Since the fall of Mosul in June 2014 the Iraqi government has largely kept its losses secret. Small incidents like improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are commonly covered, but set battles with the Islamic State (IS) rarely lead to casualty reports. Starting in 2015 however, the Peshmerga Ministry and Kurdish officials began releasing information about its dead and wounded, and they were just joined by Iraq’s Interior Ministry.
On November 23 the Interior Ministry released a number of statistics on the fighting in Iraq from November 2014 to November 2015. That included 1,096 deaths for its forces and 3,633 wounded. When compared to what was already in the public record the number of fatalities was an undercount, but there were 1,322 more injured then had been reported before.
The next day the Peshmerga Ministry said that 1,288 of its fighters had died and 7,554 were wounded fighting IS. That was 124 more injured than what had been in the media. Over the last few months Kurdish officials have admitted to 1,979 Peshmerga deaths and 9,919 wounded that it had not disclosed before.
Both of these new reports highlight the fact that the Iraqi authorities have kept thousands of casualties secret from the public. That’s because both the central and regional governments are concerned about keeping up public morale and therefore do not want to admit the heavy losses they are taking fighting the militants. The Kurdistan Regional Government alone has now said that it kept 12,022 casualties a secret. The 1,322 injured police is only the tip of the iceberg as Baghdad has done a lot more fighting against IS than the Peshmerga. Hopefully over time the authorities will begin releasing more information so that a full accounting of the war can be calculated.
eKurd, “Iraqi Kurdistan News in brief – November 24, 2015,” 11/24/15
Sotaliraq, “Interior: the killing and wounding of 4729 security members in terrorist attacks during the year,” 11/23/15