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Deaths of Iraqis in July Lower Than in May, June

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By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, August 2, 2008

BAGHDAD, Aug. 1 -- The death toll for Iraqi civilians and members of Iraq's security forces fell to 851 last month, less than in the previous two months, according to Iraqi government figures.

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The decreasing violence against Iraqis mirrors the drop in fatalities among U.S. forces. In July, five Americans were reported killed as a result of combat in Iraq, the lowest monthly number of deaths for the U.S. military in the five years of the war.

The number of Iraqis killed last month was lower than the 917 killed in June and the 1,135 killed in May across Iraq. The figures were provided by an Interior Ministry official who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak with the media.

Also on Friday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki waded into the sensitive political issue of federalism with comments emphasizing the primacy of the central government. Kurds and some Shiites tend to support more power for local regions, while Sunni Arabs are strongly in favor of more central authority.

Speaking to tribal leaders in Baghdad, Maliki said the central government "must be more powerful than the federated regions."

His comments appeared to be a response to the tense situation in the ethnically mixed and oil-rich city of Kirkuk, where a Kurdish majority of the Tamim provincial council called Thursday for the area to be annexed by the Kurdish regional government. The move was largely symbolic, but it enraged leaders of other groups.

"No one, and no side, has the right to infringe on the sovereignty of the state by concluding security, political or economic agreements," Maliki said.

Correspondent Amit R. Paley and special correspondents Qais Mizher and K.I. Ibrahim contributed to this report.

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