2014 was one of the deadliest years on record for Syrians and Iraqis caught up in a violent conflict between government forces, rebels and militants of the Islamic State group. While over 76,000 people were killed last year in Syria, figures compiled by the Iraqi government put the death toll in Iraq at over 15,500 -- the highest since the height of Sunni-Shia sectarian violence in 2007, according to media reports.
“Yet again, the Iraqi ordinary citizen continues to suffer from violence and terrorism,” Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations’ envoy to Iraq, reportedly said. “2014 has seen the highest number of causalities since the violence in 2006-2007. This is a very sad state of affairs.”
While the official death toll of 15,538 people, which includes civilians and security personnel, is reportedly more than double the deaths in 2013, Iraq Body Count -- a UK-based organization that monitors civilian deaths in Iraq --said, in a statement released Thursday, that the real figures are much higher.
“17,049 civilians have been recorded killed in Iraq during 2014. This is roughly double the number recorded in 2013, which in turn was roughly double the number in 2012,” the organization said, in the statement. “These numbers do not include combatant deaths, which even by the most cautious tallies have also seen a sharp rise in 2014.”
The spike in casualties coincided with the rise of the Islamic State group in the region, according to figures released by Iraq Body Count. In June last year, when ISIS seized vast swathes of territories in the country’s northwest and announced the creation of a caliphate, the number of civilian deaths jumped to over 2,500 -- more than double the number in May.
“There is a new brutality on the ground and renewed attacks from the air. ISIS and the Iraqi army have caused thousands of civilian deaths this year, while the international coalition has yet again been responsible for civilian killings,” Iraq Body Count said, in the statement.