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April 2007: The deadliest month of the Iraq occupation

Attywood | April 12, 2007

We're more than a third of the way through April now, and I haven't seen this actually reported in the media anywhere, but unfortunately this has been the deadliest month for the U.S.-led coalition forces -- on an average daily basis -- of the four-year occupation of Iraq.

So far, according to icasualties.org, 47 American troops and six British soliders have died in the 11 days of April so far -- an average of 4.82 coalition deaths every day. And -- looking at the month to month statistics -- no month has been that high since Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003.

Not even November 2004, when the U.S. beseiged Fallujah in the days following President Bush's re-election -- the daily fatality average that month was 4.7. In April 2004, when radical Shiites loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr were up in arms, the average was 4.67 coalition deaths per day. Ironically, al-Sadr's henchmen had been sitting out the recent fighting, but just yesterday the radical cleric renewed his pressure, at least verbally, on the Americans. Does that mean things get even worse before they get better?

Surprised you haven't seen anything about this in the media? You shouldn't be. Other than John McCain's Baghdad market fiasco, very little news out of Iraq -- not even increased deaths of American fighting men and women -- can cut through the clutter, and you know what I'm talking about.

You know all about Don Imus getting the MSNBC heave-ho ("ho"-heave?) but did you know that Spec. Clifford A. Spohn III of Albuquerque was killed Monday when his unit was hit with indirect fire while working at an Iraqi police station in Karmah.

You know that those Duke lacrosse guys were exonerated, but did you see any news this week about the two Fort Benning soldiers who were killed in Baghdad on Easter Sunday -- Staff Sgt. Harrison Brown, 31, of Pritchard, Ala., and Pfc. David N. Simmons, 20, of Kokomo, Ind., who died when their unit came in contact with enemy forces using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire.

And everyone knows that Larry Birkhead is THE FATHER, but did you know that Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams, 25, of Santa Rosa, Calif., also died on Easter in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered from small arms fire while conducting combat operations in Baqubah.

Meanwhile, Congress and the president are trying to figure out what to do next in Iraq, and the fact that more troops than ever are dying needs to be part of the narrative. Does it automatically mean that Bush's "surge" is a failure? Not necessarily -- you could argue that the increased military activity of Bush's escalation also means a short-term rise in casualties, but as part of a long-term plan for that greater good.

But that greater good isn't here. While a few pockets have seen a slight improvement, the overall prognosis for Iraq is worse than ever:

BAGHDAD (AP) - The international Red Cross released a report that found the situation for civilians in Iraq is ``ever-worsening,'' even though security in some places has improved as a result of stepped-up efforts by U.S.-led multinational forces....
Also Wednesday, Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of operations of the International Committee of the Red Cross, or ICRC, said that thousands of bodies lay unclaimed in mortuaries, with family members either unaware that they are there or too afraid to go to recover them.

Medical professionals also have been fleeing the country after cases where their colleagues were killed or abducted, the neutral agency said.

No wonder that a plurality of Americans would prefer that Congress send a Bush a bill with no money for Iraq if he won't agree to a timetable for withdrawal. Just think how the public will feel when they learn that this is the deadliest month of the occupation.

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