In a major civilian casualty incident, between 15 and 41 people reportedly died following an alleged US-led Coalition strike on Al Jazza’a [or al-Helo] village. The civilians were leaving Asr prayer at the village mosque when they were hit, local media sources reported. According to Hasaka Rasd and multiple other sources, “the village was not controlled by any military faction and was located on a contact line between Islamic State and Kurdish units”.
The alleged strike resulted in significant material destruction as well as the loss of many lives, Baladi news reported, saying that the mosque was destroyed entirely. Those that died in this event were “buried in a mass grave” in the village, according to local reports.
Most sources put the death toll at 21, though Smart said that at least 15 had died.
According to Iuvmonline, as many as 41 had died. It reported: “Activists said on Twitter that coalition raids resulted in the deaths of 41 martyrs on the village of Jazaa in the south-eastern province of Hasaka, where coalition aircraft targeted air raids on the village mosque during the Asr prayer on Saturday, which led to dozens of injuries also”.
Some of the victims were named by local media. The majority of sources tracked blamed the US-led Coalition.
In July 2019, Human Rights Watch published the following report on this event: “On August 19, 2017, at about 3:45 p.m., a US-led coalition airstrike hit the only mosque in al-Helo village, 16 kilometers from the Iraqi border. Witnesses said they heard the plane before the strike and watched as the mosque was hit. They said the mosque, with mud walls, was struck once and destroyed, and the plane circled over the village for about a half hour afterward.
“The village is near an oil rig that ISIS controlled and guarded but was otherwise in a remote area. The strike completely destroyed the mosque, witnesses said, and killed at least 24 people inside for afternoon prayer. They said there were 21 civilians, whose names they provided, and 3 ISIS fighters who had guarded the rig.
“Most of the village’s inhabitants are from the al-Jazza` family. The father of one victim said that there was no fighting in the vicinity at the time, though media reports indicate that the village was on the front lines. Witnesses indicated that ISIS occupied a house on the village outskirts, where the three ISIS fighters, who were Syrian but not local, had stayed.
“Human Rights Watch visited the site on February 9 and observed damage consistent with the destruction of a single structure. Satellite imagery reviewed confirmed that a single building had been destroyed by the probable detonation of an air-dropped munition between about 10 a.m. on August 18 and 10 a.m. on August 20.
“The father of one of the civilians killed said: “Nothing was left. I could not even find my son’s body. No one escaped alive. I could have been in that mosque that day. It could have taken us all.”
“Residents said that many of the relatives of men killed in the strike – old men, widows, and children – have been unable to get jobs or provide for themselves without their heads of families. They have been forced to share accommodation and scarce resources.
“The official website of the coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve says that the coalition carried out a civilian casualty assessment of the strike but concluded that the media reports submitted to the coalition contained insufficient information of the time, location, and details to assess their credibility. As well as Human Rights Watch can determine, no other military force was conducting airstrikes in the region at the time. Residents said that as of February 9 no official from the SDF or the US-led coalition had investigated or contacted them, and the families affected did not know how to file a claim. On May 29, the coalition told Human Rights Watch that based on information provided they would assess the allegations.”
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 incident occured at approximately 4:00 pm local time.
The victims were named as:
Family members (4)
- Hajj Saleh Al-Daham Adult male killed
- Fahd Saleh Al - Daham Age unknown male killed
- Bandar Saleh Al - Daham Age unknown male killed
- Ahmed Saleh Al-Daham Adult male Abu Sen killed
Family members (3)
- Hamid Al - Mudhi Age unknown male Killed with his son killed
- Ali Al - Mudhhi's son
- Two sons of Makhlef Al-Mudhi Age unknown male killed
Family members (2)
- Hamid Al - Ahmad Al - Jamal Age unknown male killed
- Mohamed El - Jamal Age unknown male Killed with his son killed
- Eid Al-Raheel Age unknown male killed
- Haidar Al - Murshed Al - Doudieh Age unknown male killed
Sources (31) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
While reports of the incident mention Jazaa ( الجزاع ) village in the Southeastern countryside, East of Shaddadi, in Hasakah governorate, we were unable to geolocate this location. However according to Human Rights Watch, which visited the scene, the location was in fact al-Helo village: “GPS Coordinates: 41°5’27″E 36°5’29″N (MGRS: 37SFV 88239 96098)”.
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
Dec 28, 2017
The report contains insufficient information of the time, location and details to assess its credibility. (1248)
Original strike reports
For August 18th-19th , the Coalition reported: “Near Al Shadaddi, one strike destroyed a fighting position and an IED factory.”
For Aug 16-22, France report 5 strikes in Iraq and 2 in Syria. Task Force Wagram conducted 60 artillery missions.