Friday, April 14, 2006

On the Ground, It's a Civil War

The conflict in Iraq is not marked by front lines or raging battles between warring Iraqi factions. There is no Green Line separating sectarian militias, as in Beirut in the 1970s and 1980s, nor are there clearly defined armies and commanders. But by any measure, Iraqis will tell you that their country is embroiled in what amounts to civil war.

Since the Feb. 22 bombing of the al-Askari mosque, a Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra, waves of suicide bombers have struck other Shiite targets, killing hundreds of civilians. They have been followed by reprisals in the forms of assassinations and kidnappings, with hundreds of Sunni Muslims bound, gagged and shot in the head across Baghdad and surrounding towns.

"We are losing each day, as an average, 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more," former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told the British Broadcasting Corp. last month. "If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."

The dictionary definition says a civil war involves war between geographical sections or political factions of the same nation. An estimated 30,000 Iraqis have died in violence since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. There are no accurate figures of how many were killed by U.S. troops, but slayings of Iraqis by fellow Iraqis have increased dramatically as the war has progressed.

FULL STORY

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