Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CS1158

Incident date

July 4–5, 2017

Location

تل الجاير, Tall al-Jayer, Al-Hasakah, Iraq

Geolocation

36.06062, 41.03231 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

At least 11 people and as many as 15, including three children and two women, were killed in alleged Coalition airstrikes on the village of Tall al-Jayer, local sources reported.

Several described the deaths as a “massacre”. Two unidentified people were also reported killed not including the named civilians listed below. All nine sources reporting the incident alleged that the Coalition was responsible.

Human Rights Watch later geolocated the event, noting the following in a detailed report: “On July 4 or 5, 2017, shortly after midnight, apparent US-led coalition airstrikes hit the compound of Zarkan Khalif Salem, a sheep trader in the village of Tal al-Jayer, al-Hasakeh, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. The strike hit the main house, killing a 90-year-old woman and a child, and wounding at least three other civilians. The family had been sleeping on the roof or on a nearby patio. Residents said that immediately afterward, a second strike hit a building nearby where Salem kept his sheep, killing about 40 sheep.

“Fifteen minutes later, a rescuer arrived by motorcycle. He went to get a pickup truck for the wounded, the rescuer’s brother said. When he returned 15 to 20 minutes later, the plane struck his pickup, killing him and 10 other civilians. The brother of another victim said that six of those dead in the second strike were rescuers, and the remaining five were members of the family being rescued. Witnesses provided the victims’ names.

“Human Rights Watch visited the site on February 9 and confirmed that three independent structures, including a house and vehicle, had been struck and partially destroyed. Satellite imagery reviewed by Human Rights Watch confirmed that between 10 a.m. on July 4 and 10 a.m. on July 5, 2017, there were three incidents corresponding to the witness statements.

“The imagery [see below] reflects the apparent detonation of two large air-dropped munitions destroying two buildings in the north part of the compound corresponding to the structure that witnesses said was the house. The detonation of two, possibly three, smaller air-dropped munitions destroying one building and severely damaging a second in the south part of the compound corresponded to the sheep’s location. And a third reflects a probable airstrike on a vehicle, with damage signatures consistent with the detonation of a small munition.

“Relatives and witnesses said there were no ISIS fighters among the house’s residents or ISIS bases nearby. They said the closest known military target was an SDF base 9 to 10 kilometers away.

“The coalition reviewed the strike following a report by Airwars, an independent civilian casualties monitor, and found on May 31, 2018 that “[a]fter a review of available information it was assessed that no coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area that correspond to the report of civilian casualties.” However, local residents said they saw the planes attacking. No other force was conducting airstrikes in the region as Iraq only began unilateral strikes in April 2018, and the Syrian-Russian military alliance was not operating in that area at the time. On May 29, 2019, the coalition told Human Rights Watch that it had opened an assessment into the alleged attack.

“Family members and residents said that as of February 9, no official from the US-led coalition or the SDF had visited the site.”

The US-led alliance publicly declared no strikes in the governorate for this date, and in its own reassessment asserted that “After a review of available information it was assessed that no Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area that correspond to the report of civilian casualties.”

In their monthly civilian casualty reports, the US-led Coalition has indicated that the credibility of this civilian harm allegation is in the process of being assessed.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

  • Zarkan al Mashhadani 75 years old male killed
  • Zarkan al Mashhadani’s wife 90 years old female killed

Family members (3)

  • Othman al Aboud Adult male killed
  • His wife Zakia al Zarkan Adult female killed
  • Their daughter Fatima Othman al Aboud Child female killed

Family members (2)

  • Ahmed al Makhlaf al Karkaz Age unknown killed
  • Mohammed Makhlaf al Karkaz Age unknown killed
  • Hamid al Hajj Age unknown killed
  • Jassim Al Aylan Age unknown killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    11 – 15
  • (3 children3 women2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Human Rights Watch published the following locational information, based on satellite imagery analysis and witness interviews: GPS Coordinates: 41°1’56″E 36°3’38″N (MGRS: 37SFV 83039 92584)

  • Satellite image taken July 5, 2017 of US-led coalition airstrike locations in Tal al-Jayer compound that killed 13 civilians. Damage analysis by Human Rights Watch; Imagery © DigitalGlobe-Maxar Technologies 2019; Sources: EUSI, Google Earth.

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Open incident
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    near Tal al Jayer, Syria
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • May 31, 2018
  • After a review of available information it was assessed that no Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area that correspond to the report of civilian casualties.

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

The Coalition has not publicly reported any strikes in Hassakah for July 4th-6th

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    11 – 15
  • (3 children3 women2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (13) [ collapse]