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

CI878a

Incident date

March 20, 2019

Location

Anbar, Iraq

Geolocation

32.559763, 41.919644 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Province/governorate level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Province/governorate

Airwars assessment

In an incident previously not tracked by Airwars, the Coalition later confirmed the death of one civilian and the injury of another near Anbar, Iraq. This was later confirmed to be a US action.

As CJTFOIR’s June 2019 civilian casualty report noted: “Coalition forces engaged in a small arms fire event. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally killed and another one unintentionally wounded in the exchange.”

The Coalition has not provided any further locational information for this incident, and Airwars researchers could not find any reported claims of civilian harm in the area on this day.

In its May 2020 annual report on civilian harm to Congress, the Pentagon confirmed this to be a US action.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    ISIS

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Table of US-only civilian harm events in Iraq and Syria for 2019, declared by the Pentagon to Congress in May 2020.

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Credible / Substantiated
    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
    Previously unknown
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    1
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    1
  • Stated location
    Anbar, Iraq
    Nearest population center

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Jun 27, 2019
  • Mar. 20, 2019, near Anbar, Iraq, via self-report. Coalition forces engaged in a small arms fire event. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally killed and another one unintentionally wounded in the exchange.

United States
  • May 6, 2020
  • As of March 1, 2020, CJTF-OIR assessed that 11 reports of civilian casualties during 2019 were credible, with approximately 22 civilians killed and approximately 13 civilians injured as a result of U.S. military operations. The following table contains additional details about each instance during 2019 that was assessed to have resulted in civilian casualties. 20-Mar-19 Anbar Province, Iraq Ground action 1 civilian killed 1 civilian injured

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

Between March 10 - 23, 2019, CJTF-OIR conducted 250 strikes consisting of 398 engagements against Daesh
targets in Syria and Iraq.

In Iraq, CJTF-OIR conducted 57 strikes consisting of 60 engagements, engaged 44 Daesh tactical units, and destroyed 14 supply routes, three buildings, two fighting position, one weapons cache, and one cave.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground)
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    ISIS

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

CS1317a

Incident date

August 2, 2019

Location

الفردوس, near Raqqa, Syria, Raqqa, Syria

Geolocation

35.95178, 39.00444 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Within 100m (via Coalition) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Within 100m (via Coalition)

Airwars assessment

In an incident previously not tracked by Airwars, the Coalition later confirmed the death of one civilian near Raqqa.

In its February 2019 report, the Coalition noted the following: “Coalition aircraft conducted two airstrikes and one artillery strike. The airstrikes targeted one ISIS weapons cache and one ISIS command and control facility. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally killed in each of these strikes.”

It was later clarified to Airwars that this incident of civilian harm was found during the assessment of Airwars allegation CS1317 and had not been previously reported to the Coalition.

It is unclear which strike targeted the ISIS weapons cache and which one targeted the ISIS command and control facility. The other airstrike incident is recorded as CS1317 and the artillery incident as CS1317b.

The Coalition provided Airwars with the location of this incident, accurate to within a 100 metre box.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition

Sources (1) [ collapse]

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Credible / Substantiated
    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
    1
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    near Raqqa, Syria
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SEV004786
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Feb 28, 2019
  • August 2, 2017, near Raqqa, Syria, via Airwars report. Coalition aircraft conduced two airstrikes and one artillery strike. The airstrikes targeted one ISIS weapons cache and one ISIS command and control facility. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally killed in each of these strikes.

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

Near Raqqah, 14 strikes engaged 10 ISIS tactical units and destroyed nine fighting positions,
two vehicles, a supply cache, a VBIED, a mortar position, an ISIS UAS site, and a generator.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition

Sources (1) [ collapse]

Incident Code

CI880

Incident date

March 13, 2020

Location

مطار كربلاء الدولي, Karbala International Airport, Karbala, Iraq

Geolocation

32.348172, 44.214648 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Within 100m (via Coalition) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Within 100m (via Coalition)

Airwars assessment

Three civilians were reportedly killed and two others injured in alleged American airstrikes in on Karbala International Airport which was under construction in Karbala governorate on March 13th, 2020, according to local sources. The incident is also believed to have killed three belligerents and the injury of nine, two of whom are in critical condition. In September 2020, the Coalition admitted that a strike had been conducted on March 13th “against a Kata’ib Hizbolla facility”, killing one civilian.

US officials had told Reuters that American “retaliatory strikes are underway in Iraq after the Taji camp attack north of Baghdad”.

Step News Agency reported that “on Thursday night-Friday night, the United States launched airstrikes targeting sites belonging to the Iranian militias in Iraq, amid reports that the general was killed in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard militia, Siamand Mashhadani, in the Jurf Al Sakhr region.” The Pentagon confirmed that strikes targeted five weapon storage units of Iranian-backed militias.

One of the victims was identified by New York Times as “Karrar Sabbar, aged 23, who left behind a wife and two children. He worked as a guard, sleeping in one of the airport’s halls or one of the administrative buildings.”

@Nz0FT8c0yti5CxG tweeted that Karrar (1995, full name unknown) was killed in American airstrikes around 1 AM. The source added that the young man was from Karbala governorate, and he worked as a night security guard at an airport that had been under construction. Four missiles were reportedly fired by American warplanes. Also continued to say that “two of his brothers are martyrs.”

NYTimes said that the airstrikes launched overnight “killed three Iraqi soldiers, two police officers and a civilian worker, and damaged an unfinished civilian airport.”

NYTimes said the Pentagon said the American strikes were in self-defense to destroy rockets and other weapons that he said had been supplied by Iran and one of the five sites attacked was a weapons storage site at an airfield in Karbala, but the Iraqi military statement said the airport that was hit was “totally civilian” and all workers there were civilians. Witnesses including a New York Times reporter noted that while the damage from the strikes was clear nothing appeared to have been burned, not even the papers that were in one of the administrative office areas that were hit. If the facility had been used for ammunition storage, it would have been likely to have caused a fire.

Shiite News said that “An airport under construction in Iraq’s central Karbala province was hit in a US bombing raid on militias, with photos showing debris scattered across the site. The US said earlier the strikes were “precise” and defensive.”

Tasnim News said “Unconfirmed reports suggest a construction worker may have been killed in the raid, which the Pentagon insisted earlier was conducted with precision and for purely defensive purposes. ”

Anadolu Agency said “The Iraqi army announced that three soldiers from its forces, two policemen and one civilian were killed as a result of the American strikes Friday night in the southern province of Babel.”

The Joint Operations Command (affiliated to the army) said in a statement on Friday: “At dawn today, Iraq was subjected to a blatant attack by American combat aircraft targeting the army units of the 19th Division and the headquarters of the 46th Popular Mobilization and the third Babylon Police Regiment in Babil Province (Jurf Al-Nasr, Al-Saeedat, Behbehani, The former Ashtar military manufacturing facility, Karbala Airport, is under construction located on the road between Karbala and Najaf). The statement stated that the attack resulted in the death of 3 soldiers and the injury of 4 others, the killing of 2 policemen and the injury of 2 others. In turn, “Al-Husayniya Threshold” in the city of Karbala, southern Iraq, reported that a civilian was killed during the American air strikes at Karbala International Airport.”

The Washington post reported from the Iraqi authorities that “three soldiers and two policemen were killed in the attacks, along with a civilian who was working in an airport that was under construction.”

The Shiite supreme leadership in Iraq condemned the attack and said in a statement that “the bombing had caused the death of a civilian and the wounding of others who were working in the construction of the airport, in addition to significant damage to administrative and service facilities. The statement clearly states that “this airport is purely civilian, and its construction is supervised by the Husseiniya threshold, in agreement with several Iraqi companies and by Iraqi civilian cadres.”

According to Youm7, the Iraqi president condemned the attack and described it “a violation to national sovereignty.”

A statement by the Joint Operations Command said that the attack led to “the killing of three fighters from the nineteenth division, and the injury of four, two of them in critical condition, and the killing of two and the injury of two from the employees of the Babylon third emergency police regiment, and the injury of five of the 46 fighters of the PMF and the death of a civilian worker in Karbala airport, which is under construction, and the wounding of another.”

According to Aleba’a, the Iraqi MP Karim Alaiwi considered the US attack on Karabala airport a message to the Iraqi Shiite Supreme Leadership which pushed the Parliament to take a decision asking the US forces to withdraw from Iraq. He said: “Everyone knows that Karbala airport is a purely civil project and has nothing to do with military objectives, but the United States wanted to send a message to the Shiite decision center that led Parliament to take the decision to remove foreign forces from Iraq.”

In the first of their September 2020 civilian casualty reports, the US-led Coalition stated: “Coalition forces conducted an airstrike against a Kata’ib Hizbolla facility. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally killed as a result of the strike”.

The incident occured at approximately 1:00 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    Iraqi militias (PMUs)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    9

Sources (20) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (32) [ collapse]

  • Aftermath of a deadly US airstrike on Karbala Airport on March 13th, 2020 which the Pentagon admits killed a civilian.
  • Destruction at Karbala airport in the Iraqi shrine city, one of the areas targeted by US military air strikes on March 13th, 2020 (via Vox)
  • A US military PowerPoint slide released to reporters shows the five targets of the airstrikes on March 13th, 2020 (via Vox.com)
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • A US airstrike on Karabala international airport caused huge damage to the building which was under construction (via Shafaq)
  • Fighters from the Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades militia, inspect the destruction at their headquarters in the aftermath of a U.S. airstrike in Qaim, Iraq, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. The Iranian-backed militia said Monday that the death toll from U.S. military strikes in Iraq and Syria against its fighters has risen to 25, vowing to exact revenge for the "aggression of evil American ravens." (AP Photo)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Destruction of parts of Karbala international airport by a US airstirke on March 13th, 2020 (via Alebaa).

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention multiple strikes on alleged weapon caches, some of which struck a civilian from Karbala (كربلاء), who sources suggest that he was employed as night security at the Karbala International Airport (مطار كربلاء الدولي) that is currently under construction. Since the strikes happened during the night and assuming that the individual was at work, we suggest that the location of the strike is the airport, for which coordinates are: 32.347736, 44.214334. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. Prior to the Coalition releasing the MGRS for this incident, Airwars had geolocated it to the nearest neighbourhood/area at 32.347736, 44.214334.

  • Google Earth imagery dating back from 2010 does not show the current progress of the Karbala International Airport (مطار كربلاء الدولي) which is currently under construction. Instead, here is an image from the Sentinel-2 L1C data, from the 9th of March, 2020.

    Imagery:
    Sentinel-2, ESA

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Credible / Substantiated
    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
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    1
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    in Karbala, Iraq
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    38SMA261793
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Sep 9, 2020
  • Mar. 13, 2020, in Karbala, Iraq, via media report. Coalition forces conducted an airstrike against a Kata’ib Hizbolla facility. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally killed as a result of the strike. 3047 38SMA261793

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    Iraqi militias (PMUs)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    9

Sources (20) [ collapse]