Progress in Iraq? Military says violence in Baghdad at "all-time high"

The president says the U.S. is "on the move."

Published October 12, 2006 1:04PM (EDT)

George W. Bush described America Wednesday as stepping lively through hard times in Iraq. "We're on the move. We're taking action. We're helping this young democracy succeed," he said. "Our troops have increased their presence on the streets of Baghdad, and together with Iraqi forces, they're working to ensure that terrorists and death squads cannot intimidate the local population and operate murder rings."

While the president acknowledged that the joint U.S.-Iraqi Baghdad security plan is in its "early implementation," what he didn't acknowledge is this: Nearly three months after Bush announced that he was sending more U.S. troops into Baghdad, the U.S. military says violence there is now at an "all-time high."

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver tells USA Today that U.S. and Iraqi officials are trying to adjust but that they remain "frustrated that the extremists keep perpetuating the number of attacks."

By the U.S. military's own count, the rate of sectarian killings in Baghdad has tripled since the beginning of the year and has continued to climb despite increased U.S. efforts in the Iraqi capital. Death squads killed 1,450 people in September, USA Today says. They've killed about 770 Iraqis in just the first 10 days of October. This morning in Baghdad, gunmen stormed into the offices of a Sunni TV station, killing 11 more.

Of course, it's not just Iraqis who are dying. As of this morning, 42 U.S. troops have died in Iraq so far in October, about half of them in and around Baghdad. If the U.S. death toll continues at the current pace, this month will be the deadliest -- at least for U.S. forces -- in nearly two years.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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