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Nearly 20,000 Iraqi deaths since 2014

The U.N. reports that 18,800 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the last 21 months. A report by United Nations bodies in Iraq calls the civilian casualties “staggering” and “obscene.”

The self-styled Islamic State caliphate is a major topic of the report. ISIS is holding 3,500 people as slaves in the territory it controls. These slaves are mainly women and children from the Yazidi religious minority. Yazidi women have been claimed as sex slaves and domestic workers by ISIS militants who interpret certain passages in the Quran as a call to use non-Muslim women as sex workers.

The authors of the report, released on Tuesday, believe Islamic State may be guilty of genocide and other crimes against humanity. Approximately 3.2 million people have been internally displaced since January, 2014 adding to the chaos and violence in the unstable region.

Yazidi women are particular targets for violence. The Yazidis are not considered Muslims and are even classed as heretics and devil worshipers by some Muslims. ISIS is reported to murder Yazidi men and older women while giving the women and young girls as sex slaves to fighters as the spoils of victory.

The report was prepared by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and includes evidence of ISIS brutality such as beheading, burning alive and suicide bombings.

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