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US Military Death Toll In Iraq Hits 2500

The United States has now spent or allocated 438 billion dollars to the "war on terror" since the September 11, 2001 attacks. More than 70 percent has been spent in Iraq. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Jun 16, 2006
The US military death toll in Iraq climbed to 2,500 Thursday with the combat death of a marine as Congress approved another 66 billion dollars for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House lamented the toll, calling it "a sad benchmark," but said President George W. Bush believed they did not die in vain.

The growing reminders of the human and financial costs of the conflict came as Bush moved to seize opportunities that have opened with the killing of a top insurgent leader and completion of a new government in Baghdad.

Members of the House of Representatives held a major debate on the Iraq war but the majority Republican party sought a resolution that endorses the administration's strategy for fighting the war with no timetable for a withdrawal of US forces.

Before the debate, lawmakers observed a minute of silence in memory of the 2,500 military personnel who have died in Iraq. The ceremony was proposed by opposition Democrats who object to the terms of the Iraq debate set out by the Republicans.

The Senate, meanwhile, voted 98 to 1 to approve a 94.5 billion dollar emergency spending package that includes 65.8 billion dollars for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The package also has four billion dollars for US allies in the "war on terror", 2.7 billion dollars for Iraq and 66 million dollars to "promote democracy" in Iran.

The United States has now spent or allocated 438 billion dollars to the "war on terror" since the September 11, 2001 attacks. More than 70 percent has been spent in Iraq.

The death of Al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a week ago and Bush's surprise trip to Baghdad this week appears to have given a new political boost to the president.

But polls show little change in public sentiment about the war, which has turned deeply pessimistic over the past year as US casualties have mounted.

"I think its been a good week and a bad year in Iraq. And I don't think a good week compensattes for a bad year," said Michael O'Hanlon, a military expert at the Brookings Institution.

"And I don't think the president doesn't necessarily believe a good week compensates for a bad year. He also recognizes he has a political problem at home and a government in Iraq that requires support," he said.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll Thursday showed Bush's approval rating increased only one point from 37 percent in April, an all-time low for his presidency. Fifty-eight percent disapproved of Bush's work as president, up one point from April.

Fifty-three percent said they were less confident of a successful conclusion to the war in Iraq, down four points from April, while 38 percent were more confident, up five points from two months ago.

Another 53 percent believed the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003 was a mistake, compared to 43 percent who thought the contrary.

But analysts said that while US deaths in Iraq have scarred the US public's view of the war, the latest toll numbers were unlikely to alter the terms of the debate.

"Those sorts of milestones are no longer significant in that the impression is now already well established that the war has been a failure, that militarily we're stuck and that costs will continue to mount," said Andrew Bacevich.

A retired army colonel and now professor at Boston University, Bacevich said the events that will influence the debate now will be those that show whether the Iraqis are able to mount a government and assume responsibility for security.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, played down the latest death in Iraq, recording the 2,500 tally but providing no information about the marine who was killed or the circumstances of his death.

"We've never marked those milestones like that," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. "We mourn the loss of every service member. Our hearts and prayers got out to every one of the families that are affected by these losses."

The death of the marine raised to 1,972 service members killed in action. The remaining 528 US deaths in were not combat related.

A much higher number of Iraqi civilians have died in the conflict, and last year Bush said the death toll was approximately 30,000.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links

White House Says There Will Be No Permanent Iraq Presence
Washington (AFP) Jun 16, 2006
The White House said Thursday that the United States would have "no permanent bases" in Iraq, because keeping overseas military facilities open always depends on the host government and US planners.

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