In an incident previously not tracked by Airwars, the Coalition later confirmed the death of one civilian in an event near Barah. The UK later confirmed this was an RAF strike.
In its February 2019 report, the Coalition noted: “Coalition aircraft engaged an ISIS fighter operating a motorcycle. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally killed as a result.”
The Coalition provided Airwars with the location of this incident, accurate to within a 100 metre box.
In March 2020, Airwars and the BBC published an investigation revealing that the UK was refusing to accept responsibility for civilian harm in this and two other events – despite confirming that the RAF had conducted the strikes.
Senior MoD officials revealed that they were insisting upon ‘hard facts’ when determining casualties – an almost impossible bar to surmount, and at odds with the US-led Coalition’s own ‘balance of probabilities’ approach.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (3) [ collapse]
US-led Coalition Assessment:
Civilian casualty statements
Feb 28, 2019
January 20, 2018, near Bahrah, Syria, via self-report. Coalition aircraft engaged an ISIS fighter operating a motorcycle. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally killed as a result.
20 January 2018: an RAF Reaper was in the process of guiding a Hellfire missile against a positively identified terrorist target. Whilst the missile was in flight, a previously unidentified individual was seen to be moving towards the designated target. The Reaper’s crew therefore guided the weapon away, but assessed that this individual may still have fallen casualty. Careful analysis was therefore conducted of the available footage and of all available reports from the area. These showed that there was no evidence of civilians being present in the location, and the footage identified a weapon being carried by the likely casualty. It was therefore concluded that said individual was very likely a Daesh extremist and not a civilian.
Original strike reports
On Jan. 20 in Syria, Coalition military forces conducted 12 strikes consisting of 19
engagements against ISIS targets.
Near Abu Kamal, 12 strikes engaged 12 ISIS tactical units and destroyed two
fighting positions, a staging facility, a VBIED, three weapons caches, two ISIS
headquarters, an ISIS motorcycle, an ISIS construction vehicle and an ISIS-held