Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

Lib2011-114

Incident date

July 20, 2011

Location

صرمان, Surman, Zawiya, Libya

Geolocation

32.756242, 12.525755 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

Between 13 and 19 civilians were reportedly killed in a NATO airstrike on Surman.

The New York Times published a detailed report of the event: “The Qaddafi government used the strike for propaganda purposes. It claimed as many as 19 civilians were killed and put up portraits of the victims across Tripoli. Khaled offered a slightly different count, saying 13 civilians were killed and six wounded. Among the dead, he said, were his wife, two children and one of his nieces. Local anti-Qaddafi guards, who had no sympathy for the Hamedis, corroborated those deaths and said members of their families had seen the children’s bodies immediately after the attack. The other deaths could not be confirmed, in part because the victims and the family were scattered by the war.”

Human Rights Watch investigated the incident on the ground: “In the early morning of June 20, 2011, NATO air strikes hit the large, walled farm of a former member of Gaddafi’s Revolutionary Council, Maj. Gen. el-Khweldi el-Hamedi, in the town of Sorman 70 kilometers west of Tripoli. The strikes apparently killed eight family members and five staff—in total four men, four women and five children. Family members and staff told Human Rights Watch that el-Khweldi el-Hamedi had retired from military and political life and was not at the farm at the time of the attack. One family member said that NATO had also struck el-Khweldi el-Hamedi’s office in Tripoli, showing Human Rights Watch a photograph of a large damaged building. Human Rights Watch did not inspect that site. NATO strikes also destroyed a post office and an adjacent building next to a large communications tower just outside the farm.The post office and a building next to it, both alongside a large communications tower, were destroyed The post office and a building next to it, both alongside a large communications tower, were destroyed The post office and a building next to it, both alongside a large communications tower, were destroyed.”

It added: “Human Rights Watch visited the el- Hamedi farm on August 11, 2011, under the supervision of a Gaddafi government minder. In three large villas that were hit, Human Rights Watch found no evidence of military activity, although such evidence could have been removed. At one of the destroyed villas, Human Rights Watch found remnants of a munition apparently dropped by NATO, but the type of weapon could not be determined.”

The pro-Gaddafi blog “Libyan Revolutionary Committees Movement” published another detailed report: “Khalid al-Khuwaildi al-Humaidi, President of the International Organization for Peace, Care and Relief (IOPCR), sued NATO for its “crimes” against Libyan civilians. He, alone, lost 13 members of his family because of the bombing, including two of his sons, his pregnant wife, his niece, aunt and a cousin. Members of the same family, including his mother, father, sisters and relatives who were at home were also injured.”

David McKenzie said: “15 people killed in NATO airstrike west of Tripoli before dawn according to hospital staff and our own count.”

The BBC also reported 15 civilian deaths.

Bani Walid said 18 civilians died in the attack.

Al Jazeera put the death toll at 19, quoting a Gaddafi regime spokesperson.

Amnesty International quoted NATO Wing Commander Mike Bracken saying: “In the early hours of Monday morning [20 June] NATO carried out a precision strike using precision-guided weapons on a highly-significant command-and-control node in the Surman area near Zawiya. The facility was directly involved in coordinating systematic attacks on the Libyan people and was identified through rigorous analysis based on persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and this was carried out over a prolonged period of time. NATO is aware of allegations that this strike caused casualties. That is something we cannot independently verify, but I say again, this was a legitimate military target, a high-value, command-and-control node used to coordinate attacks against civilians. We observed the site over a prolonged period of time before conducting the precision strike which minimized any potential risk of causing unnecessary casualties.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (6)

Family members (2)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    13 – 19
  • (5 children4 women3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3–6
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    NATO forces
  • Suspected target
    NATO forces

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (22) [ collapse]

  • Video showing the victims of the strike
  • Another report on the event
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    First part of a documentary about the event
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Second part of the documentary
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Third part of the documentary
  • French report about the incident
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Another report in French
  • A video report in Arabic
  • A video report showing the funeral
  • Another video report in Arabic
  • Pictures of the victims (via Libyan Revolutionary Committees Movement)
  • Pictures of the victims of a NATO airstrike on Surman on June 20th, 2011 (via Libyan Revolutionary Committees Movement)
  • Pictures of Khweldi Khaled el-Hamedi, allegedly killed by a NATO airstrike on Surman on June 20th, 2011 (via Al Rassed Al Liby)
  • Pictures of Khweldi Khaled el-Hamedi, allegedly killed by a NATO airstrike on Surman on June 20th, 2011 (via Al Rassed Al Liby)
  • Khalida Khaled el-Hamedi, allegedly killed by a NATO airstrike on Surman on June 20th, 2011 (via Al Rassed Al Liby)
  • Khalida Khaled el-Hamedi, allegedly killed by a NATO airstrike on Surman on June 20th, 2011 (via Al Rassed Al Liby)
  • Khalida Khaled el-Hamedi, allegedly killed by a NATO airstrike on Surman on June 20th, 2011 (via Al Rassed Al Liby)
  • Khalida Khaled el-Hamedi, allegedly killed by a NATO airstrike on Surman on June 20th, 2011 (via Al Rassed Al Liby)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Khalida Khaled el-Hamedi, allegedly killed by a NATO airstrike on Surman on June 20th, 2011 (via Al Rassed Al Liby)
  • Najia Belqasem el-Hamedi, allegedly killed by a NATO airstrike on Surman on June 20th, 2011 (via Alkhaldoon)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Amina and Aimra Essam Jomaa, allegedly killed by a NATO airstrike on Surman on June 20th, 2011 (via Alkhaldoon)
  • Pictures of the victims of a NATO airstrike on Surman on June 20th, 2011 (via Executive Office of the General Association of Prisoners, Detainees, Martyrs and Missing Persons)

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the house of Maj. Gen. Al Khweldi Al Hamedi (مجمع الخويلدي الحميدي السكني) being struck, within the neighbourhood of Surman (صرمان‎), the exact location of which has been published by New York Times. The exact coordinates are: 32.756242, 12.525755.

  • Reports of the incident mention the house of Maj. Gen. Al Khweldi Al Hamedi (مجمع الخويلدي الحميدي السكني) being struck, within the neighbourhood of Surman (صرمان‎), the exact location of which has been published by New York Times.

    Imagery:
    Google Earth

NATO forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    NATO forces
  • NATO forces position on incident
    Open incident
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

NATO forces
  • Mar 8, 2012
  • The compound included a number of command and control buildings as well as an ammunition storage facility. Between 20 and 30 satellite communication dishes were observed in the compound and on the buildings, along with a lattice tower aerial immediately across the street. The compound was at an isolated location outside Tripoli and was guarded by checkpoints, guards and patrol vehicles forming several rings of security around the facility. Although a school and mosque were located in close proximity to the target, aerial surveillance identified no civilians in the area. The target was struck at night to minimize any possibility of casualties to transient civilians; for similar reasons the ammunition dump and other military objects located on the site were also not struck.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    13 – 19
  • (5 children4 women3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3–6
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Known attacker
    NATO forces
  • Suspected target
    NATO forces

Sources (12) [ collapse]