At least 112,000 civilians were killed in the 10 years since the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq that ousted Saddam Hussein, a new report published on Sunday said.
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 Body Count (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 percent 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provinces, dominated by Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority which controlled Iraq during Saddam’s rule but which has since been replaced by the Shiite majority.
In an interview on the anniversary of the Iraq war earlier this month, former British Prime Minister Blair, who stepped down in 2007 after ten years as prime minister and has been criticized for his decision to join America’s move into Iraq, said he thought constantly about the people who lost their lives in the conflict.
“So when you say ‘do you think of the loss of life since 2003’ of course I do, you would have to be inhumane not to, but think of what would have happened if he had been left there.”
“Sometimes what happens in politics, and unfortunately these things get mixed up with allegations of deceit and lying and so on, in the end sometimes you come to a decision where whichever choice you take the consequences are difficult and the choice is ugly. This was one such case.”
He acknowledged the U.S.-led invasion remained extremely divisive, but said: “I’ve long since given up in trying to persuade people it was the right decision.
“In a sense what I try to persuade people of now is to understand how complex and difficult a decision it was.
“Because I think if we don’t understand that, we won’t take the right decision about what I think will be a series of these types of problems that will arise over the next few years.