Monday, October 11, 2010

September Saw The Second Lowest Casualty Figures In Iraq Since Beginning Of 2010


September 2010 saw a dramatic drop in deaths in Iraq. Iraq Body Count, Icasualties, and Iraq's ministries recorded the second lowest death counts since the beginning of the year. Iraq Body Count had 247 dead in September, icasualties recorded 174, and Iraq's ministries had 273. That averaged out to 7.7 deaths per day, down from 13.8 the previous month. For the second month in a row, the Associated Press did not release its own total. Only January had a lower figure in 2010 with an average of 6.1 deaths per day. That meant September broke the trend of the first eight months of the year, which saw a steady increase in deaths.

The number of wounded in September were just about the same as August as well. In September 485 people were wounded, 284 civilians, 90 police, and 111 soldiers. The month before there were 508 wounded. Both were lower than July when 1,043 were wounded

The drop in deaths was not captured in western press reports, which continued to focus upon dramatic attacks, which were meant to garner media coverage. The New York Times for example, had six stories on violence in Iraq in September. On September 29 there was a story about U.S. concerns over an increase in Iranian-backed rocket attacks upon the Green Zone. On September 19, it had a report on two bombs that struck Baghdad and Fallujah that killed 35 and wounded 100. Two days before it noted a disputed U.S.-Iraqi raid in Fallujah that killed 7. In the first week of the month there was also a story on an insurgent raid on a Baghdad military base. The other two reports did not involve militants. There was also "Insurgent Group in Iraq, Declared Tamed, Roars" on September 28, which claimed that Al Qaeda in Iraq had reorganized and was still carrying out attacks despite claims that it had been decapitated. A casual reader seeing these headlines would've thought that violence was the same as ever in Iraq. It was only at the end of the month when the casualty figures were released that someone would've found out that September saw a large decrease in deaths.

As with any war coverage, the press focuses upon daily violence with little to no context, and the large attacks that insurgents carry out, tend to get the most stories, just as they are intended to. This is especially true in Iraq, because most of the foreign reporters left the country in 2009. If not for the extended negotiations over forming a new government, the only thing the West would hear about Iraq would be the occasional bombing or sensational attack. Violence, insurgents, and Special Groups persist in Iraq, but they are at their lowest level since the U.S. invasion. At the same time, Iraq is still one of the deadliest places in the world. It's important to recognize the changes Iraq has gone through, while taking note of the suffering that continues there.

Monthly Death Counts

Month Iraq Body CountIcasualties Iraqi MinistriesAssociate Press
Avg. # Of Deaths Per Day
Jan. 10 
259 
135 
196 
177 
6.1 
Feb. 
296
236 
352 
255 
10.1 
Mar. 
311 
183 
367 
230 
8.7 
Apr. 
376 
259 
328 
321 
10.7 
May 
370 
279 
337 
278 
10.3 
June 
353 
176 
284 
294 
9.4 
July 
424 
534 
535 
356 
14.9 
Aug. 
502 
363 
426 
N/A 
13.8 
Sep.  
247 
174 
273 
N/A 
7.7 

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, "Iraq sees lowest monthly toll since January," 10/1/10

Associated Press, "High Iraq deaths cast doubt on U.S. stability talk," 8/2/10

CNN, "Hundreds of civilians killed in Iraqi violence in August," 9/1/10

Farrell, Stephen and Williams, Timothy, "Dozens Dead After Baghdad Car Bombs," New York Times, 9/19/10

Myers, Steven Lee and Adnan, Duraid, "Attacks Shows Lasting Threat to U.S. in Iraq," New York Times, 9/5/10

Myers, Steven Lee and Shanker, Thom, "Attacks on Baghdad Green Zone Surge," New York Times, 9/29/10

Williams, Timothy, "Insurgent Group in Iraq, Declared Tamed, Roars," New York Times, 9/27/10

Williams, Timothy and Adnan, Duraid, "Iraqis-U.S. Raid Near Falluja Leaves 7 Dead," New York Times, 9/15/10

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