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Killing of Iraqi Civilians Index



The Killing of Iraqi Civilians & Prisoners


Government & NGO Reports Archive


September 17th, 2009 - Iraqi Civilian, Police, and Security Forces Casualty Statistics

April 29th, 2009 - Human Rights Report: 1 July - 31 December 2008

April 16th, 2009 - The Weapons That Kill Civilians/New England Journal of Medicine

December 28th, 2008 - Post-Surge Violence: Its Extent and Nature/Iraq Body Count

March 13th, 2008 - Iraqi Civilian Casualties Estimates/U.S. Congressional Research Service

October 10th, 2007 - Human Rights Report - 1 April-30 June 2007/U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq

April 25th, 2007 - Human Rights Report - 1 January-31 March 2007/U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq

March 23rd, 2007 - Iraqi Refugees & Displaced Persons: A Deepening Humanitarian Crisis?/U.S. Congressional Research Service

February 11th, 2007 - Iraq Displacement 2006/Year in Review/International Organization for Migration

January 16th, 2007 - Human Rights Report: 1 November–1 December 2006/U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq

November 21st, 2006 - Human Rights Report: 1 September-31 October 2006/U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq

November 17th, 2006 - Final Report/Mental Health Advisory Team (MHAT) IV/Office of the Surgeon Multinational Force Iraq

October 11th, 2006 - Mortality after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq/Gilbert Burnham and others

September 14th, 2006 - Iraqi Civilian, Police and Security Forces Casualties Estimate/U.S. Congressional Research Service

July 2005 - A Dossier of Civilian Casualties 2003 – 2005/Iraq Body Count

March 25th, 2005 - Criminal Investigators Outline 27 Confirmed/Suspected Detainee Homicides/United States Army

October 29th, 2004 - Mortality before & after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: Cluster Sample Survey/Les Roberts and others

December 2003 - Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq/Human Rights Watch



September 17th, 2009 - Iraqi Civilian, Police, and Security Forces Casualty Statistics

Report by the Congressional Research Service


“[…] This report presents various governmental and nongovernmental estimates of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces fatalities. The Iraq government is releasing increasingly regular data on these deaths. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) releases the monthly pattern of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces deaths, and it regularly updates total U.S. military deaths and wounded statistics from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), as reflected in CRS Report RS 21578, Iraq: U.S. Casualties, by Susan G. Chesser. Because the estimates contained in this report are based on varying time periods and have been created using differing methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using them and should look to them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact. […]”


April 29th, 2009 - Human Rights Report: 1 July - 31 December 2008

Report by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)


“[…] 1. The second half of 2008 was characterised by further improvements in the security situation, already noted during the first months of the year, with additional decrease in the number of high-visibility mass-casualty attacks by militias, insurgents and criminal groups. The large scale military offensives in Basra and Sadr City in March and April were followed by smaller targeted operations in Missan, Diyala and Ninawa in July, August and November respectively. In October 2008, the numbers of Iraqi civilians and soldiers from the Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I) killed reached their lowest levels since 2003. For the first time since 2007, the Ministry of Health published the number of civilian casualties in Iraq. According to the Ministry, a total of 6,787 civilians were killed and 20,178 injured in 2008, which illustrates a significant reduction in the number of violent deaths compared to the 34,542 civilians killed and 36,685 injured in 2006.


“2. Nonetheless, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) remains concerned about the overall human rights situation in Iraq since indiscriminate attacks remained a frequent occurrence; the targeted killings of security forces, high ranking officials and civil servants, religious and political leaders, professional groups such as journalists, educators, medical doctors, judges and lawyers and other civilians continued at a high rate, as did criminal abductions for ransom. The reporting period was also characterised by the attacks against minority leaders and the large displacement of over 12,000 Christians from Mosul in October. Violence against women in the Region of Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq remained one of the issues of serious concern as the pattern of the recorded incidents of suicide often points towards ‘honour’-related homicides.


“3. The improvement in the security situation was not accompanied by a full re-establishment of the rule of law and by systematically addressing impunity. In most cases, the perpetrators of human rights abuses were not brought to justice. UNAMI has continuously stated that security may not be sustainable unless significant steps are taken in the area of human rights such as strengthening the rule of law and addressing impunity. This is an opportunity for Iraq, as it exerts its sovereignty, to advance all aspects of the rule of law including legal reform, strengthening the judiciary, improving the conditions of detention and enabling access to justice by detainees. UNAMI and the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) stand ready to assist.


“4. With regards to the situation in prisons and detention centres, at the end of the reporting period a total of 41,271 individuals remained detained under the custody of different authorities such as the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and MNF-I. The number of detainees under Iraqi control in December 2008 was 26,249 and those under the control of MNF-I was 15,058. UNAMI continued to raise concerns about the conditions of detainees, many of whom have been deprived of their liberty for months or even years in overcrowded cells, and about violations of the minimum rules of due process as many did not have access to defence counsel, or were not formally charged with a crime or appeared before a judge. The new Iraq-United States Bilateral Agreement envisaging the release or transfer of MNF-I-held detainees to the Iraqi custody takes effect on January 2009. UNAMI calls upon both parties to implement the agreement in strict respect of human rights norms and standards. UNAMI/HRO received credible reports of allegations of torture and ill-treatment in pre-trial detention in Iraqi detention facilities. UNAMI/HRO also received reports of ill-treatment in detention facilities in the Region of Kurdistan and has requested both, the Iraqi Authorities and the Kurdish Regional Authorities (KRG) to urgently investigate all such cases. […]”


April 16th, 2009 - The Weapons That Kill Civilians

Report by the New England Journal of Medicine


“[…] Armed violence, such as that in the ongoing conflict in Iraq, is a threat to global health. It causes serious injuries and deaths of civilians, makes orphans of children, traumatizes populations, and undermines the ability of communities to provide adequate medical care even as it dramatically increases health care needs. Moreover, indiscriminate or intentional harm to civilians violates humanitarian principles and basic human rights. Believing that a careful assessment of the effects of different kinds of weapons on civilians in Iraq was needed, we used the database of the Iraq Body Count (IBC), a nongovernmental organization that documents civilian violent deaths in Iraq, to determine the nature and effects of various weapons on civilians in Iraq. The patterns we found convince us that documenting the particular causes of violent civilian deaths during armed conflict is essential, both to prevent civilian harm and to monitor compliance with international humanitarian law. […]


“[…] The greatest proportion of victims - 19,706 of 60,481, or 33% - were killed by execution after abduction or capture. Of the bodies of those who were executed, 5760, or 29%, showed marks of torture, such as bruises, drill holes, or burns. (A typical media report about this particularly appalling form of violent death reads: "The bullet-riddled bodies bore signs of torture and their hands were tied behind their backs.") Iraqi civilians also suffered heavy tolls from small-arms gunfire in open shootings and firefights (20% of deaths), apart from executions involving gunfire, and from suicide bombs (14% of deaths).


“In events with at least one Iraqi civilian victim, the methods that killed the most civilians per event were aerial bombings (17 per event), combined use of aerial and ground weapons (17 per event), and suicide bombers on foot (16 per event). Aerial bombs killed, on average, 9 more civilians per event than aerial missiles (17 vs. 8 per event). Indeed, if an aerial bomb killed civilians at all, it tended to kill many. It seems clear from these findings that to protect civilians from indiscriminate harm, as required by international humanitarian law (including the Geneva Conventions), military and civilian policies should prohibit aerial bombing in civilian areas unless it can be demonstrated - by monitoring of civilian casualties, for example - that civilians are being protected. […]”


December 28th, 2008 - Post-Surge Violence: Its Extent and Nature

Report by Iraq Body Count


“[…] This analysis looks at trends. But when examining the violence afflicting civilians in Iraq’s continuing conflict, a distinction must be drawn between abstractions represented by varying “rates” of violence and the reality of that violence for those experiencing it. Every statistic on this page can be traced to a human life violently ended, and no one is any less a victim for having been killed during a “downward trend” in violence.


“With only a few days of 2008 remaining, the year so far has seen another 8,315 - 9,028 civilian deaths added to the IBC database. This compares to 25,774 - 27,599 deaths reported in 2006, and 22,671 - 24,295 in 2007. This is a substantial drop on the preceding two years: on a per-day rate, it represents a reduction from 76 per day (2006) and 67 per day (2007) to 25 per day in 2008.


“The most notable reduction in violence has been in Baghdad. For the first time since the US-led occupation of Iraq began, fewer deaths have been reported in the capital than in the rest of the country (from 54% of all deaths in 2006 - 2007 to 32% in 2008). Most of these reductions have been attributed to declining inter-communal violence.


“Yet these improvements, as important and welcome as they are, can only be seen as a success when compared to the much worse conditions that prevailed in 2006 - 2007. Even within this timeframe, areas outside Baghdad have seen far less dramatic reductions in violence, and dozens of civilians are still being killed in conflict-related violence throughout Iraq on a relentless, daily basis. At 25 per day, the 2008 rate for violent civilian deaths is equivalent to that existing throughout the first 20 months of post-invasion Iraq, from May 2003 to December 2004 (15,355 deaths over 610 days). […]”


March 13th, 2008 - Iraqi Civilian Casualties Estimates

Report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service


“[…] This report presents various governmental and nongovernmental estimates of Iraqi civilian dead and wounded. The Department of Defense (DOD) regularly updates total U.S. military death and wounded statistics from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), as reflected in CRS Report RS21578, Iraq: Summary of U.S. Casualties. However, no Iraqi or U.S. government office regularly releases publically available statistics on Iraqi civilian deaths or civilians who have been wounded. Statistics on Iraqi civilian dead and wounded are sometimes available through alternative sources, such as nonprofit organizations, or through statements made by officials to the press. Because these estimates are based on varying time periods and have been created using differing methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using these statistics and should look on them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact. […]”


October 10th, 2007 - Human Rights Report - 1 April - 30 June 2007

Report by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)


“[…] 1. The ongoing violence in Iraq poses enormous challenges to the Government of Iraq in its efforts, amid continuing political crises, to bring under control acts of violence motivated by sectarian considerations and criminal activity. As in the past, civilians bore the brunt of the violence, with casualties being reported on a daily basis in Baghdad and elsewhere. Both Iraqi law enforcement personnel and MNF forces also continued to suffer casualties as a result of attacks by insurgency groups. While a significant number of the casualties in the reporting period were concentrated in and around Baghdad, other cities including Mosul and Basra witnessed similar violent attacks. The situation in governorates such as Diyala remained dire, with devastating consequences for the civilian population both in terms of casualties and the displacement of the civilian population. The resurgence of insurgency attacks in the Kurdistan region also has devastating consequences for civilians and law enforcement personnel alike, following two attacks in the Erbil and Makhmour areas during this reporting period.


“2. Daily life for the average Iraqi civilian remains extremely precarious. The violence remains in large part indiscriminate, targeting public places where large numbers of people gather to inflict maximum casualties and foment fears of further descent into chaos and loss of any semblance of state control. The violence has affected all of Iraq’s ethnic groups and communities, including minority groups. Targeted assassinations, abductions for ransom or other motives, and extrajudicial executions, continued to be reported on a regular basis. As in the past, professional groups remained a prime target of such attacks, among them media professionals and members of the legal profession, as highlighted in this report. […]”


April 25th, 2007 - Human Rights Report - 1 January - 31 March 2007

Report by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)


“[…] Summary: 1. The Government of Iraq continued to face immense security challenges in the face of growing violence and armed opposition to its authority and the rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis. A number of large-scale insurgency attacks had devastating effects on both the civilian population and Iraqi law enforcement personnel, and continued to claim lives among Multinational Force (MNF) personnel.  Civilian casualties of the daily violence between January and March remained high, concentrated in and around Baghdad. Violent deaths were also a regular feature of several other cities in the governorates of Nineveh, Salahuddin, Diyala and Babel. The implementation of the Iraqi-led Baghdad Security Plan (Khittat Fardh al-Qanun) on 14 February saw an increase in Iraqi and MNF troop levels and checkpoints on the streets of Baghdad, expanded curfew hours and intensified security operations and raids. The challenge facing the Government of Iraq is not limited to addressing the level of violence in the country, but the longer term maintenance of stability and security in an environment characterized by impunity and a breakdown in law and order. In this context, the intimidation of a large segment of the Iraqi population, among them professional groups and law enforcement personnel, and political interference in the affairs of the judiciary, were rife and in need of urgent attention.


“2. In its previous reports on the human rights situation in Iraq, UNAMI regularly cited the Iraqi Government’s official data, including the Ministry of Higher Education’s statistics on killings among academics and the Ministry of Interior’s statistics on killings among police officers. It is therefore a matter of regret that the Iraqi Government did not provide UNAMI access to the Ministry of Health’s overall mortality figures for this reporting period. UNAMI emphasizes again the utmost need for the Iraqi Government to operate in a transparent manner, and does not accept the government’s suggestion that UNAMI used the mortality figures in an inappropriate fashion.


“3. Evidence which cannot be numerically substantiated in this report nonetheless show that the high level of violence continued throughout the reporting period, attributable to largescale indiscriminate killings and targeted assassinations perpetrated by insurgency groups, militias and other armed groups. In February and March, sectarian violence claimed the lives of large numbers of civilians, including women and children, in both Shi’a and Sunni neighborhoods. One of the most devastating attacks occurred on 3 February when a truck packed with a ton of explosives detonated, killing an estimated 135 people and injuring 339 others in a busy market in the predominantly Shi’a district of al-Sadriyya of Baghdad. While government officials claimed an initial drop in the number of killings in the latter half of February following the launch of the Baghdad Security Plan, the number of reported casualties rose again in March. […]”


March 23rd, 2007 - Iraqi Refugees & Displaced Persons: A Deepening Humanitarian Crisis?

U.S. Congressional Research Service


February 11th, 2007 - Iraq Displacement 2006/Year in Review

Report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)


“[…] Background: Iraq has a protracted history of displacement. Over the past four decades, human rights abuses, expulsion of citizens from their homes, internal and international conflict and war resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. The military operations that led to the fall of the former Government in 2003 and subsequent conflict and violence augmented the number of displaced. Almost 200,000 individuals were displaced from 2003 to 2005.


“On 22 February, the bombing of a Shia shrine in Samarra ignited sectarian violence and 2006 saw a spike in people fleeing their homes. Most of those that had the means to leave the country did, but many more were forced to find refuge within the country. Overall, there are over 1.5 million people displaced in Iraq, according to IOM’s monitoring and assessments.


“The year 2006 was especially violent, contributing to an alarming increase in overall displacement. A rise in sectarian conflict resulted in the forceful removal of people from certain mixed neighborhoods, where armed groups of one religious sect or another wished to gain power. Crime and a lack of security also contributed to displacement, as people fled the violence to communities where they felt safer. In addition, military operations and fighting among the Multi-National Forces in Iraq/Iraqi Forces (MNF-I/IF), militants, and insurgents contributed to displacement. In Anbar, for example, military operations in Ramadi and Falluja resulted in instability, the destruction of homes, and a movement of people out of these areas. Inter-tribal clashes also led to displacement of people in Iraq.


“In general, IDPs moved from religiously and ethnically mixed communities to homogeneous communities. Shias tended to move from the center to the south. Sunnis tended to move from the south to the upper-center, especially to Anbar. Both ethnicities fled from mixed communities to homogeneous ones within the same city, especially in volatile Baghdad and Baquba. Christians primarily fled to Ninewa, and Kurds usually were displaced within Diyala or to Tameem/Kirkuk.


“These large movements of people will have long-lasting political, social, and economic impacts in Iraq. Gaining understanding of the situation is the first step to addressing the displacement situation in an appropriate manner that respects and responds to all of those involved. It also helps prepare for 2007, a year that is predicted to be as unstable and violent, if not more so, than 2006. […]”


January 16th, 2007 - Human Rights Report: 1 November - 1 December 2006

Report by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)


“[…] Summary: 6. Without significant progress on the rule of law, sectarian violence will continue indefinitely and eventually spiral out of control thus thwarting efforts by the Government in the political, security or economic spheres. UNAMI Human Rights Office (HRO) has continued to receive information about a large number of indiscriminate and targeted killings. Unidentified bodies have appeared daily in Baghdad and other cities. According to information made available to UNAMI, 6,376 civilians were violently killed in November and December 2006, with no less than 4,731 in Baghdad, most of them as a result of gunshot wounds. Compared to the number killed in September and October, there has been a slight reduction. It is evident however that violence has not been contained but has continued to claim a very high number of innocent victims. During 2006, a total of 34,452 civilians have been violently killed and 36,685 wounded.


“7. The civilian population remains the main victim of the prevailing security situation characterized by terrorist acts, action by armed groups, criminal gangs, religious extremists, militias, as well as operations by security and military forces. The resulting insecurity, sectarian prejudice, and terror negatively and comprehensively affect the enjoyment of basic rights and freedoms by the population at large. In addition, growing unemployment, poverty, various forms of discrimination and increasingly limited access to basic services, prevent most citizens from realizing their economic, social and cultural rights. […]


13. At the same time, at least 470,094 people have been forcibly internally displaced since the bombing in Samarra on 22 February 2006. Baghdad alone has 38,766 displaced individuals. In its Emergency Assessment on 11 December 2006, IOM noted that extreme violence has prevented access to IDP communities and made the provision of aid assistance very difficult. This takes place at a critical time with winter temperatures now increasingly affecting the health and well being of the most vulnerable IDPs. […]”


November 21st, 2006 - Human Rights Report: 1 September - 31 October 2006

Report by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)


November 17th, 2006 - Final Report/Mental Health Advisory Team (MHAT) IV

Report by the Office of the Surgeon Multinational Force Iraq & U.S. Army Medical Command


October 11th, 2006 - Mortality after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

Report by Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy & Les Roberts (Published in “The Lancet”)


“[…] Background - An excess mortality of nearly 100 000 deaths was reported in Iraq for the period March, 2003 – September, 2004, attributed to the invasion of Iraq. Our aim was to update this estimate.


“Methods - Between May and July, 2006, we did a national cross-sectional cluster sample survey of mortality in Iraq. 50 clusters were randomly selected from 16 Governorates, with every cluster consisting of 40 households. Information on deaths from these households was gathered.


“Findings - Three misattributed clusters were excluded from the final analysis; data from 1,849 households that contained 12,801 individuals in 47 clusters was gathered. 1,474 births and 629 deaths were reported during the observation period. Pre-invasion mortality rates were 5.5 per 1000 people per year (95% CI 4.3–7.1), compared with 13.3 per 1000 people per year (10.9–16.1) in the 40 months post-invasion. We estimate that as of July, 2006, there have been 654,965 (392,979–942,636) excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war, which corresponds to 2.5% of the population in the study area. Of post-invasion deaths, 601,027 (426,369–793,663) were due to violence, the most common cause being gunfire.


“Interpretation - The number of people dying in Iraq has continued to escalate. The proportion of deaths ascribed to coalition forces has diminished in 2006, although the actual numbers have increased every year. Gunfire remains the most common cause of death, although deaths from car bombing have increased. […]”


September 14th, 2006 - Iraqi Civilian, Police and Security Forces Casualties Estimate

CRS Report for U.S. Congress


July 2005 - A Dossier of Civilian Casualties 2003 - 2005

Report by “Iraq Body Count” (website)


“[…] Who was killed?


“- 24,865 civilians were killed in the first two years, almost all by violence.

- 82% of those killed were adult males and 9% were adult women.

- Nearly one in ten of those killed was under the age of 18.

- Nearly one in two hundred of those killed was a baby aged 0-2.

- Most adult victims were parents leaving behind orphans and widows. […]


“The civilian death toll 24,865 civilians have been reported killed, almost all of them as a direct result of violence, between 20 March 2003 and 19 March 2005. The population of Iraq is approximately 25,000,000, meaning that one in every thousand Iraqis has been violently killed since March 2003.


“Serving military and combatant deaths are not covered in this dossier except where the dead were killed or executed after capture. There are no reliable accounts of Iraqi military or combatant deaths, either official or unofficial. Coalition military deaths, by contrast, are well documented both officially and unofficially. Such combatants are not included in our reporting. Except for a small number of foreign civilians, this dossier is solely concerned with the effect of the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation on ordinary Iraqis. […]


“Who were the killers?


“- US-led forces were sole killers of 37% of civilian victims.

- Criminals killed 36% of all civilians.

- Anti-occupation forces were sole killers of 9% of civilian victims.

- US military forces accounted for 98.5% of ‘Coalition’ killings. […]


“Categories of killers - On an incident by incident basis the killing of civilians was attributable to four broad groups: US-led forces, among whom the US itself played by far the leading role; anti-occupation forces, defined as armed forces attacking military and other occupation-related targets; unknown agents, defined as those who do not attack obvious military/strategic or occupation-related targets; and criminals. Some incidents involved combinations of these forces. The chart above shows the relative proportion of deaths attributable to these groups over the whole two-year period. There was US-led involvement in 42.3% of civilian deaths[…]. […]”


March 25th, 2005 - Criminal Investigators Outline 27 Confirmed/Suspected Detainee Homicides

Report by the United States Army/Criminal Investigation Command


October 29th, 2004 - Mortality before & after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: Cluster Sample Survey

Report by L. Roberts, R. Lafta, R. Garfield, J. Khudhairi & G. Burnham (Published in “The Lancet”)


December 2003 - Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq

Report by the Human Rights Watch


“U.S. President George W. Bush called the war in Iraq ‘one of the swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history.’ Yet thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed or injured during the three weeks of fighting from the first air strikes on March 20 to April 9, 2003, when Baghdad fell to U.S.-led Coalition forces.


“Human Rights Watch conducted a mission to Iraq between late April and early June 2003 with two objectives: (1) to identify and investigate potential violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) by the parties to the conflict, and (2) to identify patterns of combat by those parties which may have caused civilian casualties and suffering that could have been avoided if additional precautions had been taken.


“Human Rights Watch did not undertake this mission to determine the number of civilian casualties. Rather, it sought to understand how and why civilians were killed or injured in order to assess compliance with international humanitarian law, with a view to lessening the impact of war on civilians in the future. […]


“The widespread use of cluster munitions, especially by U.S. and U.K. ground forces, caused at least hundreds of civilian casualties. Cluster munitions, which are large weapons containing dozens or hundreds of submunitions, endanger civilians because of their broad dispersal, or ‘footprint,’ and the high number of submunitions that do not explode on impact. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that it used 10,782 cluster munitions,2 which could contain at least 1.8 million submunitions. The British used an additional seventy air-launched and 2,100 ground-launched cluster munitions, containing 113,190 submunitions. Although cluster munition strikes are particularly dangerous in populated areas, U.S. and U.K. ground forces repeatedly used these weapons in attacks on Iraqi positions in residential neighborhoods. Coalition air forces also caused civilian casualties by their use of cluster munitions, but to a much lesser degree. […]”


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