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.


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.

    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)


November 2015

Written by

Chris Woods

Major developments

    The US-led Coalition ended October 2015 having carried out 5,107 airstrikes in Iraq and 2,712 in Syria so far in its 14-month air war against Daesh. Some 28,578 bombs and missiles had been dropped by 13 allies.
    There were 22 reported incidents of concern in October 2015 – ten in Syria and 13 in Iraq – in which the US-led Coalition is alleged to have killed between 83 and 102 civilians. Most events were either poorly reported or contested – a sign of the deteriorating security situation in the field for casualty recorders. Only three incidents in October are presently assessed by Airwars as having being fairly reported, which between them appear to have killed between 8 and 11 civilians.
    Russia reported carrying out 1,391 combat sorties to the end of October – its first full month of airstrikes – which it says “engaged 1,623 terrorist objects.”
    There were also 104 incidents of concern in Syria in which Russian aircraft allegedly killed between 528 and 730 non-combatants. We presently assess 44 of these incidents as fairly reported, which between them are likely to have killed between 255 and 375 civilians.
    Canada became the third nation to announce its withdrawal from the Coalition air campaign after Belgium and Denmark – though strikes are presently continuing under the new administration of Justin Trudeau.
    The US reported its first combat fatality of the war, following the death of Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler of Delta Force in an Iraqi ground raid.

Civilian casualties

    Reported civilian fatalities by the US-led Coalition were significantly down for October – in part because of a steep decline in airstrikes in Syria. Even so, there were 22 alleged incidents of concern involving multiple reported civilian deaths.

The Al Fadhi children (via Mosul Ateka)

In Kisik near Mosul on October 18th for example, at least five civilians died when missiles apparently struck a local taxi. Abdullah Fathi Al Fadhi was killed with his wife and at least two of their children (pictured.) Another child reportedly survived the attack. Taxi driver Ammar Anwar Mohammed Jamil (who held a Masters in computing and mathematics from Mosul University) also died as he was bringing the family back to Mosul from the Turkish border. The Coalition has confirmed carrying out an airstrike at Kisik that day.

    For more on Centcom’s November 20th admission that Coalition aircraft have ‘likely’ killed civilians in Iraq, see our report here
    A high number of reported incidents – 104 in total – allegedly involved the Russian Air Force in Syria for October according to Airwars researchers. Though still assessing these events, we can offer some preliminary findings.

– The number of Russian airstrikes which caused non-combatant deaths has to an extent been exaggerated. With all Syrian regime combat aircraft also Russian-made, some confusion appears inevitable. In addition, for some events it remains unclear whether fatalities were caused by Russian (or Syrian) aircraft, or by ground forces. And on at least two occasions, alleged civilian fatalities at Bukamal and Palmyra may have been caused by the US-led Coalition.

– Even so, credible allegations of civilian fatalities inflicted by the Russan Air Force are worryingly high. All regional casualty recorders report extensive non-combatant deaths – often in mass casualty incidents (see table below.) The majority of these deaths have occured in areas which are not under Daesh occupation. These include parts of Syria controlled by other extremist groups including Jaish al-Fatah and the al-Nusra Front, as well as by more moderate factions.

– Credible reports frequently indicate the deliberate targeting by Russia of civilian neighburhoods and infrastructure – with graphic evidence on a number of occasions of civil defence rescuers deliberately targeted in so-called ‘double tap’ strikes.

– Russia’s limited use of precision or ‘smart’ munitions is a key factor in higher civilian casualties.

– Airwars presently assesses 44 Russian incidents as having likely killed civilians in Syria to October 30th – which between them reportedly killed 255 to 375 non-combatants. This is roughly ten times the level of credible allegations against US-led Coalition operations in Syria.

    In one of the worst known incidents, an air raid shelter in the village of al Ghantu was reportedly hit in a Russian airstrike on October 15th, killing up to 48 people from one extended family. Among the dead were at least 23 children and nine women. Local cameramen filmed apparent Russian Air Force Su-24s bombing the town, despite the Kremlin making no reference to airstrikes in the governorate of Homs that day.

The moment a Russian missile hit al Ghantu, Oct 15th 2015

Estimates of civilians killed by Russian Air Force in Syria, September 30th- October 31st 2015

Monitoring group Estimated Russian-inflicted civilian fatalities
Airwars 255-375
Syrian Network for Human Rights 254
Violations Documentation Centre 329 or more
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 185*

* To October 28th

Coalition and Russian military actions

    Both the US-led Coalition and Russia continued to build up their air power in the region. Turkey opened up more bases for Coalition operations, while Russian Air Force fighters and bombers primarily operated from Hmeymim in Lattakia governorate – a stronghold of the Assad regime.
    A Kurdish Special Forces assault on a Daesh holding facility at Hawijah, Iraq led to the release of 70 civilian prisoners. However, Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler of Delta Force was also killed in the raid – the first US combat fatality in its 14 month war against Islamic State. Responding to concerns that the war was expanding, CENTCOM issued a statement insisting: “It is important to realize that US military support to this Iraqi rescue operation is part of our overarching counter-terrorism efforts throughout the region and does not represent a change in our policy.  US forces are not in Iraq on a combat mission and do not have boots on the ground.“
    Canada’s Liberal Party returned to power in a surprise victory on October 19th 2015, with new premier Justin Trudeau vowing to end Ottawa’s year-long combat operations in Iraq and Syria. However, despite Trudeau’s government being sworn in on November 4th, Canadian airstrikes have so far continued.
    France carried out a second round of airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria on the night of October 8th, following a decision by President Hollande two weeks earlier to expand military operations against the terror movement. Two Rafales targeted a ‘Daesh suicide training centre.’

Rafale aircraft bombed Islamic State positions in Raqqah on the night of October 8th, as France stepped up operations against the terror group (Ministère de la Défense)


October 2015

Written by

Basile Simon and Chris Woods

Major developments

    US-led Coalition strikes allegedly killed as many as 276 civilians in up to 25 problem events in Iraq and Syria in September 2015 In twelve of these events, there appears enough credible evidence  – coupled with confirmation of allied airstrikes in the vicinity – to suggest that a minimum of 86 civilians were killed by the Coalition in September Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict on September 30th did not bode well. Between 42 and 50 non-combatants, including 11 children, were reported slain in the Kremlin’s first day of strikes An overall total of 7,200 strikes had been carried out by the US-led coalition to the end of the month, according to Airwars estimates. Some 4,605 strikes in Iraq accounted for almost 64% of this total, while 2,595 strikes had targeted Syria The air war again changed form in September – with France and Australia now targeting Daesh in Syria as well as in Iraq, while Denmark ended its airstrikes

A US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pops a flare while departing after refueling over the Middle East (USAF/ Staff Sgt. Sandra Welch)

Civilian casualties

    Airwars continues to be concerned at the number of credible reports of civilians being killed in Coalition strikes. We added 25 new incidents of concern for September 2015 to our evolving database. These new events allegedly killed at least 86 and as many as 157 civilians.

To the end of September 2015, Airwars had in total recorded 229 alleged civilian casualty incidents involving the Coalition dating back to August 2014. The overall alleged civilian fatality range was 621 to 1,859.

In the view of Airwars, 103 of these events are fairly reported and are of particular concern – with two or more sources and Coalition strikes confirmed in the near vicinity.  Some 621 to 857 reported fatalities across Iraq and Syria were associated with these credible incidents.

In contrast, after 24,861 bombs and missiles dropped the Coalition has only conceded two ‘likely’ civilian deaths in Syria so far – and none in Iraq.

    With few reported Coalition strikes in Syria for the month, Iraq was the focus for most claims of civilian deaths.  On September 14th for example, an alleged Coalition strike hit the marketplace at Ar Rutbah, Iraq killing five non-combatants according to local media. No Coalition strikes were publicly reported in the vicinity. On the same day Daesh claimed that the Coalition accidentally struck an armed vehicle belonging to Shia militia at Bayji. There were no confirmed casualties.

On September 18th at least 43 civilians were reported killed at Senyah in Iraq in a strike by unidentified aircraft. Tribal leaders called on the Baghdad government to “open an urgent investigation into the identity of the planes.”

Najeeb and Tuka al Rezzo (Photo used here courtesy of family)

On September 21st four members of a Mosul family – university professor Mohannad Al Rezzo; his 17-year old son Najeeb Mohannad Al Rezzo; Mr al Rezzo’s sister in law Miyada Rezzo and her 21-year old daughter Tuka all died in a reported Coalition strike which was initially ignored by international media. Yale professor Zareena Grewal later wrote of the deaths of her close relatives for the New York Times: “I desperately want the Islamic State to be defeated, but I wonder if our rage at it has made us blind to anyone we kill along the way, even those whose lives have been terrorized by the group.”

And on September 29th, a Coalition strike on a former Waqf [religious affairs] building in Mosul being used by Daesh also appears to have struck a nearby marketplace, killing between 11 and 29 non-combatants. Eyewitness Said Ali Mohammed, who works in the nearby market, told Gulf Online that he was inside his shop at the time, which is located just 500 meters from the Waqf building. He described the first explosion as “enormous… while we were preoccupied with tending to neighbors and some of the injured on the street, a second bombing targeted people who had rushed in to help the wounded.”

    Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict on September 30th caused devastating civilian casualties at a number of locations. At least 15 civilians died at Zafaraniya. At least 17 more non-combatants were killed at Talbisheh, and 8 or more at Al Rastan. Eleven children were among the dead.

None of the towns targeted by Russia were occupied by Daesh despite the Kremlin’s insistence it had “performed high accuracy strikes against international terrorist organization ISIS.”

Aftermath of Russian strikes at Talbiseh, Sept 30th 2015

Military actions

    September 2015 was the most intense month of bombings in Iraq so far, with 525 strikes carried out by the Coalition – setting another consecutive record after August 2015. As with August, Mosul and Ramadi were heavily bombed (87 and 67 strikes respectively).

In Syria however, only 127 strikes were carried out – making September 2015 the second least intense month of bombings. The small city of Mar’a, north of Aleppo, was targeted by 28 strikes.

An Iraqi army soldier moves away from a 120 mm mortar he fires during training at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, (US Army/ Cpl. Nelson Rodriguez)

    The United States remained the primary power in the international Coalition, having carried out 89 per cent of all strikes in Syria in September, and 72 per cent of all airstrikes in Iraq.
    In addition to 18 or more new airstrikes in Iraq in September, France carried out its first attack on Daesh inside Syria. President Hollande has described France’s role in Syria as “acting in self defence“, rather than helping the Assad regime.
    Australia also began airstrikes in Syria. After three Hornets reportedly destroyed their targets in eastern Syria, then-defence minister Kevin Andrew spoke with ABC Australia: “We work within very strict rules of engagement, and those rules of engagement are to ensure as far as possible that we don’t have unwanted civilian casualties.“

    ‘No circumstances.’ UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Chris Beckett)

    While the UK remained heavily committed in Iraq, the government had yet to win Parliamentary approval for strikes against Daesh in Syria. Conservative Chancellor George Osborne, referring to the current refugee crisis in Europe, said that this “problem” needed to be dealt “at source,” with Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly hoping to obtain Parliamentary authorisation for airstrikes.

However new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – historically anti-war – has said  he can think of “no circumstances” under which he would back any UK military intervention in Syria. A previous attempt to authorise airstrikes  (against the Assad regime) was defeated in Parliament 285-272, in August 2013.

    Denmark voluntarily and publicly revealed that one of its attacks “might have caused civilian casualties.” This set a new benchmark for transparency, wrote Airwars guest reporter Rasmus Raun Westh. A CENTCOM investigation later concluded the strike “most likely” did not kill civilians.

Denmark’s F-16s also ended their year long engagement after plane mechanics appealed to the public, warning of ongoing stress and overwork at their base in Kuwait, as well as cracks in the planes.

Danish aircrew load a 2,000lb bomb onto an F-16 for its last Iraq mission (Danish MoD/Ronny Rasmussen)


▲ A stunned survivor at the scene of an alleged Coalition strike on the Sunni Waqf building, September 27th 2015 (via NRN News)


September 2015

Written by

Basile Simon and Chris Woods

Major Developments

    6.548 Coalition airstrikes had been carried out to the end of August 2015 according to an Airwars count. Of these, 62% targeted Daesh in Iraq (4,080 strikes) with 2,468 airstrikes in Syria In total, Coalition aircraft had dropped 22,478 bombs and missiles on Iraq and Syria to August 31st Airwars recorded 12 new alleged civilian casualty incidents attributed to the Coalition for August. At least 62 non-combatants reportedly died in these events A report by  Syrian casualty monitor SN4HR claimed that at least 225 civilians were killed by the Coalition in Syria alone to July 31st, 2015 Denmark set a new transparency benchmark, announcing within days that its aircraft may have been involved in a civilian casualty incident in Iraq in late August Turkey became the 13th nation officially to join the coalition, as Denmark announced its own operations would temporarily end on October 1st

Civilian Casualties

    We added 12 new incidents of concern for August 2015 to our evolving database, which to the end of the month had recorded 188 such events.  Between them these new incidents were alleged to have killed at least 62 civilians.

Two August incidents at Ar Rutbah in Iraq were denied by the Coalition, which insisted it had not carried out strikes on the town on the days in question. A further six cases are presently weakly reported.

Four events warrant particular attention. On August 11th US aircraft bombed the western Syrian border town of Atmeh. Nine named civilians – including seven children – died according to multiple eyewitness and survivor reports.

A single civilian was reported killed in a possible Coalition strike at Al Qaim in Iraq on August 18th, while on the following day a missile reportedly struck a public celebration in Mosul, killing as many as 18 people including local dentist Dr. Samir Ibrahim (pictured.)

The fourth incident was self-reported by the Danish military, and is currently being investigated by CENTCOM. This involved potential civilian casualties in the Irbil area of Iraq – most likely the villages of Kisik or Sultan Abdallah.

    In total, to the end of August 2015 Airwars had identified 187 alleged civilian casualty incidents involving Coalition aircraft, and 10 ‘friendly fire’ cases. These represented a total alleged civilian fatality range of 1,170 to 1,539.

In the view of Airwars, 86 of these events warrant particular concern – with two or more credible sources and Coalition strikes confirmed in the near vicinity. Some 539 to 734 reported fatalities across Iraq and Syria were associated with these incidents. To date, the Coalition has only conceded two ‘likely’ civilian deaths.

    The Syrian Network for Human Rights published a report on August 11th investigating 24 new problem incidents in Syria from February 2015. It documents the death of 125 individuals, including 55 children, 26 women, and three members of armed opposition groups.

The report deplores Daesh’s strategy of establishing strongholds in densely populated areas, but also concludes: “International Coalition forces violated the International Humanitarian Law by targeting ISIL forces in densely populated civilian areas.” It also urges “serious investigations” into the incidents it describes, and asks that “compensation should be given to those affected.”

Military Actions

    The Coalition carried out 522 airstrikes in Iraq in August 2015, topping the previous record of July 2015 (518 strikes). These attacks were mainly targeting the vicinity of Mosul and Ramadi (75 strikes each), and supporting the Peshmerga offensive in Tuz (62 strikes).

A total of 210 strikes were also carried out in Syria, mostly around Al Hasakah (90 strikes), Aleppo and Kobane (31 strikes each).

On average, 23.62 strikes were carried out each day in August, making this the second most intense month of Coalition strikes so far.

An F-16 takes off from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey August 12 2015 (USAF/ Snr Airman Krystal Ardrey)

    The United States remains the dominant partner in the Coalition’s war against Daesh. According to Coalition data supplied to Airwars, just 2 airstrikes were carried out by the US’s partners in Syria in August – with American aircraft carrying out 215 strikes (99 per cent.) In Iraq the US was responsible for 495 strikes, with its allies conducting a further 216 attacks (30 per cent.)

The UK was particularly active in Iraq in August, carrying out 36 new strikes – 24 by its Reaper drones. The Netherlands was the next most engagded with an estimated 100 bombs and missiles dropped during the month – roughly 33 airstrikes. Denmark dropped 81 bombs – approximately 24 strikes. France reported 23 new strikes, followed by Canada with 12 strikes, and Australia with an estimated 11 airstrikes.

    Following a gruesome attack on civilians in the border town of Suruc, Turkey opened its airbases to the US military last month, Turkish jets have carried out their first airstrikes as member of the coalition on August 29th. The Guardian, quoting Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency and the Dogan news agency, reports that these strikes may have taken place in Manbij and north of Aleppo. Defense Secretaty Ash Carter said: “We need them also—as a neighbor to this conflict zone, as a longtime NATO ally and a responsible member of the anti-ISIL coalition—to control the border, the long border they have with both Syria and Iraq, more than it has been controlled over the last year.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen announced that Denmark had decided to pull out of the Coalition and to send its jets home on October 1st. The four active and three reserve F-16s had already flown 476 missions and dropped 425 bombs, according to the Defence Ministry. According to Associated Press, Danish aircrews were being stretched too thinly by the extended campaign: “Last month, Danish plane mechanics warned against extending Denmark’s one-year mission with Operation Inherent Resolve, saying staff members were stressed and some of the planes had cracks.”

    Junaid Hussain (pictured) a 21-year-old from Birmingham, UK and number three on the Pentagon’s “kill list” of Daesh targets, was reportedly slain by a US drone strike. In addition, Al Baghdadi’s number two, Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, was also reportedly killed – although it’s the third time the Coalition claims to have taken his life.

The British government also later admitted that it had carried out its first drone targeted killing away from the battlefield on August 21st, killing two UK citizens and a third alleged terror suspect when a car was struck by a Reaper near Ar Raqqa in Syria. The RAF attack, independent of Coalition operations, sparked intense national and international debate.

    The Coalition was very active around the Iraqi town of Tuz, supporting a Peshmerga offensive which regained 200 square kilometers of terrain and seven villages from Daesh, according to CJTF-OIR: “Coalition forces carried out 13 deliberate and 12 dynamic strikes over a three-day period in support of the Peshmerga operation.“
    Vital Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions passed the 1,000 mark in Iraq and Syria for the first time as the UK, France and Australia expanded their ISR operations into Syria. Tracking by Airwars shows that after more than a year of operations, ISR provision still lags far behind that in Afghanistan.


July 2015

Written by

Chris Woods

ABOVE: General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, takes questions during a ‘town hall’ session in Baghdad July 18th (US Army/ Spc. Tristan D. Bolden)

Additional reporting by Basile Simon, Kinda Haddad and Latif Habib

Major Developments

     In the two weeks since our last report, the Coalition has carried out 246 new airstrikes in Iraq, with a further 162 attacks on Islamic State in Syria Turkey begins offensive air operations against Daesh in Syria, bombing three positions near the border The UK reveals that its pilots have in fact carried out airstrikes in Syria – against the express wishes of parliament As the coalition air assault on Raqaa continues, credible claims of civilian deaths continue to mount. Mosul has also seen a number of fresh reports of civilian deaths

Civilian Casualties

     In the past two weeks, eight new events have been identified by monitoring groups and media sources – in which the coalition has reportedly killed up to 34 civilians. Five incidents were in Ar Raqaa in Syria, while an additional three took place in Mosul, Iraq
    As coalition airstrikes continued to batter the key Islamic State city of Ar Raqaa, local monitoring groups all registered a steep rise in alleged civilian deaths. Three separate incidents on July 11th led to claims that nine non-combatants died, including a civilian firefighting crew and four members of one family.

#Raqqa a women die with 3 of her children and her husband leg was cut Because Airstrikes by Coalition warplanes Yesterday #Syria #ISIS

— Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi (@raqqa_mcr) July 11, 2015

    Mosul was also heavily targeted by the coalition, with up to 22 new civilian deaths claimed.

In one incident, waiter Muhannad Hisham Alnemah died in an alleged coalition airstrike near the Al Afandi Restaurant in the main street of Hadbah neighborhood. An unspecified additional number of restaurant staff and customers were also reported killed and injured.

Muhannad Hisham, killed in an alleged coalition strike on Mosul July 17 2015 (via Mosul Ateka)

According to the Mosul Ateka site, Muhannad had looked out of the restaurant door during a coalition airstrike – and had seen a terrified young child in the street. He rescued the child, but was then struck in the head by shrapnel as he re-entered the building. He later died of his injuries in hospital.

Muhannad’s death occurred on the first day of Eid, the public holiday celebrating the end of the Ramadan fasting period.


    The monitoring group Syrian Network For Human Rights – a key source of Airwars data – published a new report detailing the number of people (both civilians and fighters) who have been reported killed in Syria’s civil war between January and June 2015.

In total, 11,090 new deaths were recorded. Of these, some 8,509 (77%) died at the hands of the Assad regime, while Islamic State accounted for 1,490 fatalities, or a further 15 per cent.

Worryingly, the coalition was reported by SN4HR to have killed more civilians in the first six months of 2015 than either Kurdish liberation forces or Al Qaeda affiliate the al Nusra Front.

Military Actions

    Turkey began airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria on July 24, with the New York Times reporting that “Three F-16 jets bombed two command centers and a meeting point for Islamic State fighters across the border from Kilis, in southern Turkey, without entering Syrian airspace.”

Turkey also announced that it would now allow the United States to use a key airbase at Incirlik for airstrikes against Daesh, 

According to reports, the decision by Turkey to fight alongside the international military coalition came after Daesh carried out a suicide bombing on the town of Suruc which killed 32 Turkish civilians. 

    Muhsin Al Fadhli (via al Watan)

    The Pentagon announced that US forces had killed the leader of the so-called Khorasan Group on July 8th. Muhsin Al Fadhli died in a US drone strike near the town of Sarmadan, according to a spokesman. He was described as head of an al-Nusra Front faction which the US says is planning terrorist acts against the West. Airstrikes against the group are reported separately from those against Islamic State, and appear to be unilateral US actions.

    The British government revealed that its pilots have also been carrying out airstrikes in Syria – despite a parliamentary vote explicitly banning such actions.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request from the legal charity Reprieve, the UK’s Ministry of Defence announced that British pilots had previously carried out strikes in Syria while embedded with US forces.

According to reports, Royal Navy pilots had flown FA-18 Super Hornets on Syrian bombing runs which were launched from the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson. It remains unclear whether embedded British drone crews have also carried out airstrikes in Syria.

    Britain also lowered its count of the number of airstrikes carried out in Iraq by almost 30% – with strike numbers to June 30th dropping from 308 to 226. According to the MoD, the move was to bring it in line with coalition counting methods.

An F/A-18 Super Hornet of the type flown by embedded British pilots launches from the USS Carl Vinson, May 2015 (US Navy/ Specialist 2nd Class John Philip Wagner Jr)


▲ Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, listens to a soldier’s question during a 'town hall' session with US personnel in Baghdad, July 18 2015 (US Army/ Spc. Tristan D. Bolden)


July 2015

Written by

Chris Woods

ABOVE: Burnt out wreckage of a car carrying seven alleged Al Nusra Front members, destroyed in a US targeted strike in Syria July 8 2015 (via SNN)

Additional reporting by Basile Simon, Kinda Haddad and Latif Habib.

Major Developments

    Casualty recorders publish the name of a 200th alleged victim of coalition airstrikes in Syria. In Iraq, some 48 of those reportedly killed have so far been named Three new events are reported this week in which civilians were allegedly killed by the international coalition. All of them were in Raqaa in Syria – scene of heavy coalition bombings since July 4th Airstrikes in Syria across the week surpass those in Iraq – the first such occasion in some months The UK reveals it killed an estimated 240 Daesh fighters between October 2014 and May 2015 – though denies killing any civilians or friendly forces during the same period

Civilian Casualties

    Ar Raqaa was the focus of intensive coalition action this week – some of the heaviest international bombing seen within Syria since September 2014. Almost all bridges into the city  were destroyed for example – and a number of prominent Islamic State/ Daesh leaders were also targeted and killed.

Monitoring groups complained of civilian ‘collateral damage’ in at least three coalition events. Two children were among seven named civilians reportedly killed by shrapnel on July 4th, after an apparent drone strike outside the al Hameed school destroyed a car carrying a group of Daesh fighters.

Ten year old Fouad Hamoud Al Nimr died along with his father in the attack, while Mohammad Hammad Al A’akassi, aged 15, died the following day of his injuries. Other children and adults were badly injured, with Daesh producing a number of propaganda videos relating to the event.

A young survivor of a reported US airstrike receives medical attention, July 4 2015 (via Raqaa is Being Slaughtered Silently)

    The naming of all seven victims of the July 4th Raqaa incident brings to 200 the number of people so far individually identified as having (allegedly) been killed by the coalition in Syria. Up to 158 more remain publicly unidentified.

However with many of these claimed deaths poorly reported – or also attributed to actions by other parties such as the Assad regime – it remains challenging to offer definitive estimates.

In Iraq, the reporting of civilian casualties is proving even more difficult. There are presently no equivalents of monitoring groups such as the Syrian Network for Human Rights – with casualty claims often scattered across micro-media and social media sites.

To date, 48 non-combatants have so far been individually named as having been killed in alleged coalition actions in Iraq. The latest to be identified is Kherallah Ahmed Al Saleh Al Thawabi, described as a car mechanic from Huwija. He is one of as many as 70 civilians killed in a confirmed coalition strike on the town on June 3rd.

Kherallah Ahmed Al Saleh Al Thawabi, reportedly killed in a coalition strike June 3 2015

Military Actions

    The international coalition carried out 190 airstrikes across Iraq and Syria between July 3rd-10th 2015. For the first time in many months, the majority of bombings (98) took place in Syria.

Almost all air strikes in Syria remain the work of the US, with few bombings since January 1st the work of its Arab or Canadian military partners. All strikes since June 20th have been US-only, for example, according to data supplied by the coalition.

    While little-discussed in Western media, America’s unilateral airstrikes against the Al Nusra Front (an Al Qaeda local affiliate) continue to target elements of the so-called ‘Khorasan Group’ in Syria.

On July 5th an al Nusra Front “tactical unit and vehicle” were attacked near Aleppo. And on July 8th, CENTCOM reported that it had again targeted a vehicle and tactical unit, this time near Idlib.

Local monitoring groups were more forthcoming, reporting that a sequence of five US airstrikes had targeted an al Nusra commander in his car near the village of Kafr Daryan on July 8th, killing seven alleged militants in total.

    Britain revealed that in the first eight months of its air campaign against Daesh in Iraq, it estimates that its Reaper drones and Tornado manned aircraft killed 241 “enemy combatants” – roughly one fighter per UK airstrike.

Britain insists that over the same period, its aircraft killed no civilians or friendly forces in Iraq.

    Following the recent withdrawal of Belgium from the 12-member coalition, CENTCOM told Airwars that it remains hopeful the European nation will restart its air campaign against Islamic State in one year’s time:

“We still have a Belgian liaison officer here in the CAOC representing his country. While the Belgians have brought their F-16s home temporarily, we fully expect their return to the fight in the future as part of the dedicated Coalition response against Daesh. Pending political approval the return of the Belgian F-16s is foreseen for July 2016.” [CENTCOM spokesman to Airwars, July 6th 2015]

A French Air Force Rafale approaches a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A to refuel during a combat sortie over Iraq on July 2, 2015 (USAF/ Tech. Sgt Christopher Boitz)


▲ Burnt out vehicle following a US targeted strike on al Nusra Front - July 8 2015 (via SNN)


July 2015

Written by

Airwars Staff

ABOVE: A bomb-laden Belgian F-16 prepares for a mission in Iraq, December 2014 (Belgian MoD)


Major Developments

    Belgium announces it has ended its military role in the coalition, withdrawing its F-16s after approximately 41 airstrikes 13 fresh problem events are reported for June in both Iraq and Syria, involving multiple civilian deaths allegedly caused by coalition aircraft Airstrikes in Iraq alone now total over 3,000 UK considers expanding its air war against Daesh to Syria, in the wake of a Tunisia massacre of 30 British civilians by the terror group


Civilian Casualties

    In Iraq, seven new incidents of concern were reported for June in which coalition aircraft may have killed civilians.  Up to 81 people died in three events where coalition strikes were confirmed in the near vicinity, and where the publicly available evidence indicates a coalition role in the deaths.

A further 47 civilian fatalities were alleged by single sources only for three more incidents in Iraq, while one attack which killed up to 50 people at Huwija’s marketplace appears to have been the work of the Iraqi military.

In the most serious incident, as many as 70 civilians died when the coalition did bomb an IED factory at Huwija on June 3rd. Announcing a formal investigation into the mass killing three weeks later, a CENTCOM spokesman accepted that claims of civilian deaths in the attack were “credible.”

    In Syria, six new events led to multiple claims of coalition-inflicted civilian deaths for June. Between 16 and 34 people died in four attacks in which strikes by coalition aircraft were confirmed in the near vicinity. One further alleged strike is presently single-source only, while an attack at Kheshan which killed three may have been the work of the Assad regime.

In the most recent reported event for Syria, a 10-year old boy named as Mohmmad Ali Ahmad Al Assaf died with unnamed others when their car was struck near Tal Abyad on June 30th by an alleged coalition air strike.

#الرقة طيران التحالف يستهدف سيارة مدنية جنوب سلوك 20كم ويوقع عدد من المدنيين قتلى عرف منهم الطفل"محمد علي احمد العساف

— Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi (@raqqa_mcr) June 30, 2015

ABOVE: Tweet by local activist describes June 30th death of 10 year old boy in alleged coalition airstrike

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, reports that 19,205 Assad regime air raids in Syria between January and June 2015 killed and injured some 30,000 people.


Military Actions

    During June 2015, the international coalition carried out 622 airstrikes, 407 of which targeted Daesh in Iraq, and 215 in Syria. After May and January 2015 (respectively 677 and 625 strikes), this represents the third most intense month of bombings since the beginning of the campaign in August 2014.

More than 3,000 airstrikes have now targeted Iraq alone since coalition operations began.

    Belgium appears to have caught some of its coalition partners by surprise this week, announcing on July 2nd that its military contribution to the coalition – Operation Desert Falcon – was officially over.

According to officials, Belgium’s six F-16 aircraft had released 141 bombs and missiles on Islamic State positions in Iraq since October 5th 2014 (approximately 40 airstrikes.) This represented the smallest contribution of any western military to the campaign.

Coalition officials were keen to downplay Belgium’s exit from the air war. One European military spokesman, speaking on background terms, told Airwars that financial pressures appeared to lie behind the Belgian government’s decision to withdraw its forces – and that there were hopes that Belgium’s aircraft might return to Iraq in 2016.

    Britain’s Prime Minister and Defense Secretary have both mooted the possibility of the UK expanding its attacks against Islamic State to targets inside Syria. The UK is already the second most active member of the international military coalition, responsible for around one in 10 of all airstrikes in Iraq.

Until now, the UK has been prevented from striking inside Syria following a parliamentary vote on September 26 2014. However, in the wake of a Daesh atrocity in Tunisia on June 26th which killed 38 people – 30 of them British – the ruling Conservative administration in the UK is keen to see the air war expanded.

A fresh parliamentary vote is not expected until September, by which time a new leader of the Labour Opposition will have been elected.

The Netherlands marked its 1,000th armed sortie against Islamic State forces in Iraq this week (Dutch MoD)