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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 September, 2004, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Bush laments loss of life in Iraq
File picture of George W Bush
Bush vowed to honour those killed by "completing the mission"
President George W Bush has paid tribute to the US soldiers killed in Iraq after the death toll hit the milestone of 1,000.

"We appreciate the sacrifice of the men and women who wear the uniform. We'll honour their memories by completing the mission," he said.

The US military death toll in Iraq has reached 1,000 since March 2003 when US forces invaded, the Pentagon says.

The stark milestone follows a recent surge in fighting and attacks.

More than a dozen US soldiers have been killed in the last two days alone.

Correspondents say the casualty figures re-open the debate over President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, ahead of the November election.

Meanwhile, violence has continued in Baghdad's Sadr City and Falluja.

US forces resumed air strikes against targets in Falluja on Wednesday, with the fighter planes pounding the industrial zone. Two people are reported killed.

About 100 insurgents were killed in the restive town on Tuesday, according to the US military.

US marines were said to have used air strikes and artillery fire in response to a bomb attack on Monday that killed seven marines and three Iraqi soldiers.

Also on Tuesday, about 40 Iraqis were killed as US forces fought Shia insurgents in a Baghdad stronghold of rebel cleric Moqtada Sadr, health officials said.

Two Italian aid workers and two Iraqis were also kidnapped from their Baghdad offices in broad daylight.

The Pentagon announced late on Tuesday there had been 1,001 military casualties since US-led forces moved in to Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein 18 months ago.

Another US soldier died overnight, bringing the total number to at least 1,002.

He was killed in an attack on a military convoy north of Baghdad.

Burnt out Humvee in Iraq after an attack on US troops on Wednesday
The US is losing soldiers at an average of 2.25 a day
Of the total number killed, three were civilian contractors. The number of wounded had reached 7,000.

All but 140 of the deaths have come since 1 May 2003, when President Bush declared an end to major combat operations under a banner reading "Mission Accomplished". About three quarters have been in combat situations.

There are no official figures for the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the same period. A group called the Iraq Body Count (IBC) believes the number exceeds 11,000.





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