- Iraqi officials demanded to know yesterday why so little
international attention was being given to their numerous dead as the US
mourned the death of 1,000 soldiers since the invasion of Iraq.
- "When I heard on television that the Americans had
lost 1,000 military killed in Iraq, I asked myself, what about our side?
What is the number of Iraqis who have died?" said Dr Amer al-Khuzaie,
an Iraqi deputy health minister.
- He admits it is impossible to know the true figure because
many bodies are simply buried and the deaths never registered. "Sometimes
there are as many as 200 Iraqis killed in a single day," sighed Dr
Khuzaie, flicking through a file showing the casualty figures. "The
Iraqi people are being eradicated. We must stop this haemorrhage, this
- The US army does not count the number of Iraqis killed
since the invasion in March 2003. The most conservative figure for the
number dead is 10,000 as calculated by private groups. It is rising every
day. The US military claimed that on Tuesday alone it killed "100
militants" in air strikes on Fallujah on top of a further 33 people
killed in fighting in Sadr City in Baghdad.
- Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, proudly claimed
on Tuesday that US forces had, last month, killed between 1,500 and 2,500
Iraqi insurgents. He did not note an ominous trend that, for the first
time, more Americans were probably killed by Shia fighters than by Sunni
guerrillas. For the US, it is now a war on two fronts.
- Iraqis suspect that in any case many of those who died
- Dr Khuzaie admits that poor communications make it impossible
to get a complete picture but he estimates that "in Najaf 400 civilians
were killed and 2,500 wounded in the fighting last month."
- There are many ways to die in Iraq. At the al-Khindi
hospital yesterday, doctors were treating one of their own workers called
Ihsan Aboud, 32, who had gone home in a taxi to Sadr City the night before.
"There was a roadside bomb," explained his cousin Sabah Thigil.
"It blew up as the taxi passed and two people in it were killed and
Ihsan was badly burned."
- Asked if the wounded man would live, a doctor gestured
with his hand to show that his life was in the balance. "Even when
there is nothing much happening, we get 15 to 20 people a day brought in
who are victims of violence," said Dr Yassin Mustafa, an assistant
manager of the hospital. "Often people do not know who shot them or
blew them up."
- In the close-packed heavily populated houses of Sadr
City, home to two million people, the use of rockets and heavy machineguns
by the US inflicts heavy casualties. The mortars of the ill-trained Mehdi
Army militiamen are often misdirected. Dr Mustafa had just received seven
bodies, all from a single family, hit by a mortar bomb.
- He pointed out that, at this time of year, casualties
were particularly severe because those in poorer neighbourhoods sleep on
the roofs of their houses because it is cooler. As they lie sleeping, they
are often killed or wounded by shrapnel or stray bullets.
- People in Baghdad have learned caution. Often there are
long traffic jams because cars do not want to go near a slowly moving American
convoy, a possible target of a massive bomb buried beside the road or a
rocket-propelled grenade. The Americans also have a much-feared practice
of spraying fire in all directions when they come under attack.
- Suicide bombers show total disregard for civilian casualties
and assassins are equally careless of who they kill. On Tuesday, an attempt
to kill the Governor of Baghdad Ali al-Haidri almost succeeded but a bomb
hit the wrong car. A man and a women were killed by the blast. Iraq is
not just a dangerous place to live because of political violence. Unicef
estimated in the 1990s that 500,000 children had died because of the collapse
of health standards. Infant mortality rose from 40 per 1,000 in 1990, before
the 1991 Gulf War, to 108, 13 years later according to the World Health
- Public health has not improved since the invasion last
year. A main reason is unclean water. Dr Bashar, a senior house surgeon
at al-Kindi, said: "Look around you. Baghdad is the dirtiest city
in the world."
- ©2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd. All rights reserved