An Iraqi man carries his son into Trauma Stabilization Point #2, a makeshift medical facility, following an airstrike on the night of June 12, 2017 in West Mosul, Iraq. (Image courtesy of Maranie R. Staab)

Iraq and Syria: Civilian and ‘friendly fire’ casualties from international military actions

Airwars maintains an extensive all-source database of known allegations in which civilians and friendly forces have been reported killed by the Coalition or Russia in Iraq and Syria. Our individual case studies include photographs, videos, names of the dead, and links to all known sources. These reports represent our best current understanding of events and are updated as new information becomes available.

 

Coalition
2018

Almost all Coalition strikes in early 2018 – and claims of civilian harm – were now focused on eastern Syria

Russia
2015-2018

Russian airstrikes in support of the Assad regime have seen thousands of Syrian civilians credibly reported killed

Turkey 2018 Jan-April

New project tracks all claimed civilian harm from Turkish operations in Syria – and Kurdish counterfire

Airwars indepth reports

Our occasional in depth reports looking at transparency and accountability issues and belligerent actions

Coalition 2017 Nov-Dec

With ISIS mostly defeated, strikes continued sharply to decline though casualties were still claimed

Coalition 2017 October

Heavy Coalition air and artillery strikes remained focused on ISIS at Raqqa, and elsewhere in Syria and Iraq

Coalition 2017 September

Raqqa remained the primary focus for Coalition actions – though strikes also continued within Iraq

Coalition 2017 August

With ISIS routed from Mosul the fight moved elsewhere in Iraq – and deepened at Raqqa in Syria

Coalition 2017 July

Islamic State faced defeat at Mosul, while at Raqqa large numbers of civilian deaths were again reported

Coalition 2017 June

As the last few ISIL-occupied areas of Mosul were targeted, the Coalition’s main focus shifted to Raqqa

Coalition 2017 May

With the battle for Mosul now longer than that for Stalingrad, civilian casualties continued to rise

Coalition 2017 April

Significant civilian casuialties are reported as the major West Mosul and Raqqa campaigns continue

Coalition 2017 March

Unprecedented numbers of civilians were reported killed during the assaults on Mosul and Raqqa

Coalition 2017 Jan-February

With President Trump promising renewed vigour in the anti-ISIL war, the implications for civilians were unclear

Coalition 2016 Oct-Dec

The long-awaited assault on Mosul and a major offensive around Raqqa led to significant civilian deaths

Coalition 2016 July-Sept

A Coalition-backed ground campaign to free Manbij from ISIL led to the heaviest reported casualties so far

Coalition 2016 April-June

Intense Coalition strikes at Manbij, Mosul and Raqqa saw large numbers of civilians killed and injured

Coalition 2016 Jan-March

The first three months of 2016 saw numerous civilian deaths reported from Coalition actions in Iraq and Syria

Coalition 2015

Here you’ll find our complete records for all alleged Coalition civilian casualty events for the year 2015

Coalition 2014

Our complete records for all known civilian casualty events for the first five months of the Coalition war

Summary findings on Coalition air and artillery strikes: August 8th 2014 to August 16th 2018

The Coalition comprises those active belligerents involved in the war to defeat so-called Islamic State – and presently comprises the US, UK, France, the Netherlands and Iraq (in Syria). Previous belligerents include Canada, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Jordan.

From August 8th 2014 to August 16th 2018 an overall total of between 17,674 and 26,224 civilian non-combatant fatalities had been locally alleged from 2,659 separate reported Coalition incidents, in both Iraq and Syria. 

Of these, Airwars presently estimates that a minimum of 6,575 to 9,968 civilians are likely to have died in Coalition actions. However, some caution is needed given the significant challenges of casualty verification at present.

See our separate tracking of alleged Russian events here

The Coalition has so far confirmed an overall total of at least 1,059 civilian fatalities from its actions, and has conceded responsibility for 244 of 2,659 specific claimed incidents which it says caused 974 civilian fatalities. In addition, 85 further civilian deaths have been confirmed by the alliance in unidentified incidents, at least 80 of which were the result of non-US Coalition actions. (Airwars places the fatality range from these confirmed events higher, at 1,313 to 2,414 killed.)

In addition to these confirmed events, it is our provisional view at Airwars that a further 5,217 to 7,509 civilian non-combatants appear likely to have been killed in 995 further incidents where there is fair and uncontested public reporting of an event – and where Coalition strikes were confirmed in the near vicinity on that date. Some 182 of these likely incidents were in Iraq (1,547 to 2,270 reported deaths) and 813 events in Syria (with a reported fatality range of 3,670 to 5,239.)

At least 1,326 children and 852 women are reported to be among those killed in confirmed and likely events, along with 5,070 or more civilians reportedly injured. Airwars presently lists the names of 3,122 reported civilian fatality victims from confirmed and likely Coalition events.

Across both nations, 238 alleged civilian casualty incidents have so far in our view been discounted, ie are highly unlikely to have involved Coalition aircraft (765 to 1,167 claimed deaths). This categorisation is often a result of Coalition feedback on alleged incidents. An additional 398 to 558 civilians reportedly died in 66 events where the reporting appears fair, but where it remains unclear whether the Coalition carried out any attack in the vicinity on the date in question.

A further 2,345 to 2,737 claimed deaths are attributed to 429 alleged Coalition airstrikes which are presently weakly reported or single-sourced.

An additional 6,569 to 10,288 asserted fatalities resulted from 519 contested events (for example, claims that the Iraq Air Force or proxy ground actions might instead have been responsible.)

Some 146 further contested events (918 to 1,349 deaths) may have involved Russian aircraft in Syria. And 21 additional contested events (139 to 179 deaths) were attributed variously both to the Coalition and to Turkey.

The Coalition has additionally conceded four ‘friendly fire’ incidents. It has confirmed it likely killed Iraq Army forces at Fallujah on December 18th 2015, which the public record indicates killed 10 to 23 Iraqi troops. On September 17th 2016, between 15 and 65 Assad regime troops died in a confirmed Coalition action in Syria. On October 5th 2016, between 18 and 21 friendly Sunni tribal militia were killed in a Coalition strike near Qayyarah. And on April 11th 2017 the Coalition killed 18 SDF forces near Tabqah in Syria. A fifth reported event on January 27th 2018 which reportedly killed eleven Iraqi security personnel is under investigation.

Several hundred additional ‘friendly fire’ deaths of allied ground forces and non-friendly Syrian regime forces have been attributed to the Coalition from 73 more claimed incidents, with varying levels of credibility.

To date the Coalition has conceded 244 civilian casualty events – and Airwars is seeking to work with the Coalition properly to identify the locations of these incidents.

In its own latest monthly civilian casualty assessment – published on July 26th 2018 – the Coalition noted the following: “The Coalition conducted a total of 29,826 strikes between August 2014 and end of June 2018. During this period, based on information available, CJTF-OIR assesses at least 1059 civilians have been unintentionally killed by Coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.

This month’s civilian casualty total reflects the re-addition of 15 casualties from a credible report carried in the April 2018 reports that was mistakenly left out of the May 2018 report.

In the month of June, CJTF-OIR carried over 314 open reports from previous months and received 45 new reports. The assessment of 125 civilian casualty reports have been completed. Sixteen reports were determined to be credible, resulting in 105 unintentional civilian deaths, while three were assessed to be duplicate and 106 were assessed to be non-credible. A total of 234 reports are still open.

For the latest Coalition civilian casualty allegations for Iraq and Syria please see here

Estimated minimum civilian deaths from Coalition airstrikes from August 2014

Updated hourly. The map plots all Confirmed and Fair minimum civilian fatality events from Coalition airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria, aggregated by unique location.
Graphics by Airwars – Basile Simon. Geolocation by Christiaan Triebert.

For the latest Coalition civilian casualty allegations for Iraq and Syria please see here

How we grade alleged incidents

Because of wide variations in the quality of casualty recording, Airwars uses a grading system for events alleging non-combatant or ‘friendly fire’ deaths from Coalition airstrikes. These are:

Confirmed: Where the coalition or an individual ally has accepted responsibility for the killing of non-combatants or allied forces in a particular incident.

Fair: Reasonable level of public reporting of alleged incident from two or more generally credible sources (often with biographical, photographic or video evidence). Crucially, there are also confirmed coalition strikes in the near vicinity for that date. We believe these cases in particular require urgent investigation.

Fair, but with no confirmed strikes: Locations provided by the Coalition in its daily reports can be overly vague, and on occasion it has not reported strikes on particular locales. At other times the Coalition might state categorically that it did not carry out an airstrike at a named location on a particular date – despite fair evidence of an airstrike in the vicinity.

Weak: Single source claims. Even so, these may feature biographical or photographic detail from a reputable source, with coalition strikes also confirmed in the vicinity.

Contested Events: Where there are claims of both coalition and Iraqi or Syrian aircraft having carried out strikes at a location.

Discounted: Those cases where our researchers or others have identified either that those killed were combatants; that no Coalition or Russian strike took place at the location; or where an incident did not appear to result in any civilian casualties.

Also see our Methodology

Additional resources

Airwars conducts daily monitoring of local Arabic-language media and social media sites in both Iraq and Syria for claims of Coalition-inflicted casualties. We also track local casualty monitors, NGOs, international agencies and international media. We  permanently archive all reports, and follow up on allegations with the Coalition wherever possible.

Extensive additional civilian casualties are caused by other parties to both the Iraq and Syria conflicts. These include Iraqi and Syrian government forces and allied militias; the Russian, Turkish and Iranian militaries; and militant and terror groups including so-called Islamic State/Daesh, and al Qaeda linked factions in Syria.

A number of monitoring groups based in the Middle East and elsewhere issue daily reports which cover not just civilians killed by the Coalition, but all of those affected by the wars in Iraq and Syria. You can find more information below:

Syrian Network for Human Rights
Violations Documentation Center
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Raqaa is Being Slaughtered Silently
White Helmets
Bellingcat
(geolocation of strikes)
Iraq Body Count
United Nations Mission in Iraq

Coalition Press Office

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