WikiLeaks outs 400,000 documents on the Iraq war

Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks has carried out what it calls the "largest classified military leak in history", releasing nearly 400,000 secret American documents on the war in Iraq.

The group said in a press release that the documents detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, encompassing those of 66,081 civilians, 23,984 insurgents, 15,196 Iraqi government forces and 3,771 coalition forces, according to the classifications used by the US military.

The leak dwarfs the site's earlier acquisition of 90,000 documents concerning the war in Afghanistan, and has prompted condemnation from the US Department of Defense. The leak is believed to have emanated from the same military analyst as the earlier dossier.

The Pentagon has called for the site to delete all classified information from its servers, saying that leaked douments detailing military strategy and capability could endanger lives.

WikiLeaks claims that the documents have been comprehensively reviewed, with names redacted to protect the safety of individuals.

The documents chronicle the US campaign in Iraq between 2004 and 2009, and provide a new picture of how many Iraqi civilians were killed, and provide many accounts of summary executions, abuse and war crimes.

According to UK newspaper The Guardian, one of a handful of publications internationally who were given early access to the papers, the leak proves US officials turned a blind eye to torture carried out on civilians by newly-installed Iraqi security forces. A select group of journalists were allowed access to all of the material for 11 weeks before its publication.

Speaking to TV channel Al-Jazeera, WiliLeaks founder Julian Assange called the the documents "the most extraordinary compendium of war that has ever been released".

Pointing to the sensitive timing of the leak, which comes just a week before mid-term congressional elections in the United States, Assange said that the information should form an essential part of the debate .