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Torture and civilian deaths reach record levels in Iraq
The latest UN findings on Iraq provide a devastating picture of torture, escalating civilian deaths and lawlessness that represents a damning indictment of US-led occupation. Three years after the illegal invasion, the violent activities of the US military and its allies in suppressing any opposition have been supplemented by a spiralling sectarian civil war.
According to a United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) report released on Wednesday, the civilian death toll throughout the country reached a record of 6,599 for July and August, or more than 100 a day, up from 5,818 for previous two months. The UNAMI figures plot a rise from 710 in January to 1,129 in April and 3,149 in June followed by 3,590 in July and 3,009 in August.
The actual toll is likely to be far higher. UNAMI estimates are based on two sources: the Ministry of Health, which records deaths reported by hospitals, and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, which tallies the unidentified bodies it receives. During July, the health ministry reported no deaths in Anbar province—the region of fiercest resistance to the US military.
UNAMI stated it continued to receive reports of US-led forces participating “in incidents of excessive use of force and restrictions imposed on the movement of civilians”. Deaths are also being caused by anti-US resistance groups as well as criminal gangs. However, the huge toll is increasingly due to sectarian violence.
“These killings reflect the fact that indiscriminate killings of civilians have continued throughout the country, while hundreds of bodies appear bearing signs of severe torture and execution-style killing. Such murders are carried out by death squads or by armed groups, with sectarian or revenge connotations,” the report stated.