Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

TS569

Incident date

November 21, 2022

Location

الحمره , Al-Hamra neighborhood in the center of Tal Tamr district, Hasakeh, Syria

Airwars assessment

On November 21st, 2022, a civilian – a young man, was reportedly injured by a Turkish drone in Al-Hamra neighborhood in the center of Tal Tamr district. A local source added that the strike targeted a vehicle located nearby a Russian military base. However, SOHR claimed that the attack only caused material damage to a military vehicle.

The injured was described by Hawar News Agency (ANHA) and ANF as Abd al-Rahman Rashid Hassan, 17 years old. The young man was reportedly transfered to the Martyr Lêgerîn Hospital for treatment.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Abd al-Rahman Rashid Hassan 17 years old male injured

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Weak
    Single source claim, though sometimes featuring significant information.
  • Suspected target
    Unknown

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Published

November 25, 2022

Written by

Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen

Header Image

The signing ceremony for the Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA) on November 18th 2022 in Dublin Castle. Over 80 state delegations such as the UK (pictured) officially endorsed the declaration.

An overview of the actions needed

On Friday November 18th, states and civil society joined together in Dublin Castle to officially endorse the long-awaited international Political Declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA). So far, 82 states have signed onto the declaration; this is a similar number to the initial signatories to other international declarations that have created new norms and standards in warfare, such as the Safe Schools Declaration. Among the signatories to the EWIPA declaration are states such as the US, UK, Netherlands, and Belgium, all of which made sizable contributions to the coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria that killed an estimated 8,194–13,249 civilians.

According to Action on Armed Violence, when EWIPAs are used, over 90% of those harmed are civilians. Airwars recently put together a series of maps showing the clear and troubling connection between population density in cities and civilian deaths during urban warfare. Even beyond those who are killed immediately, the reverberating effects are often severe and pervasive, with schools, hospitals, livelihoods, and basic resources like food and water becoming inaccessible for years. This has played out in recent conflicts in cities such as Mosul and Raqqa, in which entire city parts were destroyed and have been made uninhabitable.

The Irish-led, UN backed international declaration is a groundbreaking step towards curbing the use of such weapons. It comes at the back of a decade of civil society focus and pressure on this, led by the INEW network, which Airwars is a part of. As with any political declaration, the results are only as good as the implementation. Below, we outline some of the challenges states must address as they begin the process of implementing the EWIPA declaration.

States must be frank about gaps in their current approach

The first step in understanding how to implement the declaration to limit the use of EWIPAs must be for each state to critically examine current gaps in its own approach and engage in a meaningful process to address these. This in itself might be a stumbling block for some; while states such as the US and the Netherlands have shown increasing willingness to address gaps in their approach to the protection of civilians by working with civil society and experts, others have not.

The UK for instance, still falls behind allies in terms of transparency on evidence collection around civilian harm. Under the declaration, states committed to: “Collect, share, and make publicly available disaggregated data on the direct and indirect effects on civilians and civilian objects of military operations involving the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, where feasible and appropriate”. Despite the UK representative in Dublin noting during the signing ceremony that “the UK already has policies and procedures in place to support the implementation”, this has to date not been evident when it comes to public reporting on the effects of UK military actions.

As it stands, the UK maintains that it has evidence of only a single civilian casualty from its actions in the seven year anti-ISIS campaign, for example, despite extensive military involvement. The US, by comparison, has admitted to over 1,400 civilian casualties as part of the Coalition.  When challenged, UK officials tend to emphasise that they are aware that is not a case of lower civilian casualties than in previous conflicts – but of poor evidence gathering. This position was summarised by former Armed Forces Minister, Mark Lancaster, who emphasised in 2019 that; “[I]t is not our position that there has been only a single civilian casualty as a result of our military action. What we are saying is that we have evidence of only a single, or what we believe to have been a single, civilian casualty.”

In spite of this oft-repeated recognition that the evidence gathering mechanisms of the UK are not able to accurately reflect the reality on the ground, there is, to our knowledge, no process in place to improve this approach and little willingness to engage with civil society to address this. If this is not addressed, there will be a significant gap between the rhetoric of UK leadership when it comes to EWIPA and the reality on the ground.

States must build clarity on who is responsible for implementing the EWIPA declaration on a national level

The second step states must take to implement the EWIPA declaration is to gain better internal understandings of who will be involved in its implementation. This must include those focusing specifically on EWIPA, but also those focusing on topics such as human security, the protection of civilians, humanitarian response, development, diplomacy, and all the other elements required to protect those caught in conflict from being harmed by explosive weapons.The structures behind overseas military engagements are complex, quick changing, and lines of responsibility are often murky. Yet it is only if all involved in such operations, across parliament, ministries of defence, and ministries of foreign affairs and overseas development, are dedicated to limiting the use of EWIPA, understanding their impact, and tracking civilian harm that occurs if they are used, that implementation will be effective.

States must be open to civil society inclusion in the implementation of the EWIPA declaration 

Civil society actors, many of us united under the INEW banner, played a significant role in the development of the EWIPA declaration and the advocacy that brought states to the process, a fact that was acknowledged by a large number of states at the conference in Dublin. We stand ready to support the implementation in national contexts and across international coalitions. Many civil society organisations have spent years – sometimes decades – developing protection mechanisms and civilian harm tracking mechanisms, as well as conducting research into valuable lessons on the impact of EWIPA. Civil society organisations are also often direct links to the communities affected. It is in all of our interests that these resources are effectively shared with those in power.

In those states where there is a history of poor transparency and accountability on civilian harm and civilian harm tracking, governments and their militaries must also commit to a certain level of transparency on the implementation of the EWIPA declaration. They should work with civil society actors to understand the gaps in their current approach and set up milestones for implementation.

Looking forward

The endorsing ceremony was a promising step towards recognising the immense harm that these weapons have caused in recent years – and the harm they will continue to cause as their impact reverberates through communities. If the declaration is implemented well, fewer civilians will be harmed by explosive weapons in their cities, towns, and camps.

Yet there are pitfalls each state must avoid if their implementation of the declaration is to be meaningful. They must be frank about current gaps in their system and must be willing to address them. They must gain an oversight of everyone who will play a role in the effective implementation of EWIPA. And they should work with civil society actors who have resources to share and stand ready to support implementation.

Additional resources:

    Implementation Brief: Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, CIVIC, November 2022 (here) Safeguarding Civilians: A Humanitarian Interpretation of the Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, Human Rights watch and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law school, October 2022 (here) Implementing the Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas: Key Areas and Implementing Actions, INEW and Article 36, November 2022 (here) Over 80 Countries Committed to Curb Use of Explosive Weapons, Now Comes the Hard Part, Bonnie Docherty, Human Rights Watch for Just Security, November 23rd 2022 (here)
▲ The signing ceremony for the Political Declaration on the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA) on November 18th 2022 in Dublin Castle. Over 80 state delegations such as the UK (pictured) officially endorsed the declaration.

Incident Code

TS573

Incident date

November 23, 2022

Location

قرية الزيدية, Al-Zaydiyah, Al Hasaka, Syria

Airwars assessment

Two civilians were injured by alleged Turkish drone strikes on the village of Al-Zaydiyah on November 23, 2022.

ANF reported that two people were injured by an explosive-laden drone strike on the village of Al-Zaydiyah in Darbasiyah district. ANF added that at the time there was no information on the condition of those injured.

A Facebook post by Evin Shexmous published a similar casualty toll of two civilian injured by a Turkish drone.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Turkish Military Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike, Drone Strike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    2
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (2) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TS572

Incident date

November 23, 2022

Location

قرية المصرف, village of Masraf, Al Hasaka, Syria

Airwars assessment

Three civilians were injured by alleged Turkish airstrikes that struck a civilian car in the village of Masraf on November 23, 2022.

ANF reported that three people were injured when Turkish forces bombed a civilian car in the village of Masraf. The injured civilians were transferred to Qamishli Hospital for treatment.

Both Hawar News and Dijla posted on Facebook a similar casualty count of three civilian injured.

All three sources that reported on the incident attributed the bombing to Turkish forces.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Car damaged by alleged Turkish airstrikes in the village of Masraf on November 23, 2022. (Image posted by Hawar News)

Turkish Military Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (3) [ collapse]

Incident Code

TS571

Incident date

November 23, 2022

Location

قرية علي اغا, village of Ali Agha, Al Hasaka, Syria

Airwars assessment

Three civilians were injured by alleged Turkish airstrikes on the village of Ali Agha on November 23, 2022.

ANF reported that three people were wounded by Turkish bombardment of the village of Ali Agha in Tal Koçer. Two of the wounded were taken to Derik Hospital, while the other, who suffered a serious injury, was transferred to Qamishli Hospital.

A Facebook post by Metin Bekes reported that civilians were injured and identified four raids as being carried out by Turkish forces against the village of Ali Agha.

Alyaum TV and Metin Bekes both posted on Facebook that casualties resulted from Turkish strikes without specifying how many.

All of the sources that reported on the incident attributed the strikes to Turkey.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • Alleged Turkish bombardment of the village of Ali Agha on November 23, 2022. (Image posted by Ciwan Ibrahîm via Facebook)
  • Alleged Turkish bombardment of the village of Ali Agha on November 23, 2022. (Image posted by دجلة - الجزيرة السورية via Facebook)

Turkish Military Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Turkish Military

Sources (5) [ collapse]

Published

November 23, 2022

Written by

Airwars Staff

Header Image

The SNP Foreign and Defense front bench launch the new policy approach, "A Scottish approach to the protection of civilians in conflict" in Westminster on November 22nd 2022 (Image via Airwars staff)

The Scottish National Party launched a protection of civilians paper on Tuesday, becoming the largest European party to have such plans. The paper was written with significant civil society input, coordinated and led by Airwars.

The newly-launched paper dictates how a future independent Scotland would conduct conflict and protect civilians before, during, and after Scottish operations.

It includes a pledge to introduce oversight of special forces, a strong focus on the importance of tracking civilian harm and being transparent about the findings, as well as a commitment to limit the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

As SNP Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Alyn Smith MP said during the launch, “making these points isn’t just about an independent Scotland but it’s about what we can all do to get the world to a better place than where we are now. The protection of civilians needs to be higher up the agenda.”

The SNP currently controls Holyrood, the devolved Scottish parliament, and is the third largest party in the UK national parliament. It advocates for an independent Scotland and is campaigning for a fresh Scottish independence referendum in the coming years.

A small, but growing number of countries have declared civilian harm mitigation policies. In response to civil society and media pressure, the United States recently rewrote its entire policy to try and reduce the number of civilians it kills. The Netherlands is undergoing a similar process through its Roadmap Process.

Yet the UK has not kept up with allies and lacks a detailed, transparent policy on how it will mitigate harm, and respond when it does occur. With this paper, the SNP distances itself from this approach. As well as dictating how a future independent Scotland would engage in conflict, the policy also outlines the key beliefs of the SNP in regard to how the UK should fight wars. These include a firm commitment to monitoring the civilian impact of conflicts, as well as to transparency about where and when strikes are committed.

It also commits the party to a UN-backed declaration to limit the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, which disproportionately kill civilians who make up more than 90% of those killed when such weapons are used. Last week, delegates from over 80 countries, including the US and the UK, signed an agreement committing to limit their use in Dublin.

🌎Today @ChrisLawSNP, @AlynSmith & I have published a new policy paper on the protection of civilians in conflict. UN Security Council Resolution 1265 was adopted more than 20 years ago, but the failure to protect civilians in conflict is stark. The world needs a fresh approach. pic.twitter.com/HNJDxClzs8

— Stewart McDonald MP (@StewartMcDonald) November 22, 2022

Airwars coordinated the extensive civil society input into the policy, ensuring that each section was written – and reviewed – by experts on the respective areas covered in the paper, such as women, peace, and security, climate change and atrocity prevention.

“With the release of their paper, Scotland is joining others in setting a new standard for how to protect civilians caught in conflict,” said Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen, Policy Specialist at Airwars. “The policy is unique in the extent to which it has allowed for meaningful civil society engagement, and its focus on civilian harm tracking is a nod to the vital importance of acknowledging when harm has occurred and learning important lessons.

While the ongoing war in Ukraine has brought civilian harm to the forefront of news outlets and political debate, such harm is not new. Over the last eight years, the US-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria caused 8,197–13,252 deaths, yet contributors to the coalition have all failed to account for these. To date, the UK acknowledges only a single civilian casualty from its own contribution. With their new paper, SNP are outlining that an independent Scotland would distance itself from this approach and instead become a leader on the protection of civilians.

Read the full policy approach here.

▲ The SNP Foreign and Defense front bench launch the new policy approach, "A Scottish approach to the protection of civilians in conflict" in Westminster on November 22nd 2022 (Image via Airwars staff)

Incident Code

R4493

Incident date

November 22, 2022

Location

تديل, Tadel, Aleppo, Syria

Airwars assessment

A civilian was wounded by alleged Russian or Syrian regime shelling of the village of Tadel on November 22, 2022.

The @SyriaCivilDefe reported that a civilian was wounded by artillery shelling carried out by the Syrian regime forces and Russian forces on residential neighborhoods in the village of Tadel.

A tweet from @AsharqNewsSYR pointed out that the shelling coincided with the commencing of the 19th round of peace talks regarding Syria in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Sources were conflicted as to who was responsible, with @Almohrar1 identifying Russian forces while @alaskari_media blamed the Syrian regime. Alaraby News reported that the shelling coincided with the “intense flight of Russian reconnaissance planes”.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Syrian Regime, Russian Military

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (1) [ collapse]

  • Civil Defense volunteers treat a civilian injured by alleged Russian or regime shelling of the village of Adel on November 22, 2022. (Image posted by @AsharqNewsSYR)

Syrian Regime Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Syrian Regime
  • Syrian Regime position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Russian Military Assessment:

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

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Syrian Regime, Russian Military

Sources (12) [ collapse]

Incident Code

R4492

Incident date

November 21, 2022

Location

معربليت, Maarbelet, Aleppo, Syria

Airwars assessment

A 35 year old man was injured by alleged Syrian regime or Russian artillery shelling of the outskirts of the village of Maarbelet on November 21, 2022.

The @SyriaCivilDefe reported that a man was injured while working on agricultural land by artillery shelling carried out by the Syrian regime and Russian forces on the outskirts of the village of Maarbelet. The Civil Defense added that a woman also suffered a nervous breakdown from the shelling.

@HalabTodayTV reported that the injury was suffered by a civilian.

A Facebook post by Rasheed Alosman identified the civilian injured as Yasser Muhammad Sheikh Hussein, age 35, with an image showing an injury to his leg.

Pro-regime source @idleb_online tweeted that the Syrian regime army launched artillery shelling against “terrorist sites”  without specifying casualties.

Sources were conflicted as to whether Russian or the Syrian regime were responsible, with @Almohrar1 attributing the shelling to Russia while Shaam News blamed the Syrian regime.

The local time of the incident is unknown.

  • Yasser Muhammad Sheikh Hussein 35 years old male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Strike target
    Agriculture
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Russian Military, Syrian Regime

Sources (11) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (2) [ collapse]

  • Artillery shelling of outskirts of the village of Maarbelet on November 21, 2022. (Image posted by Syrian Civil Defense via Twitter)
  • This media contains graphic content. Click to unblur.

    Graphic image of the injury suffered by Yasser Muhammad Sheikh Hussein when Russian or Syrian regime forces shelled the village of Maarbelet. (Image posted by Rasheed Alosman via Facebook)

Russian Military Assessment:

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

Syrian Regime Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Syrian Regime
  • Syrian Regime position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Contested strike
  • Strike type
    Artillery
  • Strike target
    Agriculture
  • Civilian harm reported
    None known
  • Civilians reported killed
    Unknown
  • Civilians reported injured
    1
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Contested
    Competing claims of responsibility e.g. multiple belligerents, or casualties also attributed to ground forces.
  • Suspected attackers
    Russian Military, Syrian Regime

Sources (11) [ collapse]