More than 17,000 civilians were killed in Iraq in 2014, the most since the worst years of the Bush-era war, as ISIS's onslaught and the resistance to it left civilians "once again being killed by all sides," according to the reputable war research NGO Iraq Body Count.
CNN reported Thursday that Iraqi civilian deaths last year about doubled those of 2013, which, in turn, saw twice as many as 2012. The increase in civilian deaths over the last two years coincided with the withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of 2011 and the concomitant rise of ISIS.
Iraq Body Count said that since the 2003 U.S. invasion, "Not a single day has passed without Iraqi civilians being killed. The year 2014, however, reflects an increase in violence to levels not seen since the worst years of 2006 and 2007."
The London-based NGO did not assign responsibility for most of last year's civilian deaths, but of those that it did, 4,325 civilians were deemed to have been killed by ISIS, 1,748 by Iraqi military airstrikes and 118 killed by U.S. coalition airstrikes.
"There is a new brutality on the ground and renewed attacks from the air. ISIS and the Iraqi army have caused thousands of civilian deaths this year, while the international coalition has yet again been responsible for civilian killings, for the first time since U.S. withdrawal three years previously," Iraq Body Count said. "Iraqi civilians are once again being killed by all sides."
The killing of civilians reached its height in June, when ISIS mounted a major offensive to take the city of Mosul and spread its control in the country. There were 2,534 civilian deaths that month.
Iraq Body Count's statistics on combatant deaths in 2014 were much less precise, with the NGO putting the range between 4,000 and 30,000.