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Iraq

Airstrike on Shiite mosque in Iraq kills women and children

kirkukOn Friday, October 24th 2016, an airstrike on a Shiite mosque in Daquq, a town in the Kirkuk governate of Iraq, killed at least 13 and injured 45 civilians, according to Human Rights Watch.

As the strike landed on the women’s part of the mosque, most the dead and injured are women and children. Some reports put the death toll at 15 women.

The US-led coalition is said to be behind the attack, though the US deny it. Only US-led coalition and Iraqi forces are known to carry out attacks in the area. It is believed by the community that Iraqi forces would not carry out an attack on a Shiite mosque, but they do believe it is possible that Turkey may have been involved in the incident.

The attack in Daquq occurred just hours after ISIS attacked a power plant in Dibs, located in the same governate. Three terrorists detonated their explosives killing 18 people.

As more state and non-state forces operate in both Iraq and Syria, the civilian impact increases, as they continue to bear the brunt from the violence.

AOAV’s Explosive Violence Monitor 2015 found that last year explosive violence across Iraq left more than 5,000 civilians dead or injured. For the last five years, Iraq has remained consistently one of the five worst countries affected by explosive violence in the world – often taking first or second place.

The numbers of civilians killed or injured by explosive violence in Iraq last year meant that this beleaguered country was the third worst affected country by explosive violence. In 2015, only Syria and Yemen saw more civilians killed or injured by explosive violence.

In 2015, 89% of the civilians killed or injured from explosive weapons were attacked in violence that took place in populated areas, such as markets, commercial areas, residential areas, or places of worship.

Although, Shiite populations are more often targeted by Sunni militant groups, such as ISIS. Most civilians deaths and injuries in Iraq from explosive violence are caused by non-state actors, with IEDs causing 80% of the total civilian deaths and injuries from explosive weapon use in Iraq last year.

Despite this, at least 486 civilians have been killed and injured in airstrikes in Iraq so far this year (January-September 2016). Of these, at least 439 have been caused by members of the US-led coalition operating in Iraq.

AOAV has consistently found that when explosive weapons are used in populated areas over 90% of those killed and injured are civilians.

AOAV records casualties (i.e. people killed and injured) from explosive violence around the world as reported in English-language news sources. The data reflected here cannot capture the full scale of the civilian suffering in Iraq, but is indicative of the patterns of harm that exist when explosive weapons are used in populated areas.

AOAV calls upon states to recognise the civilian impact of explosive weapons with wide-area impacts, which all too often result in the death and injury of scores of civilians. The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), of which Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) is a member, recently released a briefing paper, ‘A Declaration to Prevent Harm From the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas‘, which sets out the key elements that should be included in a political instrument to address the humanitarian problem posed by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.