Reports

Reports

Published

October 2020

Written by

Mohammed al Jumaily and Ned Ray

Assisted by

Alex Hopkins, Beth Heron, Chloe Skinner, Clive Vella, Hanna Rullmann, Laurie Treffers, Oliver Imhof, Poppy Bowers and Vasiliki Touhouliotis

Eroding Transparency: Trump in Yemen

Accompanying the launch of Airwars’ new public database tracking US counterterrorism actions in Yemen, Eroding Transparency provides a comprehensive review of more than 230 alleged and confirmed US actions and associated civilian harm under President Donald Trump.

Drawing on thousands of local sources – the majority in Arabic – the report reveals that at least 86 civilians likely died in US actions in Yemen from 2017 to 2020, although the Pentagon had itself admitted to a maximum of 12 deaths.

Eroding Transparency also raises broader concerns about US accountability for civilian harm – noting for example that recent Department of Defense claims to Congress that there were no known civilian harm allegations relating to US actions in Yemen during 2019 were incorrect.

Published

October 2020

Written by

Chris Woods, Laurie Treffers and Roos Boer (PAX)

Seeing through the rubble: The civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in the fight against ISIS

A joint report ‘Seeing through the rubble: The civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in the fight against ISIS‘ by Airwars and PAX examines the dire and long-lasting effects of explosive weapons on civilian populations in towns and cities, in recent international military campaigns in Mosul, Raqqa and Hawijah.

Explosive weapons kill and injure people upon use, and often have an impact that extends far beyond the time and place of the attack. They are a major driver of forced displacement – not only because of fear of death and injury and the destruction of homes, but also because of their profound impact upon critical infrastructure services such as health care, education, and water and sanitation services.

In order to better protect civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, the authors of the report call upon States to integrate the direct, indirect and reverberating effects of the use of explosive weapons into their military planning and operations, and to develop and support a strong international political declaration to better protect civilians against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Published

February 2020

Written by

Alex Hopkins

Assisted by

Abbie Cheeseman, Abdulwahab Tahhan, Alexa O'Brien, Beth Heron, Chloe Skinner, Chris Woods, Dmytro Chupryna, Hanna Rullmann, Laura Bruun, Laurie Treffers, Maike Awater, Maysa Ismael, Mohammed al Jumaily, Oliver Imhof, Osama Mansour, Poppy Bowers, Salim Habib, Shihab Halep and Sophie Dyer

Annual report for 2019

Airwars research showed that at least 2,214 civilians were locally alleged killed by international military actions across Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Somalia during 2019 – a 42% decrease in minimum claimed deaths on the previous year. This sharp fall was largely because deaths from reported US-led Coalition actions plummeted following the territorial defeat of ISIS in Syria in March.

However, elsewhere civilians remained in significant danger. Russian strikes in support of the Assad regime claimed at least 1,000 lives in the fierce Idlib and Hama offensives. Meanwhile, Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria in October saw over 300 non-combatants alleged killed.

The year also saw alarming developments in Libya. From April, the Libyan National Army’s Tripoli offensive had a devastating impact on civilians. As more foreign powers joined the conflict, alleged deaths rose by an astonishing 720% on 2018. Almost half of all civilian deaths in Libya’s civil war since 2012 occurred last year.  2019 Annual Report.

Published

July 2019

Written by

Alexa O'Brien

Assisted by

Beth Heron

News In Brief: US media coverage of civilian harm in the war against ISIS

Reporters at US media outlets strongly believe that civilian harm should be a central component of broader war coverage. Yet non combatant casualties from US airstrikes were often poorly covered during the conflict against so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

These are some of the key findings of a new report by Airwars published in July 2019, entitled News in Brief: US Media Coverage of Civilian Harm in the War Against ISIS.

Authored by investigative journalist Alexa O’Brien with additional research by Beth Heron, the report draws on interviews with almost 100 conflict media specialists at major US media outlets, and on new research examining actual US media reporting of the issue at key points of the war. The study also includes practical recommendations for improved coverage during future conflicts for editors.

News in Brief was funded by the Reva and David Logan Foundation in the US, and the J. Leon Philanthropy Council in the UK.

Published

March 2019

Written by

Airwars Staff

Assisted by

Chris Woods and Sophie Dyer

Airwars interim better practice recommendations in response to US military assessments of civilian harm

Responding to an ongoing US Department of Defense review process on civilian harm mitigation, Airwars submitted a short interim briefing paper outlining 25 better practice recommendations. These were based primarily on our granular engagement with civilian casualty assessment cells within the US military over several years.

Our recommendations ranged from the US military ensuring wherever possible that it conducts on the ground investigations into harm allegations; to ensuring that grid references for all confirmed casualty events are made public; to rolling out best practice standards across commands and coalitions.

Published

September 2018

Written by

Samuel Oakford

Credibility Gap – UK civilian harm assessments for the battles of Mosul and Raqqa

As part of its Inquiry into British military actions at Mosul and Raqqa, the UK Parliament’s Defence Select Committee issued a request for submissions from interested parties. Along with several other NGOs, Airwars submitted a detailed report looking into UK actions in the war against so-called Islamic State, and the broader issue of civilian harm.

The full version of the Airwars report – including new modellling of the battles for Raqqa and Mosul – is published here. A shorter version of the report is also available via the Select Committee.

While commending the UK for its general transparency, Airwars challenged the Ministry of Defence over its claims of no civilian harm from UK actions in either city – despite more than 1,000 targets reportedly being struck. Our report, Credibility Gap, contains a number of recommendations to help improve UK monitoring and reporting opf civilian harm in future conflicts.

 

Published

May 2018

Written by

Airwars Staff

Assisted by

Koen Kluessien

Refusal by The Netherlands Defence Ministry to identify specific civilian harm events impedes natural justice, and runs counter to actions by other Coalition allies

Our third briefing paper for Dutch MPs was issued after the Netherlands conceded civilian harm in Iraq in up to three incidents between 2014 and 2016 – but refused to say where or when. The paper noted that without more detail, affected Iraqis would never know that Dutch aircraft were responsible for their loved ones being harmed – and could therefore never recieve an apology or compensation.This, we argued, ran counter to natural justice, and to the more transparent actions of Coalition allies.

Published

May 2018

Written by

Samuel Oakford

Death in the City – High levels of civilian harm in modern urban warfare resulting from significant explosive weapons use

In response to requests for written submissions to an inquiry by the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Explosive Threats, this Airwars paper examined recent civilian harm reporting from Mosul, Raqqa, Aleppo and Ghouta – arguing that intensity of bombardment and population desnity were the primary drivers of negative outcomes for non combatants, rather than any use of ‘dumb’ versus ‘smart’ munitions.