Statistics compiled by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) reveal there has been a significant decline in the number of victims of violence, terrorism and armed conflict across Iraq in recent months.
This drop in casualties coincides with the defeat of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) in many areas and the recapture of territory it once controlled.
According to monthly data released by the UN, the number of victims has declined over the past six months, reaching its lowest level in August.
UNAMI data shows 548 were killed and 567 wounded in March, most of whom were civilians. Ninawa, where military operations were under way, recorded the highest number of civilian casualties, with 367 dead and 174 wounded.
Data shows 317 civilians were killed and 403 wounded across Iraq in April, 354 civilians were killed and 470 were wounded in May, and 415 were killed and 300 were wounded in June.
The sharpest decline in the number of victims came after the declaration of victory in Mosul, with July data putting the toll at 241 Iraqi civilians killed and 277 wounded, and August data showing 125 killed and 188 wounded.
Reasons behind the decline
Security expert Jassim Hanoun attributed the decline in civilian casualties to several factors.
"The most notable of these factors is the array of military fronts that have been opened against ISIS, which caused its leaders to lose their focus and limit their planning to resisting Iraqi forces," he told Diyaruna.
This deprived ISIS leaders of the ability to exercise control over territories they held and to travel to other areas and ignite violence, he said.
"Iraqi forces’ quick and steady advance pulled the rug from under ISIS’s feet," Hanoun said, blocking the group's ability to move into heavily populated areas and target marketplaces and other areas where civilians gather.
Iraqi forces' successful targeting of ISIS leaders was another contributing factor in the decline in civilian casualties, he said.
At the conclusion of the battle for Mosul, he noted, the Joint Operations Command revealed that a total of 16,467 ISIS fighters had been killed.
"All of those elements were potential time bombs who could have exploded and targeted civilians in safe areas in Iraqi cities, had the Iraqi forces not killed them on battlefields," he said.
Political stability is key
Political stability under the current Iraqi government "is an important factor for the sustainability of security stability", Hanoun said, warning that "political divisions are a key contributor to the revival and growth of terrorism".
He called for a unified political stance in Iraq that works to combat terrorism and contributes to solving the security problems in the country.
All other influences, such as criminal motives, regional and international influences, and economic interests do not pose as much of a threat to the security situation as internal political turmoil in the country does, he noted.
Successes achieved by the security agencies also have been an important factor in reducing the number of victims of terrorism in the country, Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan told Diyaruna.
Kidnappings have decreased significantly in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, he said, revealing that 187 gangs accused of theft and robbery were apprehended in the month of August.
"Security forces successfully thwarted numerous dangerous terrorist attacks by ISIS at various locations, most recently a planned attack on the amusement park in Ramadi" during the Eid al-Adha holiday, he said.
Baghdad violence in decline
Although the number of victims has declined significantly across Iraq in recent months, Baghdad and Ninawa province continue to top all other provinces with respect to the number of dead and wounded.
"In Baghdad, the rate of violence and terrorist crime is at above normal levels compared to other cities, but it is in steady decline compared to the same period in previous years," said Baghdad provincial council security committee deputy head Mohammad al-Rubaie.
UNAMI statistics show there were 84 civilian deaths in Baghdad in March, 55 in April, 86 in May, 22 in June, 38 in July and 45 in August.
"These statistics are declining every year, thanks to the efforts of Baghdad Operations Command and the Ministry of Interior, which are scoring continuous successes in pursuing and tracking terrorists and organised crime cells," he said.