Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CI109

Incident date

September 20, 2015

Location

الموصل‎, Mosul, Nineveh, Iraq

Geolocation

36.38508, 43.12135 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Within 100m (via Coalition) level. marker Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Within 100m (via Coalition)

Airwars assessment

A US airstrike on an ‘ISIS headquarters’ in Mosul in fact killed four members of one family – named as university professor Mohannad Al Rezzo (pictured below); his 17-year old son Najib Mohannad Al Rezzo (pictured below); his brother Bassim’s wife Miyada Rezzo and their 21-year old daughter Tuka Rezzo. The Coalition admitted the deaths 18 months later.

Other family members were also badly injured in the event: “Mohannad’s wife survived the explosion, which flung her, burned, from her second-floor bedroom to the driveway below. Mohannad’s older brother, Bassim, also narrowly survived,” according to US-based relative Zareena Grewal, writing in the New York Times. “Bassim’s pelvis and leg were shattered in the attack and require surgery, but it is his emotional pain that consumes him.”

The Coalition reported carrying out an attack on what it said was a nearby ISIL factory for IEDs, and posted video footage. According to the Nineveh Reporters Network, the raid “successfully destroyed the headquarters of the organization, but it contained a lot of materiel and weapons, causing a massive secondary explosion which damaged nearby houses.

However according to Ms Grewal, “the empty government warehouse, which the Islamic State briefly occupied until January, remains untouched.”

The New York Times on October 4th noted the following: “A spokeswoman for the United States Air Force Central Command confirmed that it became aware of a ‘civilian casualty allegation’ in Mosul the day after the airstrikes. In an email Friday, the Air Force spokeswoman, Maj. Genieve David, said Centcom was assessing the credibility of the reports, before determining any follow-on action, which might include a ‘formal investigation.’”

[See also incident CI110]

In a later January 2016 report, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq noted: “In the early morning of 20 September, an airstrike hit the al-Ghabat area of Mosul city, as a result of which five civilians (including two women and one girl) from one family were killed. The family members were inside their home at the time, which was close to an ISIL headquarters. When that headquarters was hit, weapons and other equipment inside exploded, causing damage to nearby homes and killing the family. Other sources reported that four civilian died in the attack (a 48-year old man, a 20-year-old man, a 37-year-old woman, and a 13-year-old girl) while two civilians were seriously wounded.”

In January 2017, the Coalition reported that it was still assessing the case: “Currently, five reports of civilian casualties received in November are still being assessed: 1. Sept. 20, 2015, near Mosul, Iraq.” A senior official subsequently told Airwars “This is [the] well documented Basim Razzo case. Credibility assessment was done in 2015 but the case was never closed out.

On April 1st the Coalition finally admitted its error, noting that “During a Sept. 21 strike on what was evaluated at the time to be an ISIS headquarters building. After receiving additional information, it was assessed that four civilians were unintentionally killed and two civilians were unintentionally injured in the building.”

The event featured heavily in a major New York Times investigation – The Uncounted – which found that civilian harm events in sample areas were 31 times more likely than the Coalition was admitting.

In July 2019, the Coalition provided Airwars with coordinates for the event, accurate to within a 100 metre box.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (4)

  • Mohannad Al Rezzo Adult male killed
  • Najib Mohannad Al Rezzo 17 years old male Son of Mohannad Al Rezzo killed
  • Miyada Rezzo Adult female Sister-in-law of Mohannad Al Rezzo killed
  • Tuka Rezzo female Daughter of Tuka Rezzo killed

Summary

  • Civilians reported killed
    4
  • (2 children1 woman1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Najib Muhannad al-Reso (via Mosul Ateka)
  • Muhannad al Reso (via Mosul Ateka)
  • Video of the strike deleted by Coalition
  • Najib Muhannad al-Reso (via Mosul Ateka)
  • Another picture of Najib Muhannad al-Reso (via Mosul Ateka)

Geolocation notes

Prior to the Coalition releasing the MGRS for this incident, Airwars had geolocated it to the nearest city at 36.34585235, 43.09857692

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Credible
    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
    No reason given
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    4
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    2
  • Stated location
    near Mosul, Iraq
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    38SLF315283
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Apr 1, 2017
  • Sept. 20, 2015, near Mosul, Iraq, via media report: During a Sept. 21 strike on what was evaluated at the time to be an ISIS headquarters building. After receiving additional information, it was assessed that four civilians were unintentionally killed and two civilians were unintentionally injured in the building.

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

Heavy Coalition strikes in the vicinity were reported for September 20th-21st 2015: “Near Mosul, nine airstrikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit, three ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL VBIED facility, an ISIL bunker, an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL building, an ISIL C2 node and wounded an ISIL fighter.”

Summary

  • Civilians reported killed
    4
  • (2 children1 woman1 man)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition

Sources (12) [ collapse]