News & Investigations

News & Investigations

Published

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)

Incident Code

TI056

Incident date

February 10–14, 2021

Location

جبل غارا/ قارا, Gara Mountain, Dohuk, Iraq

Airwars assessment

Thirteen Turkish nationals being held captive by the PKK in a location close to village Siyane in the Gare/Gara region in northern Iraq were killed – either during an alleged Turkish airstrike, or executed by the PKK, according to conflicting Kurdish and Turkish sources.

There was however broad agreement that some of those killed were civilians. All of the victims, as detainees, were non combatants. The date of the incident is unclear. Reports of killing the prisoners surfaced on February 14th but the Turkish operation on Gara started on February 10th.

According to Turkish Minute, the bodies of 13 Turkish hostages were found in the Gara region following the launch of Turkish operations there on February 10th. The source said “On Sunday the pro-Kurdish party expressed “deep sadness” over the deaths of the 13 Turks in Iraq, calling on the PKK to free its remaining prisoners.”

Stripes.come said that they Turkish operation was launched to free the Turkish prisoners. “The bodies of the 13 victims were discovered in a cave complex in northern Iraq’s Gara region, near the Turkish border, during an operation against the PKK, launched on Feb. 10, that had aimed to free the hostages.”

Haber Turk reported that the bodies of the thirteen killed Prisoners of War (PoWs) were taken to Malatya for autopsy. Twelve out of 13 were identified as: Expert Sergeant Hüseyin Sarı; the civilian police commander Sedat Yabalak; Gendarmerie Petty Officer Semih Özbek; Police Officer Vedat Kaya; Jandirma Private Süleyman Sungur; Specialist Private Mevlit Kahveci; Gunner Private Müslüm Altıntaş; Private Adil Kabaklı; Aydın Köse; and Umit Gicir, The civilian was Muhammet Salih Kanca, and the contracted soldier Sedat Sorgun.

The source published the following details about nine of the victims:

  • Sedat Yabalak, a civilian police officer and father of three in charge of Şanlıurfa Police Department in Turkey was abducted by the PKK on July 28th 2015 on the Lice-Diyarbakır highway, in front of his wife Burcu Yabalak and their three children, while returning from Erzurum.
  • Private Adil Kabaklı, during his military service, was abducted on the Tunceli Pülümür highway in Turkey while returning to his unit in Ağrı on October 2, 2015.
  • Expert Sergeant Mevlüt Kahveci, aged 31 and referred to as a specialized Gendarmerie Sergeant, was kidnapped by the PKK at a roadblock near Doğanlıköyü in Hakkari’s Çukurca district in Turkey in September 2016.
  • Air Defense Specialist Sergeant Hüseyin Sarı’s, aged 32, was kidnapped by the PKK on the Diyarbakır-Bingöl Highway in Turkey on August13th 2015.
  • Vedat Kaya was a civilian police officer in Istanbul. He and his wife were kidnapped in 2016 by the PKK at a roadblock in the Lice district of Diyarbakır in Turkey while he was returning to his hometown for his brother’s wedding convoy
  • Aydın Köse: No details about the date he was kidnapped by Haber Turk. Mürvet Karakoç mentioned that he is registered of the population of Adıyaman. He was referred to as a civilian by sources including Muhsin.guler.
  • Staff Petty Officer Sergeant Major Semih Özbey was detained by the PKK on the Tunceli-Erzincan highway in Turkey on September 18th 2015.
  • Süleyman Sungur, while doing his military service, was abducted by the PKK from a bus on the Lice road to his hometown Siirt in Turkey in 2015.
  • Private Sedat Sorgun, who was serving as a military officer in Van, was kidnapped by the PKK at a roadblock near Diyarbakır Lice in 2015.

@Kche_shakh tweeted “13 Turkish civilians were killed on the Gara mountains the highest mountains range in southern Kurdistan. Wondering what the Turkish civilians were doing there?”.

The list included the ten names identified by the Turkish Ministry of Defense twitter account as the killed prisoners of war, in addition to three additional names of belligerents likely killed while participating in the Turkish military operation. They are Ertug Guler, Burak Coscun and Harun Turhan. The Turkish minister of defence said that three soldiers were killed during the operation and three others were wounded.

Held captive for many years by the PKK in Kurdistan, their plight was raised by MPs many times back in Turkey, calling for their release. Turkey and the PKK are now accusing each other of responsibility for the killing of the 13 captive Turkish nationals:

Turkey launched its Eagle Claw 2 operation on the Gare region of northern Iraq on February 10th, where the 13 hostages were being held in a cave there.

A statement later issued by the PKK gave the group’s side of the story. They accused Turkey of killing the prisoners during an operation that had begun on February 10th. “A 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 this is am or pm] on February 10th. This was followed by a ground attack in which every form of war technology was used. In order to protect themselves and the prisoners, our forces located in the camp under bombardment gave the necessary response to the occupiers and hit them effectively.”

The PKK statement continued: “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. That no one would survive such a fierce attack was clear to anyone with basic military knowledge. The attack was not aimed at liberating the prisoners of war, but at destroying them.”

Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union said that YPG also published videos showing the Turkish bombardment of the location where the POWs had been held on February 14th.

By contrast, Turkey accused the PKK of executing the prisoners. Stripes.com for example reported Turkish officials as saying that “Twelve of the victims were shot in the head and one died of a shoulder bullet wound.”

Turkey’s Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar made a statement on the Gara operation to the Turkish Grand National Assembly. He said that it wasn’t possible to target the area where the cave is located because of the geographical location and structure. “due to the location and the terrain, the mountain ranges and the difficulty of reaching here, the operation has not been carried out in Gara.”

The minister was also reported by TGRT Haber TV as saying that “in the attack and in response to the shooting and the grenades from inside the cave, we only used teargas bombs. ”

The deaths of 13 unarmed Turkish nationals caused uproar in Turkey. President Erdogan reportedly vowed to expand cross-border operations against the Kurdish group in northern Iraq. Erdogan was quoted as saying “that the killings have strengthened Turkey’s will to form a secure zone along its border in northern Iraq to protect Turkey’s frontiers from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.”

The US State Department released a statement on February 14th condemning the deaths: “The United States deplores the death of Turkish citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. We stand with our NATO Ally Turkey and extend our condolences to the families of those lost in the recent fighting. If reports of the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization, are confirmed, we condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

Anadolu Agency on Twitter said that “In call with Turkish FM, [US Secretary of State] Blinken affirmed US ‘view that PKK terrorists bear responsibility’ for Turkish civilians martyred in N.Iraq.” The Afghan government also condemned the incident, and blamed the PKK for the killing of the prisoners. And the Turkish Ministry of Defence tweeted that the UK’s Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace had “extended his condolences for the Turkish personnel and citizens that were martyred in Gara by the PKK terrorist organization.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Muhammet Salih Kanca 38 years old male killed
  • Hüseyin Sarı 32 years old male Expert Sergeant killed
  • Sedat Yabalak Age unknown male Police Officer killed
  • Semih Özbek Age unknown male Gendarmerie Petty Officer killed
  • Vedat Kaya 28 years old male Police Officer killed
  • Süleyman Sungur 27 years old male Jandirma Private killed
  • Mevlit Kahveci 31 years old male Specialist Private killed
  • Müslüm Altıntaş Age unknown male Gunner Private killed
  • Adil Kabaklı Age unknown male killed
  • Aydın Köse Age unknown male killed
  • Sedat Sorgun 35 years old male Contracted soldier killed
  • Umit Gicir 35 years old male specialized gendarmerie sergeant killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    7 – 13
  • (7–13 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Turkish Armed Forces, YPG forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (34) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (26) [ collapse]

  • Statement by the command of the Central People's Defence Forces Headquarters (via @ameddicleT).
  • Statement by the command of the Central People's Defence Forces Headquarters (via @ameddicleT).
  • A list of names of Turkish nationals killed in Gare region. In addition to names of ten prisoners of war, the list includes names of three Turkish soldiers killed during the operation. Via @Kche_shakh
  • Police officer Sedat Yabalak was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Adil Kabaklı was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Specialist sergeant Mevlüt Kahveci was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10/14th (via Haber turk)
  • Uzman Çavuş Hüseyin Sarı'nın was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Vedat Kaya was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Aydın Köse was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Gendarmerie Staff Petty Officer Sergeant Major Semih Özbey was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Süleyman Sungur was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Sedat Sorgun was among 13 prisoners of war reported killed by Turkey bombing or PKK execution in a cave in Gara mountain, IRQ on February 10-14th. (via Haber turk)
  • Via the Turkish Ministry of National Defence.
  • Images of three of the killed PoW tweeted by the Turkish MoD.
  • Via the Turkish Ministry of National defence
  • Images of two of the PoW killed in Gara in Iraq, posted by the Turkish MoD.
  • Via the Turkish Ministry of National Defence.
  • Images of five if the PoW killed, tweeted by the Turkish MoD.
  • Aydın KÖSE. one of 13 Turkish prisoners of war reported killed as a result of a Turkey operation in Gara mountains, or were executed by PKK. (image via Aziz kose, Aydin's brother).
  • Nine of the 13 killed Turkish prisoners of war who were held captive by the PKK in Gara mountain in Iraq. (via Mürvet Karakoç).
  • According to Sabah News, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar released this image claiming it is of the PKK member who executed the Turkish prisoners. His name is Kamuran Ataman, the cave manager, nicknamed "Sorej".
  • Images of 12 Turksih prisoners of war killed allegedly as a result of Turkish airstrikes on a cave where they were kept in Gara, Iraq, or executed by PKK. Image via Muhsin.guler.
  • Two of the three Turkish soldiers killed in the operation in Gara between Feb 10th and 14th. (via the Turkish ministry of defence).
  • One of the three Turkish soldiers killed in the operation in Gara between Feb 10th and 14th. (via the Turkish ministry of defence).

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

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

YPG forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    YPG forces
  • YPG forces 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
    7 – 13
  • (7–13 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Turkish Armed Forces, YPG forces
  • Suspected target
    Other
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (34) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TS465

Incident date

February 10, 2021

Location

الدشيشة, Al Darisha, Hassakah, Syria

Geolocation

36.648296, 40.282423 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A number of civilians including a 6-year-old child were reported injured in Turkish or pro-Turkey forces shelling on residential areas in Tal Tamr in Hasakah, Syria on February 10th, 2021. @baze_kurd said the child was seriously injured.

The child was identified by local sources as Yazan Mohammad Ali, while one source had a different variation of the name; Rizan Mohammad.

ANHA said the child is originally from Al-Dishisha village. The source reported that “the village of al-Tawila and that of al-Dishisha adjacent to the Aleppo- Hasaka International Highway known as the M4, were shelled by the Turkish Occupation Forces and the affiliated mercenary groups with artillery and mortar shells heavily in which Yezen Mohamed Ali, 6, from the village of Dishisha was injured in addition to some material damage.”

However, althawrah reported from the Syrian News Agency (SANA) that the child was injured in Al-Arisha village, not Al-Dashisha as other sources mentioned.

ASO network said the child was injured when a mortar shell landed and exploded near him while he was grazing sheep, and that he was taken to Al-Shaab hospital in Hasaka with wounds in different parts of his body as Ezdina reported. Afterwards, his condition was described as stable.

Basnews said that Turkey and pro-militants targeted sites of Syrian Democratic Forces in Tal Tamr on the day when the child was injured. Also reported that Turkish shelling on the M4 International road with heavy weapons led to the suspension of traffic on the M4 between the towns of Tal Tamer and Ain Issa.

No further information is available.

The incident occured around midday.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    YPG/SDF

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • Translation: Civilians injured including a child in a Turkish shell attack on the outskirts of Tal Tamr on the outskirts of #Hassaké in #Syrie. ( SANA)
  • Yazan (or Rizan) Mohammad, aged 6, was reported in alleged Turkey shelling on Tal Tamr, Hasaka on Feb 10th, 2021. (via Hawar News).
  • An image shared by Ezdina taken from social media in connection to the incident of alleged Turkey shelling on Dashisha village in Tal Tamr on Fab 10th. It shows damage to a wall as a result of shrapnel.
  • An image shared by Ezdina taken from social media in connection to the incident of alleged Turkey shelling on Dashisha village in Tal Tamr on Fab 10th.

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Al Darisha (الدشيشة), for which the generic coordinates are: 36.648296, 40.282423. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    YPG/SDF

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI055

Incident date

February 2, 2021

Location

شێنێ, Shene, Sulaymaniyah, Iraq

Geolocation

37.092003, 43.486966 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

A woman was injured in alleged Turkish airstrikes on the village of Shene in Halsho sub-district, Sulaymaniyah governorate, on February 2nd, 2021, according to local sources.

NRT English reported that “a 40-year-old civilian woman was wounded when Turkish warplanes bombed the outskirts of the village of Shene in the Raparin administration’s Halsho sub-district late on Tuesday morning (February 2).” The victim was brought to a hospital in Qaladze for treatment. Kurdistan24, however, reported that the victim was a 25-year-old woman from the village.

According to reporter Sabr Adulla, Turkish warplanes targeted the vicinity of the village five times, including targets approximately 400 meters from the village’s center. Locals told NRT that their houses had been damaged in the strikes. According to Roj News, the village was hit seven times.

@EnglishZhyan posted a video of the strikes with the caption: “Video shows moment a Turkish airstrike hits areas nearby civilian houses in the Kurdish village of Shene in Qaladze’s Pshdar area, causing damage to the houses.”

Mayor of the Halsho sub-district Bakir Waysi told Kurdistan24: “The airstrikes targeted the village and its peripheries.” At the time, the civilian casualties and material damages were unknown because authorities were unable to access the village yet.

All sources blamed Turkey for the strikes.

The incident occured in the morning.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

  • Screenshot of a video posted by Kurdistan24 of alleged Turkish airstrikes on Shene, Sulaymaniyah governorate, on February 2nd, 2021 (via @obretix).
  • Photo of alleged Turkish airstrikes on the village of Shene, Sulaymaniyah governorate, on February 2nd, 2021 (via NRT).
  • Photo of alleged Turkish airstrikes on the village of Shene, Sulaymaniyah governorate, on February 2nd, 2021 (via Kurdistan24).

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Shene (شێنێ) being struck. According to research conducted by @obretix, the exact coordinates for this strike are: 37.092003, 43.486966. Cross referencing source material, we can confirm the accuracy of this location.

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TS464

Incident date

January 23, 2021

Location

تل رفعت, Tal Rifa'at, Aleppo, Syria

Geolocation

36.472576, 37.096272 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

City

Airwars assessment

Up to five civilians including a mother and her two children were reported killed, and eleven others injured as a result of a alleged Turkish shelling, or pro-Turkey militants on Tal Rifat town in Aleppo’s northern countryside, Syria on January 23rd, 2021.

The shelling also reportedly caused material damage to the locals houses, the private and public properties and the infrastructure.

Ridaw said “Five-year-old Yasser Sakran and twelve-year-old Ebid al-Mohsen were both killed. The third person who died, Nazliye Mohammed Mustafa, was originally from Afrin, according to Hawar News Agency, an outlet affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).” ANHA reported that the woman is the mother of the two children.

The initial reports spoke about three victims, but then a forth civilian, Saad al-Din al-Qais aged 31, died of his injuries raising death toll.

North Press Agency (NPA) said that the injured civilians were transferred to Afrin Hospital, some of them in critical condition. However, the Rojava Information Centre reported 11 wounded civilians as a result of the attack.

Thousands of IDPs from Tal Rafa’at, Afrin and Alshahba joined the funeral of the victims.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (5)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4
  • (2 children1 woman1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    7–11
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    YPG/SDF

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (24) [ collapse]

  • Funeral of four or five civilians killed by alleged Turkey shelling on Tal Rifa'at on January 23rd, 2021 (via @BehnamZarei21)
  • Funeral of four or five civilians killed by alleged Turkey shelling on Tal Rifa'at on January 23rd, 2021 (via @BehnamZarei21)
  • Funeral of four or five civilians killed by alleged Turkey shelling on Tal Rifa'at on January 23rd, 2021 (via @BehnamZarei21)
  • Funeral of four or five civilians killed by alleged Turkey shelling on Tal Rifa'at on January 23rd, 2021 (via @BehnamZarei21)
  • Funeral of four or five civilians killed by alleged Turkey shelling on Tal Rifa'at on January 23rd, 2021 (via NPA)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the mother and two children killed in alleged Turkish shelling on Tal Rifa'at on January 23rd, 2021. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the mother and two children killed in alleged Turkish shelling on Tal Rifa'at on January 23rd, 2021. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)
  • Images of the funeral of four or five civilians killed by Turkish shelling in Tal Rifa'at on Jan 23rd, attended by thousands of IDPs. (via SOHR)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the city of Tal Rifa’at (تل رفعت), for which the generic coordinates are: 36.472576, 37.096272. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4
  • (2 children1 woman1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    7–11
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    YPG/SDF

Sources (17) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TS463

Incident date

January 22, 2021

Location

Memitê, Aleppo, Syria

Geolocation

36.870053, 38.330378 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

A number of civilians were injured as a result of alleged Turkish drone attack on a house in Memitê neighborhood in Kobanê on January 22nd, 2021, according to local sources.

One of the wounded is a 37 year old man who was injured with shrapnel and moved to hospital. His situation later was described as ‘stable’ by medical sources, but no information available about the others.

@NotWoofers tweeted “A Turkish drone bombed a house on the road to Memitê near Kobanê in what appears to be an attempted assassination.”, but it is unclear who was targeted with the attack.

The attack also caused material damage to the house.

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
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (25) [ collapse]

  • Location of an alleged Turkish drone attack on the Memitê neighborhood in Kobanê that led to injuries among civilians. (via @TheMENATimes)
  • A Turkish drone allegedly hit a house in Kobanî on Jan 22nd, 2021 (via @RojavaNetwork)
  • A Turkish drone allegedly hit a house in Kobanî on Jan 22nd, 2021 (via @RojavaNetwork)
  • Aftermath of an alleged Turkish drone attack on a civilian house in Kobane. (via @LebanonaME).
  • Aftermath of an alleged Turkish drone attack on a civilian house in Kobane. (via @LebanonaME).
  • Wounded civilians in hospital after alleged Turkish drone attack on a civilian house in Memitê's Neighborhood in Kobani. (via @Rojava_Media)
  • Wounded civilians in hospital after alleged Turkish drone attack on a civilian house in Memitê's Neighborhood in Kobani. (via @Rojava_Media)
  • Damage caused by an alleged Turkish drone attack on a civilian house in Kobane on Jan 22nd, 2021. (via@neccamc1).
  • Damage caused by an alleged Turkish drone attack on a civilian house in Kobane on Jan 22nd, 2021. (via@neccamc1).
  • The damage caused allegedly by a Turkish drone attack on Kobane on Jan 22nd, 2021. (via SOHR).
  • The damage caused allegedly by a Turkish drone attack on Kobane on Jan 22nd, 2021. (via SOHR).
  • The damage caused allegedly by a Turkish drone attack on Kobane on Jan 22nd, 2021. (via SOHR).
  • The damage caused allegedly by a Turkish drone attack on Kobane on Jan 22nd, 2021. (via SOHR).
  • The damage caused allegedly by a Turkish drone attack on Kobane on Jan 22nd, 2021. (via SOHR).
  • The damage caused allegedly by a Turkish drone attack on Kobane on Jan 22nd, 2021. (via SOHR).
  • The damage caused allegedly by a Turkish drone attack on Kobane on Jan 22nd, 2021. (via SOHR).

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the Memitê neighbourhood being struck, south of Kobanî. A possible exact location for this strike, that matches some but not all features from available audio-visual material, is at these coordinates: 36.870053, 38.330378. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Reports of the incident mention the Memitê neighbourhood being struck, south of Kobanî.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1–2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI054

Incident date

January 22, 2021

Location

العمادية, Amadiya, Dohuk, Iraq

Geolocation

37.092003, 43.486966 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Three civilians were injured when alleged Turkish airstrikes struck an alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) vehicle in Amadiya district in Dohuk governorate in the afternoon of January 22nd, 2021, according to local sources.

Director of Jumanki Aland Amir told the Iraqi News Agency (INA) that “the Turkish airstrikes targeted the outskirts of the village (Kari) of the Jumanki district in Amadiya district of Dohuk governorate,” indicating that “3 civilians were lightly injured.” The strikes reportedly damaged the homes of the wounded.

The director added that PKK sites in the Kashan area of Batifa district in the Zakho district were also bombed by Turkish warplanes.

Aland Amir revealed more details of the strikes to the Esta Media Network, stating that the “Turkish warplanes bombed a vehicle belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) near Gre village in the sub-district at 02:00 p.m. on Friday.” According to Amir, “three civilians whose house were close to the place of the airstrike were wounded.”

Security sources told 7al that the strikes targeted PKK areas and resulted in the injury of three civilians and damage to residential homes.

@Rawan_12313 posted a video of the strikes with the caption: “Three civilians were injured in Turkish bombing of Amadiya district in Dohuk.”

All sources blamed Turkey for the strikes.

The incident occured at approximately 2:00 pm local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Translation: “Three civilians were injured in Turkish bombing of Amadiyah district in Dohuk” (via @Rawan_12313).

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the vicinity of Amadiya (العمادية), for which the generic coordinates are: 37.092003, 43.486966. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Other

Sources (8) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TS462

Incident date

January 3, 2021

Location

عين عيسى, Ain Issa, Raqqa, Syria

Geolocation

36.387671, 38.863106 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Two civilians from the same family were reported injured in alleged Turkish shelling on Ain Issa on January 3rd, 2021 according to local sources. @eyeonhasaka said that the shelling targeted the southern neighborhood of Ain Issa and led to a displacement movement of the area’s residents towards the city.

@Rojava_Media said that a mother and her son were injured in the attack, and while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that a woman and a child were injured, some local sources said the son’s age is 23 years old.

ANF said that the shelling targeted the 93rd Division of the Syrian government.

Ainissa_plus claimed that a house that was being used by QSD as a rockets launcher was targeted, leading to the injury of the woman and her son. It was also reported that three QSD fighters were injured in this shelling.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    YPG/SDF
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (7) [ collapse]

  • A civilian injured in alleged Turkish shelling on Ain Issa on January 3rd, 2021 (via ANF).
  • A civilian injured in alleged Turkish shelling on Ain Issa on January 3rd, 2021 (via ANF).
  • A civilian injured in alleged Turkish shelling on Ain Issa on January 3rd, 2021 (via ANF).
  • A civilian injured in alleged Turkish shelling on Ain Issa on January 3rd, 2021 (via ANF).
  • A civilian injured in alleged Turkish shelling on Ain Issa on January 3rd, 2021 (via ANF).

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the town of Ain Issa (عين عيسى) and its surroundings, for which the generic coordinates are; 36.387671, 38.863106. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    YPG/SDF
  • Belligerents reported injured
    3

Sources (12) [ collapse]