Iraq death toll mounts amid battle for Ramadi

Government forces clash with ISIL fighters as UN figures show almost 1,000 Iraqis killed in December 2015.

    At least 980 Iraqis lost their lives in violent attacks during the month of December 2015, around 90 more than November, the UN has announced, amid an offensive by the Iraqi military to retake Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.

    The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, known as UNAMI, said in a statement on Friday that 506 of those killed in December were civilians, while the rest were security personnel, including Kurdish Peshmerga and paramilitary troops.

    The figures were released a day after 60 Iraqi government and allied fighters were killed in an attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group north of Ramadi.

    "The year 2015 has seen thousands of Iraqis killed and injured as a result of conflict and terrorism. This is unacceptable," Jan Kubis, the special representative of the UN secretary-general for Iraq, said in the statement.

    "The Iraqi people have every right to live in peace and tranquillity. The UN continues to deplore this continuing loss of life."

    Worst affected province

    The UN said the worst-affected province was Baghdad with 261 killed, followed by Nineveh with 68.

    Citing its local health authorities, the UN said 124 civilians were killed in Anbar province, which has large areas under ISIL's control.

    The UN said it could not fully verify the Anbar figures due to the increased volatility of the situation on the ground and the disruption of services.

    It said that 1,244 civilians were wounded in December.

    ISIL seized much of northern and western Iraq, including the second largest city, Mosul, in the summer of 2014.

    Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes.

    On Monday, Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes drove ISIL fighters out of the city centre of Ramadi.

    But sporadic clashes and air strikes continue in areas that are still under ISIL control. 

    Two families fleeing the city were killed by a roadside bomb on Friday.

    Sixteen people - most of them women and children - died in the explosion that was caused by devices planted by ISIL fighters.

    ISIL areas targeted

    The US and its allies conducted 24 air strikes against ISIL on Thursday, the US military said in a statement.

    It said the attacks targeted seven areas, including near Tal Afar, where 11 strikes destroyed nine bunkers, five culverts and four bridges.

    Three raids struck a tactical unit near Mosul and destroyed two heavy machine guns, six fighting positions, a weapons cache and a trench.

    The strikes also targeted ISIL fighters near Hit, Kisik, Sinjar and Sultan Abdallah.


    SOURCE: Agencies


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