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Death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq rising
(Robert Burns, Associated Press, February 7, 2007)
More American troops were killed in combat in
Iraq over the past four months — at least 334 through Jan. 31 — than in any comparable stretch since the war began, according to an Associated Press analysis of casualty records. . . . Not since the bloody battle for Fallujah in 2004 has the death toll [in Bush's war] spiked so high. . . . The reason is that U.S. soldiers and Marines are fighting more battles in the streets of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and other cities. And while hostile forces are using a variety of weaponry, the top killer is the roadside bomb. . . . And with President Bush now sending thousands more U.S. troops to Baghdad and western Anbar province, despite opposition in Congress and the American public's increasing war weariness, the prospect looms of even higher casualties. . . . . . . The shadowy insurgency has managed to counter or compensate for every new U.S. military technique for defeating roadside bombs, which over time have proliferated and grown increasingly powerful. . . . The increasingly urban nature of the war is reflected in the fact that a higher percentage of U.S. deaths have been in Baghdad lately. Over the course of the war, at least 1,142 U.S. troops have died in Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, through Feb. 6, according to an AP count. That compares with 713 in Baghdad. But since Dec. 28, 2006, there were more in Baghdad than in Anbar — 33 to 31. . . . The surge in combat deaths comes as the Pentagon begins adding 21,500 troops in Iraq as part of Bush's new strategy for stabilizing the country. Most are going to Baghdad, but some are being sent Anbar. . . . With the buildup, U.S. forces will be operating more aggressively in Baghdad as they try to tamp down sectarian bloodshed, a tactical shift that senior military officials say raises the prospect of even higher U.S. casualties. . . . It is not possible to fully track the trend in bomb-caused deaths by month. The U.S. military considers such information secret because it is considered potentially useful to the insurgents and their backers. Also, the Marines do not announce the specific cause of any of their combat deaths, whereas the Army does. . . . Hostile forces also have had more success lately shooting down U.S. helicopters, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged Tuesday. He said four U.S. helicopters in recent weeks have been shot down by small arms fire, including a Black Hawk in which all 12 National Guard soldiers aboard were killed. . . . What's more, there have been troubling new twists to some other attacks, including the sneak attack in Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers; four of them were abducted and executed by unknown gunmen. . . . Less than a year ago, U.S. commanders were anticipating a different scenario, starting a U.S. withdrawal and a more central role for Iraqi troops in battling the insurgents in major cities. Instead, U.S. troops had to step in more directly as the Iraqis came up short, particularly in Baghdad. . . . Now, under a new approach announced by Bush on Jan. 10, U.S. troops will be paired up with Iraqi brigades in each of nine districts across Baghdad, rather than operating mainly from large U.S. bases. . . . "Our troops are going to be inserted into the most difficult areas imaginable — right into neighborhoods, right in the face of the Iraqis," . . . The American public clearly has soured on the war. In an AP-Ipsos poll taken Jan. 8-10 , 62 percent said they thought, looking back, that it had been a mistake to go to war . . . The upward trend began in August, the same month that U.S. and Iraqi forces launched the second phase of a Baghdad security crackdown, dubbed Operation Together Forward, that ultimately failed. From a total of 38 killed in July, the number rose to 58 in August, 61 in September and 99 in October, according to an Associated Press count. . . . It slipped to 59 in November but jumped to 96 in December and totaled 80 in January.
posted by Lorenzo 5:27 AM