Coalition operations in Syria eight years on | Nearly 3,900 civilians among over 14,400 people killed in military operations and nearly 28% of Syrian territory captured by proxy formations • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Coalition operations in Syria eight years on | Nearly 3,900 civilians among over 14,400 people killed in military operations and nearly 28% of Syrian territory captured by proxy formations

The International Coalition completes today, September 23, its eighth year of military operations in Syrian territory. During these years, the Coalition has focused its efforts to support specific actors involved in the Syrian crisis and search for influential allies enabling it to entrench its presence in Syria. Since the first strike in Syrian territory, International Coalition Forces have supported military formations operating on the ground in Syria. Accordingly, the US-led Coalition ground forces started to join military operations, besides the airstrikes and rocket attacks, until the Coalition managed to entrench its presence and the presence of the military formations which it backs and supports in large swaths of the Syrian geography. Moreover, the International Coalition has carried out scores of military operations and airstrikes against its opponents in Syria, typically the strikes and operations against the “Islamic State,” which led to eliminating the terrorist organisation as a controlling power in Syria, as well as strikes which targeted jihadist groups, regime forces and their allies, Russian and Iranian-backed militias.


Since September 23, 2014, until today, September 23, 2022, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) could document the death of 14,424 people in strikes and military and security operations by the International Coalition in Syria. The fatalities are distributed as follows:


  • 9,345 ISIS members and commanders, the most prominent of whom were the following: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Abdullah Qardash who was the successor of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the senior military commander Abu Omar Al-Shishani, Abu Al-Hayjaa Al-Tunsi, Abu Osama Al-Iraqi who was the Wali of “Al-Baraka State,” Amer Al-Rafdan who was the Wali of “Al-Khair State,” the senior commander Abu Sayyaf, Abu Jandal Al-Kuwaiti, Abu Sufiyan Al-Omrani and Abu Hudhayfa Al-Orduni.


  • 3,855 civilians: 2,172 men, 972 children and 711 women.


  • 488 people of families of ISIS members.


  • 383 jihadists, the most prominent of whom were the following: the commander in Al-Qaeda Muhsin Al-Fadli, Abu Hammam who was the military commander in the former Jabhat Al-Nusra, Abu Omar Al-Kurdi, Abu Hamza Al-Ferensi, Abu Qatada Al-Tunusi and Abu Al-Afghan Al-Masri.


  • 148 regime soldiers and loyalists.


  • 122 members of the Russian security company of “Wagner.”


  • 60 Iranian-backed Syrian and non-Syrian militiamen.


  • 12 members of Jaysh Khaled Ibn Al-Waleed.


  • 11 members of rebel factions.


For the past eight years, SOHR has monitored and tracked field, military and logistical operations and movements by the International Coalition. Coalition logistical operations included the establishment of military bases, as well as attempts to expand its influence and provide support. Meanwhile, the participation of International Coalition Forces in military operations has been manifested in the considerable support and backup it has provided to its proxy formations and allies, which enabled them to dominate a large geographical area of Syrian territory. Now, the International Coalition and its proxies, Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) and Jaysh Maghawir Al-Thawra, dominate an area of some 51,584 square kilometres, equivalent to 27.8 percent of the total area of Syria. This area consists of parts of the provinces of Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Al-Hasakah, Al-Raqqah and the Syrian desert.


It is worth noting that SDF are deployed in an area of some 48,041 square kilometres, equivalent to 25.9 percent of the total area of Syria, while Jaysh Maghawir Al-Thawra is deployed in an area of some 3,543 square kilometres, equivalent to 1.9 percent of the total area of Syria.


Before the beginning of the Coalition operations in Syria on September 23, 2014, SDF and Jaysh Maghawir Al-Thawra had controlled an area of only 12,624 square kilometres, equivalent to 6.8 percent of the total area of Syria. This area included a part stretching from Syria-Turkey-Iraq border triangle to the outskirts of Al-Raqqah countryside running through Al-Hasakah city in Al-Hasakah province, as well as the city of Ain Al-Arab (Kobani) which witnessed then the most violent attack by ISIS.


Since the elimination of the “Islamic State” as a controlling power in Syrian territory in March 2019, the International Coalition has further escalated its cooperation with SDF through taking part in security campaigns by SDF with the aim of eliminating ISIS cells in SDF-controlled areas. In addition, the Coalition continued bringing in logistical and military supplies and reinforcement to SDF-controlled areas. Moreover, Coalition Forces attacked jihadists, chased ISIS members and commanders in north-west Syria region and attacked Iranian-backed militias on many occasions.


Before the so-called “Peace Spring” operation which was launched by Turkish forces and their proxies in late 2019, International Coalition Forces were stationed in over 22 military bases, including six grand bases, in different areas in east Euphrates region, Manbij and the north-eastern countryside of Aleppo. The grand bases contained airstrips and helipads.


These bases are distributed regionally as follows:


  • Aleppo: Ain Al-Arab (Kobani), Kharab Ishiq and Manbij.


  • Al-Raqqah: Tel Arqam, Al-Raqqah city, Al-Tabaqah and Ain Issa.


  • Al-Hasakah: Al-Shaddadi, Al-Hawl, Tel Tamr, Tel Baydar and Rumaylan.


  • Deir Ezzor: Al-Omar oil field, Koniko gas field and Al-Bahrah.


The US-led International Coalition Forces withdrew from several bases just after the beginning of the Turkish incursion into Al-Hasakah and Al-Raqqah.


We, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), renew our denunciation and condemnation of the killing of this large number of Syrian civilians, which exceeded 3,855 civilians, including 1,683 children and women, by the International Coalition’s airstrikes and rocket attacks on different Syrian areas. We stress once more that it would have been possible to avoid the heavy losses of Syrian civilian lives if the International Coalition had not ignored SOHR’s calls to spare and protect civilians from its military operations, where the presence of Islamic State militants or other jihadist groups in a civilian area does not in any way justify the blank and discriminate bombardment of the area and the loss of civilian lives. Moreover, the international community continues its “shameful” silence and indifference towards the tragedy of Syrian people, and it has exerted no serious efforts so far to bring to justice war criminals, perpetrators of violations and all those who aided and abetted the killing of Syrian people.


Despite SOHR repeated and “unheeded” appeals, International Coalition and SDF have not announced the results of interrogations with ISIS detainees and what happened to the thousands of abductees. The Syrian Observatory had previously called upon the international community to investigate reports regarding the killing of 200 ISIS operatives and their families, women, and children, in a massacre committed by the Coalition’s jets by bombing Al-Baghouz camp on March 21, 2019.


According to SOHR sources, 200 bodies were buried at dawn on that particular day, without information on whether the International Coalition was aware of the presence of children and women from ISIS families inside the camp or not.


On the other hand, we at SOHR would like to remind the world that the oil and gas resources, controlled by the International Coalition, belong only to the Syrian people. Therefore, all the concerned parties are obliged under international laws and norms to preserve these resources and ensure that they will not be stolen or seized in any way; these resources do not belong to the “regime”, “Iran” or any other party; they belong only to the people of Syria, who have been suffering the brutalities of an ongoing war for over nine years. SOHR also warns of the repercussions of exploiting these sources, seizing them, or depriving the Syrians of their rights to resources.