San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Qas­sim Ab­dul-Zahra Qas­sim Ab­dul-Zahra is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

More than 16,000 civil­ians were killed by vi­o­lence na­tion­wide in 2016, re­searchers find.

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.

Ninevah’s cap­i­tal, Mo­sul, fell to the Is­lamic State in mid-2014 along with much of north­ern and western Iraq. Iraqi troops have since dis­lodged Is­lamic State mil­i­tants from ma­jor ar­eas in a huge op­er­a­tion that started in mid-Oc­to­ber.

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 around a third of Mo­sul since the op­er­a­tion be­gan in midOc­to­ber. 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 comes only days af­ter the United Na­tions in Iraq re­leased a re­port that found 6,878 civil­ians were killed by vi­o­lence in 2016.

The deadliest Is­lamic State at­tack came in July, when a mas­sive 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.

Khalid Mo­hammed / As­so­ci­ated Press

Mourn­ers bury Musaap Yaser Hazem, 17, who died dur­ing a Is­lamic State mor­tar at­tack in Mo­sul.

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