The minister based his tally on an estimate of 100 bodies arriving at Iraq’s morgues and hospitals every day. He dismissed as inaccurate the widely touted claim of 655,000 Iraqi dead, made by a British medical journal.
A stunning new death count emerged Thursday, as Iraq’s health minister estimated 150,000 civilians have been killed in the war—about three times previously accepted estimates.
Moderate Sunni Muslims, meanwhile, threatened to walk away from politics and pick up guns, while the Shiite-dominated government renewed pressure on the United States to unleash the Iraqi army and claimed it could crush violence in six months.
After Democrats swept to majorities in both houses of the U.S. Congress and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld resigned, Iraqis appeared unsettled and seemed to sense the potential for an even bloodier conflict because future American policy is uncertain. As a result, positions hardened on both sides of the country’s deepening sectarian divide.