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No Relief In Iraq

The latest figures confirm a slow but consistent upward trend in U.S. fatalities since the end of March lull.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Jun 15, 2006
The hunting down and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's director of operations in Iraq, came during a week that saw no let up in pressure on the hard-pressed U.S. forces in that country.

The total number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq through Tuesday, June 13, since the start of operations to topple Saddam Hussein on March 19, 2003, was 2,498, according to official figures issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Therefore, 20 U.S. troops died in Iraq over the most recent eight-day period at an average rate of 2.5 per day. This was increase of almost 39 percent on the rate of fatalities suffered during the previous six-day period. Some 11 U.S. troops died in Iraq over the period June 7-June 12 at an average rate of 1.82 per day.

The most recent figures were also worse than the previous 48-day period from April 13 to May 31, when 107 U.S. troops died in Iraq at an average rate of just over 2.2 per day. And they are more than 50 percent worse than the previous 68-day period, starting Feb. 4, when 112 U.S. troops died in Iraq, an average of 1.65 per day.

This rate was not as bad as the "spike" in American casualties when 33 U.S. soldiers were killed in only seven days from Jan. 11 through Jan. 17, an average of 4.7 soldiers killed per day; or on the figure of 28 killed in the Jan. 4-10 period when the average death rate was four U.S. soldiers killed per day.

The latest figures also confirmed the slow but consistent upward trend in U.S. fatalities since the end of March lull.

The rate at which U.S. soldiers are being injured in Iraq soared over the past week. As of June 13, 18,490 U.S. soldiers have been injured in Iraq since the start of hostilities. That was an increase of 236 wounded in eight days, or an average of 29.5 wounded per day. This was almost three times as bad as the average rate during the previous six-day period, when 70 U.S. soldiers were wounded in six days at an average rate of 11.67 per day.

These figures were also far worse than the average figures over the previous three and a half months. Some 635 U.S. soldiers were wounded in the 48-day period from April 13 to May 31 at an average rate of just over 13.2 wounded per day.

That figure showed a remarkable statistical consistency compared with the previous 68-day period from Feb. 4 to April 12 when 943 U.S. soldiers were wounded in 68 days, an average rate of just below 13.9 wounded per day, according to figures issued by the Department of Defense.

As of June 13, 8,501 of these U.S. troops were wounded so seriously that they were listed as "WIA Not RTD" in the DOD figures. In other words, Wounded in Action Not Returned to Duty. This marked an increase of 115 such casualties in eight days, an average of 14.38 per day.

These figures were far worse than the previous six-day period, which had seen an increase of 42 such casualties at an average rate of seven per day. They were almost 250 percent worse than the previous figures of 286 such casualties over 48 days, at an average rate of just under six per day. And they were also far worse than the Feb.4-April 12 rate of 5.5 such casualties per day over 68 days for a total of 375 seriously injured.

The average "WIA Not RTD" figures for the past eight days were also more than 300 percent higher than the Jan. 30-Feb. 4 rate of 4.8 WIA Not RTD per day.

In all an estimated 2,250 of the U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq, or one in eight of them, have suffered brain damage, loss of limbs or been crippled for life by their injuries.

It remains to be seen whether these figures were just a short-term "spike" caused by either a particular intense burst of fighting or brief, unsustainable bout of activity by the insurgents, or whether they can will be maintained over a longer period.

It may indeed be the case, as President George W. Bush warned last week, that significant levels of casualties will continue in the immediate future. Sunni insurgents in Iraq may turn their attention from terrorizing and massacring Iraqi civilians, especially Shiites, to trying to inflict increased casualties on U.S. forces in retaliation for Zarqawi's death in a U.S. air strike.

It should be noted even the recent latest surge in violence against Iraqi civilians did not distract the insurgents from their ability to continue inflicting high levels of attrition on U.S. forces at the same time.

Source: United Press International

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