US Combat Deaths Hit 5-Year Low

Military hails Iraq improvement; warns of trouble in Afghanistan
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2008 6:16 AM CST
A US and Iraqi soldier secure an area during a joint patrol in northwestern Mosul last month.   (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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(Newser) – American combat deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq fell to their lowest level last month since the US began fighting two wars, USA Today reports. Combat claimed 11 lives, and 7 others perished in non-combat incidents. Commanders credited major security improvements in Iraq for statistics there, but warned that the situation was more complex in Afghanistan.

Only one American died in combat in Afghanistan in November, but fighting there often slows in winter months and coalition partners lost 11 fighters. "One month does not constitute a trend," cautioned a US military spokesman in Afghanistan. He said overall levels of violence and the readiness of Afghan forces were a better measure of progress than casualty rates.