In Box

Body Count

How many Iraqi civilians have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom? No one knows. The U. S. military isn’t keeping track. In March 2002, now retired Gen. Tommy Franks, then head of the U.S. Central Command, stated, "We don’t do body counts." International law doesn’t require armies to count civilian casualties, and the United States has ...

How many Iraqi civilians have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom? No one knows. The U. S. military isn’t keeping track. In March 2002, now retired Gen. Tommy Franks, then head of the U.S. Central Command, stated, "We don’t do body counts." International law doesn’t require armies to count civilian casualties, and the United States has not historically done so.

Instead, the work falls mostly to volunteers using the Internet. At www.iraqbodycount.org, a group of London-based academics and activists keeps a running tally of Iraqi civilian deaths, based on cross-checked news reports. The group borrowed its idea and methodology from Marc Herold, a professor at the University of New Hampshire, who started (and still updates) a count of Afghan civilian deaths as part of the continuing U.S.-led war on terror, at pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold.

As of May 21, 2004, the U.S. military casualties in Iraq totaled 791; British casualties, 59; and other coalition members, 51. The Iraqi civilian body count? According to Iraq Body Count, between 9,148 and 11,005.

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