Violence in Iraq resulted in more than 35,000 civilian casualties in the past year, making 2014 the bloodiest year in Iraq since the 2006-2007 sectarian tensions after the US-led invasion.

While the United Nations figures report 12,282 civilian deaths in Iraq, The Iraq Body Count, a non-profit that tracks violence in Iraq, reported civilian deaths roughly doubled from 2013 to 2014.

The rise of the Islamic State

In February, a little-known fringe group of al-Qaeda overtook Fallujah, a key Iraqi city in the Anbar province. Months after, the Islamic State, then known as ISIS, captured Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. That event flared tensions around the country and led to the deadliest month last year where more than 3,200 civilians died or were injured.

The Islamic State has been listed as the group that has killed the most people in the past year, beating out Boko Haram, the Taliban, and Al-Shabab, according to a report conducted by the BBC World Service and King's College London. The report also stated that Iraq was the worst-affected country hit by jihadist attacks.

The militant group doesn't alone hold the blame for the steep death toll. According to my collegue Ishaan Tharoor:

The Islamic State made significant inroads into Iraq partially because of the incompetence and myopia of the politicians in Baghdad. Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was more or lesshand-picked by the United States, presided over a deeply sectarian government which favored the country's Shiites at the expense of the minority Sunnis.


The Islamic State conducted massacres in both Iraq and Syria throughout the year. One of the most notorious was in Mosul, where 670 prisoners were killed after they were ordered to line up, kneel down, and then were met with open fire.

Another mass killing that followed was to the south of Mosul in Camp Speicher, where 650-770 men were slain. The militant group posted graphic images of the killings on social media.

Internally displaced people

Along with a steep rise in casualties, more than two million Iraqis were forced to flee from their homes in the last year. The last time close to these many Iraqis were uprooted from their homes was from 2006 to 2008, which led to about 1.7 displaced people.