Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

5,500 civilians killed in Iraq

Iraqi fighters on patrol during a sand storm in Samarra (AP)
Iraqi fighters on patrol during a sand storm in Samarra (AP)

Violence in Iraq has killed more than 5,500 civilians over the first six months of this year, the UN says.

The time period corresponds with an offensive by the Islamic State extremist group and other Sunni militants which has overrun a huge chunk of northern and western Iraq.

A report from the UN mission to Iraq said that at least 5,576 civilians had been killed and 11,665 wounded in Iraq since the beginning of the year.

In all of 2013, the UN reported just over 7,800 civilians killed, the highest annual death toll in years.

The new report also documents human rights violations by the Islamic State group as well as Iraqi security forces and associated groups.

Sunni insurgents seized control of the city of Fallujah and part of the nearby city of Ramadi in Anbar province in early January. The militants then launched a massive blitz in June that has brought a huge swathe of northern and western Iraq under their control.

About 1.2 million people have been driven from their homes by the violence, the report said.

The fighting "has inflicted untold hardship and suffering on the civilian population with large-scale killings, injuries, and destruction and damage of livelihoods and property," the UN said.

The report also documents human rights abuses by both sides of the conflict that could constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes.

The UN said the Islamic State group and its allies have committed "systematic and egregious violations" against civilians, including killings, sexual violence, kidnappings, destruction of property and attacks on places of religious worship.

It also documented violations by government forces, including summary executions of prisoners and detainees.

The UN urged all sides in the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians, and to respect international law and humanitarian law.

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