UNITED NATIONS – The conflict in Iraq has taken a terrible toll on civilians with nearly 15,000 killed and 30,000 wounded during a 16-month period ending on April 30, by the Islamic State group, Iraqi security forces and others, according to a U.N. report released Monday.
The U.N. mission in Iraq and the U.N. human rights office said in the report that violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights abuses by the Islamic State group, which controls large swaths of Iraq's north and west, may in some cases amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide.
Iraq is going through its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops. The IS group captured Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul and the majority of western Anbar province last year and still holds large parts of the country though Iraqi forces have been making steady progress against the extremists in recent months with the help of a U.S.-led air campaign.
During the 16-month period, the report said more than 2.8 million people fled their homes and remain displaced in the country, including an estimated 1.3 million children.
The U.N. mission and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights did not break down who was responsible for the casualties.
Though much of the report focuses on the IS group, the U.N. agencies said they had received continued reports of violations of human rights and humanitarian law perpetrated by Iraqi Security Forces and their associates including international military forces, militia groups and popular mobilization units. These include allegations of unlawful killings of people believed or perceived to support or be associated with the IS group, particularly Sunni Arab community members, and several examples of reported civilian killings in airstrikes.
The report gives numerous examples of killings, attacks and abductions carried out by IS extremists against those opposed to its ideology, captured Iraqi soldiers and police, government officials, lawyers, journalists, doctors and other professionals, and members of ethnic and religious communities including Christians and Yazidis. It cited a number of unverified reports that the IS group used, or attempted to use chlorine gas in attacks.
As many as 3,000 to 3,500 men, women and children remain captives of the IS group, predominantly Yazidis but also members of other ethnic and religious communities, "where they are subjected to physical, sexual and other forms of violence and degrading treatment on a daily basis," the report said.
Among the many killings cited in the report were that of a 47-year-old man publicly stoned to death on March 31 in Mosul for not following the IS group's instructions, 45 of its own members publicly executed in a square in central Mosul on Dec. 21 for fleeing the battle field, and two Sunni Arab men, aged 19 and 21, accused of homosexuality by one of the IS group's self-appointed courts who were thrown to their deaths from an eight-story building in central Mosul in front of dozens of people on Jan. 16.