Mon­i­tor­ing group: Iraq war deaths drop in 2010

The Pak Banker - - 6i Nternational -

BAGHDAD: A Bri­tish group mon­i­tor­ing Iraqi civil­ian deaths said in its an­nual re­port that the num­ber has dropped slightly since 2009 but warned of a lin­ger­ing, low-level con­flict in the years ahead.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion called Iraq Body Count said in its year-end re­port re­leased Thurs­day that 3,976 civil­ians have been killed this year as of Dec. 25, com­pared with 4,680 in 2009.

While there was a drop from 2009 to 2010, the or­ga­ni­za­tion said the rate of de­cline was smaller than in pre­vi­ous years, in­di­cat­ing that fu­ture se­cu­rity im­prove­ments would be much harder to come by.

"The 2010 data sug­gest a per­sis­tent low-level con­flict in Iraq that will con­tinue to kill civil­ians at a sim­i­lar rate for years to come," the re­port said.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion is be­lieved to be the only non- gov­ern­men­tal group to have con­sis­tently recorded Iraqi civil­ian ca­su­al­ties since the war be­gan in March 2003. It in­cludes civil­ians and po­lice, but not deaths of U.S. forces, Iraqi forces en­gaged in fight­ing the in­sur­gency or mil­i­tants.

Ca­su­alty fig­ures in the U.S.-led war in Iraq have been a hotly dis­puted topic. Crit­ics on each side ac­cuse the other of ma­nip­u­lat­ing the death toll to sway pub­lic opin­ion.

Amer­i­can mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said in the early years of the war that they did not count Iraqi civil­ian deaths. But last sum­mer, the U.S. mil­i­tary qui­etly posted a tally on one of its web­sites putting the death toll be­tween Jan­uary 2004 and Au­gust 2008 of Iraqi civil­ians and se­cu­rity forces at al­most 77,000.

The tally fell short of the Iraqi Hu­man Rights Min­istry's es­ti­mated 85,694 civil­ian and se­cu­rity deaths be­tween Jan­uary 2004 and Oct. 31, 2008.

Iraq Body Count puts the num­ber of dead be­tween 99,285 and 108,398.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion uses me­dia re­ports and other sources to com­pile its in­for­ma­tion, which is up­dated daily on its web­site.

In a hope­ful sign, the group said the sec­ond half of the year - specif­i­cally af­ter Amer­i­can com­bat forces left the coun­try in Au­gust - showed many fewer deaths than the first half. De­cem­ber is on track to be the least deadly month of the year, the group said.

The cap­i­tal of Baghdad and the north­ern city of Mo­sul, 225 miles (360 kilo­me­ters) north­west of Baghdad, re­mained the most dan­ger­ous cities in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion's in­for­ma­tion. -Ap

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