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The Week in Iraq is a weekly assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties by IBC's news collector and Recent Events editor Lily Hamourtziadou.

The analyses and opinions presented in these commentaries are personal to the author.

Recent weeks

Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008


The Week in Iraq


by Lily Hamourtziadou

22 Oct 2006

Bush's 'strategy is to win', declared Tony Snow at the White House briefing this week. 'We've got to win', he added, 'and that comes at a cost.'

What is the cost exactly? In the words of James Baker, former US secretary of state, 'a helluva mess.' It is no joke; Iraq is no longer a functioning state. More Iraqis are seeking asylum abroad than any other nation and UN monitors now report that 2,000 a day are crossing the Syrian border. The UNHCR estimates 365,000 internal refugees in Iraq this year alone. A third of Iraq's professional class is reported to have fled to Jordan, while over 100 lecturers at Baghdad university alone have been murdered. Electricity supply is down to four hours a day and 'the arrival anywhere of an army unit can be prelude to a mass killing' (Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, October 18 2006).

The human cost this week exceeded 700.

Monday 16 October had the greatest number of casualties: at least 140 people were killed or found murdered. A Shiite family of 5 was killed in Mahmudiyah, 36 were blown up by various bombs, and clashes in Balad continued for the 4th day.

Another family of 5 was killed on Tuesday 17 October, and 4 university students also lost their lives in Basra. Gunmen assassinate an Iraqi interior ministry officer, then shoot and kill his son and 2 brothers as they go to retrieve his body from the morgue. Also on this day 13 carloads of Shiites from Balad are kidnapped -their fate is still unknown.

Tragically, another family of 5 is killed on Wednesday 18 October, when US forces bomb their house. Another Christian priest is found murdered -beheaded and dismembered.

Civilian deaths again exceed 100 on Thursday 19 October, when bombs kill dozens in Mosul, Kirkuk and Khalis. Moreover, fighting in Balad adds to the death toll, while a mortar in Baghdad's Palestinian neighbourhood leaves 5 Palestinians dead.

The fighting continues on Friday 20: in Amara over 30 people die, 3 of them children. A family of 9 is shot dead inside their home. More bodies are found in the streets, bringing the week's total to 190 dead bodies discovered in streets and pulled out from rivers.

More bombs claim 3 dozen lives on Saturday 21 October, when explosions kill 30 in a market in Mahmudiyah and a suicide bomber blows up a minibus killing 7 passengers. The bus was full of mothers and children shopping for the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

The remains of 212 unidentified and unclaimed bodies are received at Karbala Health Department for burial. The victims had all been shot to death. Twice a week, a busload of unclaimed bodies arrives at a vast cemetery outside Baghdad to bury 70 to 100 of them. A separate truck carries as many to Karbala. During Saddam Hussein's rule, after the failed 1991 Shiite uprising, 30 to 40 bodies arrived each month. After his overthrow the number jumped to 30 a week and keeps climbing.

Let the winners of this war, whoever they may ultimately be, have the deaths of all these people on their conscience -should they happen to have one.