Pattern of Attack

Pattern of attacks against specifically protected persons and objects

Syrian Archive was able to identify a total of 205 unique incidents (433 videos) in which violations against specifically protected persons and objects resulted from alleged Russian airstrikes. The Syrian Archive discovered, preserved, and verified videos about those incidents.

These are not all incidents against specifically protected persons and objects occurred between 2015 and 2018 and include only incidents for which Syrian Archive has verified visual documentation.

A timeline of weekly alleged Russian airstrikes on Syrian civilians and civilian infrastructure is provided below:



This timeline shows since Russian involvement, alleged airstrikes have occurred consistently. During the September 2015 to February 2016 period, Russian airstrikes on civilian infrastructure were quite frequent. This was followed by a period between March 2016 and March 2017 in which attacks occurred on a less regular basis. In 2017, alleged Russian airstrikes increased and peaked during the April and September periods. During 2018, a alleged Russian airstrikes peaked during the first week of January and February.

Below is a table that summarises the number of incidents and videos per category between September 30th 2015 and September 09th 2018.


Category Number of incidents Number of videos
Russian airstrikes in Syria 1418 3303
Civilian casualties as a result of alleged Russian attacks 704 2184
Attacks claimed by Russian Ministry of Defense 242 172
Attacks on other civilian infrastructure 52 63
Attacks against hospitals 35 164
Attacks against markets 27 64
Attacks against mosques 27 45
Attacks against schools 23 41
Attacks against humanitarian relief personnel and objects 18 28
Attacks against bakeries 12 17
Attacks against water sources 6 5
Attacks against cultural property 3 4

Highlighted incidents

Airstrikes against medical facilities

Much has been written about attacks targeting hospitals in Syria (e.g., UN OHCHR, SAMS, Physicians for Human Rights, Bellingcat, and many other organisations). For this reason, and in order to not duplicate findings, deeper analysis will not be provided in this report. Attacks against hospitals are illegal under International Humanitarian Law as they fall under the category of specially protected persons and objects. An analysis of 164 collected and verified videos by the Syrian Archive found a total number of 35 incidents in which hospitals were attacked.

Kafranbel Surgical Hospital

On 5 February 2018, local sources including Muaz Al Shami reported that Kafranbel Surgical Hospital (also known as Hand in Hand Hospital and Orient Hospital), was struck by multiple airstrikes resulting in significant material damage which caused the entire hospital to become completely out of service. Open source materials and flight observation data indicates this attack was conducted by the Russian air force.

Footage filmed during and after the 5 February 2018 attack clearly shows the hospital was attacked directly, with one geolocated video capturing a bomb as it fell through the air and struck the east side of the hospital building. See below:

Kafranbel Surgical Hospital

DigitalGlobe satellite imagery from documenting before and after the attack can be seen below:

Before and after Satellite imagery of Kafarnbel

Syrian Archive has written a more extensive report on this attack, available within the Medical Facilities Under Fire report


Airstrikes against public markets

The Syrian Archive was able to identify 27 unique incidents in which markets were attacked based on an analysis of 64 videos. All videos are available on the Syrian Archive website and a summary of relevant information (including metadata), is included in every incident.

Atarib market

On 13 November 2017 between 14:07 and 14:11 Damascus time, the Atarib market and police station were targeted by three airstrikes resulting in the death of 69 civilians, significant damage to several buildings on the Atarib market street, as well as damage to the Free Syrian police building.

Atarib market

Open source materials indicate this attack was conducted by either the Russian or Syrian air force. 69 people were killed and 100 people were injured as a result of this attack.

DigitalGlobe before and after satellite imagery of the market can be seen below.

Before and after satellite imagery

Syrian Archive has written a more extensive report on this attack, available within the investigations section of its website


Airstrikes against water sources

The Syrian Archive was able to identify 6 unique incidents in which water were attacked based on an analysis of 5 videos. All videos are available on the Syrian Archive website and a summary of relevant information (including metadata), is included in every incident.

The Russian Ministry of Defence released a video on their official YouTube channel with a title “Airstrike against oil refinery near Khafsa Kabir”.

Russian MoD video

However, this “oil refinery” was actually a water treatment facility, which, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative in Syria, Hanaa Singer, “produced an average of 18 million liters of water daily.” The structure shown in the airstrike video appears identical to Google Earth satellite imagery as shown below:

Khafsa satellite imagery

Russia Today published a video on 15 July 2017 in Arabic about the renovation operations of Khafsa water treatment facility.

Full investigation can be seen here


Airstrikes against mosques

The Syrian Archive was able to identify 27 unique incidents in which mosques were attacked based on an analysis of 45 videos. All videos are available on the Syrian Archive website and a summary of relevant information (including metadata), is included in every incident.

Omar bin Al Khattab mosque

On October 1st 2015 at 12:00 pm Damascus time, Omar bin Al Khattab mosque was targeted with an alleged Russian airstrike as claimed by media and humanitarian groups reports began appearing online. The Russian Ministry of Defence published a satellite image on their official Facebook page saying that the claims were another “hoax”.

Russian MoD satellite imagery

The airstrike resulted of structural damage to the mosque as well as 1 killed and 8 injured people.

Google earth satellite imagery documenting the mosque before and after the attack can be seen below.

DigitalGlobe before and after satellite imagery

Full investigation can be seen here