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Iraq Deaths Slow Down, But Wounded Rate Up

Improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs, continued to account for more than half the total casualties inflicted on U.S. troops - an ominous indicator that the technical expertise of the insurgents is steadily advancing.

Washington (UPI) Nov 08, 2005
October was one of the deadliest months yet for U.S. soldiers in Iraq. And November got off to a grim start too.

In the first three days of November, 10 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq. As of Friday morning, the total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since the start of U.S. operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003 was 2,035 according to official figures issued by the Department of Defense.

Almost 1,900 of them have been killed since President George W. Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq on May 1, 2003 on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

Improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs, continued to account for more than half the total casualties inflicted on U.S. troops -- an ominous indicator that the technical expertise of the insurgents is steadily advancing.

The rate of deaths last week at least showed some improvement on the previous week. Some 10 U.S. soldiers were killed in three days, an average of 3.3 were therefore lost per day. This was significantly less than the rate at which they were killed during the previous five-day period when 30 were killed, a rate of six per day.

However, the number of U.S. troops wounded in action from the beginning of hostilities on March 19, 2003, through Thursday, Nov. 3, was 15,577, the Pentagon said. This meant 224 U.S troops were wounded in the seven days since Oct. 28, an average of 32 per day.

This was more than twice as bad as the 133 wounded in the previous nine days, an average rate of just under 15 per day. And it marked a return to the high rates of 30-plus a day injured during the Oct. 2- Oct. 16 period.

The stubborn persistence of the rate of U.S. military casualties reflects the continuing widespread and formidable nature of the insurgency.

Prior to the successful referendum poll Oct. 15, U.S. officials had predicted that the vote would be a milestone, and that the growing credibility of the democratic process would likely undermine the ability of the insurgency to maintain the level of their attacks.

To the contrary, the casualty figures suggest that the insurgents' operational tempo remains at least what it was prior to the vote, if not greater. Their continued ability to And so far, that capability shows no signs of exhausting itself.

There is some evidence that the insurgents are concentrating now more on trying to inflict casualties on American forces, perhaps in the hope of influencing U.S. public opinion and forcing a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.

Though the insurgency continues to inflict serious casualties on the new Iraqi forces, the scale of those casualties has now been falling for more than three months.

Some 34 Iraqi troops and police were killed in the seven day period from Oct. 27 to Nov. 2, an average of just under five per day, according to the Iraq Index Project of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

This marked a significant drop from the previous figure of 45 killed in the seven days from Oct. 20 to Oct. 26, a rate of just under 6.5 per day. It was also a marked improvement over the rate of just under eight per day at which they were killed from Oct. 2 through Oct. 16.

The total number of Iraqi police and military killed from June 1, 2003 to Nov. 2, 2005 was 3,509, according to the Brookings figures.

The total death toll for Iraq security forces in October was 215, somewhat better than the 233 killed in September. While still bad, this was the lowest for any month since the 199 killed in April and well below the record 304 fatalities the Iraqi forces suffered in July or the 296 in June.

The number of Iraqi troops and police killed per month has now been falling since July. However, it must be cautioned that the statistics represent a level of attrition hard to sustain for any effective security force in a nation the size of California with less than half California's population.

On the other hand, the statistics on car and truck bombs -- grimly referred to as multiple fatality bombings, or MFBs -- continue to climb. There were six recorded in the eight days from Oct. 27 through Nov.3 -- an average of 0.75 per day.

This was certainly an improvement -- just half the rate of more than 1.5 per day in the seven day period from Oct. 19 to Oct. 26 when 11 were recorded -- but it still reflects a very serious insurgency.

In all, 39 of these attacks -- generally the kind that generate the highest number of civilian casualties -- were recorded in October making it the second worst month for them so far. Only September was worse, when there were 46 of them. MFBs in October killed 310 people and wounded another 415, according to the IIP figures.

This is a rate of civilian casualties far higher than anything suffered during the entire 25 years of the active Irish Republican Army insurgency in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2004, or through even the worst months of the Second Palestinian Intifada targeting Israeli civilians from 2001 through to the building of the Israeli security fence last year.

The MFB figures too unfortunately support the picture of an insurgency continuing to spread and grow in its capabilities.

By Nov. 2, MFBs had killed 4,499 people and wounded another 9,473 since the start of the insurgency, Brookings said.

These figures clearly document an insurgency that so far has been able to sustain its latest quantum leap in tactical sophistication and operational tempo -- demonstrated by the number of casualties it can inflict on even well armed and protected U.S. soldiers.

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180 Detained In US-Iraqi Sweep Near Syrian Border
Baghdad (AFP) Nov 08, 2005
At least 180 suspected terrorists were arrested Tuesday during a sweep against insurgents in the far western Iraqi town of Husayba, near the border with Syria, the US military said.







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