ARLINGTON, Va. — Insurgent attacks in Iraq reached a postwar high in the four months preceding Jan. 20, according to a Iraq progress report issued Friday by the Pentagon.
More than 550 attacks took place in Iraq from Aug. 29, 2005, to Jan. 20, 2006, according to the latest "security and stability" report the Defense Department is required to send lawmakers every four months.
Speaking to Pentagon reporters Friday, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs said that the survey’s conclusions "were not good," but that "loving us is not what it’s about."
Awareness of the relative unpopularity of U.S. troops "is one of the reasons we want to turn over the battlespace" to the Iraqi security forces, Rodman said.
Only one period approaches the recent numbers: From June 29 to Nov. 26, 2004, which included the battle for Fallujah and major clashes with Shiite insurgents belonging to Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
There were about 520 attacks during that period, according to the report, which follows two earlier reports submitted by DOD in July and October 2005.
Almost 80 percent of all attacks in Iraq target coalition forces, the survey said, although three-fourths of the casualties are Iraqis.
Significant percentages of Iraqis responding to a U.S. government poll lauded individuals attacking "multinational forces" as "patriots" and "freedom fighters."
The survey, which the report says was conducted by the State Department’s Office of Research from Oct. 24-27, 2005, said that the "overwhelming majority of respondents in every region polled chose the terms ‘terrorist,’ or ‘criminal’" to describe the perpetrators of violence against Iraqi civilians.
But when asked to describe the individuals attacking coalition forces, 88 percent of Iraqis in the mostly Sunni areas of Tikrit and Baqouba called them either "freedom fighters" or "patriots."
Even in the more mixed Sunni-Shiite areas of Baghdad and Kirkuk, about 53 percent of Iraqis polled chose either the patriot or freedom fighter characterization.
As has been true since the beginning of Iraq’s insurgency, the vast majority (83 percent) of attacks take place in four of Iraq’s 12 provinces, which together contain 43 percent of the population.
Anbar, which includes the so-called "Triangle of Death," averaged more than 23 attacks per day over the reporting period, followed by Baghdad with 21 attacks per day, the report said.
Third and fourth in Iraq’s list of dangerous places are the provinces of Salah ad Din, which includes the restive city of Samarra, which experienced 14 daily attacks and Nineveh, where Tal Afar and Mosul are, which endured eight daily attacks.