Saturday, April 14, 2007


Civilian deaths fall in Baghdad, rise outside the capital

(AP) - Iraqi civilian deaths have fallen in Baghdad in the two months since the Feb. 14 start of the U.S.-led offensive, according to an Associated Press tally. Outside the capital, however, civilian deaths are up as Sunni and Shiite extremists shift their operations to avoid the crackdown. And the sweeps have taken a heavy toll on U.S. forces: Deaths among American soldiers climbed 21 percent in Baghdad compared with the previous two months.
Figures compiled by the AP from Iraqi police reports show that 1,586 civilians were killed in Baghdad between the start of the offensive and Thursday. That represents a sharp drop from the 2,871 civilians who died violently in the capital during the two months that preceded the security crackdown. Outside the capital, 1,504 civilians were killed between Feb. 14 and Thursday, April 12 compared with 1,009 deaths during the two previous months, the AP figures show.
Sunni and Shiite militants remain a potent force, regardless of whether they are slaughtering civilians in the capital at the previous rate. "It is not going to be possible to see just how well the resulting mix of capabilities will counter the insurgency until the late spring of 2008 at the earliest," wrote former Pentagon analyst Anthony Cordesman. "The various insurgents and hostile groups may be weakened or suppressed early on, but will do their best to react." It is unclear why deaths outside Baghdad have increased. However, U.S. military officials say both Sunni and Shiite extremists left Baghdad ahead of the crackdown, instead stepping up their operations in a belt of communities around the capital.
The rise in deaths outside Baghdad may also be partly a result of clashes in Anbar province between al-Qaida extremists and Sunni tribes that have broken with the extremist movement. One key finding of the figures: Although civilians deaths are down in the capital, a careful analysis of the figures shows that sectarian tensions remain high.
Of the 1,586 civilians killed in Baghdad since the start of the crackdown, more than half, or 832, appear to have been the victims of sectarian death squads. Their bodies were found scattered around the city. That number represents a significant drop from the 1,754 bodies found in the capital during the two months before the crackdown, according to AP figures. Still, the figure shows that the security crackdown has been unable to stop death squads entirely.
Furthermore, the number of civilians killed by suicide bombers has risen in Baghdad, 352 during the crackdown compared with 279 in the two months before. Suicide bombings are considered the signature attack of Sunni religious extremists, including al-Qaida in Iraq. And most of the suicide attacks occurred in largely Shiite areas of the capital, indicating attacks on Shiites by Sunnis.
The AP count includes civilians as well as government officials and police and security forces, and is considered a minimum based on AP reporting. There have been no figures provided by the U.N. or the Iraqi government since the Baghdad crackdown began.

Labels: , ,

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?