Reports

Reports

Published

May 2022

Written by

Joe Dyke

Assisted by

Adam Gnych, Anna Zahn, Chris Woods, Clive Vella, Dmytro Chupryna, Duncan Salkovskis, Emily Tripp, Georgia Edwards, Hannah Aries, Hermes, Jessica Purkiss, Laurie Treffers, Maysa Ismael, Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen, Mohammed al Jumaily, Oliver Imhof, Peixian Wang, Salim Habib, Sanjana Varghese, Shihab Halep and Valentina Finckenstein

Annual Report for 2021

Civilian harm trends continued sharply downwards across all conflicts monitored by Airwars during 2021 – particularly after the Biden administration took office in January. However both Russian and Turkish campaigns in Syria – and Turkish actions in northern Iraq – continued at an occasionally aggressive rate.

Ongoing concerns at US military accountability peaked with the publication of major investigations by the New York Times, which highlighted cover-ups and potential war crimes in Syria. Congressional scrutiny forced a series of reviews and investigations, expected to shake up how the Pentagon determines casualties from its own actions.

Published

December 2021

Written by

Chris Woods and Emily Tripp

Assisted by

Adam Gnych, Anna Zahn, Ayana Enomoto-Hurst, Clive Vella, Dmytro Chupryna, Duncan Salkovskis, Edward Millett, Georgia Edwards, Hannah Aries, Imogen Piper, Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen, Mohammad Al Halabi, Sanjana Varghese, Shihab Halep and Valentina Finckenstein

‘Why did they bomb us?’ Urban civilian harm in Gaza, Syria and Israel from explosive weapons use

‘Why did they bomb us?’ Urban civilian harm in Gaza, Syria and Israel from explosive weapons use’ – which is published in Arabic, Hebrew and English – provides the first comparative analysis of two very different Israeli military campaigns.

Applying the same open source monitoring methodology Airwars uses to track civilian harm caused by the United States, Russia, and other actors in conflict nations, researchers documented all local reports of civilians killed and injured in May 2021 by Israeli strikes in Gaza as well as of civilians harmed in Israel by Palestinian rocket fire. The report also examines locally reported civilian casualties from Israel’s eight-year long Syria campaign against Iranian-linked forces.

High civilian casualties in Gaza are symptomatic of an escalating and profoundly troubling global military trend in the use of wide area effect weapons in populated areas. Airwars’ report demonstrates that choices made by belligerents continue to have devastating effects on civilians – clearly showing why the use of explosive weapons in urban centres must be restricted.

Published

March 2021

Written by

Mohammed al Jumaily

Assisted by

Alex Hopkins, Anna Zahn, Chris Woods, Clive Vella, Dmytro Chupryna, Douglas Statt, Eleftheria Kousta, Giacomo Nanni, Hermes, Joseph Dyke, Laurie Treffers, Maysa Ismael, Mohammed al Jumaily, Ned Ray, Oliver Imhof, Riley Mellen, Salim Habib, Samuel Brownsword, Shihab Halep and Vasiliki Touhouliotis

Annual report for 2020

Tracking by Airwars across multiple conflicts during 2020 showed that the number of locally reported civilian deaths from the use of explosive weapons was down by two thirds compared to the previous year. Of these fatalities, around half were in the first two months of 2020. This suggested a possible ‘Covid effect’ – a significant reduction in conflict violence, as communities locked down during the global pandemic.

The report also found that US military accountability for civilian casualties had declined sharply during Donald Trump’s final year as President. Confirmed civilian harm events were down by 80% in Iraq and Syria, while CENTCOM admitted that it had ‘forgotten’ the recent deaths of Yemen civilians as a result of US military actions.

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.