Tue Nov 30,11:30 AM ET Middle East - AP
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
WASHINGTON - Fueled by fierce fighting in Fallujah and insurgents' counterattacks elsewhere in Iraq (news - web sites), the U.S. military death toll for November equalled the highest for any month of the war, according to casualty reports available Tuesday. At least 135 U.S. troops died in November. That is the same number as last April, when the insurgence flared in Fallujah and elsewhere in the so-called Sunni Triangle where U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies lost a large measure of control.
On Nov. 8, U.S. forces launched an offensive to retake Fallujah, and they have engaged in tough fighting in other cities since then. More than 50 U.S. troops have been killed in Fallujah since then, although the Pentagon (news - web sites) has not provided a casualty count for Fallujah for more than a week. From the viewpoint of the United States and Iraqis who are striving to restore stability, the casualty trend since the interim Iraqi government was put in power June 28 has been troubling. Each month's death toll has been higher than the last, with the single exception of October, when it was 63. The monthly totals grew from 42 in June to 54 in July to 65 in August and to 80 in September.
The Pentagon's official death toll for Iraq, dating to the start of the war, stood at 1,254 on Tuesday. That total did not include a Marine killed Monday in Anbar province and a 1st Infantry Division soldier who died of wounds sustained in a roadside bomb attack late Monday night near the town of Alazu. On Nov. 1 the official death toll stood at 1,121.
Combat injuries increased in November due to the fierce fighting in Fallujah. Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington reported Monday that it received 32 additional battle casualties from Iraq over the past two weeks. One was in critical condition. All 32 had been treated earlier at the Army's largest hospital in Europe, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Some of the most severe injuries — and many of the deaths — among U.S. troops in Iraq are inflicted by the insurgents' homemade bombs, which the military calls improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
U.S. forces have put extraordinary effort into countering the IED threat, yet it persists. U.S. troops in Fallujah reported finding nearly as many homemade explosives over the past three weeks as had been uncovered throughout Iraq in the previous four months combined.
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