Speaking today at Vanderbilt University, Gen. David Petraeus lauded the security situation in Iraq as “greatly improved,” saying that violence had dropped but serious threats remain.
Yet while the narrative of the improving situation in Iraq is a very popular one, Iraqi civilian deaths actually jumped dramatically over the past month, with 211 civilians killed in February alone, up from 135 in January.
In addition to the civilian deaths, Iraqi ministers say that 141 members of the nation’s security forces were killed, also a major increase over the previous month. Civilian violence mostly centered around Shi’ite pilgrims and Iraq’s small Christian minority.
Violence is expected to continue to rise this month, as militant groups look to disrupt next weekend’s parliament election. Once the election is over, officials are predicting another surge in violence as the various factions bicker over the formation of a coalition government.