries, which is then cross-referenced against claims by local monitoring groups, media and social media of civilians reported killed.
Airwars fully supports the goals of Every Casualty, the international NGO which campaigns for the recording of victims by all parties to conflicts. As its simple mission statement notes: ‘Governments must ensure that all lives lost to armed violence, anywhere in the world, are properly recorded.’ We are pleased to be a part of the associated Casualty Recorders Network, an international alliance which strives for best practice among its 50 members. We also strive to follow best practice as laid out in the Standards for Casualty Recording.
Airwars is entirely funded by philanthropic organisations, along with significant pro bono contributions from our volunteers.
Thanks to generous funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust we employ a part-time specialist in Iraq to monitor the Coalition air campaign, as well as a part-time Syria analyst based in the UK.
Funding from the Open Society Foundations allows us to employ a full time US-based investigative reporter and a UK-based Syria researcher, along with a part time London-based web and data producer. Our director is jointly funded by JRCT and OSF.
We also employ a full time researcher in the Netherlands focuses on Dutch and Belgian arstrikes and transparency – kindly funded by Stichting Democratie en Media.
We previously received a small project grant from the UK defence think tank the Remote Control Project to assess transparency and accountability among Coalition allies. Our associated Transparency Audit was published in December 2016.
An emergency grant from the Network for Social Change enabled us until January 2017 to employ a researcher tracking Russian airstrikes in Syria. We were able to slightly extend this project thanks to generous donations of £1,350 from supporters in 2016.
Who we are
London-based investigative journalist Chris Woods leads the Airwars project. A conflict specialist, he worked for the BBC’s Newsnight and Panorama as a senior producer for many years. Chris also set up and ran the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s award-winning Drones Project. His book, Sudden Justice charts the history of armed drone use in Iraq and elsewhere since 9/11.
Salim Habib is a Baghdad-based researcher and journalist who monitors and follows up for us reports of civilians killed in Iraq by Coalition airstrikes. Salim has worked as a researcher and field producer for many major international news organisations, including the BBC, the UK’s Channel 4, Al Jazeera English, Al Arabiya and ABC News.
Based in the UK, Kinda Haddad is a Dutch-Syrian journalist who monitors claims of civilian casualties from Coalition and Russian airstrikes in Syria for Airwars. A former BBC Panorama journalist, Kinda is also the founder of Bulbula, which seeks to improve the representation of expert Middle Eastern women in the media.
Based in London, Alex Hopkins is responsible for archiving official military reports of the war; assessing alleged Russian strikes in Syria; and maintaining our social media profiles. Alex has worked as an editor for a number of print and online publications and is a sub-editor for the Guardian and Observer’s syndicated news services.
Samuel Oakford is an investigative journalist based in New York City, focused on Coalition and Russian actions in Syria and Iraq – and the unfolding situation in Libya. His previous work has focused on peacekeeping and human rights issues, particularly civilians in conflict. For two years Samuel was VICE News’ UN correspondent, where he broke a number of stories on conflicts in Yemen, Iraq and South Sudan.
Abdulwahab Tahhan was raised in Aleppo, Syria. He previously worked on The Suffering Grasses – a documentary about Syrian refugees which went on to win six awards. Now based in the UK, with the assistance of the Refugee Journalism Project Abdulwahab first joined Airwars in summer 2016 as a volunteer. His work focuses in particular on Russia’s actions.
Amsterdam-based researcher Eline Westra is focused exclusively on Dutch and Belgian airstrikes, thanks to a one year grant from Stichting Democratie en Media. Eline works closely with political parties, civic society and media in both countries to help stimulate engagement on transparency issues.
Geolocation of alleged civilian casualties events is provided by volunteer Christiaan Triebert. Presently studying for an MA at the War Studies Department of King’s College London, Christiaan is also a contributor with Bellingcat.
All our maps, graphics and data engines are designed and maintained by Basile Simon. Our modelling of Coalition Iraq and Syria airstrikes is based on original mapping by the Danish daily newspaper Dagbladet Information, an early collaborator with the Airwars project.
With special thanks to Nick Axel of Forensic Architecture for our 2016 website redesign.
Airwars is registered in England and Wales as a not-for profit company limited by guarantee, company number 10314448. Our registered address is c/o TaxAssist Accountants, 235 Blackstock Road, London, N5 2LL.