AT LEAST 112,000 civilians have been killed in the 10 years since the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq that ousted Saddam Hussein, a new report published today claims.
Including combatants on all sides of the decade-long conflict, as well as yet undocumented civilian fatalities, the figure could rise as high as 174,000, according to the Britain-based Iraq BodyCount (IBC) group.
“This conflict is not yet history,” it said in its report, which put the number of civilian deaths since March 20, 2003 at between 112,017 and 122,438. “It remains entrenched and pervasive, with a clear beginning but no foreseeable end, and very much a part of the present in Iraq.”
IBC said that, over the years, Baghdad had been, and is still, the deadliest region in the country, accounting for 48 per cent of all deaths, while the conflict was bloodiest between 2006 and 2008.
It noted that violence remains high, with annual civilian deaths of between four and five thousand roughly equivalent to the total number of coalition forces who died from 2003 up to the US military withdrawal in December 2011, at 4,804.
The most violent regions were, after Baghdad, the northern and western provinces, dominated by Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority which controlled Iraq during Saddam’s rule but which has since been replaced by the Shiite majority.
‘It was right’
Meanwhile, the former British prime minister who led his country into the war remains adamant he took the right decision.
Tony Blair and then US president George W Bush were both convinced of the need to act against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
However, these weapons never materialised and although Saddam was ousted within weeks of the March 2003 invasion, Iraq soon descended into chaos at the hands of insurgents and militia groups.
“I still believe it was right to remove Saddam,” Blair told Britain’s ITV television. “We sometimes forget now what the regime was actually like and the devastation it caused.
“Hundreds of thousands of people died in his wars. He used chemical weapons against his own people.”
Blair’s name will be forever linked to the war in Iraq, and his rare public appearances in Britain are routinely dogged by protesters who want him tried for war crimes.