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Friday, July 07, 2006


U.S. losses in Iraq

A number of people question the U.S. reporting of their own fatalities in Iraq. I've always been skeptical about that; considering that dead soldiers typically have families, and that their names are actually posted on the Internet, hiding the death of an American soldier would be a dicey proposition at best. Of course "secondary" deaths (e.g., suicides committed once back in the States) aren't included, but those are a fairly minor perturbation on the total.

Casualties are a different story, but also raise semantic questions. What is a "casualty"? A broken finger? A small piece of shrapnel? Or do you only count "serious" casualties, the kind which remove soldiers either temporarily or permanently from the battlefield? No doubt the U.S. takes every opportunity to choose the tightest possible definition, so as to make the number as small as possible.

But finally we come to equipment losses, and there it's a different story; the U.S. military has every reason to hide the truth, and little reason to come clean. This story ran yesterday at Prensa Latina:

Two US helicopters crashed in the Iraqi village of Al Dur, north of Baghdad, Thursday morning, allegedly shot down by the resistance, local television channel Al Sharquiya reported.

The release quoted some witnesses as saying that clashes between insurgents and US-Iraqi soldiers were also seen in Al Dur town, causing serious damage to various military vehicles.

A US armored vehicle carrying 15 soldiers was destroyed during the clashes with the rebels.

The US Central Command in Iraq has made no comments on the recent incident.
I didn't mention the story, for two reasons. One, this blog isn't a running commentary on everything that happens in Iraq, and two, claims by resistance fighters in Iraq are just as unreliable, and probably more so, than claims of the U.S. military. If you were to add up all the losses to American units (in personnel and material) claimed by the resistance, there wouldn't be much left of the American army.

But then today, this follow-up story appeared in Granma (and, I should add, nowhere else):

Two U.S. Apache combat helicopters were brought down yesterday over the town of Al Dur, northeast of this capital, according to the national Al Sharqiya TV.

The U.S. command has not made any comments on the event.

A video recording transmitted by the Al Arabiya channel based in the United Arab Emirates shows an earth-to-air missile being fired on a U.S. helicopter.

According to the press, that footage, which was initially placed on the Internet and then shown on television, belongs to an armed group known as the Mujadin Army, whose members affirm having brought down a helicopter.
Now we have a horse of a different color, because we're told that there's actually video of this event. And if that's true, now we have a serious coverup, not just by the military, but by the American media as well. Or, if not a coverup, evidence of how limited the coverage of the war by the American media really is; searches of Google and Yahoo news not only don't reveal any articles (other than the ones from Prensa Latina/Granma) of the helicopter downing, they don't even bring up any articles about any fighting in Al Dur.

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