There’s scant information in some media about the people killed in the Donald Trump air strikes against a Syrian airfield. Many in the American media have been virtually silent on this question, other than giving numbers of those who died, and the Syrian and Russian media are whipping out propaganda.
Who are the victims of the United States’ Syrian missile attack on Shayrat air base? Despite the seeming lack of information in some corners about this question, names and photos are emerging from Syrian politicians, bloggers, and human rights groups (see some of them above and below in more detail). First, the numbers and conflicting accounts.
“Six Syrian soldiers were reported to have been killed in Friday’s missile strike, which destroyed as much as 90 percent of the base,” Telegraph reports. The New York Post reports that the air strike “almost completely destroyed an airbase and killed four Syrian soldiers.” The Post reports that a general was killed in the attack, and says it got its information from the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
That general would appear to be a man named Khalil Issa Ibrahim, based on accounts from Syrian politicians, bloggers, and other groups.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group wrote on its website on April 8 that the death toll at the air base “rose to 8 including 5 officers, the number of members of the regime forces who were killed in the US missile strikes that targeted the airbase dawn of Friday the 7th of April 2017, and the death toll is expected to rise because there are some people in critical situation.”
The Telegraph added: “Syrian officials said nine civilians, including four children, were also killed.” That account comes from the Syrian Arab News Agency, which wrote, “Nine civilians, including four children, were killed in the US missile attack on a military airbase and the nearby villages in the southeastern countryside of Homs province. Civil sources told SANA that two missiles used in the US attack that hit al-Shairat airbase in the Central Region killed five civilians, including three children, in addition to causing huge material damage to the houses. Another US missile fell in al-Hamrat village, killing four civilians, including a child. Moreover, seven civilians were injured as a missile struck houses in al-Manzoul village, 4 km away from al-Shairat airbase.”
Asked by Heavy whether children or civilians were killed, the U.S. Pentagon PR office responded: “The US Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles successfully launched by USS Porter and USS Ross hit all of their intended targets. We are confident these missiles hit their targets and at this time have no indication that they caused any civilian casualties.”
In a story on the same news site, the Syrian agency reported that the air strike left “6 people martyred and a number of others injured and causing huge material damage.” Russian media reported 14 deaths, including women and children, citing the governor of the region.
The Independent, also a UK news outlet, also quoted Syrian state media, but said the source had downgraded the casualty estimates, reporting, “Syrian state media has claimed that a US missile attack on a government airbase has killed seven people, including four children.”
The photos and names circulating so far, though, are all of adult male soldiers.
A member of Syrian parliament identified three of the victims of the missile attack on Twitter, the most prominent of which is a brigadier general. Russian and Syrian pro government bloggers have identified other soldiers they say were killed in the missile attack on the air base.
Here are the names that have emerged of those who died in the missile strike at the Shayrat air base:
Brigadier General Khalil Issa Ibrahim
A member of the Syrian parliament from Aleppo, Fares Shehabi, said on Twitter that General Ibrahim was killed in the attack. Fares Shehabi is also Chairman of the Syrian Federation of Industry, according to his Twitter page (Express reports that he is MP for Aleppo). His page is filled with anti-Trump rhetoric; he claims that the Syrian government fighters are fighting ISIS, not just rebels.
Some American officials have argued that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is using ISIS as an excuse to crack down on rebels fighting his regime. That dispute, plus Russia’s backing of al-Assad, makes it all a complicated stew indeed.
In a statement issued right after the air strike, the U.S. Pentagon said “the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict. Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.” The Pentagon said the strike “was a proportional response to Assad’s heinous act.”
The Pentagon added that “Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. Military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.” The Pentagon wrote that it was assessing “the results of the strike,” which damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure. The release makes no mention of casualties.
Lieutenant Issa Mohammed Ali
Shehabi also reported that Ali, a lieutenant in the Syrian military, was among those killed.
A Russian blogger also posted on Ali:
Those posting on the air base victims tend to paint them as martyrs who were staging a valiant battle against ISIS. The American president paints a different picture.
President Trump has said he launched the air strike against the base because that’s where a chemical weapons attack was staged that killed men, women, and children. Horrific images of the gassed victims have filled the media, including a father cradling his two decreased twin children (below). Those were the victims Trump said drove him to act, calling them children “of God.” According to the New York Times, Turkey says the nerve agent Sarin was used in the chemical weapons attack, which, The Telegraph says, killed “86 people including 33 children” in a province held by rebels. Trump explained his bombing of the Syrian airfield on April 6 by saying that Bashar al-Assad “choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children.” According to NBC News, the U.S. military at Trump’s order fired “59 Tomahawk missiles into Ash Sha’irat in Homes.” Syria has alleged the chemical weapons were stored by terrorist groups.
Amnesty International has provided a horrific account of the chemical weapons being dropped into the town, poisoning children.
According to Shehabi, another person killed was a Syrian soldier named Firas Baiki. 6 Mei Committee, a non-profit organization, gave his name as Firas al-Baiky and said his father was also previously killed.
Russian and Syrian bloggers listed other names as being among the victims, although these were not confirmed by official sources. The non-profit organization named 6 Mei Comite ran some of the same names and photos on Facebook, as did a pro Syrian government organization called “Syria’s Military Network and Local News.”
Lt. Firas Hammoud
6 Mei Comite published this photo of Hammoud:
Wael Issa Mahoub
Lt. Firas Albe Helke
No photo of Helke was available.
A pro Syrian military group ran this photo collage of victims and list of names on social media:
This article will be updated as more information is known.
You can read more about the Syrian air strikes here:
The United States launched a missile attack on Syria in response to a chemical attack that killed almost 100 people. See photos and videos from the scene.Click here to read more