by and for citizen investigative journalists

Dataset of Russian Attacks Against Syria’s Civilians

May 13, 2016

By Syrian Archive

Translations: Русский

The Syrian Archive maintains an extensive video database of all known allegations in which civilians have been reported killed or injured by Russia since September 30th 2015.
This is one of the datasets that the Syrian Archive has collected, and we will continue working on collecting and creating other video datasets of violations by all parties to the conflict against civilians.

This Russian attacks database includes 1561 videos which has been captured by Syrian journalists, citizen reporters and activists as evidence to expose and draw attention to alleged human rights violations committed by the Russian forces in Syria.

Our goal in collecting, verifying, and publishing the videos is to bring attention to the effect of Russian attacks on Syrian civilians and show the scale and pattern from the point of view of citizen reporters who witnessed those incidents. In addition, we are cross-referencing videos of Russian attacks from different sources with the casualties that have been documented by various documentation centers such as the Violation Documentation Center which published the details of 2068 civilians as can be seen here.

Here you can find the video dataset of alleged civilian casualties from Russian attacks, which includes footage of:

  • Destruction of hospitals and schools as a result of alleged Russian attacks;
  • Destruction of civilian objects such as buildings, markets, mosques, bakeries, factories, displaced camps as a result of alleged Russian attacks;
  • Videos of Russian planes flying over specific areas captured by citizen reporters;
  • Destruction of water infrastructure by Russian attacks which is confirmed and cross referenced with a video published by the Russian MOD;
  • Remnants of prohibited weapons and munitions used by Russian forces in Syria e.g cluster bombs;
  • Civilian casualties including children and women as a result of alleged Russian attacks;
  • Witness testimonies of civilian casualties or targeting civilian objects by alleged Russian attacks.

Here you can see an interactive timeline to filter the attacks which happened between September 29th 2015 | March 31st  2016.
We can see from the timeline that 506 videos have been captured in October 2015 by citizen reporters as evidence of alleged Russian attacks against civilians.

Timeline of allged Russian attacks against civilians

We can also see below that there were videos captured in March 2016 by citizen reporters as evidence of alleged Russian attacks against civilians which means that Russia has possibly violated the ceasefire truce agreement in Syria that started in 27th February 2016. The Syrian Network for Human Rights has a full report about this here.

Video about attacks in March

Reports on Russian attacks on Syria’s civilians

We have collected a list of reports which have been published by human rights organisations and investigative journalists about the Russian attacks on Syria’s civilians in Sept 29th 2015 | April 30th 2016. Organisations include Physicians for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights WatchSyrian Network for Human Rights, Violations Documentation Center, Bellingcat, Airwars, Carter Center and Atlantic Council. You can find all reports in the end of this page.

Our methodology of verification

First: Verifying the source who published the video

We have identified 98 sources of information and their channels on social media platform (e.g YouTube and Facebook, Telegram). These sources are established groups that have been working in Syria for a long time, some of them since 2011/2012, and have been reliable in their reporting. These groups are based in different provinces and have been spreading information about incidents and violations happening in their areas for several years.

Some of the sources are citizen reporters such as Yasser Doumany, who since 2011 has been based in Douma, or Hashem Al Abdallah, who since 2011 has been based in Idlib. Local and international news agencies, such as Smart News Agency, have also been consulted as well as human rights organisations working on documenting violations in Syria (e.g. Violation Documentation Center, Syrian Human Rights Network, White Helmets teams working across Syria). Some sources we have verified sent us videos which have not been published on social media.

Second: Collecting and processing the video dataset

After extracting data from around 98 sources which contained thousands of videos, we filtered their materials to extract those videos which refer to Russian attacks against civilians.

sheet

Third: Verifying the location

Every video went through basic geolocation to verify that it has been captured in Syria. We have identified the actual province in most videos and the actual coordinates in some of them. This has been done by comparing reference points such as buildings, mountains range, trees, minaret with Google Earth satellite imagery, openstreetmap and geolocated photographs from panoramio. In addition to this we have checked the Arabic accent spoken in the video to make sure of the location of the video. Where possible we have contacted the source directly to confirm the location and also consulted our network of journalists operating inside Syria to confirm the locations of specific incidents. As a result of geolocating the videos, we have noticed that most of the videos were captured in Talbisah which is located in Homs and Latamneh which is located in Hamah.

videos_locations

Fourth: Verifying the date

We have verified the date of capturing the video by cross referencing the publishing date on social media e.g YouTube and Facebook with dates from  reports on the same incidents which existed in:

  • News reports such as international media outlets: Reuters, Local media outlets: Smart News Agency, Qasioun News Agency,
  • Human rights reports such as the ones of the Human rights watch, Amnesty International,  Syrian Human Rights Network, VDC,
  • Reports shared from our network of citizen reporters on Twitter, Facebook and Telegram about the incidents.

Fifth: Verifying that videos are referring to alleged Russian attacks

Below are factors which indicate that attacks were Russians, not Syrian regime attacks neither coalition airstrikes.

A. New weapons and munitions seen in Syria for the first time since the the start of the Russian airstrikes on 30th September 2015 such as RBK-500 SPBE-D cluster bombs. It can be seen in the following two videos that were captured in Aleppo.

The first video is by the source abnhoran hariri

cluster1

and the second video is by Aleppo civil defense

cluster2

B. Observatory workers are intercepting the communication of flights spoken orders, which were given in Russian. There are about 50 observatories from Qalamoun in Damascus Countryside to Aleppo. Some of them were able to detect messages while taking off from the military airports such as Hmeim airbase.
The violation documentation center (VDC)obtained some of the recordings such as this one where it says: “I did the first. In a few minutes I will execute the second.” And here is another recording. Below is a photo of the devices that has been sent to VDC.

vdc

Also there are interviews with observatory workers explaining how they work on monitoring Russian airstrikes. This is one of the videos that has been recorded by Step News Agency with the observatory office 80 and the observatory Abu Faisal in Hamah country side.

C. Pattern of Russian attacks: VDC researchers found out that Russian jets can be distinguished by the shape of the plane, their high velocity, altitude and the high destructive power of the missiles dropped – especially the thermobaric (vacuum) bombs and cluster munitions. Also Russian warplanes launch simulated attacks prior to the actual ones, unlike Syrian aircraft which do not conduct practice runs before their airstrikes.

Videos that have been removed from the Internet

Two YouTube channels have been removed which contained 104 videos as evidence of alleged Russian attacks against Syria’s civilians. Those videos and channels have been preserved by the Syrian Archive.

Channel’s details:

Channel Names: Qasion News Agency
Number of videos removed: 85 videos which are considered as evidence of Russian attacks against civilians
Channel Names: Sada Revolution Network
Number of videos removed: 19 videos which are considered as evidence of Russian attacks against civilians
Channel URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9BJYGP7bA-fkyY0sPzQzQw

Some videos have been removed from International human rights organisation’s reports and maps such as Physicians for Human Rights which is documenting attacks on health care including Russian attacks. This is an example of one of their removed videos that show an attack on Benin ambulance by a Russian airstrike. We don’t know the exact reasons of why and how the videos were removed from YouTube or Facebook. Below is the PHR removed video on the Map of attacks on health care in Syria.

phr removed

Submitting videos to the SyrianArchive

In order to provide the most complete and accurate information on the Russian attacks, we are always looking for new evidence to collect and add to the alleged Russian attacks video dataset. If you would like to send us a video which is not on the dataset please reach us at info [at] SyrianArchive [dot] org

Errors and corrections

We strive for accuracy and transparency of process in our reporting and presentation. That said, we do recognise that the information publicly available for particular events can at times be limited. Our video datasets are therefore organically maintained, and represent our best present understanding of alleged incidents.

If you have new information about a particular event; if you find an error in our work – or if you have concerns about the way we are reporting our data – please do engage with us. You can reach us at info [at] syrianarchive [dot] org

List of reports on Russian attacks against Syria’s civilians

Amnesty International

Physicians for Human Rights

Violations Documentation Center

Human Rights Watch

Bellingcat

Syrian Network for Human Rights

Airwars

Atlantic Council

Carter Center

Syrian Archive

Syrian Archive is a open source platform that collects, curates, verifies, and preserves visual documentation of human rights violations in #Syria | Twitter: @syrian_archive

80 Comments

  1. Alexey

    Hahahahaha! Simply perfect evidence) Some footages with some fires in it) Made under unknown circumstances. Really good joke.
    BTW, when the war crimes in Yugoslavia and Iraq are goind to be investigared?

    Reply
    • Sammy

      The Russians supporting Serb war crimes, do you really want that investigated?

      Nice whataboutism from the St Petersburg troll farm

      Reply
      • Alexey

        You may not pretend so stupid, Sammy. Or you are taught nothing more at your troll factory?

        Reply
        • Sammy

          What?

          I thought the troll farm in St Petersburg hired competent people?

          Am I stupid or pretending to be stupid? What are you trying to say?

          At least stranger is a good troll (but not the 3rd shift people using his account).

          Reply
    • Yan

      War of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, 1979-89, was the same as the bombing of the civilian population

      Reply
    • Andrea

      actually US admitted they had bombed that hospital as soon as the news of the attack went out…

      Reply
      • Sam

        Yeah, weird

        US admitted they bombed a hospital, and started an investigation right away.

        Russia never admits bombing any hospitals.

        I guess you never have to investigate things that you will always deny ever happened.

        Reply
        • Barry

          The US changed it’s story 4 times 4 days regarding the MSF facility. And the investigation you touted included going into the building in a tank and ensuring all evidence will be destroyed and the last time I checked the US has not agreed to the independent investigation the MSF called for. So get off that sick high horse

          Reply
    • Sammy

      Off topic like your whataboutism….

      What does Russia actually make? The main exports are gas, oil and military tech.

      The Chinese are building hi tech stuff (smartphones) for the rest of the world while Russia is exporting weapons and stuff drilled from holes in the ground.

      The creators of VK and LifeNews both left Russia.

      What does Russia actually produce? It has a mismanaged 2nd world economy with so much corruption that discourages investment.

      Hmm? What is the Kremlin propaganda line?

      Reply
      • Bhuqe

        Creators of VK went on to create privacy-aware messenger Telegram and the app made appearance on Chinese Central TV for helping organize protests. I’d say beware of Chinese electronics, as much as I love the place. Internet security is a s**thole here, with the government actively against encryption being widely adopted and insistently requiring all online exchanges be identifiable. Definitely worse than NSA.

        Reply
    • Alexander

      What about the terrible Soviet war crimes in Afganistan described by last Nobeel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich in her book Zink Boys?

      Reply
      • stranger

        What about Vietnam? Using of the famous Napalm?
        Did you read Zync Boys? I skimmed over quickly. This is a psychological, rather grim and cynical description of the life of soviet soldiers in Afghanistan. That is the kind of the literature which would have been a revelation in soviet times, was very common and wide spread in 90th and makes no impression or a difficult one today. That book today sounds like a hello from 90th. I don’t think that style deserves the Noble prize, and probably it was politisized, but may be I don’t understand such a high level of literature.
        Would you mind to point out the examples of the ‘terrible war crimes’ from this book?

        Reply
      • stranger

        Alexievich was sued by the mothers and the soldiers who though she disgraced them in her book,
        There is an interesting question: can you imagine an another American Alexievich who described the life of American soldiers in Vietnam, Iraq, etc in the same way and be popular and got a Nobel price for that? I believe that is the answer…

        Reply
  2. Sammy

    The St Petersburg troll farm is out in full force on this thread.

    Expect many whataboutism posts, and deflection from facts presented.

    Reply
        • Andrea

          but you are giving NO contribution to any discussion…instead you are just being childish…
          This way you look dumber than trolls

          Reply
          • Russian

            Andrea, on the one hand you’re absolutely right, but on the other we can say with a very high degree of certainty that BC is targeted by Kremlin trolls whose aim is to plant seeds of doubt among the casual undecided bystander. Thus, there is little point in engaging in constructive conversations with them or spending time on debunking their posts. It takes zero effort to toss accusations around, and a lot of time and research to properly debunk them (see the Gish Gallop technique).

            On the other hand, you also don’t want to just leave them hanging in the air for impressionable minds to take the bait.

            So I suppose sammy does actually provide a service of sorts 🙂

          • Sammy

            Russian,

            Very good points. Sometimes my points have little contribution except to point out the trolls are posting here..

            The world needs to know about the St Petersburg troll farm.

            Other times, I try to engage in conversation with the trolls that goes round and round…. Becomes a waste of my time.

            Other times I comment on off topic things, such as Putin’s daughters secrecy, military parades, etc…because I want to know the the average Russian’s opinion. Also the Kremlin opinion dictated to the troll farms.

            The Russians here never respond to those questions.

            This forum provides a good insight to the Russian government thinking.

            When the “Pro-Russian” comments on an article like this are greater than others, we know it is an important issue to the Russian government.

            At least I’m not paid to post here…

  3. Sammy

    Do the trolls not work on weekends? How unpatriotic?

    Stalin would sent all the trolls to the gulag.

    Reply
  4. Alexander

    The Putin’s Olgino trolls earn more money for English comments, than for Russian ones.

    Reply
  5. Sammy

    Funny, because most the English language comments are by useless trolls, like Dmitry, Greg, etc.

    Stranger is the only one worth engaging with.

    Those other guys should be fired.

    Reply
      • stranger

        Sam doesn’t consider you a troll, so that is an appreciation.. It seems though that trolls get more attention, than real people – not fare! 🙂

        Reply
        • Sammy

          stranger,

          You are not a troll, you are FSB 😉

          At least you try to make rational arguments unlike Dmitry, Greg etc….

          Reply
  6. John Zenwirt

    Trolls from Olgino.

    “Trolls from Olgino” is an internet slang term which appeared in late 2014, referring to a series of fake accounts registered on major discussion boards (social networks, online newspaper sites, video hosting services, etc.) that were used for promoting the Russian point of view in topics involving Ukraine and the Middle East.” (Wiki)

    http://tinyurl.com/gofog6u

    Reply
    • Sammy

      Russian Trolls…..

      I wonder where their VPN services are popping out, what IP addresses, which countries.

      How many VPNs in how many countries are the trolls using?

      Are there known VPNs being used by the trolls and Russian government.

      I’m guessing Bellingcat has this info and it might be in a future article?

      Reply
  7. John Zenwirt

    sam: “How many VPNs in how many countries are the trolls using?”

    Perhaps we can turn BC’s tools “OSINT and Python: IP Addresses” to find one or many IP’s for “The Agency”….and then…DDOS them to hell…

    Reply
  8. Adam

    I’m late to the party but:

    You need not take “sides” when it comes to America or Russia. Both historically are guilty of war crimes and human rights abuse, and both have attempted to hide them or sweep them under the rug.

    Whether Russia admits it or not: they’ve done some very, very bad stuff in Syria and are propping up a war criminal.

    The U.S. meanwhile helped create a corrupt, incompetent Iraqi government that persecuted and targeted the Sunni minority.

    And we needn’t mention the actions of both in their Afghan adventures.

    Assuming we are all human beings, and not apologists for our respective countries, can we not just agree on the basic facts and the realities?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)