About two-thirds of the deaths among American troops in Iraq in October occurred outside Baghdad, even with a sharp increase in combat deaths in the capital that made it the fourth deadliest month of the war for the United States, Defense Department figures show.
The October death toll, which stood at 103 by late Tuesday, was the highest since January 2005, when 107 American troops were killed.
Forty American soldiers were killed in and around Baghdad in October, double the number there just two months ago, a review of casualty reports shows.
The above is from Thom Shanker and David S. Cloud's "U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq Still Mostly Outside Capital" in this morning's New York Times. They report that 37 died in Al-Anbar Province in the month of October according to the then current figures for the month's death toll. That's only a surprise to those who weren't paying attention. (That's not a slap at Shanker and Cloud. That is noting how little press coverage -- big and small -- Ramadi has received.)
The writers qualify the count, as they should, because the U.S. military has a point of reporting deaths for the month after the press accounts have been written. Already today the US military has announced: "One Soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died due to injuries sustained from enemy action Tuesday while operating in Al Anbar Province." That brings October to at least 104.
Michael R. Gordon contributes "Military Charts Movement of Conflict in Iraq Toward Chaos:"
A classified briefing prepared two weeks ago by the United States Central Command portrays Iraq as edging toward chaos, in a chart that the military is using as a barometer of civil conflict.
Edging toward chaos? Where have they been this past year? Amanda notes Reuters' "Language on Iraq -- when is it civil war?" (by Bernd Debusmann):
What do you call a situation where 3,000 citizens of a country kill each other every month through bombing, shooting and beheading? If the country is Iraq, it depends on who answers the question.
U.S. and Iraqi government leaders are avoiding the term "civil war," although President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and several generals have said Iraq was "close to," "nearing" or "in danger of" civil war.
Experts outside the administration have been less circumspect.
"Iraq's conflict is now worse than civil war," said an October report by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank close to the Democratic Party.
"The country suffers from at least four internal conflicts -- a Shiite-Sunni civil war in the center, intra-Shiite conflicts in the south, a Sunni insurgency in the west and ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds in the north."
Gen. John P. Abizaid, the commander of U.S. military operations in the Middle East, told a Senate committee in August that "the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war."
Since then, the death toll from sectarian violence has risen steadily, as have the number of insurgent attacks on U.S. troops. From July to September, 9,200 Iraqi civilians were killed, according to an October 30 report by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
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