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As 2006 ends, at least 3,000 U.S. forces dead in Iraq
Boston Herald
By Associated Press
January 1, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Nearing the fourth year of war in Iraq, at least 3,000 American military personnel have now died, officials said.

The U.S. military announced Sunday the deaths of two more soldiers, raising the number of Americans killed to the somber milestone, according to an Associated Press count.

The White House said U.S. President George W. Bush mourned each death but would not issue a statement about the 3,000th.

At least 111 U.S. service members have been reported killed in December, the bloodiest month of 2006. That brought the toll of U.S. military deaths in Iraq to at least 820 in 2006, according to the AP count.

One soldier was killed Saturday in a roadside bombing in the capital, the military said. The soldier's name and unit were not given.

The Department of Defense said on its Web site that another soldier died Thursday and identified him as Spc. Dustin R. Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

Early Monday morning, U.S. aircraft bombed houses near the west Baghdad office of a leading member of a key Sunni political bloc, killing four members of a family and wounding a guard at the house of former Shiite member of parliament, police said. The U.S. military said it was checking the report.

The attack hit residences near the offices of Saleh al-Mutlaq, a senior Sunni Arab politician of the National Dialogue Front, and the home of Salama al-Khafaji, a former Shiite parliamentarian who abandoned her residence after escaping an assassination attempt last year.

The wounded guard was watching her home, a police official in the Khadra district said on condition of anonymity because he feared for his safety.

A series of 16 explosions, apparently from large mortar rounds, rang out in central Baghdad before sunrise Monday, but there was no word on any casualties.

There was still a relative lull in the bombings and assassinations that have threatened to rip Iraq apart along sectarian seams. Police reported finding 12 bodies dumped in Baghdad on Sunday as well as 12 other violent deaths nationwide, both relatively low numbers by recent standards.

Also Sunday, Saddam Hussein was buried in the town where he was born. One day after being executed, the deposed Iraqi leader's body was taken to a U.S. military base in Tikrit, 80 miles north of the capital. He was interred in the nearby village of Ouja, where he was born 69 years ago.

Hundreds of clan members and supporters visited Saddam's burial place, which was likely to become a shrine to the fallen leader. Dozens of relatives and other mourners, some of them crying and moaning, attended Saddam's funeral shortly before dawn.

In his New Year's greeting, Bush noted the continuing violence in Iraq.

"Last year, America continued its mission to fight and win the war on terror and promote liberty as an alternative to tyranny and despair," Bush said in the statement wishing Americans a happy new year.

"In the New Year, we will remain on the offensive against the enemies of freedom, advance the security of our country, and work toward a free and unified Iraq. Defeating terrorists and extremists is the challenge of our time, and we will answer history's call with confidence and fight for liberty without wavering."

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