The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release


Iraqi Deaths from Violence 2003-2011

Analysis and overview from Iraq Body Count (IBC)


The 9th year of the conflict in Iraq marks the formal withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. As well as examining recent trends in documented civilian deaths from violence, IBC's 2011 analysis (available here) provides an overview of the entire conflict, including of civilian deaths in which US-led coalition forces were directly involved. Main findings are:


  • 4,059 civilians were reported killed in 2011, a slightly higher number than in 2010.
  • Civilian deaths attributable to anti-government/occupation attacks have noticeably increased in 2011: 1,172 in 2011, up from 888 in 2010.
  • The rate of Iraqi civilian deaths caused by US-led coalition forces has declined steadily from 2009, while the rate caused by Iraqi state forces has increased.

The number of civilian deaths in Iraq in 2011 was almost at the same level as in 2010 - there has now been no noticeable downward trend since mid-2009. As observed in IBC's previous annual report, recent trends indicate a persistent low-level conflict in Iraq that will continue to kill civilians at a similar rate for years to come. While these data indicate no improvement, time will tell whether the withdrawal of US forces will have an effect on casualty levels.


  • 14,705 (13%) of all documented civilian deaths were reported as being directly caused by the US-led coalition.
  • Of the 4,040 civilian victims of US-led coalition forces for whom age data was available, 1,201 (29%) were children.
  • Over half of the civilian deaths caused by US-led coalition forces occurred during the 2003 invasion and the sieges of Fallujah in 2004.

On a per-day basis, the highest intensity of civilian killings over a sustained period occurred during the first three "Shock and Awe" weeks of the 2003 invasion, when civilian deaths averaged 317 per day and totalled over 6,640 by April 9th, nearly all attributable to US-led coalition-forces, reaching 7,286 by the time of President G.W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech of 1st May 2003.

At recent, much lower levels of overall violence in Iraq, it has taken nearly the past two years of violence (resulting in some 8,000 deaths) by all parties to exceed the coalition-caused invasion civilian death toll of those first weeks of the conflict in March-April 2003.

FULL 2003-2011 CONTEXT:

The total number of violent civilian deaths recorded since the 2003 invasion has now exceeded 114,000.

  • Combining IBC civilian data with official Iraqi and US combatant death figures and data from the WikiLeaks-released Iraq War Logs, we estimate the documented death toll across all categories since March 2003 to be 162,000, of whom 79% were civilians.
  • The violence peaked in late 2006 but was sustained at high levels until the second half of 2008 - nearly 90% of the deaths occurred by 2009.
  • 60,024 of the civilian dead were reported killed by small arms gunfire; 34,073 by ground-based explosive weapons (such as IEDs and suicide attacks); and 5,648 by airstrikes.
  • Of the 45,779 victims for whom IBC was able to obtain age data, 3,911 (8.54%) were children under age 18.
  • Police forces have been a major target, with 9,019 deaths reported - by far the largest toll of any professional group.
  • Baghdad, which contains roughly one fifth of the country's population, has suffered roughly half of the recorded civilian deaths, or about 2.5 times more than the national average.

Data contained in the Iraq War Logs released by WikiLeaks (the largest official source on the conflict to have become publicly available) have already added a confirmed 1,300 civilian deaths to the IBC database. 629 of these deaths were directly caused by US-led coalition forces and 56 by Iraq security forces. We estimate that further analysis of the Logs will eventually add another 13,000 civilian deaths.

Iraq Body Count (IBC) is a citizens' initiative devoted to recording the violent civilian deaths that have resulted from the 2003 military intervention in Iraq. Its public database includes deaths caused by US-led coalition forces and paramilitary or criminal attacks by others. The project was founded in January 2003 by volunteers from the UK and USA who felt a responsibility to ensure that the human consequences of military intervention in Iraq were not neglected.