Friday, September 9, 2011

August 15 Attacks Lead To Highest Death Toll So Far This Year In Iraq


Two of the three major organizations that track Iraqi casualties have posted their August 2011 totals, and together they mark the highest monthly death rate so far this year. That’s largely because of the wave of attacks that occurred on August 15 when targets were struck in ten of the country’s eighteen provinces. As in the past, militants were not able to sustain this level of operations past one day, so August will likely go down as a spike in violence for the year, rather than mark a new trend.


Month
Iraq Body Count
Icasualties
Iraqi Ministries
Avg. Monthly Deaths
Avg. Daily Deaths
Jan.
387
210
259
285
9.2
Feb.
250
216
167
212
7.5
Mar.
307
171
247
241
7.7
Apr.
285
152
211
214
7.1
May
378
223
177
252
8.1
Jun.
386
204
271
282
9.4
Jul.
305
184
259
249
8.0
Aug.
395
N/A
239
317
10.2


 Iraq Body Count and the Iraqi ministries had differing trends in deaths in August. Iraq Body Count reported 395 deaths in August, up from 305 in July. Last month surpassed January, when it counted 387 casualties, as the deadliest month so far this year. Iraq’s ministries in comparison had 239 deaths, down from 259 in July. Together the two averaged out to 317 deaths for the month. Before that, January had the highest average at 285. An average of 10.2 Iraqis died per day as well. In the previous month an average of 8.0 were killed. That increase was due to the fact that icasualties has not yet published its August numbers. It regularly reports the lowest death counts because it only relies upon western sources, which miss much of the violence in Iraq. Icasualties therefore, brings down the monthly and daily averages. In July for example, if icasualties were not included there would have been an average of 282 killed that month instead of 249 and 9.0 deaths per day instead of 8.0. June would have also gone down as the deadliest month, with an average of 328 killed and 10.9 casualties per day. Comparing the statistics without icasualties shows that despite the August 15 tragedy, the month was largely unchanged from the rest of the summer, which has been marked by a slight increase in casualties from the previous season. This has happened throughout the Iraqi conflict, as the warmer months have usually led to an increase in activity by insurgents, especially around Ramadan that starts near the end of summer.

Iraq is still a very dangerous country. Bombings and shootings happen every day. What has changed is that the violence is far more targeted today than before. U.S. and Iraqi forces, government officials, and Shiites during religious holidays are the most common targets. Random bombings of neighborhoods for example, which use to be the norm, are now the exception. Hopefully, now that summer is ending, attacks will also go down as well. 

SOURCES

Iraq Body Count

Loney, Jim, “Iraq toll still high a year after U.S. combat halt,” Reuters, 9/1/11

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