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Study: Sharp Drop in Iraq-Syria Terror Deaths, World Cup Likely Target for ISIS

Study: Sharp Drop in Iraq-Syria Terror Deaths, World Cup Likely Target for ISIS

Thursday, 18 January, 2018 - 08:30
A photo taken on August 19, 2017 shows the Yekaterinburg Arena under renovation work in Yekaterinburg. The Yekaterinburg Arena will host several football matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP

Iraq and Syria saw a sharp drop in the number of people killed in terror attacks last year despite ongoing violence in both countries, a report published Thursday has found.

In Iraq 3,378 were killed in militant attacks last year, a fall of 60 percent compared to 8,437 fatalities in 2016, according to research by Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center that is based in London.

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

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 regime-led air strikes in countries such as Syria.

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

As it came under growing territorial pressure, ISIS “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 center.

ISIS killed 6,499 people in attacks last year -- a 40 percent decrease compared to 2016, despite upping the number of assaults by nine percent 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 states remained unparalleled globally.

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

According to the report, the World Cup soccer tournament to be held in Russia in June and July will be an "attractive target" for ISIS given Moscow’s role in the territorial defeat of the terrorist organization.

A successful attack in Russia would provide a tremendous propaganda boost for ISIS, its militants and supporters, “underlining the ongoing international threat posed by the group despite its territorial defeat," it said.

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