Iraq's civilian death toll drops by nearly 80 percent: reports

Iraq's civilian death toll drops by nearly 80 percent: reports
3 min read
12 June, 2018
Iraq's civilian death toll has dropped by nearly 80 percent since authorities declared victory over the Islamic state militant group, according to reports.
Iraq declared victory over IS in December [Getty]
The number of Iraqi civilians killed in acts of violence since the beginning of the year has significantly dropped, largely due to defeat of the Islamic State group, the United Nations and a monitor have said.

Iraq saw an 80 percent drop in civilian deaths in the first five months of 2018 compared to the same period last year, according to reports released by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Iraq Body Count database this week.

Some 477 Iraqis were killed in acts of violence since the beginning of the year compared to 2,014 in the first five months of 2017, a drop of 76.3 percent, UNAMI said.

The number of wounded during the same period dropped from 2,977 to 939, a decrease of 68.4 percent, it said. 

Meanwhile, the London-based Iraq Body Count, which tracks violent deaths in the country, gave similar figures. 

The number of civilian deaths from political and religious violence dropped from 7,708 in the first five months of 2017 to 1,818 during the same period in 2018 - a decrease of 76.4 percent.

In May Iraq held parliamentary elections without any major security incident, a first since the 2003 US-led invasion and ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein.

And so far, the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which started in mid-May, has gone on without major violence unlike previous years when it was rocked by deadly attacks.

Iraq claimed victory over IS in December after pushing the jihadists out of their final holdouts along the border with Syria. 

But the group retains the capacity to strike despite losing control of vast swathes of Iraqi territory it seized in 2014 and still clings to pockets of desert in war-torn Syria.

Civilian casualties

Last week, the US military said "no one will ever know" how many Iraqis and Syrians its troops and allies killed in the four-year fight against the Islamic State group.

The Pentagon said that despite "best efforts" to count civilian casualties in air strikes against IS targets, there was "no possible way" and that anyone who knows is "lying".

The admission comes after rights group Amnesty International accused the US and its allies of killing hundreds of civilians during its campaign to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from IS extremists. 

"As far as how do we know how many civilians were killed, I am just being honest, no one will ever know," US Army Col Thomas Veale, spokesman for the US led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, said in a briefing at the Pentagon by video link from Baghdad. "Anyone who claims they will know is lying, and there's no possible way."

Veale described civilian deaths as "extremely unfortunate" and a "terrible, awful part of this war" against IS.