High civilian mortality rates during the liberation of Mosul from ISIS

May 15, 2018, Public Library of Science
High civilian mortality rates during the liberation of Mosul from ISIS
Mortality rates were higher during the nine months of military liberation of Mosul, Iraq, than during the 29 months of exclusive Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) control, according to a study published this week in PLOS Medicine. Credit: Staff Sgt. Jason Hull, US Army

Mortality rates were higher during the 9 months of military liberation of Mosul, Iraq, than during the 29 months of exclusive Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) control, according to a study published this week in PLOS Medicine. The population-based survey, conducted by Gilbert Burnham from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Riyadh Lafta from Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, and Maha A. Al-Nuaimi from the National Center for Research and Treatment of Blood Diseases in Baghdad, demonstrated that high mortality rates resulted from the military offensive despite the use of modern precision-targeted ordnance.

Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, was invaded by ISIS on June 4, 2014. Iraqi forces, supported by coalition artillery and airstrikes, regained control of the city after an offensive that lasted from October 17, 2016 to June 29, 2017. No official data are available on civilian deaths and injuries during ISIS control or during the Iraqi offensive. In their study, Burnham and colleagues undertook household surveys in Mosul immediately after the military campaign, to count injuries, deaths, and kidnappings during these periods.

The 1,202 sampled households included 7,559 people, and 628 deaths were reported for the full time period (June 4, 2014 to the time of the survey in 2017), a mortality rate of 2.09 deaths per 1,000 person-months. In the 29 months of ISIS-exclusive control, were 0.71 and 0.50 reported deaths per 1,000 person-months for males and females, respectively. During the 9 months of the military conflict, these rates jumped to 13.36 and 8.33 deaths per 1,000 person-months. The leading cause of reported deaths from intentional violence in the 1,202 households was airstrikes, accounting for 201 , followed by 172 deaths from explosions.

The estimates from this study are subject to many limitations, including survivor bias, the reliance on pre-conflict population distribution figures for sampling, and potential recall bias among respondents. Nonetheless, the estimates provide the first systematic evidence of the human losses associated with the occupation and liberation of Mosul. The authors state, "[o]ur findings should be viewed as providing an important, though necessarily an incomplete, picture of events associated with high intensity warfare in a densely populated city."

Explore further: New estimates give updated count of Iraq war deaths between 2003 and 2011

More information: Lafta R, Al-Nuaimi MA, Burnham G (2018) Injury and death during the ISIS occupation of Mosul and its liberation: Results from a 40-cluster household survey. PLoS Med 15(5): e1002567. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002567

Related Stories

New estimates give updated count of Iraq war deaths between 2003 and 2011

October 15, 2013
During the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq from 2003 to 2011, for every three people killed by violence, two died as a result of the collapse of the infrustructure that supports health care, clean water, nutrition, ...

UNICEF: Lives of 24 million children threatened by conflict

May 24, 2017
Violence and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa threaten the lives of over 24 million children, most of them in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, the United Nation's children agency said in a report Wednesday.

Despite reductions in infectious disease mortality in US, diarrheal disease deaths on the rise

March 27, 2018
Deaths from infectious diseases have declined overall in the United States over the past three decades. However, the rates of decline varied significantly by counties, according to a new scientific study.

Recommended for you

Receiving genetic information can change risk

December 11, 2018
Millions of people in the United States alone have submitted their DNA for analysis and received information that not only predicts their risk for disease but, it turns out, in some cases might also have influenced that risk, ...

Yes please to yoghurt and cheese: The new improved Mediterranean diet

December 11, 2018
Thousands of Australians can take heart as new research from the University of South Australia shows a dairy-enhanced Mediterranean diet will significantly increase health outcomes for those at risk of cardiovascular disease ...

Effect of oral alfacalcidol on clinical outcomes in patients without secondary hyperparathyroidism

December 11, 2018
Treatment with active vitamin D did not decrease cardiovascular events in kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis, according to a research group in Japan. They have reported their research results in the December 11 issue ...

Licence to Swill: James Bond's drinking over six decades

December 10, 2018
He may be licensed to kill but fictional British secret service agent James Bond has a severe alcohol use disorder, according to an analysis of his drinking behaviour published in the Medical Journal of Australia's Christmas ...

Obesity, risk of cognitive dysfunction? Consider high-intensity interval exercise

December 10, 2018
It's fast-paced, takes less time to do, and burns a lot of calories. High-intensity interval exercise is widely recognized as the most time-efficient and effective way to exercise. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers ...

How to survive on 'Game of Thrones': Switch allegiances

December 9, 2018
Characters in the Game of Thrones TV series are more likely to die if they do not switch allegiance, and are male, according to an article published in the open access journal Injury Epidemiology.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.