Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CI880

Incident date

March 13, 2020

Location

مطار كربلاء الدولي, Karbala International Airport, Karbala, Iraq

Geolocation

32.347736, 44.214334 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Three civilians were reportedly killed and two others injured in alleged American airstrikes in on Karbala International Airport which was under construction in Karbala governorate on March 13th, 2020, according to local sources. The incident is also believed to have killed three belligerents and the injury of nine, two of whom are in critical condition.

US officials had told Reuters that American “retaliatory strikes are underway in Iraq after the Taji camp attack north of Baghdad”.

Step News Agency reported that “on Thursday night-Friday night, the United States launched airstrikes targeting sites belonging to the Iranian militias in Iraq, amid reports that the general was killed in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard militia, Siamand Mashhadani, in the Jurf Al Sakhr region.” The Pentagon confirmed that strikes targeted five weapon storage units of Iranian-backed militias.

One of the victims was identified by New York Times as “Karrar Sabbar, aged 23, who left behind a wife and two children. He worked as a guard, sleeping in one of the airport’s halls or one of the administrative buildings.”

@Nz0FT8c0yti5CxG tweeted that Karrar (1995, full name unknown) was killed in American airstrikes around 1 AM. The source added that the young man was from Karbala governorate, and he worked as a night security guard at an airport that had been under construction. Four missiles were reportedly fired by American warplanes. Also continued to say that “two of his brothers are martyrs.”

NYTimes said that the airstrikes launched overnight “killed three Iraqi soldiers, two police officers and a civilian worker, and damaged an unfinished civilian airport.”

NYTimes said the Pentagon said the American strikes were in self-defense to destroy rockets and other weapons that he said had been supplied by Iran and one of the five sites attacked was a weapons storage site at an airfield in Karbala, but the Iraqi military statement said the airport that was hit was “totally civilian” and all workers there were civilians. Witnesses including a New York Times reporter noted that while the damage from the strikes was clear nothing appeared to have been burned, not even the papers that were in one of the administrative office areas that were hit. If the facility had been used for ammunition storage, it would have been likely to have caused a fire.

Shiite News said that “An airport under construction in Iraq’s central Karbala province was hit in a US bombing raid on militias, with photos showing debris scattered across the site. The US said earlier the strikes were “precise” and defensive.”

Tasnim News said “Unconfirmed reports suggest a construction worker may have been killed in the raid, which the Pentagon insisted earlier was conducted with precision and for purely defensive purposes. ”

Anadolu Agency said “The Iraqi army announced that three soldiers from its forces, two policemen and one civilian were killed as a result of the American strikes Friday night in the southern province of Babel.”

The Joint Operations Command (affiliated to the army) said in a statement on Friday: “At dawn today, Iraq was subjected to a blatant attack by American combat aircraft targeting the army units of the 19th Division and the headquarters of the 46th Popular Mobilization and the third Babylon Police Regiment in Babil Province (Jurf Al-Nasr, Al-Saeedat, Behbehani, The former Ashtar military manufacturing facility, Karbala Airport, is under construction located on the road between Karbala and Najaf). The statement stated that the attack resulted in the death of 3 soldiers and the injury of 4 others, the killing of 2 policemen and the injury of 2 others. In turn, “Al-Husayniya Threshold” in the city of Karbala, southern Iraq, reported that a civilian was killed during the American air strikes at Karbala International Airport.”

The Washington post reported from the Iraqi authorities that “three soldiers and two policemen were killed in the attacks, along with a civilian who was working in an airport that was under construction.”

The Shiite supreme leadership in Iraq condemned the attack and said in a statement that “the bombing had caused the death of a civilian and the wounding of others who were working in the construction of the airport, in addition to significant damage to administrative and service facilities. The statement clearly states that “this airport is purely civilian, and its construction is supervised by the Husseiniya threshold, in agreement with several Iraqi companies and by Iraqi civilian cadres.”

According to Youm7, the Iraqi president condemned the attack and described it “a violation to national sovereignty.”

A statement by the Joint Operations Command said that the attack led to “the killing of three fighters from the nineteenth division, and the injury of four, two of them in critical condition, and the killing of two and the injury of two from the employees of the Babylon third emergency police regiment, and the injury of five of the 46 fighters of the PMF and the death of a civilian worker in Karbala airport, which is under construction, and the wounding of another.”

According to Aleba’a, the Iraqi MP Karim Alaiwi considered the US attack on Karabala airport a message to the Iraqi Shiite Supreme Leadership which pushed the Parliament to take a decision asking the US forces to withdraw from Iraq. He said: “Everyone knows that Karbala airport is a purely civil project and has nothing to do with military objectives, but the United States wanted to send a message to the Shiite decision center that led Parliament to take the decision to remove foreign forces from Iraq.”

The incident occured at approximately 1:00 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Iraqi militias (PMUs)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    9

Sources (20) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (32) [ collapse]

  • Aftermath of the US airstrike on Karbala Airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via NYT)
  • Destruction at Karbala airport in the Iraqi shrine city, one of the areas targeted by US military air strikes on March 13th, 2020 (via Vox)
  • A US military PowerPoint slide released to reporters shows the five targets of the airstrikes on March 13th, 2020 (via Vox.com)
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • A US airstrike on Karabala international airport caused huge damage to the building which was under construction (via Shafaq)
  • Fighters from the Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades militia, inspect the destruction at their headquarters in the aftermath of a U.S. airstrike in Qaim, Iraq, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. The Iranian-backed militia said Monday that the death toll from U.S. military strikes in Iraq and Syria against its fighters has risen to 25, vowing to exact revenge for the "aggression of evil American ravens." (AP Photo)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Destruction of parts of Karbala international airport by a US airstirke on March 13th, 2020 (via Alebaa).

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention multiple strikes on alleged weapon caches, some of which struck a civilian from Karbala (كربلاء), who sources suggest that he was employed as night security at the Karbala International Airport (مطار كربلاء الدولي) that is currently under construction. Since the strikes happened during the night and assuming that the individual was at work, we suggest that the location of the strike is the airport, for which coordinates are: 32.347736, 44.214334. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

  • Google Earth imagery dating back from 2010 does not show the current progress of the Karbala International Airport (مطار كربلاء الدولي) which is currently under construction. Instead, here is an image from the Sentinel-2 L1C data, from the 9th of March, 2020.

    Imagery:
    Sentinel-2, ESA

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Suspected target
    Iraqi militias (PMUs)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    9

Sources (20) [ collapse]