Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

TS319

Incident date

October 12, 2019

Location

تروازية checkpoint, Tirwaziya checkpoint, Raqqa, Syria

Geolocation

36.460242, 39.593628 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

Three civilians including a female politician, The Secretary General of the Future Syria Party, Hevrin Khalaf, were “executed” when the convoy they were travelling in was reportedly ambushed by “Turkish backed mercenary factions” on the road between Jazeera canton and Ain Issa, multiple sources said. Hervin Khalaf’s driver Farhad Ramadan was also believed to be killed in the attack.

@IndivisibleNet said that Hevrin Khalaf was “raped” and then “stoned” to death, but the official autopsy report did not mention any signs of rape.

Amnesty International collected witness testimonies, verified video footage and reviewed a medical report to conclude that Khalaf was “was ambushed on 12 October on the international highway linking Raqqa to Qamishli. She was dragged out of her car, beaten and shot dead in cold blood by fighters from Ahrar al-Sharqiya. They also summarily killed her bodyguard”.

Kurdistan 24 reported: “Yenisafak, a Turkish newspaper close to the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the Saturday killing of Syrian Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf and hailed it as a success in Ankara’s ongoing invasion of northern Syria after US President Donald Trump ordered American troops out. Khalaf, 35, the General Secretary of Syria Future Party, was executed on the spot by the SNA militants, according to a statement her party released.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added that it had “documented the death of a female party official accompanied by two civilians. They were shot dead by the Turkey loyal factions in Qameshly – al-Raqqah road as they were travelling in civilian cars to join the ‘Human Shields Tent’ sit-in in Tal Abyad city”.

@IndivisibleNet claimed that Hevrin Khalaf had  “been raped then then stoned to death by Turkey backed Jihadists during Turkey’s ethnic cleansing operation against Kurds in Syria”.

NRT provided more detail on the victim: “The Secretary General of the Future Syria Party Hevrin Khalaf was killed on Saturday morning (October 12) after several gunmen backed by Turkey shot her and her driver on the main highway between Qamishli and Manbij.

“This is clear evidence that the Turkish state is continuing its criminal policy towards unarmed civilians,” a statement from the Syrian Democratic Council said. Hevrin Khalaf was born in 1984 in Al-Malikiyah town, also known as Derik, and became a graduate from the Faculty of Civil Engineering in 2009. She recently founded the Future Syria Party, which promoted democracy, pluralism, and decentralism.”

Hawarnews described Hevrin Khalaf as “a role model for society in the most difficult times”.

ANF published footage, stating: “In the footage our agency ANF has received it could be see how the mercenaries from Ceyş El Vatani try to destroy the bodies of their victim. The car is that of Hevrin Khalaf.”

BBC news Arabic conducted an investigation into the incident that was published as a video by BBC News on January 13th, 2020. The investigation found out that a convoy that belongs to Ahrar Al Sharqiya, a faction of the Syrian National Army supported by Turkey, crossed from Turkey to Syria on the morning of that day. They took over a checkpoint on the motorway between Hasakah and Manbej. A video of them at the checkpoint show them arresting people and executing one person. Through satellite images, the investigators were able to identify the features of the area and locate the videos to be on the M4 Highway, which Hevrin Khalaf was passing through to get to a meeting from Hassaka to Raqqa, her party’s headquarters.The checkpoint that Ahrar Al Sharqiya took over was identified as Tirwaziya checkpoint.

The investigation said that Hevrin Khalaf’s car was approaching towards the same checkpoint, on which people were being executed. The car was shot at, blowing out its tyres. The investigation geo-located the car’s near the checkpoint. Ahrar Al Sharqiya confirmed to BBC that few of their members were on Tirwaziya checkpoint on that day and that they opened fire at a car that didn’t stop, and claimed they didn’t target Hevrin specifically and did’t know who was killed.

The investigation believes that when the car stopped, SNA members approached the car, the driver’s body is on the floor and Hevrin is still inside the car alive, and she was able to identify herself to the fighters. Also, most of her car windows are bulletproof and were intact.

A farmer which BBC spoke to as a witness said the fighters left the area around 07:30 am on that day leaving behind bodies of those killed. He first saw Hevrin’s body, and her face was disfigured, with her leg badly damaged and probably broken.

The farmer said he found nine bodies on the Tirwaziya checkpoint and said people wouldn’t help in moving the bodies fearing they might face the same fate.

At 12 pm, the bodies of Hevrin and three other people were moved to the Malikiya Military Hospital. The medical report states that Hevrin was shot more than 20 times, both legs were broken and she was subject to severe physical assault.

The investigation concludes that the above-mentioned “Hevrin was dragged from the car alive, physically attacked and executed outside the car by Ahrar Al Sharqiya fighters.”

In a statement, Ahrar Al Sharqiya told BBC those who executed Hevrin Khalaf did so without permission and that they have been sent to trial.

 

The incident occured in the morning.

  • Hevrin Khalaf 35 years old male The Secretary General of the Future Syria Party killed
  • Farhad Ramadan Adult male Hervin's driver killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (1 woman2 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, Free Syrian Army

Sources (16) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (9) [ collapse]

  • Hevrin Khalaf, 35, the General Secretary of Syria Future Party, reportedly "execuedt" by Tirkish-backed mercenaries on Oct 12th (via 35, the General Secretary of Syria Future Party)
  • The abandoned car in which Herwin Khalaf and two other civilians were reportedly killed by Turkey-bcaked mercenaries, oct 12th (via NRT)
  • The abandoned car in which Herwin Khalaf and two other civilians were reportedly killed by Turkey-bcaked mercenaries, oct 12th (via @TurkeyUntold)
  • The abandoned car in which Herwin Khalaf and two other civilians were reportedly killed by Turkey-bcaked mercenaries, oct 12th (via @TurkeyUntold)
  • The abandoned car in which Herwin Khalaf and two other civilians were reportedly killed by Turkey-bcaked mercenaries, oct 12th (via @TurkeyUntold)
  • Footage by ANF. The new outlet said: "In the footage our agency ANF has received it could be see how the mercenaries from Ceyş El Vatani try to destroy the bodies of their victim. The car is that of Hevrin Khalaf." (via ANF)
  • Autopsy report of the body of Hevrin Khalaf, who was executed by alleged "Turkish backed mercenary factions" on the highway linking Raqqa to Qamishli on October 12th, 2019 (via @rcallimachi).
  • Autopsy report of the body of Hevrin Khalaf, who was executed by alleged "Turkish backed mercenary factions" on the highway linking Raqqa to Qamishli on October 12th, 2019 (via @rcallimachi).
  • UN Commission of inquiry on Syria. September 2020.

Geolocation notes (3) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the Tirwaziya (تروازية) checkpoint, located on the M4 highway between Raqqa (الرقة) and Hassakah (الحسكة). Extensive research by Newsy & Bellingcat, and the BBC, show this location to be at these coordinates are:  36.460242, 39.593628.

  • Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Imagery:
    BBC

  • Imagery:
    Newsy & Bellingcat

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Free Syrian Army Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Free Syrian Army
  • Free Syrian Army position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (1 woman2 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, Free Syrian Army

Sources (16) [ collapse]