Iraq 2013:
a year of


In Iraq, 2013 has been the deadliest year since 2008, and the rising death toll could be a potential harbinger of things to come. After the bloodiest civil war period of 2006-07, violence in the country dropped off as a result of the US military’s “surge” strategy. But after US troops left on Dec. 18, 2011, Iraqis were left to come to terms with nearly a decade of war. It soon became apparent that the deep inter-ethnic fissures that almost tore the country apart were merely bandaged, but not remedied.

By April 2013, simmering sectarian tensions boiled over and the country experienced its deadliest month in half a decade. If a day goes by in Iraq without scores being maimed or killed in car bombings outside schools, mosques or crowded markets, that day is the exception rather than the rule. Hundreds continue to die each month in such grisly attacks. What follows is an account of the violence that has gripped the country over the past year. There are no coffins draped in Stars and Stripes, but the cameras are rolling and the world is watching.


1 January

A series of explosions kills 22 people and injures around 50. The violence strikes the northern and ethnically-mixed provinces of Kirkuk, Diyala and also in Babil, a province to the south of Baghdad.

The attacks, in which three policemen are killed, target security forces, government officials, as well as Shiite Muslims.

10 January

Two attacks kill eight people and injure 20 others. A car laden with explosives blows up in a Shiite neighborhood at a bus stop as commuters gather to catch rides to various parts of Baghdad.

Another roadside bomb hits a convoy in which the head of Diyala University is traveling as he is on his way to his office in Baquba city. Two of his body guards are killed and two other people are injured.

13 January

Iraqi Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi survives an assassination attempt in Fallujah. He has had a turbulent political career and this is not the first time he has survived an attempt on his life. He had regularly called for the resignation of Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki, saying he’s trying to build a dictatorship. Two days later, a suicide bomber killed a prominent Sunni MP Ifan Saadoun al-Isaawi and six others in the same city.

16 January

A suicide bomber detonates a truck full of explosives next to the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Kirkuk, killing 26 and leaving 204 injured. A similar attack against another Kurdish office in Tuz Khormato kills 5 and wounds 40. Roadside bombings and shootings throughout the country leave at least 24 more people dead.

22 January

At least 17 people are killed and more than 50 wounded in Baghdad after the city is rocked by three blasts.

25 January

Iraqi soldiers kill five people after opening fire on an anti-government protest in an attempt to disperse it. Troops clash with thousands of Sunni Muslims in Fallujah, protesting against Iraq’s Shiite PM, Nouri al-Maliki.

On New Year’s Day, Iraq woke up reeling from a wave of bomb blasts which had swept across the country the previous day, serving as a terrible portent for a year of violence to come. Unrest was sparked in December when Prime Minister Maliki ordered the arrest of former finance minister and prominent Shia politician Rafia al-Issawi’s bodyguards and other staff members on alleged terrorism charges. The arrests, coupled with reform of the country’s anti-terror laws which the country’s disgruntled Sunni minority says targeted them specifically, laid the foundations for what was to come in 2013.

January was among the year’s least bloody months, though a series of Sunni Muslim rallies against Shiite Prime Minister, Nouri al- Maliki, and warnings of an ‘Iraqi Spring’ highlighted sectarian tensions which would reach boiling point by April.

Final civilian death toll 357


3 February

A suicide car bombing at the provincial police HQ in the northern city of Kirkuk kills at least 36 and injures 105 others, including the city's chief of police. Three other attackers are killed after the blast when they attempt to lob grenades at security forces. A dozen more causalities result from various other attacks across central Iraq that day.

Kirkuk lies at the heart of a dispute between the centralized Baghdad government and the autonomous Kurds in the region over oil reserves.

The attack underscored simmering sectarian tensions amid weeks of protests calling for Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to resign by the country’s Sunni minority.

4 February

Al-Qaeda in Iraq carries out its second major suicide attack against Iraqi security personnel in two days in Taji, a city just north of Baghdad. A suicide bomber attacks a government building in the city, killing 22 and injuring 44 others. Nineteen of the victims were members of the Sahwa militia, who were waiting for their monthly salaries, while the other 3 were Iraqi soldiers. The Sahwa or Awakening was formed by Sunni tribes to fight Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq appeared to gain ground both as a result of the US 2011 military withdrawal and the civil war in neighboring Syria. The country's precarious sectarian and ethnic balance has increasingly been taxed by the conflict in Syria, which continues to stir up Shiite and Sunni Muslims in both Iraq and the wider Middle East.

8 February

A pair of car bombs kill 17 and injure 45 others at a market in Baghdad's Kadhimiya district. Two similar attacks kill 16 and wound 44 in Shomali, 70 km south of Hillah. A blast outside Karbala kills 5 and injures 16, while an Iraqi soldier is wounded by sniper fire in Fallujah.

17 February

A series of car bombs strikes the capital, killing at least 37 and injuring more than 130 others. Most of the attacks take place in Shiite parts of the city, including Sadr City.

A total of eight car bombs and two improvised explosive devices went off during the attack, while eleven more roadside bombs were defused.

The month of February ended on a violent note, with a wave of car bombings and shootings killing 33 and injuring 70 others on February 28. The majority of the victims came from back-to-back car bombings near a Baghdad stadium. The other attacks occurred in Mosul and the Triangle of Death – a name given during the 2003–2010 occupation of Iraq by US-led forces to describe a region south of Baghdad rife with fighting and sectarian violence from late 2004 into the fall of 2007.

February saw an increase in violence over the previous month, with the Iraq Body Count estimating that 358 civilians were killed. In March, however, Iraq’s Health Ministry actually reported a decrease in violence in comparison with the previous month, saying militants only killed 136 Iraqis that month.

Final civilian death toll 358


14 March

The militants perform a carefully planned assault on the Iraqi Justice Ministry, with car bombs and gunmen disguised as police officers killing 24 people to once again demonstrate the country’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks.

At least two blasts, including one car bomb and another believed to be from a suicide bomber, go off near the Ministry, while two more car bombs explode nearby in order to confuse the law enforcement authorities.

Six gunmen take advantage of the chaos to enter the government building, which is occupied by over a 1,000 government employees.

After about an hour-long gunfight, the police storm the building, with some of the militants detonating the explosives they are wearing.

Separate incidents in the towns of Mosul, Areesh, Falluja and Samarra result in the day's death toll reaching 35 people.

Everybody panicked and seconds later we heard a second explosion. I looked through the window and I saw some gunmen wearing police uniforms entering the building. We knew that these policemen were fake, Asmaa Abbas, a Justice Ministry employee, told AP.

19 March

The 10th anniversary of the beginning of the US-led invasion of Iraq is marred with violence.

56 people are killed in Baghdad during the day as the capital’s Shia-dominated areas have been shaken by at least 16 blasts, with most of them being car bombs, including those detonated by suicide bombers.

Police officials say that the attacks targeted mainly small eateries, groups of laborers and bus stops as the explosive devices were detonated at regular intervals during the morning rush-hour.

I was driving my taxi and suddenly I felt my car rocked. Smoke was all around. I saw two bodies on the ground. People were running and shouting everywhere, Al Radi, a taxi driver caught in one of the blasts in Baghdad’s Sadr City, told Reuters.

More car bomb explosions kill 8 people in town of Hilla, situated 100 kilometers south of Baghdad, with another 9 people dying in separate incidents in the northern city town Mosul.

Deadly incidents are also reported in Iskandariya, Tikrit, Khalidiya, Tuz Khormato, Mussayab, Baiji, Telkaif and Baquba.

Islamic State of Iraq, the country’s branch of al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attacks and promised more violence against the Iraq’s Shia government, which the Islamists see as oppressors of the Sunni minority.

What has reached you on Tuesday is just the first drop of rain, and a first phase, for by God’s will, after this we will have our revenge, a statement, posted by the Islamic State of Iraq on a jihadist website, said.

29 March

Al-Qaeda fighters prove they are serious about keeping their promise, with 27 people losing their lives during the day.

20 people are killed in Baghdad after car bombs explodes in front of four Shia mosques in the capital just as worshipers are leaving after Friday prayers.

Another mosque blast rocks the northern city of Kirkuk, leaving 5 believers dead and wounding another 70 people.

We were listening to the cleric’s speech when we heard a very strong explosion. Glass scattered everywhere and the roof partially collapsed, Mohammed, a victim wounded in the Kirkuk attack, told Reuters.

March 2013 began as one of the year’s calmer months but the second half of the month prepared the ground for the escalation of violence that the country saw in April and May.

According to the statistics gathered by the Iraq Body Count website, 394 civilians were killed in March’s attacks and armed clashes. A smaller number of casualties is provided by United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, which speaks of 229 civilians killed and another 853 injured.

Final civilian death toll 394


10 April

Over 50 people are killed in the first 10 days of April by roadside bombs and sporadic gun shots. Ten years after the fall of Baghdad, Iraq is a country divided by roadblocks and barriers. RT’s Lucy Kafanov travels to Kirkuk - a city north of the capital to which Baghdadis and Kurds both lay claim. She says that one of the key challenges of reporting from Iraq is actually getting from A to B. Fear of repression from Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime has been replaced by fear of the unknown.

Oil-rich Kirkuk has been described as Iraq’s fault line, characterized by escalating violence , increasing sectarian conflict, and a fight over its resources. But most people in Kirkuk don’t hate their neighbors, whatever religion they come from. Nor do they care who controls their oil. They just want to be able to come home to their loved ones alive, says Kafanov.

We don’t know who the enemy is or when the next bomb will go off. But it’s a daily fear, so we’ve gotten used to it. I do small things to feel safer like driving with all the car windows down. That way, if there’s a blast, at least the glass won’t hurt us, said Karwan Abdle Rahman, a Kurdish resident of the city.

15 April

The series of attacks throughout the day shows the appalling scale of the violence now engulfing the country. At least 75 people are killed and 350 others are injured. Forty separate incidents take place in 20 different cities. The majority of the attacks are car bombings, and both Sunni and Shiite areas are targeted.

In Baghdad, three people are killed when two car bombs explode at a checkpoint at the city’s international airport. In Kirkuk, six car bombs leave nine people dead in three different ethnic areas of the city. Kurdish, Arab, and Turkmen civilians are among those killed.

The first elections since the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq gets underway on April 20, 2013. However, they are so beset by problems that many are left wondering if democracy was worth fighting for. A slew of candidates have been assassinated. More than 100 were barred from the ballot and a wave of violence terrorized voters. Six of Iraq’s 18 provinces did not participate - two because security could not be guaranteed, while in another four because of various political disagreements.

Iraq war veteran Michael Prysner: “The PM is better off now than under Saddam Hussein, but for millions of Iraqis, the country is a complete catastrophe, the effects of war are a complete catastrophe.”

Lucy Kafanov reported from the predominately Sunni city of Fallujah in the Anbar Province, where the black flags of Al-Qaeda were present at a protest ahead of the vote. Many Sunnis feel they have been discriminated against by the Shia government of Nouri al-Maliki and want more rights, more equality, and a complete overhaul of the political system. One man said he wouldn’t be voting for anyone because “all the candidates follow the government.”

20 April

RT’s Lucy Kafanov has traveled to a former bastion of Al-Qaeda, Iraq’s Anbar Province, to cover protests there ahead of the elections, despite a ban on media entering the area or working there.

23 April

Events on April 23 were the catalyst for a spate of bombing and violence which would follow. Forty people were killed in clashes between the army and Sunni militants.

When the Iraqi army storms a Sunni Muslim protest camp, it triggers a gunfight between troops and demonstrators that soon leads to clashes between Sunni militants and security forces. Forty people are killed.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry says that fighting erupted when soldiers opened fire after coming under attack from gunmen when they raided a makeshift protest camp in Hawija, located 170 kilometers north of Baghdad. But leaders of the protest said they were unarmed when security forces raided the camp and started shooting.

Twenty people and six soldiers die in the raid. Afterwards, security forces clear the square, burn protestors’ tents, and impose a curfew on the surrounding province of Salahuddin.

The incident in Iraq’s Sunni heartland leads to a quick spread of violence, with gunmen attacking army posts, killing 13 soldiers. Various other attacks and bombings take place throughout the day, with 21 worshipers being killed by bombs and gunmen as they leave two Sunni mosques in Baghdad.

25 April

Nearly 50 people are killed in clashes in the city of Mosul when Sunni gunmen take control of northern parts of the city after using a loudspeaker on a mosque to rally Sunnis to join the battle. This is in response to the army raid two days before.

Sunni militants manage to occupy police headquarters and take 17 hostages. The army and police then storm the site, killing 31 militants and at least 15 policemen.

In a separate attack, Sunni militants ‘liberate’ a town north of Baghdad from government forces. Four soldiers and eight others are killed when gunmen storm a police headquarters in the small market town of Sulaiman Beg, located 140 kilometers north of Baghdad.

Supporters of the Sunni militants dub the town on social media “the first liberated city in Iraq.” The attack sparks retaliation by the army, who besieged the town. “We withdrew tactically so we can work on clearing the area completely, after we knew that the residents had left,” a high ranking army officer tells AFP.

Iraq war veteran Jayel Aheram: What the US did was to replace Saddam Hussein, a tyrant, with this new one, Maliki, who is going to be an even bigger tyrant.

At least 23 people were killed in a series of car bombings in Shiite Muslim areas on April 29, 2013. The bombings were viewed as further retaliation for the raid by security forces on Sunni protestors near Kirkuk.

Nine people were killed and 40 others wounded in two car bomb explosions in Amara, located 300 kilometers southeast of Baghdad. Another car bomb was detonated in a market in Diwaniya, killing two. A bomb in a busy market in Karbala killed three people. A further explosion in a workshop in Mahmudiya left six dead.

Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni speaker in Iraq’s parliament, called on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Shia-led government to resign and dissolve parliament in order to “avoid the ghost of civil war and sectarian strife.”

April 2013 marked the deadliest month in Iraq since June 2008. The surge in violence seen in April was an unfortunate precursor of what was to come in the following months.

Baghdad was the worst affected area, with 211 killed and 486 others injured, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a statement.

Final civilian death toll 544


1 May

At least 9 members of Sahwa, the government-backed paramilitary group are killed in the town of Garma, near Fallujah. A suicide bomber detonates his explosives belt after mixing with a group of fighters queuing to receive their monthly pay. A car bomb explosion also goes off nearby.

11 May

Up to 12 people die when a suicide bomber driving a tanker truck crammed with explosives rams into the house of intelligence officer, General Ismail Al-Jubouri, in the northern town of Shirqat.

Two of Jobouri’s sons and a nephew die in the blast, but he escapes unharmed.
The charge is so powerful it destroys four nearby houses, and a primary school, injuring scores of children.

Jobouri was later seriously injured in another suicide attack in September.

14 May

Militants using guns with silencers attack a row of Christian-owned alcohol stores in Baghdad. The gunmen allow customers to leave and then shoot the vendors. At least 12 people die during the lightning-quick hit and run. The shops have just been rebuilt after suffering a bomb attack the year before.

17 May

43 people die when two bombs explode outside a Sunni mosque in Baquba, as Sunni worshippers are exiting after their weekly prayers. In a tried and tested tactic, a second bomb goes off just as people rush to help people after the first blast. Nineteen people die after a roadside bomb explodes in a busy shopping area in Baghdad.

20 May

This is the bloodiest day of attacks during the whole month, with at least 95 killed and hundreds more wounded.

Many of the attacks in markets, bus terminals and crowded streets were timed to go off simultaneously to produce greater terror and confusion. There were ten blasts in Baghdad alone. The tactic is a hallmark of Al-Qaeda followers in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Most of the targeted areas were predominantly Shiite.

In Anbar province, a bungled rescue operation leads to the death of at least 12 policemen, who were kidnapped on a highway from Baghdad yesterday.

It isn’t clear if the police are killed by their abductors, or merely caught in the crossfire.

22 May

Gunmen burst into a brothel in the religiously-mixed Zayouna neighborhood of Baghdad – the same area where the alcohol stores were attacked earlier the same month.

Five men and seven women are killed, and the attackers write “Wanted” on the side of the house.
Both Sunnis and Shiites have previously attacked brothels, which are frowned upon by official Islam.

27 May

A series of blasts rip through Iraq’s capital, killing more than 70 and leaving many wounded. Approximately twelve different blasts strike markets and shopping districts in Baghdad’s Shiite areas.

29 May

A wedding party in the tense, mixed Sunni-Shiite Al-Jihad neighborhood in Baghdad is caught in a blast. At least 16 people die in the explosion. Earlier in the year, Al-Jihad’s Sunnis received a letter from a Shiite radical group telling them to leave the neighborhood or risk losing their lives.

May was the deadliest month in Iraq since the height of the sectarian conflict in 2006-2007, with UNAMI reporting more than 1,000 people dead, and Iraq Body Count confirming a figure of at least 887 fatalities.

The dramatically rising figures were ascribed to the spillover from the increasingly religiously-motivated conflict in neighboring Syria, whose radical fighters often share funds, expertise and manpower with those in Iraq. The situation has also re-invigorated old tensions.

The fundamental underlying reason remained the resentment of the Sunni minority, which held power under the regime of Saddam Hussein, against the Shiite led government, which is perceived by some to treat them as second-class citizens. The government’s inability to establish a monopoly on force is also a key factor.

Final civilian death toll 887


5 June

A convoy of at least 14 border policemen are killed, with two of the bodies burned, as insurgents set up a fake checkpoint in western Iraq and laid an ambush. The attack takes place at about 11:00 am local time (08:00 GMT) not far from the town of Nukhayb on a main highway connecting Iraq and neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The servicemen had been traveling along the highway in three unmarked cars to begin their shifts at various checkpoints. The convoy stopped at the fake checkpoint and gunmen open fire on the cars, killing at least 14 people inside. The militants then set fire to the bodies of two dead policemen.

10 June

A wave of major attacks across mostly Sunni areas of Iraq sees at least 70 killed, and over 230 injured. The deadliest attack is carried out in the northern city of Mosul, where five car bombs targeting security forces leave 29 dead and 80 wounded, officials say. A curfew is imposed, following the violence. Other Sunni area attacks include Saddam Hussein’s birthplace of Al-Awja, as well as the towns of Dour and Taji, where 13 people have been killed.

In Jadidat al-Shat, a town in the Diyala province, a suicide bombing and two car bombs happen at a market, resulting in 13 deaths. Ten people die in and around Kirkuk, a northern province, while an explosion in the mixed town of Maidan and one in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in the capital Baghdad has killed five people. No one has claimed responsibility for the violence, but Al-Qaeda-linked Sunni militants were thought to be behind the attacks due to their tactic of attacking security forces, as well as their own religious group – supposedly to provoke further bloodshed with the Shiites.

16 June

Across Iraq, bomb attacks targeting mostly Shiite Muslims leave at least 32 people dead – another string of assaults apparently carried out by Sunni Islamist militants. Two car bombs explode in the southern city of Basra, 420 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, leaving at least five dead and 10 wounded, according to police estimates.

Next, bombings take place in Najaf, Nassiriya, Kut, Hilla, Tuz Khormato, as well as in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad. Six police officers are also shot dead on the outskirts of the northern town of Mosul, at a checkpoint. The deadliest blasts take place in and near the central city of Kut, where two parked car bombs target an industrial area and a gathering of construction workers.

25 June

A protest by Iraq’s Shiite Turkmen minority in the northern city of Tuz Khormato is disrupted by two suicide bombers. Ironically, the Turkmen set up tents in the main square in protest at the lack of security in the region, following a fatal bombing two days earlier. As many as 22 people are killed, including one of the leaders of the Turkmen Front and a senior government official.

At least fifteen other people are killed elsewhere in the country. In south Baghdad, at least three youth footballers travelling by minibus were killed when a magnetic bomb attached to it is detonated, and in Abara six young men who were playing football are killed by a roadside bomb. Several Iranian pilgrims also lose their lives when a roadside bomb goes off on the path between Mussayab and Iskandariya.

More than 20 people die violently on this day. Shammar tribal Sheikh Mohammed Rasheed Chalub of the Shammar tribe is found in his residence north of the city of Kut. Both his arms and legs have been cuffed, and his body shows signs of torture.

There are also several attacks on members of the pro-government, anti-al-Qaeda Sahwa militia. Up to ten members die after a magnetic bomb stuck onto the back of a Sahwa car goes off at a checkpoint near Zangoura. As the crowd gathers, a second device explodes. Two more Sahwa members are killed in two separate incidents in Baghdad, one after being kidnapped a day earlier.

28 June

30 June

A bomb planted at a football pitch in Baghdad kills 12 people, most of them children younger than 16 in the spate of attacks targeting Iraqis playing and watching sports.

Violence across Iraq claims another six lives on this day.
A day earlier, seven young people were killed in a bombing during another match, signaling a threatening trend in terrorists’ actions.
An Interior Ministry official and a medical source say that some 25 other people were wounded in the attack on the football field that took place in southeast Baghdad.

While May 2013 was declared the deadliest month in Iraq for five years, with almost 1,000 dead, June hasn’t seen a big decrease in violence. Over 648 people have been killed in a series of daily attacks that have continued to hit the war-torn country.

Final civilian death toll 648


2 July

A number of deadly attacks, particularly in the capital, Baghdad mars this day. Twin blasts in the Shabb neighborhood kill 9 and wound 24, while another double attack kills 12 and injures 38 at a market in Shula. In the city of Fallujah, gunmen assassinate Iraq’s national bodybuilding champion and another blast injures three civilians.

There is also a series of bombings in the south of Iraq, where violence is normally much lower. A car bombing in Abu Ghraib kills three and wounds 14.

12 July

Thirty-nine people are killed by a suicide bomber at a cafe attack in northern Iraq on July 12. The blast took place in the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk to the north of Baghdad.

Hours before that attack a Sunni cleric, Salah al Nauami, urged worshipers to pursue peace at a joint Sunni-Shiite sermon.

Enough is enough. We all love Iraq, we are Iraqis and we want to be united. We want to stop the bloodletting and develop and build Iraq, he said.

21 July

65 people are killed and 190 wounded. The bombs strike when dozens of Baghdad residents are in cafes after a meal which breaks the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

Two of the deadliest of 13 bomb attacks on July 21 kill 12 people in Karrada, a wealthy district in Baghdad. Senior Iraqi officials and religious leaders from both the Sunni and Shia communities have been silent as the reign of terror rampages across their country.

22 July

Hundreds of terrorists including senior Al-Qaeda leaders break out of Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons after a military-style raid by Sunni militants.

The attacks are carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a merger between Al-Qaeda’s affiliates in Syria and Iraq.

Between 500 and 1,000 prisoners manage to escape, many of them convicted members of Al-Qaeda who received death sentences.

Suicide bombers drive cars packed with explosives into the gates of the prison, while gunmen attack the guards with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Meanwhile, other militants block the main road to ensure reinforcements sent from Baghdad can't get through. Ten policemen and four insurgents are killed in the gun battle. Order is finally restored when military helicopters arrive in the morning.

24 July

Militants in Iraq shot 14 Shia tanker drivers at a makeshift roadblock while checking their identity documents.

Militants blocked their way near Sulaiman Pek, checked their IDs and executed them by shooting them in the heads and chest, the mayor of Sulaiman Pek tells Reuters.

Earlier in Tikrit, a minibus en route from Baghdad to Mosul was also attacked by Sunni militants, and four Shiite soldiers were killed.

29 July

17 car bombs explode in Shia areas killing 60 and injuring over 100; all the bombs are hidden in parked cars.

A report by RT’s Lucy Kafanov broadcast in July exposed the shocking rates of cancer and birth defects in certain parts of Iraq, as a result of the use of depleted uranium by US and British forces.

Kafanov went to the city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, and talked to local residents who are terrified about their health and particularly the number of birth defects and cancers.

Kafanov learnt that in almost every street of the city were multiple cases of families whose children are ill, who have lost children and whose families have many relatives who are suffering from cancer.

Dr. Christopher Busby, who carried out research on the effects of depleted uranium, says the only source of uranium was used by US and British forces.

“We went to Fallujah and we found the levels of cancer. We looked at the parents of children with congenital malformation and we did analysis of their hair to see what was inside their hair that might be genotoxic; that might be the sort of thing that can cause congenital malformation. The only thing that we found was uranium. We found uranium in the mothers of the children with congenital malformations,” he told RT.

After the start of the Iraq war, rates of cancer, leukemia and birth defects rose dramatically in Najaf. The areas affected by American attacks saw the biggest increases. We believe it’s because of the’ illegal’ weapons like depleted uranium that were used by the Americans. When you visit the hospital here you see that cancer is more common than the flu, Dr. Sundus Nsaif told RT’s Lucy Kafanov.

Another report by the Dutch found that at least 440,000 kilograms of depleted uranium were used in Iraq and this casts serious doubts on the legitimacy of its use. The Pentagon has denied there is a link between the use of depleted uranium and ill health, but the evidence tells a different story.

In Basra, where the British armed forces are known to have used heavy munitions including depleted uranium, at the start of the 2003 war, the number of birth defects has shot up. It is estimated that over half of all babies conceived after the start of the war were born with heart defects. While in 2003, the number of birth defects was 23 per 1,000 live births.

There has also been confusion around a WHO report into the link between depleted uranium and birth and health defects in Iraq, which Busby called a whitewash, seeing as it wasn’t properly carried out and therefore should be discounted. Busby even wrote to them telling them they “were well aware the method they chose could not possibly give correct answers to the question of congenital anomaly rates.”

Busby’s own study looked only at evidence taken in Iraqi hospitals at the time of new births, whereas the WHO report interviews mothers and the families of those who well ill, years after either they were born or initial symptoms developed, which could not be clinically accurate.

For the full story of why the WHO report amounts to scientific dishonesty, see the following analysis by Christopher Busby:

The Iraq Body Count says the death toll reached 968 in July, but according to the United Nations 1,057 people were killed and 2,326 were injured.

Final civilian death toll 968


2 August

The security forces invoke regulations which determine who may and who may not hold a demonstration. Police detain 13 people who attempted to protest against widespread corruption and Iraq’s slide into chaos. Soldiers retain three protesters and hold them for 36 hours before releasing them. They also arrest another ten people and charge them with “disobeying police orders”; a court later throws out the charges.

According to Human Rights Watch, the fear is that rather than minimizing the violence, such moves are likely to increase resentment among Iraq’s various ethnic groups.

6 August

A series of car bombs kills 35 and wounds 90. One of the attacks hits a square in central Baghdad killing five and wounding 18. On the northern outskirts of the capital another bomb explodes in a crowded market. Such coordinated attacks have become more common in Iraq.

A further 94 are killed and 200 wounded in a sequence of bombings dispersed across Iraq as Iraqis celebrate the end of Ramadan. The most deadly attack occurs in the country’s capital, Baghdad, where 12 different car bomb blasts kill 52 people and wound some 150 in predominantly Shi’ite markets and shopping areas. Eleven are killed in a town 170 km north of Baghdad named, Tuz Khormato; the suicide attack also wounds more than 40. Three hundred km south-east of Baghdad, in the town of Nassiriya, four are killed and over 20 wounded in twin car bomb blasts neat a park, while a further five are killed in the Shiite city of Kerbala, with one worshipper also being killed in the predominantly Kurdish northern city of Kirkuk.

11 August

A wave of bombings marks the Eid celebrations. 74 people are killed in a string of attacks, in what again appears to show a level of coordination, as many of them occur within an hour of each other. In the Shiite city of Karbala four people are killed by car bomb near a café at night.

I want to know where is our government? Where are the security forces? If you (Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki) cannot provide security, give it (the role) to another person. When I can’t do a job, I ask another person to do it for me. Why are you clinging to power? It is the Eid holiday and people are continuing to die, a Karbala resident tells AP.

The attacks come a few weeks after a number of prison breaks, orchestrated by al Qaeda, freeing many hundreds of militants including a number of militant leaders, prompting warnings of a surge in violence. The authorities say they have carried out a number of raids in recent months which have led to a number of key militants being captured. But even though such operations make gains, they show no sign of preventing the bloodshed. Most Iraqis blame the government for the terrible state of security.

"There will not be any improvement in the Iraqi situation. I cannot trust any politicians, because they make many promises, and the result of their work is what happens in our country each day,” a Baghdad resident called Abu Samer told AFP.

Many say that the country’s long running political deadlock is to blame.

The presence of one party and another opposed to it is much better than dozens of political parties, even if they say we are in a dictatorial regime, because it is much better than dozens of people being killed each day, I will never vote for another person again. How long should we live in this situation because of politicians? said Ali al-Sammari.

24 August

A suicide bomber attacks a crowded park in northern Baghdad, in another day of bloodshed that sees 36 people killed. There has been an increase in attacks on so-called soft targets, such as parks, coffee shops and markets, where the death count is guaranteed to be high.

In what appears a random incident of mindless violence a gunman kills four men walking down a street in northern Baghdad, while in another incident in the town of Dujail, a gunman breaks into the house of Shiite merchant killing him, his wife and his mother.

26 August

Another day of extreme violence leaves at least 47 people dead. The biggest attack takes place in Baquba, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, when a car bomb goes off near a housing complex, killing 11 people and wounding 34.

In another incident, suspected militants, ambush two taxis taking soldiers from Baghdad to join their military unit in Mosul. One of the cars manages to escape the ambush but the other is trapped and five soldiers are killed and then burned.

28 August

Some 98 people die after a string of bombings, with 80 killed in Baghdad alone. More than 260 people are also injured in the reportedly coordinated 18 car bomb explosions. On the same day, gunmen kill six members of al-Sahwa at a checkpoint 40 km south of Baghdad and a further seven members of the same family are killed in a home invasion close to the besieged checkpoint in Latifiya. Nine are also killed by improvised explosive devices in the northern city of Mosul.

Iraq’s August death toll was 915 dead and more than 2,000 wounded in the almost daily carnage of bombings and shootings. The death toll was less than July’s but the UN mission to Iraq warned “the impact of violence on civilians remains disturbingly high.”

Final civilian death toll 915


3 September

At least 60 people are killed in a string of car bomb attacks and shootings in predominately Shia districts of Baghdad, one of the worst hit areas is the suburb of Husseiniy, where 9 people are killed by two explosions. Another 19 are killed by blasts in Talbiya, while seven people are shot dead by gunmen in the south of Baghdad. Baghdad is one of the areas that have been worse affected by the violence. All the attacks are believed to be the work of Sunni militants.

The car bombings tear through Baghdad in the evening, as many of the city’s residents go out to have dinner, shop or meet in public places.

A public inquiry into the Battle of Danny Boy in southern Iraq hears the first statements from British military witnesses. British soldiers are facing accusations that 20 or more Iraqis were unlawfully killed and abused following the battle while in UK custody.

British military officials deny the accusations calling them baseless rumors. Colonel Adam Griffiths tells the hearing in London that he saw no evidence that indicted any mutilation or abuse was carried out by soldiers.

He goes on to suggest that testimonies from Iraqi witnesses are the product of their “ignorance as to the traumatic injuries that can be suffered in combat”, and a smear campaign against the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

15 September

Sunday sees another wave of bloodshed in further car bombings and shootings, in what has become an almost daily event. 36 people are killed with no group claiming responsibility but with suspicion again falling on Sunni Islamist militants, as the attacks appear to be co-ordinated.

The deadliest attacks are in the city of Hilla, where two parked car bombs explode at the same time right next to a busy market and a third device goes off by a garage, killing nine people.

In a Shiite district of Baghdad another car bomb explodes on a commercial shopping street killing five and wounding 17. Meanwhile, a bomb in the southern city of Basra kills another five at a vehicle repair shop.

In the town of Dibis, another two car bombs go off at a market killing two and wounding 16. Two Shiite farmers are shot dead as they return to their homes in the eastern city of Baquba.

21 September

A series of car bombings strike the capital, central and northern regions of Iraq, with at least 107 people dead and 200 wounded.

The biggest attack targets the funeral of a member of the al-Fartousi tribe in Sadr City just before sunset and while dinner is being served in one of the tents. One suicide bomber drives right up to the tent before detonating his payload, while the other approaches on foot moments later and detonates his vest.

Many of an estimated 500 attending the event have to be taken to hospital in civilian vehicles. At least 78 people are killed. A huge blaze is ignited by the explosions with firefighters struggling to put it out.

A few hours later, another bomb goes off in Baghdad’s Ur neighborhood, killing nine and wounding 14. There is also an attack on an elite police unit near Baijii, where 6 suicide bombers dressed in SWAT uniforms storm the compound, killing seven police officers and injuring 21.

The 21st September also saw elections in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region.
The two parties, which have dominated Kurdish politics for decades are the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which is led by the region’s president Massod Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by the Iraqi president Jalal Talabani.

The opposition led a campaign to end the two party’s domination and focused on what they described as corruption and nepotism in the higher departments of government.

No party won enough votes to form a government outright. The Kurdistan Democratic Party won the most votes in Erbil and Duhok. The province of Sulaymaniyah was heavily divided. The Movement for Change won the second most votes which made it the prime partner for the Kurdistan Democratic Party to form a coalition with. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, unexpectedly, lost more than a third of its seats.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan announced that it respected the results. Soon after the announcement high ranking member of the party resigned accepting responsibility for the bad results. Both Islamists and socialists made gains. A total of 77 men and 34 women were elected.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the main Kurdish parties have tried to put their divisions aside for the benefit of the Kurdish people. As a result there is enough stability in the region to achieve relative prosperity. Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, is growing and expanding and has attracted a fair amount of foreign investment from around the world.

Violence in Iraq in September has left at least 1,220- people dead, according to the Iraq Body Count, a website that compiles the number of fatalities in Iraq from various sources. Baghdad was the worst affected province, with 887 civilians dead. 92 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed nationwide.

“Political, religious and civil leaders as well as the security services must work together to end the bloodshed and ensure that all Iraqi civilians feel equally protected,” The UN envoy to Iraq, Nicolay Mladenov, said in a statement.

Most of the violence has been blamed on Sunni Islamist militants who are linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq. There has also been a spill over in violence from the conflict in neighboring Syria, where jihadist rebels linked to the Islamic State of Iraq are battling the regime of Bashar al Assad.

Throughout August and September, the Iraqi security forces have reportedly arrested hundreds of al-Qaida members in a campaign that the Iraqi government has called “Revenge for the Martyrs”.

But the operations, which have targeted Sunni districts, have angered the Sunni community still further and have done nothing to halt the violence.

Final civilian death toll 1220


5 October

A wave of violence kills 73 people across Iraq, including two journalists. At least 49 of them die when a suicide bomber targets Shiite pilgrims in a predominantly-Sunni Azamiyah neighborhood of Baghdad. Up to 75 people are injured in the explosion.

Other attacks claim 24 lives, with 13 people being killed as a suicide bomber blows himself up at a café in the largely-Shiite town of Balad. Twenty-two people are injured.

A further 13 are killed in the religiously mixed neighborhood of Baiyaa.

In another incident unidentified gunmen shoot dead two journalists who are filming for the Al Sharqiya TV channel in the northern city of Mosul.

6 October

29 people including 12 children are killed in suicide bombings. Two suicide bombers detonate explosive rigged vehicles at an elementary school and a police station. In the attack on the school, a suicide bomber drives a truck packed with explosives into the playground; the ensuing explosion causes part of the single-story building to collapse, which may have trapped more people inside, witnesses say. No one is reported dead in the attack on the police station.

But a further 14 people are killed when a suicide bomber attacks a cortege of Shiite pilgrims passing through the Sunni neighborhood of Waziriyah, Baghdad.

7 October

A string of what appeared to be coordinated attacks kills 38 people in Baghdad. The blasts are mainly in Shiite Muslim neighborhoods of the city, but there is also an explosion in a predominately Sunni Muslim neighborhood called Doura.

Police say there were seven explosions in eight different neighborhoods. In the deadliest attack, six are killed and 13 injured on one street alone. Meanwhile, in a separate attack four members of a Shia government-backed Sunni militia are killed in a roadside bomb in northern Baghdad.

17 October

Another wave of attacks timed to coincide with the Muslim Eid festival celebrations kills at least 51 people. Fifteen members of the Shabak minority are killed and 52 injured in the village of Muwaffaqiya. They were forced to leave their homes in Mosul after receiving threats. Previously, Sunni Islamist militants have targeted Shia Shabaks.

In the capital Baghdad at least seven bomb explosions hit mainly Shiite suburbs killing 33 people. The explosions go off in quick succession when families are heading out to parks, cafés, shops and restaurants.

20 October

Over 50 people are killed in bombings across Iraq. In the most deadly attack, a suicide bomber rams his explosive-laden car right into a busy Baghdad café packed with young people who are watching football killing 38 and injuring at least 39.

12 people are killed and 27 injured in attacks carried out on in the western province of Anbar. In one of the attacks in the town of Rawa 260 km northwest of Baghdad, at least five policemen are killed and 13 wounded as a suicide bomber blows himself up outside the entrance to a police station.

22 October

A mix of suicide bombings and armed attacks kill 16 members of the security forces and wounded a further 35 in the western Anbar province. Elsewhere one policeman is killed and another six are injured in a car bomb explosion in the province of Babel. In total, 17 people are killed and 45 injured.

27 October

Sixty-six people are killed as a total of 11 car bombs rip through Iraq. Nine of the blasts go off in mainly Shiite Muslim districts in and around Baghdad. Back-to-back car bombings in the town of Nahrawan kill seven and injure 15 more. Attacks in the northern Shaab and southern Abu Dshir neighborhoods of Baghdad kill another six people.

The deadliest attack takes place in the northern city of Mosul, killing at least 14 people and injuring a further 30. The attack is targeting soldiers, who are queuing up outside a government bank to collect their salaries, but also kills five civilians. In a separate incident in Mosul a gunman kills two off-duty soldiers in a drive-by shooting.

29 October

Violence sweeps through Iraq again on October 29 and 30, killing 35 people in two days. Attacks in Sunni districts of Baghdad left nine dead and 20 injured. The deadliest is in Abu Ghraib, where two people are killed in a roadside bomb. There are also attacks in Baquba, Fallujah, a former bastion of Sunni insurgency, Mosul, Kirkuk and Tikrit.

Wednesday’s violence follows a wave of bloodshed on Tuesday night that killed 19 people, 14 of whom were from the security forces. In Tarmiyah, north of Baghdad, two bombers attacked a house where a security meeting was taking place, killing four soldiers - including a brigadier general - three police officers and four Sahwa anti Al-Qaeda fighters.

In another incident a suicide bomber blows up a vehicle rigged with explosives at a police checkpoint, killing three policemen and injuring 25.

So far in October 1095 civilians have been killed in Iraq by a combination of bombings and armed attacks. As the bodies continue to pile up, Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki made his first visit to Washington in more than two years. However, almost all analysts and observers of Iraq, both inside and outside the country, say nothing will come from his visit to America to help stem the bloodshed. Progress, they say, can only be made in Iraq, if there is a government in place that represents all the different people and religions, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

Final civilian death toll 1095


5 November

In Kirkuk, a city in the north of Iraq, a cab bomb goes off next to a Turkmen television station killing a civilian and wounding five others. But most of the 13 people killed on that day are security personnel.

In the northern province of Nineveh, two separate bombs targeting army patrols kill three soldiers and wound four others.

In Mosul a policeman is killed in a shootout with militants at a checkpoint and another policeman is shot in a separate incident.

On the outskirts of Fallujah, a suicide bomber detonates his explosive-rigged vehicle killing three policemen and wounding three others.

While, just north of the capital Baghdad the head of an anti-Al-Qaeda militia group and his son are killed by gunmen.

10 November

Bombings across Iraq kill at least 12 people. The deadliest assault is in the city of Mosul, where eight people are killed when a car bomb explodes in the city center.

In western Baghdad, four people are killed when two roadside bombs go off near a Sunni mosque as worshippers are leaving following Friday prayers.

An unidentified gunman opens fire on a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims to a shrine in Balad, north of Baghdad, killing a woman.

Two car bombs in the southern city of Basra injure six people.

14 November

At least 67 people are killed and 152 wounded while participating in the Shiite Ashura holiday rituals. Ashura commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Huessein and symbolizes the schism between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. The conflict between the two branches of Islam is one of the reasons for the bloodshed in Iraq.

At least 32 people are killed and 80 wounded when a suicide bomber in Sadiyah attacks a large group of Shia pilgrims who were recreating a military battle.

In nearby Baqubah, another suicide bomber kills 16 pilgrims and wounds 27.

A further nine people are killed and 28 wounded when two IED’s goes off in Suwayrah in a tent offering refreshments to pilgrims.

While in Mosul, an IED kills two soldiers and wounds another two. In Kirkuk two bombs wound five people.

17 November

At least 26 people are killed and 35 wounded in a series of bombings that target cafes and markets.

The deadliest attacks strike in Baghdad, where four car bombs and three roadside bombs hit several areas, including the Shiite slum neighborhood of Sadr City in the northeast and the western Sunni suburb of Radwaniyah.

A day later in Mosul, in the north of Iraq, a roadside bomb kills a policeman and wounds three more people. In Abu Ghraib a bomb in a policeman’s home kills his mother and wounds his son, and a separate IED kills an agricultural employee.

20 November

At least 29 people are killed in a series of bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in mainly Shia areas of the city. The deadliest attack is in the Sadriya district, where a car bomb is detonated at a crowded market. There are also bombs in the Shaab, Tobchi, Karrada, Azamiya and Amil areas of the city.

21 November

A truck bomb in Sadiyah, north east of Baghdad kills 31 people and wounds 45 at a crowded market. The driver reportedly asked workers to unload vegetables from it and left the vehicle.

In Taji, north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber leaves his explosive laden vest outside an army checkpoint killing six soldiers and wounding 12. In Baghdad’s northern Kasra neighborhood a bomb attached to an army officer’s car kills his son. In Baghdad’s western Amiriyah neighborhood two bombs and a car bomb kill eight civilians and wound 15.

In Baghdad’s southeastern Bayaa neighborhood, two brothers, the proprietors, are killed when gunmen attack a supermarket and two shoppers are wounded.

24 November

Five people, including a television journalist are killed in a series of bombings and shootings across Iraq. In the deadliest attack a bomb explodes near an outdoor market in Baghdad’s Shaab district killing two people and wounding seven.

A further blast in another area of Baghdad kills a civilian, and the owner of a small restaurant is killed after gunmen with silencers stormed the establishment.

In the northern city of Mosul a gunman kills a cameraman working for a local TV station.

27 November

At least 33 people are killed and more than 70 wounded in bomb attacks and separate shootings across Iraq. Ten people die and dozens are wounded by a suicide bomber at a funeral in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad. In the north west of the capital, attackers shoot dead a family of five.

Four policemen are killed and at least 15 are wounded after four suicide bombers attack a police station in Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

Police also find the bodies of 13 people around Baghdad who appear to be victims of execution-style shootings. The men were blindfolded and handcuffed and then executed, police said.

Iraqi security forces inspect the site of bomb attacks at a police station in Ramadi, 100 km (62 miles) west of Baghdad, November 27, 2013. At least 20 people were killed and 35 wounded in bombings and shootings in Iraq on Wednesday, police and medical sources said, the latest in a string of attacks that threaten to tilt the country back into all-out sectarian warfare. Four suicide bombers targeted a police station in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, killing four policemen and wounding 15. Another attacked a police station just north of Ramadi, killing four officers and wounding seven, the sources said.

I am profoundly disturbed by the recent surge in execution-style killings that have been carried out in a particularly horrendous and unspeakable manner, UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov said.

According to Iraq Body Count 903 civilians were killed in the country. Iraqi ministries of health and defense say 852 civilians died, in addition to 53 policemen and 43 soldiers. However, the Interior Ministry put the figure at 1,121 people killed. The two ministries agreed that a further 1,349 were wounded in attacks.

Final civilian death toll 909


3 December

Seventy six people are killed as explosions and gunfire tear through 14 different towns and cities in Iraq. Four suicide bombers detonate their explosive vests in a social welfare building in Tikrit, some 170 kilometers north west of Baghdad. Along with other improvised explosive device attacks and gunfire, the death toll in the city stands at 34. Ten people are killed in the capital, Baghdad, six of whom die in a car bomb blast in Bayaa, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of west Baghdad. Two policemen are killed in a car bomb attack in Samarra and a mayor is gunned down in Muqdadiya, 100km north east of the capital.

On the same day, suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen murder seven civilians who were taking a camping trip in the west of the country, not far from the border with Jordan. The victims’ vehicles are burnt, and three university students are among the victims, according to Anbar police spokesman Capt. Marwan Mohammed, who spoke to local news outlet, Al-Shorfa.

4 December

Suicide bombers and gunmen lay siege to police intelligence headquarters in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Seven people die, and dozens more are left wounded in the attack’s aftermath. The gun battle rages for two hours. On the same day, two people are killed in Baghdad as the result of gunfire, and three separate adhesive explosive device (AED) and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks nationwide combined with gunfire led to the deaths of 13 more.

In Fallujah, Al-Qaeda’s ‘Fallujah wali’ (governor), Ismael Awad, who escaped from prison in July (along with 500 other detainees) is killed in a raid in Anbar province, Iraqi police told Al-Shorfa. Awad had been convicted and sentenced to the death penalty seven times. He is killed alongside one of his assistants.

5 December

The attack on Kirkuk’s police intelligence complex sees further deaths after violence spilled over into a nearby shopping mall. The shopping center is ransacked by security forces to put an end to the standoff. Eleven hostages are released unharmed, but nine were killed, including eight officials and five militants. Nineteen were killed in gunfire across Baghdad, Mosul and Qara Tappa, southeast of Mosul.

In the capital, nine are killed, six of whom died “when an IED exploded in the Madain area of southern Baghdad,” according to the IraqiNews outlet.

8 December

Bomb blasts devastate Baghdad through the day, killing 45 across the capital. The car bombs which have been primarily responsible for the explosions also injured nearly a hundred others. The assailants had specifically targetted crowded commercial areas of the city to ensure maximum damage. The attack with the most severe consequences takes place in the shi’ite district of Bayaa, where seven die and 14 are injured. Across the rest of the nation, 13 died in both gunfire and explosive attacks.

9 December

Buhriz, a Sunni-majority town located just 60 km northeast of Baghdad is the site of a major car bomb blast which resulted in the deaths of 13 people in the ethnically diverse province of Diyala. A car bomb explodes near a cafe, which has been the target of dozens of militant attacks over recent months, along with other busy commercial areas.

Nine are killed in further improvised explosive device blasts across the capital itself, six are killed in further gunfire and IED attacks.

The roadside bomb in northern Iraq killed a taxi driver and gunmen shot a policeman in Mosul. Baquba and Tikrit see mortar and hand grenade attacks, with the latter in Tikrit killing the son of an activist after her house was specifically targeted. Her daughter was also injured. December casualties so far: 314 civilians killed. On this day, it has taken just a few days to surpass the December death toll of last year.

15 December

The northern Iraqi city of Mosul has become a deadly place for journalists too - the previous day TV presenter Nawras al-Nuaimi was gunned down. Many have fled the city.

There is a rumour in Mosul saying that armed groups issued a list of names of 40 journalists who will be eliminated by them, 30 year old journalist Salim Fadhel, told AFP.

16 December

Baghdad is subject to another round of bomb blasts killing 82, making it one of the bloodiest days of violence in recent months. Suicide bombings and car and roadside bombs left a trail of destruction throughout the capital, killing 43 people. Nearly as many again are killed across the rest of the country. Mosul is rocked by gunfire as shiite pilgrims are attacked by terrorists opening fire on their vehicle. Unidentified gunmen also blow up the home of an MP on the same day. However, no casualties resulted from the explosion. In the rest of Iraq, 26 die, the majority in clashes, gunfire and blasts.

19 December

Three suicide bombers detonate their explosive belts as they waylay 36 Shiite pilgrims. The spike in attacks on pilgrims in December is because Shiites are setting off on journeys to Karbala for Arbaeen, an important religious holiday in the Shiite religious calendar which commemorates Imam Hussein, the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson.

In Baghdad, 44 are killed as a result of suicide bombings, combined with unrelated gunfire and IED assaults.

Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, five family members were also killed in gunfire. Ten further Iraqi towns and cities saw the deaths of policemen, civilians and a member of a US-backed security team.

22 December

Bombings and shootings across northern Iraq kill 14. Two roadside bombs explode in a yard for auctioning cattle in the northern town of Kuz Khurmato, 170 km north of Baghdad, leading to the deaths of nine people and the wounding of 24.

While in the northern town of Hawija, 210 km north of the capital, militants storm two houses and shoot dead five members of the same family, blow up the buildings and escape.

The picture shows a funeral in Najaf of a fighter killed in clashes with the free Syrian army in Syria, while fighting for the forces of president Bashar al-Assad, illustrating how the war in Syria is spilling over into neighboring Iraq.

The commander of an Iraqi army division and 17 of his officers are killed in a bomb attack while undertaking a security operation in the Anbar Province. As many as 32 soldiers are also wounded in the attack, as bombs are detonated as the troops enter a deserted building. The Iraqi army says it was involved in an operation against Al-Qaeda training camps for militants and adds that more than 60 further violence Saturday, a bomb kills five police officers in Sharqat north of Baghdad and another four people are killed in a gun attack in Falujah west of Baghdad.

25 December

34 people are killed in Christmas bomb attacks in Christian areas of Baghdad Wednesday. In the deadliest attack, 24 people, most of them Christians are killed as they are leaving a church in the Doura district of southern Baghdad.

The minority Christian community in Iraq has not escaped the violence and has been a target for al-Qaeda militants in the past, including an attack on a church in 2010, which killed dozens.

Across December, more than 660 civilians were killed. The entire year saw some 9,200 people die within the country. The worst month for violence across 2013 was September a period in which some 1220 people were killed - 887 in Baghdad alone. Car bombs and suicide bombs have continued to rip through the country, injuring thousands alongside the all too-frequent fatalities. Security officials are often among the casualties. Despite 2013 drawing to a close, there has been no indication that there will be a lull in the violence.

Final civilian death toll 660

8 955 people died in Iraq this year