At least 29 people have been killed across Iraq, including eight in a suicide car-bomb blast in Baghdad. This on the day the US army said for the first time that the violence can be seen as constituting a civil war. That claim has been rejected by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. British forces like those in Umm Qasr in southern Iraq continue the hunt for insurgents. They are keen to show that mobile units can be deployed on the ground at any location in a minimum of time.
British and American officials point to the success of the recent security crackdown, which has seen the death toll fall slightly. But the three months preceding December were the bloodiest since the US-led invasion almost four years ago. A report in January claimed that up to 60,000 Iraqi civilians have died in that period.