Deadly month in Iraq dulls US claims of progress
BAGHDAD: The number of Iraqis killed in insurgent and sectarian attacks rose in October, according to government figures obtained on Thursday, in a blow to a 9-month-old US troop-surge policy.
At least 887 Iraqis were killed last month, compared to 840 in September, according to the data compiled by the Interior, Defense and Health ministries.
As in previous months, the dead were overwhelmingly
civilians, with 758 reported killed against 116 policemen and 13 soldiers.
The October death toll remained sharply down on the August figure of 1,770 but the increase on September dented boasts from both US and Iraqi leaders that the crackdown on insurgent and militia violence was leading to a significant fall in casualties.
Again on Thursday, Iraq's Security Minister, Shirwan al-Waili, insisted that the situation was improving in Baghdad and other areas.
"Because of the security plan, the violence has decreased. Baghdad is much safer," Waili told state television.
And just last week, the Iraqi Army commander for the Baghdad region, General Abud Qanbar, hailed what he said was mounting evidence of the success of Operation Fardh al-Qanoon (Imposing Law) launched in the capital and surrounding regions in February.
The operation has seen the deployment of 28,500 additional US troops ordered to Iraq as part of President George W. Bush's "surge" policy.
"The level of terrorist operations has decreased, and life has returned to normal in many parts of Baghdad," Qanbar told reporters on October 24.
US second-in-command Lieutenant General Ray Odierno told the same news conference there was a "downward trend" in attacks.