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Dec 23rd, 2009

U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq

As of Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009, at least 4,370 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

U.S. Troop Casualties in Iraq

Latest identification:


U.S. Military Deaths in Afghanistan

As of  Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009, at least 857 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department.

Latest identifications:

Army Sgt. Albert D. Ware, 27, Chicago, Ill., died Dec. 18, 2009 in Arghandab River Valley, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 782nd Combat Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Marine Pfc. Serge Kropov, 21, Hawley, Pa., died Dec. 20, 2009 as a result of a non-hostile incident in in Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.


Remember Their Sacrifice

Remember Their Sacrifice

Related links

Iraq Casualties

Afghanistan Casualties

Honor the Fallen


Abbreviating Christmas in Iraq

An Iraqi police officer stood guard at the entrance to Al Qaleb Al Aqdas Church in the Karada district of Baghdad on Sunday. Some Iraqi churches are on high alert. (Photo credit: Eros Hoagland for The New York Times)

An Iraqi police officer stood guard at the entrance to Al Qaleb Al Aqdas Church in the Karada district of Baghdad on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009. Some Iraqi churches are on high alert. (Photo credit: Eros Hoagland for The New York Times)

By Timothy Williams

December 22, 2009


BAGHDAD — As a priest led prayers for a few dozen worshipers inside St. Joseph Chaldean Church here on Sunday, Iraqi police officers stood guard outside. They blocked the street to traffic and frisked those who entered for explosive belts.

At churches in Baghdad this week, Christians are being asked for identification to determine if they have names that security force members recognize as Christian. Some churches around the northern city of Mosul are digging in, surrounding their buildings with giant earthen berms to prevent car bombers from getting too close.

For Christians in Iraq, this will be a year of canceled holiday celebrations and of Christmas Masses spent under the protective watch of police officers and soldiers because of a spate of threats by extremist groups to bomb churches on Christmas Day.

“I’m very sad that we are not able to have our rituals for Christmas this year and not have a sermon, but we do not want any Christians to be harmed,” said Edward Poles, a Christian priest at Saa Church in Mosul, which was bombed last week, though no one was killed.

In Baghdad, Christians said they were as fearful as they had been since 2006, when the outbreak of sectarian warfare forced many to leave their neighborhoods for months at a time.

“There will be no celebration or anything of that sort,” said Duraid Issam, a 41-year-old clerk. “We will keep it quiet because things are really bad. We are not targeted only at churches, but even in our houses because they will plant bombs outside our homes as well.”

There are no dependable figures on the number of Christians in Iraq, but the community had been estimated to number about 750,000 before the United States-led invasion in 2003.

Since then, they have become targets of killings and kidnappings, leading thousands to flee.

Many who remain are frightened and have taken precautions to conceal signs of their faith. Celebrations this year will be even more low key because Christmas coincides with the Muslim observance of Ashura, a time of mourning for Shiite Muslims. …

Some churches have dozens of soldiers and police officers positioned around them after the government placed security personnel on high alert because they received the names of churches that extremist groups said would be bombed on Christmas Day. Other churches have received individual threats.

In Mosul, during the past month, three churches have been bombed, killing a baby and wounding 40 other people. Last week, a Christian man in Mosul was shot dead as he walked down a street.

At least one church there has decided to relocate its Christmas Mass from Mosul to a small town about 30 miles north because parishioners say they feel it will be safer for them.

“We have moved the rituals for Christmas to the town of Qereqush, fearing that the Christians might be harmed in this insecure and unsafe city,” said the Rev. Behnam Asaad of Qahira Church. “We have distributed cards and fliers to the Christian families of this church informing them about the time and place where we will have the celebration, but we fear that assassinations might take place even after Christmas.”

Mr. Asaad said that he had received letters as recently as Monday from armed groups threatening to blow up churches and monasteries, including his own, if they celebrated Christmas. …


12/25/09 Update

6 Shiites Killed During Iraqi Religious Seremony

Series of violence acts target pilgrims during festival of Ashoura

IMAGE: Coffin of Mohammed Juma
Mourners carry the coffin of Mohammed Juma, 52, during his funeral procession in Baghdad, Iraq, on Friday, Dec. 25, 2009. Juma was killed Thursday when a car bomb exploded near a funeral tent. Explosions killed at least 26 people across Iraq on Thursday, most of them Shiite pilgrims, authorities said. (Photo credit: Karim Kadim / AP)

Dec. 25, 2009

BAGHDAD — A roadside bomb killed six Shiite Muslim pilgrims Friday during a procession, the latest violence targeting the group during observances of a religious holiday, officials said.

The deaths followed heightened tensions in a northern Iraqi town after troops were deployed following a scuffle between Christians and Shiites over holiday decorations.

Observances of the 10-day Shiite festival of Ashoura, which ends Sunday, coincided Friday with Christian celebrations of Christmas.

The government has been trying to assure people it can protect both Shiites and Christians during the two holidays. During Ashoura, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims converge on the holy city of Karbala.

In the days leading up to the event, large processions of men go through the streets of Shiite neighborhoods, beating their chests and using chains to flay their backs in a show of grief over the 7th-century killing of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein. …

The bomb in the capital killed six pilgrims and injured 17, including a local politician, said a policeman in Sadr city in eastern Baghdad. ….

In a northern Iraqi town, troops were deployed and a brief curfew was imposed after three guards at a Christian church were injured during a dispute between Shiites and Christians over competing religious decorations.

The confrontation in Bartela, 240 miles northwest of Baghdad, comes as many Christians in Iraq tamped down celebrations to avoid offending Shiites, who are making pilgrimages to the southern holy city of Karbala to commemorate the killing of Imam Hussein. His death sealed the split between Shiites and Sunnis.

Sayyid Harith Al-Odari, an aide to the powerful anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said in his Friday sermon, “We offer our thanks and appreciation to our Christian brothers for respecting Ashoura by shortening their celebrations on the occasion of Christ’s birth.”

The incidents come a day after Shiite pilgrims were targeted in a handful of bombing attacks that left dozens dead. In the worst of those attacks, police on Friday raised the toll to 19 killed and 80 wounded in a double bombing in Hillah, 60 miles south of Baghdad.

Northwest of Mosul, near the border with Syria, a car bomb exploded near Kurdish Peshmerga forces, killing one and wounding 10 others, police said. …


Related reports on this site

In Iraq, an Exodus of Christians (May 16, 2009; scroll down)

Christians on the Run in Iraq (Nov. 26, 2008)

Christians Flee Iraqi City (Oct. 12, 2008)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — December 23, 2008

Image: Widow with photo of husband
Amanda Henderson holds a portrait of her late husband, Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Henderson, at her home in Henderson, Texas. (Photo credit: Herb Nygren, Jr. / AP)

Military Suicides Probed

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that the Army had begun an investigation after being prodded by Amanda Henderson, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Henderson, an Iraq combat veteran who spent the final months of his life as an Army recruiter before hanging himself with a dog chain in his backyard shed. In all, 15 of the Army’s 8,400 recruiters committed suicide between 2003 when the Iraq war began, and 2008, with more than 540 of the Army’s half-million active-duty soldiers killing themselves during the same period.

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