Iraqi authorities say Baghdad violence has dropped sharply

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Map of Iraq

Iraqi Brigadier General Qassim Atta al-Mussawi reported that Operation Law and Order (Arabic: Fardh Al-Qanoon) has been successful in curbing violence in the capital. Coalition forces have swept through various Baghdad neighborhoods in the past few months. Atta, a spokesperson for the operation cited comparative statistics for the four-week periods of mid-January to mid-February versus mid-February to mid-March:

  • Civilian killing: 1440 to 265
  • Roadside bombings: 163 to 102
  • Carbombs: 56 to 36
  • Mortar attacks: 204 to 109
  • Assassination incidents: 519 to 22
  • Kidnappings: 98 to 10

It is not clear what these numbers are based on, and independent estimates of the death toll are much higher. According to data compiled by Iraq Body Count (IBC), a volunteer project that maintains a database of civilian deaths in Iraq from media reports, at least 393 people died in and around Baghdad between February 15 and March 11.

The New York Times estimates 450 Iraqi civilian deaths in and around the capital in the period, using initial reports provided by hospitals and the Iraqi Interior ministry.

The Associated Press reports that deaths from bombings have dropped by a third (528 to 370) after the start of the operations. It also reports that the number of bodies found in Baghdad, believed to be victims of sectarian death squads, has dropped from more than 200 a week to about 80 a week.

At a separate news-conference, US military spokesperson Major General William Caldwell said the security plan is showing signs of progress. "The murders and executions have come down by over 50 percent," Caldwell said. He did acknowledge that reduced violence in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood may be linked to the absence of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who he said was still in neighboring Iran as of 24 hours ago.

All this comes as the United States Congress is debating resolutions on re-deploying troops from Iraq. The troop surge has also been in recent debate on whether or not it is the right move as of now. Meanwhile the United Kingdom announced that it would start withdrawing soon.