Terrorist acts, violence and armed conflicts across Iraq killed a total of 382 civilians and wounded 908 others in January, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said on Wednesday.

IraqA UNAMI statement said that figures of casualties do not include the security members, as the Iraqi military authorities in early December criticized the figures announced by UNAMI about the deaths of the security forces for the previous month of November.

The UNAMI’s early December report said that 1,959 security members were killed in November, but the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said the UNAMI figures were “inaccurate and much exaggerated.”

The UNAMI responded and said the “the military figures were largely unverified.”

January’s civilian record also exclude the casualties in Iraq’s western province of Anbar, as the casualty figures there for the month were unavailable due to the volatility of the situation on the ground and the disruption of services, the statement said.

“The Daesh (Islamic State group) terrorists have focused their bombing attacks on markets and residential neighborhoods. They have cowardly targeted civilians – women, children and the elderly who were going about their business or shopping,” the statement quoted the UN envoy to Iraq and the UNAMI chief Jan Kubis as saying.

However, Kubis said, “Daesh’s goal of breaking the will of the people has collapsed in the face of the Iraqi people’s resilience, despite of the difficulties and hardship, and the steady advances of the Iraqi security forces in the operation to liberate Mosul from the terrorists.”

The UNAMI statement came as the Iraqi security forces backed by anti-IS international coalition are carrying out a major offensive to drive out the IS militants from its last major stronghold in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq.

Earlier, the UNAMI said that a total of 6,878 civilians were killed and 12,388 wounded in 2016, adding that the figures do not include the civilian casualty figures for Anbar province for the months of May, July, August and December.

Iraq has witnessed intensifying violence since the IS extremist group took control of parts of its northern and western regions in June 2014.

Many blame the current chronic instability, cycle of violence, and the emergence of extremist groups, such as the IS, on the U.S. that invaded and occupied Iraq in March 2003, under the pretext of seeking to destroy weapons of mass destruction in the country.

The war led to the ouster and eventual execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but no such weapons have been found. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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