Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, is now the scene of a battle for control between Iraqi, Kurdish, and ISIL forces.
Nearly 2,000 members of the Iraqi security forces were killed in November across the country, along with hundreds of civilians, the United Nations said on Thursday.
According to the UN mission in Iraq’s monthly tally, 1,959 Iraqi forces were killed last month and at least 450 others wounded.
The toll includes members of the army, police engaged in combat, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, interior ministry forces, and pro-government paramilitaries, it said.
Halgord Hekmat, a spokesman for the autonomous Kurdish region’s Peshmerga ministry in Iraq, said on Thursday a total of 1,600 Peshmerga soldiers had been killed since the start of the offensive to retake the ISIL-held Iraqi city of Mosul on October 17.
Almost 10,000 Peshmerga fighters were also wounded, he said.
The UN statement said at least 926 civilians were also killed, bringing to 2,885 the number of Iraqis who have died in acts of “terrorism”, violence, and armed conflict last month.
“The casualty figures are staggering, with civilians accounting for a significant number of the victims,” said Jan Kubis, the top UN envoy in Iraq.
The US military said in a statement on Thursday that at least 54 civilians were killed by US-led coalition air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria between March 31 and October 22.
This brings the total number of civilians killed by the coalition to 173 since strikes started in 2014.
The rise in casualties comes as the major offensive to retake Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Iraq’s largest military operation in years – entered its seventh week.
Kubis said the growing death toll was largely a result of ISIL’s ferocious defence of Mosul, the city where it proclaimed its now crumbling “caliphate” in 2014.
“Daesh has been employing the most vicious tactics, using civilian homes as firing positions, as well as abducting and forcibly moving civilians, effectively using them as human shields,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.