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Death toll of US troops in Iraq passes September 11

By Andrew Buncombe

The number of US troops killed in Iraq is now greater than the number of people who died in the terror attack on New York on 11 September 2001, an event unrelated to Saddam Hussein's regime but which the US and Britain used as justification for the invasion.

The milestone was passed when three members of a patrol were killed in a bomb explosion south of Baghdad on Monday. The military announced the death of four more troops yesterday - three in a bombing and a fourth in a vehicle accident. Combined, the US death toll now stands at 2,978 - five more than the number of people killed in the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001.

"The joint patrol was conducting security operations in order to stop terrorists from placing roadside bombs in the area," said a US military statement about Monday's incident. "As they conducted their mission, a roadside bomb exploded near one of their vehicles."

The commission that investigated the 11 September 2001 attacks concluded there was "no credible evidence" that the Iraqi regime was involved. Yet the Bush administration sought to claim there were longstanding links between al-Qa'ida and the former Iraqi leader. In October 2002, President George Bush said: "Iraq has trained al-Qa'ida members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases."

In July 2005, Tony Blair claimed: "September 11 for me was a wake-up call. Do you know what I think the problem is? That a lot of the world woke up for a short time and then turned over and went back to sleep."

Mr Bush is expected to announce an increase in US troop deployment in an effort to counter the violence in Iraq.

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