Analysts have estimated the number of civilian victims of Russian air strikes in Syria

Data collected Airwars Monitoring Group (the Monitoring group of air wars, AMG), relate to the first three months of the Russian operation in Syria — from September 30 to December 31, 2015. In the report “Thoughtless disregard for the lives of civilians,” claimed that by the end of 2015 as a result of actions of the Russian aviation died from 1098 to 1450 civilians, more than 1,700 people were injured.

AMG claims to have collected and analyzed data from a number of monitoring and Syrian human rights organizations including Syrian network for human rights (Syrian Network for Human Rights, SNHR), a Syrian monitoring centre for human rights (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the SOHR), the Center for documentation of violence (Violations Documentations Center, VDC) and other. Total of all of these organizations reported 330 incidents with shelling of civilians by Russian aircraft, which left from 1826 to 2426.

The AMG experts argue that the verification of the data obtained they used official data of the Russian defence Ministry, press reports and information from social networks. In the end, the team of researchers considered confirmed 192 cases of deaths of civilians as a result of actions of the Russian aviation from 330 reported by human rights activists. Given AMG estimation of the size of the dead is made based on the number of verified incidents. More than 1300 potential victims of Russian air raids on the AMG site are listed by name.

The authors of the report AMG claim that Russia in the first months of operation were actively shelling the civilian infrastructure in Syria, including the dispensing of food and water treatment plants. In their view, these attacks resulted in mass deaths of civilians (when the number of victims was 20 persons and more) 16 times. In particular, 71 peaceful Syrian killed in attack on market in al-Bukamal in the province of Deir ez-Zor, the report said.

The Russian defense Ministry has repeatedly denied allegations that as a result of strikes by Russian aircraft killed civilians. In particular, when in December of 2015 Amnesty International said that it has documentary evidence of the blows the Russian space forces on hospitals, schools and homes in Syria, a spokesman for the defense Ministry Igor Konashenkov said that the report of human rights defenders consists of “fakes and stamps”. In the same vein, there were the commander of the Russian space forces Viktor Bondarev. “I want the dignity to say that my pilots for all the time spent there (in Syria) has never missed, never put blows on the prohibited objects, the so-called sensitive places,” he told TASS in December last year. The press service of the defense Ministry on Tuesday failed to respond to the request.

Evaluation of the coalition the U.S.

The monitoring group believes that over the same period (late September to late December) the number of victims among civilians of Iraq and Syria as a result of airstrikes of the US-led international anti-terrorist coalition ranged from 178 to 223 people.

The U.S. government confirmed three times that during strikes on targets in Iraq and Syria killing civilians, but resulted in much smaller numbers. The last such statement the Pentagon made in January 2016, when it was reported that during the last quarter of last year as a result of three different incidents killed eight civilians.

The total number of civilians killed, according to official estimates Washington, was 14 people. “We deeply regret that as a result of these airstrikes inadvertently killed and wounded [civilians], and we extend our sympathy to the families of the victims and injured,” — said the official representative of the Central command of the US forces, promising to further investigate the incident. But the majority of reports of human rights groups about civilian deaths in bombing the US Pentagon left unaddressed, indicating that the reliability of this information is in doubt.

Who are AMG

As reported on the AMG website, the organization is financed, including based George Soros Foundation “open society” and the British non-governmental organization The Network for Social Change. The group is headed by British investigative journalist Chris woods, it consists of eight people, journalists and analysts based in including in the UK, France, Iraq and Lebanon.

Alternative calculations

Formerly and other assessments regarding the likely victims of Russian attacks. At the end of December 2015, the Minister of foreign Affairs of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu said that as a result of Russian bombing killed 600 civilians in Syria (including 150 children). At the same time the UK based SOHR reported that, according to his estimates, during the Russian military operation in Syria the number of victims among the civilian population was 792 persons (among them 180 children). By the end of January, the organization increased its estimates of civilian casualties up to 1,380 people. As of March 1, in its assumptions, because of the Russian bombing and missile strikes has killed civilians 1733 Syrian.

Amnesty International, which also cited its own estimates of civilian casualties, determines that the blows struck VKS RF, interviewing surviving witnesses to the RAID, military experts and documentary evidence: photos and videos of the bombing. In addition, the method is also used to cross-match data about the strikes from different sources and official reports, the Russian defense Ministry. The human rights organization stated that, it is estimated that as a result of Russian attacks for the duration of operation HQs of the Russian Federation in Syria has killed about 600 civilians.

Among the factors that allegedly led to a large number of civilian casualties from Russian aviabiletov, AMG calls the Russian VKS using unguided bombs. The defense Ministry officially announced about their use. The Agency, however, reported the use of precision corrected air bombs KAB-500, which is equipped with a high explosive warhead and are induced by GLONASS.

The relevance of the research

AMG recognizes that the collection of accurate data on the number of civilian victims of Russian airstrikes complicated by the fact that in some cases it has not been established, whose aircraft attacked. The panel’s methodology implies that, in their estimate, it was compared the official data of the Russian defense Ministry about the locations of the attacks with information about the number of civilians killed, the collected monitoring and human rights organizations. Credible AMG considers information that is obtained from two or more reliable sources, preferably with photo and video evidence.

Professor UC Berkeley Sheriff Zuhur believes AMG data is relevant, and believes that the real number of civilian casualties may be even greater. One of the founders of the Syrian center for political studies (Syrian Center for Policy Research SCPR) Rabi Nasser in conversation with, on the contrary, called the counting methodology AMG “very weak”. His organization, working in close contact with the Syrian authorities, private counting victims does not lead, but is working to create statistically valid models of the Syrian crisis. General assessment of the SCPR in the number of victims of the Syrian civil war — about 450 thousand people.

The estimates on the number of victims among civilians are never accurate, not to mention the conclusions, which side was hit, said military expert, chief editor of the magazine “Arsenal Fatherland” Victor murakhovski. According to him, the count of the leading groups of researchers, usually do not rely on these medical devices, do not conduct surveys in a statistically meaningful scale, and does not have on-site observers. The expert believes that accurate data on the number of civilians killed can be collected only after the end of hostilities.

Theoretically earth can be determined which side belongs to the bomber, says military expert Viktor Litovkin: “the Trained observer can, for example, to distinguish a Russian su-24 with two engines from the F-16 with one engine”.

In the presence of domestic optics of the camera or the camera is the observer located on earth, can fix the outline of the plane, says a former fighter pilot, reserve officer, who asked to remain anonymous. Already it is possible to determine exactly who owns the bomber, because different parties to the conflict use different models of aircraft, he continues. But problems can arise if, for example, the Syrian army will begin to use the modern Russian models. Until the air force of Syria flies on less than perfect aircraft, e.g. MiG-21, developed in 1950-ies. “To distinguish between aircraft of the same model used by the two parties, it is difficult: to the naked eye at the altitude of 6-8 thousand feet — the insignia is simply not visible,” — says the expert. Obstacle to determine the attacking side might be the fact that bombs are dropped with anticipation, and fly 2-3 km “If the pilot quickly will make vigorous maneuver, then the observer will have no chance to recognize it”, — said the source . In addition, the area can be planes of various parties and determine which of them threw the bomb to the observer is almost impossible. But this situation is extremely rare.

Another identifier parties to the conflict can serve as parts of bombs and shells. “The markings on these parts it is possible to understand the country in which they were produced, — says Litovkin. – On the origin of the projectile can say even the metal.” But for this analysis, researchers need to have a special laboratory, specified the expert.