Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CS343 TS005C

Incident date

October 18, 2016

Location

حساجك, Hassadjek, Aleppo, Syria

Geolocation

36.3960003, 37.2467422 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

At least 6 people were killed by airstrikes in the vicinity of Hassadjek village in Aleppo, though the circumstances were unclear.

Initially, Voice of Kurdistan blamed the US-led Coalition for a strike occurring around 3am, which it said left six people dead and four wounded.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said that Russian and Syrian government aircraft were not operating in the vicinity, but in a statement claimed that “Aircraft of the international coalition were performing tasks near Hassajek village at night on October 18. Air situation control systems have detected two F-16 of the Air Force of the Kingdom of Belgium at the specified time and area.” This report was quickly picked up by the Russian press, including RT.

The accusation led to a spat with Belgian authorities, who denied that their planes were involved or were nearby. In a tweet, the country’s Minister of Defense called Moscow’s assertion “Russian disinformation.” The Minister also denied the Russian account to the Belgian parliament. A spokeswoman for the Belgian ministry additionally told Airwars that “we did not fly there yesterday, nor the days before.”

A spokesperson for the Coalition told Airwars that “Contrary to what Russian media reported, there is no evidence of this incident, nor were any Belgian aircraft conducing kinetic operations at the time.”

The incident became further confused after Turkey announced it had carried out strikes on Kurdish militants in numerous locations north of Aleppo on the night of October 19th-20th. As the Syrian Observatory noted regarding the Hassadjek strikes, at the time “factions supported by Turkish warplanes and tanks,” as well as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and ISIL were all present and engaged in the area. Other local outlets, including Smart News and Izaz Media Center reported that the Syrian Democratic Forces had gained control of Hassadjek.

Among the strikes carried out on the 19th-20th, Bellingcat was able to geolocate one “very close to the village of Hassadjek,” which it noted was “the location where Russia accused Belgium of killing six civilians” on the morning of the 18th.

On October 21st, Russia called for Belgium to set up an investigation into the incident.

In their May 2020 civilian casualty report, the US-led Coalition assessed reports that they were responsible for civilian harm in this strike as “non-credible”, stating that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area at that time.

The incident occured at approximately 3:00 am local time.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    6
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • Translation: Belgium is not involved in civilian deaths Aleppo. Russian disinformation. (via Steven Vandeput - Belgium Defence Minister)
  • Analysis by Bellingcat geolocated a number of Turkish airstrikes within the vicinity of Hassadjek for the date in question.

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Non credible / Unsubstantiated
    Insufficient information to assess that, more likely than not, a Coalition strike resulted in civilian casualties.
  • Reason for non-credible assessment
    No Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SCA427292
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • May 1, 2020
  • Oct. 18, 2016, in Hassadjek, Syria via Airwars report. After a review of all available records it was assessed that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area that corresponds to the report of civilian casualties. 3069/CS343 37SCA427292

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

For October 17th-18th the Coalition reported “Near Mar’a, four strikes engaged four ISIL tactical units and destroyed two fighting positions and a vehicle.” For October 18th-19th the Coalition reported “Near Mar’a, one strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit.” In a statement to Airwars, the Coalition said that “there were no Belgian aircraft conducting strike operations at the time.

Turkish Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Armed Forces
  • Turkish Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    6
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    US-led Coalition, Turkish Armed Forces

Sources (14) [ collapse]