Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

Lib2011-131

Incident date

July 30, 2011

Location

طرابلس‎, Tripoli, Libya

Geolocation

32.886602, 13.190912 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

City

Airwars assessment

Three journalists were reportedly killed in a NATO airstrike on Tripoli.

SBS News tweeted: “Three journalists have reportedly been killed in a NATO air strike while on state television in Libya.”

Uruknet wrote: “Libya says three journalists have been killed in a NATO air strike on state television, and that the murder of the rebels’ army chief proves al-Qaeda is instigating the country’s armed revolt.

‘Three of our colleagues were murdered and 15 injured while performing their professional duty as Libyan journalists,’ said Khaled Basilia, director of Al-Jamahiriya television’s English-language service.”

NATO later published a statement on the incident: “A few hours ago, NATO conducted a precision airstrike that disabled three ground-based Libyan state TV satellite transmission dishes in Tripoli. The strike, performed by NATO fighter aircraft using state-of-the art precision guided munitions, was conducted in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1973, with the intent of degrading Qadhafi’s use of satellite television as a means to intimidate the Libyan people and incite acts of violence against them.

Our intervention was necessary as TV was being used as an integral component of the regime apparatus designed to systematically oppress and threaten civilians and to incite attacks against them. Qadhafi’s increasing practice of inflammatory broadcasts illustrates his regime’s policy to instill hatred amongst Libyans, to mobilize its supporters against civilians and to trigger bloodshed.

In light of our mandate to protect civilian lives, we had to act. After due consideration and careful planning to minimize the risks of casualties or long-term damage to television transmission capabilities, NATO performed the strike and we are now in the process of assessing its effect. Striking specifically these critical satellite dishes will reduce the regime’s ability to oppress civilians while at the same time preserve television broadcast infrastructure that will be needed after the conflict.”

Amnesty International wrote on that matter that it “did not have the opportunity to monitor and analyse the full content of Libyan state television broadcasts when it was under the control of Colonel al-Gaddafi, but the question of whether Colonel al-Gaddafi is using television broadcasts to instil hatred and mobilize its supporters is not the determining criteria for whether television transmitters are military objectives. The definition of military objective in Article 52(2) of Protocol I, which reflects customary IHL, specifies that ‘military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage#. Propaganda is not ‘an effective contribution to military action’ and it is difficult to consider that the destruction of the transmitters offers ‘an anticipated definite military advantage’.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • 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
    Gaddafi forces

Sources (10) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Video report from Libyan state TV on the incident

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the city of Tripoli (طرابلس‎), for which the generic coordinates are: 32.886602, 13.190912. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

NATO forces Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    NATO forces
  • NATO forces 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
    Other
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None

Civilian casualty statements

NATO forces
  • Mar 8, 2012
  • Transmission dishes belonging to Libyan State Television were deliberately targeted and destroyed to prevent their continued use to incite regime supporters to violence against civilians. This transmission station was a key element in broadcasting such incitement by regime leaders. Although the target had earlier been rejected because of the rhetoric broadcast over it did not at that time reach the threshold of incitement to violence, speeches made in early July reached a new level of intensity and focus. It should also be noted that the crimes against humanity (including murder and persecution) for which the International Criminal Court (ICC) had in late July indicted Col. Gaddafi and other senior regime members corresponded closely to the actions incited via the Libyan State Television transmission station. The target was struck at night, on a particular heading, to minimise any chance of injury to civilians. The dishes were targeted precisely and with low-intensity weapons to minimise the risk of collateral damage and to avoid broader disruption to the Libyan communications infrastructure. Battle damage assessment indicated that these precautions were fully successful in avoiding such injury or damage.

Original strike reports

NATO forces

In the vicinity of Tripoli: 2 Anti-Aircraft systems

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • 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
    Gaddafi forces

Sources (10) [ collapse]