“Steep drop in civilian deaths reported in Iraq”
Lowest figures since Baghdad security boost
By Bassem Mroue, Associated Press July 2, 2007
BAGHDAD — Iraqi civilian deaths dropped to their lowest level since the start of the Baghdad security operation, government figures showed yesterday, suggesting signs of progress in tamping down violence in the capital.
But American casualties are running high as US forces step up pressure on Sunni and Shi’ite extremists in and around Baghdad. At least 1,227 Iraqi civilians were killed in June along with 190 police officers and 31 soldiers, an officer at the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s operations room said. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the figures.
That represented a 36 percent drop from the ministry’s May figures — 1,949 civilian deaths along with 127 police and 47 soldiers. June’s figures were the lowest monthly tally this year. In January, President Bush ordered nearly 30,000 soldiers, Marines, and Air Force personnel to Iraq in a major push to stabilize the capital so that Iraq’s leaders can make power-sharing agreements for a lasting peace.
The Baghdad security operation was launched in mid-February, although the last of the American reinforcements arrived in Iraq only last month. The accuracy of civilian death figures in Iraq has been in doubt since the start of the conflict and may reflect only a portion of the casualties nationwide. Still, the figures suggest a downward trend, which may be due to US military pressure on insurgents in Baghdad and the surrounding areas. The commander of US forces in Baghdad, Major General Joseph F. Fil Jr., told reporters on Friday that American and Iraqi security forces now control nearly half of the 474 neighborhoods in Baghdad — up from 19 percent in April.
Only time will tell, but this does suggest that some positive results are being achieved through the recently started surge operation. More here. *L* KGS
Update: FPM has more on the successes of the US surge’s middle phase called “Operation Phantom Thunder”. Click here.