Local sources reported the death of up to twelve civilians (including at least three children) from the same extended family and up to eight more injured as a result of an alleged Coalition airstrike on the village of Hassoun al Basha near Tal al Shayer.
According to a SANA reporter. Coalition bombardments on civilian houses claimed the lives of “12 civilians from Hassoun al-Basha’s family while injuring two others of the same family”.
This reporting was supported by several other media outlets, although Marsad al Hasaka, Step News Agency and An Eye on Al Hassaka both mentioned that the “massacre” took place after a civilian car was targeted.
Marsad al Hassaka, Euphrates Post and An Eye On al Hassaka, among others, published a list of the civilians killed and wounded:
Several sources later reported that Mohammed Hassoun al-Basha, initially listed as wounded as a result of the airstrike, died as a result of his injuries on June 13th at dawn. Multiple sources also reported that Khadija Hussein al Ali, aged thirty, died of her injuries.
Although most sources identified the location of the incident as Hassoun al Basha, a small settlement that is named after the family that inhabits it, others mention Abu Hamdah as the location where the family was harmed by an airstrike. Deir Ezzor Now said that the dead came from three family sub-units: the Hassoun al-Basha family, the Faisal family and the Hassan al-Basha family.
In June 2019 the Coalition announced that it had assessed this allegation of civilian harm as non-credible, noting “After a review of all available strike records it was determined that, more likely than not, civilian casualties did not occur as a result of a Coalition strike.”
The following month, Human Rights watch published a detailed study of the event: “On June 12, 2018, at approximately 9 p.m., several missiles hit a traditional one-story mud home in the small village of Tal al-Jayer, a survivor said. The strike killed 12 civilians, including 3 women and 6 children.
“Human Rights Watch visited the site on February 9. The village is in a remote area with houses far apart. The house that was hit was part of a compound with two other structures nearby where the rest of the extended family lived. The survivor said that the first missile hit the living room of the house, where the 12 people who were killed were seated:
“For a while I couldn’t hear or see anything, I was completely covered in dust. Then I heard crying. Children calling out, “baba, mama.” I slowly pulled myself out of the rubble, it took maybe less than an hour.
“A second missile hit the same structure approximately an hour and a half later, at the door of the room, the survivor said. He said he did not believe the second missile caused any deaths, but that it destroyed the house. “But when the second rocket hit, no one dared to come help us until the next morning,” he said. “Everyone was afraid of the planes.”
“Satellite imagery reviewed also showed an airstrike on the house between 10:30 a.m. on June 11 and 10:30 a.m. on June 12, 2018.
“In addition to the 12 civilians who died, at least 5 wounded were taken to al-Hasakeh National Hospital. The survivor provided the names of those wounded and dead.
“The survivor said that no family members at the compound were ISIS members. He and neighbors said there was no ISIS base in the village. ISIS fighters would pass through the village but did not maintain a permanent presence in the area. Earlier that evening, between 6 and 7:30 p.m., there were clashes near the house, but SDF forces had passed the house without incident, he said.
“He believed the strike may have been targeting an ISIS member’s home that ISIS forces sometimes used about 500 meters away. When he later discussed the strike with SDF officials, they said that the attackers may have had the wrong coordinates. “Our house and the house where the ISIS member was present are both mud houses,” he said. “But they were 500 meters away from each other on opposite sides of the road.”
“The UK authorities reported that an MQ-9 Reaper – an armed drone – had attacked an ISIS mortar position on June 12 in al-Shaddadi – an area in al-Hasakeh governorate that includes Tal al-Jayer – with a direct hit from a Hellfire missile, and coalition forces followed it up with a strike on a nearby building. The US reported that on June 12, three strikes near Shadaddi engaged an ISIS tactical unit, destroying two ISIS fighting positions and three ISIS lines of communication.
“The US also acknowledged receipt of a civilian casualty report from Airwars regarding the incident and on April 22 the coalition told Human Rights Watch that it had opened a civilian casualty assessment into the allegation.
“The survivor said that two days after the strike he had complained to the local SDF headquarters about the strike and a looting incident afterward. He said he received a non-committal response that they would look into it. No member of the SDF or the US-led coalition had contacted him or visited the site of the strike to investigate, but he indicated that the SDF had returned a bag of grain from the looted supplies.
“He also filed with the Syrian government to obtain death certificates for those killed. On June 12, the Syrian government wrote a letter to the United Nations secretary-general and the UN Security Council criticizing the Tal al-Jayer attack and calling on the Security Council to condemn such attacks and take action to stop them.”
On July 2nd, the British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Defence denied involvement in the incident in an answer on a parliamentary question on whether RAF planes had been responsible for the civilian harm in Hassoun al Basha: “UK aircraft conducted a single strike on 12 June 2018. Ministry of Defence officials have cross referenced the village name with coordinates of that strike and established that they differ by approximately four miles and that the UK did not strike any buildings. Therefore, from the evidence available, we have no reason to believe that the UK was responsible for any civilian casualties on 12 June 2018.”
The incident occured at approximately 9:00 pm local time.
The victims were named as:
Family members (17)
- Hassoun Pasha Al Ahmad Adult male Also known as Hassoun al Basha killed
- Shaimaa Faisal Hassoun Al Basha Age unknown female killed
- Remas Faisal Hassoun Al Basha Age unknown female killed
- Baidaa Faisal Hassoun Al Basha Age unknown female killed
- Inas Faisal Hassoun Al Basha Age unknown female killed
- Jamil Al-Ibrahim Age unknown male killed
- Mariam Khallouf El Hassan Adult female killed
- A’had Hassan Al hassoun Age unknown male killed
- Shahad Hassan Al-Hassoun Age unknown female killed
- Faisal Hassoun Al Basha Age unknown male injured
- Alaa Faisal Al Basha Age unknown female injured
- Mohamed Hassoun Al Basha Age unknown male Originally listed as seriously injured killed
- Ayesh al Basha Age unknown female injured
- Tarek Al-Muhaimed Age unknown male injured
- Duaa Tariq Al Mahaimed Age unknown female injured
- Fahad Hassan Al Hassoun Age unknown female injured
- Khadija Hussein Al Ali 30 years old female Originally listed as seriously injured killed
Sources (47) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention the farm or hamlet Hassoun al Basha (حسون الباشا), possibly in an area north of Tell al Shayer, for which the coordinates are: 36.052499, 41.090841 (or, according to the Military Grid Reference System: 37S FV 88 91). As this approximate location of the family home was indicated to an Airwars researcher by an activist, Airwars assesses that this is the location of the strike, even if no visibly destroyed buildings can be seen on satellite imagery taken on June 19, 2018 Human Rights watch in its own assessment suggested the following coordinates: “GPS Coordinates: 41°1’42″E 36°2’47″N (MGRS: 37SFV 82717 90999)”.
US-led Coalition Assessment:
Civilian casualty statements
Jun 27, 2019
Jun. 12, 2018, near south east Hassaka, Syria, via Airwars report. After a review of all available strike records it was determined that, more likely than not, civilian casualties did not occur as a result of a Coalition strike
Jul 2, 2020
Question by Clive Lewis (Norwich South) on June 29th, 2020: "To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if his Department will undertake a public investigation into the air strike at Tal al-Jayer in Syria on 12 June 2018 to determine whether munitions from RAF planes were responsible for civilian casualties." Answer by James Heappey, British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Defence, on July 2nd, 2020: "Abiding by International Humanitarian Law and the Law of Armed Conflict is of the utmost importance to this Government and is central to all of our military operations at home and overseas. UK aircraft conducted a single strike on 12 June 2018. Ministry of Defence officials have cross referenced the village name with coordinates of that strike and established that they differ by approximately four miles and that the UK did not strike any buildings. Therefore, from the evidence available, we have no reason to believe that the UK was responsible for any civilian casualties on 12 June 2018. As the Government has stated previously, we will always work closely with partners and civil society and investigate all credible claims that UK aircraft have been responsible for civilian casualties."
Original strike reports
For June 12th, the Coalition reported that “On June 12 in Syria, Coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of 10 engagements against Daesh targets. […] Near Al Shadaddi, three strikes engaged one Daesh tactical unit, and destroyed two Daesh fighting positions and three Daesh lines of communication.”
Tuesday 12 June – a Reaper destroyed a terrorist mortar in eastern Syria…The following day [June 12th], a Reaper was again in action east of Al Shadadi; its crew spotted a mortar hidden in trees and destroyed it with a direct hit from a Hellfire, whilst a coalition aircraft then conducted a successful strike on the building nearby where the terrorist team, who had been operating the mortar, were seen to be hiding.