Russian Military in Syria

A Russian combat aircraft at Khmeimim airbase in Syria being prepared for action. (Russian Ministry of Defence)

Russia began its military engagement in Syria in support of the Assad government on September 30th 2015, in a campaign dominated by intense airstrikes, and later also by artillery actions. While Moscow initially claimed to be targeting so-called Islamic State, it soon became clear that rebel-held areas of Syria were its main focus. The campaign eventually saw much of Syria return to Assad government control.

More than 45,000 airstrikes were declared in just the first three years of fighting – many targeting civilian areas and infrastructure according to observers. More than 24,000 non-combatants have been locally alleged killed either by Moscow’s actions, or in events where communities were unable to distinguish between Russian and regime attacks. Russia itself still publicly maintains no civilians have been harmed in its strikes.

8years4months25days
Length of Campaign
45,000
Declared Russian Armed Sorties in Syria as of September 2019
4,837
Alleged civilian casualty incidents assessed

Airwars estimate of civilian deaths

4,326–6,416

Locally reported civilian deaths from declared or likely Russian Military actions in Iraq and Syria for which the reporting was assessed by Airwars as Fair, or have been Confirmed by the Russian Military. These originate from 1,351 separate alleged incidents.

1,152–1,406 children likely killed
627–760 women likely killed
6,562–10,275 likely injured
3,408 named victims

Russian Military estimate of civilian deaths

0

Confirmed civilian deaths, from Russian Military actions in Syria, originating from 0 separate incidents of civilian harm.

0 civilians confirmed injured

Alleged deaths 15,467–24,871

Locally reported civilian deaths from Russian Military actions in Syria.

4,837 separate alleged incidents

Confirmed or fair
Confirmed: A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
Fair: Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
4,326–6,416

Civilian deaths for which the reporting was assessed by Airwars as Fair, or have been Confirmed by the Russian Military.

1,351 separate alleged incidents

Weak
Weak: Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
739–868

Civilian deaths for which the reporting was assessed by Airwars as Weak.

463 separate alleged incidents

Contested
Contested: Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
10,177–17,285

Civilian deaths for which the reporting is assessed by Airwars as Contested.

2,971 separate alleged incidents

Discounted
Discounted: Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
118–139

Civilian deaths were Discounted by Airwars after assessment.

18 separate alleged incidents

Annual report 2022

Airwars annual report for May 2022-May 2023. The report outlines key highlights from the organisation’s research, investigations and advocacy departments over the time period, as well as strategic objectives and basic financial details. It includes a foreword by Airwars’ director Emily Tripp, who took over at the beginning of the time period, and is designed

Published
May 2023
Country
Iraq Libya Syria the Gaza Strip Ukraine
Belligerents
NATO forces Russian Military Ukrainian Military US Forces US-led Coalition
Output Type
Report

Reported civilian deaths from Russian Military strikes in Syria

Due to large variations in the quality of reporting, Airwars provisionally grades allegations of civilian harm using a standardised methodology across all belligerents and conflicts. The five categories are explained in full on our Methodology page. Individual events are recorded in the Civilian Casualties pages.

Published
September 2022
Country
Syria
Belligerents
Russian Military
Output Type
Bar Chart Visualisation
Languages
English العربية

Russian Military in Syria Casualty Map

Russia began its military engagement in Syria in support of the Assad government on September 30th 2015, in a campaign dominated by intense airstrikes, and later also by artillery actions. While Moscow initially claimed to be targeting so-called Islamic State, it soon became clear that rebel-held areas of Syria were its main focus. The campaign

Published
September 2022
Country
Syria
Belligerents
Russian Military
Output Type
Heatmap Map Visualisation
Languages
English العربية