Almost 80 per cent of deaths since the US-led invasion were civilians, according to a British non-governmental organisation.
Iraq death toll since 2003 US-led invasion now at 162,000
BAGHDAD // About 162,000 people, almost 80 per cent of them civilians, were killed in Iraq from the start of the 2003 US-led invasion up to last year's withdrawal of US forces, a British non-governmental organisation said yesterday.
Iraq Body Count (IBC) warned that, contrary to apparent trends in figures released by the Iraqi government, the level of violence has changed little from mid-2009, although attacks are markedly down from when the country endured a sectarian war in 2006 and 2007.
In all, the non-governmental organisation said about 162,000 people were killed in Iraq in the nearly nine years of conflict.
It said about 79 per cent of the fatalities were civilians, while the remainder included US soldiers, Iraqi security forces and insurgents.
"The violence peaked in late 2006 but was sustained at high levels until the second half of 2008 - nearly 90 per cent of the deaths occurred by 2009," IBC said. But the group warned that "there has now been no noticeable downward trend [in civilian deaths] since mid-2009".
"Recent trends indicate a persistent low-level conflict in Iraq that will continue to kill civilians at a similar rate for years to come. While these data indicate no improvement, time will tell whether the withdrawal of US forces will have an effect on casualty levels."
US troops, who at their peak numbered nearly 170,000, completed their withdrawal on December 18. IBC said it had recorded more than 114,000 civilian deaths since the invasion. Figures from US military logs published by WikiLeaks, plus officially recorded US and Iraqi security deaths and insurgent tolls, put the overall figure at 162,000.
The worst non-civilian group affected was the Iraqi police, with 9,019 deaths, while Baghdad was the most dangerous city with half of the recorded deaths, equating to 2.5 times the national average. A total of 4,474 US soldiers also died in Iraq.
The NGO's toll differed from that published by the Iraqi government, which said on Sunday that 2,645 people died in violence in 2011, compared with IBC's toll of 4,059.
Iraqi government figures, unlike IBC data, indicate attacks decreased last year from 2010, when 3,605 people were killed.
The government's monthly data, which does not go back to 2003, puts the death toll since the beginning of 2007 at 34,485.