Attrition: Patterns Of Dying In Iraq


March 20, 2012: The Iraqi government recently announced that, by its count, 69,263 Iraqis were killed and 239,133 wounded in terrorist actions between April 2004 and the end of 2011. The bloodiest year was 2006, which accounted for 30 percent of all the deaths. About a third of all deaths occurred in Baghdad. The Iraqi figures were compiled by the Health Ministry and the National Security Council.

Earlier estimates had produced higher figures, usually the result of including deaths during the 2003 invasion. And then there were non-Iraqi losses. During 2003-2011, foreign forces lost 4,735 troops (93 percent American). Iraqi security forces lost about 6,000 police and soldiers. American estimates state that about 100,000 Iraqi civilians died but over a third of these were members of terrorist groups (mostly Sunni, including al Qaeda). Another ten percent were members of various anti-terrorist militias. The U.S. tried to identify as many dead enemy fighters as it could, but those numbers are currently classified. Based on information that did leak out, it's clear that the terrorist groups lost over 30,000 people. Most of the civilians were killed by terrorists while most of the terrorist deaths were caused by American troops.

There was a tendency to exaggerate losses, as most data was released for media impact. The real numbers, as is often the case, are lower and less newsworthy.


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