Bush honours US troop 'sacrifice'

President "grieves" losses following news that US toll in Iraq has reached 4,000.

    George Bush said he would make sure US troops had not died in vain [Reuters] 
    US Democratic politicians also condemned the rising death toll in Iraq, with presidential hopeful Barack Obama saying it was "time to end this war".
    The White House said earlier on Monday that Bush is likely to adopt an expected recommendation from General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, that significant troop withdrawals from Iraq are put on hold.
    Higher Iraqi toll
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    The US death toll in Iraq reached 4,000 following the deaths of four soldiers in a roadside bomb attack in the south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on Sunday.
    At least 50 Iraqis, most of them civilians, also died on Sunday in violence including bomb blasts and shootings.
    More than 29,000 American soldiers have been wounded after years of conflict in Iraq, according to the icasualties.org website, which also carried the 4,000-strong US death toll.
    The Iraqi death toll from the US-led invasion is much higher, with estimates ranging from around 90,000 by website Iraq Body Count to upwards of 650,000 in a controversial report by the UK Lancet medical journal released in October 2006. 
    However Al Jazeera correspondent Rob Reynolds says that although polls show the majority of US citizens have made it clear they think war was a mistake and would like US troops withdrawn, policy makers within the government do not share this view.
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    Obama said on Monday he reacted "with great sadness" to the news that "we have reached another grim milestone in Iraq, with at least 4,000 of our finest Americans having been killed".
    "It is past time to end this war that should never have been waged by bringing our troops home, and finally pushing Iraq's leaders to take responsibility for their future," he said.
    Hillary Clinton, Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination, reiterated her belief in a statement that the troops should be withdrawn.
    "As president, I intend to honour their extraordinary service and the sacrifice of them and their families by ending this war and bringing them home as quickly and responsibly as possible," she said.

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    At least 97 per cent of the US military deaths came after Bush announced the end of "major combat" in Iraq on May 1, 2003.

    Since the US military toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraq's former president, it has faced a violent anti-occupation campaign and witnessed violence between the country's sectarian communities.

    More than 80 per cent of soldiers killed have died in attacks by al-Qaeda in Iraq, Sunni and Shia fighters, icasualties.org said.

    The remainder died in non-combat related incidents.

    Around 40 per cent of those killed were struck by roadside bombs, according to the website, making these weapons the main cause of  fatalities.

    Small-arms fire was the second biggest killer, the website said, with helicopter crashes, ambushes, rocket attacks and suicide bombings also the cause of many deaths.

    Vietnam was the deadliest war for the US military, apart from the two world wars, with 58,000 soldiers killed between 1964 and 1973, an average of 26 a day.

    On average, just over two US soldiers die each day in Iraq.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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