BAGHDAD – Despite claims by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Bush
administration officials that violence in Iraq is decreasing, residents in the
capital tell a different story.
Attacks by Iraqi resistance groups against the US military continue in Baghdad
and Iraq's al-Anbar province, despite US military support for certain Sunni
militias in the areas.
According to the US Department of Defense, 18 US soldiers were killed in Baghdad
and al-Anbar in October. In all 39 US soldiers were reported killed in Iraq
for the month, making it the lowest monthly total since March 2006.
Despite the relatively low October numbers, 2007 is on pace to be the deadliest
year on record for US troops since the invasion of March 2003. At least 847
US military personnel have been reported killed this year in Iraq, making
it the second highest toll yet.
The deadliest year was 2004, when 849 US military members were killed.
But many Iraqis say that violence elsewhere continues unreported – and that
where there is calm, it is hardly for reassuring reasons.
"Sectarian killings are less because all the Sunnis have been evicted
from mixed areas in Baghdad," Salman Hameed, a teacher who was evicted
from the al-Hurriya area west of Baghdad eight months ago told IPS. "All
my relatives and Sunni neighbors who survived the killing campaign led by the
militias under the eyes of American and Iraqi forces have fled either to Syria
or to other Sunni cities."
On Nov. 5 Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared victory during a rare
walkabout in Baghdad as night fell. "We have achieved victory against terrorist
groups and militias," Maliki told reporters. "Things will not return
to the way they were."
Many Iraqis feel that the reason for the relative calm is that many people
have either fled, or been killed.
"There is no one left for them to kill," 55-year-old retired teacher
Nathum Taha told IPS in Baghdad. "The Americans continue to use Arab Shi'ite
Iraqi militias to kill Sunnis, but most people have left by now."
Others blamed the media for lack of adequate reportage.
"Attacks against US forces are not much less than they were last month,
but media coverage has almost disappeared," Muhammad Younis from Mosul,
in Baghdad on a business trip, told IPS. "The resistance is moving fast
and changing locations in order to avoid intelligence provided by collaborators.
Most Iraqis hate the Americans more than ever after the death and destruction
caused by their occupation."
There was a reported five-fold increase in the number of bombs dropped on Iraq
during the first six months of 2007 compared to the same period in 2006. Over
30 tons of these were cluster weapons, which take a particularly heavy toll
"American air raids are increasing in a way that shows a total failure
on the ground," a retired general of the dissolved Iraqi army told IPS.
"A whole family was killed near Madayin, southeast Baghdad on Saturday
(Nov. 3) just after the tragic bombing of houses south of Tikrit (about 100
km north of Baghdad) where more than 10 civilians were killed."
On Nov. 4, Iraqi army personnel backed by US soldiers detained 12 people during
a raid on the Sunni Abu Hanifa mosque in the Adhamiyah district of northern
"Those American and government forces could not face the resistance fighters,
so they arrest innocent people," Aziz Thafir, a lawyer who witnessed the
arrests, told IPS. "They started their raid with nasty sectarian words
against Sunnis, and then arrested every one who was around in the mosque."
Sectarian violence, which many Iraqis believe to be backed by the US, continues
at many places where there are still mixed communities left.
In Duluiya, 150 km north of Baghdad, a US army unit raided a house last week
and killed a young man inside. Witnesses who arrived in Baghdad from the Sunni
town complained that the media is not covering either the resistance activity
there or the regular "crimes" committed by US and Iraqi government
forces against innocent civilians.
"They are more vicious than they were before," 44-year-old Abu Ahmed
told IPS in the capital. "This is a religious war against Sunnis, who would
not accept the occupation and division of the country."
(Inter Press Service)