Inter Press Service
Analysis by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*
BAGHDAD, Feb 22 (IPS) - What the U.S. has been calling the success of a "surge", many Iraqis see as evidence of catastrophe. Where U.S. forces point to peace and calm, local Iraqis find an eerie silence.
And when U.S. forces speak of a reduction in violence, many Iraqis simply do not know what they are talking about.
Hundreds died in a series of explosions in Baghdad last month. This was despite the strongest ever security measures taken by the U.S. military, riding the "surge" in security forces and their activities.
The death toll is high, according to the website icasualties.org, which provides reliable numbers of Iraqi civilian and security deaths.
In January this year 485 civilians were killed, according to the website. It says the number is based on news reports, and that "actual totals for Iraqi deaths are higher than the numbers recorded on this site."
The average month in 2005, before the "surge" was launched, saw 568 civilian deaths. In January 2006, the month before the "surge" began, 590 civilians died.
Many of the killings have taken place in the most well guarded areas of Baghdad. And they have continued this month.