Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

R4405

Incident date

October 20, 2021

Location

اريحا, Ariha, Idlib, Syria

Airwars assessment

In what was widely referred to as a “massacre”, at least 13 civilians were killed and over 30 wounded in an alleged Russian or Syrian regime strike on a marketplace in Ariha on October 20th 2021. Most sources said that as many as four children were killed in the strike that took place in the morning as children were on their way to school.

Muntaha.alramahi on Facebook was alone in posting that 14 children had been killed and 63 other civilians wounded. Esmanur.peker.1 said in a Facebook post that there may well be over 50 civilians injured as a result of the strike; most sources put the injury toll at 30 and the death toll at 13.

A medical source told Zaman al-Wasl that “the number of victims is expected to rise due to the loss of some people, and the suffering of some wounded due to their critical conditions,” stressing that “among the victims are displaced people and school students.”

The incident overwhelmed the local hospital, with health workers issuing a distress call that they needed to urgently transport a number of those wounded to alternate locations due to the severity of their injures, according to local media network Al Arabiya Syria.

The strikes were reported by Syria Network for Human Rights as having hit al Hal Market and the area near two educational facilities – Banat Ariha School and Abdul Hamid Ghnaimi School.

ِAriha Today posted a list of 10 the names of the civilians killed: Qamar Bilal HafezZakaria Ahmed BazziYoussef Muhammad Jamal Al-HassanRimas – daughter of Youssef Al-Hassan – a child, Islam Khaled Al Saraqi – a child, Hassoun Ihsan Al-Khadija Maarrat Al-NumanIbrahim Abdul-Wahhab Al-Amin – a child, Omar Abdel-Aal Al-Aboud – a child, Mahmoud Yasser SarehGhassan Sheikh Ibrahim.

Syrian Network for Human Rights reported on October 22nd that Islam al Saraqebi, a child injured on his way to school, died of his wounds.

Several of those killed were relatives of the Syrian Civil Defense ‘White Helmet’ first responders; teacher Qamar Bilal Hafez was the sister of volunteer Basil Hafez, while Ibrahim Al-Amin was the brother of first responder Muhammad Al-Amin. Syrian Civil Defense posted that their volunteers “always fear” that their relatives will be amongst those they are tasked with saving.

Amongst the victims was Youssef Al Hassan, reported killed alongside his young daughter, Rimas Al Hassan. Syrian Civil Defense published comments from a volunteer, ‘Mona’ who attempted to save Rimas, and carried her body to the hospital: “It is very difficult and painful to carry the body of a child whose fault is that she is going to her school. The whole world must feel our pain”.

Ariha Today reported that twin brothers Omar and Ali were traveling to school when the bombing occurred. Omar was killed in the strikes while Ali was wounded and was still being treated for his wounds as of October 22nd. Another victim, Zahra, a five year old girl, “was injured while she was with her father and cousin in the city market”. An image of her posted by Ariha Today shows her crying and covered in blood and wounds from the attack.

Videos circulated of the incident show a whole street of shops almost completely destroyed, while several sources posted graphic images of children lying dead and wounded in the marketplace. Syria Post circulated a video from a security camera in a shop that captured the moment the strike hit the street, likely severely wounding or killing the people inside.

Twitter user @sebusher quoted a civilian who was near the market when it was hit: “When we arrived at the school and the students were there, the shelling and airstrikes started. The students were horrified, they started screaming, we didn’t know what to do.”

ArabiPost reported: “In the hospital where the victims were taken, a person was screaming and crying next to the corpse of a 10-year-old girl,” according to Agence France-Presse. Bilal Tracy, the father of two children who live near the targeted area, told the French agency, “At eight in the morning we woke up to bombardment that was raining down on us. The children were terrified and started screaming. We didn’t know what to do, where to go, and we didn’t see anything because of the dust around us.” Tracy added, “They bombed us in the neighborhood and in the market, there are children who died and people who lost limbs. We don’t know why, what is the fault we have done?””

Facebook user, Al.amen2011, described the atmosphere in the city after the strike: “Night falls on her today, and her moan is almost heard by every human being on the surface of this planet. Joy died today in Ariha, and hundreds of details and stories died today in it.”

The Syria Network for Human Rights appealed to the international community for action following this event: “Through this action, Syrian regime forces have, without doubt, committed another violation of Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254 which prohibit any further indiscriminate attacks, as well as violating the rules of international humanitarian law which stress the distinction between civilians and combatants. Attacks of this nature spread terror and panic among civilians, leading them to flee their lands and homes in an attempt to reach safety, and forcibly displacing them, with the number of internally displaced persons within Syria currently standing at approximately 6.5 million Syrian citizens in total. The international community should put pressure on the Syrian regime and its allies to force them to compensate the displaced victims, rehabilitate homes and vital centers, support the process of political transition, and press all parties to pursue implementation of political transition according to a strict timetable which must not exceed six months, thus enabling millions of refugees and IDPs to return homes.”

UNICEF also referenced in the incident, reiterating the toll that the conflict is having on children throughout Syria: “Today’s violence is yet another reminder that the war in Syria has not come to an end. Civilians, among them many children, keep bearing the brunt of a brutal decade-long conflict. Attacks on civilians may be a violation of international humanitarian law. Attacks must not be directed against children. Children should be able to reach their schools safely. We repeat our calls to those fighting that children are not a target. They should be protected at all times especially in times of conflict.”

Most sources blamed Russian and/or Syrian regime forces for the strike, while a few sources also pointed to Iranian-backed militias.

The incident occured at 8:00 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

  • Rimas Youssef Al-Hassan Child female Daughter of Youssef Al Hassan killed
  • Youssef Muhammad Jamal Al-Hassan Adult male Father of Rimas Al Hassan killed

Family members (2)

  • Omar Abdel-Aal Child male Twin brothers killed
  • Ali Child male Twin brothers injured
  • Muhammad Yasser Al-Sareh Adult male killed
  • Ibrahim Abdel-Wahhab Al-Amin Child male killed
  • Qamar Bilal Hafez 27-28 years old female killed
  • Zakaria Ahmed Bazzi Adult male killed
  • Salam Ala`ahi Adult killed
  • Hassoun Ihsan Al-Khadija Adult killed
  • Ghassan Sheikh Ibrahim Adult male killed
  • Ibrahim Abdo Al-Sorayai-Shanan. Adult male killed
  • Zahra 5 years old female injured
  • Islam al Saraqebi 13 years old male Died of his wounds Oct 22nd killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    13 – 14
  • (4–14 children1 woman5 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    30–63
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Syrian Regime Armed Forces, Russian Armed Forces, Iranian Armed Forces

Sources (112) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (70) [ collapse]

  • A child stands in the rubble of Ariha. Image posted by @sebusher on Twitter.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Children lie dead in the street in Ariha after Syrian regime or Russian forces struck a marketplace. Image posted on Twitter by @k7ybnd99.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    One of the ten children killed in an attack on a market place in Ariha, Idlib by alleged Russian or Syrian forces. Image posted by @k7ybnd99 on Twitter.
  • Five-year old Zahra, a young girl injured in an alleged Russian or Syrian regime attack on a marketplace in Ariha, Idlib on October 20th 2021. She was said to have been in the market with her father and cousin. Image posted on Twitter by freeehsem.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    An image likely of Rimas Hassan, one of the children killed in an alleged Russian or Syrian strike on a market place on October 20th 2021. Rima was reported killed alongside her father, Youssef Hassan. Image posted by freeehsem on Twitter.
  • "10 martyrs so far as a result of the artillery shells that targeted the city of Ariha in Idlib countryside"
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    "This morning's massacre in Ariha ... More than 10 martyrs for a moment, and dozens of injuries.."
  • The market place reduced to rubble by either Syrian or Russian forces reported to have killed at least ten children and injured 30 other civilians in Ariha, October 20th 2021. Image posted by @Ahmadmuaffaq on Twitter.
  • First responders in front of destroyed shop faces, reduced to rubble after alleged Russian or Syrian regime strikes on Ariha October 20th 2021. Image posted on Twitter by @Ahmadmuaffaq.
  • Victims of an alleged Russian or Syrian regime strike on a populated market place, October 20th 2021. Image posted on Twitter by @itsnotsuhad.
  • The body of one of the ten children killed in alleged Russian or Syrian strikes on a marketplace in Ariha, October 20th 2021. Image posted on Twitter by @itsnotsuhad.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    A child, thought to be Rimas Hassan, killed by alleged Russian or Syrian strikes on a marketplace in Ariha, October 20th 2021. Rima was killed alongside her father Youssef Hassan. Image posted on Twitter by @itsnotsuhad.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    The body of what is likely to be Rimas Hassan, one of the many children killed in a market place on 20th October 2021, reported to have been carried out by Russian or Syrian forces. Image posted on Twitter by @itsnotsuhad. Rimas was reported killed alongside her father Youssef Hassan.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Image widely circulated of two children killed in Syrian or Russian forces strikes on an Ariha marketplace on October 20th 2021. Image posted by @0MdDp on Twitter. The boys were named by Twitter user @fatina_sam98 as Omar and Ali.
  • "A new massacre launched by Assad's gangs in the city of Jericho, south of Idlib, dozens of civilians were martyred and wounded as a result of artillery shelling targeting the city's market"
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    "Painful scenes... Injured children among dozens of victims of the Assad regime's bombing of a market in the city of Ariha in Idlib Governorate, northern Syria"
  • Smoke rises above the city of Ariha, the heavily populated area hit by Russian or Syrian regime strikes on October 20th 2021. Image posted by @ajplusarabi on Twitter.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Bodies lie in the street of a residential market area after strikes by Russia or Syrian regime forces killed at least ten civilians, and injured over 30. Image posted on Twitter by @ajplusarabi.
  • Signs of destroyed shops after Syrian or Russian strikes hit a marketplace in Ariha, October 20th 2021. Image posted on Twitter by @ajplusarabi.
  • Bodies are carried away from a marketplace reduced to rubble by either Syrian regime or Russian forces in Ariha on October 20th 2021. Image posted on Twitter by @ajplusarabi.
  • "Scenes from the site of the massacre perpetrated by the Russian forces and Assad militia this morning in the city of Ariha, south of Idlib, which killed more than 13 civilians and injured more than 40 civilians, as a result of targeting residential neighborhoods and the popular market with Russian laser missiles"
  • A shop front on fire after Russian or Syrian regime reportedly hit a marketplace in Ariha, October 20th 2021. Image posted on Twitter by @alurdunyya.
  • Evidence of a marketplace almost completely destroyed; sources indicate image taken in Ariha October 20th 2021. Image posted by ShehabAgency.
  • White Helmets volunteer holds Rimas Hassan, one of the many children wounded or killed in Syrian regime or Russian forces' strike on a marketplace in Ariha, October 20th 2021. Image posted by ShehabAgency on Twitter.
  • Children walk through the rubble of what had been a heavily populated market area in Ariha, razed to the ground by Syrian or Russian forces reported to have hit the market with strikes on October 20th 2021. Image posted on Twitter by @ShehabAgency.
  • One of the many children harmed by Syrian or Russian forces strikes on Ariha, October 20th 2021. Image posted on Twitter by @ShehabAgency.
  • Children cry in the aftermath of alleged Syrian or Russian strikes on a market place in Ariha, October 20th 2021. Image posted on Twitter by @6adOzCLDJDSOr60.
  • Civilians killed in a marketplace attack in Ariha, conducted by either Syrian or Russian forces on October 20th 2021. Image posted by @ajVPi on Twitter.
  • "The child Omar Abdel-Aal will be buried with his boot and books after being targeted directly by Russia while he was going to his school" - Image and caption by @TalalFayez4 on Twitter.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    A child is tended to by White Helmets first responders after a market place strike causing mass casualties, conducted by Syrian or Russian forces according to local sources. Image posted on Twitter by @RaedAlSaleh3.
  • Smoke rises above Ariha city after a marketplace attack conducted by Syrian or Russian forces according to local sources. Image posted on Twitter by @RaedAlSaleh3.
  • White Helmets responding to the wounded after a marketplace attack in Ariha resulting from alleged Syrian or Russian airstrikes on October 20th 2021. Image posted on Twitter by @adlbhamam1985.
  • A woman wounded in a marketplace attack in Ariha; airstrikes were said to have been carried out by either Russian or Syrian regime forces. Image posted on Twitter by @adlbhamam1985.
  • White Helmets tend to a victim of a marketplace attack in Ariha October 20th 2021, allegedly carried out by Russian or Syrian forces. Image posted on Twitter by @adlbhamam1985.
  • "Medical sources confirm the killing of 13 civilians, including children, and the wounding of more than 30 in shelling by the Syrian regime forces in the city of Ariha in Idlib countryside | Fadl's birthday | Island | Idlib countryside #news"
  • "#Syria #Idlib A surveillance camera monitors the moment the Syrian regime forces bombed the city of #Ariha yesterday morning, which led to the death of 13 civilians, including 4 students and a teacher."
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    An image likely to be Youssef Hassan, one of the dozens of victims of what was widely called the 'Ariha massacre' after Russian or Syrian forces were reported to have hit a marketplace on October 20th 2021. Mr Hassan was reported killed alongside his young daughter, Rimas Hassan. Image posted on Twitter via @WM_FREESYR.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    An elderly victim of a strike on a marketplace killing at least ten and injuring dozens, conducted by either Russian or Syrian forces according to local sources. Image posted on Twitter by @WM_FREESYR.
  • Posted by Syriatelevision after an alleged Russian or Syrian regime strike hit a marketplace in Ariha, October 20th 2021: ""need a long journey from pressure and disgust." The last thing she posted before she fell victim in #Idlib #rolling | A picture of "WhatsApp status" of Miss Qamar Bilal Hafez, born in 1993, who fell victim to the bombing of the Assad forces on the city of #Ariha "
  • One of the children killed in Russian or Syrian regime strikes on an Ariha marketplace on October 20th 2021, at a time when children were on their way to school. Image posted by Palestsy. Syrian Civil Defense said that this was likely the body of Rimas Hassan - the volunteer carrying her, 'Mona' commented: "It is very difficult and painful to carry the body of a child whose fault is that she is going to her school"
  • Destruction caused by alleged Russian or Syrian strikes on a marketplace in Ariha, October 20th 2021. Image posted by Idlebcriminaloffice.
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    The body of Ghassan Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Islam; reportedly killed in the Ariha 'massacre' on October 20th 2021 when alleged Russian or Syrian forces hit a marketplace. Image posted on Facebook by Badi`a Mustafa.
  • Syrian Civil Defense first responders carry a body to an ambulance amidst the rubble of a marketplace, hit by alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces in strikes on Ariha October 20th 2021. Image posted by the Syrian Civil Defense on Facebook.
  • Arial view of Ariha, the city where a marketplace was hit by alleged Russian or Syrian strikes on October 20th 2021. Image posted by Ariha Today.
  • A street in Ariha abandoned after alleged Russian or Syrian strikes hit a marketplace leading what was widely termed a 'massacre', killing children on their way to school. Image posted by MMC on Facebook.
  • Smoke and dust over Ariha, after alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces hit a marketplace on October 20th 2021. Image via MMC on Facebook.
  • One of the bodies wrapped after alleged Russian or Syrian strikes hit a marketplace in Ariha on 20th October 2021. Image via MMC on Facebook.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    One of the many civilians harmed by alleged Russian or Syrian airstrikes on Ariha, October 20th 2021. Image via MMC on Facebook.
  • Children stand in front of ground covered in the blood of the several civilians harmed in an attack on a marketplace in Ariha carried out by Russian or Syrian forces on October 20th 2021. Image via MMC on Facebook.
  • Destruction in a marketplace caused by alleged Russian or Syrian strikes on October 20th 2021. Image via MMC on Facebook.
  • A child amongst the rubble of a marketplace hit by alleged Russian or Syrian strikes in Ariha, October 20th 2021. Image via MMC on Facebook.
  • A shop destroyed by alleged Russian or Syrian forces in a marketplace strike in Ariha, October 20th 2021 - Image posted via MMC on Facebook.
  • The market and residential area destroyed by alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces. Image posted by MMC on Facebook.
  • The market and residential area destroyed by alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces on October 20th 2021, Ariha - Idlib. Image posted by MMC on Facebook.
  • The market and residential area destroyed by alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces on October 20th 2021, Ariha - Idlib. Image posted by MMC on Facebook.
  • Destruction of a marketplace and residential area by alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces on October 20th 2021, Ariha - Idlib. Image posted by MMC on Facebook.
  • Destruction of a marketplace and residential area by alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces on October 20th 2021, Ariha - Idlib. Image posted by MMC on Facebook.
  • Destruction of a marketplace and residential area by alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces on October 20th 2021, Ariha - Idlib. Image posted by MMC on Facebook.
  • Destruction of a marketplace and residential area by alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces on October 20th 2021, Ariha - Idlib. Image posted by MMC on Facebook.
  • Destruction of a marketplace and residential area by alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces on October 20th 2021, Ariha - Idlib. Image posted by MMC on Facebook.
  • Destruction of a marketplace and residential area by alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces on October 20th 2021, Ariha - Idlib. Image posted by MMC on Facebook.
  • Destruction of a marketplace and residential area by alleged Russian or Syrian regime forces on October 20th 2021, Ariha - Idlib. Image posted by MMC on Facebook.
  • "The relatives of the volunteers are often among the victims of massacres and shelling by the regime forces and Russia, and this is what they always fear during the response to the attacks. Volunteer Basil Hafez bid farewell to his sister “Qamar”, an Arabic language teacher, and volunteer Muhammad Al-Amin, his brother Ibrahim, after they were killed by the regime and Russia’s shells. In the city of Ariha, south of Idlib." - Image and caption via Syrian Civil Defense on Faecbook.
  • Syrian Civil Defense volunteer carry bodies from the marketplace hit by alleged Russian or Syrian strikes in Ariha on October 20th 2021. Image posted on Facebook by Syrian Civil Defense.
  • The aftermath of an alleged Russian or Syrian strike on Ariha, Idlib October 20th 2021. Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense on Facebook.
  • Rubble caused by alleged Russian or Syrian strike on Ariha, Idlib October 20th 2021. Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense on Facebook.
  • A residential home hit by a Russian or Syrian strike on Ariha, Idlib October 20th 2021. Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense on Facebook.
  • A man sorts through the rubble in the aftermath of an alleged Russian or Syrian strike on Ariha, Idlib October 20th 2021. Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense on Facebook.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Omar and Ali, twin brothers who were on their way to school when the strikes on Ariha occurred on October 20th. Omar was killed while Ali was wounded. (Image posted by Ariha Today via Facebook)
  • Syrian Network for Human Rights reported on October 22nd that Islam al Saraqebi, a child injured on his way to school, died of his wounds. 

Syrian Regime Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Russian Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Iranian Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Iranian Armed Forces
  • Iranian 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
    13 – 14
  • (4–14 children1 woman5 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    30–63
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Syrian Regime Armed Forces, Russian Armed Forces, Iranian Armed Forces

Sources (112) [ collapse]