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UN says almost 1,000 killed in Iraq violence in December

The United Nations has said that violence in Iraq had claimed the lives of 980 Iraqis in total in December 2015. The number was up from 888 in November.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), announced that 506 of the 980 people killed in December were civilians, while the remaining were security forces, including Kurdish peshmerga and paramilitary troops fighting against the self-declared "Islamic State" (IS) in parts of Iraq.

The worst-affected province mentioned in the report was Baghdad with 261 people killed, followed by Ninevah province in the northwest of the country with 68 dead. Ninevah's provincial capital Mosul has been under IS control for 18 months, while the majority of the province still remains under government control.

UNAMI added that up to 124 civilians had likely been killed in Anbar province in December, but said it could not verify the numbers provided by local health officials, as large parts of the western province remained under IS control resulting in increased volatility on the ground and disruption of services.

The report also mentioned that a total of 1,244 civilians were wounded in December.

A deadly year for Iraq

Earlier in 2015, the UN body had tallied a total of 1,450 conflict-related in June alone, making it the deadliest month of the year. UNAMI said that 650 of those killed had been civilians.

The total number of such deaths in Iraq in 2015 reached an estimate of 7,989, many of them tied to the fight against IS. The UN said that by July 2015, more than 15,000 civilians had died in the conflict (with records beginning in January 2014), in addition to a total of 30,000 wounded at that point. The July report specified that many of the victims had been murdered because they didn't share IS' views.

The number of civilian deaths in the conflict in Iraq is now approaching 20,000 despite recent successes such as the

liberation of the city of Ramadi.

IS in Syria

In neighboring Syria, there were more than 20,000 civilian deaths out of a

total tally of more than 55,000 in 2015

alone. The civil war in Syria, now approaching its fifth year, has been exacerbated by the presence of IS there.

However, due to the large number of warring factions in the country, it is difficult to discern how many of the deaths in Syria can be attributed to IS.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an organization based in UK, said that 16,212 Islamist rebels belonging to IS or al Qaeda's offshoot in Syria, the Nusra Front, were included in the number of roughly 55,000 deaths

More than 250,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Syria. Some say that this may be a conservative estimate.

ss/msh (AP, dpa)

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