A glimmer of good news in Iraq: Civilians deaths from violence were down for a third straight year, dipping 15% to 3,976, according to nonprofit group Iraq Body Count. Two-thirds of those deaths were the result of bombings attributed to al-Qaeda in Iraq and other terrorist or sectarian groups. US troops were tied to 32 of the deaths, down from 64 last year. The drop was most pronounced after the US announced the end of combat operations in late August: The toll dropped by half in the first month, and remained depressed for the rest of the year, reports Bloomberg.
But with the good, the bad: Year-over-year improvement is slowing; the 15% drop is significantly lower than 2009's 50% drop over 2008, and 2008's 63% drop over 2007. "The 2010 data suggest a persistent low-level conflict in Iraq that will continue to kill civilians at a similar rate for years to come," said Iraq Body Count, which places the total number of civilian deaths since the invasion at 108,391. And with the bad, the worse, notes the Christian Science Monitor: The UN estimates 3,268 Afghan civilians died as a result of violence in just the first six months of 2010, up 31% from 2009.