Russian airstrike on a vocational school and a vegetable market in Jisr al-ShughurNovember 2, 2023
About the incident
- Place of incident: Jisr al-Shughur is a city located in Idlib Governorate.
- Impact site: Vocational School is located at coordinates (35.799194, 36.334069) and the vegetable market is nearby at coordinates (35.798822, 36.334133) in Jisr al-Shughur.
- Date: 25 June 2023
- Timing: At approximately 10:00 AM local time.
- Victims: At least two people were killed, and a reported 61 others, including children, were injured.
- Type of attack: Airstrikes were carried out by a Russian warplane reportedly identified as a SU-34.
- Potentially responsible: Attacks were most likely carried out by Russian Air Force or Syrian government
On 25 June 2023, the Vocational School in Jisr al-Shughur and the vegetable market (al-Hal) located in the square opposite to the school were hit by airstrikes at approximately 10:00 AM local time. The attack resulted in at least two fatalities and injured a reported 61 others, including children. All available information—from online open sources,a video released by the Syrian Ministry of Defense and footage from a reconnaissance aircraft, points to the Russian or Syrian Air Force as responsible for the attack.
Video footage shows airstrikes on the outskirts of Idlib city on the same day of the incident that resulted in the death and injury of people in the area. The day before the incident, on 24 June 2023, there were also four airstrikes—carried out by fixed-wing aircraft—on a farm in a village Bissabt near Jisr al-Shughur. The Syrian Civil Defense claims the Russian Air Force is responsible for the incident . The attack resulted in two fatalities and caused significant damage to the location.
The top image is from a video posted by Ahmed Abu Hamza on Facebook, showing the attack on the village of Bissabt. The bottom screenshot is from a video posted by Abdulxeni Mustafa on Facebook, showing the attack on the outskirts of Idlib city. These were captured by Syrian Archive on 4 July 2023.
The attack on Jisr al-Shughur resulted in nine fatalities and 61 injured, including workers and farmers, according to a statement shared by the Civil Defense.
Videos and images circulated on social media platforms, both supportive of and oppositional to the Syrian government, show the moments weapons struck the vocational school in Jisr al-Shughur, the first responders transferred the injured to hospitals, the extent of damage, and testimonies from eyewitnesses who survived the attack.
Syrian Archive conducted an investigation into the strike, relying on:
Preservation, analysis, and verification of 89 video clips, images, and reports uploaded on social media. These materials depicted the impact site, the moment of the attack, the extent of the damage, eyewitness testimonies, initial response, and alleged fatalities and injuries.
Verifying the incident site by matching prominent landmarks visible in the visual content. This was supplemented with two drone videos, satellite imagery, and initial incident reports to confirm the location of the incident and the nature of the attacked area.
Tracking the initial reports of the incident through relevant information shared by local observatories on Telegram channels. This included data on the observed aircraft flying over the area prior to the alleged timing of the attack and reports mentioning the potentially responsible parties and the type of aircraft involved.
This investigation was the result of multiple stages of analyzing open-source information, which provided details concerning the date, time, and location of the incident, as well as information about the victims, injured individuals, the alleged party responsible for the airstrikes, and the resulting damage. By examining all available information related to the airstrikes, this investigation aims to provide an understanding of the incident and identify potential perpetrators. The complete research methodology of Syrian Archive is available for reference on our website.
About the impact site
The impact site is situated in the outskirts of Jisr al-Shughur city, within the Idlib Governorate, near a sugar factory on the M4 international highway. It falls within the de-escalation zones delineated in the sixth round of Astana talks in 2017, as part of an agreement between Russia and Turkey. It is also within the ceasefire agreement brokered by Turkey and Russia countries on 5 March 2020.
Screenshots from Al Jazeera’s website, captured by Syrian Archive on 4 July 2023, showing the de-escalation zones and the changes, as well as the M4 international highway, between the years 2017 and 2020.
The impact site shown in drone footage available online was the Vocational School in Jisr al-Shughur, situated in the southeastern part of the city. Additionally, nearby there was a vegetable market in the square opposite the vocational school, locally known as “Soug al-Bandoura” (Tomato Market), both of which were affected by the airstrikes.
The vegetable market, which was hit in the airstrike, was established four years ago due to the limited space in the main market hall in Jisr al-Shughur city, according to merchants in a video broadcasted by Syria TV about 25 days before the attack. The television correspondent reported that the market was established in the square of the sugar factory, which served as a gathering point for sugar beet trucks. Later, it transformed into a vegetable market for produce coming from the surrounding areas of Jisr al-Shughur, and is described as an important food basket for northwestern regions of Syria. The name of the Vocational School was not mentioned in the publications of the Educational Complex in Jisr al-Shughour, which is the entity affiliated with the opposition Salvation Government. This entity often publishes information on the activities of schools in the area. A lack of information suggests the school was not operating on the date of the incident.
The video from Syrian TV shows trucks loaded with vegetables gathering in the market, as well as the vocational school that was later hit in the airstrike. The Syrian government’s Ministry of Defense and pro-government accounts claimed that there were fighters affiliated with the Turkistan Islamic Party, which has presence in Jisr al-Shughur, in the impacted area. However, the video from Syria TV shows no indications of a military presence in the area.
screenshot from a video broadcasted by Syria TV shows the vocational school and the vegetable market before they were targeted in the airstrike. The orange square added by Syrian Archive indicates the impact location. Syrian Archive captured this image on 4 July 2023.
A video posted by Baladi News Network after the attack shows a square containing damaged trucks loaded with vegetables. The video also shows a group of buildings with prominent features that match the vocational school in Jisr al-Shughur, including adjacent school blocks, a water tank, and trees.
On the left, screenshots from Baladi News Network’s video show prominent features at the location of the incident. On the right, a screenshot from Google Maps, with markers added by Syrian Archive to show the prominent features in the images. These images were captured by Syrian Archive on 04 July 2023.
The damage extended to a building in the vocational school in Jisr al-Shughur, and its impact reached the trucks in the vegetable market in the square opposite the building.
At the bottom right of the screen, a screenshot from Baladi News Network’s video shows the building affected by the attack. The larger image is from Google Earth, with annotations added by Syrian Archive to highlight the location. The images were obtained by Syrian Archive on 4 July 2023.
The prominent features of the location specified above match those shown in a recorded video from a reconnaissance aircraft, which was posted on Telegram by the Hamdy Arnous channel. This channel is pro-Syrian government and shares videos of military operations in Syria, including those captured from reconnaissance aircraft. The video was accompanied by a news claiming that the attack targeted the headquarters of the Turkistan Islamic Party.
At the bottom right of the image, a screenshot from Hamdy Arnous’ video on Telegram shows the prominent features. The larger image is from Google Earth, with markers added by Syrian Archive to highlight the prominent features in the images they captured on 1 July 2023.
The video footage before the attack shows a blue square around the building located behind the building opposite the vegetable market square. In the outskirts of the square, a car passes by the location. In the video, 17 trucks are visible in the market square and near the targeted location, at a distance of approximately 42 meters from the marked (+) spot.
Screenshot from Hamdy Arnous’ video on Telegram, with markers added by Syrian Archive to highlight the location of the attack and the presence of trucks in the vegetable market in the image they captured on 1 July 2023.
The distance between the location of the marked (+) spot in Hamdy Arnous’ video on Telegram, where the trucks are present, and the image captured by Syrian Archive on 01 July 2023, via Google Earth Pro.
One second later, the video footage shows the moment of the airstrike, with flames erupting at the location and a munition falling near the blazing fire in front of the first building’s courtyard, opposite the trucks in the vegetable market, at a distance of only a few meters. Thick smoke is shown rising from the impact area.
Screenshot from Hamdy Arnous’ video on Telegram showing the moment and location of the blast. The bottom image is satellite imagery from Google Earth Pro with an orange annotation added by Syrian Archive to show the location of the blast. .
Subsequently, according to the video footage, thick smoke covered the building and the trucks in the location.
A video posted by the KAJ Videos account on Facebook after the attack shows the crater created by the rocket that fell in the front courtyard of the building facing the vegetable market, as well as the aftermath of the destruction in the area.
Screenshots from the Telegram channel of Al-Muharrir News and a video posted by the KAJ Videos account on Facebook show the crater created by the rocket in the courtyard of the vocational school in Jisr al-Shughur, opposite the vegetable market, captured by Syrian Archive on 1 July and 28 July 2023.
The image on the top right is from Syrian TV, while the image on the bottom left is a picture of Al-Khalil Mosque from Google Maps. The larger image is from Google Earth, showing the location of the attack and the thick rising smoke, captured by Syrian Archive on 1 July 2023.
The image posted by Mashregh News website shows the rising smoke from the location, which is close to the M4 highway.
The image in the top left is from the Mashregh News website, while the image in the top right is from Ibrahim Khalil’s account on Google Maps. In the bottom, there are images from Google Earth Pro showing prominent landmarks, rising smoke, and the proximity of the location to the M4 highway. These images were captured by Syrian Archive on 30 June 2023.
Based on the verification of the timing of the first reports, analysis of the reconnaissance aircraft video, comparison with prominent landmarks, and reports from local observatories, it was determined that an airstrike from a warplane, likely belonging to the Russian or Syrian Air Force, hit the vocational secondary school in Jisr al-Shughur around 10:00 AM on Sunday, 25 June 2023. The strike hit the front yard of one of its buildings, and the impact extended to the adjacent vegetable market. This resulted in the death and injury of people at the location.
What happened (and When?)
Available information online indicates that between 10:07 and 10:15 local time on Sunday, 25 June 2023, the vocational school and the adjacent vegetable market were struck by fixed-wing aircraft. Claims suggest that the airstrikes were carried out by either the Russian or Syrian Air Force. The Syrian government’s Ministry of Defense and pro-government accounts claimed that the target was a headquarters and an ammunition depot for drones affiliated with either the Turkistan Islamic Party or Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.
The attack resulted in the death and injury of dozens of people, as well as significant damage to the vocational school and the properties of traders and farmers present in the vegetable market.
The Ministry of Defense in the Syrian government claimed that, in cooperation with the Russian Air Force, they targeted several sites of “terrorists,” including their warehouses and sites for launching drones in Idlib governorate. The ministry released a video showing an aerial attack on these locations, including one in Jisr al-Shughur, according to the accompanying caption. However, the exact location of the video could not be verified due to the lack of clear landmarks in the displayed footage. Social media accounts and news pages in Idlib stated that airstrikes targeted areas on the outskirts of the towns of Benin and Sarja, in addition to areas in Latakia northern countryside that day.
Screenshots from a video published by the Syrian Ministry of Defense, claiming to show an airstrike on Jisr al-Shughur, were captured by Syrian Archive on 4 July 2023.
Reports on the incident
The first reports of the attack came from the Syrian Observatory on X (formerly Twitter), at 10:08. The tweet mentioned the presence of a Russian aircraft circling over Jisr al-Shughur.
Screenshot from a tweet by the Syrian Observatory on Twitter, captured by Syrian Archive on 3 July 2023.
One minute later, at 10:09, the pro-Syrian government account SAM tweeted news claiming of “repeated airstrikes by the Russian military aircraft on the outskirts of Jisr al-Shughur in the Idlib countryside.”
Two minutes later, journalist Milad Fadl, who is based in Idlib, shared a tweet reporting the presence of “Russian airstrikes targeting the outskirts of Jisr al-Shughur.”
The first images of the attack were broadcast by Syria TV at 10:10 AM. The accompanying tweet to the image mentioned a Russian airstrike hitting the outskirts of Jisr al-Shughur.
The image of the location of the attack on the vocational school in Jisr al-Shughur and the adjacent vegetable market, captured by Syrian Archive on 4 July 2023.
A video posted by Hadi Khrat on Twitter shows smoke at the impacted location at 10:11 local time on 25 June 2023.
After the attack, reports continued to emerge, and accounts such as the General Media Center MMC, Baladi News Network, Al-Moharir Media Network, North Press Agency, Aleppo Today Channel, all shared images and news about Russian airstrikes on the outskirts of Jisr al-Shughur.
At 10:29, Al Mayadeen, a news agency aligned with the Syrian government, reported news of “two Russian airstrikes targeting headquarters of armed groups” on the outskirts of Jisr al-Shughur in the Idlib countryside.
Screenshot from Al Mayadeen’s tweet about the attack of Jisr al-Shughur was captured by Syrian Archive on 3 July 2023.
The Thiqa news agency was the first to identify the location of the attack in the public market and mentioned in a tweet that there were 15 injured at the site.
Screenshot from Thiqa news agency’s tweet, pinpointing the location that was targeted in the public market, was captured by Syrian Archive on 2 July 2023.
Syria TV and the Civil Defense reported casualties in the airstrikes that targeted the vegetable and fruit market in Jisr al-Shughur. The Civil Defense attached images showing the first response by paramedics and other first responders.
Screenshot from the Civil Defense’s tweet showing the arrival of the first responders to the site of the attack at the vegetable market was captured by Syrian Archive on 30 June 2023.
The video published by Al Jazeera on Telegram showed the moments of the initial response and the arrival of paramedics to the location, who then transported the injured to hospitals. Baladi News Network tweeted about the urgent need for all blood types at Jisr al-Shughur Hospital, urging residents to donate due to the high number of incoming injuries.
Screenshot from Baladi News Network’s tweet asking Jisr al-Shughur’s residents to donate blood due to the high number of incoming injuries was captured by Syrian Archive on 28 June 2023.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent, Alaa Al-Din Al-Youssef, reported in a video that the attack began in the outskirts of Idlib city at approximately 09:00. According to Al-Youssef, Russian aircraft hit a farm, and an hour later a vegetable market in Jisr al-Shughur, which killed and injured several people at the location.
A video from the Civil Defense shows casualties and injured individuals at the scene, including children, as well as the process of evacuating the injured to hospitals.
Screenshot from the Civil Defense’s video showing victims and injured individuals at the vegetable market in Jisr al-Shughur was captured by Syrian Archive on 4 July 2023.
The first reports about the incident were posted at 10:08 in the morning on 25 June, as mentioned in the section above.
Aviation observatories, through their channels on Telegram, reported the presence of Russian warplanes in the area. The Jisr al-Shughur Aviation Observatory reported at 10:04 the presence of three warplanes in the area, with one of them conducting an airstrike on Jisr al-Shughur at 10:08.
Screenshot from the Jisr al-Shughur Observatory’s channel on Telegram, confirming the time of airstrike at 10:08, was captured by Syrian Archive on 28 June 2023
The Syrian North Observatory on Telegram reported the time of the airstrike at 10:07 and posted its location east of Jisr al-Shughur at 10:09.
Screenshot from the Syrian North Observatory’s channel on Telegram, reporting the time of an airstrike at 10:07 AM, was captured by Syrian Archive on 28 June 2023.
Additionally, Syrian Archive analyzed shadows using the Shadow Calculator tool, and the shadows observed in Hamdy Arnous’ video at the moment of the explosion matched the shadows in the area of impact on 25 June 2023, around 10:00 AM. This corresponds with the early reports published about the incident.
The shadows observed in Hamdy Arnous’ video at the moment of the explosion matched the shadows in the area of impact on 25 June 2023, around 10:00 AM.
The analysis of online reports about the incident, the timing of its occurrence, and witness testimonies in publicly available open-source information, along with the direction and length of shadows, indicates that the attack on the vegetable market and vocational school in Jisr al-Shughur occurred at around 10:00 AM on 25 June 2023.
The impact on civilians
The Civil Defense published on its Twitter account the number of casualties in the attack on the outskirts of Jisr al-Shughur. According to the Civil Defense, nine people were killed and 61 others were injured, including children.
The Facebook account belonging to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) shared a video showing the medical evacuation of the injured from the shelling that hit the vegetable market. The accompanying news stated that there were 10 fatalities and over 38 wounded in the initial toll, and the numbers are still rising.
Abdulaziz Qitaz, Abdo R Aliko, Idlib Health Directorate, Arrahma Hospital, North Syria Observatory, Civil Defense, Al Jazeera Syria, and Zaman Al-Wasl, all shared photos and videos on their Facebook accounts from inside the hospitals while treating the injured who were evacuated after the bombing of the vegetable market in Jisr al-Shughur.
A doctor in a video, showing the medical response to the injured, posted on Al-Rahma Hospital’s Facebook page, said: “We received several injuries from Jisr al-Shughur as a result of the shelling. The injuries vary, including multiple shrapnel wounds, fractures, and shrapnel in the abdomen and head.”
One of the injured shown in a video posted on KAJ Video’s Facebook page said, “I work as a vegetable truck driver; the plane hit us, and we didn’t hear its sound.” The father of one of the injured children in the same video added, “We were carrying vegetables, then suddenly the place was bombed. There were casualties and injuries.” The video also shows a piece of shrapnel that was removed from one of the injured, according to the account.
Screenshot from the KAJ Video’s Facebook video showing a piece of shrapnel reportedly extracted from one of the injured, captured by Syrian Archive on 4 July 2023.
Another survivor spoke about witnessing a farmer who lost his foot and another person who was killed in the area, in addition to other injuries.
Syrian Archive could only verify two documented fatalities through online sources, identified as Khalid Thabit Al-Haji and Sumer Nawaf Khalil. However, social media accounts circulated names of individuals claimed to have been injured in the shelling.
The shelling resulted in extensive damage to the building of the vocational school in Jisr al-Shughur, located opposite the vegetable market. The damage included collapse of the roof and outer walls, cracks in the walls and windows, and a fire inside the building. Additionally, there were material damages to the trucks, with a significant portion of their glass shattered, as well as their wheels and frame.
Screenshots show the destruction in the impact site. Soutces: المصادر: the Telegram channel of the Free Areas Administration Group, the Telegram channel of Al-Muharrir News, the Civil Defense Telegram channel, and Baladi News Network’s Telegram channel captured by Syrian Archive on 28 July 2023
Flight observation data
All available flight observation data is consistent with key findings: The reports of Russian aircraft presence over the affected area during the time of the attack support claims to an alleged perpetrator, the estimated timing, and geolocated impact sites.
To evaluate claims and key findings concerning this attack, Syrian Archive cross-referenced open source documentation of the attacks and their aftermath with flight observation data from an established spotter organization 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. Despite the presence of errors in identifying aircraft types in flight data, additional information, such as witness testimonies and social media posts, corroborate claims about the specific aircraft and its trajectory. Syrian Archive analyzed available air traffic data for potentially relevant flights sighted briefly before, during, and after the chronolocated time of the attacks.
Flight data indicates that Russian fixed-wing aircraft departed from the Hmeimim Air Base in Latakia, approximately 87 km southwest of Jisr al-Shughur, at 08:47, 09:36, and 10:05 on 25 June 2023. A large drone was observed departing from the southeast of Hmeimim Air Base at 09:18 AM.
A Russian fixed-wing aircraft was observed flying southwest over Jabal al-Akrad, approximately 20 km away from Jisr al-Shughur, at 09:16 and 09:34.
A Russian fixed-wing aircraft was also observed flying above al-Ziyara, 15 kilometers south of Jisr al-Shughur, at 08:57 and 09:14, and at 10:17. Also, above Jabal al-Zawiya, approximately 30 kilometers southeast of Jisr al-Shughur, at 10:17, 10:26, and 10:35.
Additionally, Russian fixed-wing aircraft were observed circling over Jisr al-Shughur at 10:08.
Drones were also seen flying above Jisr al-Shughur at 10:13 and 10:48.
Previous investigations have concluded that the circular flight of military aircraft over a certain location usually indicates an attempt to assess and prepare for a possible attack. Although the extensive presence and flying of Russian aircraft over the cities and villages near Jisr al-Shughur between 8:57 AM and 10:26 AM consistent with the reported timing of the strike, there is no direct evidence linking any of the observed aircraft to the detailed airstrikes mentioned above. However, the presence of warplanes over Jisr al-Shughur and its surrounding towns during the reported timeframe increases the likelihood of airstrikes in the area during the specified times.
The accompanying comment to the video from the Syrian government’s Ministry of Defense attributed responsibility for the incident to the Syrian Air Force in collaboration with the Russian Air Force.
The Syrian Ministry of Defense, on its Facebook page, reported in a statement accompanied by a video that it was a “targeting of command centers, warehouses, and launch sites of drones belonging to terrorist organizations in cooperation between the Syrian forces and the Russian Aerospace Forces.” The ministry also mentioned the names of some individuals who were killed in the incident. Syrian Archive could not verify or confirm their deaths through available sources.
The tweet accompanying the video of the reconnaissance aircraft, posted on Hamdy Arnous’ Telegram channel, mentioned the direct filming of the site of the attack and referred to civilian casualties. However, it also asserted that the strike targeted an ammunition depot belonging to armed groups.
Screenshot from a video posted on Hamdy Arnous’ Telegram channel, captured by Syrian Archive on 4 July 2023.
Accounts and websites affiliated with the Syrian government reported news along with photos and videos of the incident, confirming the responsibility of the Syrian and Russian forces. Accounts such as Syrian News, Al Mayadeen TV channel, Syria Al-Watan News, Najlaa Al-Saadawi, Noun Walqalam, and Waseem Al-Issa shared photos and news about the airstrikes, attributing the attack to the Russian Air Force.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) stated that the airstrikes were carried out by fixed-wing aircraft, believed to be Russian, with two missiles hitting the vegetable market adjacent to the vocational school in Jisr al-Shughur. The SNHR purports the location was used as a headquarters by the Turkistan Islamic Party.
Al Jazeera reported, quoting a local monitor (whose information accuracy could not be independently verified), that the aircraft that targeted the vegetable market was a Russian warplane of the type Su-34.
Positions and statements
The National Coalition, Syrian Democratic Council, European Union envoy, United Nations regional coordinator, Palestinian Scholars Council, Syrian Democratic Congress, Global Justice Organizations, Citizens for a Secure America (C4SSA), Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), and Syrian Institute for Progress (S14P) have all issued statements condemning the airstrike and holding the Russian forces responsible.
Screenshot of a tweet from the Head of the European Union Delegation to Syria, captured by Syrian Archive on 4 July 2023.
Screenshot from the National Coalition’s statement on Twitter, captured by Syrian Archive on 4 July 2023.
Based on the detailed information above, it was determined that airstrikes hit a vocational school and a vegetable market in Jisr al-Shughur at around 10:00 AM on 25 June 2023. The attack resulted in at least two fatalities and reported injuries to 61 others, including children, in addition to extensive damage to the vocational school building adjacent to the vegetable market.
Due to the open-source nature of the investigations, Syrian Archive is unable to definitively attribute responsibility for the strikes. However, all open-source information, flight data, as well as videos published by the Syrian Ministry of Defense and footage from reconnaissance aircraft, indicate a likelihood of the Syrian or Russian air forces’ involvement in the incident.