An August 2017 Amnesty International report initially stated that a civilian casualty incident occurred in Raqqa on June 8th, killing 6 to 9 civilians – including 1 or 2 women and 3 to 5 children. This was later corrected to June 28th – with the Coalition accepting responsibility for eight deaths 13 months later.
Amnesty researchers had conducted an interview with Mohammed, who had witnessed how the house of Jamal al-Aswad, a food vendor aged 52, was struck just after midnight between June 8th and 9th. The interviewee stated that his next door neighbour had definitely perished in the bombing. “[…] but I don’t know if his wife and children were there not. If they were there they are also dead”, he stated to the field researchers.
At the time of the bombing Abu Mahamud al-Tadfi, his wife and children had also been sheltering in the house of Jamal. All were killed in the event, although Mohammed was unable to identify how many children Mahmud exactly had, but “three for sure”.
Although no survivors were found, Amnesty could not assess how many bodies had been under the rubble.
The later report stated that “On the evening of 28 June 2017, the building was destroyed by a Coalition air strike, killing eight people, most of them children.”
Mohammad al Aswad, one of the survivors of the airstrike, stated that it was around 7.30pm on “the fourth day of Eid” [28 June 2017]. He told Amnesty researchers that they “were about to have dinner. I know the time because my brother Jamal who was down in the basement had just asked how long before sunset, when he could break his fast. Ramadan was over but Jamal was fasting that day to make up for a day when he had not been able to fast due to shelling in the neighbourhood. […] The strike came suddenly. I lost consciousness for a while. When I came around it was dark and I discovered I was wounded in my back and my leg.”
In the days that followed, relatives kept going back to the scene of the strike. One of them, Taha Mohammed Othman, told Amnesty International: “On the Thursday [29 June 2017], three of them were alive under the rubble – Jamal, Amal and Mahmoud. We could only see Mahmoud and we could hear the voices of the other two. Mahmoud kept asking, ‘Where’s my Dad? Where’s my sister? Help me, I want water.’ Amal was also crying for help, although we couldn’t see her. We stayed until the shelling became too close. On the Friday it was difficult to come straight away. There were heavy clashes where we lived. IS kept telling us to move to different places (in the Old City). We asked IS for help to rescue the survivors in the basement but they refused and called us apostates. When we finally made it back to the basement on Friday they were all dead.”
Amnesty delegates later went to the scene of the strike with Aswad family members who brought fragments of two munitions: part of the motor of an AGM-114 Hellfire missile and a fin from a US-designed Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), a GPS-guided air-delivered bomb.
Raqqa – Reporters Without Borders also mentioned eight civilians killed “in a reported Coalition strike” but this was only after the publication of the Amnesty report.
In July 2018 the Coalition conceded responsibility for the event, noting: “June 28, 2017, near Raqqah, Syria, via Amnesty International report. During a strike on reported Daesh headquarters and fighting positions near a residential area allegedly caused civilian casualties. Eight civilians were unintentionally killed.” The Coalition provided Airwars with the location of this incident, accurate to within a 100 metre box.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (6) [ collapse]
US-led Coalition Assessment:
Civilian casualty statements
Jul 26, 2018
During a strike on reported Daesh headquarters and fighting positions near a residential area allegedly caused civilian casualties. Eight civilians were unintentionally killed.
Original strike reports
For June 28th-29th: “Near Raqqah, 13 strikes [2 British] engaged nine ISIS tactical units, destroyed 10 fighting positions, two vehicles, a UAS, and suppressed an ISIS tactical unit.”
‘Wednesday 28 June – Tornados supported Syrian Democratic Forces in Raqqa, striking two buildings defended by Daesh extremists…On Wednesday 28 June, two Tornado flights operated over Raqqa. At the north-western end of the city, at least one suicide bomber was known to be waiting inside a Daesh-held building, waiting for an opportunity to attack the SDF as they closed in. The building and the terrorists inside were struck with a Paveway IV. A second such weapon demolished a building in the east, from where heavy fire had been directed at the SDF. This successful strike allowed the SDF to resume their advance.’
19 strikes were made by French aircraft in Iraq and Syria in the last week. Most of them were carried out in the battles of Mosul and Raqqah. These strikes were aimed at groups of Daech fighters. The other strikes were carried out in Syria and targeted regrouping and refueling areas used by jihadi fighters. Task Force Wagram carried out 16 artillery strikes in Mosul.
‘CHAMMAL APPRÉCIATION DE SITUATION En Syrie, les Forces Démocratiques Syriennes (FDS) sont engagées dans des combats féroces pour reprendre progressivement le contrôle du centre-ville de Raqqah. À l’Est, arrivés en bordure de la muraille d’enceinte de la vieille ville, les FDS sont ralentis sur les autres axes par les stratégies de harcèlement et d’imbrication de Daech déjà mises en œuvre à Mossoul. Les combattants du groupe terroriste s’appuient par ailleurs sur les rues étroites de la vieille ville pour freiner la progression des FDS. En Irak, le recul de Daech se poursuit. Au nord-ouest de l’Irak, les Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) et la 15e division irakienne poursuivent leurs actions pour consolider leur emprise sur la province de Ninive. Daech de son côté continue de concentrer ses actions de diversion dans la poche de Hawijah. À Mossoul, les Forces de sécurité irakiennes (FSI) continuent leur progression méthodique. Les combattants de Daech sont désormais isolés dans deux poches de résistances distinctes, entre la Médina et le complexe hospitalier. Le 21 juin les djihadistes ont fait sauter la mosquée Al Nouri alors que les FSI s’en approchaient, privant ces dernières d’une prise symbolique. Ils ont également mené plusieurs actions de harcèlement contre les lignes arrière des FSI. Dans les quartiers repris, la sécurisation est lente, progressive et dangereuse pour les FSI. Daech continue de mener des actions sporadiques de harcèlement et tente de maintenir des cellules dormantes. ACTIVITÉS DE LA FORCE CHAMMAL Appui feu – TF Wagram La Task Force (TF) Wagram a appuyé cette semaine les opérations de ratissage de la 15e division irakienne à l’ouest de Mossoul. 16 missions de tir ont été réalisées en appui des unités irakiennes dont : 10 missions de harcèlement 6 missions d’éclairement Depuis le début de son engagement, la TF Wagram a donc conduit plus de 1200 missions de tirs. Appui aérien au Levant Cette semaine, les aéronefs de l’opération Chammal ont réalisé 31 sorties aériennes dont 29 de reconnaissance armée ou d’appui au sol (CAS) et 2 de recueil de renseignements. 19 frappes ont été réalisées par les avions français en Irak et en Syrie. La majeure partie d’entre elles ont été réalisées dans le cadre des batailles de Mossoul et de Raqqah. Ces frappes visaient des groupes de combattants de Daech. Les autres frappes ont été réalisées en Syrie et ont visé des zones de regroupement et de ravitaillements utilisées par les combattants djihadistes.’