Sunday, June 03, 2007

Iraq Update

Reuters reports seven U.S. soldiers were killed and eight wounded in six separate attacks across Iraq, all but one killed by roadside bombs. 9 Americans have been killed so far this month.

The Washington Post reports that U.S. military commanders say insurgents are using "deeply-buried, more powerful bombs" to attack American and Iraqi troops. Between the deadlier nature of the bombs and the increased potential for targets as U.S. troops have moved out of their fortified bases into smaller combat outposts around Iraq as part of Preznut Bush's surge strategy, U.S. casualties continue to mount. May was the third deadliest month of the war, with 127 American troops dying in Iraq. Wounded to kill ratios have fallen from 8 to 1 for most of the war to 4.8 to 1 now. Since the start of the surge strategy in February, the majority of the casualties have come in Baghdad and Diyala province. So while Bush, McCain, Lieberman et al. crow about the decrease in violence in Anbar province, violence against U.S. and Iraqi troops elsewhere has skyrocketed and become more deadly.

reported on Saturday that an Interior Ministry official in Iraq (anonymous because the Iraqi government no longer officially releases death toll stats) said that 1,944 Iraqi civilians were killed in May, a 29% increase in casualties over April. The death toll was based on stats from the interior, defense and health ministries. After three months of declines, sectarian killings are increasing again as well. Police reported on average 10 sectarian murders a day during the early part of the surge. Now police are reporting 30 or more sectarian murders a day. Just Saturday, 26 bodies were found in Baghdad and 9 bodies found in Mosul. Reuters says U.S. military commanders claim the rise in sectarian murders is a "spike," not a "trend." If so, it's one long-ass spike.

The Associated Press reports the Mahdi Army battled Iraqi troops and police in the southern city of Diwaniyah Sunday as talks continued between Iraqi government officials and Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army to win release of the five Brits kidnapped last week from the Finance Ministry in Baghdad. U.S. military gunships attacked targets in a Mahdi Army-controlled area of East Baghdad on Sunday where the Brits are believed to be held. The AP says al-Sadr's representatives have demanded "an end to assassination attempts against militia leaders, an end to British army patrols in the southern Shiite city of Basra, and the release of nine Mahdi officials from British and U.S. custody" in return for the release of the kidnapped Brits.

After perusing the news from Iraq, how does anyone actually say with a straight face that the preznut's surge policy is working?

I dunno, but you can be sure that when General Petraeus announces the "progress report" for the surge strategy in September, we'll hear how conditions are getting better no matter what is actually happening on the ground. And as you can see from what I wrote above, so far things are going very, very badly on the ground in Iraq. U.S. casualties are up, Iraqi civilian casualties are up, sectarian killings are up, the wounded to kill ratio for American soldiers is up, and Iraqi insurgents and militamen are using increasingly deadlier and more complex attacks to kill soldiers and civilians.

This is not progress, no matter what Orwellian spin the Bush administration tries to put on it.

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