Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CI881

Incident date

June 30, 2020

Location

بين أبو زوير وحدود حي الحديثة, Between Abu Zuwair and the Al Haditha district border, Saladin, Iraq

Geolocation

35.030418, 42.790203 Note: The accuracy of this location is to District level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

District

Airwars assessment

Up to four civilians were reported killed in Abu Zuwair, Baiji in Iraq on June 30th, 2020 when a US-led coalition drone bombed them after they carried wreckage of a US-led coalition drone that had crashed earlier on that day. Local reports said that the raid resulted in killing up to four shepherds and the destruction of the drone wreckage that they carried and their vehicle.

@firas1alhashmy reported that the US drone (MQ-1C Gray Eagle) crashed and then a number of shepherds who gathered around were killed after they were attacked by another US drone.

@MaithamAlhmdy tweeted that ” A US plane crashed in Abu Zuwair, in the depth of Baiji Island. The plane was captured by shepherds near the demarcation border with the district. Another drone chased after the shepherds and bombed their vehicle. The shelling destroyed the vehicle, killing the citizens immediately.”

@Mustafa__Kurde said that the drone crashed after carrying out an airstrike on Jabal Makhoul. “An American drone crashed in Abu Zuair area between Baiji  and Haditha, northwest of Salah al-Din, after carrying out an air strike on Jabal Makhoul.”

Yesiraq.com said that Al-A’alam Iranian TV Channel said that US drone that crashed was targeted and downed by the Iraqi resistance. Al-A’alam said “A US plane was shot down by Iraqi resistance fires in the Abu Zuwair area in the depth of Baiji Island in Salah al-Din.”

@sumeri129 said that the American airstrike came as revenge for the downed drone. “An American drone crashed, west of Baiji, followed by an American retaliatory raid targeting shepherds , who were killed. ”

Sotaliraq said that after some local shepherds caught the drone, they were bombed. They were killed as a result and Pickup vehicle was destroyed.

While most sources said those killed were sheep herders, @DrJohnHanaDahle said that those killed were found to be members of the Popular Mobilization Forces.

In the third of their September 2020 civilian casualty reports, the US-led Coalition assessed reports that they were responsible for civilian harm in this strike as “non-credible”, stating that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area at that time.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 4
  • (2–4 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (28) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • This image might not be linked to this incident.

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck between Abu Zuwair (ابو زوير) and the Al Haditha (حديثة) district border.  to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Abu Zuwair are: 35.030418, 42.790203.

  • Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck between Abu Zuwair (ابو زوير) and the Al Haditha (حديثة) district border.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • MGRS coordinate
    38SKD986786
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Sep 14, 2020
  • Jun. 30, 2020, in Abu Zuwair, Iraq, via Airwars report. After a review of all available records it was assessed that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area that corresponds to the report of civilian casualties. 3201/CI881 38SKD986786

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 4
  • (2–4 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (28) [ collapse]

Incident Code

CS1948

Incident date

June 24, 2020

Location

الطريق بين بنش ادلب, Road between Idlib and Binnish, Idlib, Syria

Geolocation

35.948631, 36.672105 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

A civilian was reportedly killed in alleged US-led Coalition or Turkish drone strikes on the road between Idlib city and Binnish, Idlib governorate, on June 24th, 2020, according to local sources.

The Syrian Civil Defence in Idlib told Smart New Agency that “an ammunition drone had targeted a Santa Fe car with missiles and destroyed it completely, indicating the death of an unidentified person inside.” The SCD added that another unidentified person, thought to be a civilian, was killed as he was riding his motorbike in the vicinity of the explosion. SCD teams worked to extinguish the fire and collected the human remains.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “a civilian on a motorcycle was killed near the site where a drone targeted a military vehicle driven by a commander in the Ethbatu operations room on the road between Idlib and Binish. The attack killed the commander instantly.”

While the SOHR initially reported that the US-Coalition had likely been responsible, it later wrote that “sources suggested that the drone that targeted the commander was Turkish, while a Coalition drone was flying over Idlib coinciding with the attack.”

Smart News Agency and @HoseenAdnan reported that the killed militant was Abu Adnan Al Homsi from the Al Qaida linked group Hurras Al Din.

In the third of their September 2020 civilian casualty reports, the US-led Coalition assessed reports that they were responsible for civilian harm in this strike as “non-credible”, stating that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area at that time.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (7) [ collapse]

  • Syrian Civil Defence volunteers putting out fire after alleged US-led Coalition or Turkish airstrikes on a vehicle in Idlib governorate on June 24th, 2020 (via SCD on Facebook).
  • Syrian Civil Defence volunteers extinguishing fire after alleged US-led Coalition or Turkish airstrikes in Idlib governorate on June 24th, 2020 (via SCD on Facebook).
  • Syrian Civil Defence volunteers recovering human remains after alleged US-led Coalition or Turkish airstrikes in Idlib governorate on June 24th, 2020 (via SCD on Facebook).
  • Translation: "A circular image of a car that was targeted by an airline belonging to the International Alliance on the road between Idlib and Binnish" (via @moha7_othman).
  • The destroyed vehicle after alleged US-led Coalition or Turkish drone strike on the road between Idlib city and Binnish on June 24th, 2020 (via @moha7_othman).
  • Militant Abu Adnan Al Homsi was reportedly killed in alleged US-led Coalition or Turkish drone strikes on the road between Idlib and Binnish on June 24th, 2020 (via @HoseenAdnan).
  • Translation: "We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return..! Bleed to the Muslim Ummah The news of the martyrdom of the administrative Mujahid brother in the organization of Guardians of religion Abu Adnan Al Homsi, after he was targeted by a raid from an American crusader plane on the road to the city of Bunche in Idlib countryside and God is the helper. Oh God, accept him in the martyrs and raise his rank in the Gardens of Mole" (via @HoseenAdnan).

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck on a road between Idlib (إدلب‎) and Binnish (بنش) to the east. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates between these two points are: 35.948631, 36.672105.

  • Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck on a road between Idlib (إدلب‎) and Binnish (بنش) to the east.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SBV900807
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Sep 14, 2020
  • Jun. 24, 2020, in Idlib, Syria, via Airwars report. After a review of all available records it was assessed that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area that corresponds to the report of civilian casualties. 3202/CS1948 37SBV900807

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Turkish Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Published

May 26, 2020

Written by

Laurie Treffers and Oliver Imhof

Airwars and design partners Rectangle are commemorating those civilians killed and injured in conflicts, by livestreaming over 24 hours the names of 8,337 civilian casualties the international monitor has documented in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Somalia in recent years.

The digital event marks the occasion of the UN’s 2020 Protection of Civilians Week.

Every name has a story

Over twenty-four hours starting at midnight London time on May 26th/27th – the date of the UN Secretary General’s annual Protection of Civilians (PoC)  speech –  the names of just some of the many civilians reportedly killed by air and artillery strikes in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Somalia since 2007 will be livestreamed on our website and YouTube channel.

Khaled Mustafa Qurmo and Khaled Abdel Majid were about to drop off their friend Barakat Barakat at his home in October 2019. The three friends were eating pumpkin seeds while driving through Barisha in northwestern Syria when they were reportedly hit by helicopters searching for ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.

“There were so many shells falling on us, it was like rain. My hand, the one holding up Khaled’s head, got cut off,” Barakat explained to NPR last year. “Am I Baghdadi? How is this my fault? I’m just a civilian. I didn’t have any weapons. We’re farmers. I make less than a dollar a day. Now I’m handicapped, and my two friends are in their graves.”

Barakat Barakat is just one of 8,337 civilian casualties over the past 13 years whose names Airwars has recorded while monitoring conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Somalia.

UN Protection of Civilians Week 2020

Through its daily monitoring of local news organisations, social media and official sources, as well as via sources on the ground, Airwars has in total recorded over 119,000 reported civilian deaths and injuries since we began documenting conflicts in August 2014 – of which more than eight thousand casualties attributed to specific belligerents can presently be named.

This UN PoC Week, Airwars aims to commemorate those who have lost their lives, while calling for governments to better account for their military actions.

The project Conflicting Truth is in partnership with the Scottish-American design team Rectangle, who also produce the complex mapping and data representations on the Airwars website.

This week’s live cast is based on an original installation by Rectangle with Sophie Dyer, first shown in Detroit in March 2019. It had been hoped to show Conflicting Truth in New York during this year’s UN PoC Week. Instead, due to the Covid-19 crisis, the decision was taken to livecast a digital version.

Rimas and Shahem Hamdou with their father Hamza al Haj Hamdou. The children were killed in an alleged Russian strike in Thalatheen Street in Idlib city on March 3rd 2020 (image courtesy of the Syrian Network for Human Rights)

Not just numbers

The Airwars/ Rectangle project seeks to show that those killed and injured in conflict are not mere statistics –  they are people with names, friends and families. Their loss inflicts severe pain on relatives, and the communities they belong to.

“I was washing dishes. Suddenly our house was filled with shrapnel. I went out and called Arif (my son), but I did not see him. I only saw black smoke. When the smoke faded away, I saw my son on the ground as a martyr,” said a mother whose son Arif was among eight other children reportedly killed in alleged Turkish shelling on Tal Rifaat in Syria on December 2nd, 2019.

The suffering often does not end with losing loved ones or seeing them disabled: it also heavily impacts the lives of those spared by the fighting. “All a young man like me cares about now is how he gets home safe every day. Or when you go to bed, all you’re thinking about is the possibility that a rocket falls on you,” Marwan, a resident of the southern suburbs of the Libyan capital Tripoli recently told Airwars. “I lost friends, relatives, loved ones in this war,” he elaborates. “I’m doing an MA now, and I’m afraid to lose my dream, and my future and I can’t do anything. That makes me want to run away, to live a decent life with equal opportunities.”

Airwars aims to add as many biographical details of victims as possible. On May 16th of this year for example, the 5-year-old Bangladeshi boy Wahi Zuhair Matin was killed in alleged LNA artillery strikes on Al Fornaj neighbourhood in Tripoli. The GNA-affiliated Burkan Al Ghadab Operation wrote on Facebook that the child’s “ambition was to buy a bike and play ‘like the kids’.”

Civil Society Call for Action

Airwars is also joining with other international partners and organisations in a Civil Society Call for Action to Protect Civilians during PoC week. The joint statement signed by 22 organisations calls on the UN Security Council, Member States, and the UN System to take urgent, bold and practical steps to respond to the challenges that remain in the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

The UN Security Council added the protection of civilians in armed conflict (PoC) to its agenda in 1999, recognising PoC as a matter of international peace and security. The UN PoC Week is held annually between May 27th and June 1st. The United Nations celebrates UN Peacekeeping Day on May 29th.

▲ The original physical installation Conflicting Truth was shown in Detroit in March 2019, and was developed by Rectangle with Sophie Dyer. It features the names of civilian victims preserved in the Airwars database. (Image courtesy of Rectangle)

Incident Code

CS1947

Incident date

May 22, 2020

Location

الشبكة, الشحيل, Al Shabaka, Al Shuhail, Deir Ezzor, Syria

Geolocation

35.096944, 40.456111 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

One civilian was reported killed in alleged joint SDF and US led coalition operation in Al Shuhail in Deir Ezzor on May 22nd, 2020 according to local sources.

Euphrates Post reported that “Muhammad Al-Ouda Al-Khaled Al-Addad from the city of Al-Shuhail, was killed during a security operation carried out by SDF supported by the international coalition forces and helicopters in the Al-Shabaka neighborhood, in the city of Al-Shuhail.”

The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported that the victim was shot by SDF. “Muhammad Al-Ouda Khaled al Addad from al Shabaka neighborhood in al Shuhail city in the eastern suburbs of Deir Ez-Zour governorate was shot dead by Syrian Democratic Forces personnel during a raid in the neighborhood on May 22nd.”

Suriye.u.a.d blamed the coalition reporting “the death of the civilian Muhammad Al-Oudah Al-Khaled during the airdrop of an international coalition in the city of Al-Shuhail, east of Deir Ezzor.”

Deirezzor24 blamed both forces saying that “International coalition forces, accompanied by SDF forces, just carried out an airdrop operation on a house in the Shabakah neighborhood in the town of Al-Shuhail, east of Deir Ezzor, according to the reporter of Deir Ezzor Network 24. Our correspondent said that the operation targeted the house of Ahmad Al-Oudah Al-Khaled, and its results are not known yet, as displaced persons from Al-Baghouz and Al-Bukamal countryside live in the mentioned area.

In the third of their September 2020 civilian casualty reports, the US-led Coalition assessed reports that they were responsible for civilian harm in this strike as “non-credible”, stating that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area at that time.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the neighbourhood of Al Shabaka (الشحيل), allegedly in the centre of the village of Al Shuhail (الشبكة), for which, due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Al Shuhail are: 35.096944, 40.456111.

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SFU327847
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Sep 14, 2020
  • May 22, 2020, in Al Shabaka, Syria, via Airwars report. After a review of all available records it was assessed that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area that corresponds to the report of civilian casualties. 3203/CS1947 37SFU327847

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
  • Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

CS1946

Incident date

May 17, 2020

Location

الزر, Al Zir, Deir Ezzor, Syria

Geolocation

35.12527, 40.42864 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A civilian was killed by a sniper on the rooftop of his house in Al Zer as he was watching Coalition forces entering the village of Al Shouhaibl, Deir Ezzor governorate, on May 17th 2020, according to local sources.

Euphrates Eye wrote that “Muhammad Khleif Al Hamra was killed when he was watching the Coalition forces from the roof of his house as they stormed the house of Muhammad Al Hussein Al Madad in Al Shouhaibl town and arrested several people from Al Madad’s house.” The source added that Al Hamra was killed by a sniper and was “a civilian who does not belong to any faction who is the owner of a food store in the town of Al Zir.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that “the raiding forces killed a civilian who was shot while he was on the roof of his house located at the outskirts of the village of Al Zir near Al Shouhaibl, where the young man was watching the operation [in Shouhaibl]. His brother was arrested after that.”

According to the SOHR, the incident occurred during a United States forces operation in coordination with the Syrian Democratic Forces in the village of Al Shouhaib to find two people from the same family, reportedly working in trade. The special task forces of the SDF surrounded two houses and secured the area before the houses were raided and searched. The two wanted individuals were not found, but two of their sons were arrested.

In their monthly civilian casualty reports, the US-led Coalition has indicated that the credibility of this civilian harm allegation is in the process of being assessed.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Muhammad Khleif Al Hamra was killed by alleged US-led Coalition snipers when he watched Coalition forces enter his village Al Shouhaibl from the roof of his house on May 17th 2020 (via Euphrates Post).
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Muhammad Khleif Al Hamra was killed by alleged US-led Coalition snipers when he watched Coalition forces enter his village Al Shouhaibl from the roof of his house on May 17th 2020 (via Euphrates Post).

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a civilian being struck by gunfire on a rooftop in the village of Al Zir (الزر), while on looking into the adjacent village of Al Shahel (الشحيبل). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Al Zir are: 35.12527, 40.42864.

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Open incident
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
  • Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

CS1945

Incident date

May 16, 2020

Location

بالقرب من مسجد أبو بكر الصديق ,البصيره, Vicinity of Abu Bakr Al Siddiq mosuqe, Al Basira , Deir Ezzor, Syria

Geolocation

35.152540, 40.423494 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Nearby landmark

Airwars assessment

The homes of civilians were reportedly raided and bombed by alleged Coalition forces in a possible joint action with the Syrian Democratic Forces in the city of Al Basira, Deir Ezzor governorate, on May 16th, 2020, leading to the death of five possible civilians. Sources additionally reported that two to three men likely linked to ISIS were killed.

Euphrates Eye reported that Coalition forces had targeted three houses of Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Al Basira. The source indicates that five possible civilians were killed in one of the raids: “In Ibrahim Al Baraka’s house, inhabited by displaced people from Albukamal, there were clashes because the displaced people refused to surrender.” Five of the displaced people present were reportedly killed in the house, after which Coalition forces bombed the building. It is not specified whether the victims were civilians or militants.

According to Euphrate Eye, men and women were arrested and interrogated after raids on the house of Hassan (“pharmacist of Albufahd”) and the house of Hammoud Abu Hani, which were both in use by internally displaced people from Albukamal. According to the source, all those arrested were later released.

@DeirEzzor24 wrote that “three persons believed to be linked to ISIS were killed, and a number of others were arrested, by the international Coalition forces, in an airdrop operation in a neighbourhood of the city of Al Basira, east of Deir Ezzor, on Saturday, May 16, 2020. Special forces from SDF participated in the operation.” The source added that the operation lasted for an hour, while the Coalition requested civilians through loudspeakers to remain in their homes.

Other sources also report the victims were “likely” ISIS members. According to Eye On Hasaka, the operation took place in the evening, whereas Step Agency reported the incident occured around dawn.

According to Euphrates Post “the Coalition aircraft targeted with heavy machineguns around the Abu Bakr Al Siddiq mosque in Al Basira after a military convoy of SDF forces arrived in the city from the side of the Al Safa mosque.”

Whereas all sources reported the operation to be a joint action, Step Agency wrote that “it is worth noting that this raid operation did not witness the participation of the “Qasd militia”, unlike the previous times that the American forces raided the areas of Deir Ezzor.” Hence, Airwars graded the strike status of this incident as contested.

In the second of their September 2020 civilian casualty reports, the US-led Coalition assessed reports that they were responsible for civilian harm in this strike as “non-credible”, stating that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area at that time.

The incident occured during the night.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
  • Suspected target
    ISIS
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–7
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention a residential building being struck in the vicinity of Abu Bakr Al Siddiq mosque (مسجد أبو بكر الصديق), in the village of Al Basira (البصيره). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Abu Bakr Al Siddiq mosque are: 35.152540, 40.423494

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SFU296908
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Sep 9, 2020
  • May 16, 2020, in Al Basira, Syria, via Airwars report. After a review of all available records it was assessed that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area that corresponds to the report of civilian casualties. 3182/CS1945 37SFU296908

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
  • Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
  • Suspected target
    ISIS
  • Belligerents reported killed
    2–7
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Published

May 7, 2020

Written by

Airwars Staff

Nineteen of 40 events declared by the Pentagon to Congress for Iraq, Syria and Somalia for the past year were Airwars referrals, official records show

The Department of Defense (DoD) informed Congress on May 6th that US forces in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Somalia had between them killed at least 132 civilians and injured 91 more during 2019. The Pentagon also reported a further 79 historical deaths from its actions in Syria and Iraq during 2017-18.

The 22-page Annual Report on Civilian Casualties In Connection With United States Military Operations is the third such public declaration, mandated in law by Congress since 2018.

According to the report – which included details of continuing Pentagon efforts to improve both accountability and transparency for civilian harm – “U.S. forces also protect civilians because it is the moral and ethical thing to do. Although civilian casualties are a tragic and unavoidable part of war, the U.S. military is steadfastly committed to limiting harm to civilians.”

During 2019, the majority of declared civilian deaths from US actions took place in Afghanistan. According to the Pentagon, 108 civilians were killed and 75 injured in 57 incidents. Fourteen of those events involved US ground forces.

That casualty tally represented a significant undercount according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which has been comprehensively monitoring civilian deaths from all parties for more than a decade. According to UNAMA’s own Annual Report, at least 559 civilians were killed and 786 injured by international military actions during 2019 – almost all by airstrikes.

Table from UNAMA’s 2019 annual report, showing the number of civilian deaths and injuries it believed had resulted from pro-government forces that year.

Iraq and Syria: ‘backward step’

Officially confirmed civilian deaths from US actions in Iraq and Syria fell steeply – down from 832 fatalities declared to Congress last year, to 101 deaths conceded in the latest report.

That sharp reduction was partly expected, given the significant reduction in battle tempo following the bloody capture of both Mosul and Raqqa in 2017. However, in early 2019 very significant civilian fatalities were locally alleged from Coalition air and artillery strikes during the final stages of the war – only a fraction of which have been admitted.

Of the 73 known civilian harm claims against the US-led Coalition during 2019, Airwars presently estimates that at least 460 and as many as 1,100 non combatants likely died. However in its own report to the Pentagon, the US has conceded just 22 civilian deaths for the year across Iraq and Syria, in eleven events.

The Defense Department’s report reveals other worrying trends. Of the 21 historical cases officially conceded from US actions for 2017 over the past year, 18 had been Airwars referrals. Yet every single allegation referred by Airwars to the Coalition for both 2018 and 2019 was rejected – amounting to many hundreds of dismissed local claims.

According to Airwars director Chris Woods, the apparent move by the US-led Coalition away from engaging with external sources marks a backward step, which the organisation plans to take up with both Congress and DoD officials.

“Almost all of the deaths conceded by the US in Iraq and Syria for 2019 represented self referrals from pilots and analysts, with external sources cited on only three occasions. Many hundreds of civilian deaths which were credibly reported by local communities appear to have been ignored,” says Woods. “This goes against the Pentagon’s repeated promise to engage better with external NGOs including monitors, and we will be asking for an urgent explanation from officials of this apparent backward step.”

Mosul mystery resolved

The Pentagon’s latest report to Congress also brings further clarity to a controversial June 2017 Coalition attack in Mosul, Iraq which killed 35 members of the same extended family – including 14 children, nine women and two respected imams.

In January 2019 the Australian Defence Force (ADF) accepted responsibility for some of those deaths – confirming that a strike by one of its aircraft had killed between 6 and 18 civilians.

However the ADF also made clear that there was a second attack on the location by another Coalition ally that day – the identity of which was until now not known.

It its May 6th report to Congress, the Pentagon revealed that US aircraft conducted that second strike, additionally killing at least 11 civilians at the scene.

In February 2019, surviving family elder Engineer Amjad al-Saffar told the Sydney Morning Herald: “The level of accuracy of the bombing had always indicated to us that the attack couldn’t have been by Iraqi forces, because the house was targeted twice at the same point without any damage to the neighbouring building, and with very high accuracy.”

Asked to comment from Mosul on the Pentagon’s recent admission that its aircraft too had played a role in the mass casualty event, Engineer Amjad told Airwars: “As a well known and respected Mosul family, we feel both very sad and disappointed to learn of the US’s confession – three years after our catastrophe.- of their own role in an airstrike which killed so many. Along with Australia we hold the US fully responsible for our heavy loss of 35 family members, and demand both an apology and financial compensation.”

Other than this one case, the Pentagon’s report to Congress also revealed that all civilian harm events conceded by the US-led Coalition for Iraq and Syria over the past 12 months had been caused by US forces.

This contrasted with the previous report – which had inadvertently ‘outed’ fourteen strikes by America’s European allies which according to the Coalition itself had killed at least 40 civilians – but which the UK, France and Belgium refused to acknowledge. It remains unclear whether the Coalition’s civilian casualty cell has now ceased assessments of claims against other nations within the alliance.

Photo montage of some of the 35 victims of June 13th 2017 strikes by Australian and US aircraft, courtesy of the Al Saffar family.

One new Somalia event admitted

Two more civilian deaths from US actions in Somalia were officially conceded on April 27th, as US Africa Command issued its first ever quarterly civilian casualty report. Those same deaths were also reported to Congress two weeks later.

The newly admitted event – which according to local reports involved the death of a father and his child, and the injuring of at least three more civilians – relates to a US strike on the al Shabaab-occupied town of Kunyo Barrow on February 23rd 2019. AFRICOM had originally dismissed the claim. But it reopened an assessment after Airwars submitted a detailed dossier on the incident in January 2020, including what were believed to be precise coordinates for where casualties took place.

The latest admission has doubled both the number of cases and deaths publicly admitted by AFRICOM, during its sometimes controversial 13-year campaign to defeat the regional terror group al Shabaab. However those four deaths remain dwarfed by Airwars’ own current estimate of at least 70 civilians killed in 29 separate US actions in Somalia since 2007.

The US military’s campaign in Somalia has intensified significantly under President Donald Trump, with at least 186 declared actions since 2017 – more than four times the number of strikes officially carried out by the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations combined. Local civilian harm claims have also intensified under Trump, with as many as 157 non combatant deaths locally claimed to date.

Until recently AFRICOM had routinely denied any civilian harm from its actions in Somalia – leading to complaints of poor accountability. In April 2019, AFRICOM conceded its first civilian casualty event – though also had to admit to misleading Congress on the issue. Three months later, General Stephen Townsend took command.

When previously head of the US-led Coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Townsend had overseen key transparency reforms including the publishing of regular civilian harm reports; and routine engagement with external casualty monitors such as Airwars. Those same key reforms are now being implemented at AFRICOM.

Here's the precise geolocation work that our Airwars specialists recently provided @USAFRICOM for the Kunyo Barrow strike – and which likely played a role in today's Credible determination. pic.twitter.com/idlgKAHz0f

— Airwars (@airwars) April 27, 2020

 

▲ Ruins of a family home in which 35 civilians died at Mosul on June 13th 2017 - in what is now known to have been US and Australian airstrikes (Image courtesy of the Al Saffar family. All rights reserved.)

Incident Code

CS1944

Incident date

May 1, 2020

Location

حقل كونيكو النفطي, Koniko Oil Fields, Deir Ezzor, Syria

Geolocation

35.341858, 40.319093 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

One civilian was reported killed on May 1st, 2020 allegedly by a sniper bullet fired at him by the American troops in Koniko oil field in Deir Ezzor or by YPG/QSD members who guard the oil field as local sources said.

The victim who worked as a teacher in Raqqa city was identified as Yasser Al-Asman. (Yasser Muhammad Al Aslan/Al-Osman as other variations of the name).

SMART Agency reported that the victim “was heading on the main road from the countryside of Deir Ezzor Al-Sharqi to Raqqa, but his car veered off the road towards the [oil] field, by mistake, which drove the American forces to kill him instantly.”

SMART also said that YPG members transported his body to to the Hospital of Jadid Bakar village in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, and asked the hospital staff to communicate with his relatives to receive his body.

On a different story of how the civilian was killed, Shaam News reported that he was first shot by the guards of the oil field who belong to YPG/QSD as he took the wrong road, and afterwards a US led-coalition warplane targeted his car and burned it completely.

However, Suriye.u.a.d didn’t specify who was responsible but reported “the death of the civilian Yasser Muhammad Aslan with a sniper bullet from the American base in the Koniko oil field, northeast of Deir Ezzor.”

In the second of their September 2020 civilian casualty reports, the US-led Coalition assessed reports that they were responsible for civilian harm in this strike as “non-credible”, stating that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area at that time.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Yasser Al Asman Adult male Other sources named the victim (Yasser Muhammad Al Aslan) killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, YPG forces

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the vicinity of the Koniko Oil Fields (حقل كونيكو النفطي), in the east of Deir Ezzor (دير الزور‎). Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for the oil field are: 35.341858, 40.319093.

  • Reports of the incident mention a vehicle being struck in the vicinity of the Koniko Oil Fields (كونيكو النفطي بريف), in the east of Deir Ezzor (دير الزور‎).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SFV198117
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Sep 9, 2020
  • May 1, 2020, near the Koniko Oil Fields, Syria, via Airwars report. After a review of all available records it was assessed that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area that corresponds to the report of civilian casualties. 3131/CS1944 37SFV198117

YPG forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    YPG forces
  • YPG forces position on incident
    Open incident
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, YPG forces

Sources (3) [ collapse]