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Case 9 “On Civilian Harm”: Airstrike

On the night of 20-21 March 2017, one of the bombing campaigns by the Coalition against ISIS went horribly wrong. A building in Al Mansoura had been identified as an ISIS stronghold and was bombed by US forces. It turned out that the building had housed numerous IDP families rather than ISIS combatants. According to reliable reports, at least 40 civilians perished on the spot, yet the Coalition insisted for a long time that its targeting had been correct and had killed ISIS combatants. The chapter "Airstrike: Bombs destroy a shelter in Al Mansoura (Syria, 2017)" examines the increasingly frequent occurrence of aironly campaigns, and the problems this poses for targeting decisions and postbombing verification of civilian harm. It moreover looks into pressing concerns with regard to transparent reporting of civilian harm by Western militaries.

In ‘On Civilian Harm’, we explore the ways in which civilians are negatively affected by violent conflict, offer tools and language to discuss the phenomenon, make practical recommendations for civilian harm mitigation and raise questions for further debate. The book contains in-depth analysises of 13 particular events in which harm to civilians occurred as a consequence of use of armed violence. Taken together, they contribute to an increased understanding of the variety and complexity of civilian harm at a conceptual level, bringing out common traits and patterns on civilian harm in violent conflict.

About this report

Date of publication:

Jun 10, 2021


Koen Kluessien (formerly with Airwars)


PAX Protection of Civilians

More about the book 'On Civilian Harm'
Case 9 “On Civilian Harm”: Airstrike

Jun 10, 2021, Koen Kluessien (formerly with Airwars)

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