Iraq says surge has netted 400 enemy KIAs

Reuters/Washington Post:

U.S. and Iraqi security forces have killed around 400 suspected militants since the start of a major crackdown to stem violence in Baghdad, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Saturday.

Maliki visited the command center for the operation which was launched 10 days ago and urged security forces taking part in it not to be influenced by sectarian loyalties.

He told reporters 426 suspected militants had been detained in the crackdown "and around that number have been killed."

Maliki, a Shi'ite Islamist criticized for not doing enough to combat Shi'ite militias, has vowed to deal even-handedly with both Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims responsible for violence that had been killing hundreds every week.

A statement from his office said the prime minister reminded security forces to "respect the citizen" during searches.

"We will punish all those who ease up on searches involving people from their sect or ethnicity," the statement said.

Washington has identified the Mehdi Army, a militia loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, as the greatest threat to security in Iraq. Sunni Arabs blame it for running death squads, a charge Sadr denies.

...

Because the US has disdained the use of body counts as a metric of success or failure in Iraq we sometimes lose sight of the effect our actions are having in reducing the force that the enemy has to call on. Attrition at some point will have an effect on his ability to operate. At that point it becomes significant. The enemy on the other hand has focused on attrition in the will of the folks in Washington where he has had much more success than he has had in Baghdad or Iraq.

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