Turkish Military in Iraq & Syria

An internally displaced Kurdish family in northern Iraq, 2016 (Maranie R. Staab)

Belligerent
Turkish military
Country
Iraq
Syria
start date
end date
Airwars Grading
Belligerent Assessment

Incident Code

TI002

Incident date

August 1, 2015

Location

زرجيلي, Zergele, Kurdistan, Iraq

Geolocation

36.063457, 45.332963 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Subdistrict level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Subdistrict

Airwars assessment

Multiple Turkish airstrikes reportedly killed eight or more residents and injured at least eight others – including a child – in an attack on the village of Zergele in the Kandil Mountains.

Alusmaria reported: “Turkish planes today bombed the village of Zergele north of the border, killing eight civilians, wounding ten others and destroying seven houses.”

Rudaw said ten civilians died and eleven were injured.

All Iraq News wrote that 22 houses were destroyed in the attack.

Amnesty International later concluded that none of the dead or injured were affiliated to the PKK: “Evidence gathered during a visit by Amnesty International to the village of Zergele three days after the airstrikes suggests all those killed and injured in the attack were not affiliated with the PKK. Amnesty International spoke to several eyewitnesses, including two doctors who rescued the wounded and three residents who consistently said that none of the dead or injured were PKK fighters and that there were no PKK fighters in the area. Those killed included a local mayor and two municipality workers.

All the witnesses who were present at the time of the attack or arrived there shortly afterwards said that the victims wore civilian clothes and that they saw no weapons on the scene. Amnesty International reviewed 10 photographs and one video from the scene that were consistent with these witness statements.”

The international NGO also added the following: “The apparent absence of a military target within the vicinity of the airstrikes suggests that these strikes are unlawful whether or not there is an armed conflict between the Turkish authorities and the PKK. The Turkish government has displayed a flagrant disregard for the lives of local residents and failed to take necessary precautions to minimize harm to them, or to discriminate between them and PKK fighters.”

While early reporting put the numbers of dead between six and ten, eight killed and eight injured is the figure used by Amnesty and other sources.

The Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraqi Kurdistan (CPTIK) collected testimonies of witnesses. In a Youtube-video, Jegir, an eyewitness, says: “There were two different planes: a drone and an aeroplane. They were circling the Qandil area. 20 minutes after the first attack, when we were trying to take the dead bodies about 30 metres away, we heard the explosions from the second attack. We could not do anything, people separated and tried to hide. There were four rockets in the second attack. I ran one hundred meters in 30 seconds to get away. Then, there were four more rockets in a third attack.”

Jegir’s uncle Mohammed Amin was severely injured. In his testimony to CPTIK, Mohammed Amin tells how his mother was killed in the airstrike: “When we tried to carry our mum’s body away, the bombing started again.” Besides his mother, Amin also lost his son, two cousins and another relative.

A Peshmerga fighter who was also interviewed stated that his phone rang at exactly 3:50 AM with the news that his mother had been killed in the attack.

The incident occured between 3:00 am and 5:00 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

  • Mohamed Ameen Adult male Peshmerga injured
  • Sinur Adult female Sister in law of Mohamed injured

Family members (4)

  • Gerbet Ahmed Adult female injured
  • Shukariya Ahmed Adult female Sister of Gerbet injured
  • Khadija Adult female Mother of Gerbet and Shukariya injured
  • Chilan Rasheed Child female Niece of Gerbet and Shukariya injured
  • Ayesha Ahmed Mustafa Adult female killed
  • Salih Mohamed Ameen Adult male Local mayor killed
  • Heybet Mohamed Ameen Age unknown male killed
  • Najeeb Aziz Age unknown male killed
  • Sama Khabat Age unknown male Municipality worker killed
  • Endomen Sharawonch Age unknown male Municipality worker killed
  • Karoh Mohamed Ameen Adult male Identified as peshmerga by Amnesty killed
  • Abdulkader Bakr Adult male Identified as peshmerga by Amnesty killed

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    8 – 10
  • (1 child2 women5–7 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    8–11
  • 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 (7) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (3) [ collapse]

  • Turkish air strikes on August 1st in Zergele kill local residents according to a video published by Amnesty
  • 'Aftermath of airstrike in the village of Zergele, in the Kandil Mountains in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on 1 August 2015' (via Amnesty International)
  • Investigation of a reported strike location at Zergele (Image from ANF via Amnesty)

Geolocation notes

Location of Zergele (via TRT)

Unknown Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    8 – 10
  • (1 child2 women5–7 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    8–11
  • 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 (7) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TI001

Incident date

July 25, 2015

Location

العمادية, Amadiyah, Kurdistan, Iraq

Geolocation

37.092003, 43.486966 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Town level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Town

Airwars assessment

Three civilians were reportedly injured in alleged Turkish airstrikes on Amadiyah, Iraq.

Iraqhurr reported intensive bombing on PKK positions in the area and said that it “led to the wounding of three civilians.”

Sputnik News also reported Turkish airstrikes in the area but did not mention civilian harm.

No additional details are presently known regarding this event.

The event coincided with a major Turkish ground and air operation against both ISIS and Kurdish forces in Syria, which the US-led Coalition later confirmed were unilateral actions by its erstwhile partner.

Turkey’s Prime Minister told reporters: “Bomb attacks were aimed at the known military targets, including Qandil in northern Iraq [notable as a sanctuary for the PKK], and at the most important command centers and weapon depots of ISIL in Syria. There were no civilians in these areas, none of them have died.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Unknown Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

CS104

Incident date

July 23, 2015

Location

ﺣﻠﺐ, Nahiyat Sereen near Aleppo, Aleppo, Syria

Geolocation

36.206137, 37.140688 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

City

Airwars assessment

A reported Coalition airstrike at 3.45pm killed up to seven civilians including two children, at Nahiyat Sereen near Aleppo.

One young victim, Mohammad Jassen Al Abou Rakan, was decapitated in the incident, with graphic images of his body widely distributed on social media.

Islamic State later published a propaganda video of the event, including interviews with eyewitnesses and rescuers. One man told the camera: “Civilians coming here to get bread are getting killed. What is this? Where are civilians supposed to go? Are they supposed to go to the wilderness to save themselves? Damn them.“

Another man described the buildings reportedly hit in the raid: “Today the coalition planes came to continue what the criminals from the PKK had started. More than 4 or five missiles were fired at once destroying many houses. The house of Hajj Ali and the house of the son of Hajj Ali; the house of Ali Al Hassani; the house of Mohammad Al Hajrashi; and a big number of civilian shops. All the victims are civilians that have nothing to do with what is happening at all.“

The Syrian Observatory also reported activity by Turkish aircraft in the region on this date.

In its civilian casualty report for October 2019 – published on December 5th of that year, the Coalition assessed this event as ‘not credible, asserting: “July 23, 2015, in Aleppo, 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. 2806/CS104 37SCA328084”.

Officials published a location for the event to within 100 metres of where they had remotely assessed the incident.

The incident occured at 3:45 pm local time.

  • Mohammad Jassem Al Abou Rakan Child male son of Jassem Al Abou Rakan killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 7
  • (2 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected targets
    ISIS, Al Qaeda/HTS

Sources (11) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (19) [ collapse]

  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Warning: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC PHOTOS. Series of tweets from Nasser al Tamimi wIth photos showing the aftermath of the strikes on Sareen in Aleppo, 24th July 2015
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Warning: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC PHOTOS. tweets from Nasser al Tamimi with a photo of a man holding the body of his headless child. Described as a man in the IS-controlled areas with his decapitated child as a result of air raids. 23rd July 2015
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Photo of a decapitated child's body tweeted by @abomuslim121212 [account now suspended]. Photo labelled in Sareen and tweeted on 23rd July 2015
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Tweet from @nasertamimi with very graphic photos of man holding decapitated body of child allegedly as a result of aerial bombardment in IS-held areas. 23rd July 2015
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Tweet from @nasertamimi with very graphic photos of man holding decapitated body of child allegedly as a result of aerial bombardment in IS-held areas. 23rd July 2015
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    More graphic photos of the body of a decapitated child in Sareen as a result of 'Saudi and Western bombardment' tweet by Adam the Syrian Tweets on 23rd July 2015. [Account now suspended]
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    More graphic photos of the body of a decapitated child in Sareen as a result of 'Saudi and Western bombardment' tweet by Adam the Syrian Tweets on 23rd July 2015. [Account now suspended]
  • Photo of the alleged bombardment of Sareen, Aleppo. Tweeted by Adam the Syrian Tweets on 23rd July 2015. [Account now suspended]
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Photo of an injured child as a result of the alleged bombardment of Sareen, Aleppo. Tweeted by Adam the Syrian Tweets on 23rd July 2015. [Account now suspended]
  • Series of stills from a video broadcast by ISIL-affiliated media with a caption reading 'the crusader coalition planes target the area of Sareen causing deaths and injuries and material damage' [via: @nasertamimi on 24th July 2015]
  • Series of stills from a video broadcast by ISIL-affiliated media with a caption reading 'the crusader coalition planes target the area of Sareen causing deaths and injuries and material damage' [via: @nasertamimi on 24th July 2015]
  • Series of stills from a video broadcast by ISIL-affiliated media with a caption reading 'the crusader coalition planes target the area of Sareen causing deaths and injuries and material damage' [via: @nasertamimi on 24th July 2015]
  • Series of stills from a video broadcast by ISIL-affiliated media with a caption reading 'the crusader coalition planes target the area of Sareen causing deaths and injuries and material damage' [via: @nasertamimi on 24th July 2015]
  • Series of stills from a video broadcast by ISIL-affiliated media with a caption reading 'the crusader coalition planes target the area of Sareen causing deaths and injuries and material damage' [via: @nasertamimi on 24th July 2015]
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Series of stills from a video broadcast by ISIL-affiliated media with a caption reading 'the crusader coalition planes target the area of Sareen causing deaths and injuries and material damage' [via: @nasertamimi on 24th July 2015]
  • Series of stills from a video broadcast by ISIL-affiliated media with a caption reading 'the crusader coalition planes target the area of Sareen causing deaths and injuries and material damage' [via: @nasertamimi on 24th July 2015]
  • Series of stills from a video broadcast by ISIL-affiliated media with a caption reading 'the crusader coalition planes target the area of Sareen causing deaths and injuries and material damage' [via: @nasertamimi on 24th July 2015]
  • Series of stills from a video broadcast by ISIL-affiliated media with a caption reading 'the crusader coalition planes target the area of Sareen causing deaths and injuries and material damage' [via: @nasertamimi on 24th July 2015]
  • Series of stills from a video broadcast by ISIL-affiliated media with a caption reading 'the crusader coalition planes target the area of Sareen causing deaths and injuries and material damage' [via: @nasertamimi on 24th July 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
  • Stated location
    in Aleppo, Syria
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    37SCA328084
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Dec 5, 2019
  • July 23, 2015, in Aleppo, 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. 2806/CS104 37SCA328084

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

No coalition strikes were publicly reported in the vicinity of Sereen between July 22-24th 2015.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    2 – 7
  • (2 children)
  • Civilians reported injured
    5
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected targets
    ISIS, Al Qaeda/HTS

Sources (11) [ collapse]