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 on September 30th 2015, in a campaign dominated by intense airstrikes. 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. More than 39,000 airstrikes were declared in the first three years of fighting – many of them targeting civilian areas and infrastructure according to observers. While the campaign saw much of Syria return to Assad government control, more than 7,000 non-combatants were also credibly reported killed by Moscow’s actions according to local monitoring – though Russia itself maintained that no civilians had been harmed in its strikes. While Airwars continues to monitor and research all claims, our comprehensive online assessments of Russian civilian harm allegations presently run only to August 2017.

1,391
Days of Campaign
39,000
Russian Military Strikes in Syria
2,409
Alleged civilian casualty incidents assessed

Airwars estimate of civilian deaths

3,270–4,767

Locally reported civilian deaths from 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 838 seperate alleged incidents.

843–1,015 children likely killed
453–531 women likely killed
4,829–7,228 likely injured
2,340 named victims

Russian Military estimate of civilian deaths

0

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

0 confirmed injured

Alleged deaths 9,730–15,380

Locally reported civilian deaths from Russian military actions in Syria.

2,409 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.
3,270–4,767

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

838 separate alleged incidents

Weak
Weak: Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
475–549

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

214 separate alleged incidents

Contested
Contested: Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
5,802–9,827

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

1,324 separate alleged incidents

Discounted
Discounted: Those killed were combatants, or other parties most likely responsible.
102–115

Civilian deaths were Discounted by Airwars after assessment.

13 separate alleged incidents

Estimates to August 31, 2017

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.

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Credit: Airwars Graphic
Source: Airwars