Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

R4375

Incident date

August 19, 2021

Location

بلشون, Balshoun, Idlib, Syria

Airwars assessment

At least five civilians, including three children and their mother in addition to another child, were killed and two to four other civilians, including a child, were injured in alleged Russian or regime strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021.

Syrian Civil Defense reported on “the killing of three children, their mother and another child, and the injury of a child and a young man, in a massacre committed by the regime forces and Russia”. Al Modon, along with the majority of other sources, also published that five civilians were killed and added that an additional four civilians were injured in the attack.

@IdlibPlus put the number of victims at three civilians killed and four wounded but added that this was only a preliminary result. They later revised their reporting and increased the toll to five civilians killed, including a woman and four children.

@freeehsem identified the name of one of the children: Mustafa Muhammad Ajaj, who was killed alongside his mother and his two brothers.

A post by Omar Mhmad provided names of more of the victims: Mohamed Ajaj’s wife, Child Murad Muhammad Ajaj, Child Ahmed Mohamed Ajaj, and Child Hamza Khaled Habib. Murad and Ahmed were siblings of Mustafa and Mohamed Ajaj’s wife was also their mother.

A post by Abd Al Kareem identified Hamza as being 8 years old. Orient News reported that Hamza was being raised by Mohamed Ajaj and his wife after his father, Mohamed’s brother, was killed in a previous bombing.

SCD also posted an emotional video of a father saying goodbye to his children, who were killed in the strikes.

According to the SCD, the rescue teams had difficulty reaching the locations that were bombed to help the victims because the regime continues to bomb roads and had reconnaissance planes flying over the area monitoring movement. Radio Al Kul added that it took the White Helmets two hours to rescue all of the victims from the location, all while Russian reconnaissance planes flew overhead.

Syrian Network for Human Rights identified five shells as being used on the attack, with one shell hitting a house in the west of the village and killing four civilians from the same family (three children and their mother) and damaging the house’s structure while another shell hit another house, also in the west of the village, killing a child.

The majority of sources that reported on the incident attributed the strikes to the Syrian regime, with Radio Al Kul identifying regime forces stationed in the vicinity of the city of Kafranbel as being responsible. However, @anasanas84 and Syrian Network for Human Rights blamed the strikes on Russia and identified laser-guided Krasnopol missiles as being used in the attack.

The incident occured around dawn.

The victims were named as:

Family members (5)

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (4 children1 woman)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–4
  • 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, Syrian Regime Armed Forces

Sources (40) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (34) [ collapse]

  • White Helmets search for survivors following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense)
  • White Helmets search for survivors following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense)
  • White Helmets search for survivors following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense)
  • White Helmets search for survivors following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    "I just want to see his face." He did not find anything from his child's body except his hand, saying goodbye to it with a lump and heartburn, touching it tenderly, and the memories recurring quickly, until the last look was deprived of it, in a scene that carries all the meanings of oppression and pain. One scene from the massacre committed by the regime forces and Russia this morning, Thursday, August 19, in the village of Balshon, south of Idlib, which killed 3 children, their mother and another child.
  • Rescue workers and civilians work to put out fires following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by @IdlibPlus)
  • Rescue workers search through the debris following following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by @IdlibPlus)
  • Rescue workers search through the debris following following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by @IdlibPlus)
  • Rescue workers search through the debris following following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by @IdlibPlus)
  • A man searches through the debris following following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by @IdlibPlus)
  • #Sham: Assad's forces committed a massacre in the village of Balshon in Idlib countryside, killing 5 people, including 4 children.
  • Rescue workers search through the debris following following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Macro Media Center)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    The last looks of a mother who lost her son, and houses turned into graves, here memories are lost and words turn to tears, and death becomes a nightmare that takes our breath away every moment. From the moments of our teams’ response to the massacre committed by the regime forces and Russia in the village of Balshon, south of Idlib, which claimed the lives of 3 children, their mother and another child.
  • A friend of Mustafa Ajaj, who was killed, searches through the rubble following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense)
  • Rescue workers search through the debris following following strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense)
  • Destruction of the home where a woman and children were killed in strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Edlib Media Center)
  • Destruction of the home where a woman and children were killed in strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Edlib Media Center)
  • Destruction of the home where a woman and children were killed in strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Edlib Media Center)
  • Destruction of the home where a woman and children were killed in strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Edlib Media Center)
  • Mustafa Muhammad Ajaj, killed alongside his mother and two brothers in strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by @freeehsem)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Graphic image of Hamza Khaled Habib, 8 years old, killed in strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Abd Al Kareem via Facebook)
  • The husband and father of four of the victims bids farewell to his family, who were killed in strikes on Balshoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Alaa Al Omar via Facebook)
  • The great destruction caused by the bombing of the Assad forces on civilian homes in the town of Balshon in Jabal Al-Zawiya
  • Russian-made (laser-guided) "Krasnopol" shell used in the attack on Bashoun on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Zaman Al Wasl)
  • Photo from SNHR shows the bodies of the victims killed in Russian forces’ shelling of the village.
  • Overhead view of the destruction to a home from shelling on August 19, 2021. (Image posted by Syrian Network for Human Rights)

Russian Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Syrian Regime Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    5
  • (4 children1 woman)
  • Civilians reported injured
    2–4
  • 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, Syrian Regime Armed Forces

Sources (40) [ collapse]