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INVESTIGATIONS

Alleged Russian airstrikes on ceasefire areas in Syria

November 10, 2022

On the morning of 22 July 2022 , aerial attacks struck two different locations in Idlib

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Initial Summary

  • Place of incident: Al Jdayde village in Jisr Al Shughour - Idlib
  • Impact sites: A poultry farm and two homes located in the village
  • Date: 22 July 2022
  • Time: Between 05:45 and 06:20 local time
  • Victims: 7 killed including 5 children, and 12 injured including 8 children
  • Type of attack: Airstrikes 
  • Munitions likely used: Unidentified
  • Potentially responsible: A fixed-wing warplane most likely belonging to the Russian Air Force

Introduction

On the morning of 22 July 2022 at around 05:45 - 06:20 Damascus time, aerial attacks struck two different locations in Idlib. 

The first attack hit a poultry farm just north of Al Jdayde village (Location 1). A Syrian family displaced by the conflict was living on the farm at the time. Six people were killed at this site, including four child siblings. Their parents were badly injured. The poultry farm was completely destroyed.  

The second attack hit two homes located to the south of Al Jdayde village (Location 2). One individual was reportedly killed and others were injured. 

The distance between these two impact sites is approximately 1.6 kilometres.

Methodology

Syrian Archive conducted an investigation into the incident by:

  • Preserving, analysing, and verifying 152 videos, photos, and reports uploaded to social media showing the impact sites, the first moments of the attack including the locations the missiles hit, the initial rescue response, efforts to recover the remains of the deceased, the treatment of the injured, and resulting damage to the impact sites;
  • Confirming the locations of the impact sites by matching landmarks in the collected visual content with satellite imagery; 
  • Examining the sun’s position as well as shadows in attack and near-aftermath footage to assess reports on timing; and
  • Monitoring local observatories on Telegram for alerts relevant to the incident. 

This investigation is a summary of multiple stages of analysis of available open source information. These sources provided information on the date, timing, locations, victims, and impacts of the attacks. By examining all available information, the Syrian Archive investigation team developed an understanding of the incident and its likely perpetrator.

For more details about Syrian Archive’s methodology, please visit our site.

About the impacted area

Al Jdayde is located within the Al Janodja area in Jisr Al Shughour in Idlib, which is part of a de-escalation zone established during the Astana Agreement between Turkey, Russia, and Iran in May 2017. The areas covered by the cease-fire were approved on 06 March 2020 by the Russian and Turkish sides. Turkish military observation points are located throughout the region. This attack under investigation occurred two days after presidents from Turkey, Russia, and Iran met in Tehran to discuss the Syrian conflict.  

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Source: International Crisis Group

On 22 July 2022, Syria Civil Defense posted a video on their Twitter page from the outskirts of Al Jdayde village in the western countryside of Idlib showing the complete destruction of a poultry farm, two residential houses, and two cars parked in the area. 

One of the impacted sites – referred to in this report as Location 1 – is a poultry farm where an internally displaced family were sheltering. According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, five civilians were killed, including four siblings, and five others were injured when the first missile fell. A second missile fell near a chicken coop, killing another civilian. Available reporting indicates the same warplanes then launched another airstrike south of Al Jdayde village – referred to in this report as Location 2 – killing another civilian.

As established in the geolocations below, the airstrikes targeted an area about 13 kilometres north of Jis Al-Shoughur, and 28 kilometres west of Idlib. The distance between the two impacted locations is about 1.6 kilometres. Location 1 is approximately 800 metres north of Al Jdayde village which is 2 kilometres southeast of the Turkish border. Location 2 is approximately 800 metres to the south of Al Jdayde.

According to Al Monitor, at the time of the strikes Syrian and Russian forces were intensifying their bombing campaign in Idlib. The bombing campaign came on the heels of increased land and air attacks launched by the Syrian government and Russian air forces against several villages and towns in the Idlib countryside.

image50

Location 1 and 2, to the north and south of Al Jdayde town - Source: Google Earth

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The impacted areas near Al Jdayde are 1.6 kilometres from the Turkish border, 13 kilometres north of Jisr Al Shughour city, and 28 kilometres west of Idlib city in northwest Syria - Source: Google Earth

What happened (and when)?

To develop an understanding of the events and their aftermath, Syrian Archive collected and closely examined all digital documentation of the incident published online. 

Summary of online reporting

The first announcements on the attacks were by flight observatories Al Ahrar Observatory and Jabal Al Zawiya Now Observatory, who posted on Telegram about air raids in the area at 05:50 local time.

At 06:21 local time, Jisr Al Shughour Media Center posted photos of three different explosions seen from a distance, apparently showing the aftermath of the explosions at Locations 1 and 2.

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Screenshots documenting three explosions in the outskirt of Al Jdayde village - Jisr Al Shughour Media Center photos

Reporting from Location 1, Zaman Alwsl stated that an attack happened at around 06:15 on July 22, 2022. Around one hour later at 07:38 journalist Hadi Khrat streamed a live video on his facebook page from Location 1 as first responders were looking for survivors and recovering the dead from underneath the rubble. 

Two hours later at 09:45, local resident Hussam Alhajji posted a video on his Facebook page showing the smoke rising possibly from Location 2 . Hours later at 10:08 and 12:21 respectively, Syria Civil Defence published on their Facebook and Twitter accounts images showing rescue teams at both Locations 1 and 2. The images shared by Syria Civil Defence show the bodies of children covered in dust after being pulled from rubble, and injured children seen being treated at a hospital. 

The Jisr Al Shughour pro-government news group on Facebook posted on the day of the attack calling opposition fighters in Idlib “terrorists” and accusing them of responsibility for the deaths of innocent civilians. The post claims planes had targeted terrorists in Idlib who were using civilians as human shields by hiding amongst them, and therefore should assume the blame for resulting civilian deaths.

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), responded on the same day by firing rockets on Syrian government-controlled territory. In a video report, local journalist Hadi Al Abdullah claims the rockets targeted Syrian military bases in the countryside of Latakia.

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Screenshot from Syria Civil Defence video showing the destruction from location 1

Geolocations

According to Syria Civil Defense, Al Sharq News Network, and local journalists and activists incident resulted in damage to a poultry farm and two civilian houses on the outskirts of the Al Jdayde village.

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Source: Hussam Alhajji video on Facebook for the attack on Location 2

Visual documentation shows three buildings reportedly damaged in the incident at two, distinct impact sites: a single building (Location 1) and two buildings spaced approximately 10-15 metres apart (Location 2).

Pictures of the three structures that were damaged by the attack. The first image shows Location 1. The second image shows Location 2. - Source: Syria Civil Defence video on Twitter

By matching unique identifiers seen in open source photos and videos documenting the incident aftermath satellite images, Syrian Archive determined the impacted locations.

Location 1

Videos and photos published by Zaman Alwsl, Anadolu Agency, and Syria Civil Defence document the damaged poultry farm, or Location 1. The footage shows a single building in the middle of a field of trees surrounded by dirt roads and next to a small structure with a blue roof.

In the image above inside the red square is the farmhouse and inside the green square is the chicken coop. 

Syrian Civil Defense, Al Sharq News Network, journalists, and activists reported the impacted site was a poultry farm on the outskirts of Al Jdayde village.

According to ِZaman Alwasl an internally displaced family from the village of Ziyadiyah in Sahel Al Ghab lived at the farmhouse.

Location 2:

A video published by Syria Civil Defence shows two damaged buildings, spaced approximately 10-15 metres apart, near a dirt road overlooking lower farmlands.

Syrian Civil Defense, Al Sharq News Network, journalists, and local activists reported the impacted site was civilian homes on the outskirts of Al Jdayde village.

Chronolocation

To assess the timing of the incident, Syrian Archive analysed claims about attack timing, the upload times of verified online content and compared these estimates against the direction and length of shadows appearing in videos of the attack or its near-aftermath. Detailed later in this report, Syrian Archive also collected and examined flight observation data for any corroborative entries.

Listed above, all social media alerts about planes above and a subsequent airstrike on Al Jdayde village were published online after 05:50 local time on 22 July 2022. 

A video published by Syria Civil Defense captures the moment of one of the strikes on Location 1. Using the online tool SunCalc to calculate the approximate position of the sun given the visible shadows, this video appears to have been filmed between approximately 05:50 to 06:15 local time.

At 09:45 on 22 July 2022, local resident Hussam Alhajji posted a video on his facebook page showing an explosion and rising smoke.  Syrian Archive geolocated this and footage to Location 2.

This analysis is consistent with collected online reporting. A video posted by Syria Civil Defense on their Twitter from Location 1 showed first responders stating that the strikes on both locations occurred at 06:00 local time. Another video by Zaman Alwsl reported that Russian warplanes targeted Location 1 with at least two strikes at 06:15 local time.

Damage

Syrian Archive examined photos and videos documenting the impact sites, to assess damage resulting from the incident. 

Location 1

Visual documentation posted by Syria Civil Defense, Creative Syria, Hamid Kutini, Ahmed Haj Ibrahim, and Ahmed Kazan show the poultry farm completely destroyed, a burnt remains of a truck, a dozen dead olive trees, two destroyed motorcycles, and a crater in the road approximately 30 metres from the farm structure. Together, this damage indicates multiple points of impact, likely caused by multiple strikes.

Ahmed Haj Ibrahim and Ahmed Kazan shared photos on Facebook documenting the damage of both locations up close.

Location 2

Syria Civil Defence footage from Location 2 shows two homes with collapsed roofs, the ground pockmarked with craters, and the remnants of a truck.

The drone video of Location 2 documents the degree of destruction to the two homes impacted in the incident. Multiple craters, scattered cinder blocks, and large piles of rubble indicate the attack was of significant intensity. The burnt-out remains of a vehicle are documented adjacent to one of the structures. Clothes are littered across the ground.The roof of one structure has collapsed.

Stills from a video posted by the Syrian Civil Defence of location 2

Victims

The North Syria Telegram channel shared a list reporting the names of the people killed  and injured as a result of this incident. Syria Civil Defense, Creative Syrians, ShaamNetwork S.N.N and many other social media outlets posted photos and videos of the bodies of the deceased being removed from the rubble. 

Jisr Al-Shughur Media Center, Syria TV and +SY and Anadolu Agency websites shared news and interviews with first responders, witnesses, and victims’ family members. These reports state that seven people were killed including five children, four children of whom were siblings from one  family that had been living on the poultry farm identified as Location 1. The conflict had displaced this family from Ziadiya village in Sahl Al-Ghab in Hama countryside. 

SY+ shared an interview with Ayham Mazan, the father of the four children killed. Still recovering from his own injuries, he  recounted the horror of waking up to see his badly injured wife and his four dead children, three girls and one boy.

Ahmed Al-Shahood, an anesthesiologist at the Knai Hospital, stated that on the morning of 22 July 2022 at around 05:45 a loud explosion was heard and within 15 minutes the hospital began receiving injured people. Dr. Al-Shahood confirms that a man named Ayham Mazan was treated for injuries and during the process called out the names of his children, saying that four of his children were killed. The man was transferred to a different medical facility for further treatment. The four children arrived at the hospital deceased. According to the doctor, this incident was especially distressing as the region has been quiet lately. He stated that the hospital received 7 dead in total and 12 injured.

A list of the people reportedly killed as a result of the incident:

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The names of people killed and injured in the attack - Source: North Syria Channel on Telegram

A list of reported injuries: 

  • Abdu Rahman Refat Mazan
  • Mostafa Mazan
  • Addu Rahman Mazan 
  • Nasar Kashkara
  • Khalad Mazan
  • Ibrahim Al Hassan 
  • Safaa Allaw 
  • Mohamad Ahmed Abdu Hai
  • Yazan Mazan 
  • Shahad Mazan
  • Ru’aa Wassouf
  • Lilian Ahmed Abdu Hai

Potentially responsible

Due to limitations in information allowing for an independent and remote assessment of attack responsibility, Syrian Archive is currently unable to definitively evaluate these allegations. 

However, media outlets, journalists, and activists have consistently cited Russian warplanes as responsible for the attack on Al Jdayde village in the countryside of Jisr Al Shughour. 

According to Syria Response Coordinators,Russian warplanes targeted the towns of Al-Yaqoubia and Al Jdayde, west of Idlib, with several air raids beginning at dawn. 

The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported that the attack was carried by Russian Su-34 fixed-wing warplanes. 

Almohrar Media Network shared a post at around 15:21 on the day of the attack, stating that “in response to the targeting of civilians and children in the village of Al Jdayde in the western countryside of Jisr Al-Shughur the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham tank regiment targeted the positions of the Assad forces on the Al-Atira axis in the northern countryside of Latakia.”

Flight observation data

All available flight observation data is consistent with key findings: the reported presence of Russian aircraft over the impacted area during the approximate attack time appears corroborative of the alleged perpetrator, chronolocated timing, and geolocated impact sites. 

To reach this conclusion, Syrian Archive first cross-referenced open source documentation of the attacks and their aftermath with flight observation data from an established spotter organisation that documents sightings of warplanes by people (called “observers” and “spotters”) situated throughout Syria. These observers collect data on the aircrafts they see such as the type of plane and the direction the plane is flying. Syrian Archive analysed this organisation’s data for potentially relevant flights sighted briefly before, during, and after the chronolocated time of the attacks. 

Flight observation data shows Russian fixed-wing aircraft departing southeast from Hmemim Airbase in Lattakia—around 67 kilometres south of Al Jdayde village—at 05:23, 05:37, and 05:53 local time on 22 July 2022. At 05:51, 05:53, 05:58, 06:06, 06:13, and 06:20, Russian fixed-wing aircraft were spotted circling over Al Janudiyeh, a town located approximately 6.5 kilometres southeast of Al Jdayde village. At 06:20 and 06:26, Russian fixed-wing aircraft were spotted flying east over Jabal Wastani, an area around 15 kilometres west of Al Jdayde village. At 05:35, a large drone was spotted departing southeast from Hmemim airbase. At 05:53, 06:01, 06:16, 06:31, 06:45, and 07:01, drones were also spotted circling over Al Janudiyeh. 

Circling behaviour by warzone aircrafts generally indicates target acquisition and/or preparation for an imminent strike. The circling and significant presence of Russian aircraft above cities and villages near Jisr Al Shughour between 05:49 and 06:36 approximately matches with claims of the time of the attack. There is no information available positively confirming that one or more of the observed aircraft was directly involved in the strike detailed above. Nevertheless, the reported presence of Russian aircraft above the towns and surrounding increases the likelihood that airstrikes occurred in the area at the estimated time.

Syrian Archive also analysed the local area’s observatory channels, which publish warnings online when aircraft are approaching. Among these channels is the Syria Observatory Telegram channel. The channel posted at 05:23 local time about a Russian warplane having just taken off from Hmeimim Airport flying southeast. Between 05:51 and 06:28 the channel posted again about a Russian warplane spotted circling over Al-Janudiyah and that a Russian drone was spotted circling over Al Januduyah between 05:53 to 08:08. 

According to the Jabal Al Zawiya Now Observatory Telegram channel, Russian warplanes launched six missiles at 05:50, 05:53, 05:58, 05:59, 06:13 and 06:21 before heading back to their base. 

According to the Al Ahrar Observatory, two Russian warplanes launched six missiles at 05:50, 05:53, 05:58, 06:13, and 06:21.

Jisr Al-Shughour Air Trafficking Observatory reported a Russian plane in the air.

Screenshots of observations on the Jabal Al Zawiya Now Observatory

Conclusion

Through the information detailed above, Syrian Archive confirmed that airstrikes hit homes and a poultry farm in the outskirts of Al Jdayde village in the countryside of Jisr Al Shughour on 22 July 2022 at around 05:45 to 06:20 local time. 

Online documentation linked to Location 1 suggests multiple strikes killed four children,  badly injured their parents, and killed one other person in the area. Also at Location 1, a strike killed a man who was passing by on his motorcycle. The damage at Location 2 suggests multiple strikes hit two houses, killing one person. 

The targeting resulted in the killing of 7 people, four of whom were children, and the injury of more than 12 people.

Given the limitations of open source investigations, Syrian Archive is unable to definitively identify those responsible for the strikes. However, open source reporting,  flight data, and witness statements published in media reports consistently indicate  that Russian warplanes were most responsible for both incidents.

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