US military actions in 2022 involved an increase in support for partner forces, often including airdrops (Photo: U.S. Army)


May 2024

Written by

Anna Zahn, Emily Tripp, Joe Dyke, Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen and Rowena De Silva

The US has declared that its military actions in 2022 resulted in no civilians killed or injured, the first such release since a landmark policy intended to overhaul American practices and approaches to civilian harm across the globe.

The ‘1057′ report was delayed by almost a year and relates primarily to US airstrikes and military actions in 2022. The equivalent report for 2023 is officially due to be released later this month, though it may also be delayed.

The report also confirmed that the US military paid no compensation to civilian victims of US actions in 2022 – despite $3 million allocated by Congress for such payments. It did, however, accept US responsibility for the death of 18 civilians in cases from incidents before 2022 – potentially opening routes to accountability for victims’ families.

The release last week was seen as a key test for the Pentagon’s Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMRAP). The plan was launched by the Biden administration in 2022 to fundamentally reshape US civilian harm policy reforming how the military assesses allegations of civilians killed or injured, and how it responds to harm caused.

It came after the US accepted systemic failings in its civilian harm policies, following years of documentation by Airwars, explosive media coverage in the New York Times and others, and longstanding advocacy efforts from civil society organisations like the Center for Civilians in Conflict.

This article will first explain what the 1057 report is, before discussing the cases that were reviewed and rejected by the military – including in Syria and Somalia. It will raise a number of concerns around the 1057, as well as highlighting a few specific incidents where civilians were documented to have been harmed but the report concluded that the claims were either not substantiated or that the US military was not responsible.

Scope and remit of the 1057

The annual ‘1057’ report has been mandated by Congress since 2018 and is meant to include all instances where US military action “more likely than not” led to the death or injury of civilians. The report is sent to Congress annually as a way for the American people to track the human impact of US military activity across the globe. In previous years the report has been criticised for undercounting the number of civilians harmed, with estimates consistently far below those reached by Airwars and other documentation organisations.

The report only addresses “civilian casualties attributed to the use of U.S.-operated weapons” – meaning those where the munition was released by an American pilot or soldier.

The annual 1057 report for 2022 was delayed by a year

While other DoD reporting channels sometimes release casualty information related to actions of non-US Coalition members, the 1057 typically excludes these cases from its Congressional summaries. In 2021 the US was forced to retract and reissue that year’s 1057 after Airwars uncovered that the report had taken responsibility for strikes in Iraq and Syria conducted by the UK, Australia and other nations.

Actions conducted outside of the Department of Defense activities, such as by the CIA, would also fall outside of the remit of the 1057. In the 2022 report, for example, there is no mention of actions in Yemen against Al Qaeda, despite local sources reporting sightings of US drones in two civilian harm cases. The CIA is believed to have been conducting airstrikes in Yemen for two decades.

Accountability gap for 2022

For the year 2022, the 1057 report rejected all allegations of civilian harm related to US actions. According to the DoD, this includes 14 allegations of harm caused by the US military in relation to its ongoing war against ISIS, and an unspecified number of allegations of harm caused during support to Somali forces in the fight against the Al Shabaab militant group.

This is broadly consistent with an overall downturn of US actions in 2022 compared to previous years, and also reflects the nature of the harm incidents reported – which predominantly involve joint operations between US and local security partners. As above, these cases would be excluded from the 1057 report, unless they involved direct fire from US forces.

However, when read in the context of wider and increasingly complex US security partnerships with local forces from northern Syria to Somalia, the ‘zero casualties’ finding raises questions about the suitability of the 1057 report as a functional transparency document that accurately reflects the actions of US forces towards civilians in its current areas of operation.

Operations in Syria in 2022

By the end of 2022, there were reported to be around 900 US troops in Syria – where US forces continue to fight the remnants of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). In December 2021, the US-led coalition against ISIS declared it had shifted from active fighting to “advise and assist'[ing]” partners in Iraq and Syria to “secure lasting defeat of ISIS and to enable the establishment of an enduring security cooperation framework.”

In Syria, this role has predominantly taken the form of partnered operations with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). In December 2022, US CENTCOM revealed that the vast majority of operations in Syria were conducted through partners – some 108 out of 122 operations.

The 1057 report does not detail the dates or locations of the 14 cases it assessed for 2022 in Iraq and Syria, stating only:

“All 14 of those reports have been assessed, and, based on the available information, CJTF-OIR has concluded that it is more likely than not that civilian casualties did not result from U.S. military operations in the reported incident.”

The report notes that 12 of the reports were from Airwars. Airwars’ incidents have been the original referral for US CENTCOM civilian harm investigations for hundreds of allegations in the war against ISIS.

After a request from Airwars, on May 9th 2024 CENTCOM provided a list of the 12 incident codes that were originally Airwars referrals.

In November 2023, the US military quietly published two press releases rejecting civilian harm in a number of cases. Comparing the press releases with the 1057 and CENTCOM confirmation of incidents it reviewed allows a clearer picture of why incidents were rejected as non-credible.

Incidents rejected as ‘non-credible’ by US CENTCOM

Incident link Allegation Reason for rejection per US Coalition press release


January 18, 2022, Hawaij, Syria Up to two men killed in SDF/US Coalition military raid


Only “legitimate military targets,” no civilians killed.
February 22, 2022. Al-Dahla, Syria One civilian reported killed by SDF/US Coalition military raid


No US-led Coalition strikes in the time period
March 28, 2022. Thiban, Syria Man killed by SDF/US Coalition military raid


Only “legitimate military targets,” no civilians killed.
November 22, 2022, Al Zar, Syria Young man killed or injured by SDF/US Coalition military raid No US-led Coalition strikes in the time period


Partner operations

As the US military has reduced its global footprint under President Biden, it has relied heavily upon an increasingly tangled set of operations conducted with partner forces that the US has yet to account for, and also do not fall under the reporting requirements for 1057.

New commitments under the CHMRAP and the Department of Defense Instruction 3000.17 outline expectations and new mechanisms for ensuring that military partners also have policies to mitigate civilian harm. Yet there is no clarity as yet around the reporting procedures and transparency commitments for these actions.

The following set of incidents among those dismissed in the 1057 report were listed in an earlier press release as “potentially” falling outside of the CJTF-OIR “Approval Authority”, with US CENTCOM noting that “no kinetic support” was provided in these operations. The press releases noted that the “appropriate command” was notified of the allegations for further action, though it is unclear which command that is.

Date Allegation 


February 8, 2022. Bisira, Syria Child killed and man injured in SDF/US-led Coalition airdrop


June 9, 2022. Atta, Syria Man killed SDF/US-led Coalition airdrop


July 4, 2022. Al Zer, Syria Two children killed in SDF/US-led Coalition airdrop


September 20, 2022. Raqqa, Syria Two killed, including one child in SDF/US-led Coalition airdrop


November 3, 2022. Deir Ezzor, Syria. Man killed in SDF/US-led Coalition airdrop


December 20, 2022. Al Bab, Syria. Woman and child injured in a likely British drone strike


These incidents mostly relate to joint US and SDF operations, with the exception of one incident on December 20th, which Airwars has linked to likely UK operations given statements made by the UK Ministry of Defence at the time. Airwars has attempted several times to submit this incident to various UK officials, however there remains no systematic process by which third parties can submit such claims to the UK MoD.

The cases involving the SDF are complicated when it comes to attribution, though they mostly follow a clear pattern of harm: arrests and house raids led by SDF ground troops with US air support, leading to clashes in dense residential areas, with civilians often caught in the crossfire.

Alleged ISIS members arrested by SDF in an operation on February 8, 2022. These incidents often involve SDF forces supported by the US military, leading to confusion over responsibility in the event of civilian harm. In this raid one child was reported to have been killed (Image posted by North Press Agency)

This includes an incident where a child was killed and his father severely wounded during a joint airdrop operation in February on an alleged ISIS member in a home in northern Syria. Similarly in a raid in October 2022 a woman was killed and several others were injured during what local sources detailed as a joint SDF and US operation through several houses in a small town in Deir Ezzor, Syria. The harm occurred when clashes broke out in the houses during the attempted arrest.

This pattern has also been seen during operations on higher profile targets: a declared US strike on a top ISIS leader in October led to the death of one civilian during heavy fighting near Jarablus in northern Syria, though the harm was attributed both to US actions and SDF fire. This case was not included on any of the press releases.

While US forces may not be directly responsible for shots fired during these operations, as the main security partner to the SDF and the force likely responsible for the intelligence gathering on these missions – the fact that these operations follow a clear pattern of harm to civilians should be appropriately investigated by the US military, and results of these investigations reported publicly.

Prison break

Among the incidents not assessed in the 1057, but previously rejected as ‘non credible,’ were claims of civilian harm during a major raid at the US-funded and backed Al-Sinaa prison in Hasakeh in Syria in January 2022. The incident involved a few dozen ISIS militants attacking a prison that housed more than 4,000 detainees – many of whom were former ISIS militants. In total up to 500 prisoners were estimated to have died in 10 days of fighting afterwards, along with dozens of civilians in neighbouring areas.

Airwars partnered with VICE News to conduct a year-long investigation into the prison break. It revealed a series of cascading US failures that led to the raid, and years of missed warnings that the conditions were unsafe.

A screengrab of Airwars and Vice’s investigation into the Al-Sinaa Prison attack in Syria

It also confirmed that hundreds of detainees, many of whom were former members of ISIS, were killed over several days during the raid. Footage clearly showed US military action – both ground forces and airstrikes – in the hours after the raid. US forces also told VICE as much in exclusive interviews.

In November the US declared that all harm was the result of attacks on ‘legitimate military targets,’ and no further inquiry or investigation has been announced into the incident. This claim sits at odds with statements from human rights defenders that as many as 700 children were living “in fear for their lives” in the prison – most of whom who have been held without trial or charge for several years.

Cases falling through the cracks?

One case mentioned in the first of the two November press releases was listed as a ‘duplicate’ with an open incident; however in the most recent November release the case appears to have disappeared from the incident lists.

This incident involves allegations of up to 13 civilian fatalities during a US unilateral strike against then-leader of ISIS, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi in northern Syria in February 2022. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby at the time noted that four civilians had been killed during the raid, including three children – two children who were with al-Qurayshi, and one child on the floor below. At the time, Kirby blamed the deaths on al-Qurayshi, who blew himself up following a gun fight between ISIS members and US Forces, though noted that these findings were “not definitive”, adding “we’re willing to take a look to just examine and make sure that there wasn’t any action that we might have taken that could have also caused harm to innocents”.

An image of the home US forces raid on February 3rd in an attempt to capture a top Al-Qaeda leader. He is alleged to have blown himself up, leading to the death of his family (Image via Ahmad Bakkar/ Facebook)

CENTCOM confirmed that this case was among the 12 incidents referred by Airwars and reviewed for 2022. However, this incident is listed twice – implying it was reviewed twice separately. It is unclear if this is due to the duplicate status or not.

In an incident that may be the result of a similar oversight, a civilian named by local sources as Salam Hussein Al-Arif was hit by a US vehicle driving at high speed in Deir Ezzor in Southern Syria. Local sources posted images of Salam’s body wrapped in a blanket, alongside images of the motorcycle he was riding at the time, now almost destroyed.

The most recent press release detailing civilian harm allegations in this area does not have this case listed as ‘open’ in its November 30th list, and CENTCOM confirmed this case was not one of those reviewed for the 1057.

Somalia 2022

In May 2022, President Biden approved a plan to deploy several hundred ground forces to Somalia to support the Somali government in its on-going fight against terror group Al Shabaab. The 1057 report noted that Somalia was one of the countries with ‘a declared theater of active armed conflict’, and that no civilian casualties resulted from operations in 2022. The report did not state how many allegations were assessed by the US Africa Command team.

Attributing civilian harm to US forces in Somalia is challenging. In August 2022, Somalia’s new President declared ‘total war’ against Al Shabaab, launching a major military offensive with the support of US forces, African Union troops, and with security assistance from Turkey.

Distinguishing between combatants and civilians is also challenging. In a report examining the impact of US airstrikes on Jubbaland, a part of Somalia controlled by al-Shabaab, Dutch organisation Pax and journalist Amanda Sperber explained in their 2022 report:

“The interviews for this report do raise serious questions about the ability of the US to consistently distinguish between armed men who are not involved with Al-Shabaab, armed pastoralist community members who are forced to work for Al-Shabaab and actual Al-Shabaab fighters. Al Shabaab is thoroughly ingrained in Jubbaland society, which complicates external observations about who is and is not Al Shabaab and can thus hamper proper application of the principle of distinction.”

An incident on October 1st 2022 reflects this complicated environment, with a declared AFRICOM strike on an “al-Shabaab militant network” reportedly killing high ranking al-Shabaab commander Abudllah Yare alongside another man, Ibrahim Hassan Dahir Aweys, referred to by local sources as a civilian professor and graduate. In its quarterly report, AFRICOM determined that the alleged civilian casualties were “unsubstantiated”, and that the October 1st strike had killed two members of Al Shabaab.

The same report also rejected civilian harm claims from a complicated but deadly incident on September 9th, where at least ten civilians were reported killed in a strike on two senior Al Shabaab commanders. The strike hit a bus station, injuring up to twenty other civilians. The incident was declared by the Somali government as a Special Forces raid, though it was not declared by US forces. The only link to US forces were multiple local reports of the use of US drones, though AFRICOM stated that it did not conduct any strikes on that day.

Yemen 2022

The information environment in Yemen is similarly challenging, with strikes often conducted by US CIA or special forces falling outside of the transparency and Congressional reporting obligations Department of Defense operations are otherwise subject to.

Two civilian harm incidents were attributed to US forces by local sources, though CENTCOM did not report any strike activity that year. The first was a February 6th drone strike that killed three al-Qaeda militants but also reportedly injured and killed civilians who were nearby – though the exact number was not reported by local sources.

The second incident, on November 30th, reportedly targeted the home of a member of Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, causing secondary explosions which killed up to three civilians and injured up to five others.

New admissions, old cases: including at least 11 child casualties

While the 2022 1057 does not accept US action led to the death of any civilians in that year, it does include six major new civilian harm admissions dating back to incidents in 2018, with the announcement of 18 civilian fatalities resulting from US actions.

Date Allegation Number of civilians US accepted harming


December 3, 2021. Idlib, Syria. Man killed (possible militant), and between six and seven reported injured in a US drone strike on Al Qaeda affiliate group.


Six civilians injured
June 28, 2021. Deir Ezzor, Syria. Child killed and three civilians injured in US airstrikes on Iran-backed militias.


One civilian killed
Jan 10, 2019. Deir Ezzor, Syria. No clear match with Airwars data identified.


Two to three civilians injured
June 4, 2018. Helo, Syria. At least ten children and two women reported killed in a series of strikes on a village where ISIS was the intended target.


Twelve civilians killed
May 17, 2018. Deir Ezzor, Syria. Two civilians killed in US airstrikes.


Two civilians killed, two injured
February 6, 2018. Deir Ezzor, Syria. At least 17 civilians reported killed by local sources on a series of strikes on residential homes. Two civilians killed


While the report does not disaggregate the cases by age or gender, by cross-checking the cases against Airwars’ archive and related US statements, it is likely that at least 11 of the newly admitted fatalities were children – ten of whom were killed in a single incident in Syria in June 2018.

These new admissions are vital for opening the door for accountability for survivors and relatives, including potential access to the $3 million annual fund for condolence payments. In the case of the June 2018 strike, the admission also overturns a previous harm determination that initially rejected this civilian toll.

Two of the six incidents were previously announced by the DoD in press releases last year. Although neither the 1057 nor the press releases disaggregate civilians killed by age, Airwars documentation indicates that the civilian killed on June 28th 2021 was likely a child. Sources at the time reported that US strikes hit residential homes in a town along the Syria-Iraq border, with the intended targets according to US officials being Iran-backed militias. While the press release in November stated that one civilian was ‘killed or wounded’, the 1057 report confirms responsibility for a fatality.

The second incident reflects an unusually high casualty admission of 12 civilian fatalities – 10 of whom were children. The incident, originally documented by Airwars in June 2018 and subsequently investigated by Human Rights Watch researchers, involved heavy bombardment in a residential area. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that the same area was hit by multiple strikes, with a review of satellite imagery revealing large craters where civilian homes once stood. According to Human Rights Watch interviewees, no members of ISIS were in the houses.

The case was originally rejected as non-credible by the US, with US CENTCOM reporting that ‘no strikes were conducted in the geographical area’. The case was only opened up months later after Human Rights Watch conducted an additional investigation, with the high number of fatalities announced now more than five years later.

Ex gratia

The final area of concern over the 1057 is the continuing failure of the US to compensate civilian victims of American military action.

Since 2018, the US Congress has allocated up to three million dollars per year to be offered in ex gratia payments to victims and families of victims of US military action worldwide. This money is available for individual military commands to allocate. However the US military has repeatedly proved unable or unwilling to do so.

No payments were made in 2020, with only one made in 2021 for an incident in Afghanistan on January 8, 2021. The report did not declare how much they were paid. Again in 2022, no such payments were made.

“It is deeply disappointing that, despite significant funding and many requests from victims, the Department failed to offer even a single payment in 2022,” said Annie Shiel, CIVIC’s US Advocacy Director. “With the millions of dollars authorized by Congress, the Defense Department could have made hundreds of payments to civilian victims and survivors of US operations – payments that can provide both tangible assistance and symbolic meaning to families grieving and rebuilding from unimaginable loss.”

Airwars has documented multiple times the challenges that families of victims face, including in our award-winning series in Iraq. As well as for medical treatment, families often face desperate shortages of funds for their daily lives.


Editor’s note: This research was first published on May 1st 2024. On May 9th CENTCOM replied to Airwars with the details of the specific incidents it had investigated following Airwars referrals. On May 10th, this article was adjusted in multiple places to reflect this new information.

▲ US military actions in 2022 involved an increase in support for partner forces, often including airdrops (Photo: U.S. Army)