Residents of Tal Abyad region reportedly fleeing fighting between Islamic State and YPG Kurds June 13th 2015 (SNN)


June 2015

Written by

Chris Woods

ABOVE: Residents of Tal Abyad region flee the fighting between Islamic State and YPG Kurds, June  2015 (SNN)

Major Developments

  • Coalition ends 45th week of bombings having carried out 4,673 airstrikes on Islamic State
  • At least 6 and as many as 20 civilians were reported killed in a series of coalition airstrikes on June 13th, in support of the capture by Kurdish forces of Tal Abiyad, Syria
  • The coalition says it has five investigations presently ongoing into non-combatant deaths – and will release its findings upon conclusion
  • France reports its 150th airstrike against Daesh in Iraq

Civilian Casualties

  • A major battle between Kurdish forces and Islamic State in northern Syria resulted in thousands of civilians attempting to flee into Turkey. Most were forced back by Daesh and by Turkish border forces.

On June 13th two or possibly three alleged coalition incidents led to the apparent deaths of a number of civilians. A family of five was reported killed near the town of Slouk as they attempted to flee the fighting in two vehicles. In addition a child was reported killed near Ma’adan; and up to 15 further civilian deaths were alleged from other coalition airstrikes in the vicinity.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “international coalition aircraft last night carried out several strikes in the area of Sukair in the southern countryside of Tal Abiyad. Initial reports indicate deaths and injuries of civilian nationals in the bombing. We have confirmed reports of the death of a child following coalition bombing on the area of Ma’adan in the Raqqa countryside.”

The Shaam Network claimed that as many as 20 civilians died in attacks, a figure also cited by Eldorar which stated: “Activists reported that five people from one family from the village of Slouk were killed yesterday morning following coalition air strikes on civilians fleeing from the hell of the battles in the countryside of Tal Abiyad. A further 15  were killed in aerial bombardments on the villages and towns in the areas areas that are seeing clashes with IS.”

Islamic State also posted a video (since deleted by YouTube) showing a rescue in progress at Ar Raqaa, which it said was the result of a “coalition airstrike.” However elsewhere Daesh attributed the attack to Assad regime aircraft.

  • In a Pentagon-facilitated interview on June 19th, Brigadier General Thomas D Weidley told defense correspondents that “on civilian casualties we take great pains, excruciating steps, to avoid them.”

Weidley also said that the coalition presently has five investigations underway into alleged non-combatant deaths, though he would not say more for “security and appropriateness” reasons. However, he insisted that the coalition would make details of the investigations public once they had concluded.

Military actions

  • To June 19th 2015, the coalition had concluded its 45th week of airstrikes having carried out 2,875 attacks against Islamic State in Iraq, with a further 1,798 bombings in Syria.
  • The tempo of international coalition airstrikes in Iraq continued to outstrip those in Syria. In Iraq, 92 airstrikes targeted Islamic State positions across the north and west of the country. Of these, 66 strikes were by US aircraft and 26 by America’s allies.

In Syria, 37 airstrikes were reported by the US-led coalition – with only one of them carried out by another coalition member. On this occasion one of the Arab allies in the region appears to have conducted the attack, though an absence of coalition transparency makes this impossible to verify

  • France reported its 150th airstrike against Islamic Forces in Iraq. In a rare show of detail, a press release described how on June 12th, a patrol of two Mirage 2000 D aircraft had dropped three laser guided bombs on Islamic State positions at Tal Afar.
  • In an indication of the lengthy air war now underway, the Dutch government extended its military mission to October 2016. Dutch F-16s will continue to work closely with their Belgian opposites in tackling Islamic State, it was reported.
A Netherlands F-16 refuels over the Middle East (Dutch MoD)

A Netherlands F-16 refuels over the Middle East (Dutch MoD)

▲ Residents of Tal Abyad region reportedly fleeing fighting between Islamic State and YPG Kurds June 13th 2015 (SNN)