Sunday, December 31, 2006

Crosses of Lafayette: 3,000

The Los Angeles Times reports that the number of U.S. Troops killed in Iraq has reached the tragic 3,000 mark:
U.S. military deaths in Iraq reach 3,000
By Solomon Moore
Times Staff Writer

12:04 PM PST, December 31, 2006

BAGHDAD — As 2006 came to an end, the toll of U.S. troops in Iraq hit another grim milestone, 3,000 dead.

The most recently announced deaths were typical of the killings this year. The Pentagon announced that Spc. Dustin R. Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas, had been killed Thursday by small arms fire in Baghdad and that another, still unidentified, soldier died in a southeastern neighborhood of the city when a roadside bomb exploded near his patrol.

Overall, the rate of military fatalities has remained relentlessly steady since the 1,000th death was announced in September 2004. But roadside bombs -- what the military calls improvised explosive devices -- have become much more deadly, accounting for about half of the last thousand U.S. troop deaths, compared to 38% of the second thousand deaths.

The most dangerous part of Iraq for U.S. troops remains Anbar province in the western deserts, but deaths in Baghdad have increased sharply since this summer, when the military increased patrols there in hopes of dampening the sectarian civil war that has gripped the capital and surrounding areas.

At least 111 American troops have been killed in December, making it the deadliest month for U.S. forces since the battle for Fallouja in November 2004. Overall, at least 820 U.S. military personnel were killed in 2006.

The 3,000th death comes in the wake of the execution of deposed president Saddam Hussein, an event that military leaders believe will lead to more attacks against U.S. troops, at least in the short run.

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