BAGHDAD-Civilian deaths in Iraq rose in August to their second-highest monthly level this year, according to figures compiled yesterday by Associated Press.
Police reports show at least 1,809 civilians were killed across the country last month compared with 1,760 in July. Only May was deadlier this year with 1,901 killed in political or sectarian violence.
U.S. President George W. Bush ordered nearly 30,000 additional troops to Iraq, and monthly death tolls began to decline after the new security plan was launched Feb. 14. But civilian death tolls have been creeping back toward levels approaching those during the worst of the sectarian slaughter.
The tally raises questions about whether the U.S. strategy is working days before Congress is to receive landmark reports that will decide the course of the war.
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At least 81 American service members also died in Iraq during August - an increase of two over the previous month but well below the year's monthly high of 126 in May. American deaths surpassed the 80 mark during only two months of 2006.
U.S. military officials have insisted that the security plan launched early this year brought a decrease in attacks on civilians and sectarian killings, especially in the Baghdad area, which was the focus of the new strategy.
The August total included 520 people killed in quadruple suicide bombings on communities of Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking religious minority, near the Syrian border.
© 2007 The Associated Press