Iraq's monthly death toll halves in August

BAGHDAD Sat Sep 1, 2012 9:18am EDT

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Militants killed 164 Iraqis in August, half the number killed in July, as security forces wrestled with a stubborn insurgency, figures from government ministries showed.

According to the data, 90 civilians, 39 soldiers and 35 policemen were killed last month and 260 Iraqis were injured.

In July, 325 Iraqis were killed in waves of attacks across the country, making it the bloodiest month in two years.

The deadliest day last month was August 16 when a series of bombs, blasts and shootings aimed at security forces and civilians killed more than 70 people. Restaurants and an ice-cream shop in Baghdad filled with children were targeted.

Al Qaeda's Iraq wing, the Islamic State of Iraq, said in June that it planned to revitalize its campaign, after a sustained assault by U.S. troops and other Sunni militant groups in 2007 weakened its capabilities.

The insurgents have launched one major assault a month since U.S. troops withdrew in December, leaving behind a country riven with political and sectarian feuding.

Officials say the militants have received a morale boost and extra funds from allied groups involved in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria.

Some of the attacks over the past two months have been more brazen than before, with militants showing a willingness to openly engage Iraqi security forces in prolonged gun battles.

(Reporting by Raheem Salman; Editing by Barry Malone and Alison Williams)

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