U.N.: Violence outside Baghdad on the rise since ‘surge’ started
While civilian casualties in Baghdad have gone down since the beginning of the new security “surge,” violence in other parts of Iraq has stayed steady or increased, according to a quarterly report issued by the United Nations.
“The situation in Iraq remains precarious. Insurgent attacks persist and civilian casualties continue to mount,” the report reads. “While there was a brief lull in the level of sectarian violence early in the reporting period, it now appears that militia forces are resuming their activities, including targeted killings and kidnappings.”
Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon said in announcing the report that Iraq is entering an “exceptionally sensitive phase” and that, if conditions permit, he would advocate for an expanded U.N. role in Iraq.
“Our mobility as well as presence have been largely dictated by the situation on the ground,” Ban said at a news conference. “As we see the development of the situation, we will try to expand the role of political facilitation, constitutional review process, and there will be many areas where the United Nations can still contribute.”
U.N. officials have scaled back many of their operations and have relocated some of their Baghdad headquarters staff to a reinforced compound within the already heavily guarded Green Zone.
According to the 15-page U.N. report, at least 26 people have been killed in indirect fire attacks on the Green Zone since Feb. 19. The number of such attacks has also spiked, going from 17 in March to 30 in April to 39 through the first three weeks of May.
“The security situation has been further compounded by the increase in car bombs in the vicinity of entry checkpoints” to the Green Zone, the report found.
The report also noted that in Baghdad military casualties have gone up as civilian casualties have gone down.
“Since the commencement of the Baghdad security plan, the multinational force and the Iraqi Security Force have attempted to open outposts inside neighborhoods. Their location at small security outposts in high-risk areas has exposed them to frequent attacks by armed groups,” the report read.
The report also noted what U.S. commanders have already reported: The “surge” in Baghdad has pushed many insurgents and militiamen into Diyala, Salah ah Din and Tamim provinces.
The report also found that “although there have been reduced incident levels in Fallujah and Ramadi, the violence in Anbar has shifted to smaller towns and villages. This is partly a reflection of the growing conflict between al-Qaida and the tribal leaders in Anbar province.”