Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

RS292

Incident date

December 20, 2015

Location

إدلب, Idlib, Syria

Geolocation

35.93062, 36.63393 Note: The accuracy of this location is to City level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

City

Airwars assessment

Between 43 and 73 civilians were reported killed and 70-170 injured in alleged Russian airstrikes on Idlib, according to multiple sources.

Al Jazeera posted a video from the main market on Al Jala’a street in which the reporter said 47 non-combatants were killed and 70 injured, in strikes by Russian warplanes. The correspondent said the street contained two schools, Al Ourouba school and a primary school, and that Russian planes were still circling the skies of idlib, despite a local truce agreed in the area. Al Jazeera English later posted a film by Nagieb Khaja which claimed the death toll had risen to 73.

The Shaam News Network reported that Russian strikes targeted the Al Qoussour neighbourhood, the industrial area and the city centre. It initially said 50 died including women and children and that more than 170 were injured including critical cases, in six Russian raids targeting a party branch, residential buildings and the Department of School Books.

SNN added that there had been fears of repeated raids as the White Helmets attempted to evacuate the area and rescue bodies. A member of the White Helmets said the field hospital was full of casualties, that it had not been possible to identify them all, and that teams continued to search for survivors under the rubble.

A subsequent report by SNN said that a Sharia court had also been struck, killing in total more than 95 people and leaving hundreds injured.

One of the dead was named as Samir Sweden, an engineer and a prominent table tennis judge, who was killed when his home was hit. According to an obituary: “Engineer Samir Sweden, was born in the city of Idlib in 1960, he studied engineering in the city of Aleppo University, and founded 5 years ago the page Deaths in Idlib via Facebook, which was the most prominent reference and the most accurate in terms of counting the number of deaths [from the civil war] maintained on a daily basis.”

The Syrian Network for Human Rights initially published a short report blaming the regime for the attacks and putting the death toll at 18. But a subsequent detailed report blamed Russia, and documented the death of 42 civilians, including a child and two women, and one armed man, plus 122 wounded. According to the report:

Three alleged Russian warplanes launched 6 airstrikes with 8 rockets on vital regions in the middle of Idlib city. The estimated region’s area is 1 Km2.

– Four rockets fell on a region called ‘the security region’ in Al Qusour neighborhood in Idlib. It included several government buildings like the military and air force security branches, the governor’s palace and Al Ba’ath Party building that was transformed by the armed opposition to a court and a prison that included 200 individuals who were .accused of different charges

-Two rockets targeted Al Jalaa’ nearby street which includes the city’s main market, a  warehouse for school books, and a high school

-Two rockets targeted a residential building behind Al Hayat Mosque.”

Mr Omar Abu Abdullah, a civil activist witnessed the shelling and told SN4HR: “At about 10 am, three Russian warplanes launched an air strike on Al Jalaa’Street next to Al Ourouba Female High School. I went to the shelling location and before I got there, the Russian warplanes launched another airstrike on the court’s building that was previously the headquarters for the ruling regime party. I was next to the high school and the civil defense members were trying to evacuate the injured people and transport the dead bodies. I saw great destruction in the school’s book warehouse building since it was near the high school. However, the massacre happened next to court’s building. I went there and saw the place completely destroyed. The smell of charcoaled bodies was all over the place and I heard distress sounds from the court’s basement where .the court’s prison was.”

Mr Mohamad Yehya, another civil defence member in Idlib city added: “The greatest number of victims was in the court which was almost completely destroyed. It took us two days to pull the victims’ bodies from under the rubble. During our rescue mission, the Russian warplanes launched another airstrike on us and shelled Al Sheikh Tholoth region There was a 17 year old young man who was trapped under the rubble. It took us 5 hours to reach him and pull him. The region targeted is vital as people go to the court to facilitate their paperwork. There are no military headquarters near that area that would justify the brutal shelling.”

Further testimony was given by Mr Sa’er, a local media activist in Idlib, who was close to the location of the attacks: “The shelling started at about 10 a.m. where two rockets fell on the city’s downtown next to the former air force security branch which killed a civilian and injured 5 others. I went directly to the shelling location and started to take pictures of the shelled site. The shelling was repeated in nearby locations with 7 more rockets. They hit the military security branch, the court and the school books’ warehouse. The court’s building was targeted twice and it witnessed the death of dozens of people. It was a three story building and it facilitated the …resident’s paperwork and documents like marriage, divorce, civil conflicts etc. Dozens of individuals go there daily in addition to the judges. There was a basement in the court’s building which included almost 200 prisoners. The initial outcome was 20 martyrs, 15 missing individuals and not less than 110 injured individuals. It was horrific. Dead bodies were scattered around the .place and hundreds others were calling for help from under the rubble. The court’s building belonged to the Al Fateh Army but judges, lawyers, employees and court security forces worked in it and there were no military headquarters next to it.”

The Syrian Network for Human Rights kept one other name confidential due to search reasons – from  Hama – a member of an armed opposition group.

 

The local time of the incident is unknown.

The victims were named as:

Family members (2)

Family members (2)

  • Omar Aisha Age unknown from Idlib, Darkoush  killed
  • Abdo Aisha Age unknown from Idlib, Darkoush  killed

Family members (2)

Family members (2)

Family members (2)

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    43 – 73
  • (3 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    70–170
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Russian Armed Forces

Sources (13) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (21) [ collapse]

  • Moment of alleged Russian strike on Idlib, Dec 20th (via SNN)
  • A view of the smoke from an airstrike. (via, SNN)
  • Moments after an airstrike fell. (via, SNN)
  • Another image taken moments after the airstrike. (via, SNN)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    A civilian trapped inside a car following an airstrike. (via, SNN)
  • Damaged buildings in Idlib following an alleged Russian airstrike. (via, SNN)
  • The aftermath of the airstrike on the ground in Idlib. (via, SNN)
  • A damaged car following an airstrike. (via, SNN)
  • Civilians are rescued from the rubble following an alleged Russian airstrike. (via, SNN)
  • Moments after the airstrike hit Idlib. (via, SNN)
  • A civilian being rescued from inside a damaged car. (via, SNN)
  • A car and some residential buildings, totally destroyed by an airstrike. (via, SNN)
  • The streets in the aftermath of the airstrike. (via, SNN)
  • Chaos, as locals desperately try to find trapped or injured civilians. (via, SNN)
  • Part of the aftermath of the airstrike. (via, SNN)
  • Smoke fills the sky moments after the airstrike hits Idlib. (via, SNN)
  • A damaged car from the alleged Russian airstrike. (via, SNN)
  • Another image of civilians attempting to rescue trapped people from the rubble. (via, SNN)
  • Moments after the airstrike hit Idlib. (via, SNN)
  • A destroyed car. (via, SNN)

Russian Armed Forces Assessment:

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

Original strike reports

Russian Armed Forces

For December 18th-23rd, Russia reported that “In the course of five days, on December 18-23, aircraft of the Aerospace Forces in the Syrian Arab Republic have performed 302 combat sorties engaging 1093 objects in the Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Homs and Deir ez-Zor provinces.”

Summary

  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    43 – 73
  • (3 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    70–170
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Russian Armed Forces

Sources (13) [ collapse]