Afghan civilian casualties also rise
Mourners carry the coffin of Sheikh Ihsan Abdulatief al-Douri.
(Photo: EPA file)
By Hamza Hendawi
Aug. 1, 2010
BAGHDAD — While concern is rising in the U.S. about the war in Afghanistan, the Americans are anxious to show evidence of progress in their other conflict — Iraq.
New Iraqi government figures tell a different story, however, showing civilian casualties hitting their highest level in more than two years – figures the U.S. rushed on Sunday to dispute.
The rejection of the figures, compiled by the Iraqi ministries of defense, interior and health, comes at a delicate time. The American military has pronounced Iraq’s securityas stabilizing and is going ahead with plans to send home all but 50,000 troops by the end of the month, leaving Iraq’s nascent security forces in control. The last American soldier is due to leave by the end of 2011.
Things were not much better in July for the Americans in Afghanistan – where U.S. losses were the highest for any month of the war. The monthly death toll – 66 – surpassed the previous record of 60 deaths in June. U.S. commanders have warned of more bloodshed as fighting escalates in longtime Taliban strongholds.
Moreover, at least 270 Afghan civilians were killed in the July fighting and nearly 600 wounded – a 29 percent increase over the previous month, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary.
In Iraq, the July death toll – 532 – was the highest since May 2008 when 563 died, heightening concerns over the country’s precarious security even as a political deadlock persists nearly five months after a parliamentary election produced no clear winner.
The new figures suggested that a resilient insurgency is successfully taking advantage of the political deadlock and shows the difficulties of achieving a political solution in a polarized society like Iraq’s, where ethnic and religious groups compete for power regardless of where national interests lie. …
The U.S. military countered that its own data showed only 222 Iraqis had been killed in July. “We do our very best to be vigilant to ensure the numbers we report are as accurate as can be,” spokesman Lt. Col. Bob Owen said in defense of the military’s own numbers.
An Associated Press tally indicated that at least 350 Iraqis were killed in July, but this figure is considered a minimum, based on AP reporting. The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported or uncounted. …
The troubled transition to full Iraqi control serves as a warning for the U.S. and NATO as they pursue the same broad strategy in Afghanistan. In both countries, the war plan calls for weakening the insurgents on the battlefield while building up local forces capable of handling security while politicians pursue a political settlement.
Recent bloodshed in Iraq, where the transition is farther along, raises questions about how it will work in Afghanistan, where the challenges are far greater.
Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan has no tradition of strong central government. The country is made up of numerous ethnic groups speaking different languages with no ethnic community in the majority. Smaller groups – Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras – harbor deep grudges against the Taliban, whose support comes from the Pashtuns.
That raises the possibility that if the coalition leaves too soon, the country would descend into civil war as it did following the Soviet pullout in 1989. …
Bombings, assassinations and gunfights remain daily occurrences in Iraq, particularly in the capital, although the overall level of violence has dramatically declined since 2008. The concerted attacks on Shiite civilians are thought to be designed to re-ignite the sectarian strife that pushed the country to the brink of all-out civil war in 2006 and 2007.
Civilians also accounted for the overwhelming majority of the wounded in July – 680 of the 1,043. There were also 165 soldiers and 198 policemen among the wounded …
With U.S. forces out of Iraqi cities since June last year, insurgents seem to be focusing their attacks on Iraqi security forces and Shiite civilians. Of those killed in July, 89 were policemen and 50 soldiers. …
In this July 22, 2010 file photo, Umm Haider weeps over her son’s coffin during his funeral in Najaf, south of Baghdad, Iraq. Ameer Hussein, 9, was killed in a roadside bomb attack the day before. July was Iraq’s deadliest month in more than two years, according to new official figures, suggesting that a resilient insurgency is successfully taking advantage of the months of deadlock in forming a new government. The figures released late Saturday, July 31, 2010 show that 535 people were killed last month, the highest since May 2008 when 563 died. (Photo credit: Alaa al-Marjani / AP file)
Explosions end violent day of killings of 7 policemen
By Sameer N. Yacoub
Aug. 7, 2010
BAGHDAD — An evening explosion killed at least 20 people on Saturday and wounded 100 in a downtown market in Iraq’s second-largest city, police officials said.
Two police officials said twin blasts in the southern city of Basra came within minutes of each other at the al-Ashaar market. The blasts were caused by a roadside bomb and a car packed with explosives, they said. …
The explosions came at the end of a violent day that saw the killings of seven policemen around Iraq — the latest spate of attacks on security forces as all but 50,000 U.S. military troops head home by the end of the month.
In the most dramatic strike, gunmen killed five policemen in an overnight shootout that lasted until dawn at a suspected bomb workshop in western Baghdad, security officials said. …
By Muhanad Mohammed
Aug. 8, 2010
BAGHDAD — A series of car bombs killed at least 12 people and wounded scores in the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Falluja on Sunday, while the prominent governor of troubled northern Nineveh province escaped an assassination attempt.
The blasts followed a series of explosions at a busy market in the center of Iraq’s southern oil hub Basra late on Saturday that killed at least 43 and wounded 185, officials said. …
In the northern city of Mosul, considered one of Iraq’s most dangerous places in recent months, a roadside bomb exploded near a convoy transporting Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh province, from his home to work on Sunday, police said. …
In Falluja, about 32 miles west of Baghdad, three car bomb blasts — two of them targeting police patrols — killed at least four people and wounded more than two dozen others, police and medical sources said. …
In Ramadi, 60 miles west of the capital, a car bomb exploded near a restaurant on a busy main street, killing at least eight people and wounding 50, police said.
In three other attacks in restive Mosul, nine people were wounded when a hand grenade was thrown into a crowd of civilians and four others were hurt when roadside bombs exploded near police and army patrols, police said.
In Basra, families tried to identify scores of charred bodies in the morgue of one of Iraq’s biggest cities after firefighters spent until late Saturday battling fierce flames.
A Reuters witness said shops stretching 300 yards either side of the busy al-Ashaar market were burned out.
“The death toll of the three explosions that hit the market yesterday (Saturday) reached 43 people killed and 185 wounded,” Riyadh Abdulameer, head of Basra’s health department, told Reuters, adding this was not the final count. …
Nearly 400 civilians were killed in violence in July, almost double the June toll, Iraqi officials say. Tens of thousands of people died during the height of Iraq’s sectarian slaughter in 2006-07.
Iraqis don’t expect political impasse to be resolved by fall (Washington Post, Aug. 1, 2010) — Nearly five months after disputed parliamentary elections, leading Iraqi politicians say they have all but abandoned hope of resolving an impasse over forming a new government before fall. … Full story
Related report on this site
Iraq Security Remains Fragile (July 22, 2010)
Mayhem in Baghdad (July 18, 2010)
Iraq Election Violence Continues (June 20, 2010)
Iraq Fighters Learn from Taliban (June 17, 2010)
Bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan (June 6, 2010)
Explosion Rocks Iraqi Market (May 21, 2010)
‘Dark Days Soaked With Blood’ (May 14, 2010)
Cascade of Violence in Iraq (May 10, 2010)
Iraq Election Turmoil (April 26, 2010)
Bloody Easter in Baghdad (April 4, 2010)
Iraq Election Violence (March 8, 2010)
Iraq Mass Casualty Bombing (Feb. 1, 2010)
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — August 1, 2009
A U.S. Marine takes up a fighting position after jumping off a helicopter during the start of Operation Khanjari on July 2, 2009 in Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)
One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that 40 U.S. troops died in Afghanistan in July 2009, by far the heaviest monthly toll up to that point in the war. The worst previous month for U.S. forces had been September 2008, when 26 were killed.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — August 1, 2008
Two-year retrospective: Two years ago today, on the 18th day of my 2008 campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I addressed the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, where violence had begun to spread to once-stable regions. I also reported economic indicators that the U.S. had begun to slide into recession.
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