Iraq Attacks Stayed Steady Despite Troop Increase, Data Show
By JAMES GLANZ
Published: May 16, 2007
Newly declassified data show that as additional American troops began streaming into Iraq in March and April, the number of attacks on civilians and security forces there stayed relatively steady or at most declined slightly, in the clearest indication yet that the troop increase could take months to have a widespread impact on security.
Even the suggestion of a slight decline could be misleading, since the figures are purely a measure of how many attacks have taken place, not the death toll of each one. American commanders have conceded that since the start of the troop increase, which the United States calls a “surge,” attacks in the form of car bombs with their high death tolls have risen.
The attack data are compiled by the Pentagon but were made public in a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office. It analyzed the effect of the attacks on the struggling American-financed reconstruction program in Iraq, especially the program’s failings in the electricity and oil sectors.
A draft version of the report, obtained by The New York Times last week, indicated that every day during much of the past four years, somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels of oil, valued at anywhere from $5 million to $15 million, had been unaccounted for. But the draft report did not contain the attack statistics.
When asked about the new data, Barham Salih, an Iraqi deputy prime minister, said in an interview that the troop increase was having a positive impact in specific neighborhoods in Baghdad, particularly in the Shiite-dominated eastern half of the city. But he said Iraqi intelligence had concluded that Al Qaeda was in effect surging at the same time in Iraq to counteract the American program, damping any immediate gains.
Mr. Salih also said that insurgents had to some extent fled Baghdad, where the increase is concentrated, to outlying areas like the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, the Kurdish north and the ethnically mixed province of Diyala, north and west of Baghdad, where major attacks have taken place in recent weeks.
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