Mosul offensive takes toll as Iraq casualties soar
BAGHDADThe scope of the toll the six-week old battle for Mosul has taken on Iraqi forces emerged Dec. 1, with U.N. figures showing that around 2,000 had been killed in fighting last month alone, while 926 civilians were also killed in fighting in the past month.
While high casualty tolls were expected for what has been Iraq’s toughest battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to date, few figures had been released.
The United Nations’ mission in Iraq released monthly casualty figures for November that showed 1,959 members of the Iraqi forces were killed just last month and 450 others wounded.
The U.N. toll includes members of the army, police engaged in combat, the Kurdish peshmerga, interior ministry forces and pro-government paramilitaries.
The U.N. statement also said at least 926 civilians were killed, bringing to 2,885 the number of Iraqis killed in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict last month.
“The casualty figures are staggering, with civilians accounting for a significant number of the victims,” the top U.N. envoy in Iraq, Jan Kubis, said.
The U.S.-led coalition assisting anti-ISIL forces in Iraq and Syria admitted Dec. 1 to “inadvertently” killing 54 civilians in both countries between March and October.
“Although the coalition makes extraordinary efforts to strike military targets in a manner that minimizes the risk of civilian casualties, in some cases casualties are unavoidable,” the coalition said in a statement.
A July 18 strike that killed 100 ISIL fighters also killed as many as 24 civilians, the statement added.
Officials from the Kurdistan region’s peshmerga ministry said more than 1,600 peshmerga fighters were killed since ISIL took over large parts of Iraq in June 2014.
“Since the beginning of the war against Daesh [ISIL], which means June 2014, until Nov. 30 , the total number of martyrs is 1,614 and the wounded are 9,515,” peshmerga ministry secretary-general Jabar Yawar told AFP.
Denmark to pull F-16 fighter jets from Syria and Iraq
Meanwhile, Denmark decided not to extend military operations of its seven F-16 fighter jets in Syria and Iraq from mid-December after six months in action.
Instead the Danish contribution in Syria and Iraq will primarily consist of training and analysis teams, which to a large extent will work closer to Iraqi military units.
“We are pulling our airplanes out as planned. We have offered the coalition extra help with some construction and engineer troops,” Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said after a meeting in the foreign political council.
On Nov. 28, a U.S. military investigation said Danish war planes were involved in a Sept. 17 coalition air strike, where a series of “unintentional human errors” killed fighters aligned with the Syrian government instead of the targeted ISIL militants.
Turkey, Lebanon call for immediate Syria cease-fire
The Turkish and Lebanese foreign ministers on Dec. 2 called for an immediate cease-fire in Syria.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil in Beirut, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey and Lebanon had a common understanding of the situation in Syria.
“The cease-fire [in Syria] should go into effect immediately… the situation in Aleppo and Syria is a source of concern for all of us,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu said both Turkey and Lebanon agreed on the need for a political solution to the conflict.