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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

The full picture

by Lily Hamourtziadou

1 Apr 2007

‘The American people are not getting the full picture of what’s happening here,’ complained Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain, during a quick visit to Baghdad, adamant that the US troop surge is paying off.

This is the full picture.

During March 2,731 civilians were killed in Iraq. In the past week there have been 4 major attacks, with 50 or more deaths, bringing the total to 12 in the first 3 months of 2007 (there were 12 major attacks in the whole of 2006).

-16 January, 70 mainly students and staff, Mustansiriya University, Baghdad
-22 January, 88 killed by bombs at Baghdad market
-1 February, 73 killed by suicide bombers in Hilla
-3 February, 137 killed by a suicide bomber in a lorry full of explosives, Baghdad
-12 February, 90 killed by explosions in Shorja market, Baghdad
-18 February, 62 killed by bombs at second-hand market, Baghdad
-24 February, 56 killed by truck bomb outside mosque, Habaniya.
-6 March, 120 pilgrims killed by suicide bombers, Hilla
-27 March, 152 killed by truck bomb, Tal Afar
-28 March, 70 shot dead in reprisals, Tal Afar
-29 March, 82 killed by suicide bombers at market in Baghdad
53 killed by car bombs, Khalis

UNHCR’s Director of the Bureau for the Middle East and North Africa Radhouane Nouicer painted the bleakest picture of Iraq on Monday, following a visit to the region. He said the Iraqi population is confronted with the most complex and violent situation in the world and the serious violations of human rights and humanitarian laws. There are 2 million Iraqi widows, and 75% of children are not attending schools in Baghdad, while 30%-70% of schools all over Iraq have closed due to the situation of insecurity, kidnappings and bombings.

8.3 million Iraqis are dependent on food aid. At least 1.8 million are internally displaced, living in shelters, with no income, and no sanitation.

The dead civilians this week exceeded 820; among the 4 major attacks this week was the biggest since 2003.

On Monday 26 March 53 die, including 2 people shot dead by US forces in Shoala, Baghdad, 5 killed by mortar rounds in Iskandariya, 17 found bound and executed in Baghdad, a father and his son found tortured and murdered near Tikrit, 2 women and a teenage boy also found murdered near Falluja and 2 killed inside a mosque.

On Tuesday 27 March, in the biggest single attack since the 2003 invasion and the 9th major attack this year, 152 lose their lives when a truck bomb explodes in a market in Tal Afar. Another 17 die in a suicide car bomb attack outside a restaurant in Ramadi, 4 are gunned down at a funeral procession in Asriya village, 2 brothers are shot dead at home, and 26 bodies are found in Baghdad, Mosul and Diwaniya. Among the 228 killed on Tuesday, two nuns, elderly sisters found stabbed and shot in their house in Kirkuk. The Iraqi Parliament extends the State of Emergency for another month; the Iraqi government has imposed a State of Emergency across Iraq since November 2004.

Another 145 die on Wednesday 28 March, 70 of whom are killed in reprisals over the truck bomb in Tal Afar. Gunmen, some of them relatives of victims of the truck bomb, raid homes and execute Sunni men in Tal Afar, in the 10th major attack this year. A suicide bomber kills a further 10 in Ramadi, a car bomb kills 5 in Mahaweel and police find 33 bodies in 6 cities.

On Thursday 29 March 200 die, and a further 2 major attacks take place. In a suicide bombing at Shalal market 82 lose their lives, while 53 die in suicide car bombings in Khalis. Another 10 are blown up by a car bomb in Mahaweel, a father and his 3 sons are shot dead by US troops in Mosul, and 25 bodies are found in Baghdad.

On Friday 30 March 87 die, among them 20 men, reportedly guarding Sadr City streets, killed in a US airstrike. In another US raid, troops kill 2 Sadrists and a child, while over 50 bodies are found in Mosul, Baghdad, Karbala and Suwayra.

Another 65 are killed on Saturday 31 March: 9 employees at a military base are shot in Hawija, a car bomb outside a hospital in Sadr City kills 5, in Balad 6 policemen are killed, while US forces kill a mother and her child as they walk in Saidiya, Baghdad. Most of the 19 bodies found by police are found in Baghdad.

On Sunday 1 April the new month starts with a low 44 dead civilians. Again, US forces contribute to the death toll, when they shoot dead 4 civilians in Diwaniya, after coming under attack.

A prominent US military expert, Anthony H. Cordesman, told the Armed Service Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the US House of Representatives last Thursday that US officials have lied about progress in Iraq. The United States, he said, was repeating the mistakes made in Afghanistan. ‘We have been where we are in Iraq before, and we have done great damage to other countries in the process,’ he said (UPI, March 30). He continued: ‘We are now dealing with the legacy of neo-conservatives, and a badly planned gamble with the lives of 27 million Iraqis. We have again lied and exaggerated our progress in political development, security efforts, economic aid and the development of host country forces…For the second time in my life, we may well be seeing a failed president and a failed administration preside over a failed war.’ ‘

‘I also cannot deny that much of the official reporting on Iraq force readiness, and progress in Iraqi force development, is the same tissue of lies, spin, distortion, and omissions I saw in Vietnam,’ Cordesman concluded.

To complete the picture, Shiite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr has called for a demonstration on April 9, the 4th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad after the US-led invasion. In a statement released by Sadr’s office and delivered on his behalf by Sheikh Abdul Hadi al-Mohamadawi to worshippers during Friday prayers at al-Kufa mosque, Sadr reiterated his calls for ending foreign presence in Iraq.

‘I renew my call for the occupier to leave our land,’ Sadr said. ‘The departure of US forces will mean stability for Iraq, victory for peace and defeat for terrorism…Occupation forces isolated Iraq from the Arab and Islamic world, leading all countries to be careless about the war-ravaged country.’

This is unfortunately the picture of Iraq today: a country ravaged by violence, poverty, resentment, mistrust and daily civilian killings at record levels.