Russian Military in Syria

A Russian combat aircraft at Khmeimim airbase in Syria being prepared for action. (Russian Ministry of Defence)

Belligerent
Russian military
Country
Syria
start date
end date
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment

Incident Code

R3377

Incident date

February 15, 2019

Location

خان شيخون, Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, Syria

Airwars assessment

In what has been described my local media as a massacre, between eight and 14 civilians were killed, including women and children, and “dozens” were injured, following artillery strikes on the residential neighbourhood of Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib.

Most of the local media alleged that the Syrian regime were to blame for the strikes, however some sources did attribute blame to Russia. Smart News was among those who blamed Russian missiles. Hamah Now simply reported “army shelling”, however almost all sources did attribute blame to a belligerent.

According to sources, such as Baladi News, the Syrian regime forces were “stationed in the village of Abu Dali” which is where they shelled the city of Khan Sheikhoun with artillery and missile shells. Similarly, the Syrian Civil Defence stated that the artillery shelling came from the camp “Kubibat Abu Huda” and “Qabria” in the countryside of Hama, where the regime forces were based.

Multiple news sources including El dorar News, attributed the blame to the Syrian regime who were reportedly supported by the The Egyptian army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in the artillery strikes. As a “the main supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad”, the Egyptian army, “took part in the massacre of Khan Sheikhan in the village of Idlib on Friday.” Additionally another media outlet published an image showing remnants of a shell which had “made in Egypt” stamped on it.

The death toll was as high as eight or nine civilians from the first reports, however many sources claimed that the toll was likely to rise due to the severity of the injures. Despite this, as many as 14 named victims were published via various sources, 20 overall including the injured. However, it was not made clear through the reports whether or not the other names were civilians who were killed or injured.

@abuhuzaifa_ reported that three women and five children were killed in the artillery shelling. However, other reports placed the numbers as high as six children and four women. 

Additionally, an image of a civilian being burned alive was published alongside a photograph of a child. According to sources, the victim was that child who was burned by the artillery ammunition whist riding his bike. His sister was also reportedly killed in the bombardement.

SyriaCivilDefense posted that “10 rocket shells were fired by regime forces”, and that many of the wounded were transferred to a hospital in the aftermath.  They later posted there were as many as “25 rocket-propelled grenades” also fired into the vicinity. 

Cluster bombs were reportedly used by JisirTV.

Additional detail was published by …. who staged “Assad forces targeted the city of Khan Sheikhoun south of Idlib last night, with more than 50 high-explosive rockets, killing civilians and injuring 15 others, and activists said that among the dead [there were] four people with special needs.”

Two of the civilians with “special needs” were reportedly children.

The heavy shelling left extensive damage to civilian property due to the residential nature of the vicinity.

As many as 18 civilians were killed over 24 hours in the area, according to France24.

The incident occured at 3:30 pm local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

Summary

  • Civilians reported killed
    8 – 14
  • (5–6 children2–4 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    12–24
  • Airwars grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected belligerents
    Russian Armed Forces, Syrian Regime Armed Forces

Sources (50) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (19) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    The exact moment artillery was fired on Khan Sheikhoun, and its aftermath showing victims being pulled from the rubble. 15th February 2019. (via Syrian Civil Defence)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    A father grieves over his son who was killed in an artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via Kafr zeita)
  • A news bulletin reporting on the artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via Al Jazeera)
  • A news bulletin reporting on the artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via TRTArabi)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Mohammad Razzouq al Qadah, burning alive in the aftermath of an artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via @abuhuzaifa_)
  • Mohammad Razzouq al Qadah, who was burned alive in the aftermath of an artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via @abuhuzaifa_)
  • Rescue operations in the aftermath of an artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via SyriaCivilDefense)
  • Rescue operations in the aftermath of an artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via SyriaCivilDefense)
  • Rescue operations in the aftermath of an artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via SyriaCivilDefense)
  • Rescue operations in the aftermath of an artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via SyriaCivilDefense)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Rescue operations in the aftermath of an artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via SyriaCivilDefense)
  • Rescue operations in the aftermath of an artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via SyriaCivilDefense)
  • An artillery bombardement on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via Kafr zeita)
  • Rescue operations in the aftermath of an artillery strike on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via @Wesal_TV)
  • The aftermath of an artillery bombardement on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via @basharaldiab71)
  • The aftermath of an artillery bombardement on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via @basharaldiab71)
  • An artillery bombardement on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via @DirarKhattab )
  • An injured woman in the aftermath of an artillery bombardement on Khan Sheikhoun, 15th February 2019. (via Albawaba)
  • Remnants of a shell fired onto Khan Sheikhoun, 16th February 2019. Writing reads, "made in Egypt". (via Al Sharq News)

Russian Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

Russian Armed Forces

Russia has not reported any strikes between February 1st – 31st 2019.

Syrian Regime Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Syrian Regime Armed Forces
  • Syrian Regime Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Civilians reported killed
    8 – 14
  • (5–6 children2–4 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    12–24
  • Airwars grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected belligerents
    Russian Armed Forces, Syrian Regime Armed Forces

Sources (50) [ collapse]