Violent deaths in Iraq reach lowest level since war began, group reports
Wednesday, December 29, 2010; 11:58 PM
BAGHDAD - Nearly 4,000 Iraqi civilians, police and soldiers died through violence in 2010, making it the least deadly year since the war began, the Web site Iraq Body Count said Thursday in its latest report.
But the authors of the annual tally highlight a flattening trend line for violent deaths after precipitous declines in both 2008 and 2009. The 2010 total is down about 15 percent from last year's count of 4,680 deaths.
This trend, Iraq Body Count says, suggests that Iraq's yearly death toll is stabilizing and that a similar number of killings could take place annually in the country for years to come.
A series of attacks in recent days, including a triple suicide bombing that killed a top police commander in the northern city of Mosul, will probably push the year's toll above 4,000.
The Web site said that one bright spot was a marked drop in killings in the two months after U.S. combat forces withdrew from the country.
Casualty estimates from wars, especially those that attempt to tally civilian deaths, are inherently controversial. Iraq Body Count has published more than 8,000 police reports and other documents on its Web site that it says verify each death. Critics have argued that the yearly figure undercounts violence in Iraq.
This year, the Web site said the October release by WikiLeaks of secret U.S. documents on the war in Iraq allowed it to scrutinize its own numbers. Iraq Body Count said that, after reviewing the secret U.S. documents, it has raised its overall death toll since the war began by about 15,000, including 3,000 Iraqi police.
Iraq's deadliest years since the war, by Iraq Body Count's accounting, came in 2006 (27,850) and 2007 (24,677).