ABOVE: Burnt out wreckage of a car carrying seven alleged Al Nusra Front members, destroyed in a US targeted strike in Syria July 8 2015 (via SNN)
Additional reporting by Basile Simon, Kinda Haddad and Latif Habib.
- Casualty recorders publish the name of a 200th alleged victim of coalition airstrikes in Syria. In Iraq, some 48 of those reportedly killed have so far been named
- Three new events are reported this week in which civilians were allegedly killed by the international coalition. All of them were in Raqaa in Syria – scene of heavy coalition bombings since July 4th
- Airstrikes in Syria across the week surpass those in Iraq – the first such occasion in some months
- The UK reveals it killed an estimated 240 Daesh fighters between October 2014 and May 2015 – though denies killing any civilians or friendly forces during the same period
- Ar Raqaa was the focus of intensive coalition action this week – some of the heaviest international bombing seen within Syria since September 2014. Almost all bridges into the city were destroyed for example – and a number of prominent Islamic State/ Daesh leaders were also targeted and killed.
Monitoring groups complained of civilian ‘collateral damage’ in at least three coalition events. Two children were among seven named civilians reportedly killed by shrapnel on July 4th, after an apparent drone strike outside the al Hameed school destroyed a car carrying a group of Daesh fighters.
Ten year old Fouad Hamoud Al Nimr died along with his father in the attack, while Mohammad Hammad Al A’akassi, aged 15, died the following day of his injuries. Other children and adults were badly injured, with Daesh producing a number of propaganda videos relating to the event.
- The naming of all seven victims of the July 4th Raqaa incident brings to 200 the number of people so far individually identified as having (allegedly) been killed by the coalition in Syria. Up to 158 more remain publicly unidentified.
However with many of these claimed deaths poorly reported – or also attributed to actions by other parties such as the Assad regime – it remains challenging to offer definitive estimates.
In Iraq, the reporting of civilian casualties is proving even more difficult. There are presently no equivalents of monitoring groups such as the Syrian Network for Human Rights – with casualty claims often scattered across micro-media and social media sites.
To date, 48 non-combatants have so far been individually named as having been killed in alleged coalition actions in Iraq. The latest to be identified is Kherallah Ahmed Al Saleh Al Thawabi, described as a car mechanic from Huwija. He is one of as many as 70 civilians killed in a confirmed coalition strike on the town on June 3rd.
- The international coalition carried out 190 airstrikes across Iraq and Syria between July 3rd-10th 2015. For the first time in many months, the majority of bombings (98) took place in Syria.
Almost all air strikes in Syria remain the work of the US, with few bombings since January 1st the work of its Arab or Canadian military partners. All strikes since June 20th have been US-only, for example, according to data supplied by the coalition.
- While little-discussed in Western media, America’s unilateral airstrikes against the Al Nusra Front (an Al Qaeda local affiliate) continue to target elements of the so-called ‘Khorasan Group’ in Syria.
On July 5th an al Nusra Front “tactical unit and vehicle” were attacked near Aleppo. And on July 8th, CENTCOM reported that it had again targeted a vehicle and tactical unit, this time near Idlib.
Local monitoring groups were more forthcoming, reporting that a sequence of five US airstrikes had targeted an al Nusra commander in his car near the village of Kafr Daryan on July 8th, killing seven alleged militants in total.
- Britain revealed that in the first eight months of its air campaign against Daesh in Iraq, it estimates that its Reaper drones and Tornado manned aircraft killed 241 “enemy combatants” – roughly one fighter per UK airstrike.
- Following the recent withdrawal of Belgium from the 12-member coalition, CENTCOM told Airwars that it remains hopeful the European nation will restart its air campaign against Islamic State in one year’s time:
“We still have a Belgian liaison officer here in the CAOC representing his country. While the Belgians have brought their F-16s home temporarily, we fully expect their return to the fight in the future as part of the dedicated Coalition response against Daesh. Pending political approval the return of the Belgian F-16s is foreseen for July 2016.” [CENTCOM spokesman to Airwars, July 6th 2015]