Daesh has claimed that it has killed close to 4,000 Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Shia militias and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters during the ongoing operations in and around Mosul, now in its seventh week. If true, this would mean that Daesh has killed almost as many men as it possesses itself in the war-ravaged city.
Daesh’s Amaq news agency has released a continuous week-by-week update of statistics it claims show how many combatants it has killed in action, the number of suicide bombing missions it has executed and a number of other statistics including its claims regarding civilian casualties in Mosul.
The US-backed operation to recapture Mosul from Daesh began on 17 October and, according to Amaq, the first month of combat operations cost the ISF and allied forces 2,671 men.
Later figures released by Amaq after the fifth week showed that Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had lost 487 men and suffered the destruction of over 100 other vehicles, including 8 US-made M1 Abrams tanks.
Daesh released their statistics for the sixth week of combat earlier this week, and claimed to have killed a further 541 men, 41 of whom were shot by Daesh snipers.
The sniper deaths claims comes not long after Amaq released yet another dramatic video depicting its sniper unit and its claimed successes over the past month and a half.
In total, and up until Monday, Daesh has claimed to have killed 3,699 Iraqi soldiers, Shia militias in the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) and men fighting in the Kurdish Peshmerga.
Casualty figures contribute to fog of war
While Daesh are keen to put out their casualty estimates, the Iraqi government and the US-led international coalition are generally unclear or vague when broaching the topic.
AP interviewed Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi on Monday, and specifically asked him about the butcher’s bill since the Mosul campaign began. Al-Abadi notably declined to answer their questions, claiming that Iraqi losses were “sustainable”.
However, Iraq experts have expressed doubt as to how reflective of reality the prime minister’s comments are, suggesting that Iraq’s combat losses are bound to be sustainable in light of the fact that they have deployed 100,000 men to fight about 5,000 Daesh militants.
Further, and although Daesh has admitted to losing at least 164 fighters in suicide bomb attacks alone, there are no clear statistics from any of the belligerents regarding its actual losses, with others yet prone to exaggeration.
According to US military sources, the first ten days alone of the Mosul operation led to the deaths of almost 900 Daesh fighters, while a senior Iraqi commander claiming earlier this month that 955 militants were killed on the southern Mosul front alone.
At the start of the campaign to recapture Mosul, the United States declared that some 5,000 to 6,000 Daesh fighters were present in and around the city, held by the extremist organisation since June 2014.
If the Iraqi authorities’ figures, in addition to the coalition, are to be believed, that means that Daesh forces have suffered force attrition of a third or more of the total forces present in Mosul. In military terms, these losses are unacceptably high for a force in the field hoping to hold onto a city.
However, Daesh has put up a dogged defence of its holdings in Mosul, with the Iraqi authorities suffering casualties even in areas in the east of the city that it has claimed to have “liberated”, suggesting that it does not yet have full control over the vast majority of Iraq’s second city.