McClatchy Report Questions Claims of Progress in Baghdad

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By: E&P Staff A report today by McClatchy's Baghdad bureau chief, Laila Fadel, questions numbers and claims put forward by the U.S. military to suggest that the "surge" may be working.

While U.S. officials claim the number of civilian casualties in the Iraqi capital is down 50 percent, they declined to provide specific numbers. "Statistics gathered by McClatchy Newspapers don't support the claim," Fadel notes.

Her articles opens: "Despite U.S. claims that violence is down in the Iraqi capital, U.S. military officers are offering a bleak picture of Iraq?s future, saying they?ve yet to see any signs of reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite Muslims despite the drop in violence.

"Without reconciliation, the military officers say, any decline in violence will be temporary and bloodshed could return to previous levels as soon as the U.S. military cuts back its campaign against insurgent attacks.

"That downbeat assessment comes despite a buildup of U.S. troops that began five months ago Wednesday and has seen U.S. casualties reach the highest sustained levels since the United States invaded Iraq nearly four and a half years ago.

"Violence remains endemic, with truck bombs on Tuesday claiming as many as 175 lives in northern Iraq and destroying a key bridge near Baghdad, the first successful bridge attack since June.

"And while top U.S. officials insist that 50 percent of the capital is now under effective U.S. or government control, compared with 8 percent in February, statistics indicate that the improvement in violence is at best mixed.

"The number of car bombings in July actually was 5 percent higher than the number recorded last December, according to the McClatchy statistics, and the number of civilians killed in explosions is about the same."

The lengthy article is available at:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/18927.html

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