Half million Iraqis dead in US-led war, occupation

Iraqis gather at the site of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad on April 18, 2007.
Iraqis gather at the site of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad on April 18, 2007.
A new research has showed that almost half a million deaths in Iraq between 2003 and 2011 were caused by the US-led war and occupation.

An estimated 460,000 deaths in Iraq from March 2003 to mid-2011 were caused by violence during the war with the US and the subsequent occupation by foreign forces, according to a statistical research published in PLOS (Public Library of Science) Medicine journal, Russia Today reported on Wednesday.

Of those excess deaths, 35 percent are attributed to foreign forces, 32 percent to foreign backed sectarian militias and 11 percent to criminals. The survey further details that the majority of violent deaths – 63 percent - were the result of gunfire and 12 percent from bombings.

A group of interviewers collected data on deaths of family members from 2,000 randomly-selected households in 100 geographical clusters, situated in Iraq's 18 governorates. The researchers then extrapolated the figures they received to the overall population of Iraq, an estimated 32 million, to come up with their estimate of Iraq's national death toll.

The authors of the research argue they used more sophisticated methods than scholars who did their surveys earlier, but were still aware of the fact that any such estimates were “associated with substantial uncertainties.”

“One of the problems clearly is that we're asking people to remember a very long period of time," lead author, Amy Hagopian, an associate professor of global health at the University of Washington, told Los Angeles Times. "There can be a lot of forgetting, and that forgetting will be in favor of a lower count."

“When researchers can refine methods to project death counts in advance, as well as to measure total deaths incurred as wars conclude, the public can make wiser decisions about the costs of entering into armed conflict. An authoritative worldwide body could assemble scholars to perfect these methods,” the conclusion to the survey reads.

Most of the previous estimates came up with figures that were several times lower. According to British-based Iraq Body Count research group, for example, 118,200 Iraqis died of violence between 2003 and 2011.

The beginning of October saw a string of coordinated bombs attacks kill 38 people in Baghdad, the epicenter of ongoing violence.

The most recent UN report says the death toll for September alone is 1,000 Iraqis.  

NTJ/NJF