As the SDF sought to take control of Al-Baghouz, the last ISIS territorial stronghold in Syria, local sources reported on what was referred to as a significant “massacre” in which between 160 and 300 civilians including 45 children were alleged killed.
In May 2019, the Coalition announced that it had assessed this allegation of civilian harm as non-credible, noting “the report contains insufficient information of the time, location and details to assess its credibility.”
Nors For Studies – an Arabic language source which describes itself as a Syrian research centre though which was not known for casualty claims in Deir Ezzor until very recently – alleged the staggering number of 3,000 people killed by Coalition bombardments. It was unclear whether this referred to a general number of fatalities, or whether it referred to one specific incident.
According to the source, 300 people were reported killed as a result of “sniping” and 300 charred bodies were found, most of whom were reported to be children and women.
According to Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silenty (RBSS), these people were killed in Coalition air and ground attacks aimed at expelling ISIS from the town. The source reported that ISIS used hundreds of civilians as human shields during the raids. It alleged that after SDF took control of the town, “SDF militias dug mass graves to bury those killed and even those merely injured”. Alongside the report, RBSS posted numerous graphic photos of human remains and charred bodies.
Several sources including Al Hasaka Arabea and RBSS reported that after “the images leaked”, journalists were prevented from entering Al-Baghouz camp by the “intelligence service of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party”. This intelligence service was reported to have entered with a convoy of trucks “in order to get rid of the bodies of the massacres committed by the Kurdish protection units”. Al Hasaka Arabea also claimed that the Coalition did not distinguish between civilians and members of ISIS.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SO4HR) reported 200 people including ISIS members and their families were killed in alleged Coalition bombing on Al-Baghouz camp carried out on Tuesday March 19th. The source reported that among the victims were 160 civilians, including 45 children. The bodies were reportedly buried on Wednesday morning March 20th.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights called for an independent investigation into what it described as “the massacre”. The Syrian Observatory questioned whether the international coalition knew during the bombing of the camp of the presence of children and women from the families of ISIS and why media was prevented from entering the area on the morning of March 20th.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SN4HR) reported a much lower number of individuals killed in aerial and ground attacks on Al Baghouz camp over the course of the last four days before the declared capture of Al Baghouz on March 23rd. The Syrian Network said that tens of individuals were killed, including women and children, most of whom were reported to be family members of ISIS members. The Network added that it was unable to specify the details of the attacks and the death tolls at the time of writing.
The local time of the incident is unknown.