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A Year After Combat Troops Left, U.S. Casualties Continue in Iraq

57 troops have died since active combat phase ended in Operation Iraqi Freedom

Image: U.S. combat troops leaving Iraq
A column of Army Stryker armored vehicles cross the border from Iraq into Kuwait on Aug. 18, 2010. (Photo credit: Maya Alleruzzo / AP)

Reuters via
Aug. 18, 2011

For the family of Army Sgt. Mark Cofield, the war in Iraq is far from over. …

Cofield, 25, died July 17 from injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident. He was the latest of 57 American troops to die in Iraq in the year since the United States formally ended its combat mission there and just months before the scheduled withdrawal of all its troops.

In 2011 alone, 44 U.S. troops have died, according to, an independent group that tracks American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. They included four other U.S. soldiers who also lost their lives in July, all on the battlefield. In June, the U.S. suffered its deadliest month in Iraq since 2008, with 15 service members dying.

End of combat?

Officially, U.S. combat operations ended in Iraq on Aug. 31, 2010, two weeks after all combat troops left the country on Aug. 18, 2010. Operation Iraqi Freedom led to the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime but now has lasted more than eight years and left more than 4,400 U.S. troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead.

At the time of the pullout, President Barack Obama released a statement calling the troops’ withdrawal a “milestone in the Iraq war.” …

At the height of U.S. involvement, nearly 250,000 troops operated throughout the country, while by the end of August 2010, around 50,000 Americans remained in the country in a non-combat role.

But that non-combat role is a constantly evolving one.

U.S. forces continue to battle militants

The U.S. military carried out two unilateral air strikes in Iraq in June that did not involve Iraqi forces, both of them in self-defense to prevent attacks, the main U.S. military spokesman in Iraq said. …

The United States is due to withdraw all of its 46,000 forces from Iraq by the end of the year unless negotiations with Baghdad end with an agreement to keep some forces there on a slimmed-down training mission.

Legally binding guarantees for remaining U.S. forces are expected to be part of any such deal, but whether that will include the right for U.S. forces to defend themselves is unclear. …

Full story


Last U.S. combat troops leave Iraq (NBC Nightly News, Aug. 18, 2010) — The last U.S. combat forces cross the border into Kuwait, bringing Operation Iraqi Freedom to a close after nearly 7½ years. NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, reports live from the border. (06:53)


Related reports on this site

U.S. Deaths in Iraq at 2-Year High (June 30, 2011)

Biggest One-Day Loss of Life in Iraq for U.S. Military in 2 Years
(June 6, 2011)

Iraq Pullout on Track (Aug. 19, 2010)

Iraq: May Deadliest in 8 Months (May 29, 2009)

Iraq Exit Will Be Long and Hard (March 7, 2009)

Americans Still Dying in Iraq (Feb. 24, 2009)



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