Study shows a sharp drop in Iraq and Syria terror deaths

Despite ongoing violence in both countries, there was a fall in the number of deaths in attacks by non-state actors such as ISIL

Syrians walk amidst the debris of destroyed buildings in the northern Syrian city of Raqa, on January 11, 2018 after a huge military operation led on the ground by Kurdish fighters and in the air by US warplanes defeated jihadists from the Islamic State group but also left the city completely disfigured.
Once home to around 300,000 people, Raqa's neighbourhoods were empty when it was declared retaken in mid-October. Three months on, despite the lack of infrastructure and the lingering threat of unexploded mines and bombs, a trickle of residents -- a few hundred families -- are attempting to return.

Iraq and Syria saw a sharp drop in the number of people killed in terror attacks last year, a report published Thursday by Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre has found.

Despite ongoing violence in both countries, there was a fall in the number of deaths in attacks by non-state actors such as ISIL.

In Iraq 3,378 were killed in militant attacks last year, a fall of 60 per cent compared to 8,437 fatalities in 2016, according to research by the London-based centre.

A similar trend was charted in Syria, where there was a drop of nearly 44 per cent.

In total 3,641 people were killed in terrorism and insurgency in 2017, down from 6,477 the previous year.

The report does not include militants who died in attacks, nor the substantial number of people killed in government-led air strikes in countries such as Syria.

Despite losing significant territory in the two countries last year, ISIL continued as the world's most active terror organisation by number of attacks.

"As it came under growing territorial pressure, the Islamic State transitioned back to insurgent operations, conducting a higher tempo of low intensity violence against security forces and non-state adversaries in areas newly recaptured from the group," said Matthew Henman, head of the research centre.

Read more: In the wake of ISIL defeat, US-led coalition looks to transform its mission

The extremist group killed 6,499 people in attacks last year — a 40 per cent decrease compared to 2016, despite upping the number of assaults by nine per cent to 4,612 last year.

Although Iraq and Syria experienced a fall in the number of deaths in militant attacks, the scale of terrorism and insurgency in the two countries remained unparalleled globally.

Comparatively, in Afghanistan 2,299 people were killed last year, followed by 1,466 fatalities in Somalia, and 1,092 in Yemen.

Globally there was a downward trend of fatalities from militant attacks, from 27,697 in 2016 to 18,475 last year.