U.S. hails month with no Iraq casualties

Jan. 2, 2010 at 8:05 AM
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BAGHDAD, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Military officials say no U.S. soldiers died in combat in Iraq during the month of December.

It was the first month since the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003 that no U.S. armed services member died under hostile fire in the country, CNN reported Saturday.

"That is a very significant milestone for us as we continue to move forward, and I think that also speaks to the level of violence and how it has decreased over time," Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told the U.S. broadcaster. CNN said 4,373 U.S. military members have died since the beginning of the war, including 3,477 from hostilities and 898 in non-combat incidents.

There was one U.S. death in Iraq last month, but it was not due to combat, the report said.

Statistics show combat fatalities in Iraq have fallen dramatically since June, when U.S. troops began withdrawing from Baghdad and other urban areas. It was also then that U.S. troop levels started declining. Some 160,000 troops were in Iraq to start 2009 and the number is now down to around 110,000, CNN said.

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