Iraq Deaths Multiply in New August Count

Iraq Deaths Multiply in New August Count
September 7th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Iraq Deaths Multiply in New August Count

Iraq Deaths Multiply in New August Count
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 07 September 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq_Baghdad recorded more than 1,500 violent deaths in August,
according to final figures released by the Health Ministry this week _
nearly three times the preliminary figure the same ministry had released
last week. The figure is a sharp contradiction of U.S. and Iraqi claims that
a security crackdown led to a steep drop in deaths in the capital.

Instead, the number of deaths in the capital in August was roughly the same
as during July, before the U.S.-led security crackdown began, the Health
Ministry officials said.

They could provide no explanation for the discrepancy, but it could have
resulted in part from a late August surge in deaths. More than 250 people
were killed in Baghdad in the final week of August.

The discrepancy also highlights the fact that after more than three years of
war, Iraqi officials still have no reliable system for counting casualties _
leaving death tolls uncertain and varying sharply and with no explanation
even within one ministry.

Deputy Health Minister Hakem al-Zamly this week put the August violent death
count for Baghdad at 1,536, based on figures from the city morgue. That is
roughly the same as the figure for July for Baghdad provided by the same

Preliminary Health Ministry figures released last week, though, showed
violent deaths in August in Baghdad at just 550 to that point, according to
Dr. Riad Abdul Amir of the Health Ministry's statistics bureau, whom the
Associated Press and other media quoted then.

There was no way to explain the discrepancy, Health Ministry officials said
this week when contacted by the AP.

The late August surge in violence in Baghdad clearly played some role.

More broadly, however, accurate figures are difficult to obtain in a country
where government institutions barely function. Poor phone lines and
shortages of trained staff and computers can result in delays in entering
death reports into ministry databases, which means the preliminary count may
have lagged sharply.

Accurate figures are important because Iraqi and U.S. officials _ anxious to
demonstrate progress as support for the war declines in the U.S. _ have used
death figures to claim that a security crackdown in Baghdad is working.

Last month, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said the
murder rate in Baghdad fell by 46 percent from July to August.

Iraqi National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie insisted last week that
execution-style killings and sectarian violence had dropped by 45 percent in
the last six weeks.

However, the August figure of 1,536 violent deaths in Baghdad is roughly the
same as the roughly 1,500 reported by the Health Ministry in July for

Accurate figures on the number of people who have died since the Iraq
conflict began in March 2003 have long been difficult to obtain. The Health
Ministry, which tallies civilian deaths, relies on reports from government
hospitals and morgues.

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