15 U.S. Troops Die In Iraq In June

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BAGHDAD, Aug. 1 (UPI) — June was a bad month for U.S. military personnel in Iraq, with 15 killed, mostly by Iranian-supplied weapons, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

While a reduction in attacks on U.S. personnel has decreased in the last three weeks, Navy Adm. Michael Mullen said Monday the key was to sustain that reduction.

“There are several pieces to this reduction which include our operations; the [Iraqi security forces] operations and operations with them or in support of them; and the political piece of this, which has been very strongly expressed,” Mullen told reporters during a visit to Iraq. “There very clearly have been operations, and there are ongoing operations.”

The Iranian-supplied weapons include roadside bombs designed to pierce armored vehicles and improvised rocket-assisted munitions, the Pentagon said in a release.

Iran still is a problem for Iraqi and American forces in the country, Mullen said, explaining that U.S. officials traced explosives killing American forces in June directly to Iran.

U.S. troops are scheduled to fully withdraw from Iraq on Dec. 31. However, because of a security agreement, Iraq can ask that U.S. troops remain in the country after the withdrawal date. Iraq hasn’t formally made a request and Mullen said the deadline is drawing close.

“It’s clear from the U.S. perspective that whatever Iraq’s decision, there’s a commitment on the part of the United States to a long-term commitment to sustain a stable, growing, healthy Iraq,” the chairman said.

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