Iraq News
Security

Number of Iraq terror victims in sharp decline

By Khalid al-Taie

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Iraqi forces arrest an 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' element in the Buhriz district of Diyala province. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence]

New statistics from the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) show a significant decline in the number of terror victims in Iraq and are a sign that the threat posed by the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) has diminished.

Casualty figures released by UNAMI on May 2nd show that 68 Iraqis were killed and 122 others were injured in acts of terrorism in the month of April.

These figures are the lowest since 2003, as the casualty figures in past years have often exceeded 1,000 deaths per month.

"This decline is due to several reasons, foremost of which is the resounding defeat of terrorism in the war of liberation," Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) spokesman Sabah al-Numan told Diyaruna.

"ISIS has no influence or control over even an inch of our land," he said. "We were able to retake all our cities and put an end to the menace of this brutal group."

"Those who are still alive are being hunted down and will be brought to justice," al-Numan said, adding that "the ongoing crackdown on secret terrorist networks in cities and desert areas has begun to bear fruit".

An atmosphere of stability now prevails in the liberated areas, he said, noting that the CTS has been carrying out "pursuit and capture operations" to take down fugitive ISIS leaders and elements and dismantle sleeper cells.

ISIS has 'lost everything'

Information and intelligence provided by members of the public has helped security forces track down ISIS hideouts and weapons caches, al-Numan said.

"The low number of victims of terrorist acts is certainly not what we aspire for," he said, pointing out that "our ambition is to have a month without recording a single casualty or terrorist incident".

Achieving this goal also requires national counseling and guidance programmes to root out extremist ideology, al-Numan added.

The decline in the number of victims of terrorism "is a natural result of the ongoing stabilisation of the security situation in all the cities of the country after the defeat of the ISIS gangs", security expert Fadel Abu Ragheef told Diyaruna.

The group has "lost everything", he said, from its fighters and equipment to its ability to attract new fighters into its ranks.

"Tremendous achievements and progress in security have been made, but we should not stop here," he added, noting that intelligence efforts are of key importance in the days ahead.

Enhanced security in Iraq

The international coalition's support for Iraq has been "an essential and effective factor" that helped Iraqi forces become better able to confront the threat from ISIS, said Hashem al-Hashemi, an expert on extremist groups.

Enhanced security can be attributed to a "combination of several key factors, including the reduced intensity of rhetoric and political crises that spark sectarian strife", he told Diyaruna.

He also noted the increased experience and capability of all security forces -- army, police and intelligence -- who have become highly skilled in pursuing ISIS and warding off its threats, he said.

"Citizens now know their security and safety is a community decision and a responsibility that rests on them and not only on the security forces," he said. "They must provide maximum support and co-operation to the security forces."

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