Thursday, August 17, 2006

July deadliest month in Iraq, tallies show

More Iraqi civilians appear to have been killed in July than in any other month of the war, according to national and morgue statistics, suggesting that the much-vaunted Baghdad security plan started in June by the new government had failed.

An average of more than 110 Iraqis were killed per day in July, according to figures from Iraq's Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue. At least 3,438 civilians died violently that month, a 9 percent increase over the total in June and nearly twice as many as in January.

The rising numbers indicate that sectarian violence is spiraling out of control, and reinforce an assertion that many senior Iraqi officials and American military analysts have been making in recent months - that the country is already embroiled in a civil war, with the U.S.-led forces caught between Sunni Arab guerrillas and Shiite militias.

The numbers also provide the first definitive evidence that the Baghdad security plan, started by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki on June 14, has done virtually nothing to quell the violence. The plan, much touted by top Iraqi and U.S. officials at the time, relied on setting up more Iraqi-run checkpoints to stymie insurgent movement.

Those officials have since acknowledged that the plan has fallen far short of its aims, forcing the U.S. military to add soldiers to the capital and back away from proposals for a troop draw- down by the end of the year.

The Baghdad morgue reported receiving 1,855 bodies in July, more than half of the total deaths recorded in the country. The morgue tally for July was an 18 percent increase over June.



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