US Troops Death Toll in Iraq at 2,811
Fourth deadliest month:
98 Post-Ramandan calm shattered by renewed sectarian violence
QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA / AP 28oct2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq — The U.S. military announced today the death of a U.S. Marine in the restive Anbar province west of Baghdad, raising to 98 the number of U.S. forces killed in Iraq so far in October, already the fourth deadliest month since the Iraq war began in March 2003. The Marine died Friday from "injuries sustained due to enemy action."
The death toll among U.S. forces in Iraq now stands at least 2,811 since the beginning of the conflict, according to an Associated Press count.
A relative calm in Baghdad in the five days since the end of the holy month of Ramadan ceded ground today to a fresh outbreak of bloodletting.
One person was killed and 35 wounded when a rocket slammed into an outdoor market in Baghdad's turbulent southern neighborhood of Dora, said police Lt. Mohammed al-Baghdadi. A second person was killed and nine were wounded when a bomb went off in a minibus in an eastern Baghdad district, police Lt. Ali Hussein said.
In Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, police said they had found the bodies of two victims of apparent sectarian violence in the city's central al-Mu'allimeen district. A third body was pulled from the Diyala river earlier today.
Meanwhile, embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the U.S. ambassador that he was Washington's friend but "not America's man in Iraq," ratcheting up his high-stakes and increasingly bitter dispute with the Bush administration, an aide said today.
The Shiite leader made the declaration in a meeting Friday with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, after which the men issued a rare joint statement declaring the need to work together to set timelines to clamp off spiraling violence attributed to Shiite militias and death squads.
"I am a friend of the United States, but I am not America's man in Iraq," Hassan al-Sneid, a close al-Maliki aide, quoted him as telling Khalilzad during the meeting.
The insider's account of the session was in sharp contrast to the joint al-Maliki-Khalilzad statement that was issued both by the American Embassy and al-Maliki's office late Friday night.
The joint statement said the Iraqi leader reaffirmed his commitment to a "good and strong" relationship with the United States, in what appeared to be an attempt to bring down the curtain down on a week of recriminations.
Al-Sneid said the prime minister demanded that his government be treated as an elected administration that enjoys international legitimacy, and that U.S. forces in Iraq must coordinate better with his government.
He added that al-Maliki had repeated to Khalilzad in their Friday meeting that the premier was reluctant to implement a timeline for tackling security issues, arguing that Iraq's security forces were not yet up to the task and requested that the United States do more to train and equip them.