BAGHDAD, Sept. 1 (UPI) — August was the first month in the 8-year-old Iraqi war in which no U.S. military personnel died, American military officials said.
The milestone came one month after 14 U.S. troops were killed in July, making it the deadliest month for Americans forces in three years, and during an upswing of suicide bombings and assassinations from Sunni insurgents that killed hundreds of Iraqis, The New York Times reported Thursday.
U.S. military commanders cite two reasons for the drop: The Iraqi government responding more aggressively against Iran-backed insurgents and Shiite militias and forceful unilateral strikes by U.S. forces, the Times said.
“I wish U.S. service members could take full credit for being responsible for this, but it’s absolutely a combination of things coming together, particularly the Iraqis acting against the militias,” said Col. Douglas Crissman, who commands U.S. forces in four provinces of southern Iraq and oversaw a battalion in Anbar Province during the 2007 U.S. troop surge.
Ali al-Moussawi, an adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said part of the reason for a drop in U.S. troop deaths was the development and growth of Iraqi security forces.
“Providing security for the citizens and every one inside of Iraq is the duty of the government, even the foreign troops that are in Iraq legally,” Moussawi said. “The security breaches we’ve had in Iraq are not because of the militias. The security breaches we’ve had have been suicide bombers and other kinds of attacks. That is what worries us now.”
U.S. forces are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of the year. Since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, 4,465 U.S. soldiers have died, Defense Department figures indicate.