US-led Coalition in Iraq & Syria

Civilians in the ruins of Mosul city. (Maranie R. Staab)

Belligerent
US-led Coalition
Country
Iraq
Syria
start date
end date
Airwars Grading
Confirmed
Belligerent Assessment

Incident Code

CI058

Incident date

April 12, 2015

Location

الحويجة, Hawijah, Kirkuk, Iraq

Geolocation

35.32345, 43.77659 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Within 100m (via Coalition) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Within 100m (via Coalition)

Airwars assessment

Internal monitoring by the Coalition initially identified two possible civilian casualties from an airstrike at Hawijah. The attack, on a High Value target code-named ANDERS MESA, was carried out by an A-10 Warthog.

According to a CENTCOM report declassified in September 2015, “2 civilians unseen in the collateral calls may have been killed or injured as a result of the strike.” A note added that a Task Force was “working with subordinate units to conduct an assessment of the strike.”

On January 15th 2016, CENTCOM publicly conceded that two non combatants had likely died in this US airstrike: “On April 12, 2015, near Al Huwayjah, Iraq, during a strike on an ISIL tactical unit, it was assessed that two unidentified civilians were killed.”

Airwars researchers have not identified any published allegations of civilian casualties from the time, though news reports did report approximately 30 Daesh fighters killed in a strike in the vicinity.

In July 2019, the Coalition provided Airwars with the location of the event to within a 100 metre box.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Prior to the Coalition releasing the MGRS for this incident, Airwars had geolocated it to the nearest town at 35.3240179, 43.77335

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Credible
    The investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties regrettably occurred.
  • Given reason for civilian harm
    No reason given
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    2
  • Stated location
    near Al Huwayjah, Iraq
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    38SLE888096
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Jan 15, 2016
  • On April 12, 2015, near Al Huwayjah, Iraq, during a strike on an ISIL tactical unit, it was assessed that two unidentified civilians were killed.

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

Confirmed on January 15th 2016. For April 12th-13th 2015, the Coalition had originally reported that “Near Al Huwayjah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.”

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

CI051

Incident date

March 13, 2015

Location

الحضر, Hatra, Nineveh, Iraq

Geolocation

35.46957, 42.45308 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Within 100m (via Coalition) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Within 100m (via Coalition)

Airwars assessment

A US airstrike ‘likely’ killed four civilians when a pair of vehicles was hit during an attack on a reported ISIL checkpoint, a CENTCOM investigation later concluded. After a later investigation by the Washington Post found that eleven civilians actually died – including five children, four women and two civilian drivers – the Coalition raised its own estimate to eleven deaths.

According to a declassified CENTCOM report issued on November 20th 2015, the US airstrike by an A-10 Warthog took place at Hatra at 12.18pm local time, and was a target of opportunity.

But also present at the enemy checkpoint were two civilian vehicles, which aircrews and analysts failed to properly identify in the short time between the release of a GBU-38 missile and impact. In the ensuing strike, both civilian cars were also destroyed.

The tragic events of March 13th were never publicly reported at the time. Instead, the owner of one of the vehicles destroyed in the airstrike later wrote to the Coalition asking for compensation for her destroyed vehicle. In a redacted email, the owner reveals that her own KIA car was carrying a family of two children and three women along with a civilian driver. Another vehicle, a GMC with another family in it was also present.

A major investigation by the Washington Post identified the two families killed. The first was that of the driver of the Kia, along with his grandmother, aunt, sister and two children. In the GMC, the driver died along with the family of an Iraqi police commander: “A provincial government official in northern Iraq told Ekabee that the family of a lieutenant colonel with the Iraqi police had been burned alive in the GMC Suburban. ‘What happened to me, you can’t even imagine,’ the colonel said last month in interview with The Washington Post. He said his 9-year-old daughter; two sons, ages 10 and 16; his wife; and the driver were killed in the attack. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he still has family trapped in Mosul.“

The Hatra incident was initially made public with the release of another declassified CENTCOM document which identified 45 problem incidents involving Coalition aircraft.

Coalition commander Lt General John Hesterman signed off on the completed CENTCOM investigation noting: “I concur with the findings and conclusions of the IO [investigating officer], who substantiated by a preponderance of the evidence that civilian casualties had occurred.”

On April 30th 2017 the Coalition amended its estimate for the attack, noting: “March 13, 2015, near Hatra, Iraq: On the Nov. 20, 2015, U.S. Central Command press release it was reported that four civilians were killed during a strike on an ISIS checkpoint. A subsequent investigation concluded that 11 civilians were unintentionally killed.“

The incident occured at 12:18 pm local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (4)

  • Wife of anonymised Lt Col in Iraq Army Adult female Fanmily of Lt Col in Iraq Army killed
  • Daughter 9 years old female killed
  • Son 10 years old male killed
  • Son 16 years old male killed
  • Unnamed driver of vehicle Adult male killed

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    11
  • (5 children4 women2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • The partly redacted testimony of an Iraqi car owner which led Centcom to conclude it had killed civilians in Iraq on march 13th 2015
  • Coaliton commander Lt General John Hesterman signs off on the investigation

Geolocation notes

Prior to the Coalition releasing the MGRS for this incident, Airwars had geolocated it to the nearest village at 35.432785, 44.22447.

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Credible
    The investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties regrettably occurred.
  • Given reason for civilian harm
    No reason given
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    11
  • Stated location
    near Al Hatra, Iraq
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    38SKE689281
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Apr 30, 2017
  • May 21, 2015
  • Coalition aircraft conducted a dynamic airstrike on a manned ISIL checkpoint near Al Hatra, Iraq. The ISIL checkpoint was successfully destroyed as a result of the airstrike. Unfortunately, the airstrike is assessed as likely resulting in the deaths of four civilians

  • March 13, 2015, near Hatra, Iraq: On the Nov. 20, 2015, U.S. Central Command press release it was reported that four civilians were killed during a strike on an ISIS checkpoint. A subsequent investigation concluded that 11 civilians were unintentionally killed.

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

The Coalition reported that for March 13th-14th 2015, “Near Kirkuk, four airstrikes struck one large ISIL unit and two ISIL tactical units and destroyed four buildings, three ISIL machine guns, and three ISIL vehicles,” the closest published match to this event at the time.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    11
  • (5 children4 women2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

CS019

Incident date

November 6, 2014

Location

حارم, Harim, Idlib, Syria

Geolocation

36.21003, 36.51826 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Within 100m (via Coalition) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Within 100m (via Coalition)

Airwars assessment

Six months after US air raids had targeted the Khorasan Group (part of the al-Nusra Front) and the militant group Ahrar al-Sham, the Coalition conceded that two children had “likely” died in the attack – the first public concession of any civilian deaths after 4,000 airstrikes against ISIS over nine months.

The November 5th US-only raid targeted the villages of Harem, Bab Al Hawa, Sarmada, Reef Al-Muhameen and Binsh.

Reports from the night remain confused, with civilian deaths claimed at a number of locations. Reuters carried a statement from Ahrar al-Sham saying that “The air strikes came last night and hit a number of areas in the liberated Idlib countryside,” and that casualties included “women and children and civilians.”

The site of the civilian deaths was Harem, CENTCOM later confirmed. It also accepted that two civilian NGO workers were  injured in the attack. According to the Syrian Revolution Forum blog: “The planes of the Arab/Western coalition launched air strikes on Syrian cities adjacent to the Turkish border. The centre of the town of Harem was targeted with more than six raids causing the death of four children and causing massive destruction to residential and commercial property on Al Sijn street.”

One of the children was identified as a five year old girl,  whose father Ali Saeed Al Haj Qaddour – a fighter with the al-Nusra Front – also died in the attack (both pictured below.) Daniya’s mother and brother Saeed were reported to have been severely wounded. A second unidentified female child victim was shown alongside the body of Daniya in several graphic videos and photographs taken after the US bombing.

VDC additionally reported the deaths of three or four unidentified male children in the Coalition attack – though gave no further details.

In July 2019, the Coalition provided Airwars with the geolocation of the event, accurate to a 100m box.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 6
  • (2–6 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition

Sources (18) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (16) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Video showing the two girls killed in the strike, included in the SNHR report.
  • Video purporting to show fires resulting from the Coalition bombing on Sarmada on 5/11/2014. Published by ShaamNetwork S.N.N.
  • Video purporting to show fires resulting from the coalition bombing on Sarmada on 5/11/2014. Published by ShaamNetwork S.N.N.
  • Video purporting to show fire crews attempting to put out the fires resulting from the coalition bombing on Sarmada on 5/11/2014. Published by ShaamNetwork S.N.N.
  • Video purporting to show extensive destruction in civilian homes in Harem.
  • Video purporting to show extensive destruction in Harem following coalition strikes. This video was included in a Syrian Network for Human Rights report.
  • Video showing extensive destruction after the alleged strike.
  • Video footage shows civil defense teams in Al-Atarem area trying to find any victims underneath the rubbles in Harem city.
  • Huge signs of destruction reportedly caused by the international alliance’s shelling against Harem.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    5-year-old Daniya Ali Al-Haj Qaddour (via SNHR)
  • Daniya Ali Al-Haj Qaddour with her father, an Al-Nusra fighter who was also allegedly killed in the strike (via SNHR)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Unidentified girl allegedly kileld in the strikes (via SNHR)
  • Aftermath of the strike (via SNHR)
  • Aftermath of the strike (via SNHR)
  • Aftermath of the strike (via SNHR)
  • Aftermath of the strike (via SNHR)

Geolocation notes

Prior to the Coalition releasing the MGRS for this incident, Airwars had geolocated it to the nearest village at 36.212564, 36.519736

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Credible
    The investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties regrettably occurred.
  • Given reason for civilian harm
    Killed by strike blast
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Initial Airwars grading
    Confirmed
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    2
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    2
  • Stated location
    Harem, Syria
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SBA769101
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • May 21, 2015
  • The preponderance of the evidence in the investigation indicates the airstrikes conducted against facilities used by Khorasan Group in the vicinity of Harim City, Syria, likely led to the deaths of two non-combatant children. From May declassified file: "CCWEBOPS received social media reports that civilians were killed or injured during a strike on a named objective in Syria. // TF nominated the target. SNHR report on CIVCAS. CFACC initially assessed that there was insufficient information to conclude whether the alleged CIVCAS allegations are credible. CFACC was unable to assess whether civilians were co-located with the targeted KG NAIs. After additional information was received, CJTF was tasked with conducing an additional credibility assessment based on the new information. 12/31/2014 JTF assessed this allegation that a child was killed during the strike as potentially credible. Investigation appointed 8 Jan 15 with a suspense of 22 Jan 2015"

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

CENTCOM originally confirmed US strikes in the vicinity, though denied causing any civilian deaths: “U.S. military forces conducted airstrikes last night against five Khorasan Group targets in the vicinity of Sarmada, Syria, using bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely. We are still assessing the outcome of the attack, but have initial indications that it resulted in the intended effects by striking terrorists and destroying or severely damaging several Khorasan Group vehicles and buildings assessed to be meeting and staging areas, IED-making facilities and training facilities. These strikes were undertaken only by U.S. assets.“

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 6
  • (2–6 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition

Sources (18) [ collapse]