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U.S., Iraqi deaths dip in October

November 01, 2008|Tina Susman | Susman is a Times staff writer

Baghdad — The number of Iraqis killed in war-related violence in October was the lowest since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, Iraqi officials said Friday.

The death toll was 278, including 22 policemen and 18 Iraqi soldiers, according to the Ministry of Health. In addition, 46 suspected insurgents or militiamen were killed, and 846 were arrested, Iraqi government officials said.

The number of U.S. troops reported dead in October was 13, equal to the low recorded in July, according to independent website

The monthly totals are evidence of the dramatic drop in violence across Iraq in recent months. In October 2007, 888 Iraqis were killed in war- related violence, and there were 38 U.S. military fatalities. The decrease in violence has been attributed to several factors, including the deployment last year of an extra 30,000 American troops to quell sectarian fighting, and the setting up of Sunni Arab paramilitary units to work alongside U.S. and Iraqi forces in providing security.

Even so, concerns remain that the Iraqi government's failure to reach a new security agreement with the United States on the future of American forces here could lead to new unrest. The Status of Forces Agreement currently under negotiation is meant to replace the U.N. mandate legalizing the American presence in Iraq, which expires Dec. 31. If agreement cannot be reached, it could leave U.S. forces unable to move about freely and maintain the level of security credited with helping to quell violence.

Iraq is demanding amendments to the draft agreement that U.S. officials have indicated are unacceptable. They include provisions that would make it easier for Iraq to assert jurisdiction over U.S. troops accused of committing serious crimes, and require American troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

If the agreement remains unresolved, the matter could prove a headache for the next U.S. president.

Without either the U.N. mandate or a Status of Forces agreement, U.S. troops would have no legal standing to be in Iraq. That could force an extension of the U.N. mandate and leave the future of the American presence in limbo.


A special correspondent contributed to this report.

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