BAGHDAD – The U.S. military announced the death of 11 more service members on Wednesday, bringing this month’s death toll of American troops to 70 amid a surge in violence against U.S. forces unseen in nearly two years.

At the current pace, October’s death toll would exceed the number of U.S. deaths in January 2005 when 107 U.S. troops were killed as insurgents tried to disrupt the first round of national elections after the fall of the former regime. The body count, if the violence continues unfettered, could also approach the grim mortality rate of November 2004 when 137 U.S. troops were killed during fierce fighting in Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq.

This latest spurt of violence comes at a difficult time for the White House as some Republican lawmakers have become more vocal in expressing doubts that Iraq is on the right path. The latest reported fatalities include a soldier who was killed Wednesday afternoon in southern Baghdad and nine soldiers and a Marine who were killed in and around the capital on Tuesday.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said on Tuesday that this most recent spate of violence wouldn’t affect President Bush’s outlook on the war.

“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,” Snow said in Washington. “But as everybody says correctly, we’ve got to win. And that comes at a cost.”

U.S. commanders cautioned at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in late September that a spike in violence was almost certain. There was a surge in violence in the three previous Ramadans since the invasion, and U.S. commanders said they were expecting about a 20 percent increase in violence this time. The U.S. military reported a daily average of 36.1 attacks in Baghdad for the first 16 days of Ramadan, a considerable spike from the daily average of 28.1 attacks during the previous six weeks. The number of attacks has skyrocketed in the capital by more than 50 percent from early June, when there were 22.3 attack per day, the U.S. military reported.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a military spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters last week that commanders on the ground “assume it will still get worse before it gets better” and that violence would likely increase in the last days of Ramadan.

Caldwell also attributed the increase in attacks to the aggressive posture from U.S. and Iraqi security forces in the capital. U.S commanders have moved thousands of U.S. troops to Baghdad from elsewhere in the country in an attempt to curb sectarian strife.

What is unclear is how much of the latest violence against U.S. troops can be attributed to militias, such as the Moqtada al-Sadr loyalists of the Mahdi Army, and how much has come at the hands of anti-American insurgents.

Retired Col. G.I. Wilson, a Marine who served two tours in Iraq and has written extensively on counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare, said pushing troops from Anbar and elsewhere to calm Baghdad could have disastrous consequences.

The redistribution of U.S. troops will allow the insurgency to regenerate itself in Anbar province, which in turn will allow insurgents greater freedom to travel and bolster the Baghdad fighting from insurgent strongholds in western Iraq, Wilson said.

“We’re concentrating on the urban areas and giving up the countryside,” Wilson said. “Sound familiar? Remember Vietnam?”

This latest cycle of violence has hit Iraqi civilians even harder than U.S. forces.

According to an Associated Press count, October also is on the way to being the deadliest month for Iraqis since 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 11 U.S. troops killed on Tuesday and Wednesday died in a series of attacks utilizing roadside bombs and small-arms-fire.

A soldier with the Multi-National Division-Baghdad was gunned down about 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday in southern Baghdad. Six other soldiers from the division were killed in a span of about six hours on Tuesday.

Four of those soldiers were killed early Tuesday morning, when a roadside bomb struck the vehicle they were riding in west of the capital. Less than three hours later, another soldier from the division suffered fatal wounds when his patrol came under small-arms fire in northern Baghdad.

A roadside bomb killed another soldier from the division in a separate attack north of Baghdad when the vehicle he was riding in was struck.

Three Task Force Lightning soldiers assigned to the 3rd Heavy Combat Brigade Team, 4th Infantry Division were killed and another was wounded from under enemy action in the Diyala province, north of the capital.

A Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died from wounds suffered during enemy action in Anbar, the military reported.



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