Friends and relatives carry the body of a victim of a massive car bomb in Baghdad in July. The bomb in a parked car ravaged a popular outdoor market in the Shiite slum of Sadr City, killing at least 66 and wounding over 80, authorities said.
It’s the highest monthly death tally since the war started in March 2003. That’s an average of 110 per day, and in Baghdad, the numbers are up 18% over last month.
Also, a respected veteran Baghdad reporter writes of Iraqis’ fears that Bush & Co.‘s “rosy views are preventing the creation of effective strategies against the escalating violence.”
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 15 ? More Iraqi civilians were killed in July than in apparently any other month of the war, according to Iraqi Health Ministry and morgue statistics, despite a security plan begun by the new government in June.
An average of more than 110 Iraqis were killed per day in July, according to figures from the Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue. At least 3,438 civilians died violently that month, a 9 percent increase over the tally in June and nearly twice as many as in January.
The Baghdad security plan started by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki on June 14 was much praised by top Iraqi and American officials at the time. It relied on setting up more Iraqi-run checkpoints to stymie insurgent movement.
Tom Lasseter of the McClatchy (formerly Knight Ridder) bureau in Baghdad has long been the forefront of both daring and on-the-mark reporting from the war zone. In his latest dispatch, he observes, “As security conditions continue to deteriorate in Iraq, many Iraqi politicians are challenging the optimistic forecasts of governments in Baghdad and Washington, with some worrying that the rosy views are preventing the creation of effective strategies against the escalating violence.
“Their worst fear, one that some American soldiers share, is that top officials don’t really understand what’s happening. Those concerns seem to be supported by statistics that show Iraq’s violence has increased steadily during the past three years.”
Lasseter then quotes an unnamed intelligence office, who has written the reporter (apparently without the military’s permission), “As an intelligence officer ... I have had the chance to move around Baghdad on mounted and dismounted patrols and see the city and violence from the ground. I think that the greatest problem that we deal (besides the insurgents and militia) with is that our leadership has no real comprehension of the ground truth. I wish that I could offer a solution, but I can’t. When I have briefed General Officers, I have given them my perspective and assessment of the situation. Many have been surprised at what I have to say, but I suspect that in the end nothing will or has changed.”