U.S. Military Sees Spike in Baghdad Attacks During Ramadan

Attacks against civilians and coalition forces have spiked in Baghdad with the onset of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the U.S. command said Wednesday.

U.S. spokesman Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell also said murders and executions are currently the number one cause of civilian deaths in the capital city.

"We are seeing an increase in attacks, as anticipated. The terrorists and illegal armed groups are punching back in an effort to discredit the government of Iraq and more specifically the Baghdad security plan," Caldwell said.

"This week's suicide attacks were at their highest level of any given week, with half of them targeting security forces," Caldwell added but without giving figures.

CountryWatch: Iraq

Though many of the attacks' intent was to produce mass casualties, he said most have failed to do so.

"While we are seeing this increase in overall attack numbers... casualties have not increased proportionately," he said without providing specific numbers.

He said that while murders and executions are currently the number one cause of civilian deaths in Baghdad, operations against sectarian death squads have been stepped up.

There are currently 45,000 Iraqi and 15,000 U.S. coalition forces operating in Baghdad, he said.

Since mid July, 29 death squad cell leaders, and 254 members, have been killed or captured, he said. There were 14 operations in the past week, resulting in 2 cell leaders and 42 members killed or captured.

"Iraqi security forces are making a concerted effort to defeat the insurgency and stop sectarian violence," Caldwell said. "Specifically Iraqi security forces are taking the fight to death squads within the Baghdad area."