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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 October, 2003, 05:54 GMT
US Iraq deaths exceed war toll
President Bush
The president declared an end to major hostilities on 1 May
The number of US troops killed in hostile action in Iraq since President George W Bush declared major combat over on 1 May has exceeded those killed during the war itself.

The number of post-war deaths rose to 115 following the killing of two soldiers north of Baghdad. The Pentagon says 114 US soldiers were killed by hostile fire during the war.

US officials said the latest victims were soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division, who died when an explosive device was detonated as their convoy passed by.

A row has also erupted over Mr Bush's actual speech on 1 May, which he made aboard an aircraft carrier after a dramatic landing on the deck.

US death toll in Iraq
114 deaths in combat up to 1 May
115 killed in hostile incidents since 1 May
79 US deaths in 1991 Gulf War

Behind him on that day was a banner proclaiming "Mission accomplished" and, earlier this week, the president said it had all been the idea of the ship's crew.

However, the White House now says it helped produce the banner.

The issue may seem trivial but, the BBC's Rob Watson reports from Washington, it has been leapt on by critics who argue the Bush administration never really prepared the American people for just how bloody the post-war phase might be.

Iraqi losses

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Baghdad says attacks against US forces have ebbed and flowed since major hostilities officially ended on 1 May, but every week has brought some fatalities.

Woman wipes her eyes as she walks past destroyed International Committee of the Red Cross building in Baghdad
Bush compared suicide bombings in Iraq to the 11 September attacks
Our correspondent says the deaths of US and British troops receive much publicity, but Iraqis have been killed in far greater numbers.

According to findings by independent US researchers made available this week, about 13,000 Iraqis, including as many as 4,300 civilians, were killed during the major combat phase of the war.

Our correspondent says there are no official figures for how many Iraqis are currently killed every day.

However, one assessment based on the number of bodies coming into Baghdad's morgue suggests that just over 1,500 deaths are attributable to the breakdown in law and order since the fall of the old regime.

Bush defiant

On Tuesday, President Bush said the United States would not be intimidated by those trying to create a "climate of fear" in Iraq.

The president drew a parallel between recent suicide bombings in Iraq and the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States.

"It's the same mentality," Mr Bush said. "We'll just destroy innocent life and watch the United States and their friends and allies, you know, crater in the face of hardship."

President Bush said the US was "constantly looking at the enemy" and adjusting its response accordingly.

He said the US would set up more blockades and inspections and seek to give Iraqis a bigger role in intelligence-gathering to thwart attacks.

Analysts said Mr Bush's words appeared intended to address criticism that the White House had failed to anticipate rising violence in Iraq and was uncertain about how to deal with it and protect American lives.

The BBC's Orla Guerin
"The enemy is hitting hard and hitting often"

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