ABOVE: General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, takes questions during a ‘town hall’ session in Baghdad July 18th (US Army/ Spc. Tristan D. Bolden)
Additional reporting by Basile Simon, Kinda Haddad and Latif Habib
- In the two weeks since our last report, the Coalition has carried out 246 new airstrikes in Iraq, with a further 162 attacks on Islamic State in Syria
- Turkey begins offensive air operations against Daesh in Syria, bombing three positions near the border
- The UK reveals that its pilots have in fact carried out airstrikes in Syria – against the express wishes of parliament
- As the coalition air assault on Raqaa continues, credible claims of civilian deaths continue to mount. Mosul has also seen a number of fresh reports of civilian deaths
- In the past two weeks, eight new events have been identified by monitoring groups and media sources – in which the coalition has reportedly killed up to 34 civilians. Five incidents were in Ar Raqaa in Syria, while an additional three took place in Mosul, Iraq
- As coalition airstrikes continued to batter the key Islamic State city of Ar Raqaa, local monitoring groups all registered a steep rise in alleged civilian deaths. Three separate incidents on July 11th led to claims that nine non-combatants died, including a civilian firefighting crew and four members of one family.
— Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi (@raqqa_mcr) July 11, 2015
- Mosul was also heavily targeted by the coalition, with up to 22 new civilian deaths claimed.
In one incident, waiter Muhannad Hisham Alnemah died in an alleged coalition airstrike near the Al Afandi Restaurant in the main street of Hadbah neighborhood. An unspecified additional number of restaurant staff and customers were also reported killed and injured.
According to the Mosul Ateka site, Muhannad had looked out of the restaurant door during a coalition airstrike – and had seen a terrified young child in the street. He rescued the child, but was then struck in the head by shrapnel as he re-entered the building. He later died of his injuries in hospital.
Muhannad’s death occurred on the first day of Eid, the public holiday celebrating the end of the Ramadan fasting period.
- The monitoring group Syrian Network For Human Rights – a key source of Airwars data – published a new report detailing the number of people (both civilians and fighters) who have been reported killed in Syria’s civil war between January and June 2015.
In total, 11,090 new deaths were recorded. Of these, some 8,509 (77%) died at the hands of the Assad regime, while Islamic State accounted for 1,490 fatalities, or a further 15 per cent.
Worryingly, the coalition was reported by SN4HR to have killed more civilians in the first six months of 2015 than either Kurdish liberation forces or Al Qaeda affiliate the al Nusra Front.
- Turkey began airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria on July 24, with the New York Times reporting that “Three F-16 jets bombed two command centers and a meeting point for Islamic State fighters across the border from Kilis, in southern Turkey, without entering Syrian airspace.”
Turkey also announced that it would now allow the United States to use a key airbase at Incirlik for airstrikes against Daesh,
According to reports, the decision by Turkey to fight alongside the international military coalition came after Daesh carried out a suicide bombing on the town of Suruc which killed 32 Turkish civilians.
The Pentagon announced that US forces had killed the leader of the so-called Khorasan Group on July 8th. Muhsin Al Fadhli died in a US drone strike near the town of Sarmadan, according to a spokesman. He was described as head of an al-Nusra Front faction which the US says is planning terrorist acts against the West. Airstrikes against the group are reported separately from those against Islamic State, and appear to be unilateral US actions.
- The British government revealed that its pilots have also been carrying out airstrikes in Syria – despite a parliamentary vote explicitly banning such actions.
Responding to a Freedom of Information request from the legal charity Reprieve, the UK’s Ministry of Defence announced that British pilots had previously carried out strikes in Syria while embedded with US forces.
According to reports, Royal Navy pilots had flown FA-18 Super Hornets on Syrian bombing runs which were launched from the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson. It remains unclear whether embedded British drone crews have also carried out airstrikes in Syria.
- Britain also lowered its count of the number of airstrikes carried out in Iraq by almost 30% – with strike numbers to June 30th dropping from 308 to 226. According to the MoD, the move was to bring it in line with coalition counting methods.