Monday, May 21, 2007

Story of the Day-U.S. death toll rising in Iraq

U.S. Military Fatalities in Iraq
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Casualties of the conflict in Iraq since 2003
At least 64,000 (IBC count of civilians); to as many as 655,000+ total excess deaths (civilian and non-civilian) due to the war (2006 Lancet survey of mortality).
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Fifteen U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since Friday
Eight U.S. soldiers in Iraq were killed on Saturday by improvised explosive devices, taking the death toll of U.S. servicemembers since Friday to 15.

Six of the soldiers killed Saturday died in an incident in western Baghdad, the military said in a statement. Their interpreter was also killed.

One soldier was killed and three were wounded Saturday when their patrol was struck by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad, according to Defense Department officials.

In another incident, a 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) soldier was killed and two soldiers were wounded in an improvised explosive device attack against their tactical vehicle near Ad Diwaniyah, near midnight Saturday, officials reported.

The wounded soldiers were evacuated to a nearby military medical treatment facility.

Saturday's eight deaths followed a difficult day Friday that claimed 7 U.S. lives.

Two Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers were killed and two others wounded Friday when their combat security patrol was hit by an IED and engaged by small-arms fire in a northwestern section of Baghdad.

In addition, one soldier was killed by small-arms fire during combat operations south of Baghdad. Three Task Force Lightning soldiers were killed in Diyala province when an explosion occurred near their vehicle. A soldier assigned to Multinational Force West was killed during combat operations in Anbar province.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department released the names of additional servicemembers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among them was Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, who has previously been listed as “duty status whereabouts unknown.”

Schober, 23, of Reno, Nev., died May 12 in Al Taqa, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his patrol was attacked by enemy forces using automatic fire and explosives. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Pfc. Jonathan V. Hamm, 20, of Baltimore, Md., was killed Thursday in Baghdad, when his forward operating base received indirect enemy fire. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Sgt. Steven M. Packer, 23, of Clovis, Calif., was killed Wednesday in Rushdi Mullah, when his dismounted patrol encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Pfc. Aaron D. Gautier, 19, of Hampton, Va., was killed in Baghdad, when his mounted patrol came in contact with enemy forces using small-arms fire and an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Sgt. Christopher N. Gonzalez, 25, of Winslow, Ariz., was killed May 14 in Salman Pak, when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using an improvsied explosive device and small-arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

Staff Sgt. Joshua R. Whitaker, 23, of Long Beach, Calif., was killed May 15 in Qalat, Afghanistan, from enemy small-arms fire. Whitaker was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg,

American Soldiers Driving in Iraq

U.S. death toll rising in Baghdad
Six U.S. soldiers and an interpreter were killed Saturday when a bomb exploded near their position in western Baghdad, the U.S. military reported Sunday, underscoring the heightened vulnerability of U.S. forces as they increase their presence in the capital.

A seventh U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb Saturday in Diwaniyah, about 100 miles south of Baghdad, the military said. Two soldiers were wounded in that attack.

The deaths raise to 71 the number of U.S. service members killed this month.

The rising death toll comes as thousands more U.S. and Iraqi troops are engaged in a high-profile operation to improve security in the capital. U.S. officials warned when they announced the new plan in mid-February that putting as many as 25,000 more U.S. troops in the urban environment would raise their exposure and vulnerability, and that higher casualty rates were expected.

Military deaths have been rising since fall, and the first half of this year has already been deadlier than any six-month period since the war began more than four years ago.

According to, 531 U.S. service members have been killed since Dec. 1, an average of more than three deaths a day. In all, at least 3,421 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003.

The troops killed Saturday in Baghdad were part of an operation searching for weapons caches and bomb-making materials in the western part of the city over the past week "to aid in providing a more secure and safe environment for the Iraqi people," the military said.

In an unrelated development, U.S. forces over the weekend killed a man they said was the mastermind of a well-planned guerrilla assault in January in which English-speaking gunmen posing as Americans drove into a government compound in the southern holy city of Karbala, killed a U.S. soldier, then abducted four other U.S. soldiers who were later killed.

Azhar al-Dulaimi was killed in a raid on a building north of Sadr City, a large Shiite district in the capital, Maj. Gen William Caldwell, the U.S. military's top spokesman, said Sunday. Al-Dulaimi initially appeared to surrender, Caldwell said, but was shot while attempting to grab a soldier's gun and died en route to the hospital.

Al-Dulaimi was linked to the Karbala attack by fingerprints found at the scene, Caldwell said, adding that other evidence showed al-Dulaimi was trained by Iranian spies and the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, more than two dozen Iraqis were reported killed by roadside bombs, suicide attacks, mortar strikes and other violence Sunday. In addition, Iraqi national police reported finding 32 bodies Sunday: 22 in Baghdad, six in Mahmudiya, about 15 miles south of the capital, and four in the northern city of Mosul. An Iraqi police official in Baghdad, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said Interior Ministry forces clashed with insurgents who were spotted digging trenches in Dora, a Sunni Arab neighborhood in south Baghdad, and killed 14 in an ensuing firefight.

The U.S. military said it killed eight insurgents and arrested 34 in separate operations in Karmah, a Sunni area about 20 miles west of Baghdad, and in an area southwest of the capital. Also Sunday, the country's Sunni vice president spoke out against a proposed oil law, clouding the future of a key benchmark for assuring continued U.S. support for the government.

In recent months, U.S. officials have been stepping up pressure on Iraq's religious and ethnic parties to reach agreements on political and economic initiatives to encourage national reconciliation and end the fighting.

Progress in meeting those benchmarks is considered crucial to continued U.S. support for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government at a time when Democrats in Congress are pressing for an end to the war. Those benchmarks include enactment of a new law to manage the country's vast oil wealth and distribute revenues among the various groups.

But prospects for quick approval received a setback Sunday, when the country's Sunni vice president said in Jordan that the proposed legislation gives too many concessions to foreign oil companies.

"We disagree with the production-sharing agreement," Tariq al-Hashemi said at an international conference hosted by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. "We want foreign oil companies, and we have to lure them into Iraq to learn from their expertise and acquire their technology, but we shouldn't give them big privileges."

The bill also faces opposition from the Kurds, who have demanded greater control of oil fields in Kurdish areas.

Iraq's Cabinet signed off on the oil bill in February and sent it to parliament, a move the Bush administration hailed as a major sign of political progress in Iraq. But parliament has yet to consider it.

Al-Hashemi is among three leaders of a Sunni bloc that controls 44 seats. Together, the Kurds and the Sunnis have enough legislative muscle to delay passage of the measure, which is likely to draw opposition from some Shiite lawmakers, too.

In another political setback, the leader of Iraq's largest Shiite party, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, has been diagnosed with lung cancer and was headed to Iran for treatment, party officials said Sunday. Al-Hakim's absence is likely to create disarray in his Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq -- a Shiite party the United States is counting on to push through benchmark reforms.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Battle on Haifa Street, Baghdad, Iraq

Long Day in Baqubah, March 22, 2007

Iraqi reporter killed as US death toll on the rise
An Iraqi newspaper reporter was abducted while leaving a relative's house in Baghdad and found dead several hours later, his newspaper reported Monday.

The attack on Ali Khalil, 22, took place Sunday in Baiyaa neighborhood in the capital, according to the Azzaman newspaper.

"Khalil was one of the most prominent reporters of the newspaper," the newspaper wrote. "Throughout years of his work, he was known to be keen, committed and hardworking." He is survived by his wife and one-week-old baby, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, bombings killed seven American troops in Baghdad and a southern city, the U.S. military said Sunday. Six of the soldiers died Saturday in a bombing in western Baghdad, the military said in a statement. Their interpreter was also killed.

The other soldier died in an explosion Saturday in Diwaniyah, a mostly Shiite city 80 miles south of the capita. Two soldiers were wounded in that attack, the military said.

So far, at least 71 U.S. troops have died in Iraq this month.
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US death toll in Iraq at 3,409
Baghdad : The US death toll in Iraq has climbed to 3,409, after another five soldiers were reported dead in rebel attacks in the last 48 hours.

The US command also admitted nine soldiers were wounded in clashes in the capital and the central province of Diyala.

Three of the reported deaths occurred Friday in during an operation northeast of the capital, and the other two in confrontations in southern Baghdad.

Meanwhile, outgoing British Prime Minister Anthony Blair arrived today in the Iraqi capital as part of visits marking the last stage of his mandate.

Blair is expected to guarantee the continuity of London s support for Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki.

After his arrival at the fortified Green Zone, several mortar shells targeted the interior of the compound, where the US and British embassies are located.
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Iraq's hidden casualties: 13,000 working for contractors
WASHINGTON: Casualties among private contractors in Iraq have soared to record levels this year, setting a pace that seems certain to turn 2007 into the bloodiest year yet for the civilians who work alongside the U.S. military in the war zone, according to new government numbers.

At least 146 contract workers were killed in Iraq in the first three months of this year, by far the highest number for any quarter since the war began in March 2003, according to the Labor Department, which processes death and injury claims for those working as U.S. government contractors in Iraq.

That brings the total number of contractors killed in Iraq to at least 917, along with more than 12,000 wounded in battle or injured on the job, according to government figures and dozens of interviews.

Truck drivers and translators account for a significant share of the casualties, but the death toll includes others who make up what amounts to a private army.

The numbers reveal the extent to which contractors - Americans, Iraqis and workers from more than three dozen other countries - are largely hidden casualties of the war, and now are facing increased risks alongside U.S. troops as President George W. Bush's escalation in Baghdad takes hold.

As troops patrol more aggressively in and around the capital, soldiers and the contractors who support them, often at small outposts, are at greater peril. The contractor deaths earlier this year, for example, came closer to the number of U.S. military deaths during the same period - 244 - than during any other quarter since the war began, official figures indicate.

"The insurgents are going after the softest targets, and the contractors are softer targets than the military," said Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration. "The U.S. is being more aggressive over there and these contractor deaths go right along with it."

Among the recent deaths were four Americans working as guards who died in a helicopter crash in January, 28 Turkish construction workers whose plane crashed north of Baghdad the same month, a Massachusetts man who was blown up as he dismantled munitions for a U.S. company in March and a woman killed in a missile attack in March while working as a coordinator for KBR, the contractor that Halliburton subsequently spun off.

Donald Tolfree, a trucker from Michigan, was fatally shot in the cab of his vehicle while returning to Camp Anaconda north of Baghdad in February. His daughter, Kristen Martin, 23, said U.S. Army officials told her he was shot by a guard confused about her father's assignment. The army confirmed that the death was under investigation as a possible friendly-fire episode.

Martin said she had waited three weeks for her father's body to be returned home and expressed resentment that dead contractors were treated differently from soldiers who fall in battle.

"If anything happens to the military people you hear about it right away," she said in an interview by telephone. "Flags get lowered, they get their respect. You don't hear anything about the contractors."

Military officials in Washington and Baghdad said that no Pentagon office tracked contractor casualties.

Major General William Caldwell, the top spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq, declined through an aide to address the matter. "Contractors are out of our lane, and we don't comment on them," said the aide, Lieutenant Matthew Breedlove.

Companies that have lost workers in Iraq were generally unresponsive to questions about the numbers of deaths. None acknowledged that they had seen an increase this year. But a spokesman for American International Group, the insurance company that covers about 80 percent of the contractor work force in Iraq, said it had seen a sharp increase in death and injury claims.

Contract workers said that as the tempo of military operations has increased in recent months, so have the attacks on contractors. Convoys of trucks operated by companies are often not as well armored or protected as military units, they said.

Soldier In Iraq: War Can't Be Won, That's Unfortunate

Iraq you wont see on CNN.

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