The attack impacting the Syrian Civil Defence Centre in the village of QastounDecember 13, 2022
An attack using the 'Krasnopol' artillery system targeted a Civil Defence centre in northern Hama
About the incident
- Place of incident: The road connecting the village of Qastoun and the village of Shaghorit in Sahel Al Ghab, north of the Hama Governorate
- Impact site: The Syria Civil Defence (White Helmets) Centre in Qastoun
- Date: Saturday, 19 June 2021
- Time: Around 8:10 - 8:20 Damascus Summer Time (UTC +3 and Qastoun local time)
- Victims: One killed and at least three wounded
- Type of attack: Artillery attacks
- Munitions likely used: Two to three projectiles, likely 3OF-39-series Krasnopol guided projectiles
- Potentially responsible: Syrian government forces stationed south to southeast of Qastoun
Journalists and media pages on social media reported of an attack impacting a Syria Civil Defence Centre in the village of Qastoun, killing a Syria Civil Defence member and wounding at least three others. Online posts, shared below, accuse Syrian government forces of using guided artillery projectiles, specifically 3OF-39-series laser guided artillery projectiles part of the 2K25 ‘Krasnopol’ weapon system, to strike the centre. Journalists report this strike as one of many on villages and towns in the Sahel Al Ghab area.
Syrian Archive conducted an investigation into the incident by:
- Preserving, analysing, and verifying 46 videos and pictures uploaded to social media showing the impact site and resulting damage and the initial rescue response and firefighting efforts;
- Examining 13 videos documenting the impact site including damage to the location, captured by Focus Aleppo;
- In consultation with ARES, verifying and analysing pictures shared by the Syria Civil Defence that show remnants of a weapon used in the attack and comparing them with open source pictures of similar weapons; and
- Confirming the location of the attack by matching landmarks in the collected visual content with satellite imagery, coordinates reported to the investigations team, and first reports of the attack.
This investigation is a summary of multiple stages of analysis of available open source information with input from documentation captured by Focus Aleppo and Syria Civil Defence. These sources provided the team with information related to the date, timing, location, victims, and impacts of the attack. By examining all available information about the attack, Syrian Archive’s 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 impact area
Qastoun Village - Source: Google Earth
The Qastoun Centre for the Syria Civil Defence is located east of Qastoun on a road connecting Qastoun with the village of Shagorit. According to the testimony of an injured Syria Civil Defence volunteer posted on the Syria Civil Defence - Southern Directorate’s Facebook page, the centre provides firefighting, ambulance, and other first aid services to about 40,000 people.
The Qastoun Syria Civil Defence Centre east of the village of Qastoun - Source: Google Earth
Satellite imagery shows only civilian structures in the area, specifically what appear to be apartment buildings and farms. Local news sources reported a return of IDPs to their homes in Sahel Al Ghab and Qastoun in 2020. An article from the North Press Agency reported residents solely rely on agriculture as a main form of sustenance and income. Satellite imagery taken on 3 April 2021 and 11 July 2021 show significant changes to cultivated land corroborating claims of a civilian presence in the area. A January 2021 article from Enab Baladi also described Syrian government attacks on farmers attempting to cultivate land in Sahel Al Ghab. According to Enab Baladi, indirect fire by the Syrian government attacks on farmland in Sahel Al Ghab killed five civilians applying fertiliser to the land.
Qastoun was within opposition-controlled territory at the time of the attack and, according to LiveUAMap, around six kilometres away from the frontline with Syrian government controlled areas.
What happened (and when)?
On the morning of Saturday, 19 June 2021, news pages and activists online began posting news of an attack in Sahel Al Ghab followed by an attack on the Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun.
Summary of online reporting
The Al Ahrar Flight Observatory on Telegram posted of blasts in Sahel Al Ghab at 08:15 and of a reconnaissance plane over Qastoun at 08:19 local time.
A post of reported blasts in Sahel Al Ghab at 8:15 and a reconnaissance plane over Qastoun at around 08:19 - Source: Al Ahrar Flight Observatory on Telegram
The Idlib Flight Observatory on Telegram posted at 09:07 the first news of a reportedly direct targeting of the Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun.
The first news about the attack on the Civil Defence centre in Qastoun posted at 09:07 - Source: Idlib Flight Observatory on Telegram
At 09:08, the Jabal Al Zawiya Today Facebook page posted reporting the death of a member of the Syria Civil Defence and wounding of three others.
At 09:17, journalist Abdel Quntar posted a picture of the Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun, claiming it was destroyed by artillery projectiles from Iranian and Russian Forces. According to Quntar, the attack killed a Civil Defence member and injured three others.
A picture of the Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun after it was destroyed - Source: Journalist Abdel Quntar on Facebook
At 09:26, Syria TV’s Facebook page posted pictures of the damage to the centre.
A picture of the damage to the Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun - Source: Syria TV’s Facebook page
At 09:37, the Facebook page Voice of Syria posted urgent news of the killing of a Civil Defence member and the wounding of several others as a result of artillery attacks reportedly by Syrian government forces on the Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun.
At 09:49, the pro-Syrian government Twitter account Akbar Souria Al Watan posted news of the killing and wounding of a number of White Helmets/Syria Civil Defence members in the attack on Qastoun, attributing the attack to Syrian government army units.
A tweet on the attack of the Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun - Source: Akhbar Souria Al Watan on Twitter
At 10:55, Shaam News posted on Facebook pictures of the damage to the centre.
Pictures of the damage to the Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun - Sham News on Facebook
On the same day, the Syria Civil Defence - Southern Directorate Facebook page posted a video of one of its volunteers (Hassan Hashoum), who was injured with others in the attack on the centre. The volunteer returned “with blood that had not dried yet to the ruins of the centre” according to the video’s description. He said in his testimony:
“This centre, that is behind me, Qastoun Centre, during the seven years of war provided services to about 40,000 people [the approximate number of people living in the area where the centre provided services, not based on an official census], including fire, ambulance, and other services. Today it was targeted directly and systematically. My colleague Daham was killed in this attack and four others were wounded, including me. The regime surprised us with its [sic] rockets this morning.”
A still from the video of the injured Syria Civil Defence member Hassan Hashoum - Source: Syria Civil Defence - Southern Directorate Facebook page
The next day, Focus Aleppo Magazine posted on Facebook a video report on the attack. The report included an interview with Hassan Hashoum who spoke about the incident. He said the attack took place around 08:00 in the morning and that a second projectile fell at the same location when they were treating the wounded and putting them in the ambulance. Hassan and another young man named Fateh were wounded by this projectile. In a later interview with the Syrian Archive, Hashoum gave a more precise estimation of the time of the attack and said it was at 08:10.
A still from the testimony of Civil Defence volunteer Hassan Hashoum - Source: Focus Aleppo Magazine on Facebook
On the day of the attack, the Syria Civil Defence posted on Facebook pictures of the three injured volunteers, including Hassan Hashoum, who Syrian Archive spoke to.
Shaam News posted on Facebook a video report of the funeral for the man who was killed and an interview with his father and a member of the Civil Defence. The report included pictures of the damage to the facility and traces of the blood at the site of the attack.
Stills from a video showing the damage to the Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun - Source: Shaam News
The Syria Stream channel on YouTube posted a video of the damage to the centre. In an interview, the commander of the Sahel Al Ghab sector of the Civil Defence, Tariq Ramadan, said that the attack on the Qastoun centre was with several projectiles that he claims came from Syrian government areas. The basis for this claim is unclear.
The Syria TV Youtube channel posted a video report on the attack on the Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun, featuring correspondent Mounir Al Hajj. The channel’s correspondent spoke of the attack by Syrian government forces stationed in the Jorin Camp in Sahel Al Ghab and noted that three artillery projectiles were believed to be of ‘Krasnopol’ type according to the area’s observatories. The reporter noted that the first projectile fell at the entrance of the building, followed by projectiles that directly hit the building causing it to collapse. Mounir Al Hajj also added that according to a Civil Defence member who was there at the time of the incident, three projectiles hit the building. He also mentioned that this attack came after a number of other attacks in Sahel Al Ghab, where projectiles hit the villages of Al Anqawi, Al Mashik, Al Mansour, and Al Ziyarah. Syrian Archive is unable to independently verify these claims.
On 18 June 2021, the Syria Civil Defence - Southern Directorate Facebook page posted a video report that includes aerial footage of the Centre showing the impact site and the features of the surrounding area.
Still from aerial footage of the Qastoun Centre - Source: Syria Civil Defence - Southern Directorate Facebook page
By analysing the photos above, confirmed by Focus Aleppo’s visit to the impact site, Syrian Archive geolocated the Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun.
A geolocation of the Syria Civil Defence centre in Qastoun
Satellite imagery of the centre (boxed in red) and the surrounding area shows the remote location of the centre - Source: Maxar
The Syria Civil Defence building centre is located away from any town centre. It is on a road one kilometre east of central Qastoun and one kilometre west of the small village of Shagorit. The buildings nearest the Civil Defence Centre are shown as undamaged in satellite imagery captured before and after the attack.
Satellite imagery of buildings around 300 metres east of the Syria Civil Defence Centre taken on 11 July 2021 - Source: Maxar
To estimate the timing of the attack, Syrian Archive analysed: the times of first reports of the incident, the times mentioned in witness statements, the shadows shown in videos taken directly after the attack, and data from local flight observatories.
According to Hassan Hashoum, the time the first projectile hit the centre was at 08:10, followed by three projectiles a few minutes later. According to the Al Ahrar Flight Observatory on Telegram, blasts were heard in the Sahel Al Ghab area at 08:15 and a reconnaissance plane flying over Qastoun seen at 08:19.
The first online reports of the attack on the Civil Defence Centre were at 09:07 from the Idlib Flight Observatory and at 09:08 when the Jalab Al Zawiya Today Facebook page posted news of the killing and wounding of Civil Defence Members.
The first pictures posted online of the attack were from journalist Abdel Quntar, which he published at 09:17.
A picture of the Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun after the attack - Source: Journalist Abdel Quntar on Facebook
Pictures posted by the Syria TV Facebook page at 09:26, show fire and smoke in one photo and the direction of the sun in another.
Pictures of the damage to the Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun - Source: Syria TV Facebook page
By analysing the previous pictures, Syrian Archive’s investigation team determined the direction of the sun was to the east at the time the photos were taken. Comparing this to the information available in the SunCalc tool, these attack aftermath pictures were likely taken between approximately 09:00 and 09:30 local time on 19 June 2021.
A chronolocation analysis of a picture of the aftermath using the SunCalc tool
Picture showing the position of the sun at around 09:15 on the day of the attack - Source: SunCalc
Through photos and videos, Syrian Archive assessed the internal and external damage to the Centre after it was hit. The team compared open source information with photos and videos captured on site by Focus Aleppo. These were all compared against satellite imagery of the attack site.
Aerial photos of the Qastoun centre after it was hit, showing the main building (orange) and the location of the side building (blue), and an arrow pointing north, the direction in which the rubble flew - Source Activist Muzna Duraid’s Facebook page
A recent satellite image captured before the incident on 30 May 2021, edited to show the main building (orange) and the eastern side building (blue)
A comparison of satellite imagery from Maxar showing the Qastoun centre before and after the attack: the image on the left was captured on 30 May 2021 and the image on the right was captured on 11 July 2021
The Syria Civil Defence - Southern Directorate’s Facebook page posted a video of the initial response operations and the damage to the centre. This near-aftermath video shows smoke rising as a result of the attack and a member of the Civil Defence in the process of putting out a fire.
A still showing the damage to part of the roof of the main building and the total destruction of the eastern side building (on the left-hand side of the image) - Source: Video from the Syria Civil Defence - Southern Directorate Facebook page
The Centre’s main building
Footage captured later, during what appears to be cleanup efforts around the main building, shows the same extensive damage to the main building structure.
Stills from a video showing the damage to the Qastoun centre - Source: Video from the Syria Civil Defence - Southern Directorate Facebook page
A member of the Facebook group “The field situation group in and around Binnish” posted a picture of the Qastoun centre on 20 June 2021, showing the centre before and after the attack.
A picture of the Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun before and after the attack - Source: The Facebook group “The field situation group in and around Binnish”
The eastern side building
Near-aftermath documentation further indicates that total destruction of the centre’s eastern building likely happened during the attack.
A picture of the damage to the eastern side building (on the right) and smoke rising from it - Video from the Syria Civil Defence - Southern Directorate Facebook page
A picture of the damage to the Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun, specifically showing one of the holes in the roof of the building and the collapse of the eastern side building - Source: Syria TV Facebook page
The Syria Civil Defence Facebook page posted pictures of the damage and fires in the Qastoun centre, one of which shows the complete destruction to the eastern building, in addition to the damage to the centre’s main building in the background. These images also appear to have been taken some time after the attack, given the main building’s roof has been destroyed.
Pictures of the destruction to the eastern side building (on the left) and behind it the main building (on the right) - Source: Syria Civil Defence Facebook page
The Syria Stream YouTube channel uploaded a video showing the damage to the centre.
Still from a video showing the damage to the side of the building - Source: Syria Stream on YouTube
Orient News uploaded a video report on YouTube showing cleanup operations and the extent of the damage to the Qastoun centre, in addition to the destruction of some of the Centre’s equipment.
A still from a video showing a damaged generator - Source: Orient News YouTube channel
Activists and media pages on social media posted other pictures of the severe structural damage:
Stills from a video showing holes in the roof of the Qastoun centre - Source: Syria Civil Defence - Southern Directorate Facebook page
Still from a video showing the damage to the Civil Defence centre in Qastoun and rubble about 15 metres north of the main building - Source: Sham News
Assessing the damage
By analysing footage posted online and captured by Focus Aleppo at the impact site, Syrian Archive investigation team was able to confirm the destruction of the Centre, specifically to the eastern building in addition to the collapsed ceilings and walls of the main building.
Equipment was destroyed in the attack and projectiles destroyed the roof of the main building. A large amount of rubble and debris were blown out from the northern side of the buildings, where stones and bricks landed 15 m north to northwest of the building.
Pictures taken by Focus Aleppo about two months after the incident show the Civil Defence Centre in Qasotun completely out of service as a result of the attack.
A picture of the Qastoun centre after the attack and the demolishing of its roof, captured on September 2021 - Syrian Archive exclusive photo
Collected photos showing the damaged building and the direction of debris landing north of the building
Working in collaboration with the Syria Civil Defence and having consulted the arms and munitions experts at ARES, Syrian Archive collected claims regarding the munitions used in the attack and examined pictures by the Syria Civil Defence to identify the munitions used in the attack.
Early reports by media sources on the ground reported that the attack was committed with some kind of guided projectile. A correspondent for the Syria TV channel said in a video report that the centre had been hit by three projectiles; according to them, observers in the region claimed that these projectiles were the laser-guided 3OF-39-series munition, part of the 2K25 ‘Krasnopol’ guided artillery weapon system. Consistent with this analysis, journalist Ahmed Rahal also published on his personal Facebook page a video report on the details of the bombing of the Qastoun centre, claiming that the bombing was a double-tap attack “using a laser artillery shell” – most likely referring to a laser-guided artillery projectile. (A ‘double-tap’ attack occurs when, upon striking an area, the attacker waits a few minutes for first responders to arrive at the scene, and then strikes the area again.) Photographs by Syria Civil Defence appear to show the remnants of a 3OF-39-series projectile. Syria Civil Defence asserts that these are remnants of the munition used in this June 2021 attack on the centre in Qastoun. The image metadata establishes that these photographs were taken the day of the attack, approximately seven hours after the attack occurred.
An image of a 3OF-39-series laser guided artillery projectile, on display at the IZHMASH museum in Izhevsk, Russia (source: Vyacheslav Bukharov)
Certain fragments from the munition documented in Syria match the physical characteristics of components of a 3OF-39-series munition. Additionally, they closely resemble photos of those reportedly found in Ukraine in 2019 and shared by press secretary of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine Andriy Lysenko and other sources. In particular, the round base with screws shown in the prosecutor’s picture and tubular “base gas generator” appear to directly match remnants seen in the images shared by Syria Civil Defence. Moreover, the damage at the impact site shown in the images is commensurate with that expected from a munition of the size (either 152 mm or 155 mm) and type (high explosive) of a ‘Krasnopol’-series artillery projectile.
A photograph by Syria Civil Defence showing items recovered from the impact site following the attack on the Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun. Pictured are what appear to be remnants of a 3OF-39 ‘Krasnopol’-series guided artillery projectile
A visual comparison of 3OF-39 ‘Krasnopol’ projectile remnants presented by the press secretary of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine Andriy Lysenko (top) with the remnants recovered by Syria Civil Defence (centre) and a picture of projectile remnants, likely from a ‘Krasnopol’ munition, shared by the Atlantic Council’s DFR Lab (bottom)
Further context provides more evidence for the use of the ‘Krasnopol’ projectile in this incident. The presence of reconnaissance aircraft above the area of attack—one of two methods used to guide the laser-guided ‘Krasnopol’, onto its target—is consistent with the use of this type of munition. Additionally, the alleged origin sites of the shelling on Qastoun, described later in this report, are located within the range of the munition; at this point, the frontline was only about 6 kilometres away—well within the range at which the munition does not need meteorological data inputs. Additionally, 3OF-39-series projectiles have been employed in Syria on a number of occasions. According to a Facebook post from the SNHR on its September 2021 report, the 3OF-39-series projectile is a munition used “extensively in the Jabal Al Zaweya area and its vicinity in Idlib suburbs.”
As Syrian Archive has previously noted, Sputnik Arabic published an article in February 2020 reportedly showing Syrian soldiers with a 3OF-39 ‘Krasnopol’ projectile. In its article, Sputnik reports that the possible use of ‘Krasnopol’ projectiles was announced in Syria at the end of the summer in 2016 and was shown to be used in November 2017.
Taken together, the combination of technical and contextual information leads Syrian Archive to assess with high confidence that at least one of the projectiles used in the attack on Qastoun on June 19 2021 was a 3OF-39-series laser-guided projectile used in conjunction with the 2K25 ‘Krasnopol’ artillery system. However, given the limited visual information present in available imagery of the remnants (which appear to show only one munition) and the number of 3OF-39 variants utilised by the 2K25 guided weapon system, Syrian Archive is unable to positively identify either the specific ‘Krasnopol’ variant used (including calibre) or whether all munitions used in the attack were of this make and model.
On the day of the attack, the Syria Civil Defence posted pictures of the three wounded and posted their names, including the name of the man killed in the attack:
Killed: Daham Al Houssein
Injured: Hassan Hashoum, Ahmed Al Nader, Fatih Hajj Ibrahim
Pictures of the three injured - Source: The Syria Civil Defence Facebook page
Baladi News’ Facebook page posted a video report including an interview with the director of the Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun, who spoke of the attack on the centre with several projectiles, killing one person and wounding six others.
The Facebook page “Syrian Event” posted pictures of Daham Abdul Ghani Hussein, the man killed in the attack.
A memorial picture of the Civil Defence member, Daham Abdul Ghani Al Hussein, killed in the attack - Source: Syrian Event Facebook page
Flight observation data
To further verify the incident, Syrian Archive cross-referenced information from open sources with flight observation data from a spotter organisation, 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.
Flight observation data shows drones taking off from Russian-operated Hmemim Airbase, around 50 kilometres southwest of Qastoun, at 06:23 and 08:12. Drones were then spotted circling over the town Ziyara, around 4 kilometres west of Qastoun, at 08:18 and 08:51.
The commonly observable practice of circling by warzone aircraft generally indicates target acquisition and/or preparation for an imminent strike. Specifically with the 2K25 ‘Krasnopol’ weapon system, drones are often used as laser designators, identifying the laser-guided artillery projectile’s target.
Syrian Archive also monitors local observatory channels on Telegram that publish warnings when aircraft approach an area. Among these channels is the Al Ahrar Flight Observatory on Telegram, which posted an alert of reconnaissance planes circling over Al Ziyara, Qastoun, and Sayzoun at 08:19 local time.
Syrian Archive was unable to fully determine what weapon was used in the attack and who exactly was responsible. However, it is likely that at least one artillery projectile came from south to southeast Qastoun given that rubble was projected across 15 metres north to northwest of the centre’s building.
Still from a video showing the damage to the Civil Defence centre in Qastoun and rubble about 15 metres north of the main building - Source: Sham News
If reports of an artillery attack – collected below – are correct, the projectile may have come from Syrian government artillery positions in the south east of the location in Zaytoun, Al Dar Al Kabira, Maarat Hurma, or Saqla, located approximately 13 - 18 kilometres southeast of the impact site. The Syrian Archive had obtained the locations of the artillery positions from the observatories and verified their locations using satellite imagery and information online.
A picture showing the locations of the Qastoun Centre and the artillery positions in the Al Zaytoun camp and Maarat Hurma to the southeast and Jorin to the southwest of the centre - Source: Google Earth
According to flight observations, at least one drone took off from Hmeimim Air Base and flew near the location of the attack and monitored the area at the time of the attack. The common practice of circling a drone around an area of interest is to identify the target for the 2K25 ‘Krasnopol’ weapon system.
Numerous sources assert theories for who was responsible for the attack and from where it was launched. However, it is generally unclear on what basis these claims are made.
Several sources alleged the Syrian government was responsible for the attack. These include, the Voice of Syria Facebook page, commander of the Sahel Al Ghab Civil Defence, Tariq Ramadan in his interview with Syria Stream, Baladi News, and Syria TV.
At 09:37, the Voice of Syria Facebook page posted urgent news of the attack, claiming the artillery attack came from Syrian government forces.
The commander of the Sahel Al Ghab Civil Defence, Tariq Ramadan, said in his interview with Syria Stream that the attack on the centre was with several projectiles that came from Syrian government areas.
Additionally, the Syria Civil Defence Facebook page posted pictures of the damage to the centre and said in its post that the artillery attack was by Syrian and Russian government forces.
Syria TV’s correspondent Mounir Al Hajj said in a video report that the artillery attack was carried out by Syrian government forces stationed at Jorin Camp in Sahel Al Ghab. In his interview with Syrian Archive, Hassan Hashoum mentioned that the centre was directly hit by ‘Krasnopol’ artillery projectiles, which he said were likely launched from the Kafranbel area in Saqla.
These reports were corroborated by pro-government media pages and journalists who said the Syrian government was responsible for hitting the Qastoun Civil Defence Centre. These sources include: Akhbar Souria Al Watan, Idlib online, Click News, and journalist Najla Al Saadi.
Pictures of posts from pages and accounts loyal to the Syrian government that attribute responsibility for the attack to the Syrian Arab Army
The remnants of at least one of the projectiles used in the attack on Qastoun on 19 June 2021 indicating a 3OF-39-series laser-guided projectile used in conjunction with the 2K25 ‘Krasnopol’ artillery system hit the centre, suggests and corroborates claims that Russian and/or Syrian government forces were responsible for this incident.
The Syria Civil Defence Centre in Qastoun was attacked between 08:10 - 08:20 on Saturday 19 June 2021, likely by two or three artillery projectiles. The attack injured three members of the Syria Civil Defence, and killed one of their volunteers as well as forced the Centre out of service, destroying the building and its equipment.
Syrian Archive is unable to definitively identify the types of weapons used in the attack and the party responsible for this incident. Although, open source information and information gathered from on the ground, including pictures of munition remnants shared by the Syria Civil Defence with Syrian Archive, suggest at least one of the projectiles used in the attack on Qastoun was a 3OF-39-series laser-guided projectile used in conjunction with the 2K25 ‘Krasnopol’ artillery system and that the Syrian government areas in the south or southeast of the incident site may have been the origin of at least one projectile that hit the Civil Defence Centre.
Aftereffects: A 7 August 2021 attack that killed children in Qastoun
A picture of an ambulance for a victim of the attack on Qastoun on 7 August 2021 - Syria Civil Defence report
The 19 July 2021 attack on the Syrian Civil Centre in Qastoun reduced resources and capacity for essential humanitarian rescue services amid ongoing attacks and serious harm to the area’s civilian population.
On 7 August 2021, a Saturday night less than two months later, artillery projectiles reportedly fell on the villages and towns of Sahel Al Ghab, including Qastoun Al Ziyadiya, Al Mashik, Al Mansoura, and Tal Wasit. At approximately 23:00, one of the projectiles hit the house of Abdul Basit Al Naasan in Qastoun near his children’s bedroom. The resulting blast killed four children and wounded five others.
First reports were shared online that same night at 23:00, when the Jabal Al Zawiya Today Facebook page posted news of the attack on the village of Qastoun, claiming the projectiles originated from Jorin.
A post on the attack on Qastoun - Source Jabal Al Zawiya Today Facebook page
At 23:49 on Saturday, the Jabal Al Zawiya Today Facebook page posted a video of the treatment of the wounded and transporting of the injured to the hospital. In the video’s description, the page mentions that the photos are of the Abdul Basit Al Naasan family.
Additionally, the Syria Civil Defence Facebook page shared pictures of the initial response to the attack as well as the news of four children killed and 5 others injured, all from one family. The post says the incident occurred on the evening of Saturday 7 August with artillery projectiles that it claimed came from Syrian government forces and Russia. The post mentioned the paramedics’ concerns about reaching the impact sites because of reconnaissance aircraft monitoring. The post mentions additional indirect fire on neighbourhoods in Al Ziyadiya, Al Mashik, Al Mansoura, and Tal Wasit in addition to the use of napalm on the outskirts of Al Ziyadiya.
Journalist Tariq Abdel Bari Abboud posted news and pictures stating that the villages of Al Ziyadiya, Qastoun, Tal Wasit, Al Qarqur, and an area near the Turkish checkpoint in Al Ziyadiya were bombed. According to the post, the attack was from Syrian government forces stationed in Jorin.
The Syria TV page on Twitter posted a video report that includes an interview with one of the victims’ families from the site of the attack. The man said that the family is his brother’s family and that they were displaced to the camps in Sarmada, but they returned home because they believed the presence of a nearby Turkish observation point would make the area safer. According to the witness, at about 23:00 on Saturday 7 August 2021, a projectile fell about 2 metres from the children’s bedroom while they were sleeping. The witness estimates that there were about 10 children in the room at the time.
A still from a video report showing a Syria TV reporter behind the damaged house - Source: Syria TV on Twitter
Fatima Al Naasan
Youssef Al Naasan
Omar Al Naasan
Ibrahim Al Naasan
Aziza Al Naasan
Rifaat Al Naasan
Batoul Al Naasan
Ali Al Naasan
An activist on Twitter posted that three of the injured children had undergone amputation, specifically Aziza’s foot and Rifaat and Batoul’s hand.
Journalist Adham Hajj Ahmed on Twitter posted a picture of the baby Aziza and the news of her amputated leg.
In reports, activists and the Syria Civil Defence accused the Syrian government and Russia for the attack.
In a statement issued by Betrand Bainville, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, on the UNICEF website, he said “A few days ago, an attack killed four children from the same family in Al-Qastoun town in Hama, north of Syria. The attack hit a residential area killing and injuring scores of civilians.” Bainville also added, “Ten years into the conflict in Syria, the killing of children has become commonplace. Too many families are left in grief over an irreplaceable loss: their children. Nothing justifies the killing of children.”