Airwars update

By Mike Phipps

Syria may have slipped out of the news but the latest Airwars update for September and October suggests a significant rise in the death of civilians particularly by Russian forces, as well as continued civilian harm incidents at the hands of Turley and the US.

One significant incident occurred on October 26th on Turkish-backed Syrian rebels. Russian airstrikes reportedly targeted a training camp close to the border with Turkey, killing at least 78 rebel fighters and injuring over 100 more. According to Airwars’ assessment of the incident, at least two civilians were also killed, including a local journalist.

The attack was met with outrage by Ankara and was widely interpreted as a statement against Turkey in the context of its growing military involvement in the wars in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. October also witnessed a possible increase in Russia’s use of armed drone strikes in Syria, which have also resulted in civilian harm.

Turkish shelling and drone attacks also saw a rise in civilian harm incidents. In recent years, Turkey has conducted hundreds of unilateral air and artillery strikes in Syria and Iraq, frequently targeting Kurdish militants in northern Kurdistan.  Airwars assesses that more than 1,500 civilians have been killed in these attacks.

An estimated nine civilians were killed by US forces in Syria in September and October.

Airwars made a submission recently to the British government’s call for evidence to its Integrated Review – an examination of foreign policy, defence, security and international development goals. It called on the government to mainstream the protection of civilians in conflict, establish systems for casualty tracking and investigations and improve UK accountability for civilian harm.

Airwars is a collaborative, not-for-profit organisation focused on reducing battlefield civilian casualties. It documents airpower-dominated military actions, and local reports of civilian harm in conflict zones. Over the last six years, its international team has monitored more than 30 belligerents across six conflict countries and tracked more than 50,000 locally alleged civilian deaths.

Mike Phipps is a member of Brent Central CLP and editor of the Iraq Occupation Focus e-newsletter, available at

Image: International Mine Action Center in Syria (Aleppo). Source: Author: Министерство обороны Российской Федерации,  licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence

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