The year 2014 saw the death of at least 90,000 people as a result of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq brought on by ISIS jihadists, more than double the figure for 2013. According to reports, at least 76,000 were killed in Syria and another 15,000 in Iraq.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the deaths of 76,021 persons from January 1 through December 31, 2014, including 17,790 civilians, of whom 3,501 were children and 1,987 women.
Activists estimate that true figures for the casualties in both countries are actually higher because of the lack of verifiable data on the territories controlled by the Islamic State. The Observatory places the true figure at “approximately 30,000 more than the documented number due to the extreme discretion by all sides on the human losses caused by the conflict and due to the difficulty of communication in Syria.”
For example, the figures do not include the thousands of detainees inside Islamic State prisons and those who disappeared during regime raids and massacres. It also does not include the hundreds of regular soldiers and pro-regime militants and supporters arrested by ISIS on charges of opposition to the regime.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, reports from the health, interior, and defense ministries put the death toll for 2014 at 15,538, more than twice the 6,522 people killed in 2013. The figure is actually higher according to Iraq Body Count, a UK-based NGO that tracks violence in Iraq, which placed the body count at 17,073 civilians. If true, 2014 would have been the third deadliest year since 2003.
“For Iraqis, it has been the most difficult and painful of years because of the attack of the (Islamic State) terrorist gangs,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a New Year’s speech.
Last August, the UN calculated 191,000 human losses since the beginning of the ISIS uprising in 2011. Local sources say that figure falls far short of the reality.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.