U.S. Troops Suffer Heavy Losses This Month In Iraq info
December 8, 2006
At least 32 have died, many in Anbar province
By Cesar G. Soriano and Matt Kelley, USA Today
BAGHDAD — A flare-up of fighting in Iraq, particularly in the western Anbar province where the Sunni insurgency is strong, has made the first week in December one of the deadliest in the war.
At least 32 U.S. troops have died in Iraq this month, according to the Defense Department. Eleven died Wednesday, the same day the Iraq Study Group in Washington released its 79 recommendations for policy changes in Iraq and the Middle East. Another soldier wounded Wednesday died Thursday, the military said.
Most of the deaths — at least 18 — were in Anbar province, a large stretch of desert west of Baghdad where U.S. and Iraqi forces have been unable to crush insurgents. Most of Anbar's residents are members of the Sunni Muslim minority that ruled Iraq for centuries before the 2003 U.S. invasion.
Military leaders, including the top U.S. commander in the region, Gen. John Abizaid, have said Anbar province is not under control. Robert Gates, in Senate hearings Tuesday before his confirmation as Defense secretary, said one of his top priorities would be addressing the violence there.
Ramadi, one of the largest cities in Anbar province, has been the site of some of the fiercest fighting. At least 10 U.S. troops have died in or around the city this month.
Fighting in Ramadi on Wednesday claimed the lives of six U.S. troops, including two Army soldiers and two Marines killed by a roadside bomb, a soldier shot to death while manning a machine gun nest and another soldier fatally wounded in a firefight with insurgents.
That shootout began when insurgents fired on U.S. and Iraqi troops from several directions, a military news release said. The forces responded with rifle and machine gun fire, tank rounds and unspecified precision-guided weapons. Several buildings used by the insurgents were destroyed.
Some insurgents had fired on the coalition troops from a mosque, but Iraqi troops who searched the mosque found nothing, the release said. The U.S. and Iraqi forces didn't fire heavy weapons at the mosque, the military said.
A soldier from the 1st Brigade of the Army's 1st Armored Division died Thursday from wounds suffered in that battle Wednesday.
Also Wednesday, five soldiers from the Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division died when a bomb hit their vehicle in or near the northern city of Kirkuk, the military said. That oil-rich city — a mix of Kurds, Sunni Arabs, Turkmen and other minorities — is a potential source of sectarian violence if Kurds push forward with plans to make it part of the semiautonomous Kurdish region, the Iraq Study Group report said.
In a grim milestone, the Pentagon announced that more than 22,000 U.S. troops have been wounded since the war began in March 2003. A total 22,057 troops had been wounded as of Thursday, but the majority — 12,167 — returned to duty within 72 hours of being wounded, the military said.
The youngest troops killed this week were 19 years old: Lance Cpl. Jesse Tillery of Vesper, Wis., and Pfc. Ross McGinniss of Knox, Pa. The oldest was Maj. Joseph McCloud, 39, of Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.
At least 23 Iraqis died Thursday in a series of bombings and shootings, police said. Among the dead were a 7-year-old girl and two college professors. Baghdad police also found 35 bullet-riddled bodies.