Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CI760

Incident date

June 13, 2017

Location

الشفاء, الموصل‎, Al Shafaa, Mosul, Nineveh, Iraq

Geolocation

36.351678, 43.118042 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (via Airwars) level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

A total of 35 people people from an extended family were killed, including 14 children, 9 women and two imams, when a home and street were bombed in the Al Shifa neighbourhood of Mosul. Sources said that the family were sheltering in the basement of the house.

Initial claims had placed the toll at 50, while the US-led Coalition estimated that 11 civilians were killed in the attack. Australia later explicitly accepted responsibility for part of the event – conceding between 6 and 18 deaths. Fifteen months later in May 2020, the United States accepted responsibility for a further 11 deaths in the event.

Relatives informed Airwars and others that in fact 35 named people died, from eight closely related families. There was only one survivor.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF’s) investigation was based on estimates of population density, not any on-the-ground research, and no contact was made with the affected family. However within hours of the official announcement of civilian harm, a surviving member of the family told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that the number of civilians killed was 35, including his brother, sister and other family members.

“My brother has lost all of his family. The number of the family members who died are 35,” said Sheikh Ayman el Saffar. Sheikh Ayman said his brother’s property was also used as a religious community centre.

“The house was hit, they lost money and a religious community centre. He had this religious community centre at that time he used it as his private house. There were no activities at the community centre at the time.”

The New York Times interviewed Kareema Khalid Suleiman, the only survivor, who told the reporter that the family had gathered for safety in a house in the Al Shifaa neighborhood but when the home was hit, 33 people were killed. “As the house was consumed in flames, she managed to crawl out of a tiny hole, but no one else could make it. Behind her, a younger relative had managed to make it partly up the staircase. “My last words to her were: ‘Please, I’m going to help you. Come to me.’ And when they pulled me out, she was closing her eyes, and she died.”

According to the international alliance, there were strikes by two separate Coalition allies in the near vicinity on the day – each of which killed civilians. Australia accepted responsibility on January 31st 2019 for between 6 and 18 deaths in one of the strikes during the incident, while on the same day the Coalition’s civilian casualty assessment team declared a minimum of 11 deaths. This was later revealed to have been a separate US action. The Coalition provided Airwars with the location of this incident, accurate to within a 100 metre box.

Ateka Facebook page said on the day of the incident that Sheikh Mohammed Ghanim Al-Saffar – who was an Imam and preacher at the Sheikh Fathi Mosque in Mosul – died after aircraft targeted a sniper standing on the roof and bombed his house. The page said that his body was still under the rubble, together with his family.

Other outlets, including Yaqein and MNN, reported that 50 people in total were under the rubble of the house and presumed dead.

However Sawefa Ateka later reported that some were rescued: “The martyrdom of Madh Muhammad al-Saffar and the rescue of the family of Sheikh Ahmad al-Saffar and the other families who were exposed to their house in Al Shifa neighbourhood for aerial bombing Thank you to the rescue teams and the security forces there.”

Another entry listed the following victims: “The family of Mullah Youssef mourns the family of Al-Saffar by the martyr Sheikh Mohammed Ghanim Al-Saffar in front of the preacher of the Sheikh Fathi Mosque and his family and Sheikh Ahmed Ghanim Al-Saffar Imam and preacher of the Sheikh Muhsin Mosque and his family; and their brother Ammar Ghanem Al-Saffar and his family; and their cousin and their relative Raed Abdul Salam Al-Saffar and many people, after the fall of a missile from the plane on their house, which led to the fall of the house on them I am God and I return to him.”

Sheikh Mohammed Ghanim Al-Saffar was described by Qoraish as “one of ISIS’s most formidable enemies”.

@sonawa1 tweeted that civilians were “trapped under the rubble of the house of Abdul Ghani Halawaji”. It is likely that Abdul Ghani Halawaji is a misspell – with Halawaji possibly referring to the village the family originally came from – rather than the Mosul neighbourhoood from which they now take their name.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, spoke about the event following the ADF’s concession: “It is not clear what precisely went on. But I know our Defence force people will always be doing everything they can to ensure casualties are avoided.” The PM also described the event as “a terrible incident”, with the deaths of civilians “difficult and tragic.”

Airwars conducted an extensive interview with Engineer Amjad al Saffar, a family elder, in February 2019, in which the names of all victims were handed over.

In May 2020 in its annual civilian harm report to Congress, the Pentagon confirmed that US forces had been responsible for at least 11 deaths in this event. Asked to comment from Mosul on the Pentagon’s recent admission that its aircraft too had played a role in the mass casualty event, Engineer Amjad told Airwars: “As a well known and respected Mosul family, we feel both very sad and disappointed to learn of the US’s confession – three years after our catastrophe.- of their own role in an airstrike which killed so many. Along with Australia we hold the US fully responsible for our heavy loss of 35 family members, and demand both an apology and financial compensation.”

The incident occured at 10:00:00 local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (5)

  • Ammar Ghanim Ali Mohamed Al Saffar 61 years old male Brother of Sheikh Mohammed killed
  • Ahlam Ali Jasim Al Tai 56 years old female Wife of Ammar killed
  • Shahad Ammar Ghanim Ali Mohamed Al Saffar 13 years old female killed
  • Sara Ammar Ghanim Ali Mohamed Al Saffar 10 years old female killed
  • Ghanim Ammar Ghanim Ali Mohamed Alsaffar 16 years old male killed

Family members (8)

  • Mohamed Ghanim Ali Mohamed Al Saffar 48 years old male killed
  • Muna Esma t Abdulrahman Al Bakua 43 years old female killed
  • Madeh Mohamed Ghanim Ali Al Saffar 21 years old male killed
  • Mawdda Mohamed Ghanin Ali Mohamed Al Saffar 19 years old female killed
  • Safiah Mohmed Ghanim Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 16 years old female killed
  • Malak Mohamed Ghanim Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 13 years old female killed
  • Maram Mohmed Ghanim Ali Mohamed Al Saffar 10 years old female killed
  • Rehana Mohamed Ghanim Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 5 years old female killed

Family members (6)

  • Ahmed Ghanim Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 47 years old male killed
  • Amna Sabah Hussen Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 33 years old female killed
  • Teba Ahmed Ghanim Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 16 years old female killed
  • Rehma Ahmed Ghanim Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 14 years old female killed
  • Ameer Ahmed Ghanim Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 9 years old male killed
  • Reem Ahmed Ghanim Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 4 years old female killed

Family members (6)

  • Raed Abdelsalam Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 55 years old male killed
  • Asma Ghanim Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 52 years old female killed
  • Wisam Raed Abdelsalam Ali Mohamed Al Saffar 25 years old male killed
  • Mustafa Raed Abdelsalam Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 22 years old male killed
  • Bilal Raed Abdelsam Ali Mohaned Al Saffar 19 years old male killed
  • Fatima Raed Abdelsalam Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 15 years old female killed

Family members (2)

  • Nadia Ghanim Ali Mohamed Al Saffar 57 years old female killed
  • Mumen Oqba Mohmed 25 years old male killed

Family members (2)

  • Ayser Abdelhameed Ali Mohamed Al Saffar 45 years old male killed
  • Awrad Ayser Abdelhameed Ali Mohmed Al Saffar 13 years old female killed

Family members (4)

  • Arzak Andelhameed Ali Mohamed Al Saffar 54 years old female killed
  • Zahra Khalid Selman Mohamed Taha 21 years old female killed
  • Sura Khalid Selman Mohamed Taha 19 years old female killed
  • Ali Khalid Selman Mohamed Taha 18 years old male killed

Family members (2)

  • Salheh Hani Hassan Ali Mohamed Al Saffar 32 years old male killed
  • Maram Saleh Hani Hassan Ali Al Saffar 1.5 years old female killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    35
  • (14 children9 women12 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown
  • Known target
    ISIS

Sources (27) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (18) [ collapse]

  • Sheikhs Mohamed and Ahmed Ghanim Al Saffar were popular local preachers – and a thorn in the side of their ISIS occupiers (Picture courtesy of the Al Saffar family. All rights reserved.)
  • Sheikh Mohammed Ghanem Al-Saffar and Sheikh Ahmed Ghanim Al-Saffar (via Mosul Ateka)
  • Nineveh Media Centre posted an image of the bombing location, in an effort to direct rescue services with the following message: 'Urgent Appeal 50 people in the house Al-Sheikh Ahmad Al-Saffar Al-Shifa neighbourhood was shelled today and the families in the house appeal to all the factions to rescue them. The nearest force to them is the Federal Police Force.'
  • Ammar Ghanim Ali Mohamed Al Saffar (Image courtesy of the Al Saffar family. All rights reserved)
  • Raed Abdelsalam Ali Mohmed Al Saffar (Image courtesy of the Al Saffar family.)
  • Ghanim Ammar Ghanim Ali Mohamed Al Saffar (Image courtesy of Al Saffar family)
  • Madeh Mohamed Ghanim Ali Al Saffar (Image courtesy of Al Saffar family)
  • Bilal Raed Abdelsam Ali Mohaned Al Saffar (Image courtesy of Al Saffar family)
  • Ameer Ahmed Ghanim Ali Mohmed Al Saffar, aged nine, had spent a third of his life under ISIS occupation when he died. He was one of 14 children killed on June 13th 2017 (Picture courtesy of the Al Saffar family. All rights reserved.)
  • Wisam and Mustafa Raed Abdelsalam Ali Mohamed Al Saffar (Image courtesy of the family)
  • Mumen Oqba Mohmed (Image courtesy of Al Saffar family)
  • Photo montage of some of the 35 victims of June 13th 2017 strikes by Australian and US aircraft, courtesy of the Al Saffar family.
  • Ruins of a family home in which 35 civilians died at Mosul on June 13th 2017 - in what is now known to have been US and Australian airstrikes (Image courtesy of the Al Saffar family. All rights reserved.)
  • Ruins of a family home in which 35 civilians died in Coalition strikes on June 13th 2017 (Image courtesy of the Al Saffar family. All rights reserved.)
  • Ruins of a family home in which 35 civilians died in Coalition strikes on June 13th 2017 (Image courtesy of the Al Saffar family. All rights reserved.)
  • The hole from which survivor Kareema escaped between strikes on a Mosul family home (Image courtesy of the Al Saffar family.)
  • Table from May 2020 Pentagon report to Congress, conceding additional US civilian harm events in Iraq and Syria during 2017.
  • Kareema Khalid Suleiman, the sole survivor of a Coalition strike on Mosul June 13, 2017. (Image from New York Times)

Geolocation notes (4) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention a residential building being struck in the Al Shifa neighbourhood (حي الشفاء) of western Mosul (الموصل‎). Analyzing visual material from Nineveh Media Centre, who provided a screenshot of the location, we were able to verify geolocate both Ibn Al Atheer Station (محطة ابن الاثير), and the house of Sheikh Ahmad Saffar (بيت الشيخ احمد الصفار). The exact coordinates for the house of Sheikh Ahmad Saffar are: 36.351678, 43.118042. Although Coalition has supplied Airwars with their coordinates (MGRS: 38SLF313241) for the strike, evidence supplied by local sources shows these to be innaccurate by atleast 531m.

  • Reports of the incident mention a residential building being struck in the Al Shifa neighbourhood (حي الشفاء) of western Mosul (الموصل‎). Analyzing visual material from Nineveh Media Centre, who provided a screenshot of the location, we were able to verify geolocate both Ibn Al Atheer Station (محطة ابن الاثير), and the house of Sheikh Ahmad Saffar (بيت الشيخ احمد الصفار).

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Comparison of satellite imagery available on Google Earth. Right shows evidence of a residential building being struck in the vicinty of the petrol station mentioned by Nineveh Media Centre.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

  • Imagery uploaded by Nineveh Media Centre intended to direct aid towards the residential building shows the location of the strike and landmarks in the vicinity.

    Imagery:
    Nineveh Media Centre

  • Although Coalition has supplied Airwars with their coordinates (MGRS: 38SLF313241) for the strike, evidence supplied by local sources shows these to be innaccurate by atleast 531m.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

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
    Inside target building
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    17–29
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • MGRS coordinate
    38SLF313241
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Jan 31, 2019
  • June 13, 2017, near al-Shifa neighbourhood, Mosul, Iraq via Airwars report. Coalition air assets struck multiple ISIS targets in defense of ground forces. Regrettably, since the targets were in the midst of residential structures, it is likely that 11 civilians were unintentionally killed as a result of two Coalition engagements on the same street.

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

For June 12th-13th the Coalition publicly stated: “Near Mosul, five strikes engaged five ISIS tactical units and destroyed 14 fighting positions, six mortar systems, two sniper positions, a weapons cache and a tactical vehicle.”

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    35
  • (14 children9 women12 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown
  • Known target
    ISIS

Sources (27) [ collapse]