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Archive for Saturday, June 14, 2003

Victory declaration no end to war

June 14, 2003

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— When President Bush declared on May 1 that major combat operations had ended in Iraq, there was little discussion of what he meant. For all practical purposes, it seemed the war was over.

It is not.

Since the president made his statement to waves of applause from sailors aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, 47 American servicemen have died in Iraq. Commanders say there is much more fighting ahead.

The total number of American deaths in Iraq since the war began March 19 is 183, according to the Pentagon's count. The number stood at 138 on May 1; two weeks ago it was at 171.

Although large parts of Iraq are relatively peaceful and U.S. military control overall is not in doubt, an amalgam of shadowy resistance forces, including unknown numbers of non-Iraqi fighters, are carrying out almost daily hit-and-run attacks against the American occupation forces.

In response, U.S. troops this week began a combat operation, code-named Peninsula Strike, in an area north of Baghdad along the Tigris River against what Central Command described as "Baath Party loyalists, paramilitary groups and other subversive elements."

Some analysts believe these remnants of Saddam Hussein's government are hoping to make a comeback in chaos by killing enough U.S. troops to exhaust the American public's tolerance for casualties.

The death toll was far below the 382 in the 1991 Gulf War, when Bush's father was president, but the comparison is closer for the "hostile death" category (killed in action or died of wounds): 127 in the current war, 147 in the first Gulf War.

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