Saturday, October 23, 2010

Iraqi deaths higher than US

Family members of Ayad Karim visit his grave in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Iraq. Karim was killed in 2006 by militiamen during the sectarian violence. -- PHOTO: AP

WASHINGTON - MILITARY documents in the biggest leak of secret information in US history suggest that far more Iraqis died than previously acknowledged during the years of sectarian bloodletting and criminal violence unleashed by the 2003 US-led invasion.

The accounts of civilian deaths among nearly 400,000 purported Iraq war logs released Friday by the WikiLeaks website include deaths unknown or unreported before now - as many as 15,000 by the count of one independent research group.

The field reports from US forces and intelligence officers also indicated that US forces often failed to follow up on credible evidence that Iraqi forces mistreated, tortured and killed their captives as they battled a violent insurgency.

The war logs were made public in defiance of Pentagon insistence that the action puts the lives of US troops and their military partners at risk. Although the documents appear to be authentic, their origin could not be independently confirmed, and WikiLeaks declined to offer any details about them.

The 391,831 documents date from the start of 2004 to Jan 1, 2010, providing a ground-level view of the war written mostly by low-ranking officers in the field. The dry reports, full of military jargon and acronyms, were meant to catalog 'significant actions' over six years of heavy US and allied military presence in Iraq.

The Pentagon has previously declined to confirm the authenticity of WikiLeaks-released records, but it has employed more than 100 US analysts to review what was previously released and has never indicated that any past WikiLeaks releases were inaccurate. -- AP

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