At least 10 and as many as 60 civilians were reported killed by the US-led Coalition after a strike or strikes hit the Ammar bin Yasser mosque in Al Boubadran village near al Soussa. The event may have been confused in some media and social media reports to one or two additional nearby civilian harm events over a 30 hour period. In October 2020, the Coalition itself classed the incident as a duplicate report.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported at the time that the strike occurred “at around 12:00, during the Friday Prayer”.
According to most other reports the strike took place around noon – although Eldorar and Baladi News claimed that worshippers leaving an evening prayer service were struck. Other reports confused this strike and associated imagery with an event on October 19th at another mosque in al Soussa (see below.)
An ISIS propaganda video showed multiple male corpses among the rubble of the entirely destroyed mosque, along with at least one dead child. An eyewitness in the film stated: “They knew that this place is a place to spread religion, the guys were here to learn but they wanted them to oppose their religion, the Coalition cannot face our brothers in the front lines, so they destroy mosques, this mosque I saw it I was an eye witness.”
Deir Ezzor Radio said that “at least 30 civilians died including two children” in the mosque strike. Zaman al Wasl instead said the toll was 15 including women and children, noting that “the civilians are 6 Syrians and 9 members of displaced Iraqi families.”
Bukamal Live named a victim as Diaa Latouf Al Dibs from Abu Kamal. Euphrates Post named the same victim as Mohammed Dia’a Abdul Latif al-Dabbas – while a footnote to that story asserted that 38 civilians in total had died in the attack. Euphrates Post itself placed the toll at 10 however – while noting two other major civilian harm events in the near vicinity. Sana News (the official Syrian state media outlet) also placed the civilian toll at 10.
A Reuters report indicated that the Coalition had deliberately struck the mosque believing it to be an ISIS command and control centre. ‘The U.S.-led coalition said it destroyed a mosque which Islamic State fighters had turned into a headquarters in al-Sousa to defend their last territory. The strike on Thursday killed 12 militants, disabling a command center they had used to attack coalition forces and their allies, it said. “Such Daesh misuse of the mosque is another example of their violation of the law of war and made the mosque a valid military target,” spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan said, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. The coalition monitored the facility to know when only fighters were present, and it investigates “all credible allegations of civilian casualties”, he said in an emailed statement in response to questions from Reuters.”
The Syrian Observatory initially placed the toll for this and the previous event at al Soussa on October 18th at 24 civilian fatalities, noting that “the number of martyrs is still increasing due to some wounded being in a serious condition, and the presence of missing persons.” On October 22nd the Observatory lowered its estimate to 18 killed on both events, along with 11 ISIS fighters: “18 Iraqi citizens of the families of Daesh including 7 children and 4 women, were killed in the bombardment which targeted a mosque and a house in Al-Susah town, on 18th October 2018.”
Madar News, citing a local activist, said 43 people died in the two October 18th events. Marsad al Hassakah placed the toll for the two events lower, reporting that “Eighteen Iraqi civilians, including seven children and four citizens, were martyred in the air bombardment of a mosque and an adjacent house.”
According to reports, multiple Coalition airstrikes targeted the ISIS-occupied town of al Soussa between Thursday October 17th and Friday October 18th causing mass casualties. As well as the Ammar bin Yasser mosque which was struck at noon on the Thursday along with the home of Mohammed al-Obeid al-Hattab earlier that same morning (event S ), the Othman mosque was also reported hit the following day at Friday prayers (event S ). Deir Ezzor Radio said that overall, 60 to 70 civilians including 10 children died in the three Coalition strikes on the town. Sana News placed the overall death count at 62.
The Syrian Observatory placed the toll for the three events at 47 civilians and 9 ISIS fighters killed. Al Jazeera said approximately 65 civilians were killed with dozens injured in the three events.
In its civilian casualty report for October 2020, the US-led Coalition said that this review was a ‘duplicate’ of a previous assessment of the same incident: “1. Oct. 18, 2018, in Al Soussa, Syria, via Airwars report. The Coalition actions identified in this allegation is a duplicate of allegation 2620 (Not Credible, published January 31, 2019). 3206/CS1812 37SFU796242”
The incident occured around midday.
- Mohammed Dia’a Abdul Latif al-Dabbas Age unknown male Bukamal Live named a victim as Diaa Latouf Al Dibs killed
Sources (42) [ collapse]
US-led Coalition Assessment:
Civilian casualty statements
Oct 29, 2020
1. Oct. 18, 2018, in Al Soussa, Syria, via Airwars report. The Coalition actions identified in this allegation is a duplicate of allegation 2620 (Not Credible, published January 31, 2019). 3206/CS1812 37SFU796242
Original strike reports
The Coalition publicly reported the following at the time: "On Oct. 18 in Syria, coalition military forces conducted 10 strikes consisting of 14 engagements against ISIS targets. Near Abu Kamal and Hajin, 10 strikes engaged 29 tactical units, and destroyed two command and control centers, one IED facility, one vehicle-borne IED facility, one mortar team headquarters, one building and two staging areas."
For Oct 17th-24th, Dutch MoD reports that Dutch F-16s supported ground troops during nine missions. Weapons were deployed in six of these missions – against ISIS fighters and vehicles near Abu Kamal, Deir Ezzor.
Midden-Oosten In de strijd tegen terreurorganisatie ISIS ondersteunden Nederlandse F-16’s grondtroepen tijdens 9 missies. Bij 6 zijn wapens ingezet tegen ISIS-strijders en voertuigen. Dat gebeurde in de provincie Deir al Zour, in de omgeving van Abu Kamal.
France report that between Oct 17th-23rd, the three CAESAR guns of Task Force Wagram conducted 17 firing missions, from Iraqi territory. Aircraft carried out 18 sorties and conducted eight strikes north of Abu Kamal in Syria.
'OPÉRATION CHAMMAL SITUATION MILITAIRE DU THEATRE Offensive contre les dernières poches de Daech en Syrie L’opération pour reprendre la poche d’Hajine dans la moyenne vallée de l’Euphrate, lancée le 10 septembre, se poursuit. Poursuite des actions de sécurisation en Irak En Irak, les opérations de sécurisation des forces de sécurité irakiennes (FSI) se poursuivent sans évènement particulier relevé cette semaine. ACTIVITE DE LA FORCE Le dispositif français déployé au Levant n’a pas évolué en volume. La Task Force Wagram en appui de l’offensive contre les dernières poches de Daech présentes dans la vallée de l’Euphrate. La Task Force Wagram appuie l’offensive des forces démocratiques syriennes contre Daech dans la région d’Hajine. Les trois canons CAESAR ont ainsi réalisé, depuis le territoire irakien, 17 missions de tir (éclairement, harcèlement, destruction – bilan du 17 au 23 octobre inclus). Depuis le début de son engagement, la Task Force Wagram a réalisé 1992 missions de tirs. Les bases aériennes en Jordanie et aux EAU en appui des opérations. Au sein de la coalition, les aéronefs français basés en Jordanie et aux Émirats arabes unis poursuivent leurs actions contre Daech. Cette semaine, les aéronefs de l’opération Chammal ont réalisé 18 sorties aériennes (bilan du 17 au 23 octobre inclus) et conduit 8 frappes, en appui des FDS au nord d’Abou Kamal en Syrie. Bilan total de l’action du pilier appui aérien depuis le 19/09/14 : 8582 sorties / 1472 frappes / 2271 objectifs neutralises.'