Iraq: US death toll in May posts big decline
American forces recorded their lowest monthly death toll in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, officials said on Sunday as Baghdad also posted a big decline in Iraqi deaths and Australia prepared to withdraw its troops. Nineteen U.S. troops were killed in May, the lowest death toll since the US-led invasion, the US military said as the government reported an almost 50 percent drop in the number of Iraqi fatalities.
The month which saw the highest US losses was November 2004, when 137 American soldiers died. The previous low was in February 2004 when 20 soldiers were killed.
Since the invasion, a total of 4,085 American troops have been killed in Iraq.
The military also reported that an American soldier was killed on Sunday in a roadside bomb attack in northeast Baghdad.
Meanwhile, a car bomb attack killed two people and wounded five more in the centre of Baghdad, just at the entrance to the Green Zone on Sunday morning, police said, according to AFP.
Visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner commented on the "improving security" situation in Iraq and said he was happy that local military and civilian authorities were taking charge of their own affairs.
In another development, Australia on Sunday began withdrawing its 550-strong contingent from two southern provinces in line with an election pledge by new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to bring back the country's troops by mid-2008. The US military said it was temporarily assuming the work of the Australian troops in an area where security duties had been transferred to Iraqi security forces.