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INVESTIGATIONS

Airstrikes on two markets, Industry City and two Civil Defense Centers in Idlib

October 12, 2020

Investigation reveals airstrikes hit Civil Defense centers, Industry City and city markets in the Idlib governorate killing and injuring civilians

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Introduction

image52 Satellite imagery taken from Google Earth Pro with the locations of the incidents.

On January 15, 2020, civilians suffered from one of the bloodiest days of the Idlib offensive. According to the Syrian Civil Defense, around 28 areas were hit in the province by 60 airstrikes including 28 barrel bombs strikes. The Civil Defense claims that this is in addition to 243 ground artillery attacks on the towns in the province. From these airstrikes and ground attacks, according to the Civil Defense, over 20 civilians were killed, 2 of which were children and 1 a Civil Defense volunteer. The first responders group additionally reported that about 82 civilians were injured. Those wounded include 22 children, 6 women, and 2 Civil Defense volunteers.

These brutal strikes came on the third day of an armistice announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. The armistice was set to begin at midnight on January 12 in agreement with Turkish forces. Although respected on January 12 and 13, the armistice was short lived as airstrikes on Idlib started again on January 14. According to the Civil Defense, the January 14 air campaign targeted 4 areas with 10 airstrikes. With the armistice broken, the most intense bombardment occurred on January 15. In this investigation, Syrian Archive examines the January 15 airstrikes on Al Hal Market and Industry City in Idlib city, the Popular Market in Ariha, and two Civil Defense centers in the villages of Shannan and Bzabour.

Methodology

Syrian Archive conducted an investigation into the incidents, consisting of three components:

  1. A local investigations team collected 8 testimonies from eye-witnesses or those who witnessed the immediate aftermath of some of the airstrikes and took photographs and videos of some of the impact sites after the strike;
  2. Secured, analysed, and verified 79 videos and images uploaded to social media networks purportedly showing the incidents;
  3. Analysed satellite imagery showing the locations after the incident as well as flight observation data revealing the planes over or near the towns at the purported time of the strike.

The combined analysis of these sources has culminated in the present investigation report. Complementing each other, they provide information regarding the incidents’ date and time, location, casualties, and extent of damage.

Examining all information available on the strike, the investigations team developed an understanding of the incident and potential perpetrators.

For more details on Syrian Archive’s methodology, please see our site.

Incident 1: Industry City and Al Hal Market in Idlib

  • Place of Incident: Idlib city
  • Location Hit: Al Hal Market and Industry City
  • Date: 15 January 2020
  • Time: Around 14:04
  • Type of Incident: Airstrike
  • Type of Munition: N/A
  • Killed: 22 civilians killed including 2 children and a Civil Defense volunteer
  • Injured: 65 civilians injured
  • Potentially Responsible: A MiG-23 warplane possibly belonging to the Syrian Air Force

Background on Al Hal Market and Industry City

image4 Satellite imagery taken from Google Earth Pro showing the location of Al Hal Market and Industry City in Idlib city.

The Al Hal Market and Industry City are located near the Mihrab roundabout in northeastern Idlib city. The areas in and around the Industry City and Al Hal market are residential and neighbor Saraqib Highway. This area is considered by residents as a densely populated and crowded district of the city because of its proximity to the main road, in addition to housing the Industry City, Al Hal Market, the Idlib National Hospital and Idlib Museum. Furthermore, this district, according to residents and Civil Defense members interviewed by Syrian Archive’s investigations team on the ground, is solely inhabited by civilians and is a commercial area with no military headquarters or soldiers nearby.

image27 A geolocation of a video uploaded by the Syrian Civil Defense taken at the Al Hal Market. The video shows the Civil Defense’s rescue efforts.

What Happened (and When)?

image33 A still from a video taken by the investigations team of the damage to homes and shops in Industry City.

On January 15, 2020 at around 14:04, airstrikes hit Al Hal Market and Industry City in Idlib city killing 22 civilians and injuring 65 others.

image1 Using shadows featured in the variety of open source content showing the aftermath of the strike, Syrian Archive was able to confirm the time of the incident as between 14:00 to 15:00 on January 15, 2020. The shadows featured in a Civil Defense video, indicated in the red box above, match the sun’s position at around 14:00 to 15:00 as shown in the SunCalc tool.

Syrian Archive’s investigations team on the ground in Idlib spoke with witnesses. Saeed Abdul Hamid Khattab, a volunteer for the Civil Defense, as well as one other witness both described the Civil Defense teams as arriving minutes after the strike, which they claim occurred at 14:04. Khattab describes seeing several burned bodies, as well as body parts, scattered on the ground of the market. According to Khattab, some of the bodies of those killed included children who were working in the market and Industry City that day. Khattab estimated he saw around 15 killed civilians and 30 others injured at the impact site in what he described as a “tragic event.”

Satellite imagery from Digital Globe of Al Hal Market before and after the incident showing the damage to the area.

Posts on social media corroborate Khattab’s estimate of the strike’s time. Around the time of the strike at 14:05, the Facebook page the Coordination of the Syrian Revolution in the City of Idlib posted an image of a smoke plume allegedly from the airstrike in addition to other images posted later of the damage to the market. At 14:07 and around 14:20, a number of other Facebook users and pages posted alerting of a MiG-23 plane targeting the city of Idlib.

Additionally confirming the time and devastation of this strike, Abu Al Zein, the owner of a store in Industry City who survived the airstrikes, described the scene of the incident as a “horror” in an interview with the investigations team. Directly after the strike, Al Zein described seeing seven bodies in addition to body parts scattered around the market and dozens wounded from the strike. Detailing the incident as a “horrific massacre,” Al Zein spoke of failed attempts to save those injured while waiting for the Civil Defense to arrive. Of the injured, Al Zein recalled Samir Kassar, “the owner of a car repair shop,” and Ahmed Aswad, in addition to many people that choked on the smoke from the strike’s subsequent fires. Al Zein also spoke of a child (12 years old) and a woman who, while coughing, asked him for water.

image47 An image taken by the investigations team days after the strike showing the damage to shops and homes in Industry City.

Alongside Al Zein, Civil Defense volunteer Mazen Abu Ahmed, interviewed by the investigations team, confirmed the time of the strike as at 14:04 and reported a MiG-23 warplane as responsible for hitting the market and the surrounding residential areas. Arriving moments after the incident occurred, Ahmed emphasized the destruction, fires, and number killed and injured from the airstrike. He noted that those injured were transported to a variety of hospitals in the area.

Videos and images posted on social media show the rescue efforts by first responders. The Syrian Civil Defense posted a number of videos showing volunteers extinguishing fires and rescuing those stuck under rubble. Videos from local Facebook pages additionally show the Civil Defense’s search and rescue efforts.

Images from the Coordination of the Syrian Revolution in the City of Idlib Facebook page, Facebook user Hisham S Assaf, and Baladi News showing the aftermath of the airstrike.

Moreover, images and videos posted online show the severe damage to Al Hal Market and Industry City matching statements from witnesses interviewed by the investigations team. Videos from user Al Jasim Omar and Baladi News for example show destroyed homes and shops as well as cars on fire from the strike.

Images taken by the investigations team days after the strike of Al Hal Market and Industry City. In the background of some images is the Idlib Museum, which was slightly damaged from the strike. The majority of the rubble from the blast had been removed when the pictures were taken.

Corroborating social media posts and other witness statements, Nurse Abdul Mullah Hallaj, working at Idlib Central Hospital the day of the incident, described in an interview with the investigations team hearing the sound of two powerful explosions and the ambulance team leaving to the location of the blasts. Hallaj described the ambulance teams arriving back at the hospital carrying the bodies of those killed and injured. In detail, Hallaj noted that the hospital received 39 patients (one of whom died on arrival), including 15 children and 3 women. Arriving with both minor and major injuries, the patients, according to Hallaj, were treated based upon the severity of their injuries. Those with relatively minor injuries were transferred to other hospitals.

In Idlib Central Hospital, Abu Hassan, originally from Hama and the father of two children (Ahmed and Aisha), described the day of the strike and his children’s injuries to the investigations team. On the afternoon of the incident, Abu Hassan describes sending his kids to the market to buy some necessities. Minutes after sending them, he told the investigations team he heard two explosions. When he ran out of the house, he found Ahmed and Aisha injured near their home. Hassan and a Civil Defense volunteer took the children to the hospital. According to Muawiyah, a case worker with the Syrian American Medical Society, Ahmed suffered from an open forearm fracture and a loss of muscle and flesh in his arms. Aisha suffered from neurological and vascular injuries and underwent surgery directly after the strike.

Stills from videos taken by the investigations team of Aisha and Ahmed, children injured in the strike on Al Hal Market and Industry City.

Videos filmed by the investigation team, with the consent of Abu Hassan and his children, show the injuries Ahmed and Aisha sustained from the strike. Talking with the investigations team, Aisha said that she was with her brother buying necessities for her father when the strike hit. She described her body being thrown by the explosion and no longer seeing anything until a Civil Defense volunteer arrived, picked her up, and took her to the hospital.

Pictures taken by the investigations team showing the rubble on and damage to houses near the market and Industry City.

A final interview was conducted by the investigations team with Abu Farid, a shop owner in Idlib’s Industry City. Farid recounted being shocked by the strike’s explosions. He emphasized that many were killed as well as wounded including himself. The explosion and shrapnel from the strike injured his shoulder. He described cars exploding shortly after the strike destroying shops and burning the bodies of already dead civilians.

Further confirming the strike, the Civil Defense posted videos from the incident site showing the rescue effort, those killed or injured by the strike, the effort to rescue a child, and a funeral for the Civil Defense volunteer Mohammed Shadi Asaad who died in the strike. Moreover, Al Durar Al Shamiya Network, STEP News, the Idlib Heath Directorate, The New Arab, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and Al Jazeera published statements and articles confirming the incident.

Deaths and Injuries

image53 A still from a video posted by Ahmed Rahhal of white bags with the bodies of those killed by the strike.

Videos posted by the Idlib Media Center and Ahmed Rahhal YouTube channels show the inside of the National Hospital in Idlib after the strike. In the videos, bodies are shown in the hospital’s corridors with staff and volunteers removing the clothes of those dead and placing their bodies in bags. Alongside the videos showing the recovered bodies of those killed, images, such as that posted by Civil Defense volunteer Ammar Al Dowd, show the injuries sustained by civilians and first responders.

The investigations team visited the hospitals that received victims of the strike verifying records of those killed. These hospital records were corroborated and matched with lists on Facebook of the names and ages of those injured and killed. On January 17, 2020, the Syrian Civil Defense reported that the number of civilians killed in the airstrike on Al Hal Market and Industry City rose to 21. The total killed increased again after the attack, when a critically injured patient died, bringing the total of those killed to 22. 65 civilians in total were wounded in the strike, including 22 children, 6 women, and 2 Civil Defense volunteers, after 3 died while in critical condition. Some of the names of those killed were corroborated with other open sources.

Killed

Name
Abdul Qadir Rajab
Maher Sheikhouni
Samer Ahmed Shaar
Mohammed Shadi Al Asaad
Ali Mohammed Al Atrash
Omar Naas
Alaa Al Sheikh Hassan
Omar Jawdat Zeidan
Zakariya Laala
Ahmed Al Zain
Anadan Sheikhouni
Farouq Afarah
Abu Al Laith Al Halfawi
Obaida Ibrahim Quteia
Mohammed Shadi Naamah
Ahmed Mohammed Aswad
Zakaria Bin Safwan Zakzak
Abdel Karim Asaad Harmoush
Bakir Jasim Bakir
Mustafa Ziyad Hafserjawi
Khalid Abdel Wahab Al Kahil
Unidentified Person

Flight Data Analysis

To further verify the incident, Syrian Archive cross-referenced information from open sources and pictures and videos taken by the investigations team with flight observation data from a spotter organization, which documents sightings of warplanes by partner observers in cities throughout Syria. These observers collect data about the aircrafts such as the type of plane and the direction the plane is flying. Although there may be misidentifications of aircraft in the flight data, additional information such as witness statements and social media posts can corroborate the identified aircraft and its course. Data for flights occurring briefly before, during, and after the time of the incident around 14:04 near Idlib city was analyzed.

Witnesses and open sources outlined above claimed a MiG-23 warplane, commonly used by the Syrian Air Force, was responsible for the strike on Al Hal Market and Industry City. Observation data shows a MiG-23 plane taking off north towards Idlib from Hama Military Airbase (91 km south of Idlib city) at 13:26 and 13:57. Shortly thereafter at 13:59, another MiG-23 warplane is spotted flying northeast over the town of Heish (43 km south of Idlib city) in the direction of the incident site. 11 km north of Heish, a MiG-23 was also spotted at 14:01 flying north over Maaret Al Numan (30 km south of Idlib city). At 14:02 and 14:03, MiG-23 warplanes were spotted flying northwest towards Idlib city over Khan Al Sobol (23 km south of Idlib city), Saraqib (16 km east of Idlib city), and Sarmin (9 km east of Idlib city). Lastly at 14:04, the reported and estimated time of the strike, a MiG-23 warplane was spotted circling over Idlib city. The common practice of circling by war zone aircrafts featured in this data set generally indicates a target acquisition and/or preparation for an imminent strike. This data corroborates open source information and witness testimony of the strike having occurred at or around 14:04 and conducted possibly by the Syrian Air Force.

image31 Map showing the locations and direction of MiG-23 warplanes before and at the time of the strike.

There is no information available indicating that one of the observed aircraft was directly involved in the strike detailed above. However, the presence of MiG-23 warplanes above Idlib city and neighboring towns at or around the time of the strike further confirms the purported times the missile hit Al Hal Market and Industry City as well as indicates the Syrian government as a party potentially responsible for the strike.

Summary

Around 14:04 on January 15, 2020, Industry City and Al Hal Market in Idlib city was hit by an airstrike. It destroyed a number of homes and shops in the area as well as killed 22 civilians and injured 65 others.

  • Place of Incident: Idlib: Ariha
  • Locations Hit: Popular Market and The Martyr Abdul Hamid Ghannimi School
  • Date: 15 January 2020
  • Time: Around 13:00
  • Type of Incident: Airstrike
  • Type of Munition: N/A
  • Killed: None
  • Injured: 7 civilians
  • Potentially Responsible: A Yak 130 or Su-24 warplane possibly belonging to the Syrian Air Force

Background on Ariha

Satellite Imagery from Google Earth Pro of Ariha, the Martyr Abdul Hamid Al Ghanimi School and the airstrike’s impact site with the market area outlined in blue.

Ariha is a medium-sized town located around 13 km south of Idlib. The town sits on the M4 Highway, which runs from Saraqib through Jisr Al Shughur to Latakia on the western coast.

What Happened (and When)?

image43 A still from a video posted by the Macro Media Center of the damage to residential buildings around the market from the strike.

On January 15, 2020 at around 13:00, two airstrikes hit Ariha one landing on the town’s Popular Market and Martyr Abdul Hamid Al Ghanimi School. The strike that hit the market injured seven civilians and damaged shops and houses in and around the residential area. The strike hit a building in the western part of the market directly across from and damaging the school.

image46 A geolocation of images from Facebook user Mohammad Ftal and an Orient News report taken at the impact site.

Shadows shown in a video posted by the Macro Media Center further confirm and corroborate that the incident occurred at around 13:00.

Confirming the time of the incident, news alerting of the strike on the market was first posted at around 13:09 by the Facebook pages Coordination of the Syrian Revolution in the City of Idlib and Ariha Today. These posts were shortly followed by images showing smoke plumes coming from Ariha and significant damage to apartment buildings and shops on the western side of the market.

Satellite imagery from Digital Globe of the market in Ariha before and after the strike showing the damage to the location.

CCTV footage posted by the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and shared by Ariha Today, allegedly shows the moment an airstrike hit the town on January 15. When slowed down, the video shows two missiles hitting central Ariha. This footage is most likely not showing the strike that directly hit the market. The missiles in the footage are shown hitting a residential building around 200 meters away from the market and school.

Frames, posted by the Facebook page Ariha Today, from the CCTV footage show two missiles hitting central Ariha.

An image posted by the Facebook page Ariha Today shows the two strikes confirming the locations of the air raids. As shown in the images below, one strike hit the western side of the market and the other hit outside the market around 200 meters away from The Martyr Abdul Hamid Ghannimi School.

An image from the Facebook page Ariha Today showing two blasts from airstrikes hitting the town of Ariha, a geolocation of that image, and satellite imagery from Google Earth Pro with the locations of the blasts.

Shown in footage from directly after the strike, the market, school, and neighboring residential areas suffered significant damage from the strike. Videos and images posted by the Macro Media Center and SY+ as well as the Facebook pages and users Mahmood Dabaan and Ariha Moment by Moment show the damage to the market, its shops, and the houses nearby. Streets and alleys are shown covered in rubble from the surrounding damaged shops, homes, cars, and motorbikes.

Pictures posted by Ariha Moment by Moment, Mahmood Dabaan, and Ariha Today showing the damage to the market.

Videos uploaded onto social media by the Syrian Civil Defense additionally show the moments directly after the strike on the market. Volunteers are shown rescuing injured civilians stuck under rubble. A volunteer is also interviewed in a video from the Civil Defense where they confirm the time of the strike, the number injured, and the extent of the damage to the market.

image13 A still from a video posted by the Civil Defense in Idlib showing their search and rescue efforts.

The night after the strike Orient News uploaded a video report onto YouTube claiming that a MiG-23 aircraft carried out the strike on the Popular Market in Ariha. In addition to showing the damage to the school and market, the video report features an interview with a volunteer of the Civil Defense who confirmed a warplane targeted the market and surrounding homes injuring 7 civilians. A resident also interviewed in the report recounted hearing a siren before the strike and seeking cover.

In the days after the incident, organizations and news sources such as Iba News Network and the Syrian Network for Human Rights reported on the strike confirming the extent of its damage and the number injured.

Injuries

image19 The handwritten list of the 7 injured in the strike posted by the Crime Documentation Office in the Idlib governorate.

Shortly after the strike on the market, social media posts reported 7 injured in the incident. The Facebook page the Crime Documentation Office in the Idlib Governorate posted a picture of a handwritten list with the names of the 7 injured in the strike. These names were matched and corroborated with other open sources.

NameAge
Mahmood MohammedN/A
Mahmood Al Minna10
Hamid Al Menna14
Lana Nidal Qarbi16
Madin Qarbi4
Nawras Majni33
Zakaria Al Ahmad33

Flight Data Analysis

Syrian Archive additionally examined flight observation data to further corroborate the time of the incident and identify parties potentially responsible. Data for flights occurring briefly before, during, and after the time of the incident around 13:00 near Ariha was analyzed.

image36 Flight observation data of Su-24 and Yak 130 warplanes near Ariha around the time of the strike. Refer to Incident 1 for the full graph.

Shortly before the strike, a Yak 130 warplane took off north from Hama Military Airbase (77 km south of Ariha) at 12:30. Another Yak 130 was spotted at 12:38 flying north over Heish (30 km south of Ariha). At 12:43, a Yak 130 was additionally spotted circling over Maaret Al Numan (19 km south of Ariha). Then a Yak 130 was spotted circling over Ariha around the estimated time of the strike at 12:54.

Additionally, a Su-24 warplane was spotted circling and flying north over Maaret Al Numan (19 km south of Ariha) at 12:51. Another Su-24 was spotted circling and flying north over Al Bara (15 km south of Ariha) at 12:51 and 12:55. Around the time of the strike, a Su-24 was spotted circling over Ariha at 13:01 and 13:10.

There is no information available indicating that one of the observed aircraft was directly involved in the strike detailed above. However, the presence of Su-24 and Yak 130 warplanes above Ariha and neighboring towns at or around the time of the strike further confirms the purported times the missile hit the Popular Market in Ariha as well as indicates the Syrian government as a potential party responsible for the strike.

Summary

On January 15, 2020 at around 13:00, the popular market in central Ariha was hit in an airstrike damaging its shops and a nearby school. The strike injured 7 civilians.

Incident 3: Syrian Civil Defense Center in Bzabour

  • Place of Incident: Idlib: Bzabour
  • Location Hit: Bzabour Civil Defense Center
  • Date: 15 January 2020
  • Time: Around 13:30
  • Type of Incident: Airstrike
  • Type of Munition: N/A
  • Killed: None
  • Injured: None
  • Potentially Responsible: A Su-24 or MiG-23 warplane possibly belonging to the Syrian Air Force

Background on the Civil Defense Center in Bzabour

Satellite imagery taken from Google Earth Pro of the Civil Defense Center and its surrounding towns.

The Syrian Civil Defense Center in Bzabour is located outside of both Bzabour and Ariha near the town of Kafr Latah. The center is in a fairly remote area around 15 km south of Idlib city.

image14 A geolocation of the 4 CCTV footage clips showing the strike posted by the Civil Defense Idlib Facebook page.

What Happened (and When)?

image40 A still from CCTV footage posted by the Civil Defense of the strike on the center.

On January 15, 2020 at around 13:30, a missile struck the road directly in front of the Civil Defense Center in Bzabour. The strike partially damaged the building, the equipment inside, and a fire truck parked outside the center. There were no reports of Civil Defense volunteers or other civilians killed or injured by the strike.

Shadows shown in CCTV footage match the sun’s position, estimated using SunCalc, at around 13:30 corroborating the reported time of the incident.

The Syrian Civil Defense first posted about the strike 2 hours after the incident. The Civil Defense Idlib Facebook page posted pictures of the damage to the center and the team’s firetruck. A day after the incident, the Civil Defense additionally posted CCTV footage, taken from cameras around the center, which shows the moment of the strike. In the video, the airstrike is shown landing on the road in front of the center and nearly hits a passersby on a motorbike. Sham News, Qasioun News, and the Syrian Network for Human Rights additionally confirmed that airstrikes hit the center.

Images posted by the Civil Defense of the damage to the center.

image38 With Footage A the first clip in the compilation of CCTV Footage, this map shows the approximate location of the CCTV cameras near and around the center that recorded the strike.

Flight Data Analysis

Although limited given the remote location of the center, data for flights occurring briefly before, during, and after the time of the incident around 13:30 near Bzabour was analyzed.

Flight observation data shows MiG-23 warplanes taking off north from Hama Military Airbase (75 km south of Bzabour) at 13:22 and 13:26. A MiG-23 warplane was also spotted at 13:24 flying over Heish (27 km south of Bzabour). Additionally at 13:27 and 13:28, a Su-24 and a MiG-23 warplane were spotted circling over Jabal Al Zawiya (14 km southwest of Bzabour).

image32 Flight observation data of MiG-23 warplanes near Bzabour around the time of the strike. Refer to Incident 1 for the full graph.

There is no information available indicating that one of the observed aircraft was directly involved in the strike detailed above. Nevertheless, the presence of MiG-23 and Su-24 warplanes, both commonly used by the Syrian Air Force, near Bzabour at or around the time of the strike further confirms the purported times the missile hit the Civil Defense Center as well as indicates the Syrian government as a potentially responsible for the strike.

Summary

On January 15, 2020 at around 13:30, a missile hit directly in front of the Civil Defense Center in Bzabour damaging the facility and a fire truck parked outside. No one was injured or killed in the incident.

Incident 4: Syrian Civil Defense Center in Shannan

  • Place of Incident: Idlib: Shannan
  • Locations Hit: Shannan Civil Defense Center
  • Date: 15 January 2020
  • Time: Around 14:10
  • Type of Incident: Airstrike
  • Type of Munition: The Civil Defense reports a barrel bomb hit the center
  • Killed: None
  • Injured: None
  • Potentially Responsibly: A Mi-8 Helicopter potentially belonging to the Syrian Air Force

Background on the Civil Defense Center in Shannan

Satellite imagery taken from Google Earth Pro of Shannan, neighboring towns, and the Civil Defense Center.

The Civil Defense Center in Shannan is located outside the city close to the neighboring town of Benin. The center is 6.3 km away from Bzabour and 8.7 km away from the Bzabour Civil Defense Center.

image22 A geolocation of an image posted by the Civil Defense Idlib Facebook page showing the crater from the strike. The Civil Defense Center is the building in light blue to the very right with two silver barrels on top.

What Happened (and When?)

image55 An image posted by the Civil Defense Idlib Facebook page showing a smoke plume from the airstrike on Shannan.

On January 15, 2020 at around 14:00, a munition hit near the Civil Defense Center in Shannan. No one was injured or killed from the strike. However, the airstrike damaged the center.

Footage posted by the Civil Defense of the alleged barrel bomb strikes on Shannan reveal the position of the sun (calculated using SunCalc), which indicates that the incident likely occurred at around 14:10 corroborating other open sources.

Corroborating the time of the strike, at 14:04 and 14:06, the Facebook page Crime Documentation Offices in the Idlib Governorate posted a news alerts of helicopters dropping barrel bombs on Shannan. These strikes were later confirmed by the Civil Defense in Idlib, which posted reporting the center was directly targeted. Images from the post show the crater from the strike and the damage to the facility.

Frames from a video uploaded by the Civil Defense showing the dropping of a munition on Shannan. The video was taken by Civil Defense volunteers on a road outside the center of the town.

Alleging that the munitions dropped on the town on the day of the incident were barrel bombs, the Civil Defense uploaded a video onto YouTube showing the various strikes on the city. This incident was additionally confirmed and reported on by the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Qasioun News, and Orient News.

image3 An image posted by the Civil Defense showing the damage to the center from the strike.

Flight Data Analysis

Although limited because of the center’s remote location, data for flights occurring briefly before, during, and after the time of the incident around 14:10 near Shannan was analyzed.

image50 Flight observation data of Mi-8 helicopters near Shannan around the time of the strike. Refer to Incident 1 for the full graph.

With claims by the Civil Defense that a helicopter dropped two barrel bombs near the center, flight observation data reveals that before the strike at 13:38 and 14:06, Mi-8 helicopters, commonly used by the Syrian Air Force and often carrying barrel bombs, were spotted taking off and flying north from Hama Military Airbase (67 km south of Shannan). Mi-8 helicopters were later spotted at 13:48 flying north over Maaret Al Numan (9 km southeast of Shannan) as well as circling over the city at 13:53. Lastly, a Mi-8 helicopter was then spotted circling over Al Bara (8.5 km east of Shannan) at 13:57.

There is no information available indicating that one of the observed aircraft was directly involved in the strike detailed above. Nevertheless, the presence of Mi-8 helicopters in the towns near Shannan at or around the time of the strike further confirms the purported times the Civil Defense Center in Shannan was hit as well as indicates the Syrian government as a party potentially responsible for the strike.

Summary

On January 15, 2020 at around 14:10, the Civil Defense Center and other buildings in Shannan were hit by an airstrike damaging the center. The Civil Defense alleges the center was hit by two barrel bombs. No one was reported as injured or killed in the incident.

Conclusion

The open source information outlined above, complemented at times by on the ground imagery and witness testimony, reveals that five vital locations of civilian infrastructure were hit by airstrikes on January 15, 2020. This was a part of a greater offensive on rebel-held territories in Idlib. Although Syrian Archive is unable to definitively identify the specific party responsible for these strikes, the observation data, witness testimony, and open source information outlined above points towards the Syrian government as potentially responsible for these five incidents.

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