Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

CI880

Incident date

March 13, 2020

Location

مطار كربلاء الدولي, Karbala International Airport, Karbala, Iraq

Geolocation

32.348172, 44.214648 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Within 100m (via Coalition) level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Within 100m (via Coalition)

Airwars assessment

Three civilians were reportedly killed and two others injured in alleged American airstrikes in on Karbala International Airport which was under construction in Karbala governorate on March 13th, 2020, according to local sources. The incident is also believed to have killed three belligerents and the injury of nine, two of whom are in critical condition. In September 2020, the Coalition admitted that a strike had been conducted on March 13th “against a Kata’ib Hizbolla facility”, killing one civilian.

US officials had told Reuters that American “retaliatory strikes are underway in Iraq after the Taji camp attack north of Baghdad”.

Step News Agency reported that “on Thursday night-Friday night, the United States launched airstrikes targeting sites belonging to the Iranian militias in Iraq, amid reports that the general was killed in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard militia, Siamand Mashhadani, in the Jurf Al Sakhr region.” The Pentagon confirmed that strikes targeted five weapon storage units of Iranian-backed militias.

One of the victims was identified by New York Times as “Karrar Sabbar, aged 23, who left behind a wife and two children. He worked as a guard, sleeping in one of the airport’s halls or one of the administrative buildings.”

@Nz0FT8c0yti5CxG tweeted that Karrar (1995, full name unknown) was killed in American airstrikes around 1 AM. The source added that the young man was from Karbala governorate, and he worked as a night security guard at an airport that had been under construction. Four missiles were reportedly fired by American warplanes. Also continued to say that “two of his brothers are martyrs.”

NYTimes said that the airstrikes launched overnight “killed three Iraqi soldiers, two police officers and a civilian worker, and damaged an unfinished civilian airport.”

NYTimes said the Pentagon said the American strikes were in self-defense to destroy rockets and other weapons that he said had been supplied by Iran and one of the five sites attacked was a weapons storage site at an airfield in Karbala, but the Iraqi military statement said the airport that was hit was “totally civilian” and all workers there were civilians. Witnesses including a New York Times reporter noted that while the damage from the strikes was clear nothing appeared to have been burned, not even the papers that were in one of the administrative office areas that were hit. If the facility had been used for ammunition storage, it would have been likely to have caused a fire.

Shiite News said that “An airport under construction in Iraq’s central Karbala province was hit in a US bombing raid on militias, with photos showing debris scattered across the site. The US said earlier the strikes were “precise” and defensive.”

Tasnim News said “Unconfirmed reports suggest a construction worker may have been killed in the raid, which the Pentagon insisted earlier was conducted with precision and for purely defensive purposes. ”

Anadolu Agency said “The Iraqi army announced that three soldiers from its forces, two policemen and one civilian were killed as a result of the American strikes Friday night in the southern province of Babel.”

The Joint Operations Command (affiliated to the army) said in a statement on Friday: “At dawn today, Iraq was subjected to a blatant attack by American combat aircraft targeting the army units of the 19th Division and the headquarters of the 46th Popular Mobilization and the third Babylon Police Regiment in Babil Province (Jurf Al-Nasr, Al-Saeedat, Behbehani, The former Ashtar military manufacturing facility, Karbala Airport, is under construction located on the road between Karbala and Najaf). The statement stated that the attack resulted in the death of 3 soldiers and the injury of 4 others, the killing of 2 policemen and the injury of 2 others. In turn, “Al-Husayniya Threshold” in the city of Karbala, southern Iraq, reported that a civilian was killed during the American air strikes at Karbala International Airport.”

The Washington post reported from the Iraqi authorities that “three soldiers and two policemen were killed in the attacks, along with a civilian who was working in an airport that was under construction.”

The Shiite supreme leadership in Iraq condemned the attack and said in a statement that “the bombing had caused the death of a civilian and the wounding of others who were working in the construction of the airport, in addition to significant damage to administrative and service facilities. The statement clearly states that “this airport is purely civilian, and its construction is supervised by the Husseiniya threshold, in agreement with several Iraqi companies and by Iraqi civilian cadres.”

According to Youm7, the Iraqi president condemned the attack and described it “a violation to national sovereignty.”

A statement by the Joint Operations Command said that the attack led to “the killing of three fighters from the nineteenth division, and the injury of four, two of them in critical condition, and the killing of two and the injury of two from the employees of the Babylon third emergency police regiment, and the injury of five of the 46 fighters of the PMF and the death of a civilian worker in Karbala airport, which is under construction, and the wounding of another.”

According to Aleba’a, the Iraqi MP Karim Alaiwi considered the US attack on Karabala airport a message to the Iraqi Shiite Supreme Leadership which pushed the Parliament to take a decision asking the US forces to withdraw from Iraq. He said: “Everyone knows that Karbala airport is a purely civil project and has nothing to do with military objectives, but the United States wanted to send a message to the Shiite decision center that led Parliament to take the decision to remove foreign forces from Iraq.”

In the first of their September 2020 civilian casualty reports, the US-led Coalition stated: “Coalition forces conducted an airstrike against a Kata’ib Hizbolla facility. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally killed as a result of the strike”.

The incident occured at approximately 1:00 am local time.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    Iraqi militias (PMUs)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    9

Sources (20) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (32) [ collapse]

  • Aftermath of the US airstrike on Karbala Airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via NYT)
  • Destruction at Karbala airport in the Iraqi shrine city, one of the areas targeted by US military air strikes on March 13th, 2020 (via Vox)
  • A US military PowerPoint slide released to reporters shows the five targets of the airstrikes on March 13th, 2020 (via Vox.com)
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Damage to Karbala international airport which was under construction after a US airstrike on March 13th, 2020. (via shiitenews).
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • Image showing the damage caused to Karabala International Airport project which was still under construction when attacked by the US in an airstrike on March 13th, 2020 (via imamhussain)
  • A US airstrike on Karabala international airport caused huge damage to the building which was under construction (via Shafaq)
  • Fighters from the Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades militia, inspect the destruction at their headquarters in the aftermath of a U.S. airstrike in Qaim, Iraq, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. The Iranian-backed militia said Monday that the death toll from U.S. military strikes in Iraq and Syria against its fighters has risen to 25, vowing to exact revenge for the "aggression of evil American ravens." (AP Photo)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Image via Alghadeer in the aftermath of the American airstrike that hit Karabala international airport project that was still under construction bordering Najaf province on March 13th, 2020.
  • Aftermath of an American airstrike on Karabala international airport project on March 13th, 2020 (via youm7)
  • Destruction of parts of Karbala international airport by a US airstirke on March 13th, 2020 (via Alebaa).

Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention multiple strikes on alleged weapon caches, some of which struck a civilian from Karbala (كربلاء), who sources suggest that he was employed as night security at the Karbala International Airport (مطار كربلاء الدولي) that is currently under construction. Since the strikes happened during the night and assuming that the individual was at work, we suggest that the location of the strike is the airport, for which coordinates are: 32.347736, 44.214334. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further. Prior to the Coalition releasing the MGRS for this incident, Airwars had geolocated it to the nearest neighbourhood/area at 32.347736, 44.214334.

  • Google Earth imagery dating back from 2010 does not show the current progress of the Karbala International Airport (مطار كربلاء الدولي) which is currently under construction. Instead, here is an image from the Sentinel-2 L1C data, from the 9th of March, 2020.

    Imagery:
    Sentinel-2, ESA

United States Armed Forces Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    United States Armed Forces
  • United States Armed Forces position on incident
    Not yet assessed

US-led Coalition Assessment:

  • Known belligerent
    US-led Coalition
  • US-led Coalition position on incident
    Credible / Substantiated
    The investigation assessed that although all feasible precautions were taken and the decision to strike complied with the law of armed conflict, unintended civilian casualties regrettably occurred.
  • Given reason for civilian harm
    No reason given
    Airwars’ assessment of belligerent’s civilian casualty statement
  • Civilian deaths conceded
    1
  • Civilian injuries conceded
    None
  • Stated location
    in Karbala, Iraq
    Nearest population center
  • Location accuracy
    100 m
  • MGRS coordinate
    38SMA261793
    Military Grid Reference System

Civilian casualty statements

US-led Coalition
  • Sep 9, 2020
  • Mar. 13, 2020, in Karbala, Iraq, via media report. Coalition forces conducted an airstrike against a Kata’ib Hizbolla facility. Regrettably, one civilian was unintentionally killed as a result of the strike. 3047 38SMA261793

Summary

  • Strike status
    Declared strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    3
  • (3 men)
  • Civilians reported injured
    3
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Confirmed
    A specific belligerent has accepted responsibility for civilian harm.
  • Suspected attacker
    United States Armed Forces
  • Known attacker
    US-led Coalition
  • Suspected target
    Iraqi militias (PMUs)
  • Belligerents reported killed
    3
  • Belligerents reported injured
    9

Sources (20) [ collapse]

Incident Code

ISIR001

Incident date

August 12, 2019

Location

قاعدة الصقر, Al Saqar camp, South of Baghdad, Iraq

Geolocation

33.211872, 44.370779 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Neighbourhood/area level. Continue to map

Geolocation accuracy

Neighbourhood/area

Airwars assessment

Local sources published conflicting reports about a major explosion at what appears to have been a weapons depot at Al Saqar Camp, in Baghdad on the evening of August 12th, 2019.

While no belligerent claimed responsibility, Israel was blamed by some as the possible culprit. Israel, in turn, claimed that Iran has begun to reinforce armed militias in Iraq as a result of increased attacks against its targets in Syria. One source blamed US aircraft for the strikes.

Sources, such as the National News, initially reported that a fire in a warehouse storing weapons and ammunition caused a series of explosions. Qasim Al Attabi, a spokesman for the district’s health directorate, stated that: “The fire ignited several rockets which struck neighbourhoods several miles away and injuring mainly children.” A security source told Reuters that the facility stored short-range and Katyusha missiles.

According to Jorf News, the explosions destroyed a garage for armoured vehicles, and large parts of Al Saqar camp, including two warehouses each about 1,000 meters in size. The source wrote that while some reported that a fire was caused by negligence and poor storage of ammunition and equiptment, and the lack of electrical insulation, others reported a drone strike.

Arab48 claimed that the targeted base belonged to the Popular Mobilization Units and had included missile storage. The source noted that media close to the PMU had claimed the attack was carried out with surface-to-surface missiles, while others said that the attack was carried out with planes.

According to Masrawy News, which referred to the location as Camp Falcon, the explosion killed one person and wounded 28 others. A security source told Masrawy News that it was suspected that the explosion was indeed caused by an Israeli action. The source added that the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi had called for a thorough investigation into the cause of the incident.

Jorf News initially reported that “the Iraqi Ministry of Health announced that (13) people were injured as a result of the explosion of a warehouse of equipment inside Saqr Camp, which includes (4) brigades of the Popular Mobilization Militia, in the Abu Dashir area, south of the capital, Baghdad.”

Khabar Agency also reported that, according to Ministry of Interior spokesman Saad Maan, “the explosion wounded 13 people, including two from the Federal Police and four members of the (Popular Mobilization).”

According to Al Araby, “officials in the Iraqi Police Service said that a warehouse of weapons and ammunition belonging to the Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades militia, one of the Iraqi armed factions linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, south of the capital, Baghdad, was subjected to a series of explosions, which resulted in one death and wounding 29 people, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Health. In addition to large material losses at the headquarters and nearby homes, due to the fall of shrapnel of rockets and missiles from inside the warehouse.”

Al Jazeera News also reported that the explosion at Al Saqr camp was caused by shelling from outside. The source claimed that the camp housed four headquarters of the PMU Brigades including the Badr Organization, Jund al-Imam, and Sayyed al-Shuhada Brigades. The source also claimed that one person was killed, with a further 30 wounded.

According to Al Jazeera, sources claimed the explosion was caused by an airstrike by an unknown aircraft, and added that “security sources and eyewitnesses said that an unidentified aircraft carried out more than one strike on weapons stores inside the camp. The same sources ruled out that the explosion was caused by a technical fault occurred inside the stores, which used to contain large quantities of missiles and bombs belonging to factions of the Popular Mobilization Units, and their volatility led to the casualties mentioned.”

Eurabia reported that the PMF accused the US and Israel for the bombing of the facility. Adel Al Karawi, spokesman for the Ansar Allah Al Loyal Movement in the Popular Mobilization Forces stated that “the data about the outbreak of the Saqr camp fire indicate that the camp was bombed by an American aircraft loaded with missiles.”

Baghdad Today posted a video of civilians leaving their homes to rush to the site of the airstrikes.

On August 13th, Huriyat News posted a photo of Baghdad residents who were affected by the event reportedly protesting for the removal and transfer of the Al Saqar base.

The incident occured in the evening.

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Civilians reported injured
    13–30
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown
  • Suspected target
    Iraqi militias (PMUs)
  • Belligerents reported injured
    6

Sources (32) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (35) [ collapse]

  • An explosion at the al-Saqr camp south of Baghdad in the evening of August 12th (via Aljazeera News).
  • An explosion at the al-Saqr camp south of Baghdad in the evening of August 12th (via Aljazeera News).
  • Translation: “Explosions at ammunition depots (and perhaps also missiles) of Shiite militias in the Baghdad region in Iraq. It was bombed for the third time in recent weeks” (via @simonarann).
  • Alleged Israeli strikes on Al Saqar camp, Baghdad governorate, on August 12th, 2019 (via Al Daee).
  • Translation: “Baghdad, my beloved area, Abu Dashir. Oh my God. Who has done this to the terrifying children and women” (via @wisamalknane).
  • Translation: “The first moments of a pile of ammunition exploding this evening in southern Baghdad. The ammunition pile of the Federal Police and the Popular Mobilization Forces exploded at Al Saqr base in A Dora area, south of Baghdad, and caused random rockets and mortar shells to be fired at residential areas” (via @AL_Menassa).
  • Translation: “On the occasion of Eid al-Adha. Powerful explosions at the Ain al-Saqr base, a popular crowd, and Katyusha rockets fell on the homes of citizens. The news conflicted between poor storage and direct air strikes. The truth is known only to God and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis” (via @zeyad_alsenjary).
  • Translation: “An explosion of an ammunition pile at Ain Al-Saqr Military Base, South Bagdad and mortar shells fell on several areas, including Karrada and Sidiyah” (via @25iraq_Aish).
  • Photo of alleged Israeli strikes on Al Saqar camp, Baghdad governorate, on August 12th, 2019 (via @25iraq_Aish).
  • Photo of alleged Israeli strikes on Al Saqar camp, Baghdad governorate, on August 12th, 2019 (via @25iraq_Aish).
  • Damaged civilian homes in the areas of Abu Dashir and Dora, south of Baghdad, after alleged Israeli airstrikes on August 12th, 2019 (via Yesiraq).
  • Civilians showing the damage in their homes in the areas of Abu Dashir and Dora, south of Baghdad, after alleged Israeli airstrikes on August 12th, 2019 (via Yesiraq).
  • Damaged civilian homes in the areas of Abu Dashir and Dora, south of Baghdad, after alleged Israeli airstrikes on August 12th, 2019 (via Yesiraq).
  • Rubble in civilian homes in the areas of Abu Dashir and Dora, south of Baghdad, after alleged Israeli airstrikes on August 12th, 2019 (via Yesiraq).
  • Damaged civilian homes in the areas of Abu Dashir and Dora, south of Baghdad, after alleged Israeli airstrikes on August 12th, 2019 (via Yesiraq).
  • Damaged civilian homes in the areas of Abu Dashir and Dora, south of Baghdad, after alleged Israeli airstrikes on August 12th, 2019 (via Yesiraq).
  • Rubble in civilian homes in the areas of Abu Dashir and Dora, south of Baghdad, after alleged Israeli airstrikes on August 12th, 2019 (via Yesiraq).
  • Damaged civilian homes in the areas of Abu Dashir and Dora, south of Baghdad, after alleged Israeli airstrikes on August 12th, 2019 (via Yesiraq).
  • Damaged civilian homes after alleged Israeli airstrikes on Al Saqar Camp, August 12th, 2019 (via Sky News).
  • Alleged Israeli airstrikes on Al Saqar Camp, August 12th, 2019 (via Sky News).
  • Civilians at the site after alleged Israeli airstrikes on Al Saqar Camp, August 12th, 2019 (via Sky News).
  • Alleged Israeli airstrikes on Al Saqar Camp, August 12th, 2019 (via Sky News).
  • Damaged civilian homes after alleged Israeli airstrikes on Al Saqar Camp, August 12th, 2019 (via Sky News).
  • Damaged civilian homes after alleged Israeli airstrikes on Al Saqar Camp, August 12th, 2019 (via Sky News).
  • Munition remnants after alleged Israeli airstrikes on Al Saqar Camp, August 12th, 2019. It remains unclear whether these remnants are related to the August 12th event (via Sky News).
  • Civilians reportedly protesting for the removal and transfer of the Al Saqar weapon depot (via Huriyat News).
  • Translation: “A series of explosions in Baghdad, very strong explosions at Al Saqar base, including missiles and various ammunition, shattering the windows of houses and the displacement of the people of the region, and we think this is to weaken the Iraqi Iranian militia in preparation for a possible war on Iran that may come within a few months” (via @RAlshallal).
  • Translation: “Violent bombardment targets a warehouse of weapons and equipment belonging to the (Popular Mobilization) militia, which it established inside the residential areas in the Abu Dashir neighbourhood in the Dora district, south of Baghdad, and local residents talk about the fall of rocket and shrapnel shells on the houses surrounding the site of the explosion” (via @drImadEddin).
  • Smoke after alleged Israeli airstrikes on Al Saqar Camp, August 12th, 2019 (via @drImadEddin).
  • Alleged Israeli airstrikes on Al Saqar Camp, August 12th, 2019 (via @drImadEddin).
  • Translation: “Missiles inside a militia camp Al Hashad Al Sh a'abi. Close to the residential neighborhoods in the south of the capital Baghdad. A huge explosion, a weapons depot belonging to the Hashd militia. Unidentified aircraft bombed a crowd's weapons depot. Whatever the reasons were: explosion, contact, bombing, what was important in the PMF camp was” (via @IslNaimi).
  • Smoke after alleged Israeli airstrikes on Al Saqar Camp, August 12th, 2019 (via @IslNaimi).
  • Alleged Israeli airstrikes on Al Saqar Camp, August 12th, 2019 (via @drImadEddin).

Geolocation notes

Reports of the incident mention Al Saqar Base (قاعدة الصقر), for which the generic coordinates are: 33.211872, 44.370779. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.

Unknown Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Unknown
  • Unknown position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    1
  • Civilians reported injured
    13–30
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Suspected attacker
    Unknown
  • Suspected target
    Iraqi militias (PMUs)
  • Belligerents reported injured
    6

Sources (32) [ collapse]