At least two civilians, including a woman and a child, were reportedly injured in declared British drone strikes on the city of al-Bab on December 20, 2022. An alleged member of ISIS was also injured in the operation.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that a Yemeni person was severely injured by a drone likely belonging to the Coalition in al-Bab. Local sources were conflicted as to whether the injured man was taken to a hospital in al-Bab or in Turkey, as well as whether or not he died from his injuries.
A local source also told SOHR that the injured person is an ISIS commander and lives with his family, but was alone at the time of the attack. Two civilians that were near the strike site were also injured. Syria TV correspondent said that he talked to the neighbors in the building, who reported that there were light injuries among several women and a child. Baladi News, which originally attributed the incident to the Syrian regime, identified “various injuries to three civilians” in al-Bab while Furat-sy reported on the “injuring of several civilians, some of whom seriously”.
Euphrates Post identified the injured Yemeni as “Abu Yasser al-Yemeni, one of the leaders of the “Islamic State” organization” and added that the civil police were keeping him in al-Bab hospital. Naher Media gave details that Abu Yasser was known for his work as a general responsible for booby-trapping and that he witnessed all the battles of al-Baghouz.
@SyriaCivilDefe reported that Civil Defense volunteers responded to the scene to ensure that there were no victims under the rubble. Afrin Post added that the house that was struck was completely destroyed.
SOHR identified the location as being a home on Khalo street in the al-Bab city center and North Press Agency described the location as being near al-Bab city market. Furat News specified that the strike occurred near the Great Mosque, between “Al-Nofteh Street and Al-Waki Street”.
Shaam News reported that the missile that was found among the rubble was an AGM-114 Hellfire missile, which is “a US-made missile used by the International Coalition”. Naher Media cited images of the site as showing that the American missile used was an AGM-179, a missile weighing 52 kg that can be launched by Apache helicopters as well as MQ-9 Reaper drones. @IdlibCallingSy specifically referred to the source of the missiles as being a MQ-9 Reaper armed drone.
Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (the Coalition) has not released a statement about this incident. The UK government released a statement that on December 20th, “a Reaper struck a Daesh target in northern Syria. On Tuesday 20 December, a Reaper remotely piloted aircraft kept close observation on a building near Al Bab in northern Syria where at least one active Daesh terrorist was known to be present. Great care was taken to ensure that any potential risks to civilians were understood and minimised before the Reaper’s crew fired a salvo of two Hellfire missiles which both struck the target accurately.”
In an Oral Parliamentary Question, the Secretary of State of Defense stated that “In late December, an RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft conducted a strike against a leading Daesh member in al-Bab, northern Syria. The individual’s activity was related to chemical and biological weapons. The Reaper’s crew minimised potential risk to civilians before firing two Hellfire missiles, both of which struck the target accurately. These actions are vital to degrading such terrorist threats, protecting British citizens and supporting our international partners.” However, the Ministry of Defense has not released any statements regarding the civilian casualty claims.
Local sources pointed out that this was the first operation of its kind carried out by the Coalition in a residential area within the Euphrates Shield area.
The incident occured at 13:00:00 local time.