Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CS111

Incident date

August 11, 2015

Location

اطمه, Atimah, Idlib, Syria

Geolocation

36.3093144, 36.6781997 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

A US airstrike on a Jaish al-Sunna ammunition depot in the night also killed at least eight non-combatants in the village of Atmeh, it was widely reported. According to accounts, a number of civilian homes were damaged or destroyed in secondary explosions. Graphic images showed significant damage at the scene.

Five young girls were among the dead.

Their mother, older brother and 2-year old sister Nariman [who later died] were hospitalised, while their grandfather complained to local reporter Hadi al-Abdallah “Are these girls terrorists? Are they carrying machine guns? May God take revenge!” Three other victims were named as Latifa Yasin (aged 55), her 21-year old son Yousef Yasin and her 17-year old daughter Fatima Yasin.

The Coalition initially denied that it had carried out the strike, telling Daily Sabah that “CJTF-OIR forces were not conducting air operations in the area“. However in a written statement on August 12th, “further research” led to an announcement that the Coalition had carried out a “deliberate airstrike” in the area. Locals insisted that the town was under the control of Jaish al-Sunna, a Sunni Islamist faction the US has not previously targeted.

CENTCOM issued an extensive denial of civilian casualties from the incident in early September 2015, telling Buzzfeed that: “A credibility assessment based on the evidence available determined that there was no evidence of civilian casualties that occurred as a result of Coalition airstrikes. As a part of the credibility assessment, imagery taken the day after the strike (12 Aug) was used to look for damage to any houses within a one kilometre circle around the target. A collapsed roof would be easily visible on this imagery, but there was no damage noted to any buildings surrounding the target, and there was no evidence of a collapsed roof. Additionally, open source imagery from social media showed a large amount of weapons in the destroyed target building, the only building damaged in the strike. Such weapons storage would not be in a dwelling with children, so it was determined that there were no civilians or children in the target building.”

CENTCOM’s assessment appeared to be based solely on aerial imagery. Buzzfeed contacted rebels on the ground in Atmeh who insisted that homes had been destroyed in the attack, providing photographic evidence to reporters Mike Giglio and Munzer al-Awad.

A United Nations spokesman urged the Coalition to limit the risks to civilians from its actions: “From the beginning of the use of airstrikes by certain countries in Syria, we have called on all those involved to ensure their greatest efforts to avoid any type of civilian casualties.”

In an Amnesty assessment of the event published in October 2016, the human rights group cited eyewitness Talha al-Amouri, a resident of Atmeh and brother-in-law of the six slain children’s mother: “I was about 50m away when the air strike happened… Five missiles fell in total. The first fell 10m away from the house, the second and third fell on and next to the house and the last two fell on the building used by Jaysh al-Sunna. We own the building and Jaysh al-Sunna is using it to produce mortar shells but they don’t pay us rent… We found the women quicker under the rubble; the children took a while to find. The [dead] children [of my brother and sister-in-law] had shrapnel injuries. The neighbours had no such injuries but their heads had exploded.”

Concluding that the US was indeed responsible for the civilian deaths, Amnesty stated: “The attack appears to have been directed at a military target, and to have struck and destroyed it, but to have also destroyed neighbouring homes and killed nine civilians within them. As such, the attack may have been disproportionate. The existence of two civilian homes a mere 15m from the military target should have necessitated precautions necessary to minimize risk of loss of civilian life and destruction of civilian objects.”

A CENTCOM spokeswoman noted at the time that ”We are aware of the reports surrounding Atmeh and are looking into them.“

However CENTCOM later told Buzzfeed that it had concluded “there was no evidence of civilian casualties as a result of coalition airstrikes.” [see above]. And responding to a query from Airwars, Centcom stated on October 27th 2015 that “After careful review and based on the best available evidence” it had found that “allegations of civilian casualties by the Coalition were unfounded and deemed not credible.”

The Coalition formally announced its findings on Atimeh four years later. In its monthly civilian casualty report for October 2019 – published on December 5th of the same year – the US-led Coalition assessed this event as ‘non credible’, noting: “Previously Assessed Non-Credible Report: As part of our CIVCAS process in order to maintain transparency and accuracy, we constantly review our tracker to ensure proper release of information. We saw this case had not been previously listed so it is being listed now.  1. August 11, 2015, in Atimah, Syria, via self-report. After a review of all available records it was determined that, more likely than not, civilian casualties did not occur as a result of a Coalition action. 68 37SBA923201″.

It also classed Airwars’ own assessment of the event as a duplicate of the above, noting: “2. August 11, 2015, in Atimah, Syria, via Airwars report. The Coalition actions identified in this allegation are duplicates of those in allegation 68 (Not Credible, published in this report). 2809/CS111 37SBA915208”.

The incident occured at 8:30 pm local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (11)

  • Fatima Al Amouri 9 years old female daughter of son of Mr. Mo'wiya al Amouri. killed
  • Hayat Al Amouri 8 years old female daughter of son of Mr. Mo'wiya al Amouri. killed
  • Amina al Amouri 6 years old female daughter of son of Mr. Mo'wiya al Amouri. killed
  • Asia al Amouri 5 years old female daughter of son of Mr. Mo'wiya al Amouri. killed
  • Marwa al Amouri 4 years old female daughter of son of Mr. Mo'wiya al Amouri. killed
  • Nariman al Amouri 2 years old female daughter of son of Mr. Mo'wiya al Amouri, died two weeks after the date of the strike from her injuries killed
  • Ali al Amouri 5 years old male son of Mr. Mo'wiya al Amouri injured
  • Wife of Mr. Mo'wiya al Amouri Adult female injured
  • Mrs. Latifa Houssein [or Yassin] 55 years old female displaced from Areeha killed
  • Fatima Yassin 17 years old female Latifa's daughter killed
  • Youssef Yassin 21 years old male Latifa's son and an armed opposition member from al Fateh Army. He was visiting his family for treatement after he was injured in Sahl al Ghab killed

Summary

  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    9
  • (6–7 children1–2 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    4–12
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda/HTS

Sources (24) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (16) [ collapse]

  • A family photo showing 6 of 7 children killed in a likely US airstrike August 11 2015 (SN4HR)
    A family photo showing 6 of 7 children killed in a likely US airstrike August 11 2015 (SN4HR)
  • The Al A'mouri home, where five kids were killed in an alleged coalition strike, and to the right the al Sunna Army HQ [Via: SN4HR report 10th September 2015]
  • A report by journalist Hadi al Abdallah interviewing the grandfather of the 5 children killed in the alleged coalition bombing. Subtitled in English
  • Footage showing the aftermath of the alleged coalition raid on Atimah, Idlib. [Via: Baladi News Network 11th August 2015]
  • The exact location of the shelled house. [Via: SN4HR report 10th September 2015]
  • The two locations that were shelled, one civilian home and Al Sunna Army military HQ [Via: SN4HR report 10th September 2015]
  • A series of photos showing the shelled house of Mo'wiya al Amouri. [Via: SN4HR taken by local activist Ahmad Zarour on 6th September 2015]
  • A series of photos showing the shelled house of Mo'wiya al Amouri. [Via: SN4HR taken by local activist Ahmad Zarour on 6th September 2015]
  • A series of photos showing the shelled house of Mo'wiya al Amouri. [Via: SN4HR taken by local activist Ahmad Zarour on 6th September 2015]
  • A series of photos showing the shelled house of Mo'wiya al Amouri. [Via: SN4HR taken by local activist Ahmad Zarour on 6th September 2015]
  • A series of photos showing the shelled house of Mo'wiya al Amouri. [Via: SN4HR taken by local activist Ahmad Zarour on 6th September 2015]
  • More images of both Al Amouri house and Al Sunna Army Headquarters following the shelling. [Via: SN4HR report 10th September 2015]
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Graphic: The bodies of the Al Amouri children killed in the shelling. [Via: SN4HR report 10th September 2015]
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Graphic: Survivors -but injured- from al Amouri family [Via: SN4HR report 10th September 2015]
  • An interview by the journalist Hadi al Abdallah with a leader in Jaish al Sunna explaining what happened.

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    Insufficient evidence of civilian harm
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    in Atimah, Syria
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SBA923201
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Dec 5, 2019
  • Dec 5, 2019
  • Previously Assessed Non-Credible Report: As part of our CIVCAS process in order to maintain transparency and accuracy, we constantly review our tracker to ensure proper release of information. We saw this case had not been previously listed so it is being listed now. 1. August 11, 2015, in Atimah, Syria, via self-report. After a review of all available records it was determined that, more likely than not, civilian casualties did not occur as a result of a Coalition action. 68 37SBA923201

  • Duplicate Reports: The following reports were found to be duplicates of previously assessed Coalition actions. 2. August 11, 2015, in Atimah, Syria, via Airwars report. The Coalition actions identified in this allegation are duplicates of those in allegation 68 (Not Credible, published in this report). 2809/CS111 37SBA915208

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

A confirmed US airstrike, with a CENTCOM spokeswoman noting at the time that ”We are aware of the reports surrounding Atmeh and are looking into them.“

Summary

  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    9
  • (6–7 children1–2 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    4–12
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    Al Qaeda/HTS

Sources (24) [ collapse]