Staggering impact of war in Iraq and Syria laid bare in report
The devastating impact of war in Iraq and Syria has been revealed in a new report.
According to the Cost of War Project, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, millions displaced and trillions of dollars have been spent, following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The study -- published on Wednesday -- comes ahead of the 20-year anniversary of the start of 'Operation Iraqi Freedom', commonly known as the Iraq war.
It found that more than half a million human lives have been lost in Iraq and Syria as a direct result of the violence, while "several times" that number may have died due to knock-on effects, such as preventable diseases.
Many civilians were killed by aerial bombing, fires, shelling, gunshots, and suicide attacks.
Others died as systems providing food, health care and clean drinking water were destroyed, fuelling illness, infectious diseases and malnutrition that could have been avoided or treated.
The report also highlighted the bruising impact of the war on US coffers.
It is estimated to have already hit American taxpayers with a $1.79 trillion (€1.68 trillion) bill.
However, due to the costs of medical and disability care for veterans, this figure is expected to soar to $2.89 trillion (€2.71 trillion) by 2050.
Nearly 32,000 personnel within the US army were wounded in action in Iraq, according to the US Department of Defence.
Ten times that number were found to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in a 2008 study.
The Cost of War study -- titled "blood and treasure" -- found that more than 7 million people from Iraq and Syria are currently refugees, while nearly 8 million people are internally displaced in the two countries.
It also estimated that 98 to 122 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents were emitted from US military operations between 2003 and 2021 in the war zone.
To put that into perspective, Belgium, a country of 11.5 million people, produced roughly around the same carbon emissions in 2021.
The US and its allies, including the UK, Australia and Poland, invaded Iraq on 20 March 2003, under the pretext of destroying Iraq's nuclear arsenal and ending the oppressive rule of Saddam Hussein.
No weapons were ever found.
The US returned to significant military operations in Iraq and Syria in late 2014, as the Islamic State terror group swept across the two countries.