On June 7, a US air strike killed Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of the Jamaat al Tawhid wal Jihad group, often referred to as "Al Qaeda in Iraq".
The June 8 London Times noted that Zarqawi was "a totemic figure", who was "built up by a US-led campaign that singled him out as a major cause of the violence" in Iraq in order to portray Iraqi resistance to the US occupation as the work of "foreign terrorists".
There have been repeated reports of "tension between the homegrown Iraqi insurgency and Zarqawi's foreign fighters", the Times noted. "So it's possible a deal was finally cut by some branch of the Iraqi insurgency to eliminate Zarqawi and rid themselves of his heavy-handed influence."
French researcher Dominique Thomas, author of The Men of al-Qaeda (2005), told the AKI news agency on June 8 that the "Iraqi wing within [his] organisation opposed Zarqawi's strategy of trying to trigger civil war and carrying out massive attacks against civilians that were not in [the] interests of the insurgency".
On May 30, the Pentagon reported that attacks by Iraqi resistance fighters on US-led occupation forces had reached their highest level since US military commanders began tracking such figures two years ago.
In its quarterly update on the Iraq war to Congress, the Pentagon reported that from February 11 to May 12, Iraqi guerrillas had staged an average of 600 attacks per week, a 13% rise over the previous six months and higher than any other time-frame detailed in the report.
In an analysis of the latest US casualty figures released by the Pentagon, United Press International reported on May 31 that "since the most recent lull in US casualties in March, the rate of US troops killed per day in Iraq has risen sharply" to an average of 2.2. During March the average was 1.06 per day.
According to the Pentagon's May 30 figures, a total of 2467 US soldiers had been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion three years ago, while 18,184 had been wounded. UPI reported that "8344 of these US troops were wounded so seriously that they were listed as 'WIA Not RTD' in the [Department of Defense] figures. In other words: Wounded in Action Not Returned to Duty, an increase of 286 such casualties in 48 days, at an average rate of just under six per day. This was marginally worse, than the Feb.4-April 12 number of 375 such casualties over 68 days at an average rate of 5.5 per day."
From Green Left Weekly, June 14, 2006.
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