More Iraqis killed by U.S. than by "terrorists"
BY NANCY A. YOUSSEF
FREE PRESS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT
While most of the dead are believed to be civilians, the data include
an unknown number of police and Iraqi national guardsmen. Many Iraqi
deaths, especially of insurgents, are never reported, so the actual number
of Iraqis killed in fighting could be higher.
During the same period, 432 U.S. soldiers were killed.
Iraqi officials said the statistics proved that U.S. air strikes targeting
insurgents also were killing large numbers of civilians. Some of the
officials say these casualties are undermining popular acceptance of
the U.S.-backed interim government.
The U.S. command is planning more aggressive military operations to
clear the way for nationwide elections scheduled for January, the Bush
administration has said.
Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, a U.S. military spokesman, said the insurgents
were living in residential areas, sometimes in homes filled with munitions.
"As long as they continue to do that, they are putting the residents
at risk," Boylan said. "We will go after them."
Boylan said the military conducted intelligence at a
home to determine whether it housed insurgents before striking it.
While damage would happen, the air strikes were "extremely precise," he said. And he said
that any attacks conducted by the multinational forces were done "in
coordination with the interim government."
The Health Ministry statistics indicate that more children have been
killed around Ramadi and Fallujah than in Baghdad. U.S. air strikes and
ground combat have been heavy in both places, particularly in April and
According to the statistics, 59 children were killed in Anbar province,
a hotbed of the Sunni Muslim insurgency that includes the cities of Ramadi
and Fallujah, compared with 56 children in Baghdad. The ministry defines
children as anyone younger than 12.
"When there are military clashes, we see innocent people die," said
Dr. Walid Hamed, a member of the operations section of the Health Ministry,
which compiles the statistics.
Juan Cole, a history professor at the University of
Michigan who specializes in Iraq and Shi'ite Islam, said the widespread
casualties meant that coalition forces already had lost the political
lost the hearts and minds a long time ago.
"And they are trying to keep U.S. military casualties to a minimum
in the run-up to the U.S. elections" by using air strikes instead
of ground forces, he said.
U.S. military officials say they're targeting terrorists and are aggressively
working to spare innocent people nearby.
Nearly a third of the Iraqi dead -- 1,122 -- were killed in August,
according to the statistics. May was the second deadliest month, with
749 Iraqis killed, and 319 were killed in June, the least violent month.
Most of those killed lived in Baghdad. The ministry found that 1,068
had died in the capital.
Many Iraqis say they think the numbers show that the multinational
forces disregard their lives.
At his fruit stand in southern Baghdad, Raid Ibraham,
24, theorized: "The
Americans keep attacking the cities not to keep the security situation
stable, but so they can stay in Iraq and control the oil."
Others blame the multinational forces for allowing security to disintegrate,
inviting terrorists from everywhere and threatening the lives of everyday
"Anyone who hates America has come here to fight: Saddam's supporters,
people who don't have jobs, other Arab fighters. All these people are
on our streets," said Hamed, the ministry official. "But everyone
is afraid of the Americans, not the fighters. And they should be." Saddam
is former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Iraqi officials said about two-thirds of the Iraqi deaths were caused
by multinational forces and police; the remaining third died from insurgent
From that date until Sept. 10, 1,295 Iraqis were killed in clashes
with multinational forces and police versus 516 killed in terrorist operations,
the ministry said. The ministry defines terrorist operations as incidents
in which someone is killed by an explosive device in a residential area,
killed by a car bomb or assassinated.
The Health Ministry is the only organization that attempts to track
deaths through government agencies. The U.S. military said it kept estimates,
but refused to release them.
Contact NANCY A. YOUSSEF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE IRAQI BODY COUNT DATABASE