- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2005

BAGHDAD — The war in Iraq passed a sobering milepost yesterday when U.S. officials reported that 12 more Americans were killed — eight of them members of the armed forces, raising to more than 1,900 the number of U.S. service members who have died in the country since the 2003 invasion.

A diplomatic security agent attached to the U.S. State Department and three private American security guards were killed when their convoy was hit by a suicide car bomber Monday in the city of Mosul, said the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The four were attached to the embassy’s regional office in Mosul.

The announcements came as British and Iraqi officials issued stinging charges and countercharges about the storming of a Basra jail to free two British soldiers who had been arrested by local police. During the raid, British forces learned that Shi’ite Muslim militiamen and police had just moved the two men to a nearby house. The British then stormed that house and rescued the men.

British Defense Minister John Reid said his forces in the southern city had been “absolutely right” to act. But a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said the operation was “very unfortunate.”

Britain’s Foreign Office later released a statement it said was from Mr. al-Jaafari’s office, insisting that there was no crisis in relations between the two countries.

“In response to recent events in Basra, the Iraqi government wants to clarify that there is no ‘crisis’ — as some media have claimed — between it and the British government,” the statement said. “Both governments are in close contact, and an inquiry will be conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior into the incident.”

The latest U.S. deaths, which raised the casualty toll to 1,907, included a soldier from the 18th Military Police Brigade killed in a roadside bombing 75 miles north of the capital yesterday, the military said.

Four soldiers died Monday in two roadside bombings near the insurgent stronghold Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad. They were attached to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

Three soldiers died Friday, but news of their deaths was not announced until yesterday: Sgt. Matthew L. Deckard, 29, of Elizabethtown, Ky., was killed when a bomb went off near his tank during patrol operations; and Army Spc. David H. Ford IV, 20, of Ironton, Ohio, and Army 1st Sgt. Alan N. Gifford, 39, of Tallahassee, Fla., were killed when an explosive detonated near their tank in Baghdad.

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