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The Surge Is Working

Even the Guardian takes notice: The death toll for US combat troops in Iraq dropped sharply to 27 last month, the lowest monthly total since March last year. The figure is part of a downward trend that appears to confirm … Read More

By / November 2, 2007

Even the Guardian takes notice:

The death toll for US combat troops in Iraq dropped sharply to 27 last month, the lowest monthly total since March last year.

The figure is part of a downward trend that appears to confirm Pentagon claims that its "surge" strategy is working.

The month's last US fatalities were three soldiers killed on Tuesday when a bomb exploded as they patrolled southeast Baghdad.

The drop in US fatalities, mirrored by an apparent reduction in sectarian killings, is attributed by US commanders to the extra 30,000 US troops sent to Iraq this year to bring the total of US troops to 154,000.

Other factors cited include: the building of walls round Baghdad neighbourhoods that have restricted insurgents' movements; the increasing use of local sheiks and their militias to fight insurgents; and measures such as introducing proper ID checks, including biometric testing.

The Washington Post is more skeptical:

Casualty numbers themselves are inconsistent. The U.S. military said about 800 civilians were killed in October, but an unofficial tally by the Health Ministry showed that 1,448 civilians had died violently, including those whose bodies were dumped without identification. An official provided the data, which showed an increase in deaths compared with September, on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to release it publicly.

It is difficult to determine whether the underlying animosity between sectarian groups, which has driven so much violence, has diminished or whether attacks have become more difficult to carry out.

Outside Baghdad, many Iraqis interviewed still perceive grave threats from violence. They live in walled-off neighborhoods or under the relative protection of their ethnic group.

Basim Hamdi, 32, a Shiite merchant from Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, described life in his city as a "sectarian fire."

"The security situation in Balad is so bad compared with last year," he said. "No one from here can go outside the city except for emergencies, and no Sunni can get in."

 

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