70,000 CIVILIANS DEAD IN AN ERA OF CONSTANT WARFARE
From the UK Independent (excerpts) :
"Far from ending terrorism, George Bush's tactics of using overwhelming military might to fight extremism appear to have rebounded, spawning an epidemic of global terrorism that has claimed an estimated 72,265 lives since 2001, most of them Iraqi civilians.
"The rest, some 30,626, according to official US figures, have been killed in a combination of terror attacks and counter-insurgency actions by the US and its allies. The figures were compiled by the US based National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (Mipt).
"A US led-invasion swept away the Taliban regime in a matter of weeks, and did the same to Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party in 2003, but far from bringing stability and democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq, the outcome has been one of constant warfare.
"Yesterday hundreds of Nato troops, backed by warplanes and helicopter gunships, were involved in the offensive on the area, southwest of Kandahar, that has been a centre of Taliban resistance.
"Nato said more than 200 Taliban fighters were killed in the fierce fighting in which four Canadian soldiers also died. Eighty Taliban fighters were captured."In Iraq, three and a half years after the invasion, the situation remains equally dire and the numbers of Iraqi casualtieshas soared by 51 per cent according to US figures. Some 3,000 civilians are now dying every month in Iraq the Pentagon says.
"President Bush has shifted his approach in an effort to shore up faltering public support for the war. No longer does he stress the benefits of securing peace in Iraq, but rather he is laying out the peril of a failure.
"In recent months the numbers of Iraqi casualties both civilians and security forces - has soared by 51 per cent. The deaths are the result of a spiral in sectarian clashes as well as an ongoing insurgency against the US and UK occupation that remains "potent and viable". The average number of attacks of all types now stands at around 800 a week.
"'Although the overall number of attacks increased in all categories, the proportion of those attacks directed against civilians increased substantially,' the Pentagon report said. 'Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife, with Sunni and Shia extremists each portraying themselves as the defenders of their respective sectarian groups.'
"The Pentagon report, Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq, added: 'The core conflict in Iraq changed into a struggle between Sunni and Shia extremists seeking to control key areas in Baghdad, create or protect sectarian enclaves, divert economic resources, and impose their own respective political and religious agendas.'"