Do Petraeus' numbers hold up?

He cites a dramatic decrease in civilian deaths. The AP reports something very different.

Published September 10, 2007 5:59PM (EDT)

Gen. David Petraeus has just told members of Congress that "civilian deaths of all categories" have declined "over 45 percent Iraq-wide since the height of the sectarian violence in December."

Maybe he's right about that, but that's not what the Associated Press has found in its monthly tallies of Iraqi civilian deaths. The AP says that 2,172 Iraqi civilians were killed in December 2006 and that 1,809 Iraqi civilians were killed last month. By our math, that's a reduction of just 17 percent.

And if we compare August 2007 not with the "height of the sectarian violence in December" but with, say, August 2006, the AP shows that the death rate for Iraqi civilians has actually increased by something like 100 percent.

By Tim Grieve

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

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