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.”
On March 10, 2022 in the CJTF-OIR Civilian Casualty Report, the Coalition reported this incident to be “non-credible”, stating that “After review of all available evidence it was determined that more likely than not civilian casualties did not occur as a result of a Coalition strike.”
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
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) Coordinates released by the Coalition place the event at 36.06055, 41.03233
Attached to this civilian harm incident is the Pentagon's declassified assessment of this civilian harm allegation, obtained by Azmat Khan and the New York Times through Freedom of Information requests and lawsuits filed since March 2017, alongside the corresponding press release published by the Pentagon. Airwars is currently analysing the contents of each file, and will update our own assessments accordingly.
US-led Coalition Assessment:
Civilian casualty statements
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.
Jul. 4, 2017, near Tal al-Jayer, Syria, via Human Rights Watch report. After review of all available evidence it was determined that more likely than not civilian casualties did not occur as a result of a Coalition strike. 2747/CS1158 37SFV8304192576
Original strike reports
The Coalition has not publicly reported any strikes in Hassakah for July 4th-6th