When President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, he dubbed the military action "Operation Iraqi Freedom," but for hundreds of thousands of Iraqis that "freedom" meant death, according to a new report.
According to research published in PLOS (Public Library of Science) Medicine journal, about 460,000 Iraqis were killed between 2003 and 2011, the years of the invasion and occupation by the U.S. and its coalition forces.
“One of the problems clearly is that we're asking people to remember a very long period of time," lead author of the study, Amy Hagopian, told the Los Angeles Times. "There can be a lot of forgetting, and that forgetting will be in favor of a lower count."
Hagopian, an associate professor of global health at the University of Washington, and her team collected data on deaths of family members from 2,000 randomly-selected households in Iraq's 18 governorates and used likewise estimates to come up with their estimate of Iraq's death toll.
"It's a politically loaded topic," added Hagopian. "Everyone's against polio and wants to eradicate it, but it's different with war."
According to the report, 35 percent of the deaths (about 161, 000) were caused by U.S. and coalition forces, 32 percent of the deaths are attributed to sectarian militias and 11 percent were committed by criminals.
The study says 63 percent of the deaths were the result of gunfire, while 12 percent happened from bombings.
The U.S. did not keep track of how many Iraqis were killed.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2003:
"We don't do body counts," Gen. Tommy Franks, who directed the Iraq invasion, has said.
In his speech aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, President Bush saluted a U.S. military operation that he said went out of its way to protect Iraqi civilians. "With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war, yet it is a great advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent," he said.
According to the Iraq Body Count research group, between 114,200 and 126, 121 Iraqis died because of the war.
A 2006 report in The Lancet Medical Journal estimated that 654,965 Iraqi deaths were caused by the war after only three years, noted MedicalNewsToday.com.
Sources: Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Iraq Body Count, MedicalNewsToday.com