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Iraq Civilian Slaughter Grows

The rate of civilian deaths in Iraq is increasing. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Nov 22, 2006
The good news is that the rate of U.S. fatalities in Iraq has significantly fallen since the end of Ramadan. The bad news is that the civilian slaughter keeps soaring to new heights. More than 1,300 Iraq civilians are believed to have been killed in sectarian strife in the first 20 days of November, making this month already by far the most deadly month of the entire insurgency for such figures.

Previously, October was the worst month since the start of the insurgency more than three and a half years ago. But October's total dead was 1,200. November is currently on course to be more than 60 percent worse.

The total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq through Nov. 20 since the start of operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003, was 2,864, according to official figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense. Therefore, 32 U.S. soldiers were killed over the 14-day period from Nov. 7 through Nov. 20 at an average rate of just below 2.3 per day. This marked an improvement of almost 29 percent on the previous 22-day period when 371 U.S. soldiers were killed from Oct. 16 through Nov. 6, at an average rate of just below 3.23 per day.

The latest figures were also an improvement of comparable magnitude on the previous 18-day period from Sept. 28 through Oct. 15, when 56 U.S. soldiers were killed at an average rate of just over 3.1 per day. That rate was identical to the one we reported Oct. 1 in these columns for the nine days from Sept. 19 through Sept. 27, when 28 U.S. soldiers were killed at an average rate of 3.1 per day. At that time, we noted that these figures were far higher than the rate during the previous 18-day period, when 33 U.S. soldiers were killed from Sept. 1 through Sept. 18, at an average rate of 1.77 per day.

The latest figures appear to reflect the end of the unsuccessful U.S. military drive to subdue the defiant militias that control most of Baghdad.

It is now clear that that this far higher rate of casualties being suffered by U.S. forces is an ongoing trend, and not the short-term "spike" that we then suggested it might be. U.S. forces are now suffering casualties at a higher rate and for a longer period than at any time since the Iraqi parliamentary elections late last year. However the latest figures confirm continuing significant rates of attrition on U.S. forces comparable to those of the second half of August. During the two-week period from Aug. 18 through Aug. 31, 29 U.S. soldiers were killed at an average rate of just over two per day.

The latest figures are almost identical to those of U.S. soldiers killed during the three-week period from July 28 through Aug. 17 at an average rate of 2.33 per day. From July 21 through July 27, 14 U.S. soldiers were killed, at an average rate of two per day.

Before that five-week period, comparable to the most recent fatality rates, the rate at which U.S. soldiers were killed per day in Iraq had risen for almost eight weeks. Some 1.75 per day were killed during the eight-day period from July 13 through July 20. And 1.36 U.S. soldiers were killed per day during the 15 day period from June 29 through July 12. However, during the eight days from June 21 through June 28, 24 U.S. soldiers died at an average rate of three per day.

Some 1.75 U.S. soldiers per day died in Iraq during the seven-day period from June 14 through June 20. During the eight-day period of June 6-13, 2.5 U.S. soldiers were killed per day. During the six-day period of May 31-June 5, some 11 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of 1.82 per day.

During the 48-day period from April 13 to May 30, 107 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of just over 2.2 per day. But that was still slightly worse than the previous longer-term trend during the 68-day period from Feb. 4 to April 12, when 112 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of 1.65 per day.

The rate at which U.S. soldiers were injured in Iraq also continued to drop significantly from its "spike" in late September. From Nov. 7 through Nov. 20, 259 U.S. soldiers were injured in Iraq at an average rate of 18.5 per day according to U.S. Department of Defense figures By contrast, from Oct. 16 through Nov. 6, 524 U.S. soldiers were injured in Iraq at an average rate of 23.81 per day. That rate of casualties suffered was virtually identical to the previous 18-day period from Sept. 28 through Oct. 15, when 427 U.S. soldiers were injured in Iraq at an average rate of 23.72 per day.

The latest figures therefore were an improvement of well over 50 percent on the rate of 39.44 U.S. troops injured per day during the nine-day period from Sept. 19 through Sept. 27, when 355 U.S. soldiers were injured in Iraq. Rates of U.S. troops wounded per day have therefore now been falling overall for almost two months in Iraq. This figure too reflects the end of the unsuccessful U.S. struggle to suppress the paramilitary militias in Baghdad.

The figures for the most recent 14-day period were down to the figures of the 18-day period from Sept. 1 through Sept. 18, when 340 U.S. soldiers were injured in Iraq at an average rate of 18.9 per day.

That 18-day average was almost identical to the rate of 18.7 per day who were injured from Aug. 18 through Aug. 31. These figures therefore suggest that the struggle between U.S. forces and Sunni insurgents, and the lull in confrontations between U.S. forces and Shiite militias, have returned the situation in Iraq to the levels of August. In the three-week period from July 28 through Aug. 17, 354 U.S. soldiers were injured at an average rate of 16.857 per day.

As of Nov. 20, 21,678 U.S. soldiers have been injured in Iraq since the start of hostilities.

Taken in isolation, these figures appear somewhat encouraging. But when seen in the context of the soaring civilian casualties in Iraq, they bear testimony to an accelerating state of chaos in Iraq, especially in the capital Baghdad, with U.S. forces appearing increasingly irrelevant to the escalating Sunni-Shiite sectarian strife.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
Iraq: The first techonology war of the 21st century

Damascus And Baghdad, Again, Come Together
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Nov 22, 2006
As the West, especially the U.S. and Britain, is trying to rethink its policies in Iraq and the Greater Middle East, regional nations are doing the same: Damascus and Baghdad are coming back to talks after 25 years of disarray. Questions arise as to whether it is linked to the Western behavior.







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