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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 13:25 GMT 14:25 UK
Britain's losses in Iraq hit 50
The coffin of one of the RMPs killed on 24 June
British deaths from hostile fire have mounted in southern Iraq
The latest British fatality in Iraq brings the total number of servicemen who have died there since the invasion began to 50.

Fusilier Russell Beeston from Glasgow died in a confrontation with a group of Iraqis in Ali al-Sharqi on Wednesday night.

The number of deaths is now greater than the first Gulf War, when 47 British soldiers died.

According to Ministry of Defence figures, 21 of the 50 soldiers who have died were killed in action. Nineteen died in accidents, and five in cases of so-called "friendly fire".


There was a rash of deaths following the outbreak of hostilities on 20 March.

Two of the most horrifying incidents were accidents.

Eight British (and four American) troops died on 21 March when a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed in Kuwait, just a few miles south of the Iraqi border.

Accidents: 19
Killed in combat: 21
'Friendly fire': 5
Natural causes: 4
Under investigation: 1

Then, just the following day, six British air crew died when two Sea King helicopters collided above HMS Ark Royal.

In the next four days, six men died - four in "friendly fire" incidents.

Three soldiers died in a British assault on Basra on 7 April, but their deaths were followed by a lull in casualties following the declared end of major combat on 1 May and for much of June.

Mounting anger - and dead

During that time scores of American soldiers died, but the resentment of the local population appeared not to be directed at British troops.

Any relaxation on the part of British troops that accompanied such a belief was shattered on 24 June. Six Royal Military Policemen were killed by an angry crowd following weapons searches at the southern Iraqi town of Majar al-Kabir northwest of Basra.

And a series of deaths from hostile fire during August - including three Royal Military Policemen in Basra on 23 August - have kept up the pressure on British servicemen in a seemingly increasingly fractious southern Iraq.

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