The U.S. military death toll in March, the first full month of the security crackdown, was nearly twice that of the Iraqi army, which American and Iraqi officials say is taking the leading role in the latest attempt to curb violence in the capital, surrounding cities and Anbar province, according to figures compiled on Saturday.
The Associated Press count of U.S. military deaths for the month was 81, including a soldier who died from non-combat causes Friday. Figures compiled from officials in the Iraqi ministries of Defense, Health and Interior showed the Iraqi military toll was 44. The Iraqi figures showed that 165 Iraqi police were killed in March. Many of the police serve in paramilitary units.
According to the AP count, 3,246 U.S. service members have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.
At least 83 American forces died in January and 80 in February, according to the AP tabulation.
The Iraqi figures were gathered from officials who released them on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give out the numbers.
Additionally, the Iraqi ministry figures listed 1,872 Iraqi civilian deaths for the month, about 300 more than the AP tabulation, which is mainly gathered from daily police reports nationwide.
The civilian death toll for the month was down significantly from 2,172 in December, the highest month casualty figure since the AP began keeping records of civilian deaths in April 2005.
However, the number of civilians killed in March was in the same range as for the first two months of this year; 1,604 in January and 1,552 in February, according to the AP count.
Nearly a third of the Iraqi civilian deaths, more than 500 people, were killed in three big bomb attacks in the last week of the month and revenge killings of Sunni men in Tal Afar the night after a Shiite market was bombed in the northwest Iraqi city.