The conflict in Iraq has claimed the lives of at least 18,800 civilians and has left another 36,200 wounded since early 2014, according to a UN report that singled out Islamic State extremists for many of the killings.
In addition, 3.2 million people became internally displaced between January 2014 and October 2015, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday, providing the latest available figures.
Islamic State had been systematically spreading terror by killing people in public spectacles, including beheadings, bulldozing, burning victims alive and throwing people off buildings, they said.
"These acts may, in some instances, amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide,” the UN report said.
In the conflict between government forces, Kurdish units and the Islamic State, the jihadist group has been targeting perceived civilian opponents, people linked to the government and police, lawyers, doctors, journalists and local leaders, according to evidence collected by UN experts.
They also reported that Islamic State had abducted between 800 and 900 children in Mosul in June for religious and military training, and that the extremists were using women and children as sexual slaves.
At the same time, Iraqi security forces and allied militias, as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were also found to have killed and abducted civilians in violation of the rules of war.
"This report lays bare the enduring suffering of civilians in Iraq and starkly illustrates what Iraqi refugees are attempting to escape when they flee to Europe and other regions," said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights.
Besides those killed or injured in the conflict, countless others had died from lack of water, food or medical care, Zeid pointed out.