Iraq Puts Civilian Toll at 12,000

The wave of terrorist violence across Iraq over the past 18 months has killed 12,000 Iraqis, almost all of them Shiites, according to the Iraqi government. This is in addition to thousands of Iraqi security forces and 1,663 American military personnel that have died since the war resumed in March 2003.

Iraq Puts Civilian Toll at 12,000 (WaPo, A1)

Violence in the course of the 18-month-long insurgency has claimed the lives of 12,000 Iraqis, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said Thursday, giving the first official count for the largest category of victims of bombings, ambushes and other increasingly deadly attacks.

[…]

Interior Ministry statistics showed 12,000 civilians killed by insurgents in the last year and a half, Jabr said. The figure breaks down to an average of more than 20 civilians killed by bombings and other attacks each day. Authorities estimate that more than 10,500 of the victims were Shiite Muslims, based on the locations of the deaths, Jabr said.

There have been 1,663 U.S. military deaths since the United States led the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, according to the Pentagon’s official count. Bombings and other insurgent strikes have killed thousands of Iraqi security force members. No official totals have been released for those dead, or for the total number of civilian casualties since the start of the war. The U.S. military says it does not keep a comprehensive tally of people it has killed in combat, although it has released numbers of dead in major operations and has acknowledged civilians it has killed if it has become generally known that those people died during a U.S. firefight or attack.

Jabr said the government figures showed that Shiites had suffered the bulk of insurgent attacks. No Sunni Muslim mosques, for example, had been destroyed, he said.

Iraq’s insurgency is led largely by members of the Sunni Arab minority that was toppled from power with Saddam Hussein. Foreign Arab fighters are largely blamed for the suicide bombings that now claim most of the lives. Jabr, in some of his first extended remarks to reporters since becoming interior minister, said he saw no legitimacy in the cause of the Sunni Arab fighters. “I have not seen any ‘resistance,’ ” Jabr said in response to a question about clemency for so-called resistance fighters who lay down their arms. “There is terror, and all sides have agreed that anyone raising guns and killing Iraqis is a terrorist.”

Quite right. There’s no other name for the intentional targeting of civilians.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. aqubaba says:

    He who takes up the sword, so shall he also perish by it. If these “martyrs” think that they are going to get to “heaven” by blowing up innocent people in the name of politics and bloodlust, then they are in for a rude awakening. There is only one way, and the way of satan is not it.

  2. Anderson says:

    There’s no other name for the intentional targeting of civilians.

    Do Americans really want to go there? Tokyo, Dresden, Hamburg, Hiroshima, Nagasaki ….

  3. LJD says:

    “Do Americans really want to go there? Tokyo, Dresden, Hamburg, Hiroshima, Nagasaki ….”

    Typical left wing, apples and oranges comparison.

    How does the actions of the Germans and Japanese in WWII in any way compare to the U.S. liberating Iraq?

    How does the actions of the “Terrorists” in any way compare to the actions taken by the U.S. to end a World War, saving countless lives in the long run?

  4. Anderson says:

    How does the actions of the Germans and Japanese in WWII in any way compare to the U.S. liberating Iraq?

    Very mysterious. The reference is to the actions of the U.S. and UK, not to those of the Germans and Japanese.

    How does the actions of the “Terrorists” in any way compare to the actions taken by the U.S. to end a World War, saving countless lives in the long run?

    Let’s see: “intentional targeting of civilians.” THAT’S how they compare. (How many lives do the terrorists imagine they saved “in the long run” by committing the 9/11 attacks? Doubtless they have some back-of-the-envelope calculations they could show us.)

    “Saving countless lives in the long run.” So incinerating women and children and babies is okay, if you can save American lives by doing so?

    There have been leaders who openly espoused similar beliefs, but I didn’t think that America did so, not openly.

    Part of our problem with the current war is that American don’t believe they’ve ever really committed war crimes. We’re the only nation on earth to be completely innocent. What a coincidence.

    If we could admit, “yes, it was wrong to murder thousands of civilians,” then we could take seriously the notion that (even in war) we can make the wrong moral choices, and work from there.

    As it is, with otherwise sensible people like LJD spluttering at the suggestion that murdering old people and women and babies may not be an acceptable means to an end, no wonder this country’s moral compass is out of whack.

  5. Geneva Convention Supporter says:

    “How [do] the actions of the “Terrorists” in any way compare to the actions taken by the U.S. to end a World War, saving countless lives in the long run?”
    ____________

    As another here has already pointed out, it does compare. And if I may kindly shed some light on your apparently confused sentiment (quoted above), there was absolutely no need to drop a bomb of that yield on civilians. The same result of ‘saving of lives’ would have come about if it was a military target, or better still, a target that simply displayed the show of force such a devastating weapon expounds. After all, the dropping of those bombs was a show of force period, so the choice to kill 100’s of 1000’s in the blink of an eye is very much terroristic, not to mention inhuman and acutely disgusting.

    That being said, I take no comfort in any type of terrorism, whether it be an insurgent blinded by religion or the governmental institution of any given country. When we as a civilization choose amnesty, war conventions, and declarations of human rights to back our judgement of others they become lost to history when no one – no nation – lives by the rules set forth by those who believe in peace.

    And with the earlier comment of ‘live by the sword – die by the sword’, there are some of us who need to live by the word and die by the word.

  6. LJD says:

    The actions of the Germans and Japanese justified the use of force. Period.

    Intentional targeting of civilians is what the terrorists do. In New York, Baghdad and elsewhere; time after time.

    Bombing Tokyo, Dresden, Hamburg, Hiroshima, Nagasaki was done to end a world war where the fate of humanity was at stake.

    Many military and history experts have confirmed that unleashing nuclear weapons in WWII saved countless American AND Japanese lives.

    This “sputtering” goes unheard beneath the inflammatory leftward rhetoric of “suffering old women and babies”. Come on. What a bunch of crap.

    I don’t believe Americans have never comiitted war crimes. I do beleive that we have prosecuted those acts in the media and in court, unlike our enemies.

    Peace and pacifism are great, as long as your neighboring country doesn’t run concentration camps, ethnic cleansing campaigns, genocide, etc..

  7. LJD says:

    Die by the word indeed. Just ask Howard Dean.

  8. Geneva Convention Supporter says:

    I don’t believe Americans have never comiitted war crimes. I do beleive that we have prosecuted those acts in the media and in court, unlike our enemies.

    _________

    In as much as I can appreciate your other comments, I’ll leave them be as we both know this can turn into a long debate. However, the above quoted comment by you is seriously out of whack.

    For someone to make such a statement proves outright they have not read or are not familiar with the Geneva Conventions nor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    Americans _are_ guilty in many, many instances. To claim innocence entails the ignorant refusal to be held accountable to international law. Just because someone is ‘American’ doesn’t make them innocent. How very naive of you. You may wish to go on at length about this, but let me quell both our troubles by asking kindly for you to read – in full – the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That said, I would ‘win’ (as it were) any argument you choose to propogate in favor of American innocence.

    Do take care.