Iraqi civilian killings drop sharply in November

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The number of civilians killed in violence throughout Iraq fell this month to the lowest level in nearly two years, according to government statistics obtained by Reuters on Friday.

The data showed 538 civilians were killed in November, down 29 percent from October. The statistics are compiled by the health, interior and defence ministries, and represent the best Iraqi count of the bloodshed.

They confirm a sharp fall in violence in the 10 months since U.S. forces launched a “surge” of 30,000 additional troops and a new tactic of moving from large bases into small neighborhood positions to reduce violence.

The number of civilians killed in violence in October was 758. The November figure is nearly 75 percent down from the almost 2,000 deaths per month at the beginning of this year.

The last time the government recorded fewer than 600 civilians killed in Iraq was in February 2006, the same month an attack on a Shi’ite shrine triggered huge sectarian violence.

The November figures showed 24 Iraqi soldiers and 46 Iraqi police were killed. The United States has so far reported 37 of its soldiers killed in November, one fewer than last month.

If that figure is not revised in coming days, it will have been the least deadly month for U.S. forces in Iraq since March 2006. U.S. forces lost 126 service members killed in May, the deadliest month this year.

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