March 2021

Written by

Mohammed al Jumaily

Assisted by

Alex Hopkins, Anna Zahn, Chris Woods, Clive Vella, Dmytro Chupryna, Douglas Statt, Eleftheria Kousta, Giacomo Nanni, Hermes, Joseph Dyke, Laurie Treffers, Maysa Ismael, Mohammed al Jumaily, Ned Ray, Oliver Imhof, Riley Mellen, Salim Habib, Samuel Brownsword, Shihab Halep and Vasiliki Touhouliotis

Annual report for 2020

Tracking by Airwars across multiple conflicts during 2020 showed that the number of locally reported civilian deaths from the use of explosive weapons was down by two thirds compared to the previous year. Of these fatalities, around half were in the first two months of 2020. This suggested a possible ‘Covid effect’ – a significant reduction in conflict violence, as communities locked down during the global pandemic.

The report also found that US military accountability for civilian casualties had declined sharply during Donald Trump’s final year as President. Confirmed civilian harm events were down by 80% in Iraq and Syria, while CENTCOM admitted that it had ‘forgotten’ the recent deaths of Yemen civilians as a result of US military actions.


February 25, 2021

Written by

Mohammed al Jumaily

A renewed campaign by Turkey in mid February against a Kurdish militant faction – which has seen Turkish troops pushing deeper than ever before into northern Iraq – also saw the deaths of thirteen Turkish civilian and military captives in a highly controversial attack, Airwars monitoring of the region shows.

On February 10th, the Turkish Armed Forces launched a major air and ground operation codenamed Operation Claw Eagle 2 against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Gara Mountain in Dohuk Governorate in northern Iraq. The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by the EU and the United States among others, though some Kurds view the group as a liberation organisation. 

Turkey has launched a number of operations against the PKK in northern Iraq in recent years, the most recent being Operations Claw Eagle and Tiger in June 2020, which took place in the Qandil Mountains, the Sinjar District, and Makhmur. 

According to Turkish military expert Levent Kemal, the military campaigns against the PKK have been effective in reducing the group’s operational capabilities. “The PKK’s [ability to] infiltrate into Turkey has been noteworthily reduced thanks to these operations. In particular, PKK infiltration routes have been under control and guerrilla hideouts in the Bradost area have been destroyed. In the West, in Zakho and Duhok areas, cooperation between the Turkish Armed Forces and the Kurdistan Democtatic Party’s (KDP) Peshmerga forces annihilated PKK’s presence near the Turkish border, forcing the PKK to retreat further south”.

According to the Turkish Ministry of Defence, the purpose of the most recent operation was to clear the PKK from the mountains, which it said had been used as a transit area for PKK fighters to cross from Iraq to Turkey; and also to secure the border to prevent what the ministry described as an imminent “large-scale attack” on Turkish forces in Iraq. 

Another stated goal of Operation Claw Eagle 2 was to rescue Turkish captives held by the PKK. More than a dozen civilians and military personnel had been abducted by the PKK within Turkey in recent years, and were being held captive in Duhok. 

The early hours of Operation Claw Eagle 2 saw Turkish aircraft reportedly bombing six villages in the area, causing severe damage to local vineyards and agricultural lands. The Turkish Minister of Defence, Hulusi Akar, claimed that 50 PKK targets were destroyed including air raid shelters, ammunition depots, and headquarters in the initial aerial bombardment. While no civilians were believed harmed during the attack as almost all inhabitants had apparently fled the area, locals say that the operation had nevertheless severely affected their livelihoods. 

Kurdish analyst Abdulla Hawez assessed the impact of the campaign on local communities, saying that while civilians weren’t killed in the operation, “Turkish warplanes and drones were extensively bombarding dozens of locations; overall 90 villages were affected and were within the scope of the operation”.

The airstrikes were followed by a ground attack led by Turkish commandos against the  People’s Defence Forces (HPG), the military wing of the PKK. According to Minister Akar, 50 PKK fighters were killed in the operations and three members of the Turkish forces died. However, figures from Kurdish sources differed considerably, with ANF claiming that only 14 PKK fighters were killed as well as more than 30 Turkish soldiers.

‘Prisoners of war’

On the third day of operations, thirteen Turkish nationals that were being held captive by the PKK in a location close to the village of Siyane were found dead by Turkish forces. According to both Kurdish and Turkish sources, some of those killed were civilians. Among the civilians killed were Sedat Yabalak, a civilian police officer and father of three in charge of Şanlıurfa Police Department; and Aydin Köse, a resident of the city of Adıyaman. Along with others, both men had been seized in Turkey by the PKK and held captive for several years in Kurdistan. 

12 of the 13 Turkish captives killed in the Gara Mountain (via Muhsin.guler Facebook)

According to the Turkish Ministry of Defence, Turkish forces discovered the dead bodies of the thirteen captives after entering a bunker, suggesting that the PKK had executed them. However, the PKK has contested these claims, asserting that the captives were instead killed by Turkish airstrikes during the initial bombardment of Gara Mountain. 

According to a PKK statement, the “camp where prisoners of war belonging to the Turkish security forces were held has been attacked in Gare. The camp was intensively bombed from the air at five o’clock [not clear if am or pm] on February 10th…. After this strike, the occupying Turkish army retreated a bit. Although it knew that there were prisoners there, the camp was again intensively bombed by fighter jets. The bombardment, which lasted for three days, and the fierce battles inside and outside the camp resulted in the death of some of the MIT members, soldiers and policemen we had captured.”

The deaths of the prisoners caused outrage across Turkey, with the Presidency’s media director, Fahrettin Altun emphasising Turkey’s intent to “chase down every last terrorist hiding in their caves and safe houses” and exact “painful” revenge and “swift” justice. There were fears that Turkey could use the captives’ deaths as a pretext to expand operations against Kurdish militant groups in northern Iraq, causing more peril for civilians.

“I expect the Turkish government to use the deaths to expand its military operations against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkey may also attack Sinjar but this may have far more ramifications as pro-Iran militias are widely present in Sinjar and are allied with PKK-backed Yazidi groups”, explained Hawez.

These expectations may soon be realised, given the increasingly hawkish rhetoric adopted by Ankara following Operation Claw Eagle 2. Speaking at a party rally on February 15th, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed his desire to expand operations outside of Turkey in response to the botched rescue attempt in Gara, saying “we will extend our operations to areas where danger exists. We will stay in those areas we secure as long as necessary.”

▲ Relatives of Sergeant Mevlut Kahveci, one of the captives killed in the Gara Mountains of northern Iraq, mourn at his funeral ceremony on February 15th (via duvarenglish)


December 2020

Written by

Mohammed al Jumaily

Assisted by

Chris Woods, Clive Vella, Dmytro Chupryna, Eleftheria Kousta, Giacomo Nanni, Hermes, Joseph Dyke, Laurie Treffers, Maysa Ismael, Oliver Imhof and Shihab Halep

Major Conflict Monitoring

Civilian harm from foreign military action in all tracked conflicts have remained low, with little change observed in November compared to previous months. In Syria, Russian actions have decreased from October. It has also been a quieter month for US-led actions in Syria, although reports of US-led strikes on Iranian forces in Syria have continued. While most belligerents have seen their military activity in Syria scale back, Turkey began escalating its shelling of key towns held by the predominantly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with Ain Issa bearing the brunt of the military escalation.

In Iraq, Turkish strikes on fighters belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) continued during the month, with civilians caught in the crossfire once again. Meanwhile, International Coalition-led actions against ISIS remained sporadic throughout the month, especially in central and northern Iraq.

In Libya, the ceasefire that was officially signed between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) at the end of October has largely held, with only sporadic reports of strikes taking place in the country.

November also saw a major breakthrough for Airwars, with the launch of The Credibles, published in conjunction with The Washington Post. After several years of patient engagement with the US military, the US-led Coalition against the so-called Islamic State provided Airwars with the near locations of nearly all of the 344 publicly confirmed civilian harm events in the war against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. In total this interactive dataset allows for the first time the accurate location of almost 1,400 civilian deaths the coalition has admitted to causing since 2014. These located events represent the most accurate and comprehensive data ever publicly revealed by the US military about the harm it causes in war and raises hopes for families of those killed for potential apologies and ex gratia payments.

Turkish actions in northern Syria escalate as fears loom over possible offensive 

November saw a marked increase in Turkish military activity in northeastern Syria, centred largely around the town of Ain Issa and other areas controlled by the SDF. Airwars tracked six civilian harm incidents in Syria during the month, five of which occured in the last two weeks of November in and around the town of Ain Issa. According to local reports, four civilians were killed and up to 20 others were injured. In addition to this, there have been numerous reports suggesting that the Turkish-led shelling of the town has targeted residential homes, leading to large levels of displacement in Ain Issa.

While Turkish pressure on Ain Issa had been constant in the weeks prior to the establishment of a Turkish military base just north of Ain Issa on November 19th, the situation for civilians has deteriorated significantly since then. Tensions between the SDF and Turkish-backed forces in the region reached new heights on November 24th after an attempted offensive by the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) near Ain Issa failed and resulted in the deaths of 31 SNA fighters. This incident prompted a significant increase in Turkish shelling on Ain Issa.

The recent escalation has further raised fears that Turkey is preparing to gear up for another offensive in northeastern Syria. Turkey’s weariness over the continued influence exerted by the PKK-affiliated YPG so close to the Turkish-Syrian border has not gone away despite the military gains made last October, which saw Turkey take control of the border strip between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain and Kurdish forces pull back 32 kilometers from the Turkish border. While support for the SDF by the United States remains strong, the current presidential transition period may serve as an opportunity for Turkey to launch an offensive against the Kurdish-led group. Kurdish officials believe that Joe Biden’s arrival to the Oval Office could make it significantly harder for Turkey to achieve its objectives through military means, given the strong support Kurdish groups had under previous Democratic President Barack Obama.

The last week of the month saw the highest number of civilian casualties. On November 23rd, Turkish-led forces launched an attack on the Ain Issa camp and the villages of Maalak and Sidon, north of the Ain Issa district. The attack took place at night, with local sources claiming that the areas were targeted with “hundreds of mortar shells and rockets”. At least eight civilians were injured in the attack. Just five days later, two civilians were reported killed and up to four others including a woman and her two children were injured as Turkish forces targeted the city once again at night. 

In Iraq, Turkey’s campaign on the PKK has continued this month, albeit at a lower intensity compared to the summer. With PKK fighters dispersed in the mountains of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, most of Turkey’s strikes target remote areas with low population densities. Despite this, reports of civilian harm from these strikes have continued. 

On November 8th, one civilian was reportedly killed in a Turkish drone strike on an alleged PKK vehicle near the town of Khalaf in the Sinjar district, Nineveh province. Up to five militants were reportedly also killed and at least three others wounded. According to Hawar news, the strike killed a civilian who was working on a nearby water well.

Additionally, tensions between the PKK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) increased during the month. This came when the PKK and some Peshmerga affiliated with the KDP clashed directly in Chamanke District on November 4th. According to Rudaw, PKK fighters attacked Peshmerga forces in the area, killing one soldier and injuring two more. Although the two groups did not reconcile following this incident, no further clashes were reported during the month. 

People looking at the vehicle that was targeted by alleged Turkish drones near Sinjar on November 8th, 2020 (via Hawar News).

Sporadic Russian strikes on Idlib continue

The beginning of the month saw a notable escalation in Russian strikes and Syrian Regime-led shelling on rebel-controlled parts of Idlib Governorate. This came off the back of rising tensions between Turkish-backed opposition groups and Russia following Russian strikes on a Faylaq al-Sham camp on October 26th near the town of Kafr Takharim in northern Idlib, close to the border with Turkey, killing dozens of fighters. Airwars researchers tracked four civilian harm incidents during the month – a slight decrease from October’s tally of six incidents resulting in civilian harm. Up to nine civilians were killed in the attacks.  

On November 4th, at least four civilians, including a child, were killed in alleged Russian or Syrian regime artillery strikes on the city of Ariha, Idlib governorate. Among the victims were two men working for the Ihsan Relief and Development Organization. Up to six others were reportedly wounded. The bombardment also targeted the Martyr Zakariya Saedou School, partially destroying the yard and lightly damaging other parts of the school. Local sources named the victims as Raghid Zakariya Al Jasri, a driver for the Ihsan Relief and Development Organization, Samer Madi, Rimas Hindawi, a child who was killed while at school and Ibrahim Al Younis, a psychological support worker at Ihsan Relief and Development Organization

Injured civilians being brought to an ambulance after alleged Russian or Syrian regime strikes on Ariha on November 4th, 2020 (via SNHR).

The week after, on November 13th, a number of Russian soldiers were wounded after entering a minefield in Jabal al-Zawiya. Following this, further strikes were reported on towns in Idlib including Arab Saeed in Idlib’s western countryside. No civilians were reportedly harmed in the airstrike. 

This month has seen local sources recording the long-term impact that Russian raids on populated areas have on civilians. On November 17th, two separate incidents of civilians being harmed as a result of previous Russian actions were reported. In the town of Qastoun in Hama, a civilian by the name of Nassar Ahmad Nassar died when his house collapsed on him. According to local sources, the man’s home had been previously severely damaged by alleged Russian or Syrian regime strikes. A similar incident occurred in the Sarja village of Idlib, where a civilian died and another civilian was injured when the roof of their home also collapsed after being subjected to heavy bombing from Russian warplanes.

Meanwhile, Russian and Syrian regime forces resumed clashes with ISIS militants in northwestern Syria. The clashes have mainly been centered in the desert areas that stretch between the governorates of Hama, Aleppo, and Raqqa. Major clashes were reported on November 28th, when regime forces lost at least ten soldiers and 16 ISIS militants were killed in clashes. 

Syrian Civil Defence teams carrying a victim after a civilian home in Sarja village collapsed on November 17th, 2020, following alleged Russian or Syrian regime strikes on an unknown date (via SNHR).

US-led Coalition in Syria and Iraq

The International Coalition continued its operations across Syria and Iraq during the month of November. Civilian harm once again fell to low levels, with only one incident reported in November in Syria. 

In both Syria and Iraq, the US-led Coalition and its partners on the ground were relatively active in the first week of the month. According to the Coalition’s spokesperson, Colonel Wayne Marotto, local forces carried out 15 operations against ISIS militants during the first week of November.

In Syria, the only alleged civilian harm incident took place during this period. Local media sources reported that on November 7th, the US-Led Coalition conducted a joint operation with the SDF against suspected ISIS members in the village of Ghariba Al Sharqiya, north of Deir Ezzor and arrested three suspected ISIS members. Local sources reported that during this operation a man by the name of Mohammed Abdullah Al Dibs, also known as Abu Fatima, was killed in the crossfire. His body was later found near the Al Khabour river. While some local sources claimed that this man was a civilian, some outlets insisted that Abu Fatima was not a civilian, and instead had been an assistant of Saddam Al Jabal, ISIS commander of the Euphrates area during the group’s control of the territory. 

The body of Mohammed Abdullah al-Dibs, which was found near the Khabour River on November 7th (via Euphrates Post)

Furthermore, Iranian positions in Syria were reportedly targeted by US warplanes. It is not clear whether these strikes were carried out unilaterally or as part of the International Coalition. There are also doubts about whether the US was involved at all in these attacks. On November 8th local sources reported that airstrikes conducted by US warplanes targeted Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers in Albu Kamal. Further strikes were reported on both November 12th and 13th targeting Iranian-backed groups in the deserts of Mad’an and Al Sabkha, in Raqqa’s southern countryside. Another airstrike was allegedly carried out targeting Iranian-backed groups around the town of Mohsen in Deir Ezzor’s eastern countryside on November 14th.

Meanwhile in Iraq, the US-led Coalition coordinated with local Iraqi forces on a number of operations against ISIS across the country. The operations focused mainly on the Makhoul, Khanouka and Hamrin mountain ranges, where ISIS continues to maintain a presence. The Coalition confirmed that it had conducted a series of strikes on ISIS targets in the Hamrin Mountains on November 7th as well as assisting Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in their operations in the Makhoul Mountains on November 8th.

Later in the month, Iraqi forces, in conjunction with the US-led Coalition, carried out a major operation in the area between Wadi Zgaitoun and Wadi al-Khanajer in Kirkuk Governorate on November 19th and 20th. The Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services released footage of airstrikes that were carried out on alleged ISIS guesthouses in that area.

جانب من الضربات الجوية التي إستهدفت مضافات بقايا داعـش في المنطقة الرابطة بين وادي زغيتون – وادي الخناجر ..#جهاز_مكافحة_الإرهاب

Part of the air strikes that targeted ISIS remnants' guesthouses in the area linking Wadi Zgaitoun – Wadi Al-Khanajer

— جهاز مكافحة الإرهاب (@iraqicts) November 20, 2020

Libya: Month of calm following official ceasefire

Fighting in Libya has remained minimal into November following the official ceasefire deal that was signed in Geneva on October 23rd.

Only two airstrikes were reported in November in Libya, the same number as in October. Both strikes were allegedly conducted by Turkish drones on fuel smugglers. 

The first event took place on November 16th near Sabratha. The second incident took place one day later in Al Ajaylat. Neither resulted in reports of civilian harm.

(Fuel truck burning after alleged Turkish drone strike near Al Ajaylat on November 17th, 2020)

US counter-terrorism campaigns


In Yemen, local reports surfaced of a possible US drone strike in Marib province on November 14th. According to local media sources, a US drone hit a farm near the Bin Maelli station and the al-Nakhil Resthouse in Wadi Obeida. According to reports, the drone strike targeted three al-Qaeda members. The strike injured one member, but the other two managed to survive the attack.

CENTCOM claimed that there were no US military strikes during November 2020 in Yemen. The last publicly declared CENTCOM action was on June 24th 2019 in Al Bayda province.

#مارب طائرة بدون طيار امريكيه تستهدف ثلاثه اشخاص من تنظيم القاعده بالقرب من استراحة النخيل ـ محطة بن معيلي صباح اليوم السبت

حيث اصيب احدهم جراء الضربه فيما نجى الاثنين الاخرين منها #علي_النسي

— علي النسي (@aalnaasi) November 14, 2020


Only one event with potential US involvement was reported in November, one less than in the previous month.

One CIA officer officer, later named as John Goodboe by The Intercept, was allegedly killed by an IED or VBIED. The exact circumstances of the incident remain unclear. A Guardian report said he was killed on November 6th while other sources reported he died later in November.

AFRICOM stated in an email to Airwars that no other US actions have been conducted in November.


There were no publicly alleged CIA strikes in Pakistan against either Al Qaeda or the Taliban during November 2020. The last such reported US strike was in August 2018.

November also saw a major breakthrough for Airwars, with the launch of The Credibles, published in conjunction with The Washington Post. After several years of patient engagement with the US military, the US-led Coalition against the so-called Islamic State provided Airwars with the near locations of nearly all of the 344 publicly confirmed civilian harm events in the war against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. In total this interactive dataset allows for the first time the accurate location of almost 1,400 civilian deaths the coalition has admitted to causing since 2014. These located events represent the most accurate and comprehensive data ever publicly revealed by the US military about the harm it causes in war and raise hopes for families of those killed for potential apologies and ex gratia payments.


November also saw a major breakthrough for transparency, with the launch of The Credibles, published by Airwars in conjunction with The Washington Post. After several years of patient engagement with the US military, the US-led Coalition against the so-called Islamic State provided Airwars with the near locations of nearly all of the 344 publicly confirmed civilian harm events in the war against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. In total this interactive dataset allows for the first time the accurate location of almost 1,400 civilian deaths the coalition has admitted to causing since 2014. These located events represent the most accurate and comprehensive data ever publicly revealed by the US military about the harm it causes in war and raise hopes of potential apologies and ex gratia payments for the families of those killed.

UK advocacy

Airwars UK Advocacy team participated in the UK’s Protection of Civilians Working Group meeting in November to discuss updates in the UK and plan for a meeting with Lord Ahmad, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict and Minister of State, following a letter sent by the group requesting that Protection of Civilians be prioritised throughout different parts of the government. The group is awaiting details about the meeting. 

Airwars participated in a closed-door round table discussion organised by Saferworld about the UK’s training of local, national and regional forces titled ‘“Are we speaking to the right people when undertaking monitoring, evaluation and learning?”  The discussion drew on experience from different fields and organisations and participants unanimously concluded that local populations are not engaged enough in the monitoring and evaluation of operations and they should be represented well.

Airwars also took part in Save the Children’s parliamentary launch of the latest report ‘Stop the War on Children’, which discussed the devastating impact of conflict on children living in or near war zones. The launch focused on the trends and themes identified in the report, the experiences of children living in conflict, and how the UK can play a pivotal role in protecting children in war, an aim shared by Airwars. 

European advocacy

Following the October release of Seeing through the Rubble, our joint report with PAX for Peace which examines the long-term effects of the use of explosive weapons in Mosul, Raqqa and Hawijah, we presented the report to our partners at the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) in a virtual meeting on November 2nd.

On November 12th, Airwars attended the starting session of the so-called Roadmap Process with the Dutch Ministry of Defence. The process is a chance for civil society and the Ministry to review how the Dutch transparency and accountability practices in regard to civilian harm can be improved. Airwars director Chris Woods emphasized in his opening statement that, despite the different perspectives, there is a shared goal among the civil society consortium and Defence officials: to see fewer civilians harmed in conflict. 

Airwars deputy director Dmytro Chupryna attended webinars organised by INEW on November 19th and 26th, which discussed the common misconceptions that states often have regarding the Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA) political declaration. The purpose of the webinars was to agree on a joint position in tackling common pushbacks and misconceptions.

▲ Locals in Idlib commemorating child victims of the war in Syrian on International Children's Day, November 20th (Idlib Plus)


December 2020

Written by

Mohammed al Jumaily

Assisted by

Anna Zahn, Clive Vella, Douglas Statt, Eleftheria Kousta, Giacomo Nanni, Hermes, Joseph Dyke, Laurie Treffers, Maysa Ismael, Ned Ray, Oliver Imhof, Riley Mellen, Samuel Brownsword and Shihab Halep

Major Conflict Monitoring

The months of September and October 2020 saw a flurry of activity from Airwars. Starting with the launch of new interactive mapping of reported civilian harm during the recent siege of Tripoli; through to our major joint report with PAX examining the civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in cities; and the launch of our latest project , tracking the ongoing US counterterrorism campaign in Yemen.

Meanwhile, military activity continued across all tracked conflicts during September and October, with the latter month seeing a notable rise in civilian harm incidents in Syria. Meanwhile, after the single worst month for reported civilian harm incidents in Iraq from Turkish action since 2015 in August, no locally claimed Turkish civilian harm incidents were tracked by our team in the country during the months of September and October. In Syria however, civilian harm incidents involving Turkish-led forces continued to be reported throughout this period.

In Libya, military activity remained minimal, as it had done since June 2020. In a major breakthrough, the GNA and LNA jointly agreed to a UN-brokered official ceasefire deal in Geneva on October 23rd, four months after hostilities had already effectively ceased.

Gradual increase in civilian harm from Russian actions

The month of September saw a continuation of a trend observed the previous month – low levels of civilian harm from Russian actions in Syria. Airwars researchers tracked a total of four locally claimed civilian harm incidents attributed to Russian forces – an increase of one from the previous month’s tally. According to local reports, two civilians were killed and up to six more were injured in these attacks. This was down from at least five civilian deaths and up to 11 others injured from alleged Russian incidents reported in August.

The only known incident which led to civilian deaths occurred on September 7th in the town of Ariha in Idlib Governorate. A local source reported that Russian and/ or Regime missile strikes on the town killed two civilians and injured at least two others. 

However, October saw alleged Russian aggression on both civilians and Syrian rebel groups rise significantly. It was also characterised by a notable rise in both the number of civilian harm incidents allegedly resulting from Russian actions in the country; and the total number of civilians killed and injured. Airwars tracked six claimed civilian harm incidents from Russian actions in October. According to local reports, six civilians were killed and up to 33 more were injured by these airstrikes. 

One significant incident occurred at the end of October on Turkish-backed Syrian rebels. On October 26th, Russian airstrikes reportedly targeted a training camp run by Faylaq al-Sham, near the town of Kafr Takharim in northern Idlib, which is close to the border with Turkey. The strike killed at least 78 rebel fighters and injured over 100 more. According to Airwars’ assessment of the incident, at least two civilians were also killed, including local journalist Rashid al-Bakr. 

Journalist Rashid al-Bakr was killed in alleged Russian airstrikes on a Faylaq al-Sham camp on October 26th 2020 (via Euphrates Post)

The attack was met with outrage by Ankara and prompted a fierce counterattack by Syrian rebel factions on Regime positions in Idlib, Hama, Aleppo and Latakia. While there had been previous periods of heightened tension between Turkey and Russia since a major Idlib ceasefire came into effect in March, this attack posed the most serious threat to the agreement to date. However, observers noted that Russia’s motivation for the initial attack was more a statement against Turkey itself rather than an indication that Russia and the Regime might restart their offensive against Syrian rebels. The attack came in the context of Russia’s wider concerns regarding Turkey’s growing military involvement in the war in Libya, and in the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

October also witnessed a possible increase in Russia’s use of armed drones in Syria. On October 31st, two alleged Russian drone strikes in Idlib governorate resulted in civilian harm. The first occurred in the village of Taltuna, near Maarate Misrin. A drone strike on the village killed one civilian and injured five others. However, there were also conflicting reports as to which belligerent launched the attack, with some sources blaming the Syrian Regime and Iran. According to reports, the type of drone used by Russia is a ‘suicide drone’, which is designed to destroy remote ground target by carrying a small warhead. Meanwhile on that same day, more consistent reports emerged of an alleged Russian drone attack on Nahla village in Idlib, which injured three civilians including an elderly woman. According to Shaam News Network, the civilians injured were harvesting olives when the strike occurred.

An elderly woman injured in a reported Russian drone attack on Nahla village in Idlib on October 31st (via Idlib Plus)

Civilians continue to pay the price of Turkish drone strikes in Syria

In Iraq, following the single worst month during August for civilian harm incidents in Iraq from Turkish actions, there were no reports of civilian casualties during the past two months, although Turkey’s military campaign against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continued. 

Across September and October, Airwars researchers tracked eight alleged Turkish civilian harm incidents in Syria. The team tracked two civilian harm incidents in Syria involving Turkey during September. On September 12th, local sources reported heavy Turkish shelling on the villages of Aqiba, Soghanka and Burj al-Qass in the Shirawa area of Aleppo. According to reports, ‘several’ people from the village of Burj al-Qass were injured in the attack.

Eight days later on September 20th, Turkish-led shelling on the village of Awn al-Dadat in northern Manbij, Aleppo, was reported. According to local sources, two women were injured and a house destroyed as a result of the shelling. Local outlet, Manbij MC, named the two civilians as Maryam Al-Kadro, aged 50, and Ali Al-Daher. 

Maryam Al-Kadro was reported injured in an alleged Turkish forces artillery attack on Awn Al-Dadat in Aleppo on September 20th, 2020. (via ManbijMC).

October 2020 then saw a rise in reported civilian harm incidents in Syria involving Turkey. Airwars tracked six civilian harm claims during the month, resulting in three civilian deaths and injuring up to 27 more. Four of the six incidents occurred during the third week of the month (October 13th – 22nd), suggesting a notable escalation in Turkish-led military activity in SDF-held areas during this time.

The first incident occurred on October 9th in al-Boraz village, near Kobani in Aleppo Governorate. According to local sources, Turkish-led shelling on the village injured two children, identified as Muhammad Kamel aged 12, and his brother Mahmoud Kamel aged 14. 

The first civilian death occurred on October 16th in Ain Issa. Hatem Hazem, aged 13, died of injuries he sustained as a result of alleged Turkish-backed shelling on the Ain Issa area and its camp. The Free Burma Rangers, an on-the-ground humanitarian organisation, reported that the first mortar rounds were reported at 9:30am. One reportedly landed in the midst of a herd of sheep, killing many and lightly injuring two men and the young boy Hatem Hazem. Shrapnel reportedly tore through the boy’s left leg just above the ankle, a serious injury that claimed his life. According to local reports, as many as eight other civilians were injured in the attack. 

Four days later, on October 20th, an alleged Turkish drone strike struck a car near Mazra village, Hasakah governorate, killing two civilians. According to local reports, at least two other civilians were injured in the strike.

Meanwhile in Iraq, clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members continued. Tensions reached a critical point after two Turkish soldiers were killed and another was wounded after Kurdish militants fired rockets at a military base in northern Iraq on September 18th. Turkey later responded with heavy strikes on PKK positions. On September 20th, a Turkish drone strike then targeted a vehicle near the Yazidi Sharaf al-Din shrine in Sinjar. According to Iraqi security officials, three PKK fighters were killed in the attack.

Meanwhile, on October 7th, the Turkish Parliament ratified a motion extending authorisation to launch cross-border ‘anti-terrorist operations’ in northern Iraq and Syria. The motion, submitted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, claimed to give authorisation to the Turkish military to carry out operations for another year, from October 2020 until October 2021. This was the sixth time this motion had been extended since it was first approved in 2014.

Hatem Hazem died of injuries sustained as a result of Turkish or pro-Turkey forces shelling Ain Issa on October 16th, 2020. (via ANHA)

US-led Coalition in Syria and Iraq

The International Coalition continued its operations across Syria and Iraq during the months of September and October. According to local sources, four civilian harm incidents locally attributed to the international alliance were reported, resulting in up to nine civilian deaths and the wounding of ten more. One civilian harm incident was reported in September and three in October.

The US-led Coalition reported that between September 1st and September 30th 2020, a total of 15 strikes were conducted in Iraq and Syria. Seven took place in Iraq, reportedly killing 18 ISIS members, destroying six cache sites and four tunnels. In Syria, eight strikes against ISIS were conducted – up from six conducted the previous month.

On September 29th, local sources reported that a civilian was killed and two others wounded when Coalition forces and the SDF undertook a joint landing operation in Jadid Uqaydat in Deir Ezzor. Two other people, locally described as oil merchants, were reported arrested as a result of the operation. The fatality was identified by local sources as 50 year-old Faisal Al-Khalfu, nicknamed Dakar. The two arrested people were named as Ghannam Al-Mahmoud Al-Haloush, and his nephew Kamel Hisham Al-Haloush. 

However, the status of the victims has been contested. The Coalition’s spokesperson tweeted that the victim was an ISIS member. “Early this morning we removed three terrorist fighters from Jadid Uqaydat, Syria. Together, we’ll keep fighting to keep Syria safe from Daesh,” OIR Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto asserted.

@CMOC_SDF and @CJTFOIR are keeping up the pressure on Daesh. Early this morning we removed three terrorist fighters from Jadid Uqaydat, Syria. Together, we’ll keep fighting to keep Syria safe from Daesh. #defeatdaesh

— OIR Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto (@OIRSpox) September 29, 2020


However, local Facebook sources such as Euphrates Eyes and Eye on Hasakah reported that the slain victim was instead a civilian, and even alleged that the operation was conducted by the SDF in a bid to ‘steal money from civilians’ in the area.

Faisal Al-Khalfu (with his son), was killed in a joint Coalition-SDF operation in Jadid Akidat on September 29th (Image via Euphrates Eyes)

In October, three civilian harm incidents involving the US-led Coalition were reported by local sources. All took place within a single week (October 15th – 22nd). On October 15th, local reports alleged that an International Coalition warplane targeted a vehicle belonging to Huras al-Din, an affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria, killing three people including a child. Among those slain was Abu Dhar al-Masr, a senior figure within the terror group. The incident took place in the village of Arab Saeed, west of Idlib.

White Helmets volunteers putting out a fire resulting from an airstrike in Arab Saeed on October 15th (via Edlib Media Center).

Later, local sources revealed that the incident had also led to the death of a humanitarian worker. According to Bonyan Organisation, Dima Abdan, an employee with the NGO, died of her injuries after she was critically wounded by shrapnel as a result of the strike. Bonyan is described as an “Independent Non-government, Non-profit organization established for building human capacity and rehabilitating war-torn communities”, working in northwestern Syria. Another humanitarian worker was also injured in the attack.

The next day, local sources reported that a civilian was killed and another arrested during a ground operation conducted by the SDF and the US-led Coalition in the village of Al Majbal, Deir Ezzor governorate. Al-Khabour news identified the slain civilian as Asad Suleiman Al-Sawadi. Al-Sawadi was reportedly shot in the neck and died immediately. According to a Deir Ezzor 24 correspondent, “the operation resulted in one death, two injuries, including a woman, and one arrest, in addition to the bombing of an abandoned house in the village”. 

The third civilian harm incident reportedly took place in the village of Jakara in the Salqin countryside near the Syria-Turkey border. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a strike on a gathering of Haya’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) members on a farm in the area killed up to 22 people, including five civilians. It was later revealed that the strike was in fact conducted by CENTCOM. Major Beth Riordan, the spokeswoman for United States Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed that US forces carried out a drone strike on a meeting in Idlib against “a group of Al-Qaeda in Syria (AQ-S) senior leaders”.

Libya: GNA and LNA agree to official ceasefire

Libya only witnessed three reported artillery strikes during September, four less than in the previous month, as parties to the conflict mostly continued to respect the ceasefire. Two strikes were allegedly conducted by the Libyan National Army (LNA) and one by the Government of National Accord (GNA), none of which resulted in civilian harm.

In October, there were reports of two airstrikes. One of these allegedly resulted in civilian harm, on October 19th in Al Jaghboub near the border with Egypt. An Egyptian airstrike allegedly hit two people claimed to be fishermen, whose bodies were later found in the desert.

In the other event the GNA alleged LNA shelling on its forces in Buerat. However, the LNA later denied a breach of the ceasefire.

On a more positive note, the GNA and LNA agreed to an official UN-brokered ceasefire deal in Geneva on October 23rd, after hostilities had already effectively ceased in June. The agreement was largely received positively by commentators, as it contained more solid mechanisms than the previous agreement struck in Berlin in January.

Representatives of GNA and LNA shake hands after striking a ceasefire deal in Geneva on October 23rd, 2020 (via UNSMIL)

US counter-terrorism campaigns


On October 28th, Airwars launched its new investigation into the ongoing US counterterrorism campaign in Yemen. A new report, Eroding Transparency, examined US air and ground actions against both Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Islamic State in Yemen, since 2017 under President Trump, as well as incidents leading to alleged civilian harm.

More than 230 declared and alleged US military and CIA actions were identified by the team – among them 41 events reported to have led to civilian casualties. The report indicated that US operations in Yemen too often lacked both the transparency and accountability standards of other recent US military interventions, and identified a significant recent increase in both clandestine and covert activity.

Airwars’ accompanying public database detailed every alleged US action in Yemen since 2017 under Donald Trump. The all-source monitoring approach adopted by Airwars has allowed the research to be significantly reoriented towards Yemeni voices and experiences. There were approximately 4,400 unique sources in the new public database, 60% of these in Arabic. Additionally, more than 140 alleged or confirmed US actions had also been geolocated by Airwars to village-level accuracy.

According to reports, on September 4th an alleged US drone strike targeted a car reportedly carrying al-Qaeda operatives, including Abu al-Bara al-Qifi, a senior figure within the group, in Shaqra, east of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate. However, some local sources claimed that the strike was in fact carried out by the UAE.

And on October 27th, another alleged US drone strike took place in the Arak al-Shabwan area of Marib governorate. The attack reportedly targeted a car carrying three people on board. According to local sources, two militants were killed and a third seriously injured.

With CENTCOM denying any US military strikes in Yemen since June 2019, there was speculation that one or more recent events were the work of the CIA. 


In September, Somalia saw four alleged US actions – one less than in August.

On September 7th at least one US service member was injured in an exchange of gunfire between Somali troops supported by US forces and Al Shabaab militants. Al Shabaab claimed a higher casualty toll among Somali and US forces.

The only alleged civilian harm event of the month occurred on September 20th when a local source alleged that US-trained Danab forces had killed eight civilians in a Mosque in Moyiloow. An AFRICOM investigation into the incident is reportedly ongoing.

In addition, AFRICOM confirmed two airstrikes during the month. A September 9th strike allegedly killed 17 Al Shabaab fighters near Amreereey. The second event, confirmed at Airwars’ request to AFRICOM for details of recent strikes, destroyed a vehicle in Jana Cabdalle on September 21st.

In October, only two US actions were reported. A single source claimed that an unidentified strike killed ten or eleven Al Shabaab in Weelshit on October 6th. And in the second event, again confirmed following an Airwars request, an Al Shabaab member was targeted on October 18th. The event did however not result in any casualties.


There were no publicly alleged CIA strikes in Pakistan against either Al Qaeda or the Taliban during September and October 2020. The last such reported US strike was in August 2018.


UK, US and international advocacy

Airwars and CIVIC submitted their joint submission to the UK Government’s call for evidence to the Integrated Review – an examination of foreign policy, defence, security and international development goals. The joint paper included recommendations by both organisations for the UK to mainstream the protection of civilians in conflict within government policies; to establish systems for casualty tracking and investigations; and to improve UK accountability for civilian harm. The Integrated Review is expected to be published in late January 2021. 

Following the UK’s publishing of the latest paper on the Approach to Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, Airwars, together with UK partners, sent a joint letter to Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State and the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict,  welcoming the newly released Paper on Protection of Civilians (PoC) and calling for Protection of Civilians to be embedded across government and for the Policy to be regularly updated in consultation with stakeholders. Lord Ahmad responded to the letter, welcoming a requested meeting with the group to discuss issues raised in the letter.

Airwars Deputy Director Dmytro Chupryna took part in NATO’s 2030 Online Stakeholder Dialogue on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Human Security and Humanitarian Issues, contributing to the discussion on NATO’s role in minimising the impact of conflict on civilians. Participants stressed the importance of the Protection of Civilians framework, which has to be implemented in all of NATO’s operational theatres. The rise of hybrid tactics and fighting in urban areas are placing civilian populations at greater risk. There is therefore a need for NATO to address this component strategically; and to set civilian harm reduction standards which can positively influence other States. 

In response to recent sanctions imposed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on senior figures within the International Criminal Court, Airwars together with US and international partners, published an open statement in September calling upon the US Government to end its targeting of ICC officials; and regretting what was referred to as the US’s recent abandonment of key international mechanisms designed to protect civilians. “As condemnatory statements from close US allies make clear, the United States has lost significant international standing through these sanctions, which have undermined the international rule of law and provided succour to war criminals seeking to evade justice,” the joint statement noted. 

European advocacy

On September 24th, our European advocacy officer Laurie Treffers wrote an opinion piece for Belgian daily De Standaard regarding a new Belgian aircraft deployment to the US-led Coalition against so-called Islamic State. The op-ed questioned how much longer Belgium could continue to insist that previous military actions in the fight against ISIS had led to zero civilian casualties. 

A group of 11 international and Belgian NGOs also sent then-interim Minister of Defence Philipe Goffin an open letter regarding the new Belgian weapon deployment on September 30th. Organisations including Airwars, Amnesty Belgium and Humanity & Inclusion, called on the Minister to increase transparency and accountability for civilian harm and – following a recent parliamentary motion – to ensure cooperation with external monitoring groups and human rights organisations. 

On October 26th, Seeing through the Rubble: The civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in the fight against ISIS, a joint report by Airwars and Dutch NGO  Pax for Peace, was published. The report was officially launched at a virtual event for Members of Parliament from Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. 

The Irish ambassador to the United Nations, Michael Gaffey, who has been leading efforts to draft a political declaration on limiting the use of explosive areas in populated areas, opened the event. “We would not have reached the point of acceptance for the need for a political declaration [on explosive weapons] if it was not for the work of civil society organisations. Their research and advocacy are vital to the process,” Ambassador Gaffey noted.

▲ Locals in Idlib protesting against Russian military intervention in Syria on October 2nd (via Idlib Plus)


October 29, 2020

Written by

Laurie Treffers and Mohammed al Jumaily

Assisted by

Maysa Ismael

Header Image

Damage in the industrial area of Hawijah, years after the attack in June 2015 (image via NOS).
Read this article in:

A Dutch airstrike on Hawijah in 2015 led to the deaths of at least 70 civilians. In a key interview, the city's Mayor discusses events that day - and the ongoing suffering of affected civilians.

On the night of June 2nd to June 3rd 2015, Dutch F-16s bombed an ISIS Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosives Devices (VBIED) factory in the city of Hawijah, in Iraq’s Kirkuk province. Secondary explosions triggered by the airstrike killed at least 70 civilians and wounded hundreds more. Today, the city of Hawijah is still recovering – not only from long-standing ISIS control of the area, but also the lasting impact on civilian lives of the Dutch airstrike five years ago.

For their new joint report, Seeing through the rubble: The civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in the fight against ISIS, Airwars and PAX interviewed Hawijah Mayor Subhan Al Jabouri about the direct, indirect, and ongoing effects of the strike.

The questions were answered via e-mail on September 28th, 2020. The first part of the interview discusses the direct consequences of the Dutch air raid. The second focuses on the indirect effects. In the third section, the Mayor was asked about the impact the Dutch air raid still has on the lives of civilians in Hawijah. Finally, the Mayor examines the overall damage that both the ISIS occupation and the anti-ISIS Coalition have caused in his city.

Subhan Al Jabouri, the Mayor of Hawijah, in his office (Image courtesy of the Mayor)

Interview with Subhan Al Jabouri, Mayor of Hawijah

Part I: Direct harm

1. What is Hawijah Council’s present estimate of civilian deaths and injuries resulting from this Dutch airstrike?

According to preliminary reports, more than 70 civilians were killed and more than 500 others injured.

2. Can the Council please characterise the damage caused to civilian objects such as houses, roads, medical facilities, shops, schools, childcare facilities, pharmacies, factories? Is there a list of damaged properties?

Besides severe damage to civilian properties, factories, workshops and homes in the surrounding area of the explosion, a power station, civil defence centre and a wheat mill were also destroyed.

3. How many schools were damaged in the attack, and are these functional again?

A total of 37 schools were damaged and four schools are out of service and no longer running and these have not yet been rebuilt.

4. How many pharmacies were damaged and are these open again? 

No answer.

5. Is it true that an ice- and brick factory were damaged, and are these operational again?

Yes, it was confirmed that more than one ice production plant and brick factories were destroyed as a result of the airstrike. The factories have not completely reopened, nor have their owners returned to the area.

6. Is it true that the surface water sewage system was damaged, and is that operational again?

No answer.

7. Is there an overall estimate of buildings both damaged and destroyed in the Dutch airstrike?

According to the first assessment of the size of the destruction and the diameter of the impact of the shock wave of the explosion, the size of the damage reached a diameter of more than 2km and 500 buildings were subject to major damage.

8. Can the Council please outline damage to infrastructure, such as electricity, gas pipelines, water pipelines, communication lines, etcetera?

The infrastructure in the area of the explosion and the surrounding neighbourhoods were damaged, which led to the suspension of a large number of facilities, including a power station, main communication lines and water pipes in the area.

Part II: Indirect harm

9. What has been the impact of the damage to civilian objects and infrastructure from the Dutch airstrike such as a decline in access to water, electricity, heating or other essential services such as water and sanitation services, health services, displacement, environmental impact, rubble and waste management

The great damage caused to the infrastructure of the region and the surrounding areas, as well as damage to the power station and water pipelines, led to the displacement of a large number of families from the affected areas and a significant decrease in access to basic services to them.

10. What psychological impact on local communities does the Council believe has occurred?

The horror of this strike had a profound psychological effect on the psyche of the victims, as it led to the death of dozens of families and the injury of hundreds. Some families were completely wiped out, others lost at least three or four family members. The absence of direct health care and the inability of the people to help their families and watch them die under the rubble induced trauma for the people. This is in addition to the loss of their homes, properties and sources of income and their experiences of being displaced.

11. It has been reported that Hawijans remain concerned about possible radiological and other contaminant effects of both the Dutch strike and the broader campaign to remove ISIS. Can the Council please update us on these concerns?

Despite the liberation of the area and the return of locals and their attempts, the industrial zone and surrounding residential areas have not been rebuilt. However, there are still concerns among the residents about the radiological effects and polluting materials as a result of the tremendous force of the explosion, as some believe that radioactive materials are present in the area.

Part III: Long-term effects   12. How are survivors of the Dutch airstrike presently doing?

The Al-Ghad organisation, in cooperation with the local authorities, is ensuring the registration of survivors and those affected by the airstrike through voluntary work. The information currently recorded shows that the survivors are divided between internally displaced persons in Kirkuk and Salah al-Din governorate, and internally displaced persons inside Hawija as a result of the destruction of homes, sources of income and laboratories, and the lack of basic services in the area.

13. Can the local authorities please confirm the estimate that as a result of this attack, that around 2,000 people experienced psycho-social problems?

Yes, and the number of people affected may exceed this number due to the side effects of the strike.

14. Are psychological and physical rehabilitation programs available?

There are no specialized rehabilitation or psychological support programs that specifically target survivors of the Dutch airstrike, but they may be included in public programs that target the Hawija area or Internally Displaced Peoples.

15. Have victims been compensated in any way? Can the Council confirm that there has been only one family that has received compensation? 

No compensation programs were implemented for survivors.

The aftermath of the Dutch strike on Hawijah in 2015 which killed an estimated 70 civilians (via Iraqi Revolution).

16. Have the homes of citizens been repaired? If so, how many? Could the Council please confirm the estimate that 50-60 per cent of the buildings in the area have now been rebuilt?

The houses have not been completely rebuilt, and the percentage of repaired homes does not exceed 40% of the homes. Families returning to the area live in houses damaged by the effects of the strike, as they are unable to repair their homes. It is difficult to confirm this percentage, as there are many buildings that were completely destroyed and the owners of those buildings have not returned.

17. Have people returned or are they still displaced and under which circumstances are they living now?  How many Hawijans remain displaced from the neighbourhood damaged in the Dutch strike?

Living conditions are very difficult due to the lack of basic services, sources of income and the destruction of homes. It is difficult to determine the percentages of returnees in these areas because some displaced persons from outside these areas have returned to live in the affected areas and many of them are still displaced or settled in other areas such as Kirkuk and Salah al-Din.

18. Has infrastructure and or factories/shops/facilities been repaired? What has and has not so far been repaired?

The local government has launched plans to rebuild the infrastructure, but it has not been fully implemented and the region still suffers from a lack of services. Some factories have been rebuilt, such as the wheat mill and a few workshops and shops, but a number of factories are still destroyed along with many car showrooms, workshops and schools.

19. Do people have access to water and electricity again? Did they have access to it before the attack?

A number of transmission lines and water pipes have been repaired, but the main station that was damaged as a result of the bombing has not been operational yet.

20. Have roads been repaired? If so how many?

Yes, only the main road in the area has been repaired. 

21. Has the rubble been cleared? How much?

Some of the debris has been removed but the bigger proportion remains in the area.

22. Is it safe to live in the affected neighbourhoods again? Or is there a risk of unexploded ordnance?

Yes, it is safe, and the Al-Ghad Organisation for Women and Children’s Care is implementing an awareness project about the dangers of war remnants in Hawija now.

23. Do people have access to the same local facilities as before, such as medical facilities, shops, daycares, pharmacies etcetera?

Yes, some facilities were reopened thanks to individual efforts.

24. Can the local authorities confirm the loss of jobs which resulted from this attack (because stores, workshops and factories closed and are still not opened because the area still lacks electricity and has not been rebuilt)?

Hundreds of Hawija residents lost their jobs and sources of income as a result of the destruction of workshops, car showrooms and factories, as well as the destruction of the basic infrastructure of the area. Some people have reopened a small number of workshops and shops, and the mill was rebuilt too, but the lack of services hinders the complete restoration of economic and urban life.

Part IV: General damage ISIS occupation and anti-ISIS Coalition

25. One source mentions that one of two water treatment plants (WTP) in the city were damaged in another airstrike. However another source says the WTP itself wasn’t damaged by an airstrike, but instead a power station was damaged that normally provided the WTP with electricity to pump the water. Was it the WTP itself or the power station and pipelines that were damaged? 

Yes, the water transmission lines, the supplied electricity network and the power station were all damaged.

26. The source also mentions that currently, only one WTP is functioning in Hawijah, through the public grid. However because the grid is not reliable, the functioning of the WTP is limited and it cannot cover the needs of the population.  Can the Council please confirm if this was and remains true?

Yes, it is true and the situation is still as mentioned.

27. A 2018 report noted that two of the three healthcare facilities in Hawijah had been damaged by fighting with only one functioning at that time – meaning people had to travel to Kirkuk for specialized care. However, a separate local source asserts that “No health care center has been damaged because airstrike, only some minor damages in the Directorate of Health building and it already been rehabilitated, Hawija General Hospital and public health center is functioning now – but according to field staff there are huge gaps in sanitation facilities.”

Could the Council please confirm whether two out of three health centres were or were not damaged – and if so, whether they have now been repaired?  

The Health Directorate, known to the government as the ‘second health sector’ was affected by the strike.

28. Can the local authorities please confirm that there are no rehabilitation or psycho-social support programmes for the victims presently available in Hawijah?

Humanitarian organizations generally implement psychological support programs in Hawija, but there are no programs specifically for survivors of the strike.

محافظ الحويجة سبهان الجبوري في مكتبه. الصورة مقدمة من المحافظ.

مقابلة مع محافظ الحويجة: سبهان الجبوري

ليلة الثاني إلى الثالث من حزيران عام 2015، قصفت طائرة حربية هولندية من نوع F-16s معملاً  لداعش متخصصاً في تصنيع القنابل في الحويجة بالعراق. قتلت الانفجارات الثانوية التي سببتها الضربة ما لا يقل عن 70 مدنياً وأدت لجرح مئات آخرين. اليوم، لا تزال مدينة الحويجة تتعافى، ليس من حكم داعش طويل الأمد على المنطقة فقط، بل من التأثير المستمر على حياة المدنيين من الضربة الجوية الهولندية قبل خمس سنوات.

أجرت Airwars و PAX مقابلة مع محافظ الحويجة سبهان الجبوري عن التأثير المباشر وغير المباشر للضربة الهولندية، لتقريرهما المشترك الأخير “الرؤية من خلال الركام: تأثير استخدام الأسلحة المتفجرة في الحرب ضد داعش على المدنيين”.

تمت الإجابة على الأسئلة عبر البريد الإلكتروني يوم الثامن والعشرين من أيلول 2020. يدور القسم الأول من الأسئلة حول التأثيرات المباشرة للغارة الجوية الهولندية، فيما يركز القسم الثاني على الآثار غير المباشرة. في القسم الثالث سئل المحافظ عن التأثيرات المستمرة للضربة على حياة المدنيين في الحويجة حالياً. يبحث المحافظ في القسم الرابع الضرر الإجمالي الذي سببه احتلال داعش والتحالف المضاد لداعش على المدينة.

القسم الأول: الأذى المباشر

1.ما هو تقدير مجلس الحويجة الحالي للقتلى والجرحى المدنيين نتيجة هذه الغارة الجوية الهولندية؟ 

بحسب التقارير الاولية لأعداد القتلى المدنيين فقد بلغت أكثر من 70 قتيلا وأكثر من 500 جريح.

2.هل يمكن للمجلس أن يصف الأضرار التي لحقت بالممتلكات المدنية مثل المنازل والشوارع والمرافق الطبية والمحلات التجارية والمدارس ومرافق رعاية الأطفال والصيدليات والمصانع. هل توجد قائمة بالممتلكات المدمرة أو المتضررة؟

تعرضت الممتلكات المدنية إلى أضرار كبيرة حيث تعرضت المعامل والورش والمحال التجارية والمنازل المحيطة بمنطقة الانفجار الى محو ودمار بالكامل، إضافة إلى تدمير محطة الكهرباء ومركز للدفاع المدني ومطحنة.

3. كم عدد المدارس التي تضررت جراء الهجوم، وهل عادت للعمل مجدداً؟

تعرضت 37 مدرسة للضرر في المجمل،  مع خروج 4 مدارس عن الخدمة، ولم تتم إعادة بنائها.

4. كم عدد الصيدليات التي تضررت وهل تم فتحها مجدداً؟

لا جواب

5. هل صحيح أن معمل ثلج وطوب تضرر نتيجة الضربة وهل عاد للعمل مجدداً؟

نعم، تم تأكيد تدمير أكثر من معمل لإنتاج الثلج وكذلك معامل للطوب نتيجة الضربة الجوية . لم يتم اعادة افتتاح المعامل بشكل كامل او أن أصحابها لم يعودوا للمنطقة.

6. هل صحيح أن نظام الصرف الصحي السطحي تضرر وهل عاد للعمل مجدداً؟

لا جواب

7. هل هناك تقدير إجمالي للمباني المتضررة والمدمرة في هذه الغارة الجوية الهولندية؟

حسب التقييم الأولي لحجم الدمار وقطر تأثير الموجة الارتدادية للانفجار، وصل الدمار الى  دائرة يزيد قطرها عن 2 كيلومتر وتعرض 500 مبنى لدمار بنسبة كبيرة.

·8. هل يمكن للمجلس أن يحدد الأضرار التي لحقت بالبنية التحتية مثل الكهرباء وأنابيب الغاز وأنابيب المياه وخطوط الاتصال وما إلى ذلك؟

نتيجة للأضرار الكبيرة التي لحقت بالبنى التحتية للمنطقة والمناطق المحيطة وتعرض البنى التحتية في منطقة الانفجار والأحياء المحيطة بها إلى أضرار، توقف عدد كبير من المرافق منها محطة كهرباء و خطوط الاتصالات الرئيسية وأنابيب الماء في المنطقة.

القسم الثاني: الأذى غير المباشر

9. ما هو تأثير الأضرار التي لحقت بالممتلكات المدنية والبنية التحتية من الغارة الجوية الهولندية مثل: صعوبة الوصول إلى المياه والكهرباء والتدفئة أو غيرها من الخدمات الأساسية مثل خدمات المياه والصرف الصحي والخدمات الصحية والنزوح والأثر البيئي والأنقاض وإدارة النفايات؟

أدت الأضرار الكبيرة التي لحقت بالبنى التحتية للمنطقة والمناطق المحيطة وتضرر محطة الكهرباء وأنابيب الماء إلى نزوح عدد كبير من العوائل من المناطق المتضررة وتدني نسبة وصول الخدمات الأساسية إليهم .

10. ما هو الأثر النفسي الذي حدث على المجتمعات المحلية؟

كان لهول هذه الضربة أثر نفسي عميق على الضحايا حيث أدت إلى مقتل العشرات من العوائل وإصابة المئات. بعض العوائل محيت بالكامل والبعض الآخر خسر ما لا يقل عن 3-4 أفراد من أفراد الأسرة . تسبب غياب الرعاية الصحية المباشرة وعدم قدرة الأهالي على إسعاف ذويهم ومشاهدتهم يتوفون تحت الركام بصدمة كبيرة لدى الأهالي، إضافة لخسارتهم منازلهم وممتلكاتهم ومصادر الدخل اليوم وتعرضهم للنزوح .

11. أفادت التقارير أن أهالي الحويجة ما زالوا قلقين بشأن الآثار الإشعاعية المحتملة وغيرها من الآثار الملوثة من الضربة الهولندية والحملة ضد داعش. هل يمكن للمجلس إطلاعنا على هذه المخاوف؟

رغم تحرير المنطقة وعودة الأهالي ومحاولاتهم لإعادة بناء المنطقة الصناعية والمناطق السكنية المحيطة إلا أن المخاوف ما زالت مستمرة بين الأهالي من الاثار الإشعاعية والمواد الملوثة نتيجة لقوة الانفجار الهائلة حيث يعتقد بعضهم وجود مواد إشعاعية في المنطقة.

القسم الثالث: الآثار طويلة المدى

12. كيف حال الناجين من الغارة الجوية الهولندية حالياً؟

تقوم منظمة الغد بالتعاون مع السلطات المحلية بعملية تسجيل للناجين والمتضررين من الغارة الجوية بعمل تطوعي، حيث بينت المعلومات المسجلة حالياً أن الناجين منقسمون بين نازحين داخلياً الى محافظة كركوك وصلاح الدين، و نازحين داخل الحويجة نتيجة دمار المنازل ومصادر الدخل والمعامل ونقص الخدمات الأساسية في المنطقة .

13. هل يمكن للسلطات المحلية أن تؤكد التقديرات أنه نتيجة للهجوم تعرض حوالي 2000 شخص لمشاكل اجتماعية – نفسية؟

نعم ويمكن أن يتجاوز عدد المتضررين هذا العدد بسبب الآثار الجانبية للضربة.

14. هل تتوافر برامج للتأهيل النفسي والجسدي؟ 

لا توجد برامج تأهيل أو دعم نفسي متخصصة تستهدف الناجين من الضربة الجوية الهولندية تحديداً، لكن قد يتم شمولهم بالبرامج العامة التي تستهدف منطقة الحويجة او النازحين.

15. هل تم تعويض الضحايا بأي شكل من الأشكال؟ وهل يمكن للمجلس أن يؤكد أن احدى العائلات تلقت تعويضاً؟

لم يتم تنفيذ أي برامج تعويضات للناجين.

آثار الضربة الهولندية على الحويجة عام 2015 والتي أدت لمقتل ما يقارب 70 مدنياً (عن صفحة الثورة العراقية)‎.

16. هل تم إصلاح منازل المواطنين التي تضررت؟ في حال تم ذلك، كم عددها؟ هل يمكن للمجلس أن يؤكد أن ما بين 50-60 بالمئة من المباني في المنطقة أعيد بناؤها؟

لم يتم ترميم المنازل بشكل كامل ولا تتجاوز نسبة المنازل المرممة 40% من المنازل رغم عودة العوائل للمنطقة، إلا أنهم يسكنون في منازل متضررة من آثار الضربة لعدم قدرتهم على إصلاح تلك المنازل .

قد يكون من الصعوبة تأكيد هذه النسبة لوجود العديد من المباني التي دمرت بالكامل وعدم عودة أصحاب تلك المباني .

17. ما الظروف التي يعيشها الناس الآن؟ هل عادوا إلى ديارهم أم لا يزالون نازحين؟ كم عدد سكان الحويجة الذين ما زالوا نازحين من المناطق المتضرر من الضربة الهولندية؟

الظروف المعيشية صعبة جداً بسبب نقص الخدمات الأساسية ومصادر الدخل ودمار المنازل. من الصعب تحديد نسبة العائدين في تلك المناطق بسبب عودة بعض النازحين من خارج تلك المناطق للسكن في المناطق المتضررة،  ومازال العديد منهم نازحين او استقروا في مناطق أخرى مثل كركوك وصلاح الدين.

18. هل تم إصلاح البنية التحتية و المصانع و المحلات والمرافق؟ ما الذي تم إصلاحه ولم يتم إصلاحه حتى الآن؟

أطلقت الحكومة المحلية خططاً لإصلاح البنى التحتية إلا أنها لم تنفذ بشكل كامل ومازالت المنطقة تعاني من نقص الخدمات. تم اعادة بناء بعض من المصانع مثل مطحنة الحنطة وعدد قليل من الورش والمحال لكن لا يزال عدد من المصانع مدمراً والكثير من معارض السيارات والورش والمدارس.

19. هل يحصل الناس على الماء والكهرباء من جديد؟ (هل تمكنوا من الوصول إليهما قبل الهجوم)؟

تم إصلاح عدد من الخطوط الناقلة وأنابيب المياه لكن المحطة الرئيسية التي تضررت نتيجة القصف لم تعمل حتى الآن.

20. هل تم إصلاح الطرق؟ إذا كان الأمر كذلك فكم منها تم إصلاحه؟

نعم،  تم إصلاح الطريق الرئيسي للمنطقة فقط.

21. هل تمت إزالة الأنقاض؟ في حال حدث ذلك فكم حجمها؟

تم ازالة جزء من الركام لكن الجزء الاكبر باق في المنطقة.

22. هل الأحياء المتضررة آمنة للعيش فيها مرة أخرى (بالنسبة للألغام و ما إلى ذلك)؟

نعم آمنة وتقوم منظمة الغد لرعاية المرأة والطفل بتنفيذ مشروع التوعية من مخاطر المخلفات الحربية داخل الحويجة حالياً.

 23. هل تتوفر نفس المرافق المحلية لأهالي الحويجة كما كانت من قبل (مثل منشآت طبية، محلات، ومراكز رعاية للأطفال، وصيدليات)؟

نعم،  تم إعادة افتتاح بعض  المرافق بجهود ذاتية بسيطة.

24. هل يمكن للسلطات المحلية أن تؤكد خسارة وظائف بسبب الهجوم (باعتبار أن محالاً وورش عمل ومصانع أغلقت ولا تزال غير فاعلة لأن المنطقة لا تزال تعاني من انقطاع الكهرباء ولم تتم إعادة بنائها)؟

فقد المئات من أهالي الحويجة وظائفهم ومصادر دخلهم نتيجة لدمار الورش ومعارض السيارات والمصانع وكذلك دمار البنى التحتية الأساسية للمنطقة. أعاد بعض الناس افتتاح عدد قليل من الورش والمحال وكذلك إعادة بناء المطحنة إلا أن نقص الخدمات يعرقل إعادة الحركة العمرانية بالكامل.

القسم الرابع: التأثير العام لاحتلال داعش و للتحالف المضاد لداعش على الحويجة.

25. يذكر أحد المصادر أن إحدى محطتي معالجة المياه (WTP) في المدينة تضررت في غارة جوية أخرى. ومع ذلك ، يقول مصدر آخر إن محطة المعالجة نفسها لم تتضرر من جراء الغارة الجوية  ولكن بدلاً من ذلك تضررت محطة طاقة  كانت تزود محطة معالجة المياه بالكهرباء لضخ المياه. هل تضررت محطة المعالجة نفسها أم محطة الطاقة وخطوط الأنابيب؟

نعم تضررت الخطوط الناقلة والشبكة المجهزة للكهرباء ومحطة الطاقة.

26. ويشير المصدر أيضًا إلى أن محطة معالجة واحدة فقط تعمل حاليًا في الحويجة من خلال الشبكة العامة. ومع ذلك ، نظرًا لأن الشبكة غير موثوقة ، فإن تشغيل محطة المعالجة محدودة ولا يمكنها تغطية احتياجات السكان. هل يمكن للمجلس أن يؤكد ما إذا كان هذا صحيحًا ولا يزال كذلك؟

نعم صحيح ومازال الوضع كما هو مذكور.

 27. أشار تقرير صدر عام 2018 إلى أن اثنتين من مرافق الرعاية الصحية الثلاثة في الحويجة تضررت بسبب القتال وكان هناك مركز واحد فقط يعمل في ذلك الوقت – مما يعني أن الناس اضطروا أن يسافروا إلى كركوك للحصول على رعاية متخصصة. ومع ذلك، أكد مصدر محلي منفصل أنه “لم يتضرر أي مركز رعاية صحية بسبب الغارة الجوية، فقط بعض الأضرار الطفيفة في مبنى مديرية الصحة وتم إعادة تأهيله بالفعل، ومستشفى الحويجة العام ومركز الصحة العامة يعملان الآن – ولكن وفقًا للموظفين الميدانيين هناك فجوات هائلة في مرافق الصرف الصحي”. 

هل يمكن للمجلس أن يؤكد ما إذا كان 2 من أصل 3 مراكز صحية قد تضررت أو لم تتضرر – وإذا كان الأمر كذلك ، فهل تم إعادة إعمارها الآن؟

تضررت مديرية الصحة من أثر الضربة واسمها المعروف لدى الحكومة حالياً القطاع الصحي الثاني.

28. هل يمكن للسلطات المحلية أن تؤكد غياب وجود برامج دعم اجتماعية نفسية للناجين الموجودين حالياً في الحويجة؟

تقوم المنظمات الإنسانية بتنفيذ برامج الدعم النفسي في الحويجة بشكل عام،  لكن لا توجد برامج مخصصة للناجين من الضربة.

Subhan Al Jabouri, de burgemeester van Hawija in zijn kantoor (foto via de burgemeester).

Interview met Subhan al-Jabouri, burgemeester van Hawija

In de nacht van 2 op 3 juni 2015 bombardeerden Nederlandse F-16’s een ISIS Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosives Devices (VBIED) -fabriek in Hawija, Irak. Secundaire explosies veroorzaakt door de luchtaanval hebben minstens 70 burgers gedood en honderden anderen raakten gewond. Vandaag de dag is de stad nog steeds aan het herstellen van niet alleen de langdurige ISIS-controle over het gebied, maar ook van de blijvende impact op het burgerleven van de Nederlandse luchtaanval vijf jaar geleden.

Voor hun recentelijk gepubliceerde gezamenlijke rapport Seeing through the rubble: The civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in the fight against ISIS, interviewden Airwars en PAX de burgemeester van Hawija Subhan Al Jabouri over de directe en indirecte aanhoudende gevolgen van de aanval.

De vragen zijn op 28 september 2020 via e-mail beantwoord. Het eerste deel van de vragen gaat over de directe gevolgen van de Nederlandse luchtaanval. Het tweede deel focust op de indirecte gevolgen. In het derde deel is de burgemeester gevraagd naar de impact die de Nederlandse luchtaanval vandaag de dag nog altijd heeft op het leven van burgers in Hawija. In het vierde deel gaat de burgemeester in op de algehele schade die de ISIS-bezetting en anti-ISIS Coalitie hebben achtergelaten in zijn stad.

Deel I: Directe gevolgen  1. Wat is uw huidige inschatting van het aantal burgerdoden en gewonden door de Nederlandse luchtaanval op Hawija in de macht van 2 op 3 juni? 

Volgens de eerste rapportages zijn er meer dan 70 burgers gedood, en meer dan 500 gewond geraakt. 

2. Kunt u de schade aan civiele objecten omschrijven; zoals schade aan huizen, wegen, medische voorzieningen, winkels, scholen, kinderopvang, apotheken, fabrieken, enzovoorts? Is er een lijst van beschadigde objecten?

Er zijn behalve zware beschadigingen aan civiele objecten zoals fabrieken, werkplaatsen, winkels en huizen in de directe omgeving van de explosie ook een elektriciteitscentrale, een Civil Defense Center en een molen vernietigd. 

3. Hoeveel scholen zijn beschadigd geraakt, en zijn deze inmiddels weer operationeel?

Er zijn in totaal 37 scholen beschadigd waarvan vier scholen volledig zijn gesloten; deze zijn nog niet opnieuw opgebouwd. 

4. Hoeveel apotheken zijn beschadigd, en zijn deze weer open?

Geen antwoord.

5. Klopt het dat er ook een ijs- en een baksteenfabriek zijn beschadigd, en zijn deze weer operationeel inmiddels? 

Ja, het is bevestigd dat er meer dan een ijsproductiefabriek en steenfabrieken zijn verwoest door de luchtaanval. De fabrieken zijn nog niet volledig heropend, of de eigenaren zijn nog niet teruggekeerd.

6. Klopt het dat het (oppervlakte water) riool is beschadigd; is dit inmiddels weer gerepareerd? 

Geen antwoord.

7. Is er een schatting van de totale schade van gebouwen die beschadigd of vernietigd zijn door de Nederlandse luchtaanval?

Volgens het eerste onderzoek naar de reikwijdte van de schade, en de doorsnee van het gebied dat door de drukgolf van de explosie is geraakt, heeft de vernietiging een diameter van meer dan 2 kilometer, waarbij 500 gebouwen voor een groot deel werden verwoest. 

8. Kunt u de schade aan infrastructuur zoals elektriciteitsvoorzieningen, gasleidingen, waterleidingen, communicatie infrastructuur etcetera beschrijven?

De infrastructuur van zowel het explosiegebied als de omliggende buurten is beschadigd, wat heeft geleid tot gebrek aan veel diensten die deze faciliteiten leverden, zoals een elektriciteitscentrale, communicatielijnen en waterbuizen. 

Deel II: Indirecte gevolgen 

9. Wat is de impact van deze schade aan civiele objecten en infrastructuur ten gevolge van de Nederlandse luchtaanval geweest, zoals verminderde toegang tot water, elektriciteit, verwarming en andere essentiële diensten zoals water en sanitaire voorzieningen, gezondheidszorg, ontheemd raken, de impact op milieu en vuilnis- en puinverwerking? 

De grote schade aan de infrastructuur van de buurt en omliggende buurten, maar ook de schade aan de elektriciteitscentrale en Waterbuizen heeft ervoor gezorgd dat een groot aantal families uit de getroffen gebieden ontheemd is geraakt en heeft geleid tot een significant verminderde toegang tot basisvoorzieningen. 

10. Wat is volgens u de psychosociale impact op de lokale gemeenschap geweest?

De verschrikking van deze aanval heeft een heftige psychologische impact op de zielen van de slachtoffers achtergelaten, aangezien het in tientallen families tot de dood heeft geleid, en honderden gevallen tot verwondingen. Sommige families zijn volledig weggevaagd, andere families verloren minsten drie of vier gezinsleden. De afwezigheid van directe medische zorg en het onvermogen van mensen om hun families te helpen en hen te zien sterven onder het puin veroorzaakten een enorme schok bij inwoners. Tel daarbij op het verlies van hun huizen, bezittingen, inkomstenbronnen en het verworden tot vluchteling. 

11. Er leven naar verluidt onder de mensen in Hawija zorgen over mogelijke radiologische en andere giftige effecten van zowel deze Nederlandse aanval, als ook de bredere militaire campagne om ISIS te verjagen. Kunt u ons over deze zorgen vertellen? 

Ondanks de bevrijding van het gebied en de terugkomst en pogingen van inwoners ten spijt, zijn het bedrijventerrein en de omliggende woonwijken nog niet opnieuw opgebouwd. Er zijn nog steeds zorgen onder de inwoners over stralingseffecten en verontreinigde materialen ten gevolge van de enorme explosie, aangezien sommigen zeggen dat er ook radioactieve materialen in de wijk aanwezig zouden zijn geweest. 

Deel III: Langdurige gevolgen

12. Hoe gaat het met de overlevenden van de Nederlandse luchtaanval?

De organisatie al-Ghad registreert samen met de lokale autoriteiten op vrijwillige basis de ontheemden (Internal Displaced People) en diegenen die schade hebben geleden door de aanval. De tot nu toe verzamelde informatie laat zien dat het ene gedeelte van de ontheemden in Kirkuk en de Salah al-Din provincie leeft, en het andere gedeelte in Hawija, aangezien hun huizen vernietigd zijn, hun bronnen van inkomsten en de fabrieken zijn weggevallen, en het aan basisvoorzieningen ontbreekt in het gebied.

13. Kunt u bevestigen dat als gevolg van de Nederlandse aanval rond de 2000 mensen psychosociale problemen ondervinden? 

Ja en mogelijk nog meer, gezien de neveneffecten van de aanval. 

14. Worden er psychologische en fysieke revalideringstrajecten aangeboden? 

Er zijn geen rehabilitatieprogramma’s of speciale psychologische hulpprogramma’s, specifiek voor de groep ontheemden van de Nederlandse aanval, maar mogelijk doen ze mee in de bredere programma’s die worden aangeboden in het gebied Hawija of aan ontheemden. 

15. Zijn de slachtoffers op welke wijze dan ook gecompenseerd? Kan de burgemeester bevestigen dat er maar een familie is die tot nu toe compensatie heeft ontvangen?

Er is geen compensatie geweest voor ontheemden. 

De ravage na de Nederlandse aanval op Hawija in juni 2015 (via Iraqi Revolution).

16. Zijn de huizen inmiddels weer opgebouwd? Zo ja, hoeveel? Klopt het dat rond de 50 tot 60 procent is herbouwd?

De huizen zijn niet volledig gerestaureerd, en niet meer dan 40 procent van de huizen zijn gerepareerd. Teruggekeerde families wonen in de door de luchtaanval beschadigde huizen omdat ze niet in staat zijn hun huis te repareren. Het is moeilijk het percentage precies te bevestigen, omdat er veel gebouwen volledig zijn verwoest en de eigenaren van deze gebouwen niet zijn teruggekeerd. 

17. Zijn de mensen inmiddels weer teruggekeerd, of zijn ze nog op de vlucht, en wat zijn hun leefomstandigheden? Hoeveel mensen uit Hawija zijn nog steeds dakloos door de door de Nederlandse aanval veroorzaakte schade? 

De leefomstandigheden zijn slecht vanwege het gebrek aan basisvoorzieningen, inkomstenbronnen en verwoeste huizen. Het is lastig een percentage te geven van hoeveel mensen zijn teruggekeerd, omdat sommige vluchtelingen van elders in het gebied zijn gaan wonen. En nog steeds zijn velen van hen ontheemd of hebben zich gevestigd in andere gebieden zoals Kirkuk en Salah al-Din.

18. Is de infrastructuur en zijn fabrieken/winkels/andere faciliteiten inmiddels gerepareerd? Wat is er wel en niet heropgebouwd tot nu toe?

De lokale overheid heeft plannen gelanceerd om de infrastructuur te repareren, maar ze heeft die niet volledig uitgevoerd en het gebied gaat nog steeds gebukt onder een gebrek aan voorzieningen. Sommige fabrieken zijn herbouwd, zoals de tarwemolen, en een paar werkplaatsen en winkels, maar nog steeds is een aantal fabrieken verwoest, net als veel autoshowrooms, werkplaatsen en scholen. 

19. Hebben mensen weer stromend water en elektra? (En hadden ze dit voor de aanval?)

Een aantal transportleidingen en waterbuizen gerepareerd, maar de centrale die verwoest werd door het bombardement is tot nu toe nog niet operationeel. 

20. Zijn er wegen hersteld, en zo ja hoeveel?

Ja, alleen de hoofdweg in het gebied is gerepareerd. 

21. Is het puin geruimd? Hoeveel?

Een deel van het puin is geruimd, maar het grootste gedeelte ligt nog in het gebied. 

22. Is het veilig om weer in de getroffen wijken te wonen? Of liggen er nog explosieve oorlogsresten?

Ja het is veilig, en Al-Ghad Organisation for Women and Children’s Care geeft momenteel voorlichting over de gevaren van oorlogsresten in Hawija. 

23. Hebben mensen weer toegang tot dezelfde voorzieningen als voor de aanval, zoals medische faciliteiten, winkels, kinderopvang, apotheken, etcetera?

Ja, sommigen zijn weer geopend met basale individuele inspanningen.

24. Kunt u bevestigen dat veel mensen als gevolg van deze aanval hun baan hebben verloren, omdat winkels, werkplaatsen en fabrieken zijn gesloten en niet meer open zijn gegaan, en het gebied nog steeds niet herbouwd is en gebrek heeft aan elektriciteit?

Honderden inwoners van Hawija hebben hun banen en hun bron van inkomsten verloren door de verwoesting van de werkplaatsen, autoshowrooms en fabrieken, en ook is de basale infrastructuur van het gebied verwoest. Sommige mensen hebben opnieuw een paar werkplaatsen en winkels geopend, en ook de meelfabriek is herbouwd, maar het gebrek aan voorzieningen hindert de volledige terugkeer van het economische en stadse leven. 

Deel IV: Algemene schade ISIS-bezetting en anti-ISIS Coalitie

25. Een van onze bronnen meldt dat een van de twee waterzuiveringsinstallaties in de stad is beschadigd in een andere luchtaanval, terwijl een andere bron zegt dat niet de waterzuiveringsinstallatie zelf geraakt is, maar de elektriciteitscentrale die de zuiveringsinstallatie normaal voorzag van elektriciteit, en dat deze daarom niet werkt. Was de waterzuiveringsinstallatie zelf beschadigd of de elektriciteitscentrale? 

Zowel de transportleidingen, het elektriciteit netwerk als de elektriciteitscentrale zijn beschadigd. 

26. Diezelfde bron rapporteert ook dat er op dit moment maar een waterzuiveringsinstallatie werkt, die afhankelijk is van het openbare elektriciteitsnetwerk. Maar omdat het elektriciteitsnetwerk niet betrouwbaar is, is de watervoorziening beperkt en dus niet genoeg voor de behoefte van de lokale bevolking. Is dit inderdaad het geval?

Ja, dit is correct en is nog steeds het geval. 

27. Een rapport uit 2018 meldt dat twee van de drie gezondheidscentra in Hawija beschadigd waren door de gevechten, en dat er op dat moment slechts een operationeel was – dit had als gevolg dat mensen naar Kirkuk moesten reizen voor meer specialistische zorg. Een lokale bron meldt echter dat er “geen gezondheidscentrum is beschadigd, maar dat er alleen kleine schade aan het “Directorate of Health”-gebouw was (inmiddels gerepareerd), dat het algemeen ziekenhuis in Hawijah weer open is, maar dat er wel enorme gaten zijn gevallen in de sanitaire voorzieningen in het ziekenhuis.” 

Kunt u bevestigen of er inderdaad twee van de drie gezondheidscentra zijn beschadigd, en zo ja, of deze inmiddels zijn hersteld? 

Het “Health Directorate” gebouw, ook bekend als de “tweede gezondheidssector”, is inderdaad beschadigd geweest.

28. Klopt het dat er geen revalidatie en psychosociale ondersteuning is voor de slachtoffers nu in Hawija?

Er zijn wel humanitaire organisaties die psychologische hulpprogramma’s bieden in Hawija, maar niet specifiek voor de overlevenden en ontheemden van deze aanval. 

▲ Damage in the industrial area of Hawijah, years after the attack in June 2015 (image via NOS).


October 2020

Written by

Mohammed al Jumaily and Ned Ray

Assisted by

Alex Hopkins, Beth Heron, Chloe Skinner, Clive Vella, Hanna Rullmann, Laurie Treffers, Oliver Imhof, Poppy Bowers and Vasiliki Touhouliotis

Eroding Transparency: Trump in Yemen

Accompanying the launch of Airwars’ new public database tracking US counterterrorism actions in Yemen, Eroding Transparency provides a comprehensive review of more than 230 alleged and confirmed US actions and associated civilian harm under President Donald Trump.

Drawing on thousands of local sources – the majority in Arabic – the report reveals that at least 86 civilians likely died in US actions in Yemen from 2017 to 2020, although the Pentagon had itself admitted to a maximum of 12 deaths.

Eroding Transparency also raises broader concerns about US accountability for civilian harm – noting for example that recent Department of Defense claims to Congress that there were no known civilian harm allegations relating to US actions in Yemen during 2019 were incorrect.


September 2020

Written by

Mohammed al Jumaily

Assisted by

Anna Zahn, Clive Vella, Dmytro Chupryna, Douglas Statt, Eleftheria Kousta, Giacomo Nanni, Hermes, Laurie Treffers, Maysa Ismael, Ned Ray, Oliver Imhof, Samuel Brownsword, Shihab Halep and Vasiliki Touhouliotis

Major Conflict Monitoring

While civilian harm from foreign actions in the conflicts monitored by Airwars mostly decreased during August, Ankara’s continuing air and ground campaign against Kurdish militants led to the worst reported civilian harm tally in northern Iraq from Turkish action since 2015.

Civilian harm incidents involving Russia in Syria (already at a low tempo) were less than half the previous month’s tally. Meanwhile the US-led Coalition continued its own operations against ISIS in Syria at a seemingly higher intensity, though with no local claims of civilian casualties.

Reported civilian harm incidents, as well as air and artillery strikes in Libya, saw a further significant decrease after warring parties continued their military stalemate at Sirte. Despite this – and increased international calls to end the fighting – both sides seemed unable to reach an agreement, with Khalifa Haftar’s LNA seemingly rejecting the Government of National Accord’s offer of a ceasefire.

Turkey in Syria and Iraq

Turkish-led actions against Kurdish irregulars in both Iraq and Syria continued throughout the month. Airwars researchers tracked 12 alleged civilian harm incidents in both countries during August – double the previous month’s tally and reflecting an escalation in Turkish actions. Five reported incidents took place in Syria, while seven occurred in Iraq. In total, between 12 and 18 civilians were alleged killed across all the locally reported events, and up to eight more were injured.

In Syria, three civilian deaths were reported across five events, and seven others were injured. The first incident took place in Ain Issa, where alleged Turkish shelling wounded three children. ANHA named the children as Hussam Ali (aged 12), Mahdi Ali (aged 10), and Muhammad Ali (aged 11). 

Additional civilian harm event took place in the village of Efdikê in western Tal Abyad on August 4th; in Qamishlo on August 6th; in Ain Issa on August 17th; and in Sheikh Hassan village in Raqqa Governorate on August 26th. The incident near Ain Issa caused the most civilian harm, with two civilians reportedly killed and two injured following Turkish shelling in the vicinity of the M4 highway.

BreakingA civilian injured by a shell probably from a drone on Allaya neighborhood, east to #Qamishli, northeast #Syria, Sources from Internal Security Forces told

— (زانا العلي) Zana Al-Ali (@ZanaAlali) August 6, 2020

In Iraq, up to 15 civilian deaths were reported from seven civilian harm allegations – a stark increase from the previous month’s tally of two fatalities. In fact, according to Airwars data, August 2020 marks the highest civilian harm allegations against Turkey in Iraq since our tracking began in 2015. 

The first week of August saw two civilian harm incidents in northern Iraq. On August 1st, two civilians were killed in an alleged Turkish strike in Amediye in Dohuk province. Two days later, another strike reportedly took place in Nohadra in Dohuk province, also killing two civilians.

The incident which reported the highest number of civilian deaths occurred in the Bradost region of Erbil province on August 11th. Five civilians were killed along with five Iraqi border guards, and five Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members, in one of the deadlist mass-casualty incidents involving Turkey this year. According to AFP, two high-ranking Iraqi military officers were additionally killed in the attack, prompting public outrage in Iraq. Following the event, Baghdad cancelled a visit by the Turkish Minister of Defence to Iraq, and summoned Turkey’s ambassador.

Other civilian harm incidents took place in the Ardana area of Dohuk on August 13th; in Kani Mazi in Dohuk on August 19th; in the village of Bhrava in Nineveh on August 25th; and in the Zab area of Dohuk on August 30th.

Kurdish counterfire in Syria

Airwars tracked no locally reported civilian harm incidents resulting from Kurdish counterfire actions during the month of July. Since the end of March 2020, Airwars researchers have tracked only one civilian harm incident allegedly involving Kurdish factions in Syria.

Doctors treating one of the children injured by alleged Turkish shelling of Ain Issa on August 1st 2020 (via ANHA)

Civilian harm in Idlib down as high-profile assassination shifts Russian focus to ISIS

August 2020 once again saw relatively low levels of civilian harm from Russian actions in Syria. Airwars researchers tracked a total of three reported civilian harm incidents – less than half the previous month’s tally of eight civilian harm claims. According to local reports, between five and six civilians were killed and up to 11 more were injured in these latest attacks. Two of the incidents took place in Idlib Governorate, while one took place in Homs Governorate.

The first incident of the month took place in the town of Binnish on August 3rd, where three civilians from one family were killed and seven others were injured. According to STEP Agency, those killed were displaced civilians who were residing in camps in the area. Later, the Syrian Network for Human Rights revealed their names to be Majed Jasem al Muhammad, and two brothers, Zaid and Majed Mesleh al Muhammad from Burj village in the eastern countryside areas of Idlib. The apparent Russian strike was linked with artillery shelling carried out by Syrian regime forces in the same area.

The second incident took place on August 14th in the Syrian Badia, although reporting on this incident was scarce. According to local reports, Russian planes targeted a civilian car, wounding those in it. 

On August 18th, Russian Major General Vyacheslav Gladkikh was killed on August 18th by an improvised explosive device that detonated under a convoy of Russian soldiers and Syrian pro-regime forces in the desert near the city of Deir Ezzor. Three other Russian military personnel were wounded and a local commander of Syria’s National Defense Forces was also reportedly killed in the attack. The killings prompted several days of continuous Russian strikes against ISIS targets in the eastern Homs countryside; in southern and western Raqqa governorate; and in Deir Ezzor. 

The final civilian harm incident tracked by Airwars took place on August 30th after shrapnel from a Russian strike fell on a displacement camp near the village of al-Sheikh Bahr in the Armanaz area of Idlib, reportedly injuring an unspecified number of civilians.

The children of Majed Mesleh al Muhammad, killed by a reported Russian airstrike in Binnish on August 3rd (via @abuhuzaifa_)

US-led Coalition in Iraq and Syria

The month of August saw no locally reported civilian harm incidents involving the US-led Coalition in Syria. This was the second recent month in a row where no civilian harm claims were made against the International Coalition. However, US-led Coalition actions in Syria continued throughout the month, in conjunction with local partners.

According to the International Coalition’s Strike Summary Report for August 2020, the alliance conducted six strikes in Syria against ISIS targets throughout the month, a slight increase on the four strikes conducted in July. Throughout August, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) also continued to carry out anti-ISIS operations. The SDF confirmed for example that on August 7th, they were able to capture eight ISIS militants in a major operation in Deir Ezzor, following air support from the US-led Coalition.

.@CJTFOIR air strike in support of our security partners, 20 Aug. in Iraq🇮🇶. The @coalition provides aviation, intelligence and logistical support to @modmiliq in the fight to #DefeatDaesh

— Inherent Resolve (@CJTFOIR) August 27, 2020

Meanwhile, reports of unilateral US airstrikes were reported throughout the month. On August 13th, a drone targeted a car in the town of Sarmada. Local sources reported that Abu Yahya Al Uzbaki, a leading figure in the al Qaeda linked group Huras al-Din, was killed in this attack. There were conflicting reports about whether the drone strike was conducted by the International Coalition, or unilaterally by the United States.

Tensions later flared up between Regime forces and the US-led Coalition in the town of Tal al Zahab in Qamishli’s countryside areas in northern Hasakah Governorate. This came as a result of clashes between both sides on August 17th. According to local sources, the Coalition launched airstrikes that targeted regime forces, killing two members. However, the Coalition, in an official statement, denied launching an airstrike in the area saying that its routine patrol came under fire at the time and that Coalition troops returned fire in self-defence.

Meanwhile in Iraq, the International Coalition was significantly more active. The alliance declared 11 strikes against Daesh targets which it said consisted of 36 engagements, killing nine suspected ISIS militants. The Coalition confirmed it had conducted strikes in Wadi al-Tharthar, in the Qara Chokh Mountains; and at Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, in a bid to provide air cover for Iraqi Special Forces in their own operations against ISIS. 

Amidst these actions, International Coalition forces once again came under fire in Iraq from unidentified armed groups during the month. On the evening of August 15th, two rockets landed near the Taji military base, although there were no casualties reported. This came eight days before the International Coalition officially departed the Taji military base, transferring $347 million in equipment and property to Iraq. It was described as the eighth base transfer by the International Coalition to Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) so far this year.

White Helmet members near the car that was targeted by a US drone strike in Sarmada (via SCD)

Libya ceasefire brings month of calm to beleaguered country

The number of air and artillery strikes in Libya once again dropped in August as most parties to the fighting abided by a ceasefire deal. Only seven strikes were locally reported, two less than in July. No civilian harm was reported from any of these actions.

Six of the strikes were allegedly conducted by the Libyan National Army (LNA), while one Government of National Accord (GNA) attack was reported.

Reports continued that both sides were continuing to re-arm, even as international efforts to secure a lasting peace continued.

Smoke rising after an alleged GNA drone strike on fuel smugglers near Zintan on August 12th, 2020 (via 218TV)

US counter-terrorism campaigns


Airwars recorded five reported US actions in Somalia in August, one more than in the previous month.

On August 8th two US strikes were claimed by local sources – one in Haway and the other in Sablale, allegedly killing one senior Al Shabaab operative in each. However AFRICOM denied conducting the strikes, leaving open the possibility either of an AMISOM or CIA operation..

Twelve days later, the US confirmed conducting an airstrike on al Shabaab near Kurtun Warey. An “unnamed senior member of the group’s local bomb-making and IED explosives unit was killed in the strike”, according to VOA.

An August 24th US strike in combination with US and Somali ground operations killed six Al Shabaab fighters and injured three more near Darusalaam in Lower Shabelle, AFRICOM said. Al Shabaab claimed that US service members had been injured in the fighting, an allegation which Africa Command later rebutted.

One day later Sheikh Abduqadir Kumandos, an Al Shabaab senior leader was killed by a confirmed US strike near Saakow.


According to CENTCOM, there were no US military strikes during August 2020 in Yemen.

The last publicly declared CENTCOM action was on June 24th 2019 in Al Bayda province. Airwars researchers also tracked no local claims of US actions in Yemen during the month. 


There were no publicly alleged CIA strikes in Pakistan against either Al Qaeda or the Taliban during August 2020. The last such reported US strike was in August 2018.


UK advocacy

The Integrated Review is a strategic look by the UK Government at its foreign policy objectives, along with its future defence, security and international development strategies. During August, Airwars and our UK partners continued discussions and the sharing of policy ideas, in preparation for our evidence submission to the Integrated Review. 

Furthermore, Airwars continued coordination with the Security Policy Alternatives Network (SPAN) Accountability group coordinated by Saferworld. The group is currently working on a research paper examining accountability for military actions in West Africa. 

European advocacy

During August, Airwars continued building a coalition of partners in Belgium. Given that Belgium has been one of the least transparent countries in the International Coalition against ISIS, and there are no accountability mechanisms in place for potential civilian casualties, Airwars aims to conduct a collective engagement approach with the Belgian government to improve its poor track record in this regard. The initial steps of the joint advocacy approach will be discussed at the roundtable scheduled for early September.   

Military advocacy

For the sixth successive month, the US-led Coalition in Iraq and Syria conceded no additional civilian harm during August from its long running war against ISIS.

During the same six month period, the alliance rejected 190 further locally reported civilian harm claims from Iraqis and Syrians as ‘non credible.’

▲ The family of civilian Khalid Ebdulrehman who was killed in a reported Turkish drone strike in Kani Masi, Dohuk on August 19th (Image via Rudaw)


August 2020

Written by

Mohammed al Jumaily

Assisted by

Anna Zahn, Clive Vella, Dmytro Chupryna, Douglas Statt, Eleftheria Kousta, Giacomo Nanni, Hermes, Laurie Treffers, Maysa Ismael, Ned Ray, Oliver Imhof, Riley Mellen, Samuel Brownsword, Shihab Halep and Vasiliki Touhouliotis

Major Conflict Monitoring

July 2020 saw a continuation of a trend observed the month before, with foreign action in Syria slowly increasing, particularly by Russia. Meanwhile, the US-led Coalition continued its operations against both ISIS and Iranian-backed groups in Syria, though at a seemingly lower intensity.

In Iraq, ISIS’s insurgency had slightly increased in tempo, owing to a renewed campaign by the group at the end of the month known as the ‘Raids of Attrition’, which saw 60 synchronised attacks in both Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, Turkey’s air and ground campaign against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq continued, though also at a lower intensity

Meanwhile, reported civilian harm incidents in Libya decreased significantly, as warring parties reached a military stalemate. Fears remained that Egypt’s potential intervention in the conflict could escalate tensions further – as well as signs that both the GNA and LNA were using the pause in fighting to secure fresh arms shipments.

Air and artillery strikes see a sharp decrease in Libya

Both reported strikes and civilian harm majorly decreased in July as the military stalemate between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Libyan National Army (LNA) continued. The number of tracked air and artillery actions by all parties to the fighting fell from 94 to nine, while alleged civilian deaths dropped from between 44 and 54 casualties to zero.

Most reported strikes during July were LNA actions, with four attributed to Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Two further strikes were allegedly conducted by the GNA and/or Turkey. Three more strikes were either contested between parties, or conducted by an unknown belligerent.

Even though none of these events led to reported civilian harm, explosive remnants from the recent battle for Tripoli posed a significant problem for the local population. Many deaths and severe injuries were reported from landmines, allegedly planted by LNA and Wagner forces after abandoning the capital.

In a major political development, Egypt threatened to intervene in Libya should GNA and Turkish forces go east of what was described as a ‘red line’ at Sirte and Jufra airbase. However, parliamentary approval in Cairo of sending troops has so far only contributed to the standoff in central Libya.

Civilian allegedly injured by a landmine explosion near Ain Zara, Libya on July 6th 2020 (via Field Medicine and Support Center)

Russian strikes resume as fears of an imminent Idlib campaign increase

Following on from June, which saw Russian airstrikes resume after three months of calm in northwestern Syria, Russian actions saw a notable increase in July, particularly in the middle of the month. Airwars researchers tracked a total of eight civilian harm incidents – doubling the previous month’s figure. According to local reports, five civilians were killed and up to 27 others injured in these incidents. Two occurred in Hama Governorate, while the other six events took place in various towns in Idlib Governorate.

Four incidents occurred on a single day: July 14th. This sequence of strikes came after a roadside landmine hit a joint Russian-Turkish patrol in the M4 area, wounding three Russian soldiers. Immediately following that attack, Russian warplanes carried out more than a dozen airstrikes on rebel-held parts of Idlib and Latakia, with the Syrian Observatory for Human rights claiming that 23 separate Russian airstrikes occurred on that day.

This sudden escalation raised fears that Russia’s aerial campaign on Idlib might resume. Tensions between Turkey and Russia seemed to escalate even further after Russian airstrikes were conducted on July 15th on the city of al-Bab, where Turkey and its proxies enjoyed a significant military presence. These strikes – the first to occur in the city since 2017 – resulted in the reported death of one civilian and left as many as eleven more injured, eight of whom were children. However, just one week later, Russia and Turkey resumed their joint patrolling of the M4 highway and completed the first end-to-end patrol, which many observers saw as a sign of de-escalation.

Apart from the airstrike on al-Bab, the town of Ariha witnessed a brutal action on July 14th which killed two civilians, named by Ariha Today as Muhammad Deeb Halbiya (40 years old) and his son, Karam Halbiya (12 years old), and injuring up to five others, including four children [Mohammed Al-Mady (13 years old), Mohammed Al-Hassan (12 years old), Noor Aberas (30 years old) and Youssef Al-Hassan]. According to MMC, this came after Russian warplanes allegedly launched 40 missiles on the town of Ariha on that day.

The destructive aftermath of the alleged Russian airstrike in al-Bab on July 15th (via Syrian Civil Defence)

US-led Coalition in Iraq and Syria

July 2020 saw no locally reported civilian harm incidents involving the US-led Coalition in Syria. This follows on from just one such claim in June.

However, US-led Coalition actions in Syria continued throughout the month, in conjunction with local partners. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) conducted a number of raids on suspected ISIS hideouts in eastern Syria with the support of the Coalition. The first took place on July 3rd in Deir Ezzor province, where SDF special forces dismantled an ISIS terror cell and arrested three suspected ISIS members, confiscating a number of weapons and equipment. The second phase took place on July 17th-18th in the areas of al-Busayrah and al-Shuhail in Deir Ezzor, with the International Coalition providing advice and intelligence. According to the Coalition, ‘several’ ISIS militants were arrested and dozens of weapons were seized during the operation.

Meanwhile, local sources reported that an International Coalition drone targeted a vehicle, north of the town of Ahtamilat in Aleppo’s northern countryside on July 20th. According to Step News, the vehicle belonged to a man named Shujaa al-Muhammad from the town of al-Safira in Aleppo. Local sources said that the driver and two others in the car who were reportedly killed had been ISIS operatives.

Local sources also reported one strike against Iran-backed groups by planes locally identified as belonging to the International Coalition on the town of Duwair in Deir Ezzor’s countryside areas. 

The Iraqi Falcons Intelligence Cell and Baghdad Intelligence Directorate🇮🇶, alongside the 54th Brigade, eliminated 4 suicide bombers💀💣with a fifth self destructing🔥, in the village of Ma'amra al-Zaidan. CJTF-OIR drones supported the operation.💪 #defeatdaesh

— Inherent Resolve (@CJTFOIR) July 13, 2020

In Iraq, the International Coalition supported Iraqi Security Forces in their own operations against ISIS throughout the month. On July 1st, two French Rafale jets launched a series of strikes in northern Iraq, destroying three ISIS caves and killing an unspecified number of reported ISIS militants. A day later, Coalition F-15E jets targeted an ISIS cave complex in Wadi al-Shai, in the Tuz Khurmato district of Kirkuk. Additionally, during the last week of July, the Coalition provided close air support for Iraqi Special Forces in operations on the outskirts of Baghdad, and south of Kirkuk.

The aftermath of a reported Coalition drone strike Ahtimalat on July 20th (via Step News)

Turkey in Syria and Iraq

Turkish-led actions in both Iraq and Syria continued. Airwars researchers tracked six civilian harm incidents in both countries during the month of July. Four took place in Syria, while two occurred in Iraq. Tracking for Iraq indicated a notable decrease in Turkish operations after it had launched an aggressive campaign against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in June, which had seen up to 150 PKK positions targeted by Turkish jets, helicopters, drones and artillery.

The four incidents in Syria caused up to eight civilian deaths and as many as 15 injuries. Meanwhile, the two civilian harm incidents in Iraq resulted in two civilian deaths and five more injuries.

The first incident in Syria took place at 10am on July 16th in the district of Derbasiyah. Local reports suggest that the incident was either caused by Turkish shelling or by a drone strike which injured a civilian. Later that day, another more significant strike, allegedly launched by a Turkish drone, took place in the same district targeting a Russian communication centre. According to local sources, this attack injured two Russian soldiers, a Regime soldier and two Asayish members. The event came amidst heightened tensions following recent Russian airstrikes on al-Bab [see above].

The incident which reported the highest number of civilian deaths occurred in the villages of Qurt Wiran and Willanli, just northwest of Manbij on July 27th. According to local reports, six civilians were killed and up to ten more were injured after Turkish-led forces shelled the two villages. Three of those killed were reportedly children Hawar news agency obtained the names of five of the victims: Alia Diab (60 years old), Fatima Makhlouf (35 years old), Fares Diab (13 years old), Ghofran Diab (7 years old) and Jamila Diab (11 years).

The incident in Qurt Wiran and Willanli on July 27th prompted a large number of locals to come out to protest Turkish action in Syria on July 30th. (Image via ANF)

Meanwhile in Iraq, the two Turkish strikes resulting in civilian harm occurred within the space of three days. The first took place in Hasinpirka village in the Amedi district of Dohuk. According to reports, a Turkish strike hit two vehicles in the area, reportedly killing two civilians. However, Hamid Zubair, the mayor of the sub-district of Bamarne told Rudaw that the vehicles in fact belonged to PKK fighters, and not civilians. According to reports, the victims’ names were Abdulla Ahmad and Dilovan Shahin. On July 29th, another incident involving Turkish forces occurred in Mount Shekif in Erbil province. According to ANF, Turkish forces shelled the area and injured civilians collecting herbs in the mountains. One woman was reportedly severely injured in the attack.

Kurdish counterfire in Syria

Airwars tracked no civilian harm incidents resulting from Kurdish counterfire actions during the month of July. Since the end of March 2020, Airwars researchers have tracked only one civilian harm incident involving Kurdish factions in Syria.

Russian soldier limping out of hospital following a Turkish drone strike in Derbasiyah on July 16th (via FM Dirbesiye)

US counter-terrorism campaigns


After a lull in airstrikes from mid-May – likely at least partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic – the US resumed activities in Somalia in early July. Three strikes were confirmed by AFRICOM, with one allegedly leading to civilian harm. 

On July 9th, one Al Shabaab fighter was allegedly killed by a US strike on a checkpoint near Hantiwadaag.

On July 21st the US conducted its first strike against ISIS Somalia since October 2019 near Timirshe, killing seven members of the terror organisation. The operation was accompanied by Puntland Security Forces on the ground who allegedly killed around 12 ISIS fighters in an exchange of gunfire. US partner forces assisted.

And on July 29th a US strike in Jilib killed one Al Shabaab member and injured another one, according to AFRICOM. However, local media sources close to the terror organisation said  that in fact three named children had been killed when their home was hit by a US missile.

AFRICOM also published its second quarterly civilian casualty assessment report, acknowledging responsibility for one civilian death and three more injured during an event on February 2nd 2020. For six further incidents, AFRICOM denied causing civilian harm, while four recent cases were described as still pending.

Home allegedly destroyed by US strike on Jilib on July 29th, 2020 (via Somali Memo)


Airwars tracked one US drone strike allegation in Yemen during July.

According to some local reports, a strike took place in the town of Ateq in Shabwa province on July 3rd. This reportedly hit the house of Bin Adio, the Governor of Shabwa. However, this claim has not been corroborated by other reports from prominent Yemeni outlets such as the Yemeni Press Agency, which says that the fire was instead caused by an electrical fault. CENTCOM itself told Airwars that its forces did not carry out any strikes in Yemen during the month.

Image showing a house on fire after an explosion in Ateq on July 3rd (Image via @Mohamme19780462)


There were no publicly alleged CIA strikes in Pakistan against either Al Qaeda or the Taliban during July. The last such reported or claimed US action was in July 2018.


UK advocacy

In July, our UK Advocacy Officer attended a virtual Panel Discussion on preventing internal displacement due to armed conflict/violence and disasters. Among the suggestions made was that belligerents avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, as a way to prevent reasons of internal displacement.

Also, Airwars and others in the UK’s Protection of Civilians (PoC) working group – which consists of partners including Crisis Action, STC, AOAV, and the APPG on Drones -resumed regular meetings, and agreed to request an update from the UK Government on its ongoing PoC strategy review. Members also discussed upcoming opportunities for engagement and future actions. 

Airwars additionally attended a webinar organised by EveryCasualty on ‘COVID-19 and Casualty Recording’. Insights into statistics gathering and data analysis will help inform our own work at Airwars. 

European advocacy

On July 3rd, our European advocacy officer virtually attended a meeting with the Utrecht Centre for Global Challenges (Utrecht University). One of the topics discussed was how Community Service Learning (CSL) programmes can connect academia and practice. Airwars is currently exploring with the Centre how we can help create spaces for students, for example those studying Conflict Studies, International Affairs or International Humanitarian Law, to better learn from and engage with the work we do at Airwars.

On July 7th, we published a story with updates on progress at the Dutch Ministry of Defence on revising its transparency and accountability practices, in the aftermath of the Hawijah scandal. In a letter to Parliament on June 29th, Minister of Defence Ank Bijleveld laid out a number of changes which she claimed would improve both transparency and accountability regarding civilian harm.

“While Airwars welcomes this next step towards a more transparent Defensie, the content of the data [of airstrikes] is still below standard,” Airwars deputy Dmytro Chupryna noted at the time. ”Other Coalition allies such as the UK already report the specific date, targets and near locations of their airstrikes. For Defensie to become more transparent, improving their reporting on airstrikes really is one of the first steps to take.”

▲ Local Syrians volunteer to help rebuild a hospital damaged in the fighting to oust ISIS from Al Shaddadi, Syria, July 16th 2020. (Image via @SOJTFOIR)