More than 2,400 Iraqis, most of them civilians, were killed in June as Sunni militants swept through the north triggering the country’s worst violence in years, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
Sunni insurgents led by al Qaeda offshoot the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which now calls itself the Islamic State, have seized swathes of territory over the last three weeks, including northern Iraq’s largest city Mosul.
The United Nations said “acts of violence and terrorism” killed at least 2,417 Iraqis and wounded 2,287 more in June. Of those killed, 1,531 were civilians, it added.
“The staggering number of civilian casualties in one month points to the urgent need for all to ensure that civilians are protected,” the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.
Newly elected Iraqi lawmakers met in parliament on Tuesday under pressure to name a unity government to keep the country from splitting apart under the onslaught.
“As large parts of the country remain under the control of ISIL and armed groups, it is imperative that national leaders work together to foil attempts to destroy the social fabric of Iraqi society,” Mladenov said.
“What can be achieved through a constitutional political process cannot be achieved through an exclusively military response. Security must be restored, but the root causes of violence must be addressed.”
The statement said Baghdad province was the worst affected, with 1,090 civilians wounded and killed, followed by Nineveh province, where Mosul fell to insurgents on June 10.