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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

25 Feb 2007

Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, has declared the new security plan a success, saying there has been a reduction in sectarian killings since its launch on 14 February. Moreover, US and Iraqi security forces have killed 400 suspected militants since the start of the crackdown, and arrested hundreds more. The reduction in civilian deaths, combined with the increase in militant killings and arrests, also combined with the relocation of 620 displaced families and their return home, certainly seem to support al-Maliki’s claims and his expressed optimism about the plan.

There has been a marked decrease in civilian deaths in the last 11 days, about 40%, and an even bigger drop in the dead bodies found in Baghdad, about 50%. Specifically, while 1-13 February there were on average 122 civilians killed in Iraq every day, there were about 75 killed every day 14-25 February; as for the bodies, while in the first two weeks of February an average 30 bodies were found in Baghdad every day, in the second half there were only 14 per day.

There were also, however, two more major attacks during the latter period:
-18 February, 62 killed by bombs at second-hand market, Baghdad
-24 February, 56 killed by truck bomb outside mosque, Habaniya.

This last attack is the 7th major attack this year, and the 5th in February.

Overall, the death toll is still high: around 580 civilians lost their lives this week.

On Monday 19 February 127 are reported killed, 13 of them members of a Sunni family shot dead near Falluja, as they are returning from a funeral. In Ramadi, 11 people are killed when a suicide bomber explodes his car at a police station; 47 are killed or found dead in Baghdad, 6 in a Mahmudiya market, while 9 are killed in two attacks in Tal Afar. Among Monday’s victims are 5 children.

On Tuesday 20 February 64 are killed; a suicide bomber kills 7 mourners during a funeral, 11 are killed by car bombs in Baghdad, and 9 lose their lives after a chlorine bomb attack in Taji. In Diyala, 3 lorry drivers are killed and their lorries set on fire. Another 25 bodies are found in Baghdad. US and Iraqi forces bombard Moqtada al-Sadr’s offices and confiscate his documents.

Another 80 civilians die on Wednesday 21 February, 16 of them at a bombing in a market in Najaf. In Balad Ruz, gunmen kill 17 men during a raid, while another chlorine bomb kills 6 people in Baghdad.

On Thursday 22 February there are 56 reported civilian deaths, including the death of a child in Kut. US air strikes kill up to 14 civilians in Ramadi, in the process of killing 12 suspected insurgents. 37 bodies are found in Baghdad, Hilla, Kirkuk, Mosul and Khalis.

Only 25 are killed on Friday 23 February, 2 of them young Iraqi boys killed by US fire during clashes with insurgents. Just 5 bodies are found in the streets of Baghdad.

More than 120 people are killed on Saturday 24 February. In the 7th major attack this year, 56 lose their lives when a truck bomb explodes outside a mosque in Habaniya. Among the dead are 5 children. In Kut, a policeman and his 12-year-old son are shot dead outside their house, 8 policemen are shot dead near Baghdad International Airport, 30 people are killed in various incidents in Baghdad, and 23 bodies are found in Baghdad and Mosul. On Saturday, another 12 unidentified bodies are buried in Kut.

Around 115 civilians die on Sunday 25 February. A suicide bomber kills 41 people, most of them young female students, at the entrance of the Economics College of Mustansiriya University. There are reports of 10 people killed by mortars in Abu Dsheer in Baghdad, while 44 bodies are found in Mosul, Baghdad, Enjana and Sulaimaniya.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, meanwhile, announced this week that Britain will withdraw around 1,600 troops from Iraq in the coming months, and aims to further cut its 7,100-strong contingent by late summer, if Iraqi forces can secure the country’s south. This was by no means an admission of culpability or guilt, but more of an assumption of success in Basra. During his announcement of the withdrawal plans in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Tony Blair came under attack for refusing to accept responsibility for the violence in Iraq. ‘Do you still not understand that the ability of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations to use Iraq as a battleground was only possible because of the decision that you took and President Bush took to invade that country?’ he was asked by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Foreign Secretary. ‘We did not cause the terrorism,’ snapped Mr Blair, ‘the terrorists caused the terrorism’(Times, 22 February 2007). Yes, but who ‘caused’ the terrorists? Perhaps Tony Blair believes terrorists are born this way, in the Middle East. Unless he and President Bush accept their own role in creating a war situation in Iraq, continuing long after the war officially ended nearly four years ago, and take action to repair some of the damage done and prevent more killings, not through the use of guns by through the removal of their weapons, soldiers and control, there can never be any lasting success. However they wish to see themselves, they are still the occupiers of a country that has no hope of success in anything, as long as it remains under occupation.