Violence in Iraq killed more than 15,000 civilians and security personnel in 2014, government figures have shown, making it one of the deadliest years since the 2003 US-led invasion.
Figures compiled by the health, interior and defence ministries and published on Thursday put the death toll at 15,538, compared with 17,956 killed in 2007 during the height of Sunni-Shia sectarian killings.
Yet again, the Iraqi ordinary citizen continues to suffer from violence and terrorism. 2014 has seen the highest number of causalities since the violence in 2006-2007. This is a very sad state of affairs.
UN Iraq envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, said: “Yet again, the Iraqi ordinary citizen continues to suffer from violence and terrorism.
“2014 has seen the highest number of causalities since the violence in 2006-2007. This is a very sad state of affairs.”.
The death toll was more than double the 6,522 people killed in 2013.
Iraq Body Count, a Britain-based NGO that tracks violence in the country, gave an even higher toll, saying that 17,073 civilians were killed, which would make it the third deadliest year since 2003.
“For Iraqis, it has been the most difficult and painful of years because of the attack of the terrorist gangs,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi said in a New Year’s speech, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who were said to be responsible for much of the bloodshed.
Iraq’s latest violence was sparked by the demolition of the country’s main Sunni Arab anti-government protest camp near Ramadi in late 2013.
The year got off to a bloody start, with the government losing control of parts of Anbar provincial capital Ramadi and all of Fallujah – just a short drive from Baghdad – to anti-government fighters.
Security forces later withdrew from areas of both cities, leaving them open for capture.
That was a harbinger of events in June, when ISIL spearheaded a major offensive that swept security forces aside.
The armed group overran Iraq’s second city Mosul and then drove south towards Baghdad, before stopping short of the capital, but seizing large swathes of five provinces north and west of the city.
On Thursday, at least 40 ISIL fighters were reportedly killed in clashes with Iraqi forces in Ramadi, while another eight were killed in Fallujah.
Near the group’s stronghold of Mosul, Kurdish Peshmerga forces killed 10 ISIL fighters in the village of Sultan Abdullah.
Iraqi soldiers and police, backed by Kurdish fighters, Shia militias and Sunni tribesmen have succeeded in regaining some ground from the group, but large parts of the country, including three major cities, remain outside Baghdad’s control.