Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

TS477 CS1967

Incident date

October 25, 2021

Location

العدوانية, Al Adwania, Hassakah, Syria

Geolocation

36.711861, 39.624167 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (other) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Exact location (other)

Airwars assessment

Up to four men were killed in Coalition airstrikes or shootings with the alleged assistance of Turkish forces in the village of Al Adwania on October 25, 2021. One of the men, Abu Hamza Al-Shuhail, was identified as an arms dealer while sources were conflicted as to whether the other men were civilians or militants.

The Euphrates Post reported that Turkish forces entered the village of Al Adwania and shot the young man Abdul Rahman Salem Al-Hammad, who died instantly from his gunshot wound. They also pointed out that Abdul had been armed and was killed instantly. Private sources contested that the forces that entered the area were Turkish, reporting that they “spoke English and not Turkish”, making it likely that the forces belonged to the Coalition.

According to Euphrates Post, this incident occurred shortly after an alleged Coalition drone killed Sabahi Al-Musleh “Abu Hamza Al-Shuhail”, identified as being a former arms dealer close to ISIS. A tweet from @DeirEzzorNow disputed this, stating that “Sabahi is not closely associated with the terrorist organization ISIS but the man was an old arms dealer… he joined the 20th Division – and sometimes he works as a smuggler towards Turkey.”

The Syrians for Truth and Justice released a report where they identified Abu Hamza as being a “a famous arms dealer in the region” who “supplied and sold massive quantities of various types of firearms to several parties in the Syrian conflict, chiefly IS”. Al-Shuhail worked with the factions of the former Free Syrian Army (FSA), Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front)/Qaeda, and later with both IS and the SDF. He rented the farmhouse in al-Adwaniya—which is under the military control of SNA-affiliated 20th Division—and made it a headquarters for administrating his business, which included people smuggling “in coordination with SNA commanders”.

Additionally, two other people were killed by “unknown fire” when they rode a motorcycle to inspect the location of the drone strike, identified as being Sami Khalil Al-Khuzam, an electrician who worked in an agricultural vehicle repair shop from the village of Al-Marayeh in the eastern Deir Ezzor countryside, and Nawaf Khalaf Al-Hawas, a shepherd from the village of Al-Tabiya. Orient News attributed the death of Sami and Nawaf to the Turkish forces that entered the area following the airstrikes.

Eye of Euphrates referred to “at least three” people killed in addition to Abu Hamza Al-Shuhail as being his “companions” but did not specifically identify if they were militants or civilians and their reporting also seems to indicate that the drone strike killed all four victims. However, a tweet from @DeirEzzorNow specifically identifies Abu Hamza Al-Shuhail, Abdul, and Nawaf as all being from Deir Ezzor and as all being members of the 20th National Army Division (they did not mention Sami Khalil).

The report by the Syrians for Truth and Justice identified the location as being a newly constructed farm adjacent to the Syria-Turkey border in al-Adwaniya village. Following the drone strike that killed Abu Hamza, Turkish ground troops came from Turkey and encircled the area, exchanging fire and killing a gunman in the farmhouse named Abdulrahman Salem al-Hammad, who “used to work with al-Shuhail and visited the farmhouse frequently”. In addition, two other civilians “arrived in the target area about an hour and a half after the assassination operation started” and were killed. Sami al-Khuzami died when he was shot in the chest, and Nawaf al-Khalaf died when he was shot in the head, possibly by sniper fire due to the location. Both were “killed on the main street leading to the farm, about 150 meters away from the farmhouse”. Overall, the incident resulted in the death of three civilians “who maintained no relations with the arms dealer”.

On November 27th 2021, the UK government announced that they had conducted strikes in this location without giving details about who was killed: “The crew of a remotely piloted Reaper, armed with Hellfire missiles, tracked a known terrorist in northern Syria, near the city of Ras al Ayn, and at a safe moment, when the individual was alone in a field, carried out a successful attack.”

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Abdul Rahman Salem Al-Hammad Adult male killed
  • Sami Khalil Al-Khuzam Adult male killed
  • Nawaf Khalaf Al-Hawas Adult male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 3
  • (1–3 men)
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Turkish Military, US-led Coalition
  • Known targets
    Assad regime, ISIS
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–3

Sources (11) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (15) [ collapse]

  • Sabahi Al-Musleh "Abu Hamza Al-Shuhail", an alleged arms dealer killed in strikes on October 25, 2021. (Image posted by @DeirEzzorNow)
  • Sami al-Khuzami , killed in Al Adwania on October 25, 2021. (Image posted by Euphrates Post)
  • Nawaf al-Khalaf, killed in Al Adwania on October 25, 2021. (Image posted by Euphrates Post)
  • One of the men killed in strikes or a shooting in Al Adwania on October 25, 2021. (Image posted by Euphrates Post)
  • Two photos taken at different intervals of the farmhouse built sometime in 2021, and where al-Shuhail was killed. The farmhouse is adjacent to Syria-Turkey borders and is farmed in red. Credits: Planet Labs Inc.
  • Satellite image taken by Planet Labs Inc. 7 November 2021. The photo locates the farmhouse—the black square—where al-Shuhail was killed, compared to the location of the Turkish base—the red square—from where the ground forces raided the farmhouse. Additionally, the photo shows the border wall between Syria and Turkey. Credit: Planet Labs Inc.
  • Footage from the video, showing the farmhouse, in the black square. Credit: STJ.
  • Satellite image linked with the live footage from the video. Credit: Planet Labs Inc.
  • Satellite image linked with the live footage from the video. Credit: Planet Labs Inc.
  • Footage from the video. Credit: STJ.
  • Footage circulated on social media of what is believed al-Shuhail’s body parts and the location where the drone hit.
  • The footage from social media linked with satellite images. Credit: Planet Labs Inc.
  • Footage circulated on social media of what is believed to be al-Shuhail’s body parts and the location where the drone hit.
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Graphic image of victim Nawaf al-Khalaf, shot in the forehead by alleged Turkish forces on October 25, 2021. (Image posted by Syrians for Truth and Justice)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Graphic image of victim Sami al-Khuzami, who was targeted just in the heart by alleged Turkish forces on October 25, 2021. (Image posted by Syrians for Truth and Justice)

Geolocation notes

Reports of the strike mention the village of Al Adwania (العدوانية). According to research conducted by Syrians for Truth and Justice, the exact coordinates for this strike are: 36.711861, 39.624167. Cross referencing source material, we can confirm the accuracy of this location.  

Turkish Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Turkish Military
  • Turkish Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Original strike reports

US-led Coalition

The crew of a remotely piloted Reaper, armed with Hellfire missiles, tracked a known terrorist in northern Syria, near the city of Ras al Ayn, and at a safe moment, when the individual was alone in a field, carried out a successful attack.

UK Military
  • English
    /
    Original

Monday 25 October – An RAF Reaper killed a Daesh terrorist in northern Syria. Royal Air Force aircraft have continued to fly missions over Iraq and Syria in support of the global coalition against the Daesh terrorist movement. On Monday 25 October, the crew of a remotely piloted Reaper, armed with Hellfire missiles, tracked a known terrorist in northern Syria, near the city of Ras al Ayn, and at a safe moment, when the individual was alone in a field, carried out a successful strike.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Counter-Terrorism Action (Ground), Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1 – 3
  • (1–3 men)
  • Causes of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions, Small arms and light weapons
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Turkish Military, US-led Coalition
  • Known targets
    Assad regime, ISIS
  • Belligerents reported killed
    1–3

Sources (11) [ collapse]