Aftermath of alleged coalition strike on Mosul May 21 2015 (via Mosul Atek)


May 2015

Written by

Chris Woods

ABOVE: Aftermath of a devastating explosion in Mosul May 21st 2015 which killed between 12-50 civilians according to reports (via Mosul Ateka)

Major Developments

  • Two new civilian casualty incidents are reported for the past week. The destruction of an ISIL arms dump in Mosul is said to kill 12-50 non-combatants. And in Syria, up to 10 female agricultural workers are reported slain
  • The UK and Netherlands declare they have had no reports of non-combatants killed by their aircraft
  • The coalition reports 126 new airstrikes in Iraq and 50 in Syria – one of its heaviest weeks of bombing
  • Arab partners resume airstrikes against ISIL in Syria with 3 reported during the week – the first in some time
  • Reports say that the coalition has so far killed an estimated 12,500 ISIL  fighters

Civilian casualties

  • With the addition of two new incidents of concern this week, between 418 and 850 non-combatant deaths have now been attributed to the coalition since August 2014, in 99 problem events.

Of these it is our provisional view that between 418 and 552 civilian non-combatants have been killed in incidents where the publicly available evidence points to coalition action.

A further 140-182 claimed deaths attributed to coalition airstrikes are poorly reported or are single-sourced, while an additional 83-116  reported fatalities resulted from contested events (for example, claims that the Iraq military might instead have been responsible.)

In addition, 140 or more ‘friendly fire’ deaths of allied ground forces have been attributed to the coalition, with varying levels of certainty.

  • In an incident in Mosul on May 21st 2015, the destruction of an Islamic State weapons dump resulted in catastrophic secondary explosions which killed between 12 and 50 civilians in the surrounding area according to multiple reports.
Habiba, a 4 year old 'killed in a coalition strike' at Mosul, May 21 2015 (via Hunaal Hadbaa)

Habiba, a 4 year old ‘killed in a coalition strike’ at Mosul, May 21 2015 (via Hunaal Hadbaa)

Among those reported killed was Ayman al Hayali (who ran a clothing shop) and his family, including his wife, young son and daughter Habiba aged four. Other sources claimed that 5 women and 3 children were among the dead.

Scuffles later allegedly broke out between survivors and militants over ISIL’s policy of storing munitions in a civilian neighbourhood.

While the coalition has not commented directly on the event, its daily report for May 21st noted that “an ISIL cache” was destroyed in Mosul.


  • A reported daytime coalition airstrike on an Islamic State roadside checkpoint at Ar Raqqa, Syria also allegedly killed between six and ten female agricultural workers. All of the victims were said to come from the nearby village of Hunaida. Two militants also reportedly died.

As one news site noted, “At the moment it’s the harvest season in the countryside of Raqqa, and dozens of women would be working the land at this period. They are often transported in cars that carry dozens at a time.”

Islamic State issued a number of subsequent propaganda pieces, including an interview with a man said to be a medic who stated: “The wounded were transported to the General Hospital in the city of Al Raqqah, where they were treated. Some had light injuries and others were dead. We tell the crusader coalition didn’t you say you were here to help the weak? And here you are bombing civilians.

Islamic State report, including ‘interview with a medic’

  • The British Ministry of Defence told Drone Wars UK that despite carrying out more than 250 airstrikes in Iraq since September, “There have been no known cases of civilian casualties resulting from RAF weapon releases over Iraq, from the RAF’s first weapon release on 30 Sep 14 to early May 15 inclusive. All weapon releases take place in accordance with UK Rules of Engagement and applicable law.

In response to questions from Airwars, the Dutch Ministry of Defence also stated that it was unaware of any claims of non-combatant deaths resulting from its airstrikes in Iraq

Coalition actions

  • With 176 new airstrikes reported across Iraq and Syria, the coalition ended its 42nd week of military action having carried out a total of 4,251 strikes. May 2015 is set to be the busiest month of actions so far.
  • F/A-18F Super Hornet aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt May 25 2015 (US Navy/ Specialist Danica M.Sirmans)

    F/A-18F Super Hornet aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt May 25 2015 (US Navy/ Specialist Danica M.Sirmans)

    Most coalition activity remains focused on Iraq, with 126 new airstrikes reported. With Islamic State now digging in to the recently captured city of Ramadi, 13 airstrikes targeted the town. Heavy strikes also continued at Bayji, where a months-long power struggle between the Iraq Army and ISIL continues.

  • In Syria, 50 new airstrikes were mainly focused around al Hassakah. The areas around Dayr az Zawr, Kobane, Tadmur and ar Raqqah were also targeted.

According to data supplied to Airwars by the coalition, three new airstrikes were carried out by the US’s Arab partners in Syria – their first since April.




▲ Aftermath of alleged coalition strike on Mosul May 21 2015 (via Mosul Atek)