Iraqi and American military officials say incidents of sectarian "cleansing" in Baghdad have decreased since a U.S. military clampdown began in February, but what is happening in Amil and neighboring Bayaa belies the claim.
Since May, Iraqi police say, more than 160 bodies have been found in Amil and Bayaa -- men without identification, usually shot and bearing signs of torture, hallmarks of sectarian death squads.
On many days, the number of corpses found in the two neighborhoods account for half of those picked up across the capital. Before the war, Amil and Bayaa were middle-class neighborhoods where Sunnis and Shiites lived easily among one another. Now, not only are they mainly Shiite, but they have become prime territory for Shiite militias looking to expand into the surrounding Sunni-dominated areas.
It's important to remember also that the administration has taken to referring dumped murdered bodies as victims of sectarian violence, while bombings tend to be attributed to an insurgency or al Qaeda [in Iraq]. This has the advantage of letting them talk about things separately, pointing to "good news" in one category or another if they can claim it exists. Also it makes all of those killed by bombs as victims of "bad guys everyone agrees must be killed" rather than part of a civil war in which taking sides is a rather problematic issue.