MORE CASUALTY FIGURES…..The New York Times, which has its own source in the Iraq Interior Ministry, today reports civilian casualty figures that differ somewhat from the AP figures the LA Times printed yesterday:
American and Iraqi government officials here are extremely reluctant to provide regular, comprehensive figures for civilian deaths, making it difficult to compile accurate data. But figures provided to The New York Times by an Interior Ministry official who asked to remain anonymous indicated that 2,318 civilians died violently in the country in August, compared with 1,980 in July.
….But the figures provided by the Interior Ministry official show a drop in deaths within Baghdad, to 656 in August from 896 in July.
Without arguing over the exact numbers, this sounds about right to me: Casualties are probably down a bit in Baghdad but up in the rest of the country. This jibes with the widespread prediction that one of the main effects of the surge would be to temporarily drive the insurgency (or some part of it, anyway) to areas of the country with lower troop concentrations. Put troops in Baghdad and the insurgents melt away and fight elsewhere. Follow them to their new home and they’ll undoubtedly melt away and return to Baghdad. Or so I’d guess, anyway.
In any case, treat this as yet more raw data. One note, though: I don’t know how the July and August numbers compare to last year, since the Times didn’t provide that information. This makes it impossible to do a seasonal comparison.