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Iraq: UN says Mosul death toll ‘staggering’

December 2, 2016 at 1:02 pm

A wounded man is taken to hospital after clashes between Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government’s peshmerga forces and Daesh terrorists took place in Mosul on 17 November 2016 [Hemn Baban/Anadolu]

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has described casualty figures it released on the ongoing battle for Mosul as “staggering”.

Figures for November showed that 1,959 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and its allies were killed in the battle for Mosul, while the UN’s data for October, when the operation to recapture Mosul from Daesh began, showed that 672 ISF and other units were killed.

This brings the total death toll suffered by the Iraqi alliance against Daesh to 2,631, and the United Nations also said that the figures are likely to be much higher due to troubles with collating reliable data from highly unstable Iraqi provinces such as Anbar.

The number of Iraqi military deaths for the battle for Mosul, now nearing the end of its seventh week, emerged yesterday with UN officials describing additional hundreds of further civilian casualties, reporting that 926 non-combatants had been killed.

“The casualty figures are staggering, with civilians accounting for a significant number of the victims,” the top UN envoy in Iraq, Jan Kubis, said.

Kubis added that the rapidly growing death toll was largely a result of the extremist Daesh organisation’s ferocious defence of Mosul, the city where they proclaimed their now crumbling “caliphate” in 2014.

The UN toll includes members of the army, police engaged in combat, the Kurdish Peshmerga, interior ministry forces and pro-government Shia paramilitaries from the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

Iraqi losses closer to 4,000

While high casualty tolls were expected for what has been Iraq’s toughest battle against Daesh, to date few figures had been released. The government in Baghdad rarely divulges casualty figures during military operations.

Following the conclusion of the sixth week of fighting, MEMO reported that the casualty figures offered by Daesh suggested that ISF, Peshmerga and PMF Shia militias had suffered a death toll that is closer to 4,000.

According to Amaq news agency, Daesh’s news organisation, and its week by week tally of targets it claimed the extremists had killed or destroyed, the losses amounted to 3,699 pro-government fighters.

The UN’s figures, in addition to its announcement that the toll was likely far higher due to unreliable data, now shows that Amaq may have been accurate in their accounting for the battle thus far.

The Iraqi government launched a US-backed offensive to recapture Mosul from Daesh on 17 October. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, is mainly populated by Sunni Arabs who Human Rights Watch and others have said are victims of PMF and ISF atrocities.