Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CS1715a

Incident date

January 20, 2018

Location

البحرة, Barah, Deir Ezzor, Syria

Geolocation

34.75317, 40.771 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Within 100m (via Coalition) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Within 100m (via Coalition)

Airwars assessment

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.

Summary

  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    ISIS

Sources (3) [ collapse]

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Credible / Substantiated
    The investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties regrettably occurred.
  • Given reason for civilian harm
    No reason given
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    1
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    near Barah, Syria
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SFU621471
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • 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.

United Kingdom
  • 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

US-led Coalition

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
building.

Summary

  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    ISIS

Sources (3) [ collapse]