Iraq reports drop in civilian deaths in November

AP News
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Posted: Nov 30, 2009 1:13 PM

Fewer than 90 civilians were killed in violence in November in one of the lowest monthly death tolls in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, officials said Monday.

According to figures compiled from various Iraqi ministries, a total of 88 Iraqi civilians were killed in violence last month. This compares with more than 300 killed in October, which included a major bombing in Baghdad that claimed at least 155 lives.

The Iraqi tally _ which includes reports from the Interior, Defense and Health ministries _ also showed a total of 32 members of Iraqi security forces were killed in November for a total of 122 civilian and security deaths. The officials from the ministries spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give the information to media.

A count by The Associated Press lists at least 90 deaths among Iraqi civilians and security forces. The AP toll is based on reports from government officials, hospitals and other sources.

The AP count for November is the second-lowest since it began to track casualty figures in April 2005.

Violence from insurgent attacks and sectarian clashes has been down sharply this year, but at least two large-scale bombings have hit central Baghdad since August. U.S. commanders plan to end combat operations on Aug. 31 and withdraw all forces by the end of 2011.

But there are worries that the Pentagon's timetables for the coming months could be disrupted by Iraqi political feuds over parliamentary elections planned for January.

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has vetoed an election law because he wants more seats for Iraqis abroad _ most of whom are members of Iraq's Sunni minority. A failure to reach a compromise could delay the election.

Al-Hashemi spoke by telephone on Saturday with Vice President Joe Biden, who urged Iraqi leaders to seek a solution to the political impasse.

But in a statement issued Monday, al-Hashemi said the law is "still defective" and time is running out to reach an accord that would allow the election in January.

"Time is passing without seeing any action," said the statement. "Little time is left."