Under the cover of dust and fog, Islamic State group fighters launched a series of counterattacks on Iraqi positions to the south and west of the militant-held city of Mosul late Friday night and into Saturday morning, according to Iraqi military commanders and officials. Iraq’s military has disputed UN figures indicating that nearly 2,000 Iraqi troops were killed across the country in November, saying the number was “not accurate and much exaggerated.”
The massive operation to retake Mosul was officially launched on Oct. 17, but after initially swift battlefield successes, the progress of Iraqi forces later slowed down in the face of fierce ISIS counterattacks and concerns over the safety of civilians still inside the city. The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, which released its figures Thursday, said in a statement Saturday it had taken note of the Iraqi military’s criticism and would not publish military casualty figures again unless they could be better substantiated.
“Owing to the fact that places where conflict is taking place, and where military casualties are likely to arise, are inaccessible and there are few reliable, independent sources available by which statistics can be verified, UNAMI has been relying on a variety of sources, including open sources, to compile military casualty statistics.“Previous requests by the Mission to the relevant Government Ministries for verification of military casualty figures have not received a response.”