Iraq car bomb, checkpoint attack leaves 25 dead
An Iraq car bomb in the city of Kut and a checkpoint attack in Baghdad left 25 people dead on Tuesday, as a wave of attacks continued amid the US combat troop withdrawal from Iraq.
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“The message these criminals are sending to the Iraqi people is that the politicians have failed,” says Abdul Kareem al-Samurrai, a member of the defense and security committee in the last parliament. “Whether this message will be accepted by the people is another thing – Al Qaeda has most often targeted innocent civilians and it has no real support among the people. All it can achieve is to destabilize somewhat security and shake people’s confidence in the ability of the security forces to keep the peace,” he says.Skip to next paragraph
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Overall attacks have dropped dramatically since the height of sectarian fighting in 2006-2007 but a spike in violence last month has left the country even more unsettled as the country lurches ahead without a new government.
July deadliest month for Iraqis?
Casualty figures vary widely but estimates for July from Interior Ministry and Health Ministry officials have generally ranged from between about 300 to 500. The interior Ministry says in Baghdad alone more than 200 Iraqis were killed in insurgent violence last month.
The US military released a statement saying widely reported figures indicating that more than 500 Iraqis had been killed in July – which would be the highest toll in more than two years – were "grossly overstated."
The US statement refuting the figures said 161 civilians were killed last month by enemy activity. The military did not respond to a request for clarification as to what constitutes enemy activity or to the source of the figures. US officials generally do not discuss casualty figures, saying that since US combat troops withdrew from Iraqi cities last year, they have been dependent purely on Iraqi information.
US officials say they’re on track to reduce American forces in Iraq to 50,000 by the end of the month. There are currently about 65,000 troops here – down from a peak of about 170,000. Under the existing security agreement with the Iraqi government, virtually all troops are to leave by the end of next year.
The 50,000 forces remaining through to the end of 2011 are known as advise and assist brigades. Although they are capable of combat missions, under the rules of the security agreement with the Iraqi government, they are intended to play strictly a supporting role to Iraqi security forces.
--- With reporting from Sahar Issa
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