- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

2:43 p.m.

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military reported today that 10 American troops had been killed yesterday, raising the death toll so far this month to 69 and putting October on track to be the deadliest month for coalition forces since January 2005.

The nine U.S. soldiers and one Marine were killed by roadside bombs and enemy fire in and around the capital yesterday, the military reported.

The sharp rise in deaths comes as the U.S. has increased the number of troops in the Baghdad area to try to stop the spiraling sectarian and insurgent violence engulfing the city of 6 million people.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said the 10 deaths would not make President Bush reconsider his plans for Iraq.

“No, his strategy is to win. The president understands not only the difficulty of it, but he grieves for the people who have served with valor,” Mr. Snow said in Washington. “But as everybody says correctly, we’ve got to win. And that comes at a cost. And God bless the men and women who have risked their lives going into hostile areas because they do believe in the mission.”

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, consulted with Iraq’s Shi’ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the holy city of Najaf in a bid to enlist support for efforts to build political consensus and tackle the Sunni-Shiite killings.

Four U.S. soldiers died when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle at about 6:50 a.m. yesterday west of Baghdad, the military said in a brief statement.

Three soldiers attached to Task Force Lightning, assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, were killed and one wounded during combat yesterday in Diyala province east of Baghdad.

Another soldier died about 9:30 a.m. yesterday when suspected insurgents attacked his patrol in northern Baghdad, and one more soldier died in another roadside bombing north of the capital in the afternoon.

A Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 also died from injuries sustained during fighting yesterday in the western province of Anbar, a hotbed of the insurgency, according to the military.

According to an Associated Press count, October also is on the way to being the deadliest month for Iraqis since AP began tracking deaths in April 2005. In October, 767 Iraqis have been killed in war-related violence, an average of 45 every day.

That compares to an average daily death toll of about 27 since April 2005. The AP count includes civilians, government officials and police and security forces, and is considered a minimum based on AP reporting. The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported.

The violence continued today when a bomb planted on the main highway between the southern cities of Amarah and Basra killed Ali Qassim al-Tamimi, head of intelligence for the Maysan provincial police force, along with four bodyguards, police Capt. Hussein Karim said.

Elsewhere, local Sunni and Shi’ite leaders were meeting in an attempt to resolve the fate of more than 40 people missing since their 13-car convoy was waylaid at a checkpoint on Sunday outside Balad, where almost 100 people were killed in five days of sectarian fighting.

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