A REPORT this week confirmed that US military casualties from the occupation of Iraq have been more than twice the number most Americans have been led to believe. The high number of accidents, suicides and other non-combat deaths have gone largely unreported in the media. Since 1 May, when President Bush declared the end of major combat operations, 52 US soldiers have been killed by hostile fire, according to Pentagon figures quoted in almost all the war coverage.
But, according to the Guardian, the total number of US deaths from all causes is much higher-at least 112. That is around one every day. In addition there have been at least 827 US military wounded, according to the Pentagon. Unofficial figures are in the thousands. Many of the wounded have lost limbs.
Wounded US soldiers continue to be flown back in twice-weekly transport flights to Andrews air force base near Washington. Hospital staff are working 70 or 80 hour weeks. The Walter Reed army hospital in Washington is so full that it has taken over beds reserved for cancer patients, according to a CBS TV report.
Colonel Allen DeLane is in charge of the airlift of the wounded into Andrews air base. He told a US radio station, 'Since the war has started, I can't give you an exact number because that's classified information, but I can say to you over 4,000 have stayed here at Andrews, and that number doubles when you count the people who come here to Andrews and then we send them to other places like Walter Reed and Bethesda.'
RESENTMENT AGAINST the US forces has increased after they stepped up their aggressive raids on Iraqi homes. In one major operation last week US troops grabbed 600 individuals. Many are now held in terrible conditions at Baghdad's airport and other locations. One of the most bloody assaults took place in the wealthy Mansur district of Baghdad at the end of July as US troops searched for Saddam Hussein. Robert Fisk of the Independent wrote that the US forces opened fire on civilians in a crowded street, killing as many as 11, 'including two children, their mother and crippled father'.
He continued, 'At least one civilian car caught fire, cremating its occupants.' There are also widespread reports of US troops beating Iraqi civilians at checkpoints.
Agence France Press (AFP) reported how Rahim Nasser Mohammed, an electricity department employee, was beaten after a soldier found a small handgun in his car. 'He cuffed my hands behind my back and taped my mouth and started to beat my face, hands and stomach using his rifle,' said Mohammed.