Russian Military in Syria

A Russian combat aircraft at Khmeimim airbase in Syria being prepared for action. (Russian Ministry of Defence)

Belligerent
Russian Military
Country
Syria
start date
end date
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment

Incident Code

RS023

Incident date

October 7, 2015

Location

جبل الزاوية, Jabal al Zawiya, Idlib, Syria

Geolocation

35.71345, 36.52933 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

According to the Syrian Observatory, Russian aircraft targeted a number of locations in Idlib governorate on October 7th including “Khan Shekhon, al-Tama’a, and al-Habeet in the southern countryside of Idlib, and other areas of Ehsim and al-Bara in the Zawyia mount [area].”

As many as 10 non-combatants may have died at five different locations. However casualty reporting remains confused. TRT Arabic reported that “Russian aircraft dropped cluster bombs on [al Habeet] town, killing six people, wounding 10 most of whom were civilians.” However VDC identified only one person killed in Habeet, named as an FSA combatant. Syrian Network for Human Rights instead said a ten year old boy,  died in the town – but that he was killed by Assad regime artillery fire.

At al Zawiya, an unidentified adult female was reported by VDC as having been killed; an adult male was reported slain at Kansaefreh; and another one was reported killed at Khan Sheikhoun.

 

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Abdul Hameid Abu Ras Child male Named as a 10 year old victim by SN4HR. Killed in al Habeet, Idlib by regime artillery killed
  • Ibraheem Abdullah al-Dani Adult male Named as a victim by VDC. Killed in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib by Russian airstrikes. killed
  • Muhannad Taqi el-Dein al-Bakour Adult male Named as a victim by VDC. Killed in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib by Russian airstrikes. killed

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 9
  • (1 child1 woman2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    10
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Unknown, Syrian Regime Armed Forces

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (5) [ collapse]

  • Missile fragments recovered at al Bara, Idlib, Oct 7th 2015 (via SOHR)
  • Missile fragments recovered in the area between the towns of al Bara and Ihsim in al Zawiya mount. Oct 7th 2015 (via SOHR)
  • Missile fragments recovered in the area between the towns of al Bara and Ihsim in al Zawiya mount. Oct 7th 2015 (via SOHR)
  • Missile fragments recovered in the area between the towns of al Bara and Ihsim in al Zawiya mount. Oct 7th 2015 (via SOHR)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    The child Abdul Hameid Abu Ras from Habeet, Idlib, aged 10, killed in alleged Syrian government artillery fired on the town. October 7th, 2015 (via SN4HR)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Jabal Al Zawiya (جبل الزاوية), for which the generic coordinates are: 35.71345, 36.52933. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

Unknown

The Russian MoD confirmed multiple strikes in Idlib for October 7th 2015: “In Idlib, a Su-24M aircraft made a strike against an ISIS terrorist training ground. Objecting monitoring data registered multiple explosions of munitions. The training base aimed for the preparation of terrorists is eliminated.

Syrian Regime Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Syrian Regime Armed Forces
  • Syrian Regime Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3 – 9
  • (1 child1 woman2 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    10
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Unknown, Syrian Regime Armed Forces

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Incident Code

RS021 CS134

Incident date

October 6, 2015

Location

تدمر, Palmyra, Homs, Syria

Geolocation

34.5655244, 38.2873535 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

City

Airwars assessment

According to the Syrian Observatory, “preliminary information reported the death of civilians – including women and children – in the bombing by Russian warplanes on areas at the eastern outskirts of Palmyra city which is controlled by the ‘Islamic State’.”

According to most sources, between 12 and 14 members of two Bedouin families died, including five children and four women. Russian aircraft reportedly targeted the Al Wadi Al Ahmar [Red Valley] residential area in the east of the city.

The Violations Documentation Center said 15 civilian males were killed, though did not identify any by name. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights instead said 15 Daesh fighters died alongside civilians.

A Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying “We do not hit populated areas .. especially those with antiquities” when asked whether Russia had carried out strikes at Palmyra. Repeated Russian strikes have since targeted the city according to reports.

It remains possible the action was instead by the US-led Coalition, which publicly reported airstrikes at Palmyra on October 1st, 4th, 9th and 10th 2015.

In their January 2020 civilian casualty report, the US-led Coalition assessed reports that they may have been responsible for civilian harm in this strike as “non-credible”, stating that no strikes were conducted in the geographical area at the time.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    12 – 15
  • (5 children4 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Russian Armed Forces, US-led Coalition

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Interview with activist confirming that Russian strikes targeted Palmyra. No further details of any casualties, 6th October 2015. (via: Media office of the rebels of Syria)

Russian Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Russian Armed Forces
  • Russian Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

Russian Armed Forces

As noted above, Russia explicitly denied carrying out strikes at Palmyra. No Russian airstrikes were publicly reported in Homs governorate for October 6th 2015.

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition 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
    No Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SDU346251
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Jan 3, 2020
  • October 6, 2015, in Palmyra, Syria, via Airwars report. After a review of all available records it was assessed that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area that corresponds to the report of civilian casualties. 2861/CS134 37SDU346251

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

The Coalition did not report any strikes in Palmyra for October 5th-7th 2015.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    12 – 15
  • (5 children4 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Russian Armed Forces, US-led Coalition

Sources (6) [ collapse]

Incident Code

RS022

Incident date

October 6, 2015

Location

القريتين, Al Qaryatayn, Homs, Syria

Geolocation

34.22989, 37.238245 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

City

Airwars assessment

The Syrian Observatory reported an unspecified number of casualties from an alleged Russian strike at Qarayatain, a town to the south west of Palmyra. Qasioun also reported that “a raid by fighters of the Russian Air Force on Tuesday afternoon led to deaths and injuries among civilians, some serious, as well as widespread destruction of civilian buildings, and property.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    Russian Armed Forces

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • News report in which an activist confirms Russian raids on Al Qaryatayn. No mention of civilian casualties. (via, Media office of the rebels of Syria)

Russian Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Russian Armed Forces
  • Russian Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

Russian Armed Forces

No Russian airstrikes were publicly reported in Homs governorate for October 6th 2015.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    0
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    Russian Armed Forces

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Incident Code

RS020 CS133

Incident date

October 6, 2015

Location

عندان, Anadan, Aleppo, Syria

Geolocation

36.29353, 37.04466 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Two children and a 46 year old male were reported killed during four alleged Russian strikes in the evening on Anadan. Another man was also named as a victim by VDC. Eyewitnesses described at least one secondary, or ‘double tap’ strike.

A local medic told Qassioun: “Between the afternoon and evening Russian planes carried out intensive raids on areas in the northern Aleppo countryside which led to dozens of injured and three deaths. One of the martyrs is a ten year old boy, a young man of 17 years old and a 40 year old man. The injuries are very serious.”

Smart TV showed footage of Russian aircraft which it said was filmed near Aleppo: “Spotted at 17:30 in the evening, for the first time, one of the Russian planes in the sky of the city of Aleppo on their way to carry out raids on the villages and towns of the countryside.”

And Ibrahim Kharfan, a rebel in the town, insisted only civilian areas were being targeted: “The Russians are claiming, along with the regime and all those supporting this rotten regime they are claiming they are targeting [military] bases. We are here in Anadan and everything you see here is civilian houses. All the bombing now is being directed at civilians’ houses.”

While there was near consensus that Russia was responsible, VDC continues to list both boys as having been killed in a US-led Coalition strike.

In their January 2020 civilian casualty report, the US-led Coalition assessed reports that they were responsible for civilian harm in this strike as “non-credible”, stating that no strikes were conducted in the geographical area at the time.

The incident occured at 5:30 pm local time.

  • Mohammad Amin al-Sageer Adult male He was 46 years old and VDC says he was killed due to Russian strikes killed
  • Amin al-Sageer Adult male killed
  • Abd al-Rahman al-Sageer Child male He was 10 years old and VDC says he was killed due to coalition shelling killed
  • Ahmad Othman Hamidi Child male He was 17 years old and VDC says he was killed due to coalition shelling killed

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (2 children2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Russian Armed Forces, US-led Coalition

Sources (11) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (4) [ collapse]

  • A video reporting four alleged Russian raids on the town of Anadan on, 6th October 2015. (via, The Syrian Civil Defence)
  • Footage reporting that Russian planes targeted Anadan in Aleppo for the first time, 6th October 2015. (via Arabs in Turkey)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    The body of one of the children, Abed Al Rahman al Sageer, killed in the raid on Anadan, 6th October 2015. (via, VDC)
  • News bulletin reporting that 4 Russian raids on Anadan had caused deaths and injuries. One eyewitness reports that two brothers were killed in the raid. [Via: Al Aan news]

Russian Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Russian Armed Forces
  • Russian Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

Russian Armed Forces

Although Russia reported 20 combat sorties for October 6th 2015, no reference was made to strikes in Aleppo governorate. The Russian MoD also intimated that opposition forces were faking reports of civilian casualties: “It cannot be ruled out that now terrorists are intentionally preparing acts of provocation such as detonation of mosques in order to demonstrate fake photos and videos to indict the Russian aviation.”

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition 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
    No Coalition strikes were conducted in the geographical area
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    None
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SCA244183
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Jan 3, 2020
  • October 6, 2015, in Anadan, Syria, via Airwars report. After a review of all available records it was assessed that no Coalition actions were conducted in the geographical area that corresponds to the report of civilian casualties. 2851/CS133 37SCA244183

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (2 children2 men)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Russian Armed Forces, US-led Coalition

Sources (11) [ collapse]

Incident Code

RS019

Incident date

October 5, 2015

Location

الباب, Al Bab, Aleppo, Syria

Geolocation

36.371972, 37.51631 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

City

Airwars assessment

At least six and as many as 17 civilians were reported killed in afternoon airstrikes – reportedly by Russian jets – on the ISIL-occupied city of Al Bab near Aleppo.

According to Qasioun the strikes hit “a popular food market in the city, resulting in mass civilian casualties, and the burning of several cars and shops.Daesh propaganda footage showed massive damage to a residential street.

Although the Syria Media Organisation attributed the attack to regime aircraft, the Russian MoD later confirmed carrying out strikes on the city that day.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    6 – 17
  • Civilians reported injured
    20–30
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Major damage to civilian streets in Al Bab from alleged Russian airstrike, Oct 5th 2015. (via, Daesh propaganda)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the city of Al Bab (الباب), for which the generic coordinates are: 36.371972, 37.51631. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

Unknown

In its summary for October 5th 2015, the Russian MoD confirmed carrying out strikes at Al Bab: “In the daytime, Su-34, Su-24M and Su-25 aircraft performed 15 combat sorties from the Hmeymim airbase. Ten terrorist facilities were engaged. Su-34 eliminated an HQ and a command centre of the ISIS militants near Dayr Hafir and Al-Bab (Aleppo). Direct hits resulted in destruction of buildings sheltering field commanders of terrorists.”

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    6 – 17
  • Civilians reported injured
    20–30
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown

Sources (9) [ collapse]

Incident Code

RS017

Incident date

October 4, 2015

Location

غرناطة, Gharnata, Homs, Syria

Geolocation

34.8937633, 36.6794443 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

Two civilians were reported killed following an airstrike on Gharnata near Talbiseh city, in Homs governorate.

While some sources attributed the attack to Russian aircraft, the Assad regime also reported carrying out strikes in the vicinity, with state news agency SANA reporting that “the Air Force destroyed nests and mechanisms for terrorist organizations… in the countryside of Homs.” Smart News said the attack was carried out by regime helicopters dropping barrel bombs.

VDC and Talbiseh News both reported that a shepherd was killed at Gharnata on October 4th “due to Russian forces shelling.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Unknown, Syrian Regime Armed Forces

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Footage showing the body of the victim Ahmad al Musa killed in the strike on Gharnata, October 4th 2015. (via, Talibisah News)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Gharnata (غرناطة), for which the generic coordinates are: 34.8937633, 36.6794443. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

Unknown

The Kremlin made no mention of strikes in Homs governorate between October 3rd-5th 2015.

Syrian Regime Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Syrian Regime Armed Forces
  • Syrian Regime Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2
  • (1 man)
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Unknown, Syrian Regime Armed Forces

Sources (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

RS018

Incident date

October 4, 2015

Location

أم شرشوح, Umm Sharshuh, Homs, Syria

Geolocation

34.875730, 36.687650 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Village level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Village

Airwars assessment

An alleged Russian raid killed up to three civilians at Umm Sharshuh, a town near Al Rastan. The Syrian Network cited local activist Abu Baraa Al Homsi: “Russian warplanes launched a number of air-strikes on Garnata and Umm Sharshuh. The strikes targeted civilian targets as usual. A number of individuals were killed and injured.”

The local Talbiseh Network claimed that four Russian strikes dropped thermobaric munitions on the town.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 3
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–24
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention the village of Umm Sharshuh (أم شرشوح), for which the generic coordinates are: 34.87573, 36.68765. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

Unknown

The Kremlin made no mention of strikes in Homs governorate between October 3rd-5th 2015.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 3
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–24
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Incident Code

RS016

Incident date

October 4, 2015

Location

جسر الشغور, Jisr al Shughour, Idlib, Syria

Geolocation

35.81425, 36.319812 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

City

Airwars assessment

Russian aircraft returned to the attack at Jisr al Shughour, with the Kremlin carrying out strikes which it said targeted ‘uninhabited‘ militant storage depots, an all-terrain vehicle workshop, and a base. There were some reports that Syrian aircraft also participated in the attacks.

According to the Syrian Network at least one of the strikes hit the Skeef neighbourhood of Jisr Al Shoughour city, killing one person and damaging a nearby mosque.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Russian Armed Forces, Syrian Regime Armed Forces

Sources (4) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • A video showing the aftermath of the 'Russian and Syrian' raids on Jisr al Shoughour. (via, Jisr al Shoughour Media Centre)
  • Russian MOD video showing an attack by 'SU-24M bombers' on what they say is an ammunition depot in Jisr al Shoughour area. October 3rd, 2015. (via Russian MOD)
  • Russian MOD video showing what they say is a strike on 'ammunition depot' in Jisr al Shoughour area. October 4th, 2015. (via Russian MOD)

Russian Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Russian Armed Forces
  • Russian Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

Russian Armed Forces

The Kremlin confirmed strikes in the vicinity for October 3rd-5th 2015, noting: “Su-24M and Su-34 bombers hit 8 ISIS facilities near Jisr al-Shugur, Idlib province. The pilots engaged 3 munition, POL and armament depots of the illegal armed groups. KAB-500 aviation bombs detonated the ammunition and armament. Using BETAB-500 concrete-piercing bombs, the jets destroyed 4 command posts of the ISIS armed groups. The facilities with terrorists are completely destroyed. As a result of the strikes, facilities with terrorists, ammunition and POL depots have been destroyed, 5 armored vehicles have been disabled.”

Syrian Regime Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Syrian Regime Armed Forces
  • Syrian Regime Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attackers
    Russian Armed Forces, Syrian Regime Armed Forces

Sources (4) [ collapse]