Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

LC172

Incident date

July 27, 2019

Location

طرابلس‎, Tripoli: Airport road, Tripoli, Libya

Geolocation

32.806027, 13.139814 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Between four and five civilians were allegedly killed in an LNA airstrike on a hospital in the south of Tripoli.

Al Wasat and 218 TV said four people were killed and named the victims.

Al Jazeera wrote: “An air attack by forces loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar near the Libyan capital killed five doctors, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) said on Sunday.

‘The field hospital located on the airport road [southern Tripoli] was hit by an air raid,’ said health ministry spokesperson Lamine al-Hashemi.

‘Five doctors were killed and seven other people, including rescuers, [were] wounded’ in Saturday’s attack that al-Hashemi said was carried out by ‘a Haftar warplane’.”

France 24 reported the same death toll but said the dead were four doctors and a paramedic.

According to ABS-CBN, the LNA confirmed the strike but did not admit to harming civilians: “‘We conducted an air raid targeting a field hospital south of Tripoli on Saturday, used as cover by terrorists to avoid being targeted,’ said a spokesman for Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.”

It added: “But Haftar’s spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari said those killed were ‘not doctors but medical students’, some of them linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

‘Some were imprisoned in the past for terrorism,’ he told a press conference.”

Amnesty International later published a detailed investigation: “The most devastating took place in the evening of 27 July 2019, when five medics and rescuers were killed and eight were injured in a missile strike which struck the porch of the house where the men were sitting. Those who were killed included two doctors, Aws Nusrat and Fathi Belqaid, and three drivers and rescuers, Mu’adh Nusrat, Mohammed Salah, and Ibrahim ben Salah. The house, near the disused Tripoli international airport south of the city, was one of several in a compound often referred to as “US embassy”, because it housed US security personnel in 2013 and 2014. Amnesty International investigators found fragments of a Chinese Blue Arrow 7 guided missile in the crater at the site of the strike. In Libya, that missile is only fired by Chinese Wing Loong drones, which the UAE has been operating on behalf of the LNA. Dr Haytham, a surgeon, told Amnesty International:

‘That day we received some wounded fighters in the morning and we stabilised them and sent them on to a main hospital. We then received a few more later in the day and likewise sent them after stabilising them. At the end of the day we had no patients and we were sitting together, relaxing, drinking tea and coffee and cleaning and preparing for the next day. I saw a drone in the sky before the strike but did not think it would strike. But it did. It was about 8pm. After the strike we quickly took the injured to Abu Salim hospital and then came back to retrieve the bodies of the dead. It was a terrible sight; the bodies were in shreds. I found Ibrahim’s torso. There was a drone in the sky coming and going and so we kept scattering when the drone came closer and then getting back together to keep looking for body parts of our colleagues when the drone moved away.’

Another medic, who was injured in the strike, told Amnesty International:

‘When we saw the drone we debated whether it was a surveillance drone or one which strikes. Then before 8pm, before the strike there was no noise and no visible drone. I was feeling satisfied that I had been able to assist some wounded people that day and I was drinking tea. Then the strike happened. I was injured, a broken leg, but others were more seriously wounded.’

The field hospital had been operating in that particular house for over a month, but it is not clear the extent to which the LNA knew that it was a field hospital. The roof is not marked with a red crescent, and Amnesty International observed no specific external markings indicating it was a hospital. At the same time, according to consistent testimonial evidence and satellite imagery, in addition to receiving wounded fighters, some of whom were brought from the frontlines in weaponised military vehicles, militia members also used the compound as a base and central kitchen for distributing meals. At the time of the strike two ambulances were parked outside the field hospital, although one was covered in dust, making it potentially difficult to distinguish it as an ambulance from a distance. Without knowing the LNA’s exact intelligence about the site, and taking into account the above information, it is not possible to determine whether the LNA sought to deliberately target a health facility, or whether it might have presumed that the site was a military position, albeit with medics present to tend to the wounded fighters.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Fathi Balqayd Adult male Doctor killed
  • Ons Nasrat Adult male Doctor killed
  • Ibrahim bin Saleh Adult male Doctor killed
  • Mohammed Salah Adult male Medic killed
  • Mu’adh Nusrat Adult male Driver/Rescuer killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 5
  • (4–5 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    7–8
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    Libyan National Army (LNA)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8

Sources (14) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (9) [ collapse]

  • One of the alleged victims (via 218 TV)
  • Picture of the aftermath (via Al Wasat)
  • Another picture of the aftermath (via Al Wasat)
  • Another picture of the aftermath (via Al Wasat)
  • Another picture of the aftermath (via Al Wasat)
  • Another picture of the aftermath (via Al Wasat)
  • Another picture of the aftermath (via Al Wasat)
  • Another picture of the aftermath (via Al Wasat)
  • Another picture of the aftermath (via Al Wasat)

Libyan National Army (LNA) Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    Libyan National Army (LNA)
  • Libyan National Army (LNA) position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    4 – 5
  • (4–5 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    7–8
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    Libyan National Army (LNA)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    8

Sources (14) [ collapse]