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.
Summary findings on Coalition air and artillery strikes: August 8th 2014 to December 31st 2017
To December 31st 2017 an overall total of between 17,040 and 25,299 civilian non-combatant fatalities had been locally alleged from 2,428 separate reported Coalition incidents, in both Iraq and Syria. Of these, Airwars presently estimates that a minimum of 6,047 to 9,210 civilians are likely to have died in Coalition actions. However, some caution is needed given the significant challenges of casualty verification at present.
The Coalition has so far confirmed 200 of 2,428 claimed incidents as causing 732 civilian fatalities. In addition 85 further civilian deaths have been confirmed in unidentified incidents, at least 80 of which were the result of non-US Coalition actions.
In addition to these confirmed events, it is our provisional view at Airwars that between 5,024 and 7,599 civilian non-combatants appear likely to have been killed in 953 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 180 of these likely incidents were in Iraq (1,534 to 2,284 reported deaths) and 773 events in Syria (with a reported fatality range of 3,481 to 5,304.)
At least 1,257 children and 756 women are reported to be among those killed in confirmed and likely events, along with 4,582 or more civilians reportedly injured. Airwars presently lists the names of 2,876 reported civilian fatality victims from confirmed and likely Coalition events.
Across both nations, 139 alleged civilian casualty incidents have so far in our view been discounted, ie are highly unlikely to have involved Coalition aircraft (748 to 1,150 claimed deaths). This categorisation is often a result of Coalition feedback on alleged incidents. An additional 379 to 525 civilians reportedly died in 61 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 2,265 to 2,646 claimed deaths are attributed to 406 alleged Coalition airstrikes which are presently weakly reported or single-sourced.
An additional 6,528 to 10,216 asserted fatalities resulted from 500 contested events (for example, claims that the Iraq Air Force or proxy ground actions might instead have been responsible.)
Some 148 further contested events (943 to 1,384 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. Several hundred additional ‘friendly fire’ deaths of allied ground forces and non-friendly forces have been attributed to the Coalition from 57 more claimed incidents, with varying levels of credibility.
To date the Coalition has conceded 200 civilian casualty events – of which Airwars believes it has been able to identify 185 incidents. The Coalition is presently withholding locational information for newly confirmed events, making identification difficult.
In its own latest monthly civilian casualty assessment – published on December 28th 2017 – the Coalition noted the following: “In the month of November, CJTF-OIR carried over 695 open reports of possible civilian casualties from previous months and received 9 new reports resulting from Coalition strikes (artillery or air) in support of partner force operations to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. During this period, the Coalition completed the assessment of 101 reports: 92 were assessed to be non-credible, none were assessed to be duplicates of previous reports, and nine were assessed to be credible, resulting in 11 unintentional civilian deaths. To date, based on information available, CJTF-OIR assesses at least 817 civilians have been unintentionally killed by Coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve. A total of 603 reports are still open.”
Airwars continues to improve its understanding of individual allegations – and our data and case reports include reference to the Coalition’s own assessments where known. Our data is also regularly adjusted to reflect those alleged cases where the alliance has demonstrated it was not responsible for non-combatant fatalities.
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.
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
Airwars monitors media and social media sites in both Iraq and Syria for claims of coalition-inflicted casualties. We also collate reports from regionally-focused groups, and follow up on allegations with the coalition where 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; and militant and terror groups including Islamic State/Daesh, and the al-Nusra Front.
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
Bellingcat (geolocation of strikes)
Iraq Body Count
United Nations Mission in Iraq
Coalition Press Office