Over 15,000 killed in Iraq in 2014: govt

A woman walks past the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad, Oct. 18, 2014.

A woman walks past the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad, Oct. 18, 2014.

At least 15,000 people have been killed in Iraq in 2014, government figures showed on Thursday, according to Agence France-Presse.

Figures compiled by the health, interior and defense ministries put the death toll at 15,538, compared with 17,956 killed in 2007, during the height of Sunni-Shiite sectarian killings.

The toll was also more than double the 6,522 people killed in 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.

The violence was sparked by the demolition of the country’s main Sunni Arab anti-government protest camp near Ramadi in late 2013.

It spread to Fallujah, and security forces later withdrew from areas of both cities, leaving them open for capture.

That was a harbinger of events of June, when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group spearheaded a major jihadist offensive, sweeping security forces aside.

The militants overran Iraq’s second city Mosul and then drove south toward Baghdad, raising fears the capital itself would be attacked.

They were eventually stopped short, but seized swathes of five provinces north and west of the capital.

A renewed ISIS push in the north in August drove Kurdish forces back towards the capital of their autonomous region, helping to spark a U.S.-led campaign of air strikes against the jihadists.

That effort has since been expanded to training Iraqi forces aimed at readying them as quickly as possible to join the fight against ISIS.

Iraqi soldiers and police, Kurdish forces, Shiite militias and Sunni tribesmen have succeeded in regaining some ground from ISIS. But large parts of the country, including three major cities, remain outside Baghdad’s control.

In neighboring Syria, more than 76,000 people were killed in 2014, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said. The Britain-based monitoring group said 33,278 civilians were among those killed last year in the conflict, which started with protests in 2011 and has spiraled into a civil war.

The United Nations in August estimated the total number of people killed since the start of the conflict at 191,000 but activists say the actual figure is likely much higher.


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