US death toll in Iraq at two-year high
Tue, 03 May 2011 08:18:35 GMT
With at least eleven confirmed deaths, April has become the deadliest month for American forces stationed in war-ravaged Iraq in nearly two years.
Of the 11 killed, six died in "non-hostile" incidents, two were killed by a roadside bomb in Numaniyah, Wasit province, and two died in separate mortar attacks in Baghdad and Babil provinces, a Press TV correspondent reported.
The latest death occurred in southern Iraq on Friday, bringing to 4,452 the number of American forces killed in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion of the country that eventually led to the ouster and execution of its executed dictator Saddam Hussein, whom the US backed in the 1980s in his war effort against the newly established Islamic Republic of Iran.
According to a statement by the Department of Defense and the White House, the soldier was killed while “conducting operations” in the conflict-torn country.
This is while the United States claims that it has officially ended all combat operations in Iraq last summer.
However, the latest hike in the US death toll shows that US-led military missions in Iraq are not over yet, the Press TV report says.
About 50,000 American soldiers are currently stationed in Iraq. Officially, the troops are mainly tasked with training. However, they are armed and can engage in combat.
The US is obligated to withdraw its forces from the Middle Eastern country by the end of the year in line with a bilateral accord with Iraq.
However, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said recently that Washington would keep American troops in Iraq beyond the agreed date if Iraq's government made a request for an extended stay.
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has, however, warned against any extensions beyond the deadline for the US troop presence on the country's soil.
The latest development comes a day after US President Barack Obama announced that al-Qaeda's notorious leader Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan.
Many believe that the news of Osama's death has left the United States and its allies with no legitimate excuse to remain in Iraq and Afghanistan.