16,361 Iraqi civil­ians killed in ’16

Toll 7,431 in prov­ince con­tain­ing Mo­sul, re­searchers re­port

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - QASSIM AB­DUL-ZAHRA

BAGH­DAD — Vi­o­lence and mil­i­tary oper­a­tions claimed the lives of more than 16,000 civil­ians in Iraq last year, a re­search group said Thurs­day, mak­ing it one of the dead­li­est years for war-weary Iraqis since the 2003 U.S.-led in­va­sion.

In its an­nual re­port, the Lon­don- based Iraq Body Count re­ported that 16,361 Iraqi civil­ians died in 2016. The north­ern prov­ince of Nin­eveh was the worst hit, with 7,431 peo­ple killed. The cap­i­tal, Bagh­dad, was next with 3,714 civil­ians killed, the re­search showed.

Nin­eveh’s cap­i­tal, Mo­sul, fell to the Is­lamic State mil­i­tant group in mid-2014 along with much of north­ern and west­ern Iraq. Iraqi troops have since dis­lodged Is­lamic State mil­i­tants from key ar­eas in an op­er­a­tion that started in mid-Oc­to­ber.

Iraqi forces ad­vanc­ing from the north and east con­verged in Mo­sul on Thurs­day. The U.S. spe­cial en­voy to the anti-Is­lamic State coali­tion, Brett McGurk, called the ad­vance a “mile­stone” in a state­ment posted on Twit­ter. Brig. Gen. Haider Fad­hil of Iraq’s spe­cial forces con­firmed the ad­vance.

Iraq’s spe­cial forces have largely been lead­ing the push in Mo­sul’s east, while the Iraqi army has been ad­vanc­ing in

the north of the city. Iraqi forces have re­taken about a third of Mo­sul since the op­er­a­tion be­gan in mid-Oc­to­ber.

Iraq Body Count doc­u­ments deaths from mil­i­tants shoot­ing captives, other gun­fire, sui­cide at­tacks, bomb­ings, air at­tacks and shelling. Last year, the great­est causes of death were the shoot­ing of captives and other gun­fire, which ac­counted for more than half of all civil­ian deaths, it said.

The group be­gan doc­u­ment­ing civil­ian deaths in Iraq af­ter 2003 and re­lies on me­dia re­ports, non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions and Iraqi gov­ern­ment sources. The re­port said 17,578 peo­ple were killed in 2015 and 20,218 in 2014.

The re­port was pub­lished only days af­ter the United Na­tions in Iraq re­leased a re­port that found 6,878 civil­ians were killed by vi­o­lence in 2016. The U.N. mis­sion said the num­bers didn’t in­clude ca­su­al­ties

among civil­ians in Iraq’s west­ern An­bar prov­ince for the months of May, July, Au­gust and De­cem­ber. It said it was hin­dered from ver­i­fy­ing ca­su­alty num­bers in con­flict ar­eas and from sec­ondary ef­fects of vi­o­lence.

The dead­li­est Is­lamic State at­tack came in July, when a sui­cide bombing in a bustling mar­ket area in cen­tral Bagh­dad killed al­most 300 peo­ple, the blood­i­est sin­gle at­tack in the cap­i­tal in 13 years of war.


A woman and boy Thurs­day pass bombed-out build­ings on the eastern side of Mo­sul, Iraq, as peace­time ac­tiv­i­ties be­gin to re­turn to the area.

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