Between January 1st and April 15th, 82 Iraqi civilians have been killed and 120 injured by ISIS activities in Iraq, the country’s defense ministry announced on April 21st.
من أجل إحاطة الرأي العام بالعمليات الأمنية التي تنفذها جميع قواتنا الأمنية بتشكيلتها كافة، وفي جميع محافظات العراق عدا إقليم كوردستان للفترة من الأول من كانون الثاني ولغاية الخامس عشر من نيسان 2020.
عدد العمليات الأمنية التي تم تنفيذها خلال هذه الفترة بلغت (1060) عملية.
— يحيى رسول | Yehia Rasool (@IraqiSpoxMOD) April 21, 2020
Defense Ministry spokesperson Yehia Rasool also said that the Iraqi Security Forces have carried out 1,060 operations and killed 135 targets since the beginning of the year.
According to these latest figures, operations took place in every Iraqi province aside from those in the Kurdistan Region over the first 15 weeks of 2020, to clear bomb factories, arms caches, and secret tunnels used by the jihadists, Rasool said.
At least 88 Iraqi soldiers were killed and 174 wounded during these operations.
Rasool claimed that all civilian deaths in the time period were a result of ISIS attacks and explosive devices planted by the group.
“The civilians have been martyred due to ISIS attacks, explosive devices, and other terrorist attacks by the group,” Rasool said. “No civilians died due to Iraqi Security Forces military operations.”
UNIAMI spokesman Samir Ghattas said the agency is unable to publish casualty figures for the period in question. But he said that the number of casualties is much lower compared to the same period in previous years.
“We are closely following the continuing attacks and recording casualty figures, but for now we are not yet publicly releasing the casualty figures from the use of improvised explosive devices, explosive remnants of war, rocket or mortar rounds and small arms fire attacks allegedly perpetrated by ISIS remnants during the period of 1 January to 15 April,” Ghattas told Rudaw English.
“But what we can say is that those figures are considerably lower than what we used to record at the height of the conflict with Daesh [ISIS] in recent years,” he added.
Rudaw cited Mohammed al-Jumaily, an Iraq researcher for war monitor Airwars said that the civilian casualties should be investigated, nevertheless.
“The numbers given by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman are likely referring to those killed and wounded by ISIS actions rather than Iraqi military actions, as it is quite rare for the MoD to make admissions to civilian harm in this way,” Jumaily said.
“Having said this, the numbers beg more detail about the incidents from which these casualties came about in order to make a more concrete assessment on them,” he said.
“Furthermore, it is important to bear in mind that the vast majority of Iraqi military operations have shifted away from urban areas to more rural and mountainous areas where there are lower numbers of civilians present, thus potentially limiting the risk to civilians – though not at all excluding the possibility that civilians would have been harmed in these operations,” he added.
The defeat of ISIS in Iraq was announced back in December 2017, but nearly two years and a half later attacks by the terrorist group continue, while the defeat seems far from conclusive.
Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari, just days before the numbers were published vowed to “ramp up” the government’s anti-ISIS efforts, and stop the group’s attacks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Jabar Yawar, chief of staff at the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, warned earlier in April that the ISIS resurgence has been underway for some time.
“According to our data, the group increased its activities in 2018 and 2019, especially in Kurdistani areas outside of the Kurdistan Region administration, including Diyala, Hamrin, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, and Qarachogh. In Qarachogh, they even established bases,” Yawar said.
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