In a major alleged incident, two interviewees reported that up to 55 civilians died in an Iraqi or Coalition airstrike and ground-based machine gun fire as they attempted to flee ISIS control.
The following unpublished field report was shared by Amnesty International with Airwars: “Interviewee 1: ‘I’m from Tel Kheimeh, a small village, around one kilometre from (the larger) Badoosh (town) in Ninewa Governorate, outside Mosul city. There were about 200 villagers living in Tel Kheimeh. I left on 17 April, after something happened on 14 April. By 14 April the ISF had retaken Badoosh but not the surrounding villages, including Tel Kheimeh.
On 14 April 55 villagers from Tel Kheimeh decided to flee to Badoosh to avoid the forthcoming battle between approach ISF and the ISIS fighters in the village. They walked from Tel Kheimeh across the mountainous terrain towards Badoosh. At around 10pm we heard the sound of a big airstrike (presumed) from Tel Kheimeh, coming from the direction they had gone in. As they were approaching Badoosh a warplane had bombed them. The bombing was following by machine gun fire from the ISF in Badoosh.
Along with the rest of the villagers, I walked to the scene the following morning. All 55 villagers had been killed. Those closest to the explosion had suffered shrapnel wounds. The others had been killed by machine gun fire. One of my (male) cousins was among the victims. Fourteen of them were from the same family. Not one single person from those that left escaped alive. It was mountainous and there were no trees or farm crops to hide behind. They (the ISF) must have thought that the villagers were ISIS but there were only five or ten ISIS fighters in Tel Kheimeh. They killed all these villagers thinking everyone coming from Tel Kheimeh must be ISIS.’
Second interviewee (different date, different camp) ‘I know Tel Kheimeh village, it’s also near Badoosh. I heard about “something bad” happening there. A plane hit them (the villagers from Tel Kheimeh) in the village. They were collected together in a place (not necessarily by force) and a plane hit them. They said that many people died. I don’t know the details.’
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (1) [ collapse]
Attached to this civilian harm incident is the Pentagon's declassified assessment of this civilian harm allegation, obtained by Azmat Khan and the New York Times through Freedom of Information requests and lawsuits filed since March 2017, alongside the corresponding press release published by the Pentagon. Airwars is currently analysing the contents of each file, and will update our own assessments accordingly.
US-led Coalition Assessment:
Civilian casualty statements
Apr 26, 2018
After a review of available information and strike video it was assessed that there is insufficient evidence to find civilians were harmed in this strike
Original strike reports
For April 13th-14th the Coalition publicly reported: “Near Mosul, five strikes engaged five ISIS tactical units; destroyed four fighting positions, a VBIED, a command-and-control node, a tunnel; and damaged five fighting positions, and four ISIS supply routes.”