Reports

Reports

Published

November 2016

Written by

Alex Hopkins

October saw the start of the long-awaited offensive to retake Mosul from so-called Islamic State, as the Coalition majorly increased its bombing campaign near the city in support of Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga. From October 17th onwards, we began tracking a significant impact on civilians.

Non-combatants faced a similarly perilous situation in Syria, where Airwars tracked a 50% rise in civilian casualty incidents reportedly involving the Coalition. Turkey’s unilateral campaign in northern Syria also affected local non-combatants. And despite Russia pausing its attacks on Aleppo for part of October, the civilian death toll from its actions remained alarmingly high.

Coalition military developments

Since the start of the Coalition campaign, 10,315 airstrikes have now been carried out in Iraq and 5,647 in Syria through the end of October 2016. For the first time in four months, declared Coalition airstrikes in Iraq during October (301) outweighed those in Syria (273).

The six declared active allies (the US, UK, France, Belgium, Denmark and Australia) between them dropped 3,038 munitions on ISIL in October, a 25% per cent increase on the previous month. In just the first five days of the battle for Mosul, the Coalition reported that it had dropped 1,400 munitions in the area.

According to official CENTCOM figures released to Airwars, in the period of October 2nd-31st the US carried out 226 strikes in Syria, a decrease of 32% on the previous month. The US’s allies conducted just 17 strikes in Syria between them.

In Iraq during the same four week period, US strike numbers remained fairly static with 185 reported. However, given that there was at the same time a 25% increase in the number of bombs and missiles dropped, this illustrates how problematic the term ‘strike’ remains.

For example on October 22nd – the single most intense day of reported activity during the month – the “four strikes” at Mosul announced by the Coalition gave no sense of the 65 targets struck in and around the city that day, including 21 ISIL “fighting positions” and 10 mortar systems.

Video showing France’s first joint strike mission on October 15th using navy and airforce Rafales, to target an ISIL IED factory in the Mosul area

France: a greater role?

In October France appeared to surpass the UK in becoming the second-most active member of the Coalition. It declared 95 airstrikes in Iraq (an increase of 239% on September), with 68% of actions conducted in the vicinity of Mosul. France also reported carrying out 10 strikes in Syria – up from zero in September.

October 24th saw France’s highest level of reported daily activity in two years, with 12 strikes destroying 15 ISIL targets. And on October 31st France again used its SCALP cruise missiles, this time in “a massive raid” with six other Coalition nations on a reported ISIL weapons complex in the Haditha area of Iraq.

However, appearances of greater French activity may be deceptive. Given that official CENTCOM figures  show that all of the US’s allies carried out 82 strikes in Iraq in October between them – and France alone reports carrying out 95 strikes in Iraq during that time – it appears that France is using a more generous definition of the term ‘strike’ to that used by the Coalition. Conversely the UK – which reported 50 strikes in Iraq for October – uses the Coalition’s definition of ‘strike’ in its own reports.

There was also a significant increase in actions by Denmark for October, which reported 83 weapon releases during approximately 20 strikes – a 63% rise on September.

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Focus: the battle for Mosul

On October 17th Iraq’s prime minister formally announced the start of the long-awaited Coalition-backed offensive to take Mosul from ISIL – its last major stronghold in Iraq.

Lt. General Stephen Townsend, commander of the Operation Inherent Resolve task force, said the operation would “likely continue for weeks, possibly longer“, with the US 101st Airborne spearheading a coalition of 19 nations in support of operations to secure the city.

But with at least one million civilians trapped within Mosul, fears of a humanitarian catastrophe escalated. The UN’s OCHA predicted that 200,000 civilians could flee the city in the first few weeks of fighting. By the end of the month it was reported that ISIL was already using tens of thousands of civilians as human shields, a tactic previously employed in Manbij, Syria.

Overall, 129 strikes were conducted by the Coalition in the vicinity of Mosul during the month – a reported increase of 50% from September.

By October 18th, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces were already announcing that they had reclaimed 20 villages on the outskirts of Mosul. By the end of the month troops were preparing to enter the eastern edge of the city – widely expected to be a much tougher fight.

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Airwars analysis of targets reportedly targeted by the Coalition in the first two weeks of the Mosul offensive shows that the majority of strikes were providing close air support for Iraq Army and Peshmerga troops: A quarter of all targets destroyed were ISIL “fighting positions” (129) followed by “vehicles” (81) and “VBIEDS” (21) – or suicide car bombs.

Mortar systems were also heavily hit, accounting for 14% of targets destroyed. ISIL’s complex network of tunnels under Mosul posed a continuing threat to troops. These were heavily targeted in October, with 45 tunnels and tunnel entrances reportedly destroyed.

On the day that the battle for Mosul was officially declared – October 17th – an RAF Typhoon is shown destroying an ISIL truck bomb near Mosul

Coalition civilian casualties

October saw a steep rise in civilian casualty incidents involving the Coalition – with likely civilian deaths more than tripling compared to September. Overall, there were 45 alleged civilian casualty incidents involving the Coalition reported for the month. A total of 245-303 non-combatant deaths were claimed in these events.

Airwars presently assesses 23 of these 45 events as being fairly reported – that is, with two or more credible sources and Coalition strikes confirmed in the near vicinity. Between 122 and 148 civilians are presently assessed as likely having been killed by the Coalition in these October incidents. This compares with between 36 and 48 such deaths in September.

Mosul: danger mounts for families and children

As the Coalition intensified its bombing campaign near Mosul, Airwars tracked a leap in claimed civilian deaths. All but two of 18 claimed casualty events in Iraq for October were in the Mosul area.

Of these, Airwars assesses ten events as having likely killed between 72 and 83 non-combatants between them, with a minimum of 34 injured. Of these fatalities, at least 33 were reportedly children and seven were women – with the number of claimed child deaths rising as the battle intensified.

The first major casualty incident of the month came on October 2nd, when up to 23 civilians including 17 children, were reported killed in an alleged daytime Coalition airstrike on Mosul’s Najjar neighbourhood.

Iraqi Spring said Coalition jets struck “a home for displaced families.” A video originating from ISIL’s media wing showed considerable destruction and the removal of bodies – including those of children.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bVTa15fqv0

GRAPHIC: At least 19 civilians, many of them children, died in an alleged Coalition strike at Mosul on October 2nd 2016. The video originated from ISIL.

The frequency of alleged events at Mosul increased from October 17th onwards, with our researchers tracking reported incidents almost daily.

A family of eight including three children died on October 22nd at the ISIL-occupied village of Fadhilya outside of Mosul.  “I could just see part of my nephew’s body under the rubble,” resident Saeed told Iraq-based reporter Fazel Hawramy. In a statement to the Guardian seen by Airwars, the Coaltion later confirmed it had carried out strikes in the area, and had launched an investigation.

Dead bodies of a family of eight are removed from the aftermath of an alleged Coalition strike on a home in Fadhiliya, October 22nd (Picture courtesy of Fazel Hawramy).

Yet another family – including seven children this time – reportedly died two days later on October 23rd-24th in the town of Tel Kepe, 15km north of Mosul. The dead father was named as Hussein Juma Dalal Al Hadidi, with a source telling Yaqein that Mr al Hadidi’s wife had been left in critical condition. While most sources blamed the Coalition, it was also reported that the government of Iraq had also conducted aerial operations in support of its forces attempting to retake Mosul.

An investigation by Airwars in-house reporter Samuel Oakford revealed that the Coalition had already bombed Mosul on more occasions than any other location in Iraq or Syria during the two year war – even before the present offensive began. A minimum of 469 civilians had likely died in 110 casualty incidents attributed to the Coalition at Mosul.

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Syria: a doubling of incidents

An already complex situation became even more confused in October, as Turkey pushed deeper into northern Syria alongside its Free Syrian Army allies. Operation Euphrates Shield was aimed both at ISIL, and at Kurdish forces allied to the US-led Coalition. Meanwhile the US’s own favoured proxy – the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Defence Force (SDF) – continued its own advance on ISIL in Raqqa governorate.

Turkey’s actions in both Iraq and Syria are now considered unilateral by the Coalition despite its nominal membership of the alliance. Yet casualty monitors on the ground have often confused the actions of the two parties. Eight alleged incidents in Aleppo during October saw both the Coalition and Turkey being blamed for as many as 66 civilian deaths.

Of 27 claimed civilian casualty incidents overall in Syria during October (a 50% increase on September), Airwars presently assesses 13 of these events as having been carried out by the Coalition. Between 50 and 65 civilians likely died in these incidents – a significant increase on the 13 to 16 likely deaths reported the previous month.

As well as Aleppo province, major Coalition incidents of concern were also reported in Deir Ezzor and Raqqa.

On October 16th 12 civilians were reported killed including women and children following an alleged Coalition strike at Al Jurnia in Raqqa, according to local reports. Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered said that “the family of Mohammad Abdallah al Borsan” was “martyred in its entirety.”

On the same day, at least ten civilians were reported killed when airstrikes hit oil installation workers and fuel truck drivers at al Baghouz desert in Deir ez Zor governorate.

The month ended on another ominous note for civilians, with Lt. General Stephen Townsend saying  that the Coalition-backed offensive to retake Raqqa was now imminent.

A burning oil facility in the al Baghouz desert after being hit in a Coalition strike October 16th 2016. At least 10 civilian workers reportedly died (via Sound and Vision)

Russian military actions and civilian casualties

In Syria during October, the Assad regime continued its assault on rebel-held areas of Aleppo supported by Russian airstrikes. While allegations of civilian casualty events involving Russia decreased by 20%, they still remained at alarming levels. Airwars raw estimates indicate that up to 612 civilians allegedly died in claimed Russian airstrike incidents during October.

Overall, Airwars tracked 133 separate civilian casualty events allegedly involving Russian aircraft, against 167 events in September. Some 59% of these October events occurred in Aleppo governorate. With the Coalition, Russia, the Assad regime and Turkey all now regularly bombing in the area, it is becoming increasingly difficult for monitors to identify those responsible for civilian deaths.

A unilateral ceasefire called by Russia on October 17th – which Moscow said was to allow civilians to escape eastern Aleppo – led to a 41% decrease in the number of alleged Russian events against the previous week. However Russian strikes shifted their focus to Idlib governorate, where Airwars tracked eleven claimed casualty events in just two days (October 20th – 21st).

The White Helmets attend the scene of an allaged Russian strike on Al Ferdos, Aleppo on October 11th 2016 (via Step News)

Airwars research team: Kinda Haddad, Latif Habib, Abdulwahab Tahhan, Eline Westra, Basile Simon, Christiaan Triebert, Samuel Oakford and Chris Woods

▲ Preparations for flight operations on the deck of deck of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, Oct 19th (US Navy)

Published

November 2016

Written by

Alex Hopkins

September continued to see Daesh on the defensive, losing significant ground in both Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, Coalition forces geared up for the Battle of Mosul with a steep increase in airstrikes in and near the city. Reported civilian casualties from Coalition actions in both Iraq and Syria remained at levels similar to August.

In Syria, a fragile US-Russia brokered ceasefire broke down amid repeated violations. While the agreement initially allowed some aid to reach civilians, it ultimately did little  to decrease the violence. Hopes of a longer-lasting cessation of hostilities ended as the Assad regime began a major offensive to retake Aleppo towards the end of the month.

Most alarming of all, despite the ceasefire September saw a sharp rise in civilian casualties attributed to Russia in Syria, making the month one of the worst for reported civilian casualties since January 2016.

Coalition military developments

10,014 Coalition airstrikes were carried out in Iraq, along with 5,374 strikes Syria through the end of September 2016. For the third consecutive month, Coalition airstrikes in Syria during September (335 strikes) outweighed those in Iraq (291 strikes.)

Six members of the Coalition dropped a total of 2,417 bombs and missiles on Daesh targets in September. That represented an 8% per cent increase over August, but is still down significantly from the June peak, when 3,160 munitions were released according to Coalition figures.During September, the US again remained the dominant Coalition partner in both Iraq and Syria. The number of strikes it carried out in Iraq increased by 8% (168 strikes) and by 9% in Syria (286 strikes) compared with August.

While the UK carried out just three strikes in Syria during September, the British military played a more prominent role in Iraq where the RAF carried out 52 attacks on ISIL targets – a 68% increase from August.

September saw a particular rise in Britain’s use of its Reaper RPAs, with 46% of UK strikes carried out by armed drones.

As this Airwars chart shows, Reaper drones are again carrying out a greater proportion of UK strikes.

Attacks by France – which remains the third most active Coalition member – held at similar levels to August, with 28 strikes declared in Iraq (down by one) and were focused around Mosul. On September 18th, France again used its SCALP cruise missiles, this time reportedly targeting a Daesh training and production center for explosive devices in the Mosul area. No French strikes were reported in Syria during September.

After stepping up its own air campaign in August, there was a significant drop in actions by Denmark in September, which reported 50 weapons releases. Actions were also publicly announced in Raqqah, Dayr az Zawr and Aleppo in Syria – though Denmark refused to disclose how many strikes were carried out in each location, and on which dates.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet makes an arrested landing on the flight deck of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, September 18th 2016 (US Navy)

In Iraq, military sources said that the long-awaited operation to retake Mosul would begin in October. Strikes in the vicinity of the ISIL-held city increased by 38% from August to 86 the following month.

On September 28th it was also announced that 600 additional US troops would be deployed to aid Iraqi Security Forces in Mosul, while the Coalition said its strikes had targeted 18 Daesh leaders over the course of the month

However as Daesh braced itself for the advance of the ISF, fears of mass civilian casualties grew. Reports circulated that the terrorist organisation was increasingly hiding its operations in hospitals, mosques and schools – in addition to constructing an elaborate network of underground tunnels armed with IEDs.

As this Airwars chart shows, September saw a steep increase in Coalition strikes near Mosul.

Coalition civilian casualties

Overall, there were 25 alleged civilian casualty incidents reported in September  – three more than the previous month. A total of 100 to 147 non-combatant deaths were claimed in these events. Airwars presently assesses 12 of these 25 events as being fairly reported – that is, with two or more credible sources, and Coalition strikes confirmed in the near vicinity. Between 36 and 48 civilians are presently assessed as likely having been killed in these incidents.

In Syria, civilian casualty incidents attributed to the Coalition remained at a similar level to August, following July’s all-time high. Eighteen Coalition civilian casualty events were reported during the month.

Between 13 and 16 alleged fatalities from Coalition actions in Syria in September are presently assessed by Airwars as being likely from these events – compared with 8 to 13 likely deaths in August.

The US itself announced that it may have killed or injured civilians in three separate events during September, reporting that it had begun investigations.

    On September 7th near Dayr ez Zawr, in a previously unknown incident, one or more civilians may have been killed or injured after a non-ISIL vehicle strayed into a strike kill box.
    On September 10th, six civilians were reported killed including Abd al Karim al Nayef al Jumaa [pictured below] when a Coalition drone strike targeted a car allegedly belonging to members of Deash in the al Jameli neighborhood of Raqqa. CENTCOM later conceded that “on Sep. 10, near Ar Raqqah, Syria, a strike against an ISIL target may have resulted in the death of civilians near where the strike occurred.”
    On September 12th near Ash Shadadah, Al Hassakah governorate (a previously unknown incident) civilians may have been killed or injured after a non-ISIL vehicle once again strayed into a strike kill box.

Abd al Karim al Nayef al Jumaa, killed in a likely US air or drone strike on Raqqa, September 2016 10th (via Raqqa Post)

The fourth confirmed incident took place at Al Tharda mountain in Deir Ezzor governorate on September 17th , when between 13 and 83 Syrian troops besieged by ISIL were killed – and 120 more reported injured – after a Coalition raid targeted their locations. The United States, Australia, Denmark and the UK all said their aircraft had participated in what appears to have been a massive raid.

The botched attack briefly allowed ISIL to capture the area before it was driven back by Russian airstrikes. The event dealt a major blow to a fragile Syrian ceasefire, with a furious Russia calling an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council – dismissed by the US at the time as a ‘cynical stunt’. Moscow also accused the US of “colluding with ISIL.”

#DeirEzzor: First #ISIS video from captured Artillery Battalion after #US airstrikes yesterday. pic.twitter.com/WoNrbJHNyx

— WorldOnAlert (@worldonalert) September 18, 2016

Islamic State forces briefly captured an army base on September 17th, after Coalition aircraft targeted Syrian troops there

Coalition incidents of concern: Iraq

There was a small in decrease in incidents of civilian casualty concern in Iraq for September. Seven events were reported – down from 8 in August.

Of these, Airwars presently assesses five cases as ‘fairly‘ reported and estimates that between 23 and 32 civilians were likely killed in these events. Most were centered around Mosul.

On September 8th, between two and seven civilians including women and children reportedly died – and five were injured – in an alleged Coalition airstrike on the Tel Al Shaeer and Aski Mosul areas in Tal Afar, west of Mosul. Yaqein reported that Coalition shelling “lasted more than an hour“. Aleyatiraq put the death toll at seven.

The Coalition officially reported carrying out a strike on a VBIED factory near Tallafar on the day, while the UK said that on September 8th, “intelligence had identified a bomb-making factory and associated terrorist training facility in neighbouring compounds to the west of Tall Afar. A pair of Tornados struck both targets accurately with Paveway IVs, then proceeded to provide close air support to local Iraqi forces, in the course of which they conducted a further successful Paveway attack against two rocket launchers.”

It is not known whether the Coalition or the UK have begun investigations into the incident.

On September 20th, up to seven civilians and 30 Daesh fighters were reported killed and 47 people injured after the Coalition allegedly carried out dawn airstrikes on Mosul.  NRN News said that among the locations hit was a Daesh headquarters, but that there were also strikes “in Al Muthanna, in the Baath and Arab neighborhoods, and near the city’s Great Mosque.” The Coalition reported carrying out five strikes near Mosul between September 20th-22nd.

Russian military actions and civilian casualties

The precarious Syrian ceasefire did little to reduce alleged civilian fatalities attributed to Russia during September.

Airwars tracked 167 separate civilian casualty events reportedly involving Russian aircraft – up from 124 tracked events in August. In the week of September 19th to 25th alone, our researchers tracked 69 separate incidents reportedly killing more than 333 civilians.

Just two days into a claimed truce on Sept 15th, at least 27 civilians died and more than 70 were injured following airstrikes on Al Mayadeen. Almost all sources including Daesh blamed Moscow.

In total, Russian civilian casualty events in Syria were up by 35% in September (and were almost seven times higher than claimed Coalition events for the month across Iraq and Syria). Raw estimates claim that between 801 and 960 civilians died in these events, making this one of the worst months for civilian casualty allegations involving Russia since January 2016.

As this Airwars chart shows, there was initially a drop in civilian casualties allegedly involving Russia during a week-long ceasefire. However, claimed deaths once again rose by September 20th.

Additional research by Kinda Haddad, Latif Habib, Eline Westra, Basile Simon, Christiaan Triebert and Chris Woods

▲ An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, captured at Sunset, returns from a combat mission, Sept. 12, 2016, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar (US Navy)

Published

September 2016

Written by

Alex Hopkins

Between January 1st and 31st 2016, a total of 177 reported civilian casualty incidents in Syria allegedly involving Russian aircraft have been tracked by our researchers. These allege between them an overall total of between 1,006 and 1,410 non-combatant deaths. Each event is individually recorded in our new 50,000-word public database for January 2016.

Claims are drawn from monitoring groups which include the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Violations Documentation Center; Raqaa is Being Slaughtered Silently and the White Helmets. Reports have also been assessed from media and social media sites; from militant and rebel groups; and from local, regional and international NGOs and news organisations. These have been cross checked where possible against official Russian military releases.

Moscow has so far denied killing any civilians in its continuing air campaign in Syria. Despite this assertion, it is our provisional view at Airwars that between January 1st and January 31st 2016, between 713 and 974 civilian non-combatants are likely to have been killed by Russia in 103 Syrian incidents where there is fair reporting publicly available of an event – and where Russian strikes appear to have taken place in the vicinity.

These are not anonymous numbers. Monitoring groups and local sources have named 740 civilian victims between them for January alone. More than 1,007 civilians are also credibly reported injured in the 103 events we assess as likely having involved Russian aircraft.

A significant proportion (27%) of the 177 incidents allegedly involving Russia is contested – where it remains unclear whether Russia or other parties were responsible. Between 232 and 347 civilians reportedly died in these 47 contested events. The question here is not whether civilians died – the public record almost always indicates that they did – but only whether Russia or the Assad regime was responsible.

Two claimed incidents may instead have involved Coalition rather than Russian aircraft according to reports – an indicator of the chaotic situation in Syria today. Between 14 and 18 civilians died in these alleged events.

A further 47 likely civilian deaths are attributed to 24 alleged Russian airstrikes which are presently weakly reported or single-sourced. Finally, one event, in Mayer on January 15th, has in our view been discounted, ie is highly unlikely to have involved Russian aircraft, or did not occur.

Huge rise in reported deaths

In at least 103 of the 177 events we have assessed for January 2016, it appears that Russian strikes most likely killed civilians. Between them, these events reportedly killed at least 713 civilian non-combatants.

This represents a doubling in the number of likely deaths seen from Russian strikes, with Airwars analysis for September to December 2015 suggesting an average of 365 civilians killed in each of those months.

There was also a 45% rise in the number of reported incidents in January compared with December 2015, when 122 incidents were tracked.

January also saw a 55% increase in the number of civilians injured in alleged Russian strikes – a reasonable indicator of the low-precision munitions still favoured by Moscow, as well its often indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas.

Sharp increase: As this Airwars chart shows, ‘likely’ claimed civilian deaths spiraled in January

Women and children at greater risk

Equally alarming was the steep rise in the number of women and children reported killed by Russia, across the 103 incidents which Airwars has assessed as likely.

Our provisional view is that a minimum of 198 children died in Russian airstrikes in January 2016 alone – an increase of 157% on the 77 likely child deaths in December 2015. We also assess that at least 105 women were killed by Russia in January – an increase of 128% on December’s 46 reported fatalities.

High numbers of deaths frequently occurred during multiple strikes on a single day. On January 16th for example, a minimum of 32 children and 36 women likely died in Russian strikes in Aleppo (11 incidents alone), Damascus, Deir ez Zor and Idlib governorates.

There were also frequent and credible reports of entire families killed. A particularly bloody event on January 22nd in Al Tabiya Jazeera, Deir-ez Zor, likely killed between 10 and 16 children and 4 to 8 women.

An initial report by Deir Ezzor is Being Slaughtered Silently said two Russian strikes had led to the deaths of four civilian families in their entirety. With predictions that the death toll may climb as high as 50, victims were buried in a mass grave. Sixty more civilians were reported injured, many of them in a “critical condition“. Shaam News identified those killed by Russia as the “family of Abdul-Jabbar Mustafa, the family of Farhan Jaafar Al Nakas and the family Salloum Ramadan Al Saleh.“

A wounded child is placed in an ambulance after an alleged Russian airstrike on Termanin, January 25th 2016 (via Shaam News)

Mass casualty events

January saw the highest number of reported mass casualty incidents graded by Airwars as ‘likely’ – that is, with most field reports pointing to Moscow – since Russia began its Syria campaign in September 2015.

Overall, in 31 days of Russian airstrikes there were seven alleged Russian mass casualty events in which 20 or more civilians reportedly died. Between them they likely killed 264 to 370 civilians.

On January 9th, a minimum of 53 civilians died and more than 200 were injured in alleged Russian strikes on Maarat al Numan, Idlib, according to numerous local sources. Activists said a courthouse and prison belonging to the Al-Nusra Front was targeted, resulting in massive destruction and the deaths of all who were at the site or around it.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights initially blamed the Assad regime. But a later detailed report concluded Russian warplanes were responsible, and that 67 people had died including three women.

In its own report of military strikes published on January 11th, the Kremlin confirms carrying out actions in Idlib governorate during this period: “In the course of 10 days of the year 2016, the Russian aircraft have performed 311 combat sorties engaging 1097 objects in the Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hama, Homs, Damascus, Deir ez-Zor, Hasakah, Daraa, and Raqqah provinces.“

Dead bodies are lined up following an alleged Russian strike on Maarat al Numan, Jan 9th.

As the month of January continued, the frequency and severity of casualty events increased –  with an average of five incidents being reported each day overall.

An analysis of the locations of those 103 likely incidents indicates that – just as during Russia’s September blitz – the governorates of Aleppo and Deir Ezzor were heavily targeted. Some 46 likely events (45%) occurred in Aleppo, while 31 incidents (30%) were in Deir Ezzor. Idlib was the next worse hit, with 12 incidents (12%) reported.

On January 11th in Anjara, Aleppo for example, between 15 and 30 civilians including six women and at least five children died in alleged Russian airstrikes targeting schools, according to multiple sources. The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported that Russian warplanes struck the Mustafa Ruston elementary school in the morning. Shaam News said three schools were targeted and put the death toll at 30 – most of them children.

Almost half: As this Airwars chart demonstrates, 45% of incidents likely involving Russia were reported in Aleppo – clearly showing that the governorate was being deliberately targeted.

In one of the worst days tracked by our researchers, January 21st 2016 saw 13 separate alleged Russian incidents. Five were in Raqqa, targeting the neighborhoods of Saif al Dawla, Al Mashab, Al Amassi, the Al Salam hospital and the area near the power directorate. Of these, Airwars assesses three as having likely involved Russian aircraft, while two are graded as “contested”, with some reports alleged involvement by the Assad regime. In the three likely Russian events in Raqqa that day, a minimum of 27 civilians including 10 children and eight women died.

Two days later, and January 23rd saw the greatest number of non-combatants killed in any one incident since the beginning of Russia’s involvement in Syria. Between 61 and 90 civilians – including 11 children – were killed in Khusam, Deir Ezzor. According to Deir Ezzor is Being Slaughtered Silently Russian aircraft targeted the center of the village near a clinic. Other sources also blamed Russia, though there were some questions about whether the Assad regime was partly responsible. Airwars presently lists the names of 67 of the dead at Khusam.

In a military report published on 25th January, the Kremlin admitted using heavy bombers on Deir Ezzor: “Crews of Tu-22M3 long-range bombers performed 18 combat sorties from the territory of the Russian Federation in order to engage manpower and hardware of the ISIS near Deir ez-Zor on January 22-24. Flight range reached more than 2,000 kilometers.“

Ghazi Al Doulab (right) was killed with his wife, two of his daughters-in-law and at least 57 other civilians in a likely Russian strike on Khusham, January 23rd 2016 (via Deir Ezzor is Being Slaughtered Silently)

A fierce intensity

By the end of the month fatalities had spiraled, with bombing reaching a particularly fierce intensity in the week of Jan 25th to 31st, during which Aleppo and Deir ez Zor were repeatedly bombed.

On January 27th nine casualty events were reported in Deir Ezzor – all of which Airwars assessed as likely having been by Russia – killing a minimum of 55 civilians between them. Just two days later on January 29th, five separate locations in the governorate were targeted, killing a minimum of 18 civilians.

Similarly, in Aleppo we tracked six incidents at multiple locations on January 29th, killing a minimum of 25 civilians, before Russian warplanes allegedly returned the following day to carry out further strikes.

Overall, there were 57 events alone reported in this week. We assess 39 of these as likely being Russian – with a minimum of 195 civilians killed, or 27% of the minimum likely fatalities for the entire month.

Steep rise: Likely Russian casualty events climbed throughout the month

Conclusions

January was the most intense month of Russian airstrikes in Syria that Airwars has so far fully assessed, with bombings pulverizing opposition-held areas in northern and western Syria.

Between January 1st and 31st 2016, the public record indicates that Russian airstrikes in Syria killed an estimated 713 or more non-combatants. This is more than 13 times the number of civilians credibly reported killed by the Coalition across Iraq and Syria during the same month.

This higher civilian fatality rate can in part be explained by Russia’s extensive use of so called ‘dumb’ bombs (unguided weapons.) With less precision, more explosives are needed to achieve the same effect – leading in turn to greater non-combatant deaths and injuries.

However, our January database of casualty events also clearly indicates that Moscow was deliberately targeting civilian locations: 75% of alleged casualty cases occurred in just two governorates: Aleppo and Deir Ezzor. Of these, almost half were in Aleppo city itself.

Overall, the evidence from the ground in January 2016 points at Russia continuing to place a far lower value on civilian lives in Syria during this period than the Coalition – with its relentless and deliberate air campaign having a devastating impact on civilian communities.

A member of the White Helmets rescues a child following a likely Russian airstrike on Dayr al Asafeer, January 12th 2016 (via White Helmets)

Additional research by Kinda Haddad, F.F. Khalil, Christiaan Triebert and Chris Woods

▲ The aftermath of an airstrike on Raqqa, Jan 21st (via Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently)

Published

September 2016

Written by

Alex Hopkins

August saw the second anniversary of the war against so-called Islamic State, with the terrorist group losing significant ground on multiple fronts. The Coalition campaign to liberate Manbij in Aleppo concluded with Daesh being driven out of the northern Syrian town. This led to a steep drop in Coalition airstrikes and reported civilian casualty events, with less than half the number of allegations seen in July.

The month also saw Daesh in decline in Iraq, with Iraqi forces making significant advances, including seizing the key town of Qayyarah in preparation for the imminent battle of Mosul.

However, Russian airstrikes continued to bombard Syria, with hundreds of non-combatants reported killed. In one week alone we saw over 40 claimed Russian civilian casualty incidents.

Coalition military developments

Overall, a total of 9,695 airstrikes had been cumulatively carried out in Iraq and 5,024 in Syria to the end of August 2016. For the second consecutive month, Coalition airstrikes in Syria (303 strikes) outweighed those in Iraq (259 strikes.)The six active allies between them dropped 2,241 bombs and missiles on Daesh in August, an 8% per cent decrease on the previous month and significantly down on the June peak of 3,160 munitions released.The US again remained the dominant Coalition partner in both Iraq and Syria. However, the number of strikes it carried out in August decreased by 22% in Iraq (156 strikes) and by 20% in Syria (263 strikes) on July.

Actions by the UK continued to fall in Iraq, with the RAF carrying out 31 strikes (a decrease of 47% on July). However UK strikes in Syria rose from five to nine on July. All but two of these UK actions were near Manbij, with particularly intense activity at the start of the month: on August 1st, eight Paveways IVs destroyed a network of fortified positions. The next day, another eight Paveways struck buildings reportedly acting as a major Daesh defensive position.

Activities by France – which remains the third most active Coalition partner – decreased slightly in Iraq, with 29 strikes declared in August (a fall of 6%). In Syria France carried out just one strike (compared with two in July): on August 21st, ten SCALP cruise missiles were used to destroy a ‘Daesh weapons centre‘ near Raqqa.

Australia returned to the attack in Syria for the first time since February, reporting seven bombs dropped at unspecified locations during August. Defence officials refused to say where or when the actions took place.

Denmark stepped up its own  air campaign in August, reporting 104 weapon releases (a 116% increase on July). In the week to August 17th alone, Denmark dropped 43 bombs in Iraq.

On August 5th, Denmark also made public its first strike in Syria (at Raqqa), with further actions publicly announced in Dayr az Dawr and Hasakah governorates . However the Danish MoD refused to say how many strikes were carried out at which locations and on which dates when contacted by Airwars – making it impossible publicly to assess possible civilian casualty events.

Significant increase: As this Airwars chart shows, Denmark dropped 116% more bombs in August than July

On August 6th after a 10-week offensive, the US-backed SDF took control of 90% of Manbij from Daesh. With the terrorist group defeated, residents returned to find that many homes had been booby-trapped with mines. By August 13th, the SDF had seized full control of the town. However, Daesh was able to negotiate a retreat by using hundreds of civilians as human shields.

The US reportedly dropped 8,400 precision-guided munitions during the Manbij/ Mar’a Line campaign, announcing that it saw this as a model for a future assault on Raqqa. However, as Airwars previously reported, the campaign came at significant cost, with hundreds of non-combatants killed in the vicinity.The end of the siege saw a 51% reduction in strikes in and near Manbij in August, as the Coalition began focusing its resources on other key Syrian locations. Meanwhile in Iraq, in readiness for the eventual battle for Mosul the Kurdish peshmerga made significant advances – recapturing 11 villages from IS.

And a month after retaking Qayyarah airfield, on August 25th Iraqi forces seized control of Qayyarah itself, situated 60 km south of Mosul.

However, as the noose tightened around Mosul, tens of thousands of civilians were displaced from surrounding towns and villages, with the United Nations continuing to express concerns for their wellbeing.

An F/A-18C Hornet launches from the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (US Navy)

Coalition civilian casualties

August saw a major drop in reported civilian casualty events, with less than half the number of allegations seen in July – the highest tally of the war so far.  Overall, there were 22 alleged civilian casualty incidents. A total of 118-151 non-combatant deaths were claimed in these events.Airwars presently assesses 8 of these 22 events as being fairly reported – that is, with two or more credible sources, and Coalition strikes confirmed in the near vicinity. Between 21 and 46 civilians are presently assessed as likely having been killed in these incidents, compared with between 208 and 387 such deaths in July.

As Airwars’ chart shows, there was a huge drop in likely civilian deaths in August

Syria: A significant fall

In Syria, 14 alleged Coalition civilian casualty incidents were reported overall in August – a decrease of 65% from the record 40 claimed events we tracked in July. Between 8 and 13 alleged fatalities from Coalition actions in Syria in August are presently assessed by Airwars as being likely  – compared with 198 to 368 likely deaths in July.

There were however still significant incidents of concern attributed to the Coalition during the month:

On August 7th, at al-Tank oil field, civilians were reportedly killed and wounded when 83 oil tankers were burnt in a Coalition raid. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “Warplanes believed to be from the International Coalition targeted areas in the al-Tank oil field in the desert of Deir Ezzor, which resulted in the death and injury of several people and also killed several members  of Islamic State, in addition to the outbreak of fires in fuel tankers in the area.”

Al Hal put the death toll at seven civilian workers. The Coalition later confirmed destroying 83 oil tankers that day, with the UK separately reporting that two of its Tornados had fired four Paveway IVs and four Brimstone missiles, which “accounted for a number of vehicles.“

#د24: شهداء وجرحى مدنيين منهم سائقين آليات،جراء غارات لطيران التحالف الدولي على حقل التنك للنفط كما تسببت باحتراق ثمانية صهاريج نفطية#D24

— ديرالزور24 (@DeirEzzor24) August 7, 2016

Footage of destruction at Munir Habib School posted by Raqqa media Centre

Coalition incidents of concern: Iraq

There was a small increase in incidents of concern in Iraq for August. Eight events were reported – up from seven in July.

Of these, Airwars presently assesses three cases as ‘fairly‘ reported and estimates that between 13 and 33 civilians were likely killed in these events.

On August 15th in Mosul, between 7 and 13 civilians reportedly died – with 35 more injured – after the Tamatim food distribution building was hit in the city.
 NRN News, which published graphic photos, reported that 13 civilians died. The Iraqi Spring Media Centre placed the death toll lower at seven.
 The Coalition reported strikes on the day near Mosul.

And on August 19th at Jissag near Mosul, as many as 19 civilians reportedly died in an alleged Coalition airstrike. 
Yaqein reported the deaths of a woman and her four children. The Iraqi Spring Media Centre later revised upwards its tally to 15 civilians killed. NRN News placed the death toll at 13.
 The Coalition later said it had struck “an ISIL beddown location” that day. So-called Islamic State issued a video following the event, which showed widespread destruction of a civilian neighbourhood as well as graphic footage of at least three dead children. One apparent eyewitness speaks to camera: “How can God allow America to kill 19 family members at their home, mostly kids? Are they fighters? May God take revenge on America.”

A reported image of destruction at Jissag, following an alleged Coalition airstrike on August 19th which is said to have killed five or more civilians (News of Iraq)

The month also saw three alleged events which were discounted by Airwars. In total, these accounted for a minimum of 66 deaths – the greatest number of deaths attributed to such discounted incidents in two years of Airwars tracking.

On August 1st, local sources said nine civilians including women and children died in alleged Coalition strikes on homes in neighborhoods of Qa’im city. And the following day, August 2nd, multiple sources reported 45 died in an alleged Coalition strike on the al Sanjak and Karabila areas of Al Qaim. The Coalition insisted to Airwars that it had carried out no strikes in or near Al Qaim from August 1st to 3rd.

And on August 23rd, up to 10 civilians were reported killed when – according to local sources – the Coalition struck the Hadbah and Zuhoor neighborhoods in Mosul. The Coalition did not publicly report any strikes in the vicinity for Aug 22nd – 24th, and a spokesperson later confirmed the Airwars that this was the case.

Russian military actions and civilian casualties

In August Airwars tracked 124 separate civilian casualty events reportedly involving Russian aircraft – up from 120 tracked events in July. In the week of August 8th to 15th alone, our researchers tracked 40 separate incidents.

Raw estimates claim that between 571 and 716 civilians died in these events. Due to our limited resources and the volume of alleged Russian incidents, Airwars is still in the process of assessing more than 1,000 alleged events from January to the end of August 2016.

On August 15th, it was reported that Russia was basing long-range Tu-22 bombers at Iran’s Hamadan airbase for airstrikes against ISIL and rebel groups in Syria. Yet in a major setback, just a week later amid accusations that Russia was “showing off”, Tehran ended Moscow’s use of the airbase – which it now said had been “temporary.“

A heavy Russian reliance on unguided ‘dumb’ munitions is a key factor in more than 3,000 likely civilian deaths from its strikes, in the view of Airwars.  A Russian MoD video showing Tu-22 heavy bombers attacking Raqqa on August 11th clearly demonstrates the relatively poor accuracy which reportedly killed 27 civilians that day.

 Russia released footage on an August 11th raid on Raqqa, with the video indicating the relatively poor accuracy of such strikes

Additional research by Kinda Haddad, Latif Habib, Abdulwahab Tahhan, Ziad Freeman, Basile Simon, Christiaan Triebert and Chris Woods

▲ A Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18A Hornet sits on the flight line of Australia's main air operating base in the Middle East Region.

Published

August 2016

Written by

Alex Hopkins

In July the Coalition campaign to liberate the northern Syrian town of Manbij in Aleppo built towards a fierce conclusion. Daesh continued to lose ground, but the effect on civilian casualties was significant. We tracked the greatest number of alleged deaths and incidents in any given month since the war began two years ago – despite just one likely event in Iraq. Probable deaths from Coalition airstrikes were at similar levels to those reported for Russia during the Spring.

Russian airstrikes also continued to pulverize opposition-held areas in northern and western Syria – with hundreds of non-combatants reported killed. A total of 120 alleged incidents of concern were reported for July alone.

Coalition military developments

Overall, a total of 9,458 airstrikes had cumulatively been carried out in Iraq and 4,751 in Syria to the end of July 2016.

The 13 allies between them dropped 2,411 bombs and missiles against Daesh in July, a 24% per cent decrease in the number of munitions released compared with June.

The US remained the dominant Coalition partner in both Iraq and Syria. Indeed strikes conducted by the UK fell in July, with the RAF carrying out 58 strikes in Iraq (a decrease of 19% on June) and five in Syria (a decrease of 44%.)

The UK’s strikes in Syria were all around Manbij and the so-called Mar’a line. In all but one of these five strikes the RAF used armed drones (Reapers). However, overall reported use of Reapers fell by 60% from June.

After the UK, France remained the next most active Coalition partner. However its activities also declined in Iraq, with 31 strikes declared in July (a fall of 23%). France conducted just two strikes in Syria – both near Raqqa.

Belgium has rejoined the air war – this time in both Iraq and Syria – after taking over from the Netherlands. On July 5th, France reported a joint raid with Belgium in Mosul. But Brussels itself – the least transparent of all Coalition partners – has yet to declare any airstrikes itself since the campaign resumed.

Significant drop: Airwars graph showing the number of UK airstrikes conducted by Reapers, Tornados and Typhoons across June and July 2016

For the first time in 18 months Coalition airstrikes in Syria outweighed those conducted in Iraq. There were 332 strikes in Iraq (a drop of 31% from June) and 352 in Syria (a decrease of 6% from June).

The major Coalition campaign at Manbij – which began on May 21st to liberate the ISIL-occupied town in northern Syria – reached a heavy pace. Some 282 strikes were reported in the vicinity (80% of all declared strikes in Syria).

On July 15th, the Syrian Arab Coalition (aka Syrian Democratic Forces) began moving towards the centre of Manbij, recapturing a “significant amount of the city” and enabling some civilians to escape.

However, the UN warned that the situation in Manbij was deteriorating further, with 30,000 to 40,000 combatants still caught up in the siege.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, efforts were focused on clearing the Daesh-controlled towns of Qayyarah and Sarqat, in preparation for the eventual battle of Mosul.

An RAAF F/A-18A Hornet prepares to depart on a mission to strike a ‘Daesh headquarters compound’ in Mosul, Iraq, from Australia’s main base in the Middle East (Australian MoD)

Coalition civilian casualties

July saw the highest tally of civilian casualty events so far reported in the war. Overall, there were 47 alleged civilian casualty incidents – an increase of 38% from June. A total of 311 to 509 non-combatant deaths were claimed in these events.

Airwars presently assesses 28 of these 47 events as fairly reported: that is with two or more credible sources, and Coalition strikes confirmed in the near vicinity. Between 208 and 387 civilians are presently assessed as likely having been killed in these incidents, compared with between 110 and 180 deaths in June.

A worsening situation: Syria

As already noted, July 2016 saw the highest number of alleged civilian fatalities and events since the air war began in August 2014. In Syria 40 incidents were reported – an increase of 83% from the 19 claimed events we tracked in June. Between 198 and 368 alleged fatalities are presently assessed as being likely by Airwars, most in the vicnity of Manbij.

One likely reason for this sharp rise is a reported loosening of the rules of engagement. The Coalition is now prepared to accept up to 10 non-combatant casualties in any one action, according to reports.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEHu2ZYIDPw

A Coalition airstrike on Manbij, July 11th 2016

On July 19th,in what may be the single greatest loss of life from a Coalition action in the first two years of its war against Daesh, between 78 and 203 civilians were reported killed in a catastrophic event at the village of Tokhar in which victims were shown being buried in mass graves.

Manbij Mother of the World was the first to report the event. It initially put the death toll at 25, which swiftly rose to 56 then 59 civilians, before finally settling at 203 killed.  The Airwars incident report presently names 78 victims.

The US’s northern Syria proxy the SDF said it had supplied the intelligence for the Tokhar strike, though had thought no civilians were present. The SDF also accused local monitoring groups of fabricating civilian casualty claims in order to aid ISIL and discredit Kurdish forces.

In contrast, the US’s former proxy the Free Syrian Army condemned the Coalition for “the horrific massacres committed”. The Assad regime instead claimed French aircraft were responsible, though Paris has declared no strikes in the vicinity.

Bakkar al Ramadan – one of 78 named civilians so far identified by local groups as having died at al Tokhar in a US airstrike on July 19th 2016. Seven members of Mr al Ramadan’s family also reportedly died with him, including six children (via Manbij Tokhar)

For July 18th-19th, the Coalition admitted carrying out strikes on buildings and vehicles at Tokhar, but initially scorned ‘wild’ claims of 173 deaths.

However after an international outcry, the US announced on July 27th that it was launching an investigation. Based on current delays, the results are unlikely to be known until early 2017.

Following the incident at Tokhar Airwars tracked a brief drop in airstrikes around Manbij. However from July 22nd the Coalition campaign picked up pace once again.

The Pentagon also investigated an alleged incident on July 23rd at al Nawaja in which between 10 and 22 civilians were reported killed. Soon after it denied responsibility, concluding that “the JCTF did not conduct any strikes in that geographic location.”

Almost daily: As this Airwars chart demonstrates, while alleged civilian fatalities around Manbij peaked at Tokhar on July 19th, claims occured throughout the month

Another major incident of concern took place on July 28th when at least 28 civilians were killed in a likely Coalition airstrike on the village of al Ghandourra. According to the Syria Newsdesk, the noon strikes hit the main market and the elementary school in the town, which was occupied by so-called ISIL.

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Later that same day the Pentagon confirmed it was opening an investigation into the al Ghandourra incident – the first such immediate action in two years of war. A senior US military official told Airwars that the Coalition’s internal monitoring had already raised concerns – and that the decision to proceed almost immediately to an investigation represented a more pro-active approach to civilian casualty allegations.

Coalition incidents of concern: Iraq

There was a marked decrease in incidents of concern in Iraq for July. Seven events were reported, a 114% drop from the 15 cases we tracked in June.

Of these, Airwars presently assesses just one case as ‘fairly‘ reported:

According to a number of reports, on July 31st alleged night time or dawn Coalition strikes on homes in the vicinity of the Technical Institute and Faculty of Islamic Sciences at the University of Mosul resulted in “nearly 20” civilian fatalities. NRN reported that there were many casualties as a result of “brutal” strikes when nearby bystanders and cars were struck by fragments of destroyed buildings.

New officially confirmed deaths

On July 18th, CENTCOM conceded 14 additional civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria, relating to six events between July 2015 and late April 2016. These new admissions bring the official confirmed tally for civilian dead to 55.

In addition to these confirmed fatalities, Airwars estimates that at least 1,507 to 2,301 civilians are likely to have been killed in Coalition strikes in Iraq and Syria since August 2014. This suggests the Coalition is under-reporting civilian deaths by 95 per cent or more.

Longer-term hope for civilians caught up in US wars came on July 1st, when President Obama issued an executive order (alongside an assessment of those killed in covert US drone strikes) on steps to be taken to protect civilians in conflicts.

Russian military actions and civilian casualties

Allegations of civilian casualty events involving Russia in Syria decreased by 11% in July. However, they remain at alarming levels.

In July we tracked 120 events reportedly involving Russian aircraft, against 135 tracked in June.

Due to the volume of alleged Russian incidents, Airwars is still in the process of assessing events from January to the end of July.

Raw estimates claim that between 564 and 633 civilians died in these July alleged events alone – though it will be some time before Airwars is better able to assess these allegations.

Scene of devastation at Ariha, Syria July 13th 2016 after an alleged Russian strike killed at least 12 civilians (Photo via LCCSY)

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Additional research by Kinda Haddad, Latif Habib, Abdulwahab Tahhan, Ziad Freeman, Basile Simon, Christiaan Triebert and Chris Woods

▲ The US Navy issues a rare photo of hardware-packed deck of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, supporting war against Daesh (via US Navy)

Published

July 2016

Written by

Alex Hopkins

Daesh lost significant ground in June, with the liberation of Fallujah in Iraq and the ongoing battle for Manbij in Syria. However, this led to a steep rise in alleged civilian casualties involving the Coalition in both countries – while in Syria, we saw a quadrupling of the number of civilian casualty events reportedly involving Russian aircraft.

Coalition military developments

Overall, a total of 9,132 airstrikes had been carried out in Iraq and 4,398 in Syria to the end of June 2016.

The 13 allies had between them cumulatively dropped 49,917 bombs and missiles against Daesh, with a 35 per cent rise in the number of munitions released compared with May.

Denmark restarted its air campaign, with the first strikes reported in Iraq on June 24th. Following a vote by parliament, Danish F-16’s will now also be carrying out airstrikes in Syria

On June 27th, Belgium reported it had taken over airstrikes from the Dutch, deploying six of its own F-16s to the Middle East. The Dutch had fought continually for 21-months and were the fourth most active partner in the Coalition after the US, the UK and France – despite their relatively small force.

Graph courtesy of Drone Wars UK

To June 28th, Britain’s MoD had reported 847 airstrikes in Iraq but only 48 in Syria. An analysis of official UK data by Drone Wars UK revealed:

    A huge increase of 85% in British airstrikes in Iraq and Syria was recorded between July and Dec 2015 (249 strikes) and January to June 2016 (464 strikes).
    There has been a significant increase in the use of British armed drones since April. June saw the greatest number of Reaper airstrikes in any one month since the RAF began fielding them in October 2007.
    The UK has used much larger weapons in recent months. On June 26th, the RAF airdropped Stormshadow cruise missiles for the first time against Daesh in Iraq. There has also been increased use of both the 1,000 lb Enhanced Paveway II and 2,000 lb Paveway III bombs.

UK Tornados used huge Stormshadow missiles for the first time against Daesh on June 26th, striking a large concrete bunker being used as a weapons facility in western Iraq.

Coalition actions in Iraq and Syria for June 2016

There were 482 Coalition airstrikes in Iraq in June – a small decrease (4%) from the 504 airstrikes carried out in May.

On June 26th it was announced that the city of Fallujah, which had fallen to Daesh in January 2014, had been liberated. Two days later Iraqi forces retook remaining pockets of Daesh resistance in the city’s western outskirts.

However, the United Nations warned of a potential humanitarian disaster, with up 30,000 civilians fleeing the city.

June saw the greatest number of Coalition actions yet reported in Syria during the 23-month war, with 375 airstrikes declared. This was an increase of 110% from May (178 strikes).

68% of these strikes were near Manbij, where a major offensive to retake the city began on May 21st by US proxies the Syrian Arab Coalition (or Syrian Democratic Forces), supported by Coalition airstrikes.

On June 30th, the Coalition reported it had carried out 44 airstrikes alone that week around Manbij, and that the Syrian Arab Coalition had gained a crucial foothold in the southern part of the city – though Daesh continued to use snipers, tunnels, booby traps and human shields, while maintaining control of vital grain silos and administrative buildings.

But in Deir Ezzor, there were set backs with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting on June 29th that the New Syria Army had been driven out of the governorate and had failed to recapture the key Iraqi border town of Al-Bukamal.

Australian armaments personnel assemble and load weapons, June 2016 (image via CJTF OIR)

Coalition civilian casualties

In both Iraq and Syria, there was a steep rise in casualty events allegedly involving Coalition aircraft in June. Overall, there were 34 alleged civilian casualty incidents – an increase of 79% from May, when 19 were reported. A total of 229 to 335 non-combatant deaths were claimed.

Airwars presently assesses 16 of these 34 events as fairly reported: that is with two or more credible sources, and Coalition strikes confirmed in the near vicinity. Between 110 and 180 civilians are presently assessed as likely having been killed in these incidents, compared with between 84 and 93 deaths in May.

Coalition incidents of concern: Syria

The greatest rise in alleged casualty events was seen in Syria, where 19 incidents were reported – an increase of 72% from the 11 claimsed events tracked in May.

June 2016 saw the highest number of alleged civilian deaths to date from Coalition actions in Syria. Between 58 and 75 alleged fatalities are presently assessed as being likely by Airwars, compared with between 38 and 41 deaths in May.

Of the 19 claimed incidents in Syria, 15 (78%) were around Manbij. We have graded nine of these as fairly reported, and estimate that between 48 and 64 civilians were killed in these incidents.

Major casualty incidents of concern attributed to Coalition aircraft around Manbij included:

On June 3rd, local groups named 22 victims including 13 to 15 children and six women killed in a ‘Coalition strike’ on the village of Ojkana, near Manbij. Both the Shaam News Network and the Syrian Press Center attributed the deaths to the US-led Coalition, while the Syrian Revolution Network named multiple victims across three families

Reported child victims of a Coalition strike near Manbij June 3 2016 (via Manbij Mother of All the World)

On June 11th, ten civilians from the same family were reported killed in an alleged Coalition strike on the village of Al Hadhad, near Manbij, as fierce fighting continued to evict so-called Islamic State forces from the area. The dead family was named by Manbij Mother of All the World as that of Mahmoud al Ahmad al Khattaf.

ريف حلب #منبجاستشهاد 10 اشخاص من عائلة واحد نتيجة قصف طيران التحالف الدولي قرية الهدهد جميع الضحايا نازحين من قرية الخطاف

— Syrian Revolution Network شبكة الثورة السورية (@RevolutionSyria) June 11, 2016

A Tweet from Syrian Revolution reports the death of 10 people from the same family in Manbij on June 11th

On June 13th, a reported Coalition airstrike on the agricultural secondary school in Manbij – being used as a temporary prison by so called Islamic State – led to the deaths of between 8 and 20 civilian captives according to local reports. Al Araby al Jadid placed the death toll much higher at 30, with 50 injured – though this included Daesh fighters.

Coalition incidents of concern: Iraq

There was also a significant increase in incidents of concern in Iraq, where 15 events were reported, an 87% rise from the eight cases we tracked in May.

Between 52 and 104 civilian fatalities in Iraq  are presently assessed as likely by Airwars in June 2016, compared with between 46 and 52 likely deaths in May.

Major incidents of concern were reported around Mosul and Fallujah:

On June 1st, ten to 40 civilians were reported killed and 13 to 36 injured following alleged Coalition airstrikes in west Mosul. Mosul Eye offered a detailed description of affected neighbourhoods, while NRN said that Coalition aircraft targeted houses used by Daesh, killing terrorists but also civilians.

On June 8th, multiple civilians were reported killed and injured in alleged Coalition airstrikes on the July 17th district of Mosul. According to Mosul Eye, the strikes on a Wednesday night took place at prayer time near a mosque in the Almoghait area – particularly busy during Ramadan. There was a possibility of British involvement, with the UK reporting that “In northern Iraq, another Typhoon mission successfully attacked a Daesh-held building east of Mosul, whilst a Reaper used a GBU-12 bomb to demolish a building where another coalition surveillance aircraft had observed terrorists unloading supplies.”

Reported Coalition strike on Mosul June 8th which allegedly caused ‘dozens’ of civilian casualties (via Iraqi Revolution)

And on June 15th, local sources reported that the Coalition struck the Hasi area of Fallujah, leading to the death of six families, two of whom were killed while trying to leave the city. Al Fallujah Online said 10 people died, including four women and three children, and that 13 others were wounded including five children and four women. Again there was the possibility of UK involvement in the reported event, with the MoD reporting that Typhoons carried out “successful attacks” over Fallujah.

Casualties in a medical facility following alleged Coalition strikes on Fallujah, June 15th (via Al FallujahNews)

Still unclear is how many civilians may have died in two massive Coalition and Iraq government air assaults on Daesh convoys escaping Fallujah on June 28th and June 30th. Many vehicles were destroyed, with the Coalition estimating that its own aircraft killed at least 348 enemy fighters. But there are credible reports the convoys also included the families of Daesh fighters. As USA Today reported of the second incident “About 50 people, including women and children, fled the vehicles. When the women and children were spotted, the coalition ceased its strikes.” At least one dead child was spotted by Bellingcat in an Iraqi government propaganda video relating to the strikes.

Russian military actions and civilian casualties

Following the Syrian cease fire and Russia’s announcement of a partial drawdown on March 15th, we saw an immediate 75% reduction in allegations of civilian casualty events involving Russia in Syria, and by April we were recording similar numbers of allegations against Russia and the Coalition (in Iraq and Syria).

However that trend reversed in late May, with reported Russian strikes and civilian casualty claims once more escalating. We tracked 36 incidents in May and 135 in June – a fourfold rise.

Airwars tracking of alleged Russian civilian casualty events showed a fourfold rise in June

Due to the volume of alleged Russian incidents, Airwars is still in the process of assessing events from January to the end of June.

Raw estimates claim that between 595 and 648 civilians died in these June events, while 153 to 191 people were claimed killed in May – though it will be some time before Airwars is better able to assess these allegations.

This increased Russian involvement in Syria means it is often challenging to determine which parties were responsible for attacks – with contested reports sometimes blaming Russia, the Assad regime and the Coalition.

 

Additional research by Kinda Haddad, Latif Habib, Basile Simon, Christiaan Triebert and Chris Woods

 

▲ A picture of a recent night time artillery engagement from Kara Soar base, supporting Iraqi troops (via US Army)

Published

June 2016

Written by

Alex Hopkins

Airwars monthly reports on international airstrikes and alleged civilian casualties across both Iraq and Syria will resume for June . Here we present our summary findings for December 2015 to May 2016.

Major Coalition military developments

From December 1st 2015 to the end of May 2016, there were 4,087 reported Coalition airstrikes against Daesh: a total of 3,010 in Iraq and 1,077 in Syria.

The 13 allies had between them cumulatively dropped 46,615 bombs and missiles against Daesh to the end of May 2016. Weapon releases were down 5% between December and May compared with the previous six months.

In other key developments:

    January 2016 was the most intense month of bombing in Iraq to date, with 540 airstrikes reported carried out by the Coalition.
    January also saw Daesh driven out of the city of Ramadi after a months-long offensive by Iraqi government forces. Nearly 800 non-combatants were reported killed in airstrikes, executions and clashes in and around the city during the campaign.
    On February 15th, Canada ceased kinetic operations in Iraq and Syria. Since their first sortie on October 30th 2014, Canada’s CF-188 Hornets had carried out 251 airstrikes (246 in Iraq and just 5 in Syria).
    Following terror attacks in Brussels on March 22nd, Belgium confirmed plans to mount renewed airstrikes on Daesh targets, in both Iraq and Syria. Airwars has since submitted a report to the Belgian parliament raising transparency concerns.
    An offensive by the Iraqi army and militias to retake areas around Mosul began in late March but was initially repelled. The battle, with heavy air support from the Coalition, is still underway.
    In May, bolstered by US airstrikes, the Iraqi Security Forces retook the small but key western desert town of Rutba from Daesh after a two-day battle.
    At the end of May, the Coalition began the push to retake Fallujah from ISIS – though the United Nations warned that 50,000 or more civilians were still trapped in the city.

US remains dominant partner

Airstrikes by the US in both Iraq and Syria continued significantly to outweigh those conducted by Coalition allies. As of May 30th, CENTCOM had reported a total of 5,859 US strikes in Iraq since August 2014 (68 per cent of all Coalition strikes there.) The UK was the next most active partner in Iraq, followed by France and the Netherlands.

There was also a marginal 1% drop in Coalition airstrikes in Iraq from December 2015 to May 2016 (3,010) compared with the previous six month period.

In Syria there were 1,056 Coalition airstrikes conducted from December 2015 to May 2016 (a 16% drop on the previous six months.) According to official data, only 79 of these strikes (7.5%) were by the US’s declared allies: France, the UK, Canada, Australia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

On 25 May, the UK reported its first airstrikes against Daesh in Syria in a month, with targets hit near Aleppo and Dayr ez Zawr. Since a December 2nd 2015 parliamentary vote on UK airstrikes in Syria, the RAF had only conducted 44 Syrian airstrikes to June 1st according to MoD data. Over the same period the UK conducted more than 250 airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq.

Coalition civilian casualties

Between December and May, in both Iraq and Syria there was a marked increase in the number of alleged casualty incidents and civilian deaths attributed to Coalition actions. While there were over three times as many alleged non-combatant deaths in Iraq as in Syria, both countries saw an alarming increase in the number of reported Coalition casualty events.

Across the six months, an overall total of 1,110 to 1,558 civilian non-combatant fatalities were alleged from 145 separate claimed Coalition incidents in both Iraq and Syria, according to Airwars tracking.

Confirmed deaths

The Coalition has so far confirmed only six civilian casualty events and one friendly fire incident for December to May, all from US military actions. These reportedly killed 10 civilians and 9 or more Iraq Army troops.

In a previously unknown casualty event, one civilian was confirmed killed during a US airstrike against a high value target in Raqqa, Syria on December 10th 2015.

A family of five was killed in a US airstrike on the Albothiab Island area of Ramadi, Iraq on December 12th.

At least nine Iraq Army soldiers including an officer were killed – and 32 or more injured – when Coalition aircraft providing close air support (CAS) accidentally struck a forward command post of Brigade Headquarters 55, in the Nuaimiya area south of Fallujah, Iraq on December 18th.

One civilian was killed during a US airstrike at Tishreen near Manbij, Syria on December 24th.

At least one civilian, a woman, was killed in a confrmed Coaltion airstrike on an ISIL-controlled bank in central Mosul, Iraq on January 11th. The attack was aimed at destroying millions of dollars of terror cash. CNN later reported the US had been prepared to accept up to 50 civilian casualties in the attack.

Civilian victim of a Coalition strike on January 11 2016, which targeted millions of dollars in a Daesh-controlled bank (via NRN News)

In a previously unknown casualty event, CENTCOM confirmed on April 22nd 2016 that one civilian was killed during a US airstrike at Al Ghazili near Ayn Isa, Syria on February 2nd.

And three weeks after an incident on April 5th, the US revealed that a strike on an ‘ISIL finance emir’ had  killed at least one civilian, a woman in Mosul, Iraq.

Overall CENTCOM has informed Airwars that, to May 20th 2016, the Coalition had provisionally investigated 182 alleged casualty incidents in total, of which it deemed 30 cases to be credible. Five confirmed cases have yet to be publicly reported – with an average delay of six months between a civilian death occuring and public confirmation by the Coalition.

CENTCOM’s investigations tally also represents just 40% of the 436 known civilian casualty allegations tracked by Airwars to May 31st.

Some 41 civilian deaths in total have now been admitted by the Coalition  – all the result of US actions. Despite more than 3,000 airstrikes by the US’s twelve allies in Iraq and Syria, no other Coalition partner has so far admitted causing any civilian casualties.

Likely additional casualty events in Iraq 

Along with the five civilian fatality events admitted by the US, Airwars has recorded 71 further ‘Fair’ incidents for December to May – 39 in Iraq and 32 in Syria. We presently estimate an additional 487 to 785 civilians died in these likely Coalition actions.

An event is graded as fair where two or more credible sources have reported an incident, and where Coalition strikes are confirmed in the vicinity on that date.

If correct, Airwars data suggests the Coalition may be underreporting civilian deaths by more than 95 per cent.

It is our provisional view at Airwars that between 290 and 511 civilians died in 39 events in Iraq, in addition to the seven recent deaths there admitted by the US.

On January 18th, 11 civilians were reported killed and 6 others wounded after Coalition aircraft allegedly targeted cars in the Exhibitions area east of Mosul. The National Iraqi News Agency reported residents of the city’s exhibition area saying that casualties occurred when aircraft fired on vehicles, while Al Araby said it was unclear whether whether the bombing has inflicted casualties on Daesh.

On February 25th, at least 13 civilians from ‘ISIS families’ – including women and children – were alleged killed when their bus was reportedly bombed between Qayarrah and Shura south of Mosul as it was trying to cross the Iraqi-syrian border, according to local sources. Reports said the terrorist group had been evacuating family members from Mosul to Syria in anticipation of a government assault.

The greatest number of claimed civilian deaths for any one incident so far in the 22-month air war was reported in Mosul on March 19th. According to multiple reports at least 25 non-combatants died along with 40 or more Daesh fighters, in a major daytime Coalition air raid on Mosul University. A single source report claimed as many as 90 students were additionally killed in the attack, with 155 people seriously injured. CENTCOM later announced it was investigating the allegations.

One of a number of major Coalition airstrikes to target central Mosul on March 19th (via Daesh propaganda film)

Rise of incidents in Syria

Despite Coalition strikes decreasing in Syria compared to the previous six months, Airwars tracked an alarming rise in reported civilian fatalities.

From December 1st 2015 to May 31st 2016, there were 32 reported incidents of concern in Syria which we graded as ‘Fair.’ It is our provisional view at Airwars that between 197 and 274 civilians died in these events – a 38 per cent rise in likely civilian deaths above the previous six months.

These increased casualty figures may reflect less restrictive rules of engagement introduced by the Coalition – though officials have insisted these have not led to more civilian deaths.

Ali Sleiman Al Abdallah and his children, killed in a reported Coalition strike December 7th 2015 (via Hassakah Youth Union)

On December 7th 2015, in one of the worst mass casualty events credibly attributed to the Coalition as many as 47 civilians were reported killed and 17 injured in an alleged US Apache helicopter and fast jet attack on the village of al Khan near al Hawl. Locals were involved in an altercation with Islamic State militants according to the McClatchy news agency, with Coalition aircraft attacking a convoy of reinforcements as it entered the village.According to the Global Post, the airstrikes took place in the early hours of December 7th. CENTCOM later announced it was assessing the claims, though has yet to declare its findings. .

On January 7th-8th, eight children and three women were widely reported killed in what most sources claimed to be a Coalition airstrike on Khuzaymah, Al Raqqah governorate.  While Raqqah is Being Slaughtered and Radio Alkul did not attribute the attack, the Syrian Observatory blamed the Coalition.

Nine of the 13 reported incidents in Syria for February were clustered around the city of al Shadadi, recently captured by Kurdish forces with direct air support from the Coalition. A CENTCOM spokesman told Airwars that only two of these reported incidents were under investigation.

Proxy ground forces advanced on so-called Islamic State on a number of fronts in May, heavily supported by Coalition air power. The month also saw the highest number of alleged civilian deaths to date from Coalition actions. Forty out of 90 alleged fatalities are presently assessed as likely by Airwars.

On May 20th, up to ten civilians were reported killed in an alleged Coalition evening strike at Al Arshaf village on the outskirts of Ekhitrin town, in the northern Aleppo countryside.

And on 31st May – 1 June,  as many as 15 civilians including at least three children reportedly died in Coalition airstrikes in support of a major Kurdish ground offensive against Daesh near Manbij. Three sources alleged that the Coalition was responsible. When approached by the Independent, a Coalition spokesperson said they were ‘unaware’ of any civilian casualty allegations, despite widespread media coverage.

Al Ghadd TV reports on civilian fatalities  around Manbij, June 1st 2016

Major Russian military developments

Russia’s September 2015 intervention in Syria radically changed the situation for both civilians and combatants on the ground.

Russia’s initial focus was not as it claimed so-called Islamic State, but rebel groups in northern and western Syria. Backed by heavy Russian airpower, Assad regime forces were able to break out of their beseiged strongholds, and launch major offensives against rebel groups. Airwars mapping of likely civilian deaths from Russian airstrikes to December 31st shows most were far from ISIL’s strongholds.

Airwars mapping of likely civilian fatalities from Russian strikes to December 31st shows most actions were focused away from Islamic State-held areas

Russian airstrikes and civilian casualty allegations peaked in February 2016, with 166 claimed civilian casualty events that month attributed to Moscow. However, the announcement of a key Syrian ceasefire at the end of that month saw a major reduction in Russian activity. In addition, on March 14th Russia announced it would partially withdraw its forces from Syria.

Russia’s focus then shifted briefly to targeting Daesh in central and eastern Syria. On March 27th, Assad regime ground forces aided by Russian airpower recaptured the historic city of Palmyra, ending 10 months of occupation following a three week ground offensive. But Russia also continued to heavily target non-ISIL forces and civilian areas – particularly in and around Aleppo.

Russian Civilian Casualties

For December 1st 2015 to May 31st 2016, Airwars has tracked 630 alleged civilian casualty events in Syria attributed to international airpower. Of these, 59 claimed incidents were attributed to the Coalition (9%), while 571 events (91%) were attributed to Russia.

A total of 2,792 to 3,451 non-combatants were allegedly killed by Russia over six months in these 571 claimed events. This is likely to be a significant over-estimate. As Airwars reported in A Reckless Disregard for Human Lives, in the first three months of Russian airstrikes in Syria, only 60 per cent of alleged civilian fatalities were likely to have resulted from Moscow’s actions. Russia still continues to insist it has killed no civilians in its air campaign in Syria.

In total, 782 alleged civilian casualty events had been attributed to Russia from September 30th 2015 to May 31st 2016. Per month, this is approximately five times the number of alleged Coalition events claimed across Syria and Iraq. With so many Russia allegations, Airwars has so far only been able to publish strike and assessment data to December 31st 2015. Our assessment of January 2016 will publish shortly.

Among the worst incidents so far assessed, between 61 and 90 civilians were killed in airstrikes on Khusham on January 23rd – with at least 40 others injured. Almost all local sources blamed Russia for the attack on civilian neighbourhoods.

Tracking of such allegations in Syria can provide a helpful indicator of casualty trends and broader military activity. Civilian casualty allegations fell by more than 70 per cent in March for example, following the Syrian ceasefire and Russia’s partial drawdown.By April, Airwars was recording similar numbers of allegations against Russia and the Coalition (in Iraq and Syria.) However that trend reversed in late May, with reported Russian strikes and civilian casualty claims once more escalating.

▲ A picture shows the aid team trying to remove the casualties from the incident location where seven civilians were reported killed and 23 injured in two alleged Coalition raids on May 24th,2016.

Published

December 2015

Written by

Basile Simon and Chris Woods

Major military developments

    November 2015 saw the greatest number of Coalition actions yet reported in the 16-month war, with 529 airstrikes in Iraq and 232 in Syria. Overall, a total of 5,638 air strikes had been carried out in Iraq, and 2,944 in Syria to the end of the month.

The 13 allies had between them cumulatively dropped 31,873 bombs and missiles against Daesh to month’s end, with a 20 per cent rise in the number of munitions released compared with October. In part, this spike was due to the Coalition individually targeting and destroying hundreds of individual ‘Daesh oil tankers’ in Syria.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXvrfmzH05M

    In the wake of the November 13th Paris terrorist atrocities, France stepped up its attacks on so-called Islamic State in Syria, and also sent back to the region the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.
    After more than 5,000 airstrikes in Iraq, the US-led Coalition finally conceded on November 20th that it had ‘likely’ killed civilians in Iraq – six months after a similar admission for Syria. Seven or more civilians reportedly died in an airstrike at Hatra on March 13th – including two women and three children.

As Airwars noted at the time, it remains unclear why the Coalition delayed admitting the deaths for so long. A declassified CENTCOM document shows investigators had already concluded by early May of this year that “the allegation of CIVCAS [at Hatra] was likely credible.”

    Russia continued its own major air campaign in Syria, with heavy bombers being used for the first time. Once again there were reports of a significant number of civilians killed in Kremlin strikes (see below.)

    Two major Coalition bombing campaigns took place in November in Iraq. In the north, the Coalition supported a joint operation by the Peshmerga, the PKK, and the People’s Protection Units to retake Sinjar and regain control of Highway 47, a major Daesh supply route between Raqqa and Mosul. Coalition aircraft carried out 155 air strikes in the vicinity.

Two Syrian cities immediately across the border from Sinjar were also heavily bombed by the Coalition: 70 and 55 strikes were carried out respectively around Al Hawl and Hasakah.

In the centre of Iraq, the city of Ramadi also saw heavy bombings. The capital of the Anbar province had fallen to Daesh in May 2015. The Iraqi army has since encircled the town, giving a ‘last warning’ to civilians to leave the city before an assault. Coalition aircraft conducted 149 airstrikes in the near vicinity.

French combat aircraft in the Middle East November 2015 (Ministère de la Défense)

Coalition civilian casualties

    There were 18 alleged civilian casualty incidents in November 2015 reportedly involving Coalition aircraft – 13 in Iraq and five in Syria. Total claimed fatalities were 129 to 152 non-combatants killed.

Airwars presently assesses nine of these events as fairly reported: that is two or more credible sources, and Coalition strikes confirmed in the near vicinity. Between 67 and 90 civilians were reported killed in these incidents (with an estimated 48-68 deaths in Iraq and 19-22 in Syria.)

Seven further events are currently poorly reported; one is contested; and one incident appears to have been fabicated by so-called Islamic State.

    A number of major casualty incidents were attributed to Coalition aircraft for the month. On November 10th, nine named civilians from two families were reported killed in an alleged Coalition dawn strike at the small Syrian village of al Bootha – close to the scene of fierce clashes between Kurdish ground forces and Daesh.

Missile fragment reportedly found at scene of a lethal Mosul airstrike, November 16 2015 (via NRN)

On November 16th between seven and 12 civilians were reported killed following an alleged Coalition strike on the directorate of agriculture in Mosul. A further 28 to 39 people were reported injured. The incident took place in the Al Faisaliah area, and according to reports most if not all of those killed had no links to Daesh. An ISIL propaganda video showed some victims in their vehicles, with others including children taken to a local hospital.

Again in Mosul, on November 19th up to 10 workers at a dairy factory were reported killed after a Daesh IED facility next door was destroyed in a Canadian airstrike. In a later statement to CBC News, Canadian Forces Major General Charles Lamarre said the strike had been reviewed and “did not reveal any information to suggest that civilians had been harmed or killed… The nearest structure to the strike was well outside of the explosive radius of the weapons used‎.” However, graphic footage released by Islamic State showed not only the apparent destroyed IED facility but also a badly damaged adjacent building, including dead and injured persons.

And on November 26th, local sources in Fallujah alleged that Coalition aircraft bombed a house with three families inside near Khalid Bin Al Waleed mosque, killing at least 12 and wounding six more – mostly children and women. The Baghdad Centre for Human Rights said that both Coalition and Iraq government aircraft had participated in the attack, while all other sources pointed only to the Coalition.

Aftermath of Canadian strike at Mosul November 19th which reportedly killed 10 civilians (via Nineveh Reporters Network)

    On November 25th, claims were made on social media that a ‘French airstrike’ had struck a primary school in Mosul, killing 28 children. However local activists and journalists strongly denied the claim, which appears to have been a crude propaganda attempt by Daesh. The Nineveh Reporters Network challenged the claimed attack, insisting that ‘there has been no Coalition strike in Mosul for the past three days.’ MNB also described the claim as Daesh propaganda, while an Iraqi official told Shafaaq there was “no truth as reported by some media about the killing of a number of pupils in an aerial bombardment of a primary school by French aircraft.”
    In Syria on November 18th, up to ten civilians were killed in an airstrike on a civilian fuel facility in the Brigade 17 area of the city. Most sources attributed the attack to the Coalition. However, the Russian Ministry of Defence has also reported destroying 500 fuel trucks in the Raqqa and Dayr az Zawr areas at the time, making attribution difficult.

Russian civilian casualties

    At Airwars we’ve now finished assessing Russian airstrikes in Syria to October 31st, and have as a result revised upwards our minimum estimate to 345-501 likely killed in the first 32 days of Russian strikes.

According to our Syria  researcher, based on field reports from monitoring groups and media and social media claims, there were 98 new civilian casualty incidents in Syria for November which allegedly involved the Russian Air Force. The total claimed casualty range for these new events was 394 to 414 killed.

However, due to the large number of ongoing alleged incidents involving Russia, we are still assessing these new events – and so are currently unable to make a provisional estimate of likely deaths. Other monitoring groups have published their own assessments, all of which indicate that many hundreds of civilians have now been killed in Syria by Russia:

– The Violations Documentation Centre estimates that in the two months to November 30th, Russia killed 835 non-combatants in Syria. This compares with 302 civilians the VDC believes have been killed by the US-led Coalition in Syria since September 2014.

– The Syrian Network for Human Rights reports that to December 1st, Russian strikes in Syria had killed 570 civilians, including 152 children and 60 women.

– And the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that to November 20th only, that “Russian airstrikes had killed 403 civilians, including 97 children under 18 and 69 adult women over 18 years of age.”

Bustan el-Qasr in Aleppo province, following an alleged Russian airstrike on November 3rd which killed eight civilians (via Shaam News)

 

▲ One of 40 vehicles destroyed in an alleged Coalition strike at Mosul which killed up to 17 civilians (via NRN)