Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CS019

Incident date

November 6, 2014

Location

حارم, Harim, Idlib, Syria

Geolocation

36.21003, 36.51826 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Within 100m (via Coalition) level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Six months after US air raids had targeted the Khorasan Group (part of the al-Nusra Front) and the militant group Ahrar al-Sham, the Coalition conceded that two children had “likely” died in the attack – the first public concession of any civilian deaths after 4,000 airstrikes against ISIS over nine months.

The November 5th US-only raid targeted the villages of Harem, Bab Al Hawa, Sarmada, Reef Al-Muhameen and Binsh.

Reports from the night remain confused, with civilian deaths claimed at a number of locations. Reuters carried a statement from Ahrar al-Sham saying that “The air strikes came last night and hit a number of areas in the liberated Idlib countryside,” and that casualties included “women and children and civilians.”

The site of the civilian deaths was Harem, CENTCOM later confirmed. It also accepted that two civilian NGO workers were  injured in the attack. According to the Syrian Revolution Forum blog: “The planes of the Arab/Western coalition launched air strikes on Syrian cities adjacent to the Turkish border. The centre of the town of Harem was targeted with more than six raids causing the death of four children and causing massive destruction to residential and commercial property on Al Sijn street.”

One of the children was identified as a five year old girl,  whose father Ali Saeed Al Haj Qaddour – a fighter with the al-Nusra Front – also died in the attack (both pictured below.) Daniya’s mother and brother Saeed were reported to have been severely wounded. A second unidentified female child victim was shown alongside the body of Daniya in several graphic videos and photographs taken after the US bombing.

VDC additionally reported the deaths of three or four unidentified male children in the Coalition attack – though gave no further details.

In July 2019, the Coalition provided Airwars with the geolocation of the event, accurate to a 100m box.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Child female daughter of Ali Saeed Al Haj Qaddour, a fighter with Al Nusra Front killed

Geolocation notes

Prior to the Coalition releasing the MGRS for this incident, Airwars had geolocated it to the nearest village at 36.212564, 36.519736

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 6
  • (2–6 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition

Sources (18) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (16) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Video showing the two girls killed in the strike, included in the SNHR report.
  • Video purporting to show fires resulting from the Coalition bombing on Sarmada on 5/11/2014. Published by ShaamNetwork S.N.N.
  • Video purporting to show fires resulting from the coalition bombing on Sarmada on 5/11/2014. Published by ShaamNetwork S.N.N.
  • Video purporting to show fire crews attempting to put out the fires resulting from the coalition bombing on Sarmada on 5/11/2014. Published by ShaamNetwork S.N.N.
  • Video purporting to show extensive destruction in civilian homes in Harem.
  • Video purporting to show extensive destruction in Harem following coalition strikes. This video was included in a Syrian Network for Human Rights report.
  • Video showing extensive destruction after the alleged strike.
  • Video footage shows civil defense teams in Al-Atarem area trying to find any victims underneath the rubbles in Harem city.
  • Huge signs of destruction reportedly caused by the international alliance’s shelling against Harem.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    5-year-old Daniya Ali Al-Haj Qaddour (via SNHR)
  • Daniya Ali Al-Haj Qaddour with her father, an Al-Nusra fighter who was also allegedly killed in the strike (via SNHR)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Unidentified girl allegedly kileld in the strikes (via SNHR)
  • Aftermath of the strike (via SNHR)
  • Aftermath of the strike (via SNHR)
  • Aftermath of the strike (via SNHR)
  • Aftermath of the strike (via SNHR)
CJTF–OIR Declassified Assessment and Press Release

Attached to this civilian harm incident is a provisional reconciliation of the Pentagon's declassified assessment of this civilian harm allegation, based on matching date and locational information.

The declassified documents were obtained by Azmat Khan and the New York Times through Freedom of Information requests and lawsuits filed since March 2017, and are included alongside the corresponding press release published by the Pentagon. Airwars is currently analysing the contents of each file, and will update our own assessments accordingly.

Declassified Assessment Press Release

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Credible / Substantiated
    The investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties regrettably occurred.
  • Given reason for civilian harm
    Killed by strike blast
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    2
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    2
  • Stated location
    Harem, Syria
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SBA769101
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • May 21, 2015
  • The preponderance of the evidence in the investigation indicates the airstrikes conducted against facilities used by Khorasan Group in the vicinity of Harim City, Syria, likely led to the deaths of two non-combatant children. From May declassified file: "CCWEBOPS received social media reports that civilians were killed or injured during a strike on a named objective in Syria. // TF nominated the target. SNHR report on CIVCAS. CFACC initially assessed that there was insufficient information to conclude whether the alleged CIVCAS allegations are credible. CFACC was unable to assess whether civilians were co-located with the targeted KG NAIs. After additional information was received, CJTF was tasked with conducing an additional credibility assessment based on the new information. 12/31/2014 JTF assessed this allegation that a child was killed during the strike as potentially credible. Investigation appointed 8 Jan 15 with a suspense of 22 Jan 2015"

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

CENTCOM originally confirmed US strikes in the vicinity, though denied causing any civilian deaths: “U.S. military forces conducted airstrikes last night against five Khorasan Group targets in the vicinity of Sarmada, Syria, using bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely. We are still assessing the outcome of the attack, but have initial indications that it resulted in the intended effects by striking terrorists and destroying or severely damaging several Khorasan Group vehicles and buildings assessed to be meeting and staging areas, IED-making facilities and training facilities. These strikes were undertaken only by U.S. assets.“

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 6
  • (2–6 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition

Sources (18) [ collapse]

Incident Code

Lib2011-111

Incident date

June 19, 2011

Location

بيت علي مخر الغراري, House of Ali Mukhar Al Gharari, Tarabulus, Libya

Geolocation

32.881658, 13.291822 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

Between five and nine civilians were reported killed in a NATO airstrike on Tripoli. NATO later acknowledged likely causing civilian harm in the event.

Amnesty gave a detailed account of the incident in its Libya investigation: “On 19 June 2011 at about 1.30 am the home of Mukhtar al-Gharari, located in a densely built-up area of the Souq al-Juma’a district of Tripoli, was struck, killing five family members and injuring eight others. Those killed are Mukhtar al-Gharari’s 48-year-old son Faraj; his 38-year-old daughter Karima; her 44-year-old husband ‘Abdallah Nimr Shihab; and their two children, Jomana and Khaled, aged two years and seven months respectively.

“Surviving members of the family told Amnesty International that 18 family members were sleeping in the house at the time of the attack and that those who were killed had been sleeping on the upper floor. In a letter to the UN International Commission of Inquiry on Libya (ICIL) of 23 January 2012, NATO referred to the above incident and acknowledged the possibility that ‘an errant weapon had caused such casualties.'”

Human Rights Watch also published a detailed investigation: “At around 1:15 a.m. on June 19, 2011, a NATO air strike hit the three-story home of the al-Gherari family, in a residential neighborhood of Souk al-Juma, one of Tripoli’s larger districts. The attack killed five people, according to witnesses and family members interviewed by Human Rights Watch, who provided photographs of the victims, as well as one death certificate and three burial permissions. At least eight people were also wounded, the family said.

Human Rights Watch visited the site in August and December of 2011 and did not see any evidence of military activity such as weapons, ammunition, or communications equipment which might have indicated the building was a legitimate military target, although such evidence could have been removed. The family and neighbors all said that no Gaddafi forces were operating from the area at the time of the attack.”

The BBC reported that “Libya has accused Nato of killing at least five people in an airstrike that hit a house in the capital Tripoli.”

The Straits Times posted on Twitter: “Nato says it ‘regrets’ its 1st civilian casualties in Libya after botched airstrike that killed 9, including 2 toddlers.”

According to CBS News, “Libya’s government said NATO warplanes struck a residential neighborhood in the capital Sunday and killed nine civilians, including two children, adding to its accusations that the alliance is striking nonmilitary targets.”

A video piece by BBC Arabic later said nine civilians were killed and 18 injured. And Al Jamal reported members of a Syrian family had been killed.

In August 2011, NATO conceded that it had likely harmed civilians in the attack, noting that: “The Tarabulus SA-2 Support Facility was an active military storage and support site directly supporting regime forces in the region with military equipment as well as efforts to reconstitute air defence capabilities throughout Libya. It was struck on three separate occasions, targeting at least ten separate buildings and bunkers. During the 19 June target engagement in question, the targeted structures were positively identified and two precision-guided weapons were dropped.

“The second of these two weapons appears to have malfunctioned due to laser guidance problems, its impact was not observed and NATO was not able to determine where it in fact landed. After reviewing the case, it was concluded that it was possible that the errant weapon had caused such casualties. A public statement was made at the time by the OUP commander acknowledging this possibility and expressing regret for any casualties that may have resulted. This incident is under further assessment.”

Airwars later contacted Mohammed Al-Gharari for an investigation: “In desperation, he eventually traveled to Brussels, home to NATO headquarters. He paid a Belgian lawyer thousands of euros in a futile attempt to find out what the alliance knew about his family’s tragedy—including which nation had killed them. The money is long gone, but that information remains classified. Yet as Weighill noted, the nation that conducted the strike which killed Gharari’s family had internally admitted, almost immediately, that the operation ‘didn’t go well.'”

The incident occured between 1:15 am and 1:30 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (12)

Faraj al-Gharari
48 years old male Son of Mukhtar al-Gharari killed
Karima al-Gharari
38 years old female Daughter of Mukhtar al-Gharari
Abdallah Nimr Shihab
44 years old male Husband of Karima al-Gharari killed
Jomana
2 years old female Grandchild of Son of Mukhtar al-Gharari killed
Khaled
1 years old male Grandchild of Son of Mukhtar al-Gharari killed
Mohammed Ali Al Ghrari
35 years old male injured
Amer Ali Al Ghrari
37 years old male injured
Mohammed Salem Al Ghrari
Adult male Husband of Kareema injured
Fatima Ali Al Turki
0 years old female injured
Sou’ad Ali Al Ghrari
0 years old female injured
Latifa Al Hadi Al Habashi
45 years old female injured
Zaytouna Mouhtar Karkam
42 years old female injured

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the house of Ali Mukhar Al Gharari (علي مخر الغراري) being struck, within the neighbourhood of Souq Al Juma ( سوق الجمعة ), the exact location of which has been published by Human Rights Watch. The coordinates are: 32.881658, 13.291822.

  • Reports of the incident mention the house of Ali Mukhar Al Gharari (علي مخر الغراري) being struck, within the neighbourhood of Souq Al Juma ( سوق الجمعة ), the exact location of which has been published by Human Rights Watch.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 9
  • (2 children1 woman2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    18
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    NATO forces
  • Known targets
    Gaddafi forces, Other

Sources (26) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (6) [ collapse]

  • BBC Arabic report on the incident
  • Mukhtar al-Gharari shows his home that was allegedly destroyed by a NATO airstrike on une 19th, 2011 (via Amnesty International)
  • Home allegedly destroyed by a NATO airstrike on une 19th, 2011 (via Amnesty International)
  • Home allegedly destroyed by a NATO airstrike on une 19th, 2011 (via Amnesty International)
  • Home allegedly destroyed by a NATO airstrike on une 19th, 2011 (via Mustafa Al Fetouri)

NATO forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    NATO forces
  • NATO forces position on incident
    Credible / Substantiated
    The investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties regrettably occurred.
  • Given reason for civilian harm
    Other
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

NATO forces
  • Aug 3, 2011
  • The Tarabulus SA-2 Support Facility was an active military storage and support site directly supporting regime forces in the region with military equipment as well as efforts to reconstitute air defence capabilities throughout Libya. It was struck on three separate occasions, targeting at least ten separate buildings and bunkers. During the 19 June target engagement in question, the targeted structures were positively identified and two precision-guided weapons were dropped. The second of these two weapons appears to have malfunctioned due to laser guidance problems, its impact was not observed and NATO was not able to determine where it in fact landed. After reviewing the case, it was concluded that it was possible that the errant weapon had caused such casualties. A public statement was made at the time by the OUP commander acknowledging this possibility and expressing regret for any casualties that may have resulted. This incident is under further assessment.

Original strike reports

NATO forces

In the vicinity of Tripoli: 1 Military Vehicle Storage Facility, 2 Surface-To-Air Missile Guidance Radars.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5 – 9
  • (2 children1 woman2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    18
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    NATO forces
  • Known targets
    Gaddafi forces, Other

Sources (26) [ collapse]