Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CS1973

Incident date

December 3, 2021

Location

المسطومة, Al-Mastouma, Idlib, Syria

Geolocation

35.838709, 36.622450 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (via Airwars) level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

At least one young man was killed and between six and seven civilians, including up to four children, were injured in a declared US drone strike on the Al-Mastouma Ariha road on December 3rd, 2021. Sources are conflicted as to whether the young man killed was an active or former member of the Guardians of Religion Organization, an Al Qaeda affiliate group.

In a press briefing on December 6, 2021, the Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters “a senior leader with Hurras al-Din, which is an Al-Qaeda affiliated group, by the name of Musab Kinan was the person targeted and killed in a kinetic strike by U.S. forces near Idlib on the 3rd of December. It was a strike conducted from an MQ-9 unmanned aircraft. The initial review of the strike did indicate the potential for possible civilian casualties. They’ve [CENTCOM] launched a civilian casualty assessment report, which they have to do when they think there’s a potential and as far as I know that’s still ongoing. I don’t know what the results might be.”

Associated Press reported that at least four members of the Qasoum family were children – 16-year old Hiba Qasoum, 15-year old Batoul Qasoum, 12-year old Walid Qasoum and 10-year old Mohammad Qasoum. Fatima, 48, was also reported seriously injured in the strike alongside her husband Ahmed Qasoum who sustained light injuries. One source (@jabha_sy) reported different ages (included in brackets in victim details below).

The Middle East Eye (MEE) also reported on the Qasoum family, including an interview with father Ahmed Qasoum who told MEE that one of those injured was his 10-year old son: ““The motorcycle was going in front of me and I decided to pass it, when I got parallel to it, I felt a lot of pressure pushing the car to the left of the road….It was horrible,” Qasoum said. “We didn’t hear any sound of the explosion. The shrapnel hit the left side of the car, tearing through that side, which acted as a sort of filter for a lot of it.”

“My 10-year-old son has had a fractured skull and is now in a very serious condition in the intensive care at a hospital in Idlib. Doctors have told me that he would have nerves problems on his right side in the future,” Qasoum said, speaking to MEE via WhatsApp.”

Mr. Qasoum added that his 15-year old daughter was also seriously injured after shrapnel struck her head, and that it might take her a week to be able to walk again.

In an interview with Associated Press published December 6th, Mr. Qassoum said that he was driving 10km every day to visit the hospital where his son, Mahmoud, was being treated for his head injuries.

Step News Agency reported that the Qasoum family had been displaced from the village of Kafr Batikh after regime forces took control of the area.

@humam_isa identified the young man, “Musab Khaled Kanaan” (a first-year Turkish language student) as being one of the people killed by Coalition missile strikes on the Idlib-Al-Mastouma road, while Syrian Network for Human Rights and Shaam News referred to Musab as being a former Hurras al Din (Guardians of Religion) fighter.

A tweet from @SunaUnique reported that a drone struck a car traveling on the Al-Mastouma Ariha road, killing those inside, but didn’t specify how many were traveling in the car.

According to @Click_Syria, a drone alleged to belong to the Coalition struck a motorcycle belonging to a military official from the Guardians of Religion Organization and also hit a Santa Fe car passing by on the same road, the Ariha-Mastouma highway, injuring six people in the car. @syr_television added that the family of six people in the car were “lightly” injured. Euphrates Eye put the number killed at two and identified them both as Guardians of Religion.

Syrian Civil Defense put the number of injured civilians at five, including three women and a child.

A tweet from @FreshFM90MHZ referred to those killed and injured as being “civilians”.

A video posted by @syr_television shows the moment that the drone strike hit the motorcycle from the perspective of the car where the six family members were injured. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights identified that three missiles were involved in the attack.

@NotWoofers pointed out that this is the first time in a while in Idlib that there have been civilian casualties from a Coalition drone strike.

The Military Times reported that “the command [CENTCOM] would not say whether such operations will pause during the investigation” into civilian harm allegations.

Limited local media coverage was noted by the Middle East Eye, who reported that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the armed group in control of Idlib, seized the Qasoum family car after the attack “under the pretext of checking the car’s papers”, and “prevented the media from filming the damage at the scene”.

The incident occured at approximately 10:00 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (6)

  • Fatima Qarqour 48 years old injured
  • Muhammad Qasoum 10 (also reported as 15) years old injured
  • Heba Qasoum 16 (also reported as 30) years old injured
  • Batoul Qasoum 15 (also reported as 20) years old injured
  • Walid Qasoum 12 (also reported as 50) years old injured
  • Ahmed Qasoum 52 years old injured
  • Musab Khaled Kanaan Age unknown male conflicted as to whether the young man killed was an active or former member of the Guardians of Religion Organization, an Al Qaeda affiliate group killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (0–1 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    6–7
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda/HTS
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2

Sources (34) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (18) [ collapse]

  • A drone struck a car traveling on the Al-Mastouma Ariha road, killing those inside. (Image posted by @SunaUnique)
  • A drone struck a car traveling on the Al-Mastouma Ariha road, killing those inside. (Image posted by @SunaUnique)
  • Musab Khaled Kanaan, killed in an alleged Coalition drone strike on a car on the Idlib-Al-Mastouma road on December 3, 2021. (Image posted by @humam_isa)
  • White Helmets observe the motorcycle struck with a drone attack on the Ariha Al-Mastouma road on December 3, 2021. (Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense)
  • White Helmets observe the car struck with a drone attack on the Ariha Al-Mastouma road on December 3, 2021. (Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense)
  • Blood of the victims on the car struck with a drone attack on the Ariha Al-Mastouma road on December 3, 2021. (Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense)
  • A White Helmet with remnants from the drone attack on the Ariha Al-Mastouma road on December 3, 2021. (Image posted by Macro Media Center)
  • Remnants of the car destroyed by the drone attack on the Ariha Al-Mastouma road on December 3, 2021. (Image posted by Macro Media Center)
  • A White Helmet with remnants from the drone attack on the Ariha Al-Mastouma road on December 3, 2021. (Image posted by Macro Media Center)
  • Blood of the victims on the car struck with a drone attack on the Ariha Al-Mastouma road on December 3, 2021. (Image posted by Macro Media Center)
  • Blood of the victims on the car struck with a drone attack on the Ariha Al-Mastouma road on December 3, 2021. (Image posted by Macro Media Center)
  • Blood of the victims on the car struck with a drone attack on the Ariha Al-Mastouma road on December 3, 2021. (Image posted by Macro Media Center)
  • Ahmed Qasoum was reported to be one of at least six members of the Qasoum family who sustained injuries after a US military strike hit a road in Idlib, December 3rd 2021. Image via Middle East Eye/Izzeddin Kasim.
  • "The wife of Ahmed Qasoum resting her broken leg after being injured in a US attack near Idlib on 3 December", Image via Middle East Eye/Izzeddin Kasim.
  • ""The shrapnel hit the left side of the car, tearing through that side," Ahmed Qasoum said", Image via Middle East Eye/Izzeddin Kasim.
  • Mahmoud Qasoum was was reported seriously injured in a US strike in Idlib December 3rd 2021. Image published by Associated Press/Ghaith Alsayed.
  • The Qasoum family, injured by a US strike in Idlib December 3rd 2021. Image via Associated Press.

Geolocation notes (3) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention vehicles struck on the road between Ariha (أَرِيحَا) and Al Mastouma (المسطومة). Analyzing audiovisual material from sources, we have narrowed down the location to the following coordinates: 35.838709, 36.622450.

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  • Tagged visual material from sources

    Imagery:
    Middle East Eye

  • Tagged visual material from sources

    Imagery:
    Macro Media Center

  • Tagged visual material from sources

    Imagery:
    Macro Media Center

US Forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US Forces
  • US Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

US Forces

"A senior leader with Hurras al-Din, which is an Al-Qaeda affiliated group, by the name of Musab Kinan was the person targeted and killed in a kinetic strike by U.S. forces near Idlib on the 3rd of December. It was a strike conducted from an MQ-9 unmanned aircraft. The initial review of the strike did indicate the potential for possible civilian casualties. They've [CENTCOM] launched a civilian casualty assessment report, which they have to do when they think there's a potential and as far as I know that's still ongoing. I don't know what the results might be."

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0 – 1
  • (0–1 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    6–7
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    US Forces
  • Known target
    Al Qaeda/HTS
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–2

Sources (34) [ collapse]