Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CI409

Incident date

January 9, 2017

Location

Mosul, Baladiyat / Al Sukkar, Nineveh, Iraq

Geolocation

36.38747, 43.1592 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Within 100m (via Coalition) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Within 100m (via Coalition)

Airwars assessment

In an incident not previously tracked by Airwars, the Coalition later confirmed the deaths of two civilians in an event in northeast Mosul. The event was later confirmed as a British airstrike.

In its May 2018 civilian casualty report, the Coalition noted: “During a strike which destroyed Daesh vehicle-borne improvised explosive device used to attack Coalition and partner forces two civilians were unintentionally killed.”

The Coalition provided Airwars with the location of this incident, accurate to within a 100 metre box. This places the event either at the Baladiyat or Al Sukkar neighbourhood. The event was not near either of the other locations where civilian casualties were alleged in the city that day — see CI407 and CI408.

Buratha News gave some context to military developments in that neighbourhood on that day, reporting: “The eastern axis of the left coast of the Anti-Terrorism Forces forces started the two-way operation so that the northern direction was able to make progress towards Baladiyat and Sukkar neighborhood. The forces managed to liberate the Baladiyat neighborhood and raise the Iraqi flag over its buildings and destroyed a car bomb and 120 mm mortar detachment and killed more than 25 terrorists”.

Airwars researchers could not find any other locally reported claims of civilian harm in the area on this day. However the incident relates to an investigation conducted by the BBC into an alleged British civilian harm event: “The [Coalition] source described a strike on 9 January last year when an RAF Tornado fired a Brimstone missile on what was described as a ‘lorry bomb’ in eastern Mosul. It caused a large secondary explosion and the source said he believes two civilians were ‘almost certainly’ killed. The MoD insisted their ‘very careful analysis’ had concluded that those killed were ‘highly probably’ IS fighters.

“It refused a request to view the strike footage it filmed from the air and will not release the co-ordinates of other RAF airstrikes. But it did eventually confirm the location of this one strike. Many potential eyewitness to the strike were in hiding at the time but some say IS fighters were in the area. And there were reports of civilians being injured too. One man said the ‘women and men were screaming in the aftermath. Some of them were wounded.'”

BBC Defence Correspondent Jonathan Beale told Airwars that the coordinates provided by the MoD to indicate the area where they had focused their assessment were 36° 23′ 17.88″ N, 43° 09’ 36.98″ E.

In March 2020, Airwars and the BBC published an investigation revealing that the UK was refusing to accept responsibility for civilian harm in this and two other events – despite confirming that the RAF had conducted the strikes. Senior MoD officials revealed that they were insisting upon ‘hard facts’ when determining casualties – an almost impossible bar to surmount, and at odds with the US-led Coalition’s own ‘balance of probabilities’ approach.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    ISIS

Sources (5) [ collapse]

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
    No reason given
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    2
  • Stated location
    near Mosul, Iraq
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    38SLF349285
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Mar 31, 2018
  • January 9, 2017, near Mosul, Iraq, via media report. During a strike which destroyed Daesh vehicle-borne improvised explosive device used to attack Coalition and partner forces two civilians were unintentionally killed.

United Kingdom
  • 9 January 2017: this appears to relate to an incident which we investigated very thoroughly indeed after allegations of civilian casualties were made in the UK media, although some of the detail on the spreadsheet you provided do not match the incident very well – for example, the location of the incident was well inside Mosul, not in a rural environment. On 9 January 2017, an RAF Tornado crew certainly engaged a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED). A truck, suspected of being a VBIED, had been spotted parked on a street corner directly ahead of advancing Iraqi security forces. Our aircraft, and supporting coalition aircraft, checked the immediate area and detected no signs of civilian presence. Given the proximity of the suspected VBIED to the Iraqi forces, the Tornado’s crew then conducted an attack with a Brimstone missile, which struck the vehicle accurately. The truck was indeed a VBIED, as it then detonated with considerable force. The blast from the explosives onboard was partly channeled down the street to the side of the vehicle. Out of sight of our aircrew, but detected by cameras on another coalition aircraft, a sizeable group of men, including at least one on a motorcycle, were seen approaching the far end of the street just as the missile was fired. After the explosion of the truck-bomb, one of these men was seen being assisted by two others, which indicates that he may have been killed or wounded. A second member of the group could not be tracked in the footage after the explosion. It is possible that he too was a casualty, but equally he may just have taken cover from the blast in a position out of sight of the coalition aircraft. We looked at this incident very closely indeed. It happened in an area of active fighting between Daesh and the Iraqi security forces, and neither the troops on the ground nor the coalition aircraft detected any signs of a civilian presence in the area either before or after the truck-bomb was destroyed. The group of men, by their movements and behaviour, showed every sign of being Daesh fighters – particularly the presence of a motorcyclist, frequently used by the terrorists to scout ahead during the street fighting. Indeed, the fact that they were headed for the truck indicates that it may well have been a Daesh team escorting a would-be suicide bomber to his pre-positioned vehicle to allow him to launch an attack on the Iraqi troops nearby. We therefore concluded that, if the group did indeed sustain casualties, they were extremely likely to have been Daesh terrorists; we have no reason to believe, on the evidence available, that they were civilians.

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

For January 8th-9th the Coalition publicly noted : “Near Mosul, five strikes engaged four ISIL tactical units; destroyed three ISIL-held buildings, two vehicles, two mortar systems, a rocket propelled grenade launcher, a VBIED staging facility, and a VBIED; damaged 29 supply routes; and suppressed an ISIL tactical unit and a mortar team.”

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    ISIS

Sources (5) [ collapse]