INTERNATIONAL

More U.S. troops have died since May 1 than during war

Washington Aug. 26. The Pentagon has said that more American troops have died since the U.S. President, George W Bush, declared major combat operations on May 1 than during the actual war.

The United States Central Command said that one soldier was killed on Tuesday in an attack on a military convoy bringing to 139 the total number of American troops killed since May 1.

Between March when hostilities broke out and the time of the formal announcement by the President that major combat operations were over, 138 American soldiers had lost their lives. The Pentagon has said that since the beginning of the Iraq operations, a total of 277 American troops had died — 178 in hostile fire and 99 in non-hostile incidents.

Meanwhile, the President, faced with all round doubt on his Iraq policy, is expected to address the issue later this afternoon in Missouri. He is expected to make the case for a sustained involvement in Iraq in spite of growing apprehension among the American people that the U.S. is in a quagmire unable to extricate itself out of the mess.

The administration, however, does not subscribe to the view that the U.S. is indeed in a full-fledged mess in Iraq and is trying to go about the whole thing in a business-as-usual fashion.

Mr. Bush is not expected to announce anything dramatic by way of policy on Iraq during his address to the American Legion this afternoon. "The President will talk about (how) this is a significant moment of the war on terror and that despite the difficult conditions, we will prevail", the White House Spokeswoman, Claire Buchan said.

When law makers return next week, the expectation is that there is going to be a lot of attention on Iraq including the possibility of the White House going to Capitol Hill for additional funding for operations and the reconstruction programme.

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