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Jan 1st, 2009

Happy New Year

Image: A sailor photographs the ball drop in Times Square as he celebrates the New Year in New York
A sailor photographs the ball drop in Times Square, New York.
(Photo credit: Joshua Lott / Reuters)

‘08 Saw Shift in Iraq, Afghan Troop Death Tolls

Far fewer U.S. troops died in Iraq, while tally rose in Afghanistan

U.S. soldiers dance during a New Year celebration at their camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008. (Photo credit: Musadeq Sadeq / AP)

Dec. 31, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. military deaths in Iraq plunged by two-thirds in 2008 from the previous year, a reflection of the improving security following the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency campaign and al-Qaida’s slow retreat from the battlefield.

By comparison, the war in Afghanistan saw American military deaths rise by 35 percent in 2008 as Islamic extremists shift their focus to a new front with the West.


According to a tally by The Associated Press, at least 314 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq in 2008, down from 904 in the previous year. In all, at least 4,221 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since the war began in 2003.

For Iraqis, the plunge was also marked: During 2008, at least 7,496 Iraqis died in war-related violence according to an AP count, including 6,068 civilians and 1,428 security personnel, down 60 percent from 2007. …


In Afghanistan, 151 U.S. soldiers died in 2008, compared with 111 in the previous year, according to an AP tally. The count recorded 1,160 civilians killed in insurgency-related violence, up from 875. At least 625 U.S. soldiers have died because of the war in Afghanistan since the fighting began in 2001. …

Lowest combined toll since ‘03

The combined total of at least 465 U.S. deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan for 2008 is the lowest combined total for both wars since 2003, when the U.S. invaded Iraq.

Many critics have said the U.S. focus on Iraq led it to neglect the war in Afghanistan, allowing both al-Qaida and Taliban militants to regroup after being routed in 2001. The Taliban, in the last year, moved into wide swaths of Afghan countryside, where Afghan security forces or international troops don’t operate. …

The plunge in violence in Iraq follows the U.S. “surge” of 2007, when thousands of additional troops were sent in to try to rein in a country that appeared to be on the verge of disintegration. That was coupled with a counterinsurgency campaign that included a decision by Sunni tribesmen to switch allegiances and fight al-Qaida. A focused effort to rout Shiite extremists gave U.S. and Iraqi forces the upper hand. …

But the deaths of two soldiers on the last day of the year underscored that significant violence persists. One soldier was killed by a mortar round in Baghdad and the other died from wound sustained in combat a day earlier in Tikrit, the military said. …


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Dec. 31, 2008, as reported by Reuters.

SINJAR – A car bomb killed four people and wounded 45 more on Wednesday in Sinjar, a town located some 240 miles north of Baghdad in the volatile Nineveh province.

BAGHDAD – A U.S. soldier died of combat wounds on Wednesday in Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. Another U.S. soldier died on Wednesday after a mortar attack in Baghdad.

MOSUL – Two people were killed and nine were wounded when two roadside bombs exploded in quick succession in northern Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said. The first bomb targeted a police patrol, causing no casualties.

MOSUL – Gunmen in central Mosul shot dead Mowaffaq al-Hamdani, a candidate in next month’s provincial elections, police said. The gunmen also killed one policeman and wounded another during a police chase.

BASRA – Police arrested a leader of the “Soldiers of Heaven,” a messianic Shi’ite cult, and four other suspected militants near the southern city of Basra on Tuesday, said Adel Deham, a local police official. Police said the militants were planning to conduct attacks in the city of Karbala during the upcoming Ashura holiday, an important event for Shi’ite Muslims.

MOSUL – A decomposing body was found on Tuesday near Mosul, police said. MOSUL – Police said they found the body of a man who had been shot in the head and chest in central Mosul on Tuesday.


Late update: Afghanistan

20 Afghan Police Killed in Taliban Ambush

Jan. 1, 2009

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Taliban militants ambushed a group of Afghan police while they were eating lunch in a remote and dangerous part of southern Afghanistan, killing 20 officers and one of the policeman’s mother, an Afghan official said Thursday.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said two Taliban were killed and four wounded during the ambush. Ahmadi claimed 32 police were killed, but that number had not been confirmed by Afghan officials.

The attack came Wednesday in the small village of Shaghzay in the district of Kajaki in Helmand province, said Daud Ahmadi, spokesman for Helmand’s governor. He said 20 police — bodyguards for the district chief of nearby Musa Qala — were killed. Musa Qala for many months of 2007 had been held by Taliban fighters. …

Meanwhile, NATO said two of its soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday. One of the troops was identified as British. The second soldier’s nationality was not immediately released.

A record 151 U.S. forces died in Afghanistan in 2008, the deadliest year yet in a seven-year war that military officials say is likely to get even bloodier in 2009, as thousands more American troops pour into the country.

The number of roadside bombs doubled from the year before to roughly 2,000, with many of the devices more powerful than in previous years.

One Response to “2008: Reversal of Fortune”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » One American Dead Every 18 Hours in Afghanistan Says:

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