News & Investigations

News & Investigations

Published

April 8, 2022

Written by

Sanjana Varghese

International gathering brings nearer a protocol on restricting explosive weapon use in urban areas.

States edged closer to a political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas on April 8th, after three days of crunch talks in Geneva.

More than 65 states descended on the Swiss city for key talks on the wording of a political declaration that advocates believe would save thousands of lives by restricting the use of wide area effect explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA). Detractors, such as the United States government, argue it would unfairly limit the freedom of their own military actions and have threatened not to sign.

While no final text was agreed upon Friday, all sides struck an optimistic tone at the end of the three-day meet – saying a deal was nearer than ever. Delegates will meet again for one day in two months before an adoption ceremony expected in the summer.

“There are clearly differences of opinion but we have seen a very positive, solution oriented approach,” the chairperson, Ambassador Michael Gaffey of Ireland, said. “We are not simply working on a formula of words in a political declaration –  we want to make a real difference and impact on the ground and foster behavioural change.”

The talks were given additional urgency by the ongoing war in Ukraine, and Russia’s extensive use of explosive weapons on its cities. Moscow did not attend the talks.

Even the United States, widely viewed as one of the most hostile states to a declaration with teeth, struck a more positive tone than in previous meets. “There are still tough drafting issues and decisions ahead, and we have to get them right. The US delegation pledges our goodwill, to help to get to a positive outcome. We look forward to doing so.”

Since 2018, Ireland has chaired consultations on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. In the sessions since, the need for such a declaration – which is not legally binding and so does not create new legal obligations – has only become clearer.

“The draft declaration text holds the potential to make a meaningful contribution to the protection of civilians, and negotiations over the past few days have overall been constructive,” Laura Boillot of INEW, a network of NGOs pushing for the protocol, told Airwars.

“But decisions will now need to be made if the final text is going to have humanitarian effect. Most importantly it needs to establish a presumption against the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in towns, cities and other populated areas.”

It will be a failure to leave this room agreeing that simply restating existing laws will reduce civilian harm – a failure for all of us who came here with the intention to reduce that harm in the first place." @alma_osta in HI concluding remarks at #EWIPA negotiations today. pic.twitter.com/pTKpgfqWWU

— HI_Advocacy (@HI_Advocacy) April 8, 2022

Civil society groups and international agencies made a strong case for restricting EWIPA.

Three days of consultations

During three days of focused talks, several key fissures bubbled. While states in attendance – and civil society organisations – repeatedly emphasised the shared desire to produce a tangible and meaningful political declaration that could help save civilian lives on the ground, the practicalities of the process made clear that good intentions weren’t going to be enough.

On the first day of the informal consultations on April 6th, states made general remarks – affirming their support for the proceedings as well as their national positions – after an introductory statement from Ireland, the penholder.

In these general remarks, most states tended towards re-affirming the positions they had made clear in previous negotiations. On the hawkish side, the UK, US, Israel and Canada all emphasized that their positions as militarily active states meant that they would not sign a declaration in its current form, which included strong language about avoiding the use of explosive weapons in urban areas. Throughout the week, the delegates from these countries could often be seen meeting as a bloc outside of formal proceedings.

Many of the sticking points that emerged on the first day continued to dominate both the main floor and side conversations. The predominant line of argument was between those who argued that the declaration needed only to reaffirm the importance of international humanitarian law and provide further guidance about how to do so in this context; and those who asserted that this declaration needed to strengthen existing commitments and add new ones for states around the use of explosive weapons.

The second day of discussions took a more technical turn, with the majority of interventions focused on the wording of specific clauses and paragraphs of the text.

Clause 3.3, which attracted much attention in previous consultations, was once  again hotly debated. It is one of the first clauses in Section B, the operative section – which lays out the actions that states have to comply with if they choose to sign onto the declaration.

In the current draft, Clause 3.3 says states must: “Ensure that our armed forces adopt and implement a range of policies and practices to avoid civilian harm, including by restricting or refraining from the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas, when the effects may be expected to extend beyond a military objective.”

The bulk of the discussion around this clause was on the second sentence, as many states intervened on the use of “restricting or refraining,” with some suggesting it was strong enough while others lobbied instead for the use of “avoid”.

A split between the majority of civil society organisations and militarily-powerful states was apparent during these parts of the discussions, with NGOs and international agencies pushing for stronger language, rather than trying to place limits on what kinds of civilian harm would be protected under this new declaration.

Airwars’ incoming director and current head of research Emily Tripp also made an intervention – emphasising how crucial it was for states to actually track civilian harm.

Airwars’ incoming director Emily Tripp addresses a UN-backed conference on explosive weapons in Geneva on April 7th, 2022 (Image: Airwars)

At the end of day two INEW, one of the organisers, named nine states – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Israel, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States – that it said had “worked to weaken declaration provisions.” The UK delegation, for example, agreed that tracking civilian harm was a ‘moral obligation,’ but then highlighted ways in which it claimed this was not feasible – arguing that live hostilities made it near impossible to monitor casualties properly.

But INEW also said that there had been a “shift in the collective tone set by states since the last round of negotiations, with more governments explicitly committed to strengthening the protection of civilians through the declaration.”

The statement said this was likely as a response to the bombing of Ukrainian towns and cities, and the Ukraine crisis loomed large over the conflict. Not only did the majority of states open their remarks with condemnation of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, many also emphasised the importance of a meaningful political declaration with specific reference to Ukrainian cities and towns such as Mariupol, Bucha and Khrarkiv.

There was also an emphasis on the value of protecting civilian objects and infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, with states such as Mexico and the delegate for the Holy See (which holds observer state) urging specific language around the need to protect hospitals, blood transfusion centres, and environmental and religious sites.

Speaking at the end of the latest talks, Ambassador Gaffey said Ireland and organisers would review the submissions from all parties before a month or two of further work on the text. He said states and NGOs would then hold a final one-day consultation in a couple of months, before a political adoption ceremony where states would declare their support for the text.

As Alma Taslidžan Al-Osta, of Humanity and Inclusion, noted in her own concluding remarks to delegates: “Eleven years in Syria, seven years in Yemen and over a month in Ukraine have taught us that explosive weapons with wide area effects should not be used in towns, cities and populated areas. The status quo is no longer an option.”

Civilians increasingly bear the brunt of modern conflicts. Addressing the devastating harm to civilians from Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas is a priority for 🇮🇪. We welcome states, international organisations and civil society to consultations in Geneva this week #EWIPA pic.twitter.com/pAyglwZO9D

— Disarmament IRELAND (@DisarmamentIRL) April 6, 2022

Ireland chaired Geneva talks on restricting urban use of explosive weapons

▲ The three-day EWIPA conference in Geneva sought to reach a deal on the use of explosive weapons in urban environments (Airwars)

Published

September 14, 2020

Written by

Oliver Imhof

Header Image

Civilian casualty situation at the beginning of the LNA's Tripoli offensive on April 4th, 2019

At least 200 civilians died during the siege of the capital - with the future still looking uncertain for Libya

Two months after the brutal siege of Libya’s capital ended, new interactive Airwars mapping shows the impact of 14 months of fighting between two rival governments on the city’s beleaguered civilians.

Airwars has visualised every allegation of civilian harm from air and artillery strikes during the period of war in and around Tripoli between April 2019 and June 2020. Glasgow-based consultants Rectangle designed the innovative mapping, in an effort to find fresh ways of visualising civilian harm on the modern battlefield.

The new Airwars mapping uses a sliding timeline to enable an overview of often indiscriminate air and artillery strikes on Tripoli and its suburbs. A fine-detail satellite map of Tripoli and its suburbs makes it possible to see the siege evolving over the 14 months of its duration.

The map utilises a 1km radius hexagonal system, whose height represents the number of civilians reported killed in an incident. This in turn enables users to see the extent of shelling on various neighbourhoods, with casualty spikes clearly revealed in heavily hit areas such as Salaheddin, Abu Salim and Tajoura. The new mapping can also be used as a portal to access individual civilian harm assessments on the Airwars website.

Lizzie Malcolm and Daniel Powers of design consultancy Rectangle explain their rationale behind the new approach: “The challenge of mapping and visualising civilian harm is to balance the presentation of aggregated information and individual details. Maps of large areas and timelines of conflicts are useful for understanding scale. But any visualisation should be a gateway to the evidence and stories about individuals and families,” they tell Airwars.

Over the course of the siege, Airwars recorded 339 civilian harm events in Libya, 197 of which around Tripoli, nearly tripling the number of locally reported incidents since the end of the NATO campaign in 2011. At least 197 civilians were killed by the violence and another 537 were injured by the violence, as the LNA and GNA fought for control of Tripoli.

The LNA’s Tripoli offensive introduced Libyans to a degree of conflict violence not seen since NATO’s intervention almost a decade earlier. Even when the conflict was over, LNA forces and Wagner mercenaries reportedly booby-trapped houses and planted landmines, leading to gruesome additional reports of killed and injured civilians.

The siege of Tripoli has previously been visualised by other organisations, though not via an interactive map. UN agency OCHA has for example provided infographics summing up their findings. And Dzsihad Hadelli has previously visualised Airwars data on civilian casualties for the Libya Observer.

The war on Tripoli is now one year old. But already in this period, as many civilians have been killed by air raids as in all Libyan civil war conflicts since 2012 (Airwars annual report 2020).

Here's a map of all reported air strikes/shellings of the last 12 months. pic.twitter.com/tTYoEaaDSM

— Dzsihad Hadelli (@dhadelli) April 5, 2020

Is justice possible?

Mapping and recording harm in conflicts can help both with the proper investigation of civilian casualties, and of possible war crimes – potentially leading to reconciliation and justice in those parts of society affected by the fighting. “There is no way out of this without people being held accountable,“ says Elham Saudi, Director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya.

Her organisation seeks to document violations of humanitarian and human rights law in Libya, in turn hoping for accountability. “If you’re aiming for criminal responsibility, the threshold is really high. First hand accounts and witnesses are the most important thing,“ Saudi explains. Establishing the chain of command that leads to an event in question is another crucial point, she adds.

As a former resident of Tripoli suburbs, Saudi knows from friends and family what the siege did to Tripoli’s population: “The impact was felt throughout the city, the fear and anticipation of being targeted was quite overwhelming – even if you didn’t live in the areas being targeted, because of the indiscriminate nature of the attacks. You always felt like you were a target.”

However, her organisation does not focus only upon recent events around Tripoli but investigates violations committed in the civil war across the country. The highly polarised political landscape poses an additional challenge, as activists and media in Libya are often affiliated with one of the parties to the conflict: “The hyper-politicisation of everything makes it very difficult to keep the distance from what’s being said in the media. I don’t disregard anything just because it belongs to a certain party.”

“Things get lost if you don’t preserve evidence in a conflict. Preserving evidence is absolutely vital, it’s not just about the present but also about the future for civil society,“ the lawyer elaborates. Social media plays an increasing role there as “Perpetrators help you because they incriminate themselves.“

Mahmoud Werfalli’s arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, for example, was based on social media accounts of extrajudicial killings. The former LNA commander is accused of executing ten prisoners in Benghazi in 2018, a case that was widely documented on social networks – as are many cases of potential war crimes in Libya.

At this point it remains difficult to predict which alleged incidents might potentially bear fruit in court. War crimes were alleged on both sides of the conflict. “The US is promising because Haftar, as a US citizen, is subject to its jurisdiction; it also allows for individuals to pursue civil responsibility,” Saudi says. Three civil lawsuits attempting to do that have been filed in the US for example, whereby affected families are suing the General for compensation for his alleged responsibility in the deaths of family members as a result of the indiscriminate shelling of Tripoli neighbourhoods by his forces.

Links to individual case assessments that occurred in the Salaheddin neighbourhood of Tripoli

Bringing Libyans back to the negotiations table

Even as the search for accountability continues, rifts remain deep within Libyan society after so many years of civil war. The big question is: how might Libya finally find a way towards a peaceful future?

A pause in fighting between Libya’s rival camps might be expected to generate optimism in a country riven by intermittent civil war since 2011. But instead of improving the livelihoods of the population, both seem keen to return to the status quo that partly led to the siege of Tripoli in the first place. Infighting within both the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA); profound economic problems; and deep distrust between all the main political actors, make a peaceful future more uncertain.

Recently popular protests erupted in both GNA- and LNA-controlled territories, that were in turn met with violence by both governments. At the same time, a new military build-up around Sirte has raised fears of another escalation in violence – while a dire economic situation exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the population into ever deeper poverty.

Virginie Collombier, Professor of Social and Political Dynamics in Libya at the European University Institute of Florence, has been working on grassroots mediation processes led by Libyans for many years. She sees the first step to a lasting ceasefire taking place at the international level – getting countries now meddling in Libya to respect the commitments they made during the Berlin peace conference: “The aim of the mediation process is to find someone who has the capacities to provide guarantees and enforce things. The UN can’t do anything alone as we see; and the EU doesn’t have the capacities or willingness.“

“Who has the capacities to influence things on the ground: Russia? Turkey?“ Collombier asks.  Neither seems a likely candidate given the ongoing geopolitical struggle between these two states: “Most importantly [there is] the US, but will they work as a guarantor on broader issues related to the economy, and the political framework?“

The current stalemate may however make things easier, Professor Collombier believes: “There is clearly a sense of exhaustion, the meaning of the war is lost, which is something we can see on both sides of the divide.“ She adds: “There is not much we can achieve through violence and weapons, the situation has stabilised around two camps that can block each other.“

However, internal divisions in both the GNA and in Haftar’s camp show that the situation could turn violent again if issues are not resolved. Collombier stresses the need for a dialogue that includes all Libyans, beyond the GNA and LNA: “Voices of Libyans can be heard and put pressure on politics; and diversifying the political sphere is absolutely crucial. There is a need for alternative voices and leaders. There is deep distrust in the current political elite.”

Whatever the result of both reconciliation and accountability processes in Libya, there is a long way ahead for the country to finally find peace. Documenting and archiving the crimes committed during the civil war is only an initial step towards accountability that can then lead to reconciliation between former enemies.

▲ Civilian casualty situation at the beginning of the LNA's Tripoli offensive on April 4th, 2019

Incident Code

LC421

Incident date

June 29, 2020

Location

وادي أزكير, Wadi Azkir, Sirte, Libya

Geolocation

31.131944, 16.271944 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A civilian was reportedly killed and another man was injured as the result of alleged LNA air or artillery strikes on Wadi Azkir, west of Sirte, on June 29th, 2020, according to local sources.

Burkan Al Ghadab Operation reported that civilian Abdel Nabi Milad Ashtaiwi Al Sabi’i was killed alongside some of his camels in bombings by LNA forces on Wadi Azkir. His cousin Omar Ammar Ashtaiwi Al Sabi’i was injured.

Mansour Azker, a relative of the killed victim, reported that his cousin died when civilians were bombed in Azkir area.

Wadi Jaref reported the valley was targeted with airstrikes. Other sourced did not specify whether the attacks were air or artillery strikes. Bani Walid wrote on Facebook that Al Sabi’i died in a missile attack on the valley and that some houses in the area had been damaged.

Only Burkan Al Ghadab blamed the LNA for the strikes, other sources did not mention the belligerent.

Currently, further information is unavailable to Airwars.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    Libyan National Army
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • Abdel Nabi Milad Ashtaiwi Al Sabi’i, here posing with a weapon, was killed in alleged LNA strikes on Wadi Azkir on June 29th, 2020 (via Mansour Azker).
  • Abdel Nabi Milad Ashtaiwi Al Sabi’i, here pictured with a camel, was killed in alleged LNA strikes on Wadi Azkir on June 29th, 2020 (via Wadi Jaref).
  • Abdel Nabi Milad Ashtaiwi Al Sabi’i, here posing on a vehicle, was killed in alleged LNA strikes on Wadi Azkir on June 29th, 2020 (via Mansour Azker).

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the agricultural area of Wadi Azkir (وادي أزكير), allegedly west of Sirte (سرت) city. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. The generic coordinates for Wadi Azkir are: 31.131944, 16.271944.

Libyan National Army Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Libyan National Army
  • Libyan National Army position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    Libyan National Army
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

LC412

Incident date

June 2, 2020

Location

بادرتن, Baderten, Jabal al Gharbi, Libya

Geolocation

32.158102, 13.063774 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Five men were killed in alleged LNA/UAE drone strikes on the city of Gheryan, Jabal Al Gharbi, on June 2nd, 2020, according to local sources.

Simfaro reported that aircraft was hovering over the city for several hours, conducting ten strikes in separate areas. @EbrahimGasuda initially reported the names of three victims as the result of UAE drone strikes, targeting the Meteorological and Seismological Center in Baderten neighbourhood.

The source later updated this to five victims. Reportedly, civilian males Abdul Basit Ali Al BasheerAbdul Karim Al SharqawiAshour Ahmed BelhadjRami Muhammad Abu Shaqour and Mahmoud Abdul Hamid Al Tajouri were killed in the strikes.

Amina Burgrara reported that ten strikes led to “three martyrs when the Meteorological and Seismological Center was bombed and two when the forces located near the Jendouba Bridge were bombed.”

Sidi Mousa Street reported that Rami Muhammad Abu Shaqour was one of the victims of the airstrikes on Jendouba bridge.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Libyan National Army, United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • One of the victims of alleged LNA/UAE drone strikes on Gharyan on June 2nd, 2020 (via Amina Burgrara on Facebook).
  • One of the victims of alleged LNA/UAE drone strikes on Gharyan on June 2nd, 2020 (via Amina Burgrara on Facebook).
  • One of the victims of alleged LNA/UAE drone strikes on Gharyan on June 2nd, 2020 (via Khamis Al Kawasem on Facebook).

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Baderten (بادرتن), for which the generic coordinates are: 32.158102, 13.063774. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Libyan National Army Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Libyan National Army
  • Libyan National Army position on incident
    Not yet assessed

United Arab Emirates Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United Arab Emirates Military
  • United Arab Emirates Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (5 men)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Libyan National Army, United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Incident Code

LC389

Incident date

May 11, 2020

Location

بوقرين, Abugrein, Misurata, Libya

Geolocation

31.445278, 15.25443 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

An unknown number of civilians died in alleged airstrikes by a UAE aircraft on two civilian cars near Abugrein on May 11th, 2020, according to Libya Al Ahrar.

Libya Al Ahrar reported that, according to the Brigadier General of Sirte Al Jafra Operations Abdul Hadi Dara, “civilians were martyred as a result of the targeting by Emirati aircraft of two civilian cars in Abugrein.”

Tk Yahrouq Kl shy wrote on Facebook that “a drone bombed Al Heisha Al Jadida (Abugrein)”, but did not report the belligerent or civilian harm.

Currently, further information is unavailable to Airwars.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Abugrein (بوقرين), for which the generic coordinates are: 31.445278, 15.25443. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

United Arab Emirates Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United Arab Emirates Military
  • United Arab Emirates Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

LC388

Incident date

May 11, 2020

Location

القداحية, Al Qaddahiyah, Misurata, Libya

Geolocation

31.357500, 15.245556 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

One civilian died after his car was targeted with a missile, allegedly fired by LNA or Emirati drones, in Al Qaddahiyah on May 11th, 2020, according to local sources. Four other men were also killed, they were reportedly fighters with the militia of the Amateen martyrs.

Burkan Al Ghadab Operation wrote that “Emirates drones targeted a digger in Al Qaddahiyah, and the death of citizen Imad Al Naas Mohamed Attbiqa after the targeting of his car with a missile.”

Souq Al Khamis reported the same incident but blamed “Karama drones”, or the LNA, for the attack.

Tarhouna24 reported “an airstrike targeting a site inside a farm in the Al Qaddahiyah region, leaving four dead and a number of wounded, belonging to the militia of the Amateen martyrs affiliated to Misurata.”

Tarhouna24 later identified the names of the killed militia members as Mustafa Arefah, Firas Mansour Al Buraiki, Khurais Abdullah Muhammad and another person known by the name of Hatem from Zalla.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Libyan National Army, United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected target
    GNA
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • A digger on fire after alleged LNA or UAE drone strikes on Al Qaddahiyah, May 11th 2020 (via Burkan Al Ghadab Operation).
  • The aftermath of alleged LNA or UAE drone strikes on Al Qaddahiyah, May 11th 2020 (via Souq Al Khamis).

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Al Qaddahiyah (القداحية), for which the generic coordinates are: 31.3575, 15.245556. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Libyan National Army Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Libyan National Army
  • Libyan National Army position on incident
    Not yet assessed

United Arab Emirates Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United Arab Emirates Military
  • United Arab Emirates Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • (1 man)
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Libyan National Army, United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected target
    GNA
  • Belligerents reported killed
    4
  • Belligerents reported injured
    2

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

LC273

Incident date

January 4, 2020

Location

طرابلس‎: الكلية العسكرية, Tripoli: Military College, Tripoli, Libya

Geolocation

32.840868, 13.201485 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Nearby landmark level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

In a massive incident, between 20 and 30 people were killed and 33 others injured in an alleged LNA or Emirati airstrike that targeted a military school in Al Hadaba, Tripoli, Libya on January, 4th, 2020, according to local sources. Libya Al Ahrar reported that victims of this attack don’t exceed the age of 25 years.

While the majority of casualties are among combatants, Al Wasat reported that there have also been civilian casualties.

Akhbar Libya reported from other sources that a shell landed on the college’s square during an evening gathering and that it wasn’t clear whether the attack was deliberate or not.

According to 218TV, the Media Department of the Ministry of Health in Al-Wefaq government confirmed that the final outcome of targeting the Military College in Tripoli is 30 dead, including two unidentified bodies, and 33 wounded.

Libya Al Ahrar said that the initial examination of the remnants of the missile used in the attack revealed that “the missile, a ‘Blue Arrow Seven’, was launched from a Chinese-made ‘Wing Loong’ drones, in which the UAE supported Haftar’s militants, according to reports of the United Nations Committee of Experts concerned.”

According to Al Wasat “it is not possible to count the number of dead due to the scattering shreds.” It also quoted LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari saying: “The explosion was from inside the college and not from outside it.” Al Wasat added that “he pointed to pictures of the bombing as evidence of what he said was ‘the absence of traces of shells in the college.'”

The Libya Observer later updated the death toll among the cadets to 32. Additionally it said that “The Government of National Accord condemned the airstrike and declared three days of mourning in the country.

Reacting to the airstrike, Minister of Interior Fathi Bashagha urged the government to cut ties with the United Arab Emirates immediately.

Shortly after the massacre, thousands of people went to the streets of Tripoli.”

A BBC investigation later found that the strike was most likely conducted by an Emirati Wing Loong II drone.

The incident occured at approximately 9:00 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Strike target
    School
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Libyan National Army, United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected target
    GNA
  • Belligerents reported killed
    20–32
  • Belligerents reported injured
    12–33

Sources (26) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (11) [ collapse]

  • Wounded in the hospital after an airstrike by troops allegedly loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar on a military school in Al Hadaba, Tripoli, on January 4th, 2020 (via Al Wasat).
  • Wounded in the hospital after alleged airstrike by troops loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar on a military school in Al Hadaba, Tripoli, on January 4th, 2020 (via Al Wasat).
  • Wounded in the hospital after an airstrike by troops allegedly loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar on a military school in Al Hadaba, Tripoli, on January 4th, 2020 (via Al Wasat).
  • Wounded in the hospital after an airstrike by troops allegedly loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar on a military school in Al Hadaba, Tripoli, on January 4th, 2020 (via Al Wasat).
  • Wounded in the hospital after an airstrike by troops allegedly loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar on a military school in Al Hadaba, Tripoli, on January 4th, 2020 (via Libya Al Ahrar).
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Wounded in the hospital after an airstrike by troops allegedly loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar on a military school in Al Hadaba, Tripoli, on January 4th, 2020 (via Libya Al Ahrar).
  • Aftermath of the attack on the military academy allegedly by LNA on January 4th, 2020 (via 218TV).
  • Aftermath of the alleged LNA attack on the military academy in Al Hadaba, Tripoli on January 4th, 2020 (via Libya Observer).
  • Images of bodies of students in the military college who got killed allegedly by LNA forces on January 5th, 2020 (via @Lyobserver)
  • Images of bodies of students in the military college who got killed allegedly by LNA forces on January 5th, 2020 (via @Lyobserver)
  • Remnants of the rocket that hit the military college in Al Hadaba in Tripoli on January 4th, 2020 (via Libya Al Ahrar).

Geolocation notes

Reports mention the Military College (الكلية العسكرية) in the Hadaba (الهضبة) area of Tripoli (طرابلس‎). The coordinates for the military college are: 32.840868 13.201485.

Libyan National Army Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Libyan National Army
  • Libyan National Army position on incident
    Not yet assessed

United Arab Emirates Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United Arab Emirates Military
  • United Arab Emirates Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Strike target
    School
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Libyan National Army, United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected target
    GNA
  • Belligerents reported killed
    20–32
  • Belligerents reported injured
    12–33

Sources (26) [ collapse]

Incident Code

LC268

Incident date

January 1, 2020

Location

شارع الكنيسة, Al Kanisa Street, Tripoli, Libya

Geolocation

32.79583, 13.108593 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Street level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

In the first incident of 2020, three civilians were reported killed and five others injured after an alleged LNA or UAE airstrike on a blacksmith store in Al Kanisa street in Al Swani, Tripoli, Libya on January 1st, 2020, according to local sources. A child was also wounded after the missile hit her house near the store.

Souq Al Khamis posted on their Facebook page that the shop’s owner and his son were killed in the attack, in addition to a third person who was killed when his van was directly targeted with the shelling.

In addition to the blacksmith store, a farm and an iron store house were reportedly targeted.

The shelling also caused damage to the neighbouring buildings.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Libyan National Army, United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected target
    LNA

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (12) [ collapse]

  • Image of the car that was targeted on January 1st in Al-Swani killing one person (via Burkan Al Ghadab operation)
  • Another image of the car that was targeted on January 1st in Al-Swani killing one person (via Burkan Al Ghadab operation)
  • Picture of the impact of the strike on Al-Swani on January 1st (via Burkan Al Ghadab operation)
  • Aftermath of an alleged LNA airstrike on a blacksmith shop in Al Sawani, Tripoli on Jan 1st 2020 (via Burkan Al Ghadab operation)
  • Aftermath of an alleged LNA airstrike on a blacksmith shop in Al Sawani, Tripoli on Jan 1st 2020 (via Burkan Al Ghadab operation)
  • Aftermath of an alleged LNA airstrike on a blacksmith shop in Al Sawani, Tripoli on Jan 1st 2020 (via Burkan Al Ghadab operation)
  • Aftermath of the attack on the store (via @Lyobserver)
  • A child got injured when a missile hit her house near the Blacksmith store on January 1st in Al-Swani (via Souq Al Khamis)
  • Another picture of the child who got injured when a missile hit her house near the Blacksmith store on January 1st in Al-Swani (via Souq Al Khamis)
  • Picture of a house damaged on January 1st in Al-Swani (via Souq Al-Khmies)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the area of Al Kanisa street (الهضبة البدري), for which the generic coordinates are: 32.79583, 13.108593. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Libyan National Army Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Libyan National Army
  • Libyan National Army position on incident
    Not yet assessed

United Arab Emirates Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United Arab Emirates Military
  • United Arab Emirates Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Libyan National Army, United Arab Emirates Military
  • Suspected target
    LNA

Sources (9) [ collapse]