Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CS561

Incident date

March 9, 2017

Location

الكرامة, Al Karama, Ar Raqqah, Syria

Geolocation

35.87483, 39.27473 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Within 100m (via Coalition) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Within 100m (via Coalition)

Airwars assessment

Between seven and 23 civilians including six children died and 18 to 30 more, including women and children, were injured in Coalition airstrikes on Al Karama town and nearby villages in Raqqa governorate, according to local sources.

Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently reported the death of Jum’a Mahmood Hamad Al-Hito “who was killed today due to coalition warplanes shelling in Karama town, east of Raqqa this afternoon.”

In June 2019 the Coalition accepted responsibility for this allegation of civilian harm. Their monthly civilian casualty report noted “Coalition aircraft conducted an airstrike against a Daesh fighting position. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally wounded due to their proximity to the strike.” In May 2020 the Pentagon declared this to have been a US action, while erroneously placing the date of the event on March 8th.

Alaraby – citing RBSS at the time – said the Coalition “targeted the only water supply tank in the town” but said there were no reports of civilian casualties. Syria News Desk put the death toll at seven with 18 more injured in a raid on Al Karama. The source blamed the Coalition.

Smart also said that the raids were likely carried out by the Coaliton. It reported that “warplanes launched raids on the town of al Karama (about 25 km east of Raqqa), and the nearby villages of Ghassaniya and Jadid Khabour and Kleib, which resulted in a number of deaths and injuries. A medical source reported that nine were killed and 18 wounded, including two children and three women, who were taken to the National Hospital in Raqqa.” Zaman Alwasl put the death toll higher at 14 including six children.

A New York Times report included details from a former Air Force intelligence officer that “At about 4 a.m., he said, the drone arrived over the town’s flat-roofed houses. His Air Force intelligence team was watching from a secure operations center in the United States. A Talon Anvil operator typed a message  into the chat room the cell  shared with intelligence analysts: All civilians have fled the area. Anyone left is an enemy fighter. Find lots of targets for us today because we want to go Winchester…As the drone circled, the town appeared to be asleep, the former officer said. Even with infrared sensors, the team did not see movement. Talon Anvil focused in on a building and typed in the chat that a tip from ground forces indicated that the building was an enemy training center. Sensors suggested an enemy cellphone or radio might be in the neighborhood but was unable to pinpoint it to a single block, let alone a single building. Talon Anvil did not wait for confirmation, and ordered a self-defense strike, the former officer said. The Predator dropped a 500-pound bomb through the roof. As the smoke cleared, the former officer said, his team stared at their screens in dismay. The infrared cameras showed women and children staggering out of the partly collapsed building, some missing limbs, some dragging the dead. The intelligence analysts began taking screen shots and tallying the casualties. They sent an initial battle damage assessment to Talon Anvil: 23 dead or severely wounded, 30 lightly wounded, very likely civilians.”

In June 2019, the Coalition provided Airwars with the location of this incident, accurate to within a 100 metre box.

In its annual civilian harm report to Congress in May 2020, the Pentagon declared this to be a US incident.

The incident occured at approximately 4:00 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    7 – 23
  • (6 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    18–30
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Known target
    ISIS

Sources (19) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • Jum’a Mahmood Hamad Al-Hito (via RBSS)
  • Aftermath of the air strike (via SNHR)
  • Aftermath of the air strike (via All4Syria)
  • Table from May 2020 Pentagon report to Congress, conceding additional US civilian harm events in Iraq and Syria during 2017.

Geolocation notes

Prior to the Coalition releasing the MGRS for this incident, Airwars had geolocated this event to the nearest village at 35.86808, 39.277394.

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
    Killed by strike blast
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    1
  • Stated location
    near Al Karama, Syria
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SEV248701
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Jun 28, 2019
  • Mar. 8, 2017, near Al Karama, Syria, via Airwars report. Coalition aircraft conducted an airstrike against a Daesh fighting position. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally wounded due to their proximity to the strike.

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

For March 8th-9th, the Coalition reported: “Near Ar Raqqah, nine strikes engaged four ISIS tactical units; destroyed three weapons caches, two mortar systems, an artillery system, an ISIS training center, a vehicle, a VBIED, and a fighting position.” For March 9th-10th: “Near Ar Raqqah, 13 strikes engaged eight ISIS tactical units; destroyed four vehicles, a fighting position, a tactical vehicle, an ISIS headquarters, and a VBIED factory; and damaged three supply routes.”

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    7 – 23
  • (6 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    18–30
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Known target
    ISIS

Sources (19) [ collapse]