Saturday, January 21, 2006

Veteran reporter says 3,000-4,000 Iraqis killed every month

Between 3,000 and 4,000 Iraqis are killed every month, rendering "ridiculous" US President George W. Bush's estimate of about 30,000 civilian casualties since the start of the war, veteran British journalist Robert Fisk said Wednesday.

The figures were compiled during several recent trips to the country occupied since March 2003 by US-led forces, The Independent newspaper's Beirut-based correspondent told a news conference in Madrid where he was promoting his book "The Great War for Civilisation".

The casualty rate meant up to 48,000 Iraqis a year were dying in the conflict, "the figure of 30,000 plus is ridiculous", Fisk said, adding that the West did not care about Iraqi deaths.

Bush quoted the figure in the lead-up to Iraq's general election in December. The White House later made clear it was not an official government estimate but was based on media reports.

The Americans were trapped and the only way out was to talk directly to the insurgents, mostly former Iraqi soldiers who had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda, said the Arabic-speaking journalist, who has specialised in Middle Eastern affairs for more than two decades.

One of the few reporters to interview Osama bin Laden, Fisk said Al-Qaeda's creator was initially supported by Washington in the same way that Saddam Hussein was once backed by the Americans.

"Most of the people we hate we actually created," he said.

Source : here


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