Atul Aneja

Three times as many Iraqi soldiers were killed in security operations

DUBAI: Five years after the Anglo-American invasion, the U.S. military death toll in Iraq has climbed to 4,000.

An Associated Press count showed that this number was reached on Sunday when a roadside bomb killed four American soldiers in southern Baghdad.

Around 97 per cent of the American troops died after U.S. President George W. Bush declared on May 1, 2003 that major combat operations were over.

Roadside bombs have been the major cause of casualties. Nearly 44 per cent of deaths last year and 55 per cent to date in 2008 occurred due to these explosions. Around 60 persons were killed on Sunday in Iraq.

The high security green zone, where the U.S. embassy is located was also repeatedly attacked with mortars and rockets.

Analysts attribute the attacks in the green zone to the fraying ties between the Mahdi army — a Shia militant group loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr — and the Americans.

The Sadr movement had earlier warned that it would embark on a general strike if the Iraqi government failed to release members of the Mahdi army who had been previously arrested.