5 U.S. Troops Added To Death Toll In Iraq

December 29th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: 5 U.S. Troops Added To Death Toll In Iraq

Washington Post
December 29, 2006
Pg. 20

December's Number Steadily Edging Toward Highest Monthly Tally of '06
By Nancy Trejos, Washington Post Staff Writer
BAGHDAD, Dec. 28 -- The U.S. military death toll in Iraq this month continued to rise as officials reported Thursday that five more American service members had died.
The latest deaths brought to 100 the number of service members killed in December, according to iCasualties.org, an independent Web site that tracks military fatalities.
Most were killed in Iraq's western Anbar province, where Sunni Arab insurgents are aggressively fighting U.S.-led forces, and most were killed by roadside bombs, according to a Washington Post analysis of data.
The deadliest month this year has been October, with 105 American military fatalities, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Defense. The number of service members who have died since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 is 2,979.
December's death toll has been climbing steadily, with most of the daily attacks against American service members occurring in Anbar province and the capital. While U.S. troops are fighting the insurgency in Anbar, they are also trying to calm sectarian violence in Baghdad.
"This has been a difficult month for coalition forces," Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, told reporters Wednesday. "You know, our deepest condolences go out to those families, to their friends -- of those who have lost somebody very near and dear to them this month."
As of Thursday, the Pentagon's official death toll for December was 94. The department waits 24 hours after next-of-kin notification to include a fatality in its official tally. The U.S. military in Iraq puts out news releases before a loss is officially counted but withholds names.
On Thursday, one soldier died and another was wounded when a roadside bomb detonated near their patrol north of Baghdad, the military said. A day before, the soldiers had been involved in the capture of four suspected insurgents believed to have planted a rocket on a main road, according to the military.
On Wednesday, a roadside bomb detonated near a patrol southwest of the capital. Two soldiers were killed and one was wounded, the military said. The unit had detained five suspected insurgents the week before after watching them place a bomb in a road.
Also Wednesday, a soldier was killed and two were wounded while clearing a road in east Baghdad, the military said. The same day, in Anbar province, a Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 was killed in combat.
The military also announced that Iraqi soldiers, with the help of U.S. military advisers, had captured a suspected cell leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq believed to be responsible for the June kidnapping of two American soldiers who were later tortured and killed.
On Tuesday, Iraqi forces conducted an air assault to capture the suspected al-Qaeda leader in the town of Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad. The U.S. military declined to name the suspect.
Recently, the suspect had discussed the killings while showing a video CD of the soldiers' kidnapping at a mosque in Yusufiyah, the military said. He is also suspected of other kidnappings and killings in the area. One other person was detained in the raid but later released, and no civilians were killed, the military said.
Also Thursday, a roadside bomb exploded near a gas station in western Baghdad, killing 12 people and wounding 21, according to an Interior Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A car bomb exploded at a main intersection in the Mashtal neighborhood in southeastern Baghdad, killing three police officers and wounding five others, the official said.
Elsewhere in Iraq, a suicide bomber blew up his car at the headquarters of the Kurdish Democratic Party in the northern city of Mosul, killing two civilians and wounding 19, according to Abdul Karim Mohammad al-Jubury of the Mosul Police Operations Room.
At Camp Cropper, a U.S. military prison near the Baghdad airport, Saddam Hussein bade farewell to two half brothers -- who are also being held at Camp Cropper -- in a rare prison meeting as he awaited execution, one of his attorneys said, according to the Reuters news agency.
U.S. and Iraqi officials gave conflicting accounts of whether Hussein would hang within days. A senior Bush administration official said the ousted president could go to the gallows as soon as Saturday, Reuters reported.
Iraqi officials, however, backed away from suggestions they would definitely hang him within a month, and a minister said a week-long religious holiday would stall any execution.
Staff researcher Robert E. Thomason in Washington and other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.

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