There were recently two reports released in November 2017, which proved that there were still many unaccounted for casualties from the Mosul campaign. First, the United Nations released a study on the battle that included over 1,000 dead and wounded not reported before. Than the New York Times did an in depth study of Coalition air strikes during the Mosul operation, which found that there were many more incidents of civilian deaths than the Coalition acknowledged, and that it was using a flawed system to assess whether it caused any casualties.
First, the United Nations’ Assistance Mission for Iraq and Human Rights Organization put out a report on the human toll of the Mosul campaign. It had 92 unreported incidents that led to 678 deaths and 518 wounded. That included 396 executions by the Islamic State, 194 casualties caused by Iraqi air strikes and artillery, and another 11 injured by Coalition air power. That brought the total number of dead during the operation to 21,224 and 30,996 wounded. 17,404 of the former and 24,580 of the latter occurred in Mosul. The new numbers still highlighted the fact that there are many more undocumented casualties as the wounded should be four to six times higher than the fatalities figure. Even if you subtract the 5,325 people that were executed by the Islamic State that would still mean there should be 60,000-90,000 injured from the fighting.
The following is a breakdown of casualties by cause. Coalition air strikes accounted for 4.2% of the casualties in Ninewa and 5.1% of those inside Mosul. IS executions led to 10.1% of the casualties in Ninewa and 6.6% in Mosul. 11.8% of the dead and wounded in Ninewa and 14.3% of the ones in Mosul were caused by Iraqi air power or artillery.
Finally, the New York Times published an in depth look into Coalition air strikes in Ninewa. It investigated roughly 150 incidents by going to the sites, interviewing locals as well as the U.S. military and officials. It found that 1 in 5 of those led to civilian casualties, a rate 31 times higher than what the Coalition admitted to. The Coalition claims it has a stringent process to review any strikes that might have led to dead and wounded, but its process is flawed. For instance, the U.S. led alliance claims to be transparent in its campaign publishing reports on all its hits and investigations into any possible casualties. In fact, those records do not always include all the strikes or have the proper dates and locations. One of the Coalition’s main retorts to accusations of civilian casualties is to reply that it was not operating in that area. The Times found cases where the U.S. made that defense, but then it turned out it had released videos of bombings in those locations. Not only that, but around half of the strikes the Times looked into there were no IS targets nearby probably due to poor or out of date intelligence. The U.S. led alliance has a multi-step process to choose and approve targets in its air campaign, but civilian casualties are unavoidable. The U.S. says that it is being accountable and looks into every matter far more thoroughly than civilian groups do. The New York Times revealed that the costs are far higher than the Coalition is admitting to, and that its process of looking into the matter is not only deeply flawed, but that it dismisses most of the claims against it. It appears to be more concerned with its image of a clean air war than being up front about what the difficulties of achieving that are, and the toll that it is taking.
Total Ninewa Operation Casualties
2 US Soldiers/Sailors
2 Iranian Revolutionary Guard
1 Coalition Soldier
2 US Soldiers
200 Civilians and ISF
5,325 Executed by Islamic State
1,404 Dead, 821 Wounded Coalition Air Strikes
3,593 Dead, 2,607 Wounded Iraqi Air Strikes/Artillery
Total Mosul Operation Casualties
1 Coalition Soldier
2,802 Executed by Islamic State
1,358 Dead, 814 Wounded Coalition Air Strikes
3,489 Dead, 2,532 Wounded Iraqi Air Strikes/Artillery
Khan, Azmat and Gopal, Anand, “The Uncounted,” New York Times, 11/16/17
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq United Nations Human Rights, "Report on the Protection of Civilians in the context of the Ninewa Operations and the retaking of Mosul City, 17 October 2016 - 10 July 2017," November 2017