Local sources reported that at least four civilians from the same family were killed in a joint operation by the Syrian Democratic Forces with air support from Coalition fighter jets around 1 am between April 24th and 25th. Baladi claimed that Coalition helicopters participated in the raid.
While most sources, including an eyewitness and the UN, reported that the incident occurred in Al Daman village, others including local monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed the incident occurred in Al Mashikh village.
In August 2019 the Coalition announced that it had assessed this allegation of civilian harm to be non-credible. Their monthly civilian casualty report noted “After a review of available information it was assessed that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area that corresponds to the report of civilian casualties.”
Step News added that “the Coalition forces at midnight carried out a raid on the house of Farhan Mazhour al-Sarhan in the village of Mashekh near the city of Al Bassira supported by the ground force of the militia of SDF and opened fire on the house, killing Farhan Mazhour Al Sarhan and two his sons and the wife of his son (who was pregnant), knowing that the man and his sons are civilians.”
According to Deir Ezzor 24, the Coalition carried out a landing operation with SDF and shot and killed a total of six family members, including a child and two women. Deir Ezzor 24 managed to speak to one of the victim’s relatives who witnessed the event.
“On Friday, 26-4-2019, at about 1 p.m., we woke up to the sound of helicopters over our houses accompanied by the sound of armored vehicles in front of the houses, we did not know what was going on, we were so terrified.”
The witness continued:
“The house they were seeking was Farhan Al-Madhoor’s, as an armed group of the SDF raided it, getting the whole family outside the house and then an element of the group shouted at the family saying: the one who is called “Adham Al-Madhoor” shall move towards us slowly raising his hands high into the air, and immediately the youth Adham did what he was told. He moved, raising his hands up in the air, towards the group that were taking the shooters’ stance, and after he walked several steps, the SDF elements shot him dead, when Adham’s father saw his son falling down, he ran toward him and was shot by the SDF before reaching him. The father and the son were killed in cold blood in front of their family. Muhammad, Adham’s brother, took his eight months pregnant wife and tried to escape after he saw the fate of his father and brother, but he ran only a few steps before the group opened fire on him and his wife killing them.””
The source added that the reasons for “the landing are still unknown” and that “D24 network was not able to determine whether the landing had affected a cell or elements of Daesh in Daman village.” It went on to note, however, that “international coalition forces and the SDF have recently carried out several landings in Deir Ezzor countryside.”
Deir Ezzor 24 added in a later post that on May 18th, the international coalition held an extended meeting with the families of the victims of two “massacres”; in Ash-Shahil and Daman. The source reported that the meeting took place in Al-Omar oilfield.
“Sources from within the meeting confirmed that the families of the victims of Ash-Shahil and Daman massacre called on the international coalition to provide evidence that their sons were in contact or cooperation with Daesh in Deir Ezzor countryside.
The sources added that the evidence of the coalition and the SDF was not convincing and does not indicate any links between the victims and Daesh.
The sources noted that the SDF tried to calm the atmosphere, and said that they will restore the right of all those killed by mistake in the landing operations, but the victims’ families demanded the handing over of the persons who killed the civilians in Daman town north of Deir Ezzor.
The victims’ families stressed that what took place in Ash-Shahil and Daman was a mistake, so the international coalition and the SDF have to admit that their information was inaccurate and erroneous.
The international coalition and the SDF, in turn, made a distinction between the two massacres as part of the discussion in the meeting, they accused the victims of Ash-Shahil that they had resisted the international coalition forces during the operation, which resulted in eight deaths, while the coalition confirmed that what happened in Daman village did not witness any resistance from the people.
The victims’ families responded in different way to these accusations that the evidence, presented against the victims to be raided, was not correct, and demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice and held accountable.
The meeting was attended by the commander of the international coalition forces in the eastern region, military figures in the SDF and tribal figures including Sheikh Jamil al-Hafel.
The sources confirmed that some of the tribal figures withdrew from the meeting, as they were not satisfied with the evidence provided, and that some Sheikhs took the responsibility of completing the communication with the Coalition about the two massacres of Daman and Ash-Shahil.”
The UN Commission of Inquiry cited the case in its September 2019 report, noting: “In another incident on 25 April, at approximately 1.00 a.m., interviewees described how two helicopters circling over Al-Daman village warned, using loudspeakers, the inhabitants of the village not to leave their homes, and that non-compliance would cause forces to open fire. Witnesses described how a voice over a loudspeaker ordered the female family members of a certain house to leave it, resulting in two women and two girls leaving the house and being handcuffed. Afterwards, the men from the house were ordered to leave. While the exact unfolding of events is under investigation, three men and one pregnant woman, all reportedly unarmed, were subsequently shot by SDF. The following day, villagers protested against SDF and reportedly burned down SDF checkpoints.”
The incident occured at 1:00 am local time.