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At Least 74 Americans Killed in Iraq in August
By ROBERT BURNS, AP
WASHINGTON (Aug. 31) - American combat deaths in Iraq rose in August to the highest monthly total since November.
At least 74 were killed in action in August, including one unidentified soldier hit Wednesday by a roadside bomb near Samarra, north of Baghdad. There also were nine noncombat deaths in the month, according to Pentagon figures.
By either measure - combat deaths or total deaths - August was one of the worst months for U.S. troops since the invasion in March 2003. Only two months had more combat deaths: November 2004, with 125, and April 2004, with 126.
Roadside bombs, which the military calls improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, remain a major killer of U.S. troops. On Aug. 25, for example, an IED struck a group of special operations soldiers near Husaybah, killing three and wounding a fourth, who died three days later at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
Aug. 3 was the deadliest day of the month for U.S. troops. On that day 14 Marine Reserve troops from Ohio were killed when their amphibious assault vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb in western Iraq .
The total U.S. death toll since the start of the war is now approaching 1,900. A far higher number of Iraqis have been killed; on Wednesday an estimated 800 Shiite pilgrims died in a panicked stampede on a bridge in Baghdad.
The U.S. toll had been declining in recent months, from 80 in May (67 hostile and 13 non-hostile) and 78 in June (69 hostile and nine non-hostile), to 54 in July (45 hostile and nine non-hostile). U.S. officials have said they expect insurgent violence to intensify further with the approach of an October referendum in Iraq on the new constitution.
There are about 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq , and U.S. officials say they probably will increase that temporarily to about 160,000 to provide extra security during the October referendum and a Dec. 15 national election.
August also was a particularly deadly month for National Guard and Reserve troops in Iraq , with at least 46 deaths, including 42 killed in action. Those are the highest totals for any single month of the entire war. The previous high was 31 in May, of which 27 were killed in action.
The only other month of the war in which Guard and Reserve deaths accounted for half or more of total U.S. deaths in Iraq was June 2004, when 21 of the 42 total deaths were Guard and Reserve. The increase in August reflected in part the fact that there are more Guard and Reserve in Iraq now, accounting for a little more than 50 percent of the total U.S. force, up from about 40 percent earlier in the year.