Violence in Iraq Kills at Least 1375 in January: UN

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An Iraqi mourner in the funeral of a pro-Iraqi government fighter, killed in Ramadi in clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, during the procession in the city of Najaf on January 31, 2015.AFP/Haidar Hamdani

Published Sunday, February 1, 2015

Fighting and other violence in Iraq killed at least 1,375 people including 790 civilians in January, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a statement on Sunday.

The dead included 585 members of the Iraqi army which is struggling to rebuild as it battles the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group.

Large swathes of land in Iraq have become ISIS strongholds as the extremist group, which declared a "caliphate" in the territory it seized in Iraq and Syria, drove Iraq's army – the recipient of $25 billion in US training and funding since the 2003 invasion – to collapse.

UNAMI said the worst affected city was the capital, Baghdad, with 256 civilians killed and 758 wounded. Moreover, at least 2,240 civilians and soldiers were wounded during the same period.

However, the UN numbers do not include territories held by ISIS.

The group has executed thousands in Iraq and Syria, targeting, in particular, ethnic and religious minorities.

Described as the world's wealthiest "terror" group, ISIS no longer relies on wealthy donors from Gulf states and has become financially self-sustained in both Iraq and Syria, earning $1 million a day from black market oil sales alone.

The returns of oil trade contribute to the expansion of recruitment of these extremist groups.

The US-led anti-ISIS coalition has been bombing Iraq since September and has so far billed Iraq 260 million dollars, despite failure to stop the advance of militants.

However, the air campaign, which Washington says aims to degrade ISIS' military capability, remains the subject of debate, with critics pointing to ISIS' advances and battlefield successes despite the raids.

One of the ISIS-held provinces is the Anbar province. Anbar was the main battleground between US Marines and al-Qaeda during the "surge" campaign in 2006-2007, when American troops enlisted the help of local tribes, including Albu Nimr.

The expansion of terrorist groups in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, raises questions about the effectiveness of the US anti-terrorism campaign since 2001.

The United States decided to invade Iraq in 2003 using the pretexts of “weapons of mass destruction” and “fighting terrorism.”

The war aimed to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, but inspectors said there weren't any.

The war aimed to eliminate al-Qaeda in Iraq, but the terrorist group didn't exist in the country until after the invasion. The US invasion served as a recruitment tool for terrorist groups, as figures show that terrorism rose precipitously in Iraq since 2003.

The war aimed to “free Iraqis” but instead killed at least half a million Iraqis and left the country in total turmoil.

According to UNAMI figures, last year was the deadliest in Iraq since 2006-2007, with a total of 12,282 people killed and 23,126 wounded.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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