The number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq has surpassed the total of people who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. As VOA's Peter Fedynsky reports, the symbolism of this grim milestone is linked to the substance of America's presence in Iraq.
The deaths of five American soldiers and a Marine have brought the total number of U.S. military fatalities in Iraq to at least 2,972. This surpasses by five the number of people killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
On the fifth anniversary of those attacks, President Bush said he is often asked why America invaded Iraq if ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was not responsible for them.
"The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat," he said. "My administration, the Congress, and the United Nations saw the threat - and after 9/11, Saddam's regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take. The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power."
President Bush acknowledges Saddam had no connection to the September 11th terror attacks. But a Zogby public opinion poll taken five years later shows 46 percent of surveyed American voters continue to believe that he did. More than a third believe the Iraq war was justified retribution for Saddam's purported involvement.
Today, the former dictator is in danger of losing his life. An Iraqi appeals court on Tuesday upheld a death sentence against Saddam Hussein. He was convicted for the 1982 killings of 148 people in the Shi'ite village of Dujail following a local assassination attempt against him. Under Iraqi law, the death sentence must be carried out within 30 days.
Iraqi casualties in the war are estimated between 50,000-650,000 dead. President Bush disputes the higher figure as unbelievable. It was reached by statistical sampling conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
Iraqi security officials say car bombings and roadside explosions across Baghdad on Tuesday killed at least 37 people and wounded many more.