Last week, Iraq's minister of displacement and migration, Abdul-Samad Rahman Sultan, announced that 1,600 Iraqis were returning every day, which works out to a similar, or perhaps slightly larger, monthly total.
But in interviews, officials from the ministry acknowledged that the count covered all Iraqis crossing the border, not just returnees. "We didn't ask them if they were displaced and neither did the Interior Ministry," said Sattar Nowruz, a spokesman for the Ministry of Displacement and Migration.
As a result, the tally included Iraqi employees of The New York Times who had visited relatives in Syria but were not among the roughly two million Iraqis who have fled the country.
The figures apparently also included three people suspected of being insurgents arrested Saturday near Baquba in Diyala Province. The police described them as local residents who had fled temporarily to Syria, then returned.